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Fake newspaper gets 'em every time



In a front-page ad in today's International Herald Tribune, the leaders of the European Union thank the European public for having engaged in months of civil disobedience leading up to the Copenhagen climate conference that will be held this December. "It was only thanks to your massive pressure over the past six months that we could so dramatically shift our climate-change policies.... To those who were arrested, we thank you."

There was only one catch: the paper was fake.

Looking exactly like the real thing, but dated December 19th, 2009, a million copies of the fake paper were distributed worldwide by thousands of volunteers in order to show what could be achieved at the Copenhagen climate conference that is scheduled for Dec. 7-18, 2009.

The paper describes in detail a powerful (and entirely possible) new treaty to bring carbon levels down below 350 parts per million - the level climate scientists say we need to achieve to avoid climate catastrophe. One article describes a website, BeyondTalk.net. Although the newspaper is a fake (its production and launch were coordinated by Greenpeace), the website is real.

"Non-violent civil disobedience has been at the forefront of almost every successful campaign for change," said Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men, who helped write and edit the newspaper and are furnishing the technology for BeyondTalk.net.

The fake newspaper also has an ad for "Action Offsets," whereby those who aren't willing to risk arrest can help those who are.


A HOPEFUL NEWS PANDEMIC?

Today's fake International Herald Tribune is part of a rash of recent
publications which mimic prominent newspapers. Last November, a fake edition of the New York Times announced that the Iraq War was over. A few days earlier, a hoax USA Today featured the US presidential election result: "Capitalism Wins at the Polls: Anarchy Brewing in the Streets." And this April 1st, a spoof edition of Germany's Zeit newspaper triumphantly announced the end of "casino capitalism" and the abolition of poor-country debt.

The rash of fakes is likely to continue. "People are going to keep finding ways to get the word out about common-sense solutions those in power say are impossible," said Kelli Anderson, one of the designers of the fake International Herald Tribune and co-designer (with Daniel Dunnam) of BeyondTalk.net.