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Christina DiPasquale, 202.716.1953, firstname.lastname@example.org
Andy Stepanian, 631.291.3010, email@example.com
Jeremy Hammond, a 28-year-old political activist, will be sentenced Friday, November 15 at the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York [500 Pearl Street, Courtroom 12A] after pleading guilty to participating in the Anonymous hack into the computers of the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor). An outpouring of support by journalists, activists and other whistleblowers in the run-up to the sentencing hearing has focused on Jeremy Hammond's actions as civil disobedience, motivated by a desire to protest and expose the secret activities of private intelligence corporations.
Jeremy Hammond's attorneys have submitted a sentencing memorandum on his behalf asking for a sentence of time served, a call supported by 5,000 people in petitions hosted by Change.org and Demand Progress. Additionally, over 250 letters addressed to the Judge from friends, family, journalists, academics, the tech community, and prominent whistleblowers have been included with the memorandum. Among these is a letter cosigned by 17 editors and journalists representing international media outlets in fifteen countries with a combined audience of 500 million people.
VIEW EXCERPTS OF LETTERS OF SUPPORT HERE: FreeJeremy.net, the website of the Jeremy Hammond Defense Committee.
Many of the supporters plan to be present at Mr. Hammond's sentencing to voice their concern and to raise public awareness of the disproportionate sentences associated with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which grants greater protection to corporations than those it affords to individuals. Private companies like Stratfor account for 70 percent of the government intelligence budget and often operate without public scrutiny or government oversight.
"The information released by Mr. Hammond for the first time gives the American people and others in the world a picture of the role that private intelligence corporations play in surveillance of legally and constitutionally protected activities and the activists involved. The Stratfor documents have given us the understanding that private intelligence companies may be a bigger problem for civil liberties than our own government and it is these companies that we ought to be suing as we pursue government accountability for surveillance," said Michael Ratner, President Emeritus at The Center for Constitutional Rights.
In a letter of support for Mr. Hammond, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg wrote: "My decision to go public with the Pentagon Papers was a difficult one. At my own risk, I released them, just as Jeremy Hammond has done. I believe the actions taken by Jeremy Hammond need to be viewed in a context that considers the profound consequences of private surveillance of political activists in the United States."
"[Jeremy Hammond] performed an act of civil disobedience out of a deeply held belief that the people have a right to know what the government and unregulated corporations are doing behind closed doors against them," wrote Jesselyn Radack, a whistleblower and former ethics adviser to the Department of Justice, in a letter of support for Jeremy. "He is a patriot who only sought to provide transparency and expose the surveillance crimes being perpetrated on the American people."
A longtime social activist and proponent of ethical hacking, Jeremy has stated that he revealed the information about Stratfor because "people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors."
Originally facing a sentence totaling more than 35 years and additional indictments in 12 other federal jurisdictions, Jeremy pled to a single count of conspiracy under the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). He faces a maximum of ten years. Jeremy's co-defendants from England and Ireland have received sentences ranging from probation to 30 months in prison and are not likely to be extradited to the US.
To speak to members of the defense committee or to some of the people who wrote letters to the Court on Mr. Hammond's behalf, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.716.1953 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sentencing hearing for Jeremy Hammond is scheduled for November 15, 2013 at 10 AM at Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, 500 Pearl Street, Courtroom 12A. For interviews at the November 15 hearing, contact Andy Stepanian, 631.291.3010, email@example.com.
The Jeremy Hammond Defense Committee is a coalition of family members, activists, lawyers, and other supporters who are working together to protect free speech and to support Jeremy Hammond. The committee's goal is to provide information to the public and the press, to organize events related to Jeremy's case, and to support Jeremy while he is in jail. For more information, please visit http://freejeremy.net.
"The Forest Service has bent to the will of the oil and gas industry, and is placing fossil fuel profits above our environment and public safety."
The U.S. Forest Service on Monday gave a green light for the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline to run through the Jefferson National Forest, a decision that sparked outcry from conservationists who say the Biden administration is ignoring the fracked gas project's potentially devastating impacts on the environment and wildlife.
The Forest Service's new Record of Decision (ROD) approves construction of the long-delayed pipeline across a 3.5-mile corridor of the Jefferson National Forest in Monroe County, West Virginia and Giles and Montgomery Counties, Virginia.
"I can see the Jefferson National Forest from my kitchen window," said Russell Chisholm, managing director of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR) coalition. "This land is precious to me. It is home. The Biden administration is trying to destroy my home with the Mountain Valley Pipeline, despite the national forest's protected status."
"This unfinished, unnecessary pipeline project has accrued hundreds of violations," Chisholm added. "The Biden administration's next move must be to stop the MVP. On June 8th, we'll be on his front doorstep demanding he do so."
Monday's decision marks the third time the Forest Service has tried to allow Mountain Valley Pipeline construction through the Jefferson National Forest, which is home to threatened species, waterways, and old-growth forest.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit rejected the Forest Service's 2018 and 2022 decisions granting approval for the project in the Jefferson National Forest, faulting the agency for failing to adequately consider "the actual sedimentation and erosion impacts of the pipeline," among other possible damage.
Appalachian Voices, one of the groups that sued over the previous authorizations, said Monday that the Forest Service's new decision "ignores outstanding concerns about the proposed changes to standards for soil health, old-growth forest, forest edge, species competition, and scenic viewshed standards will bring significant harmful impacts to biodiversity and lands held in the public trust."
"The Forest Service's preferred alternative to allow MVP to rip through the Jefferson National Forest grossly underestimates the lasting environmental harms from the project, ignores the overwhelming public opposition to sacrificing this treasured land, and shirks the agency's responsibility to steward forests," said Jessica Sims, the Virginia field coordinator for Appalachian Voices. "We maintain that the Mountain Valley Pipeline cannot be built through the Jefferson National Forest without lasting damage to sensitive forests, habitats, and waters."
"Amending a forest plan 11 times to accommodate a ruinous project on treasured federal land," Sims added, "is unacceptable."
"The Mountain Valley Pipeline will tear a hole in Jefferson National Forest that will scar the integrity of the forest, compromise our water, and sacrifice communities across Appalachia in its wake."
Developers of the multibillion-dollar Mountain Valley Pipeline still must obtain other federal approvals to finish the project, which is a top priority of fossil fuel industry ally Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
"The Forest Service said it approved amendments to its Land and Resource Management Plan to allow the massive buried pipeline," The Roanoke Timesreported Monday. "But work in the national forest, which will include boring a tunnel under the Appalachian Trail at the top of Peters Mountain, cannot start until Mountain Valley has other permits in hand."
If completed, the pipeline would generate tens of millions of metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year, the equivalent of roughly two dozen coal-fired power plants.
The Forest Service's latest decision comes weeks after U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm
reiterated the Biden administration's support for the Mountain Valley Pipeline in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), drawing outraged responses from environmentalists who say the White House is violating its pledge to treat the climate crisis as an existential threat.
Jill Gottesman, Southern Appalachian Landscape director for the Wilderness Society, said in a statement Monday that "the Forest Service has bent to the will of the oil and gas industry, and is placing fossil fuel profits above our environment and public safety."
"The Mountain Valley Pipeline will tear a hole in Jefferson National Forest that will scar the integrity of the forest, compromise our water, and sacrifice communities across Appalachia in its wake," said Gottesman. "We have no choice but to take this battle back to the court."
"Billionaires spending a billion dollars on a shopping spree for democracy should wake us all up to the threat posed by nearly unlimited wealth applied without limits to our elections," said the head of Americans for Tax Fairness.
Americans for Tax Fairness on Monday released the group's latest report on "the threat posed to American democracy by billionaire political spenders," revealing that last year their collective congressional campaign contributions topped $1 billion for the first time.
"That 'Billionaires' Billion' was almost three-quarters more than the tycoons' total spending on the last midterms, in 2018, and 300 times more than what billionaires spent on congressional races as recently as a dozen years ago," states the ATF report.
"The Billionaires' Billion—contributed by fewer than 500 individuals—represented about one of every nine dollars raised from all sources in the 2022 elections," the analysis continues, noting that 15 of the nation's richest households were responsible for $658 million, or nearly two-thirds, of the contributions.
"Nearly 80% of billionaire cash—$782 million—went to outside campaign groups," the document adds, and in eight key races that decided which party controlled the Senate, "billionaire donations supported Republican candidates over Democratic ones by almost a 5-1 margin."
\u201cIn the three states where billionaire support was overwhelmingly on the Republican side, the Republican won the Senate race.\n\nIn North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, Republican billionaires outspent the much smaller pool of Democratic billionaires by at least 9-to-1 in each race.\u201d— Americans For Tax Fairness (@Americans For Tax Fairness) 1684157314
Democrats initially secured a slim majority in the Senate—including the two Independents who caucus with the party—after Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) won a runoff against GOP challenger Herschel Walker in December, but that victory was quickly tempered when Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona became an Independent just days later.
Although Republicans lost five of the eight key Senate races, the ATF report explains, not only did billionaire spending encourage candidates to focus on positions favored by their wealthy benefactors, but also, in North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin—won by GOP Sens. Ted Budd, J.D. Vance, and Ron Johnson, respectively—the superrich overwhelmingly backed the party and "Republican billionaires outspent the much smaller pool of Democratic billionaires by at least 9-to-1 in each race."
The GOP did seize control of the House of Representatives in last year's midterms—enabling their efforts to quash recent legislative victories and priorities of congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden, including the ongoing battle over whether to raise the debt ceiling to avert the first-ever U.S. default, which economists warn would be catastrophic for the global economy.
The current makeup of Congress makes it exceptionally difficult to pass any legislation—including campaign finance reforms that critics of billionaires' influence on the American political system have increasingly demanded since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which loosened restrictions on political spending.
\u201cWhen corporations and billionaires can buy elections, the voices of ordinary Americans are drowned out. We need to end Citizens United and restore balance to our democracy.\u201d— End Citizens United (@End Citizens United) 1684165959
"Billionaires spending a billion dollars on a shopping spree for democracy should wake us all up to the threat posed by nearly unlimited wealth applied without limits to our elections," ATF executive director David Kass declared Monday. "There are well-known solutions to the problem, including overturning Citizens United and effectively taxing the biggest sources of billionaire wealth, which now often go lightly taxed if at all."
"Those tax reforms include taxing wealth like work by equalizing the top tax rate on investment and wage income, and closing the stepped-up basis loophole that allows investment gains to go untaxed forever," Kass added. "All that's needed is for Congress to heed the call of the American people to unrig a corrupt system."
In March, Biden unveiled a budget blueprint—which included various tax reforms—that then-ATF executive director Frank Clemente said "plainly shows whose side he's on: working families struggling with the high cost of healthcare, childcare, housing and more—not the wealthy elite and their big corporations rolling in dough and dodging their fair share of taxes."
However, the GOP continues to make clear that the party only plans to serve the rich with tax breaks, not force them to pay more. Citing three unnamed sources, The Washington Postreported Monday that "the White House recently gave Republican congressional leadership a list of proposals to reduce the deficit by closing tax loopholes during the ongoing negotiations over the federal budget and the debt ceiling. But Republican negotiators rejected every item."
\u201cBREAKING: Republicans have rejected a proposal to lower the debt by closing tax loopholes for the rich.\n\nRepublicans created this debt crisis with their tax cuts for the wealthy. Democrats can not cave to their demands that the rest of us pay for it.\nhttps://t.co/yH6ZzfK4Rq\u201d— Americans For Tax Fairness (@Americans For Tax Fairness) 1684183330
"On a phone call last week, senior White House officials floated about a dozen tax plans to reduce the deficit as part of a broader budget agreement with House Republicans, including a measure aimed at cryptocurrency transactions and another for large real estate investors," according to the Post. "They were all swiftly rejected by the GOP aides on the call."
"The United States government, while not solely responsible for the damage, has a significant obligation to invest in humanitarian assistance and reconstruction in post-9/11 war zones," said the author of a new report.
The post-9/11 War on Terror may have caused at least 4.5 million deaths in around half a dozen countries, according to a report published Monday by the preeminent academic institution studying the costs, casualties, and consequences of a war in which U.S. bombs and bullets are still killing and wounding people in multiple nations.
The new report from the Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs shows "how death outlives war" by examining people killed indirectly by the War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
"In a place like Afghanistan, the pressing question is whether any death can today be considered unrelated to war," Stephanie Savell, Costs of War co-director and author of the report, said in a statement. "Wars often kill far more people indirectly than in direct combat, particularly young children."
\u201cBREAKING: Our latest estimates reveal that deaths in post-9/11 war zones top 4.5 million.\u00a0\n\nRead more by @MiriamABerger in the @WashingtonPost: https://t.co/nefwgALoP6\u201d— The Costs of War Project (@The Costs of War Project) 1684181702
The publication "reviews the latest research to examine the causal pathways that have led to an estimated 3.6-3.7 million indirect deaths in post-9/11 war zones," while "the total death toll in these war zones could be at least 4.5-4.6 million and counting, though the precise mortality figure remains unknown."
As The Washington Post—which first reported on the analysis—details:
Since 2010, a team of 50 scholars, legal experts, human rights practitioners, and physicians participating in theCosts of War project have kept their own calculations. According to their latest assessment, more than 906,000 people, including 387,000 civilians, died directly from post-9/11 wars. Another 38 million people have been displaced or made refugees. The U.S. federal government, meanwhile, has spent over $8 trillion on these wars, the research suggests.
But Savell said the research indicates that exponentially more people, especially children and the most impoverished and marginalized populations, have been killed by the effects of war—mounting poverty, food insecurity, environmental contamination, the ongoing trauma of violence, and the destruction of health and public infrastructure, along with private property and means of livelihood.
According to the report, "The large majority of indirect war deaths occur due to malnutrition, pregnancy and birth-related problems, and many illnesses including infectious diseases and noncommunicable diseases like cancer."
\u201cThe @WashingtonPost covered it in today\u2019s exclusive. Fantastic coverage by @MiriamABerger [2/\nhttps://t.co/Rck6BCpVwi\u201d— Stephanie Savell (@Stephanie Savell) 1684180628
One 2012 study found that more than half of the babies born in the Iraqi city of Fallujah between 2007 and 2010 had birth defects. Among the pregnant woman surveyed in the study, more than 45% experienced miscarriages in the two-year period following the 2004 U.S. assaults on Fallujah. Geiger counter readings of depleted uranium-contaminated sites in densely populated Iraqi urban areas have consistently shown radiation levels that are 1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal.
The study also found that some deaths "also result from injuries due to war's destruction of infrastructure such as traffic signals and from reverberating trauma and interpersonal violence."
\u201cFactoring in Costs of War estimates of direct deaths of between 906,000 \u2013 937,000 people in these war zones brings the total of estimated deaths to at least 4.5-4.6 million and counting. [5/11] https://t.co/3m3JrCzqkR\u201d— The Costs of War Project (@The Costs of War Project) 1684181702
Savell said that "warring parties who damage infrastructure with an impact on population health have a moral responsibility to provide quick and effective assistance and repairs."
"The United States government, while not solely responsible for the damage, has a significant obligation to invest in humanitarian assistance and reconstruction in post-9/11 war zones," she added. "The U.S. government could do far more than it currently is to act on this responsibility."