Muhammad Bekzhanov has been imprisoned for 16 years in Uzbekistan, nominally for (get your surprised face ready) committing acts of terrorism, but more likely for heading up the newspaper of the political party Erk, a party banned by the state. Mr. Bekzhanov tried to get asylum in neighboring Ukraine, but instead found himself extradited back to Uzbekistan, then tortured into confessing to several bombings. His torture has included being beaten by rubber truncheons and plastic bottles filled with water (if you think that last item's not so bad, remember how much water weighs), and also given electric shocks and suffocated; it's been bad enough over the years that he's now deaf in one ear and has contracted TB, and he told his wife "the only thing he asked of God was to let him die." Now, if Barack Obama did that to Tea Party leaders, or if George W. Bush had done that to anti-war protestors, you wouldn't stand for that, right? So why stand for it in Uzbekistan? They get away with it because they think no one notices. Amnesty International helps you convince them otherwise, and tell them to stop torturing, and start freeing, political prisoners.
Meanwhile, H.J.Res. 22 would amend the U.S. Constitution to allow state and federal governments to "regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections." It would also allow said governments to "distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections." The bill has 126 co-sponsors, but, sadly, all but one are Democrats, and the lone Republican, North Carolina's incorrigible Walter Jones, often seems like he exists to be a thorn in his party's side, not that I generally oppose such a course of action. That's especially unfortunate in a land where, as the New York Times has told us, more than four of five Americans think our campaign finance laws need at least "fundamental" rebuilding, and nearly four of five believe that the law should limit the spending both of individuals and "groups not affiliated with a campaign." So Public Citizen helps you tell your House Rep to support the amendment (or thank them if they already support it).
Finally, President Obama has the chance to nominate two (of five) SEC Commissioners this year; one has to be a Republican, because Republican Daniel Gallagher is resigning, but the other is Luis Aguilar, whose term expires this month. And though neither one of the nominees has to be toadies for Wall Street banksters, this seems to be the direction in which Mr. Obama is leaning -- which, I know, right? It's so hard to believe. Like the FCC, the SEC has five Commissioners, evenly divided between the political parties except for the SEC Chair, who obviously serves at the pleasure of the President -- though perhaps not the American people, so disappointing has Mary Jo White's tenure as SEC Chair been. Hence CREDO helps you tell President Obama to nominate folks to the SEC who'll fight (to use one of his favorite turns of phrase from his first term) someone who works for Main Street, not Wall Street. The SEC does have one proven reformer, Kara Stein, who has made the Volcker rule stronger and opposed the SEC's habit of giving out securities law waivers like they were candy. America is a big country, so it can't be that hard to find another one.