All posts by Sparrow

US Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement is Yet Another Gift to Special Interests at the Expense of People and the Planet

US Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement is Yet Another Gift to Special Interests at the Expense of People and the Planet

Washington, DC — Global Witness has issued the following statement in response to reports that President Donald Trump intends to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement:

“If Donald Trump withdraws the US from the Paris Climate Agreement as reports suggest, he will give yet another gift to special interests at the expense of the public interest and the planet.  Not only will a withdrawal sabotage attempts to prevent catastrophic climate change, making it tantamount to a crime against humanity, it will turn America into a pariah on the world stage.

“Failure to tackle climate change will mean that the poorest people and countries will continue to be hit first and hardest, with increasing severity, while also damaging the American economy and national security.

Climate activists gather at the 2015 COP21 summit in Paris, France | Photo: Courtesy of Ricochet

“It also follows a pattern of the Trump administration pursuing industry-first deregulation at the expense of the national and global public interest that should concern all of us.

“The appointment of Rex Tillerson and other members of the Cabinet with clear links to big oil set a very alarming path for the Trump Administration.  Just days into the new Administration, Congress took us further down this path by voting to void an important anti-corruption rule 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.

“Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement is another flagrant example of the undue influence of fossil fuel companies on government decision making and of how our government institutions are increasingly being abused to further the business interests of a powerful few. The US is backsliding when the rest of the world is moving ahead.”

Indigenous Activists will Confront Imperial Metals at Annual General Meeting

Indigenous Activists will Confront Imperial Metals at Annual General Meeting

Vancouver, BC — Indigenous delegates and tribal allies will be confronting Imperial Metals at their Annual General Meeting at the Executive Plaza Hotel Coquitlam, 405 North Road, Coquitlam, British Columbia at 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

“It is clear that there are major human rights and Indigenous rights violations happening within Canada and within our unceded Secwepemc Territory,” says Secwepemc land protector, Kanahus Manuel. “This is especially the case with the Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine disaster. The August 2014 tailings pond spill desecrated and destroyed a Sacred area known as Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe in unceded Secwepemc Territory.  The spill has not yet been cleaned up and because of BC’s shoddy mine regulations, the company is now discharging toxic mine wastes directly into Quesnel Lake.”

The Indigenous delegates will warn the Imperial Metals investors they should be aware of the very serious concerns regarding the Mount Polley mine, and the financial risks in investing in poorly run companies like Imperial Metals.

A aerial view shows the damage caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C. Tuesday, August, 5, 2014. The pond which stores toxic waste from the Mount Polley Mine had its dam break spilling its contents into the Hazeltine Creek causing a wide water-use ban in the area. | Photo: Jonathan Hayward

While the company’s shareholders and executives are meeting, the United Nations Working Group for business and human rights is on their first official visit to Canada and will be visiting Williams Lake to investigate Imperial Metals. They will be hearing Indigenous testimonials about the effects of the Mount Polley Mine disaster, and of the continued violations of Human Rights by Canada and Canadian resource extractions companies.

The UN Human Rights Council set up the UN Working Group for business and human rights to address the rights violations often associated with extractive industries. Imperial Metals investors must be made aware of the fact that the whole world is watching them and their actions.

Collective Indigenous consent has never been achieved by Imperial Metals Corporation for any of their operations across British Columbia and there are multiple legal proceedings going on against the company. Imperial Metals has also been met with continued direct actions, disruptions and confrontation from Indigenous Peoples, with mine roads blockaded and their Vancouver headquarters occupied.

The Indigenous land defenders action is being carried out under the legal protection of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which states that Indigenous peoples have the right to block development on their land that was undertaken without their free, prior and informed consent.

Chelsea Manning Releases First Portrait of Herself on Social Media

Chelsea Manning Releases First Portrait of Herself on Social Media

Today, Chelsea Manning released her first full portrait image on social media. The posts on Twitter and Instagram follow her release from military prison yesterday.

Chelsea’s photo can be found here

On Twitterhttps://twitter.com/xychelsea/status/865250670831702016

On Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/p/BUPbwX0htrw/

Okay, so here I am everyone!! 😜 . . #HelloWorld

A post shared by Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea87) on

Caption: okay, so here I am everyone!! =P #helloworld

This photo is also the preferred image to use in stories about Chelsea moving forward for the time being.

Chelsea Manning, Legal Team Confirm Chelsea’s Safe Release from Military Prison

Chelsea Manning, Legal Team Confirm Chelsea’s Safe Release from Military Prison

Be sure to follow Chelsea Manning via her website: luminairity.com

Today, Chelsea Manning was safely released from U.S. military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Said Chelsea Manning:

“After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived. I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me, is far more important than the past. I’m figuring things out right now–which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me.”

Chelsea Manning has released her first photo, of her first steps as a free woman on Twitter @xychelsea and on Instagram @xychelsea87.  The post accompanying the photo reads: first steps of freedom!! ^_^ #chelseaisfree

First steps of freedom!! 😄 . . #chelseaisfree

A post shared by Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea87) on

Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward, Manning’s clemency and appellate lawyers, said in a joint statement: 

“We are able to confirm that Chelsea Manning has been released safely from military prison. Thank you to everyone for ensuring her safe release and respecting her privacy as she starts to adjust to life outside of prison and rebuild her life following seven years of confinement. Chelsea has expressed her deep appreciation to her supporters and looks forward to the future.”

Chase Strangio, staff attorney with the ACLU, had the following reaction:

“It is incredible to witness Chelsea Manning’s freedom after having seen and worked with her behind bars for four years. We can all finally truly celebrate the strength and heroism she has shown in surviving and sharing her truth and life with all of us. Through extended periods of solitary confinement and up against the government’s insistence on denying her medical care and existence as a woman, Chelsea has emerged with grace, resilience, and an inspiring amount of love for others. I am humbled to fight alongside such a fierce advocate for justice.”

The FBI is Investigating Donald Trump’s Call for Russian Hacking and Espionage

The FBI is Investigating Donald Trump’s Call for Russian Hacking and Espionage

President Trump’s May 9, 2017 letter firing now-former FBI Director James Comey in part reads, “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation[.]”

However, a recent court filing by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FBI in an ongoing FOIA lawsuit plainly indicates the FBI has an active investigation pertaining to Donald Trump’s actions related to actual or potential election-related hacking and espionage by Russia.

The lawsuit is filed by Ryan Shapiro, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate/Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University research affiliate, and Jason Leopold, Senior Investigative Journalist at BuzzFeed News.

An excerpt from Donald Trump’s termination letter to James Comey.  You can read Donald Trump’s full letter along with accompanying letters from AG Jeff Sessions, and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein HERE

On August 18, 2016, Shapiro and Leopold submitted a FOIA request to the FBI seeking “disclosure of any and all records, including investigative records, mentioning or referring to Donald J. Trump’s statement on 27 July, 2016 [regarding Secretary Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails], ‘Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,’ and ‘I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.’”

When the FBI did not respond in a timely manner to the FOIA request, Shapiro and Leopold sued. During the lawsuit, the FBI initially asserted that it could neither confirm nor deny the existence of documents responsive to this FOIA request.

Excerpt from the Joint Status Report that indicates that there is an active FBI investigation.  Read the full status report HERE

However, the FBI subsequently withdrew this position and agreed to search for the requested documents. Again, the documents requested by Shapiro and Leopold are records, including investigative records, mentioning or referring to a public statement made personally by Donald J. Trump, not his advisors, surrogates, or campaign staff.

Excerpt from the Joint Status Report that indicates that there is an active FBI investigation. Read the full status report HERE

In a court filing in this case on April 6, 2017, a Justice Department attorney representing the FBI informed the Court that there is an “active, ongoing investigation” pertaining to this matter and claimed that disclosing the “records that are responsive to the Russia Request” could reasonably be expected to interfere with “enforcement proceedings.” (As noted elsewhere in the DOJ/FBI’s new filing, the term “Russia Request” refers explicitly to Shapiro and Leopold’s FOIA request quoted above.) The DOJ/FBI’s new court filing acknowledges the existence of records responsive to Shapiro and Leopold’s “Russia Request”, and claimed that all, or virtually all, of these documents cannot be released because of the potential to interfere with active law enforcement proceedings.

On April 7, 2017, the Court set a deadline of July 25, 2017 for the FBI to file a motion explaining the basis for its claim that release of documents responsive to “the Russia Request” would interfere with an ongoing law enforcement operation.

The lawsuit is Case 1:16-cv-01827-KBJ. It is being heard in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Documents

  1. Read the Joint Status Report in 1:16-cv-01827-KBJ HERE 
  2. Read Comey’s termination letter from Trump, Sessions & Rosenstein HERE

About Operation 45

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.

Shapiro is also the co-founder and president of the new transparency organization Operation 45. The Nation has described Operation 45 as “a ray of hope in these dark political times.”

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.

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

You can follow Ryan Shapiro on twitter at @_rshapiro, and Jason Leopold on twitter at @JasonLeopold.

You can support Operation 45’s efforts HERE