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A new vision of America was presented yesterday in an elaborate parody of “The New York Times by the Yes Men, a group of liberal pranksters. Thousands of paper copies were handed out and a web version is online:
Video press release: http://vimeo.com/2215007
Below are excerpts from news reports on the prank, and selections from articles in the bogus NY Times. Several of the articles deal with ideas favored by peak oil community, particularly Crumbling Infrastructure Brings Opportunities.
On the spoof site, “Edward” comments: “I like this new alternate reality. I think I’ll stay here.”
Liberal Pranksters Hand Out Times Spoof
Sewell Chann, City Room, (the real) New York Times
In an elaborate hoax, pranksters distributed thousands of free copies of a spoof edition of The New York Times on Wednesday morning at busy subway stations around the city, including Grand Central Terminal, Washington and Union Squares, the 14th and 23rd Street stations along Eighth Avenue, and Pacific Street in Brooklyn, among others.
The spurious 14-page papers — with a headline “IRAQ WAR ENDS” — surprised commuters, many of whom took the free copies thinking they were legitimate.
The paper is dated July 4, 2009, and imagines a liberal utopia of national health care, a rebuilt economy, progressive taxation, a national oil fund to study climate change, and other goals of progressive politics.
The hoax was accompanied by a Web site that mimics the look of The Times’s real Web site.
(12 November 2008)
Prank NY Times: `All the news we hope to print’
Verena Dobnik, Associated Press
Commuters nationwide found out during Wednesday’s morning rush hour that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had ended and global warming, health care spending and the economy’s problems were on their way to being solved.
On behalf of a collective of liberal activists, 1,000 volunteers across the country handed out 1.2 million copies of a spoof of The New York Times, dated July 4, 2009.
At first glance, the parody, which used the Times’ Gothic-style font on the nameplate, could easily be mistaken for the real thing.
The 14-page paper — which also announced the abolition of corporate lobbying, a maximum wage for CEOs and a recall for all gasoline-fueled cars — showed up in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
The pranksters — who include a film promoter, a college teacher, journalists and others — said they wanted to encourage the administration of Democratic President-elect Barack Obama to keeps its promises.
(12 November 2008)
Statement from Yes Men
Press release via Poynter
SPECIAL TIMES EDITION BLANKETS U.S. CITIES, PROCLAIMS END TO WAR
Early this morning, commuters nationwide were delighted to find out that while they were sleeping, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had come to an end.
If, that is, they happened to read a “special edition” of today’s New York Times.
In an elaborate operation six months in the planning, 1.2 million papers were printed at six different presses and driven to prearranged pickup locations, where thousands of volunteers stood ready to pass them out on the street.
Articles in the paper announce dozens of new initiatives including the establishment of national health care, the abolition of corporate lobbying, a maximum wage for C.E.O.s, and, of course, the end of the war.
The paper, an exact replica of The New York Times, includes International, National, New York, and Business sections, as well as editorials, corrections, and a number of advertisements, including a
recall notice for all cars that run on gasoline. There is also a timeline describing the gains brought about by eight months of progressive support and pressure, culminating in President Obama’s “Yes we REALLY can” speech. (The paper is post-dated July 4, 2009.)
“It’s all about how at this point, we need to push harder than ever,” said Bertha Suttner, one of the newspaper’s writers. “We’ve got to make sure Obama and all the other Democrats do what we elected them to do. After eight, or maybe twenty-eight years of hell, we need to start imagining heaven.”
Not all readers reacted favorably. “The thing I disagree with is how they did it,” said Stuart Carlyle, who received a paper in Grand Central Station while commuting to his Wall Street brokerage. “I’m all for freedom of speech, but they should have started their own paper.”
(12 November 2008)
Stories from the Spoof New York Times
Nationalized Oil To Fund Climate Change Efforts
Marion K. Hubert, (Spoof) NY Times
Congress has voted to place ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and other major oil companies under public stewardship, with the bulk of the companies’ profits put in a public trust administered by the United Nations, and used for alternative energy research and development in order to solve the global climate crisis.
While unusual, this is not the first time the government has chosen to take control of large corporations. From 1942 to 1944, U.S. car factories were retooled in order to produce tanks for the war effort. And Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were both created as “government sponsored enterprises” with a significant amount of government oversight.
“We can do what needs to be done,” said Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York. “Our planet’s survival is at stake. Plus, public pressure hasn’t given us much of a choice.”
Not everyone felt the move was a good idea. “The climate crisis may or may not be real,” declared Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas. “I’m an agnostic and I’m staying that way. But sea level rise has been overblown. And one thing I’m sure of, is that nationalizing private industry is just another name for theft.”
(12 November 2008)
Does the name of the supposed reporter look familiar? -BA
New York Bike Path System Expanded Dramatically
Mede Sivrac, (Spoof) NY Times
NEW YORK — Officials from the Department of Transportation today opened the 9th Avenue bike lane, which now extends the entire length of Manhattan. The festivities were then moved to 2nd Avenue, where ground was broken on a similar path to extend the full length of the island.
Over the next two years, every other avenue will also receive a full bike lane, blocked off from traffic, while every fifth crosstown street will be opened exclusively to bicyclists and pedestrians beginning next month.
Mark Blair, a transit worker from Queens, was busy re-timing traffic lights for bicycle speed. “Riding your bike up or down the avenue, the traffic lights are going to change in sync,” explained Blair. “You ride 10-15 miles per hour, and you’ll be hitting all greens.”
“Now that our country is taking its rightful place among the world’s developed nations,” said Mayor Bloomberg, “it is time for our greatest city to take its place among the world’s great cities.”
Bloomberg recently visited Paris to examine its popular public bicycle rental program. Although he initially expressed doubts as to whether it could work, public pressure has helped convince him it can, and national legislation sealed the deal. (For more on the new transportation initiatives, also see “Crumbling Infrastructure Brings Opportunities” )
Blair, watching the dedication from a cherry picker above 9th Avenue commented, “From cesspool to world city, it’s just fantastic. I love this place.”
(12 November 2008)
Crumbling Infrastructure Brings Opportunities
Charles Hochmanks, (Spoof) NY Times
As the $1.6 trillion Infrastructure Modernization Bill moves through Congress, a wide swath of public advocacy groups is assuring that the focus of rebuilding remains on proven, sustainable technologies that can move the country away from its dependency on fossil fuels.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that $1.6 trillion is needed to bring the nation’s infrastructure up to the level enjoyed by other industrialized nations.
“The U.S. used to have the most advanced public transportation system in the world by far,” said Transportation Department head Earl Blumenauer. “Now, of course, it’s pretty much the worst, at least in the developed world. Our love affair with the automobile has got to stop.”
… “Once we make our own country more livable,” says Mr. Blumenauer, “we can begin exporting the best practices of affordable transit and sustainable planning to developing nations.”
Light rail and buses
One key to the Infrastructure Modernization Bill will be light rail in cities, as well as high-occupancy overland vehicles — i.e. buses — operating at higher speeds in segregated lanes and roadways.
“We can dig out some of our old streetcar tracks, which are now buried in asphalt, but new buses are also a good solution, and much less expensive,” Mr. Blumenauer noted.
In 1922 there were fourteen thousand miles of streetcar track in American cities, according to Colleen Burgess, a representative of the Surface Transportation Board. “Berlin had the most extensive network in Europe, but that was smaller than 22 American cities. Today, we’ve got next to nothing. But we’ve got to look forward.”
One major element of the D.O.T. plan is the reconstruction of a national rail network for people and goods, and the elimination of most long distance trucking. “The rails are there,” said Ms. Burgess. “They spider across all of North America. They need maintenance, and in some cases expansion, but they’re basically there.”
“We have a passenger railroad system that the Bulgarians would be ashamed of,” noted rail advocate James Howard Kunstler. “Restoring passenger rail service would put tens of thousands of people to work at all levels, decongest airports, and revive central cities. And nothing needs to be reinvented — the infrastructure is already out there.”
Senator Emanuel noted that current airline subsidies would be rechanneled into Amtrak, especially into high-speed rail connections already common in Europe, Japan, and China.
The Urban Bicycling Expansion Program began with the D.O.T.’s Bicycle Commuters Group in late 2007. The program’s funding is now on a par with that of a newly-shrunken Federal Aviation Administration.
“In 1990 we got the Americans with Disabilities Act, with provisions for ‘full and equal enjoyment,’” said Mr. Blumenauer. “Now there are ramps, elevators, and other accommodations. There’s no reason a few simple rules can’t permit the full and equal enjoyment of public roadways by bicyclists.”
“It’s something my predecessors at D.O.T. didn’t take very seriously,” said program head Leah Shahum, former Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “But bicyclists across the country have shown us it can work.”
The first task will be to enact “complete streets” legislation, with safe lanes for bicyclists, bicycle parking areas, and bike racks on city buses and light rail, so that cyclists can commute longer distances.
Even more ambitious will be the development of commuter bicycle lending programs in all major cities. For an annual fee of around $40, users will be able to check out three-speed bicycles from entirely automated stations. The programs will be modeled after those in Paris and Barcelona, which already have hundreds of stations and thousands of public bicycles in circulation.
Blumenauer noted that the benefits of expanded bike use are likely to impact another typically American problem: that of obesity. “Bicycles are also an investment in the infrastructure of the human body,” he said.
One key element of the D.O.T.’s plan to get people out of their cars will occur solely on paper. “We need more mixed-use zoning; more medium-scale, high-density development; incentives for businesses to locate near residential areas and for individuals to work close to home; and better public education about the health benefits of being active,” Mr. Blumenauer said. He said that the Transportation Department will be working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to draw up guidelines that focus on access, rather than mobility.
“As we rebuild the national infrastructure,” said Housing head Rene Oswin, “building tighter communities needs to be at the forefront. When the places we live, work, and shop are closer together, quality of life improves dramatically.”
“A suburbanite who commutes for an hour and drives to the store for a cup of sugar is going to have a lower quality of life than one who walks or bikes to work and buys food at a farmer’s market,” noted Oswin. “Big box stores, malls, and peripheral office parks have been a catastrophe for our national happiness.”
The building guidelines, soon to be written into legislation, also include prescriptions for solar, wind, and geothermal energy, and grey water systems. Details are available on the H.U.D. website.
In response to the government’s comprehensive Climate Control and Infrastructure Modification Act, the Federal Aviation Administration is considering two different proposals to phase out air travel.
The first calls for the nationalization of airlines, and the transition of many airports wholly or in part into transit hubs for rail and bus services. The other, more market-based plan, mandates the elimination of billions of dollars of federal subsidies for airlines.
In the first plan, the price of travel would remain the same, but there would be far fewer trips available. In the second, only the relatively wealthy could afford to fly.
“We advocate the second plan, of course,” said United C.E.O. Glenn F. Tilton.
“Even if flights become a luxury,” said Transportation head Blumenauer, “it won’t be a catastrophe for most people. An average family can afford to spend some much-needed downtime on a comfortable train between New York and Los Angeles. As for business customers who choose to fly, they will have to pay the true cost of their habits to society.”
(12 November 2008)
Biofuels Ban Act Signed Into Law, Seeks to Ease Food Shortage
William Petty, (Spoof) NY Times
WASHINGTON — In a dizzying about-face, the White House announced that the president will be signing the Ban Biofuels Act tomorrow.
The controversial legislation was pushed through Congress by newly elected Democrats uncharacteristically willing to stand up to big agribusiness, bolstered by intense public pressure in part due to the efforts of international organizations like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network.
The shift was cheered by environmental activists as well as average Americans worn down by the steep rise in food prices. “Vegetable oil and corn are for feeding people, not cars,” said Elizabeth Johnson, a hospital worker and mother of three, at yesterday’s demonstration outside Capitol Hill. “There was only so much more we could keep paying.”
(12 November 2008)