Category Archives: news

Trump’s Afghanistan Strategy will Fail if it Does not Take on Corruption

Trump’s Afghanistan Strategy will Fail if it Does not Take on Corruption

Tonight at 9pm EST President Trump announced his new Afghanistan strategy, Global Witness’ Stephen Carter highlights what is needed for a real change in direction:

“The United States is Afghanistan’s key partner and has real potential to help break the cycle of violence there. But its continued presence will change nothing unless the US and the Afghan government also tackle the root causes of instability. That means fighting the corruption that allows insurgents and strongmen to reap the benefits of the country’s resources, and maintain their grip on power. ‘Nation-building’ in that sense is vital to what President Trump called ‘principled realism’ – not separate from it.

“Corruption is at the heart of insecurity in Afghanistan. It deeply undermines the effectiveness of Afghan forces and the legitimacy of the Afghan government, and is a huge obstacle to any realistic path to stability. Despite successive American military and political leaders acknowledging this challenge, in practice they have rarely treated it as a priority: it is ironic that it is now seen as impossible. If President Trump wants to turn Afghanistan around, there needs to be a real change in the way the US and the Afghan government’s approach governance issues, putting them on a par with military concerns and using levers of support and influence much more effectively.

“The Afghan mining sector is one obvious place to start. It is the second largest source of funding for the Taliban and a major driver of corruption and conflict. Global Witness’ own research, for example, shows how competition over illegal mining in Badakhshan has undermined the stability of an entire province and made it a hotbed of the insurgency. Despite this, basic transparency measures have yet to be put into effect, the Mining Law is missing key safeguards against corruption and conflict, and the Afghan government has struggled to produce basic information on contracts and production. The US has done relatively little to press for stronger action, even though the sector is central to hopes of building up Afghanistan’s economy – and for its ability to fund their own security forces and secure their territory without endless expenditure of American lives and money.

“Under President Ghani and CEO Abdullah the Afghan government has shown itself willing to contemplate serious reforms and to agree anti-corruption benchmarks, even if implementation has so far been slow. America has a partner in Afghanistan, but they need to seize the chance to work with them, and push hard for serious action. The call for ‘real reforms’ is welcome, but it has been made before, and is lacking specifics. President Trump’s Afghan strategy will stand or fall on how well he turns those words into action.” said Carter.

‘Stand With Reality’ Awareness Campaign to Fund Legal Defense for Alleged Whistleblower Reality Winner

‘Stand With Reality’ Awareness Campaign to Fund Legal Defense for Alleged Whistleblower Reality Winner

Stand With Reality, a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of concerned individuals, is launching a campaign today to defend N.S.A. contractor Ms. Reality Leigh Winner against an overzealous prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice.

 

Winner has been charged under the Espionage Act, a 100-year-old statute originally designed for spies and saboteurs, for allegedly giving a document vital to the public’s understanding of potential Russian interference in U.S. election systems to a news organization.

 

Stand With Reality believes the charge against Winner is grossly disproportionate to her alleged offense, and is designed to create a chilling effect on investigative journalism by dissuading sources from sharing information that is critical to the public interest. The group is dedicated to raising public awareness of Winner’s case, as well as the U.S. government’s persistent abuse of the Espionage Act to silence its critics and stifle journalism.

 

“The document Winner is alleged to have given The Intercept is vital for understanding how U.S. election systems are seriously vulnerable to hacking. It is absurd that the government is charging her under the draconian Espionage Act rather than helping states fix our country’s election security,” said Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist project director and co-founder of Stand With Reality.

 

The organization aims to fully fund Winner’s legal defense team headed by attorney Titus Nichols, of the Augusta, Georgia law firm of Bell & Brigham. Stand with Reality launched a crowdfunding campaign today to cover both legal fees and public awareness efforts. “It is refreshing to know that so many people that Ms. Winner has never known have come together to offer their support and prayers for her,” notes Nichols. “Your pledge of additional support, for fees related to her case, is commendable,” he adds.

 

“The new Stand with Reality group means the world to me. Not only are they going to be raising money for my daughter’s legal defense, they’ll also be raising awareness. Reality won’t be forgotten, and she’ll have a whole organization behind her,” said Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, of Kingsville, Texas. The Winner Family will be closing their GoFundMe effort and directing supporters to the new Reality Winner Defense Fund hosted by Courage to Resist in collaboration with Stand with Reality. Meanwhile, the UK-based Courage Foundation is undertaking fundraising and support efforts on behalf of Winner throughout Europe.

 

First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund provided a grant of $50,000 which will act as a matching fund for the first $50,000 raised for this campaign between now and August 30th. First Look is the publisher of The Intercept, which published its story based on a document allegedly provided by Winner after receiving it anonymously. The Fund is committed to supporting legal fights where key principles of press freedom are at stake, including the defense of journalistic sources like Winner facing this Espionage Act charge.

 

Winner, 25, is an Air Force veteran and recipient of the Air Force Commendation Medal for those who have “distinguished themselves by meritorious achievement and service.” She is universally described by friends and family as a “patriot”.

 

She is currently being denied bail on the basis that she is a flight risk, despite assurances from her family, and their offer of their 20-acre Southern Texas ranch as collateral.

 

“We believe the prosecution is trying to demoralize Reality and her family by denying her bail,” said Rainey Reitman, open Internet advocate and co-founder of Stand with Reality. “They’re punishing her with months in jail, and denying her the opportunity to fully participate in her defense preparations, all before a jury hears the merits of the government’s case.”

 

Stand with Reality was founded by three individuals dedicated to open government, free expression, civil liberties, and the rule of law:


  • Jeff Paterson, a Marine veteran and web developer, has spent the last 11 years as the project director of Courage to Resist, which provides legal and advocacy assistance to military war resisters.

  • Trevor Timm, a lawyer and free speech advocate, is the co-founder and executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which helps defend the rights of journalists and whistleblowers worldwide.

  • Rainey Reitman, a writer and privacy advocate, leads the advocacy team for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization, and works as a nonprofit consultant.

     

For complete campaign information visit: https://StandWithReality.org
New Yorkers Show Solidarity for Reality Winner, NSA Contractor Charged Under Espionage Act

New Yorkers Show Solidarity for Reality Winner, NSA Contractor Charged Under Espionage Act

New York, NY — The indictment of NSA contractor Reality Leigh Winner may be the opening salvo in the Trump Administration’s self-described war on leaks. Reality is facing a serious charge under the Espionage Act for allegedly sharing an NSA report on Russian attempts to compromise the 2016 US Presidential election.  Concerned New Yorkers and political activists will show their support for Reality on Wednesday afternoon by gathering on the south steps of New York’s Union Square to declare they #StandWithReality 

When: 2:30pm EST, TODAY, Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Where: Union Square Park (South Steps), 101 East 14th Street, New York, NY 10003 

What: Vigil in support of Reality Leigh Winner, typographic placards will spell out #STANDWITHREALITY 

Who: Concerned New Yorkers in support of Reality Winner hosted by People for Bernie Sanders, Courage Foundation, Democrats.com, and The Sparrow Project

Why: On June 5th, 2017, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the arrest of 25-year-old Reality Leigh Winner, a federal contractor in Augusta, Georgia (USA), on charges of allegedly sharing an NSA report on Russian military intelligence’s hacking efforts during the final days of the  2016 election with a news outlet.  Reality Winner deserves widespread support as she faces an administration that has openly declared war on journalists and their sources.

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.