All posts by Sparrow

Trump uses First Days to Roll Back Oil Sector Regulations, Green Light Keystone XL & Dakota Access Pipelines

Trump uses First Days to Roll Back Oil Sector Regulations, Green Light Keystone XL & Dakota Access Pipelines

Washington, DC — The past 24 hours have seen an unprecedented number of gifts to Exxon and the oil industry, said Global Witness today. Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved former CEO of Exxon, Rex Tillerson, to lead the State Department. Today, it is expected that Republicans in the House of Representatives will introduce a resolution to wipe out an historic oil transparency reform, while President Trump signed executive orders designed to force through the environmentally devastating Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines despite years of opposition.

“Just one day after the committee vote in support of former Exxon CEO as next Secretary of State, the oil industry is enjoying an unprecedented free for all,” said Corinna Gilfillan, Head of U.S. Office of Global Witness. “Today, Trump issued executive orders to advance the Dakota and Keystone Pipelines while Republicans are expected to attempt to gut a law designed to curb corruption, despite Trump’s signature campaign promise to root out corruption. Exxon has been trying to rip up this law for years, it’s not a coincidence.”

The resolution would roll back a landmark anti-corruption law, known as the bipartisan Cardin-Lugar anti-corruption provision, which requires oil, gas and mining companies to disclose details of the hundreds of billions of dollars they pay to governments across the world in return for rights to natural resources. The rule is a key part of U.S. efforts to curb the corruption that keeps poor countries poor and threatens U.S. national interests and global security around the world.

The ExxonMobil operated East Area Natural Gas Liquids II (NGL II) project offshore Nigeria is the target of a Nigerian criminal corruption probe and involves the recovery of 275 million barrels of natural gas liquids, with peak production targeted at about 50,000 barrels of natural gas liquids per day. | Photo: Business Wire

“Given the long-standing egregious record of the oil and gas industry, and now the likely confirmation of the former Exxon CEO as the top U.S. diplomat, it is difficult to not conclude that these pro-corruption moves by the Trump Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress are a sign that not only do they think corruption is perfectly acceptable but that they intend to become pro-active enablers of corruption,” said Simon Taylor, co-founding director of Global Witness.

ExxonMobil is spearheading industry efforts to gut the Cardin-Lugar anti-corruption provision, which would bring much needed transparency to the secret deals that ExxonMobil and other resource companies do with corrupt regimes, fueling instability around the world.

Global Witness recently highlighted how a questionable oil deal between ExxonMobil and the Nigerian government is currently being investigated by Nigerian law enforcement

For additional information or to request an interview with a Global Witness spokesperson contact Andy Stepanian at 631.291.3010 or andy@sparrowmedia.net

Global Witness Responds to U.S. Senate Committee Vote on Rex Tillerson

Global Witness Responds to U.S. Senate Committee Vote on Rex Tillerson

Washington, DC — Today, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations voted in favor of making Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil, the most powerful diplomat in the U.S. Global Witness raised serious concerns that this appointment would pose a grave threat to both US and global security.

On Mr. Tillerson’s watch, ExxonMobil was at the forefront of efforts to gut laws to fight corruption in the oil, gas and mining sector, and has been accused of purposefully misleading the public over climate change. Mr. Tillerson himself has been asked to testify about the role of fossil fuel companies and the government in causing climate change, as part of a lawsuit brought by children alleging their constitutional rights have been violated. Meanwhile, Global Witness has exposed how the company has repeatedly struck backroom deals with tyrannical regimes, fuelling instability around the world.

“Up to now the U.S. has been a global leader in fighting the corruption that has dogged the oil, gas and mining industry, not least because such abuses of power threaten global security. So to protect our country and its standing in the world, and to continue to promote human rights and fight corruption, we will keep a watchful eye on our new Secretary of State. As our top diplomat and global representative on climate, we must make sure he is putting our national interest, human rights and the futures of our children before the industry he’s devoted his entire working life to.” said Corinna Gilfillan, Head of Global Witness’ US office.

For additional information or to request an interview with a Global Witness spokesperson contact Andy Stepanian at 631.291.3010 or andy@sparrowmedia.net

President Obama Grants Commutation of Sentence to Chelsea Manning

President Obama Grants Commutation of Sentence to Chelsea Manning

WASHINGTON, DC — The Obama administration announced today the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence for disclosing classified information that raised public awareness regarding the impact of war on innocent civilians. Manning will reportedly be freed in May 2017.

“I’m relieved and thankful that the president is doing the right thing and commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence,” said Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project representing Manning. “Since she was first taken into custody, Chelsea has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement — including for attempting suicide — and has been denied access to medically necessary health care. This move could quite literally save Chelsea’s life, and we are all better off knowing that Chelsea Manning will walk out of prison a free woman, dedicated to making the world a better place and fighting for justice for so many.”

Manning, a transgender woman, is in the seventh year of an unprecedented 35-year sentence and has been forced to serve her sentence in an all-male prison. The ACLU previously filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the appeal of Manning’s conviction, arguing that the prosecution of Manning under the Espionage Act violated the Constitution because it leads to prosecutions where a court gives no consideration to the public interest. The ACLU also argued that such cases give the government too much leeway to selectively prosecute disfavored speakers.

Nancy Hollander and Vince Ward, Manning’s appellate counselors, said in a joint statement, “Ms. Manning is the longest serving whistleblower in the history of the United States. Her 35-year sentence for disclosing information that served the public interest and never caused harm to the United States was always excessive, and we’re delighted that justice is being served in the form of this commutation.”

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, who has been an ardent supporter of Chelsea’s and speaks to her on the phone on a regular basis said, “Chelsea’s release is massive victory for free speech, human rights, and democracy. As someone who has become friends with Chelsea over the last year, but has never had a chance to see her face or give her a hug, I’m overjoyed that she will be able to share her beautiful self with the world. She has so much to offer, and her freedom will be a testament to the power of grassroots organizing. I’m so excited for the world to get to know her as the compassionate, intelligent, and kind person who she is.”

The president’s decision comes after an outpouring of support for Manning since her unfair and egregious sentence and the ongoing mistreatment throughout her incarceration. In December, the ACLU and over a dozen other LGBT groups sent a letter to President Obama urging him to grant clemency to Manning, and an official White House petition with the same request secured over 100,000 signatures.

The ACLU has represented Manning in a lawsuit against the Department of Defense that was first filed in 2014 over the department’s refusal to treat Manning’s well-documented gender dysphoria.

Thousands Online Want to Give Chelsea Manning a Hug

Thousands Online Want to Give Chelsea Manning a Hug

Following reports that Chelsea Manning is on President Obama’s “short list” for a possible commutation, the Internet has exploded with support for the imprisoned transgender transparency advocate. Over the weekend, thousands of people started taking part in a spontaneous #HugsForChelsea campaign, posting photos of themselves with their arms outstretched as if waiting to give Chelsea Manning a hug, calling for President Obama to grant her clemency. Some prominent individuals including Michael Stipe of REM, Dustin Kensrue of Thrice, and the punk band Anti-Flag, have joined the effort.

See a selection of #HugsForChelsea photos here, see the landing page for the campaign here.

“Chelsea has so much love and support coming from people across the political spectrum,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, who posted the first #HugsForChelsea photo, “She has suffered enough. People are coming out of the woodwork to speak out. President Obama needs to do the right thing and free her now. After getting to know her as one of her supporters over the last year, I personally can’t wait to give her a hug.”

“As President Obama’s days in office wind down, people from all walks of life are standing in solidarity with Chelsea and urging the President to save her before it is too late,” said Chase Strangio, Chelsea’s ACLU attorney. “After years of suffering in prison under horrific conditions including long stretches of solitary confinement, the denial of health care for gender dysphoria and arbitrary punishments including for attempting suicide, Chelsea needs to be set free before this treatment results in her death.”

Background:

  1. More than 100,000 people signed an official Whitehouse.gov petition, meeting the threshold to require a response from the President.
  2. Hundreds of thousands have signed previous petitions organized by Fight for the Future and other groups decrying Chelsea’s treatment while in prison
  3. The ACLU and more than a dozen prominent LGBT organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for Chelsea’s commutation
  4. Amnesty International sent a letter to President Obama, and supporters sent over 25,000 emails to the White House.
  5. Human Rights Watch sent a letter to President Obama supporting clemency
  6. Dozens of other human rights, free speech, government transparency, and civil liberties organizations have called for Chelsea’s release
  7. A wide range of notable people have publicly supported Chelsea including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris C. Davis, journalist Glenn Greenwald, Sean Ono Lennon, REM lead singer Michael Stipe, comedian Margaret Cho, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine,, and many others.
  8. Learn more at FreeChelsea.com, and follow Chelsea on Twitter at @xychelsea
Chelsea Manning Reportedly on President Obama’s ‘Short List’ for Commutation

Chelsea Manning Reportedly on President Obama’s ‘Short List’ for Commutation

NBC News is reporting that Chelsea Manning, who has served 7 years of a 35 year sentence, is on President Obama’s “short list” for commutation.

Chelsea Manning’s attorney at the ACLU, Chase Strangio, said:

“The Obama administration has done many commendable things to protect the rights of LGBTQ people, but in the case of Chelsea Manning they have systematically mistreated her and denied her access to medically recommended gender-related health care. Chelsea won’t survive another 5 years in prison, much less another 30. President Obama has 9 days to do the right thing and commute her sentence. The world is watching, and we hope that he stands on the side of justice, and that his legacy will be one of standing up for trans people’s rights, not having extinguished one of our community’s brightest lights.”

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said:

“Chelsea Manning is a compassionate, thoughtful, brilliant human being whose actions have always been motivated by the same thing: her desire to help people and make the world a better place. She has suffered enough. President Obama should act now to right this wrong before it’s too late.”

If the NBC News report is accurate and President Obama moves to commute Manning’s sentence, he will be responding to overwhelming public outcry about Chelsea’s mistreatment while incarcerated.

– More than 100,000 people signed an official Whitehouse.gov petition, meeting the threshold to require a response from the President.

– Hundreds of thousands have signed previous petitions organized by Fight for the Future and other groups decrying Chelsea’s treatment while in prison

– The ACLU and more than a dozen prominent LGBT organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for Chelsea’s commutation

– Amnesty International sent a letter to President Obama, and supporters sent over 25,000 emails to the White House

– Dozens of other human rights, free speech, government transparency, and civil liberties organizations have called for Chelsea’s release

– A wide range of notable people have publicly supported Chelsea including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris C. Davis, journalist Glenn Greenwald, Sean Ono Lennon, REM lead singer Michael Stipe, comedian Margaret Cho, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine,, and many others.

Learn more at FreeChelsea.com & follow Chelsea on Twitter at @xychelsea