Holocaust survivor Leo Bretholz, now 93, has started a petition on Change.org which helps you tell French railroad corporation SNCF to pay reparations to Holocaust victims. As you may recall, France was the country that prepared to bet on two possible winners during World War II, and SNCF transported over 75,000 good folks to Nazi death camps (with all but 2,000 dying there); the Nazis apparently paid per person and per kilometer -- instructing us, if anything does, that evil wears reading glasses -- and SNCF even kept sending invoices to the French government well after the Allies liberated Paris in 1944, which I bet President de Gaulle, who fought the Nazis from the first day to the last, found quite interesting. And unlike some 6,000 German corporations, SNCF has never paid a cent in reparations for any of that. For Mr. Bretholz, who jumped from one of SNCF's trains when he was 21, the cause has become even more personal, as SNCF is bidding to build a light-rail line in his home state of Maryland. While we should not forget the 1,700 SNCF railway workers whom the Nazis deported or killed because they fought occupation, we also should not let SNCF forget the time when their business was extermination.
Meanwhile, Capitol One recently changed the terms of its standard contract with its credit card customers; the contract stated that they could contact customers in "any manner we choose," and "any manner" explicitly includes the possibility of showing up at your house. Remember in Kafka's Metamorphosis, when Gregor Samsa's office manager actually showed up at his house to harangue him about not coming to work? Hopefully, you won't have mysteriously turned into a giant insect when Capitol One comes knocking! Capitol One might also call, email, fax, or text you -- oh, you have to pay your cell phone provider for texts other people send you? Well, too bad for you! -- and Capitol One also claims the right to "modify or suppress caller ID and similar services and identify ourselves on these services in any manner we choose," which promise their PR department had to walk back in subsequent days, for reasons you might easily imagine. But Capitol One hasn't revised their contract, and the contract's the thing that matters in a court of law, so Consumers Union helps you tell Capitol One to keep Big Brother tactics out of their contracts with customers.
Finally, the clock's running out on the Keystone XL pipeline (a matter about which many good folks got arrested yesterday). President Obama has the power to reject the pipeline, as he said he would if it significantly impacted our worsening climate-change problem. The oil corporation flacks who helped write the State Department's report have argued that the pipeline won't make climate change worse, because the tar sands are going somewhere anyway and it doesn't matter if it's that pipeline or some other pipeline or some railroad -- as if making transportation of tar sands oil easier couldn't possibly mean there'll be more of it! In any case, the Center for Media and Democracy put together a short but powerful film demolishing the case for Keystone XL. One thing I forgot: the Ogalalla Aquifer doesn't just supply drinking water to the heartland, it also supplies agricultural water to the heartland. One thing I didn't know: taxpayers will have to pay for any pipe leaks, because TransCanada, the corporation building the pipeline, won't have to pay into an insurance fund that pays for such cleanups. See, it's not just about the environment -- it's about right and wrong. Sum of Us helps you do the right thing.