First things first. Remember when Republicans made all those noises about "bipartisanship," and Sen. McConnell said he wanted to show people they didn't need to be "scared" of Republicans? Well, first they went after Social Security, then they gave the banksters some more handouts, and now they're trying to let big corporations pollute our air and water, poison our food, and steal from investors with impunity. H.R. 185 may be called the Regulatory Accountability Act, but all it does is allow big corporations to escape accountability to the American people, by forcing federal agencies including the EPA, the FDA, OSHA, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to jump through flaming hoops to serve the public. One of those flaming hoops, naturally, would be forcing agencies to write regulations so that they don't hurt the bottom lines of big corporations -- like saving them money is more important than saving the American people money. But that's your Republican party -- more unearned money for their big donors, and more hardship and misery for you. Both Public Citizen and the Union of Concerned Scientists help you tell your Congressfolk to reject H.R. 185. And don't dither, because the vote's today.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International helps you tell Secretary of State John Kerry to invite the U.N. to inspect American super-max prisons to see if their use of solitary confinement conforms to international law and/or basic human decency. Spoiler alert: it won't. Once upon a time, the Quakers thought solitary preferable to public flogging; now tough-on-crime types throw as many prisoners as they can into the hole, just to prove they've got bigger testicles than everyone else. And now prisoners in solitary spend nearly all day in cold, windowless cells, without room to move or people to visit. You may argue that well, they're prisoners, but they're already paying a debt to society in the loss of their freedom, and I hope we don't measure ourselves as Americans by how badly we treat our prisoners. And when I said our overuse of solitary contravenes international law, I also mean that it contravenes American law, since the U.S. Senate ratified the Convention Against Torture in 1994 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1992. That makes them American law, no matter what you may have learned from Tha Bush Mobb.
Finally, Friends of the Earth helps you tell Carnival Cruise Lines to reform its sewage-treatment practices in the open ocean. Carnival's fleet has 24 cruise liners, 22 of which use sewage-treatment technology that's 35 years old. (Just for your reference, the number one pop single in America 35 years ago today was Rupert Holmes' "Escape (The Piña Colada Song).") The EPA has found that Carnival's technology hasn't aged as well as any of Mr. Holmes's tunes, that it puts out more heavy metals and fecal bacteria than would otherwise be allowed in American waters. Don't go thinking this is no big deal because they're not our waters, because every one of God's creatures deserves a shot at a better life, and besides, you might be eating fish from those waters. These same 22 ships also have antiquated emission-control systems, meaning they pollute the air while they're sitting in port, even though new technologies are not only available but widely-used. And, as it happens, Carnival pays roughly 1.1% of its profits in corporate taxes (federal, state, local, and foreign combined), meaning it has the money to do better, but doesn't.