It's Friday, which means, unfortunately, that Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi is due to get 50 lashes for the heinous crime of not only discussing religion in public, but encouraging other good Saudis to do the same. Actually, they convicted him of "violat(ing) Islamic values and propagat(ing) liberal thought," which sure doesn't sound any better. Mr. Badawi did receive 50 lashes on January 9 of this year, but apparently hasn't received any since, which could mean the Saudi Arabian government is somewhat sensitive to the bad publicity they'll get around the world -- or it could mean Mr. Badawi isn't well enough to withstand it. Either way, they should stop torturing him and release him, and stop giving other good Saudis trouble -- Islam surely can withstand a little sunlight, but the Saudi Arabian government insults Islam by acting otherwise. So Amnesty International helps you tell the Saudi Arabian government to stop oppressing people like Mr. Badawi simply because they exercise their God-given right to free speech.
We regard America as being too civilized for child labor, Newt Gingrich's notion of replacing school janitors with 12-year-old students notwithstanding, but American laws actually exempt tobacco farms from child labor laws -- meaning that 12-year-old kids working long hours in tobacco fields absorb way more nicotine in their bodies than any body should, let alone a body still growing. Tobacco leaves leak out nicotine when they get wet; combine that with Southern humidity and you have workers absorbing as much nicotine as if they were actually smoking cigarettes. Still, three years ago we couldn't get our government to see the wisdom in changing that situation, but lately two tobacco corporations have stopped hiring workers younger than 16, with more than a dozen others promising to eliminate child labor from their supply chains -- but a promise isn't a call to complacency, it's an opening. So Avaaz helps you tell the Obama Administration to ban child labor on tobacco farms.
Finally, the Toxic Substances Control Act is nearly 40 years old, and two distinct paths toward reform have emerged. Sens. Vitter (R-LA) and Udall (D-NM) have introduced S. 697, the unfortunately-named Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, and I say "unfortunately-named" because the late Senator introduced much more vigorous chemical safety reform legislation before his death. Though S. 697 would make it a little easier for the EPA to test chemicals and restrict the bad ones, it would also block states and localities from passing tougher legislation, and if you suspect that big chemical corporations must have written the bill, you're not alone. But Sens. Boxer (D-CA) and Markey (D-MA) have also introduced S. 725, the Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act, and that bill would advance EPA testing without the poison pill (so to speak) of federal pre-emption. So the Center for Effective Government helps you support the most vigorous chemical safety reform legislation possible.