Amnesty International helps you tell the Obama Administration to reform its drone strike policies. You know, so unmanned planes don't kill innocent people, both overseas and here in America. Amnesty puts forth a five-point plan to reform America's drone policies, and loathe as I am to endorse a bulleted list, this one's pretty good. Chief among its points: ending our official obsession with "global war," where the battlefield is anywhere the President says it is and the battle's on whenever the President says it's on. We have good reasons for giving Congress the power to begin war, define the scope of war, and end war, none of which has been happening nearly enough lately. Of course, if Congress doesn't want to exercise their responsibility as the Constitution mandates, that just means we need new Congressfolk. In the meantime, there's no harm in expressing our will to our President.
Another year, another Republican attempt at regulatory "transparency," this time in the guise of S. 714/H.R. 1493, the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act. So what is that, then? Well, if a federal agency fails to issue a proposed regulation by a certain date as required by law, and then a public interest organization sues the agency, the agency could settle the suit by issuing said proposed regulation -- and the agency would still have to solicit public comments and submitting the regulation to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (or OIRA), again as required by law. But S. 714/H.R. 1493 would mandate another 60-day public comment period before the suit can be settled, and would allow future Presidential Administrations to modify settlements. Recall that this hypothetical lawsuit only comes up because an agency didn't do its job under the law; now S. 714/H.R. 1493 would let said agency drag its feet even more. I think this bill merits a phone call to your Reps and Senators. They'll never see it coming.
Meanwhile, change.org helps you tell the FCC to mandate warnings for scenes of sexual violence on TV. Why? Because scenes of sexual violence typically don't get mentioned in TV Guide synopses, and survivors of sexual assault (who number approximately 1 in 6 women in America, as well as 1 in 33 men) often find dramatic enactments of sexual assault very upsetting, as if they've been transported back to the time and place of their assault. Our TV shows already warn us about violence, bad language and sexual content, but not sexual violence specifically, and being clued into the possibility of seeing violence and sexual content doesn't necessarily constitute a warning about sexual violence. And I sure hope I'm not talking to anyone who considers such warnings tantamount to "censorship." They're not; they're warnings. Warnings don't coerce folks into changing the channel, but they may just give folks enough information so they can be free to choose wisely.
Finally, Public Citizen helps you tell Charles Schwab & Co, Inc., to give up the forced arbitration clause and the class action ban from its terms of service contracts. Really, now, do you want to hear businesses say they refuse to do business with you unless you give up your right to sue them in a public court if you think they've screwed you? Forced arbitration clauses typically prevent you from seeking redress for your grievances in the courts -- they force you into private arbitration (hence the name!) paid for by the corporation, and how often do you think the arbitrators rule against the corporations paying them? And really, class-action bans? What are they afraid of? They're not systematically ripping off large sections of their customer base, are they? Schwab is, believe it or not, the first investment brokerage firm to issue a class-action ban; presumably other firms will follow -- but they'll be a lot less likely to do that if we hit them with the stick of bad PR.