All posts by Sparrow

Hundreds Will Protest Peter King Friday Over Penning of Controversial Muslim Ban

Hundreds Will Protest Peter King Friday Over Penning of Controversial Muslim Ban

Massapequa Park, NY – Hundreds of Long Island residents and local organizations will come together on Friday, February 3, 2017 for a demonstration outside the office of Congressman Peter King showing unity against President Donald Trump’s Executive Order banning refugees indefinitely from Syria and temporarily from 6 other Muslim majority countries.

Protestors will march in front of Peter King’s district office to protest his reported role in co-authoring the President’s Executive Order. Groups organizing the rally intend to underscore that Donald Trump’s order is unconstitutional, un-American, and illegal while aiming to unite individuals and organizations against Islamaphobia, xenophobia, and racism.

Protestors will march in solidarity with members of the Muslim community unfairly targeted because of their religious beliefs, and in support of refugees fleeing war-torn countries leaving everything they had with little or nothing on their backs risking their lives in search of a better future.

“Families are being separated and there are real consequences to this ban. I know of people who cannot visit their loved ones who are sick and elderly and this hurts us very badly,” said Habeeb Ahmed of Islamic Center of Long Island. “This country was made great by immigrants so let’s continue that.”

“We will march to uphold American values. America is a nation built by immigrants,” said Liuba Grechen Shirley of NY’s 2nd District Democrats in a press release. “We are all immigrants. Long Islanders call on President Trump to reverse his hateful, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant executive order, and District 2 constituents call on Rep. Peter King to denounce this executive order.”

“President Trump showed his true colors and issued radical, sweeping Executive Order that upend our immigration system and strike at the heart of our American values. These orders create a massive federal and state law enforcement deportation force to track down and deport immigrants and will rip apart American families, destabilize our communities and make us less safe” stated Lisa Tyson Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

WHO: New York’s 2nd District Democrats (NY02Dems), ATLI, The Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC), The Islamic Center of Long Island, Long Island Activists

WHEN: Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, 4-6 p.m.

WHERE: Congressman Peter King’s Office, 1003 Park Boulevard, Massapequa Park, NY 11762 {map link}

PUBLIC TRANSIT: Take the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station, Jamaica, or points east on the Montauk/Babylon line to the Massapequa Park station.

Republican Vote to Eliminate Landmark Transparency Law Jeopardizes National Security

Republican Vote to Eliminate Landmark Transparency Law Jeopardizes National Security

Washington, DC — Today’s vote by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to undo a rule designed to stop corruption in the oil industry poses a grave threat to U.S. national security, said Global Witness today. 

The oil industry is the most corrupt on the planet, according to the OECD. Yet today the House of Representatives voted through a resolution to void the rule implementing 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.

“Make no mistake – this vote by the Republican-controlled House works in favor of corruption and against core American democratic values. The law under threat exists to deter U.S. listed oil, gas and mining companies from cutting secretive deals with corrupt regimes, tyrants and dictators all over the world – undoing it threatens our national security,” said Corinna Gilfillan, Head of U.S. Office at Global Witness.

Children sail past an oil pipeline head near their home at Andoni settlement, Bonny waterways in Rivers State in Nigeria. Global Witness recently highlighted how a questionable oil deal between ExxonMobil and the Nigerian government is currently being investigated by Nigerian law enforcement. | Photo: Pius Utomi Ekpei AFP/Getty Images

“Rex Tillerson led efforts to undermine this law as ExxonMobil CEO, while many of the politicians in the House who voted to gut it receive money from the oil companies who have benefited from these secret deals. Now on the same day that the House voted to undo this provision, the Senate has confirmed Tillerson as Secretary of State – we have a pro-bribery House and Trump administration doing the bidding of big oil.”

This comes just days after Nigeria’s anti-corruption law enforcement agency seized a billion dollar oil block from Shell and Eni during a corruption investigation. Had the U.S. anti-corruption rule been in place in 2011, this crooked deal would never have gone through, leaving the companies’ investors and the Nigerian people much better off.  The deal itself deprived Nigeria’s people of a sum worth 80% of its 2015 healthcare budget. Given that the block in question is estimated to hold as much as 9.23 billion barrels in probable reserves, investors face substantial losses from a backroom deal they knew nothing about.

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

The Senate is expected to vote on a similar resolution as early as tomorrow. The news follows President Trump’s signing of executive orders designed to force through the environmentally devastating Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines last week.

8 Federal Agencies Sued for Records on Trump Attorney General Pick, Jeff Sessions

8 Federal Agencies Sued for Records on Trump Attorney General Pick, Jeff Sessions

WASHINGTON, DC — Multiple federal agencies are in violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Investigative journalist Jason Leopold and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate/Harvard Klein Center for Internet & Society research affiliate, Ryan Shapiro, filed a lawsuit this morning against the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of State (DOS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Security Agency (NSA). The suit is over the agencies’ failure to comply with Shapiro and Leopold’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records on President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

Shapiro and Leopold submitted FOIA requests to the DOJ, DOS, DHS, DOD, SEC, EEOC, EPA, and NSA for records pertaining to President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

Jeff Sessions’ nomination for Attorney General is one of the most controversial in American history. Sessions has an extensive track record of opposition to civil rights and civil rights activists, and has decried the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as a “piece of intrusive legislation.” Hounded for decades by allegations of deep-rooted racism, Sessions was rejected for a federal judgeship in 1986 by the Senate Judiciary Committee partially on the sworn statement of a DOJ attorney who testified that Sessions spoke favorably of the Ku Klux Klan and decried the NAACP and ACLU as “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” organizations. Further, the Republicans are forcing President Trump’s nominees through the confirmation process with only the most limited and superficial of hearings.

The records Shapiro and Leopold have sued over today will help shed light on the often obscured detailed of Sessions’ history as a state and federal Attorney General and as lawmaker.

1.) Records sought by Shapiro and Leopold include but are not limited to:

* Correspondence and other communications from, to, mentioning, or referring to Jeff Sessions. 

* Records authored or signed by Jeff Sessions regarding Civil Rights cases.

* Records constituting, mentioning, or referring to Civil Rights complaints involving Jeff Sessions

* Records pertaining to the conservative political action committee (PAC) Judicial Crisis Network, which is dedicated to securing confirmation of Sessions as Attorney General.

* Records pertaining to confirmsession.com, a website and project of Judicial Crisis Network dedicated to securing confirmation of Sessions as Attorney General.

2.) Due to the urgency of the matter, Shapiro and Leopold requested expedited processing of their FOIA requests. The DOJ, DOS, DHS, DOD, SEC, EEOC, EPA, and NSA failed to respond. This is a violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

3.) Not including this new lawsuit, Shapiro and Leopold already have four FOIA lawsuits against the FBI and other federal agencies for records on investigations involving Donald Trump.

In the first of these lawsuits, among other things, Operation 45 is suing the FBI and Secret Service for records on Donald Trump’s thinly-veiled assassination remarks regarding Hillary Clinton, and his less than veiled campaign trail call for Russian hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails. The FBI unlawfully failed to respond to Shapiro and Leopold’s FOIA request, and then slow-walked an initial response to Shapiro and Leopold’s lawsuit until after the election.

Notably, the FBI’s response indicates the FBI might indeed be investigating Donald Trump for these incidents. However, in stark contrast to Director Comey’s pre-election rush to inform Congress that the FBI might re-open its investigation of Hillary Clinton, in this case the FBI dragged its feet to avoid revealing the same about Donald Trump until after the election.

4.) In the second of these lawsuits, Operation 45 is suing the FBI for all FBI records on the Trump Organization, the Trump Foundation, Trump Entertainment Resorts, and Trump University.

5.) In the third of these lawsuits, Operation 45 is suing the FBI for records on the FBI’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

6.) In the fourth of these lawsuits, Operation 45 is suing, the CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) for records on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as U.S. intelligence agency responses to Russian interference in the election.

7.) Shapiro and Leopold’s lawsuit filed today is part of the work of Operation 45. Operation 45 is a new 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded by MIT/Harvard’s Shapiro, and attorney Jeffrey Light, to ensure transparency and accountability for the incoming Trump/Pence administration.

Ryan Shapiro, referred to by Politico as “a FOIA guru at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology”, is an historian of national security, the policing of dissent, and governmental transparency. Shapiro’s pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) at MIT, as well as a Research Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Jason Leopold is an award-winning Senior Investigative Reporter at Buzzfeed News, specializing in counterterrorism and human rights. Leopold has been called a “FOIA Terrorist” by federal employees for his aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act, which includes successfully suing the FBI to force changes to Bureau FOIA practices.

Leopold and Shapiro are represented by Washington, DC-based FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light.

According to Shapiro

Regarding this lawsuit:

“The American public absolutely deserves to the know the truth about the man Trump has nominated to hold one of the most powerful offices in the country, especially in light of the allegations of deep-rooted prejudice and contempt for civil liberties that have hounded Sessions for decades.”

Regarding Operation 45 (Of which this lawsuit is a part):

“Given Trump’s authoritarian aspirations and overt contempt for the Constitution and a free press, American civil liberties and privacy now face a profoundly clear and present danger.

“Trump must not be allowed to conduct his presidency from the shadows, and he must not be allowed to cripple the Freedom of Information act. The need is urgent for aggressive work to keep President Trump and his administration transparent and accountable.”

Regarding FOIA more broadly:

“Secrecy is a cancer on the body of democracy.

“The democratic process cannot meaningfully function without an informed citizenry, and such a citizenry is impossible without broad public access to information about the operations of government.

“The Freedom of Information Act is one of the most underappreciated elements of the entire American experiment. The notion that the records of government are the property of the people, and all we need to do to get them is to ask, is radically democratic. But FOIA is broken. Sadly, this is why we now need to sue to compel FBI compliance with federal law.”

A complete copy of the complaint filed in court can be viewed HERE

To arrange an interview with Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro, please email or text Andy Stepanian at andy@sparrowmedia.net or 631.291.3010. You can follow Jason Leopold on twitter at @JasonLeopold and Ryan Shapiro on twitter at @_rshapiro

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