Saudi Arabia still imprisons (and, once weekly, lashes) blogger Raid Badawi -- supposedly for "insulting Islam," apparently by merely encouraging discussion of Islam at a social media site -- but Amnesty International helps you tell Congress to speak out against Mr. Badawi's imprisonment and against brutal state crackdowns on free speech. As you may know, one other thing has happened lately in Saudi Arabia: King Abdullah, whom the "liberal" media insisted on calling a "moderate" and a "reformer" for some reason, passed away at the age of 91 last month, and while I wish him peace in his eternal rest, I'm not going to pass up the opportunity to note that his successor, King Salman, has a rare opportunity to make a mark, not just in favor of free speech but also against torture and in favor of women's rights. Talking about Islam like regular folk might talk about Islam shouldn't be a crime anywhere on Earth, and certainly nominally Islamic leaders should be secure enough in their faith to be able to tolerate dissent, or even irreverence.
If you've missed previous opportunities to tell Pennsylvania's two Senators to oppose efforts to exempt waste coal-burning plants from clean air regulations, then the Sierra Club still helps you do that. As it happens, both Messrs. Casey, the Democrat, and Toomey, the Republican, have led this effort, but you don't want them to succeed. Why? Well, as we learned last month, waste coal is (as its name suggests) the waste product of burning plain old coal, and waste coal contains many times more mercury, lead, and sulfur -- among other toxins -- than even plain old coal. And Pennsylvania's Senators have tried to sell these clean air exemptions as environmentally sound, by raising the spectre of all that waste coal lying around doing nothing. They're wrong, of course -- burning 100 tons of waste coal produces 85 tons of waste coal ash, which we also have to deal with, and plenty of organizations have succeeded in mitigating the harmful effect of waste coal toxins by planting beachgrass on top. And anyway, don't people who live near waste coal plants deserve to breathe clean air, too?
Finally, if you've missed previous opportunities to tell your Congressfolk to oppose both the Trans-Pacific "Partnership" "free" trade pact and the "fast-tracking" thereof, then Public Citizen, the Center for Effective Government, and Food and Water Watch all help you do that. You may have heard that the latest trade statistics for 2014, which find our trade deficit with SHAFTYA, er, NAFTA nations is "only" $86 billion, "prove" that the "loosening" of trade "barriers" -- "barriers" that include, I feel compelled to point out yet again, laws that protect our environment and our workers -- will reduce our trade deficit. Trouble with that (as you may also have heard!) is that they're stacking the numbers -- take out the foreign goods that get shipped to the U.S. before getting shipped abroad again, and that $86 billion deficit more than doubles to $180 billion. Their lies are getting worse and worse, and that is why they need to keep this deal's details a secret, and that is why they need an anti-democratic tool like "fast-track." We can't let them win. But if we speak out enough, we won't let them win.