Arizona's two U.S. Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, snuck a rider into last year's National Defense Appropriations Act handing over a big chunk of the Tonto National Forest -- a part of the Forest that the San Carlos Apache use for its religious rituals, including coming-of-age celebrations -- to mining corporations. If you're wondering what exactly mining has to do with defense, you're not alone -- but if you're noting what big corporate campaign contributions have to do with the lawmaking process, you're ahead of the game, for the Tonto National Forest has enjoyed protected status (and been threatened with attempts to hand it off as corporate welfare) for over half a century. Stunning thing is, even this retrograde Congress appears to be reconsidering the McCain/Flake gambit, ahead of Apache leaders' planned cross-country trip from Arizona to Washington, D.C., and so Avaaz helps you tell your Congressfolk to repeal the legislative rider that took sacred Apache land away from them and gave it to mining corporations. After all, it can't just be Christians who have religious freedom in America, can it?
Meanwhile, hot off a victory in the Supreme Court for independent redistricting commissions and against big-donors-take-all gerrymandering, Common Cause helps you tell your Congressfolk to pass H.R. 2173, the Redistricting Reform Act, which would take redistricting out of the hands of state legislatures and into the hands of independent commissions more responsive to the will of the people. What have we learned about the redistricting process? That the folks who gerrymander districts can now exclude individual streets and even individual homes from districts just to ensure their paymasters' victory, and that when political parties control the process, they'll make the districts that'll get their party more seats in Congress -- not just in Republican-held legislatures like Pennsylvania's, but in Democratic-held legislatures like California's. And those who contend that H.R. 2173 is a mere "Democrat power grab" would do better to argue that independent commissions themselves are somehow anti-democracy. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they're not prepared to make that argument.
Finally, you remember the Bob Barker-narrated video from the other day, showing animal abuse in factory farms? Quite harrowing, that thing was -- and in a state with an "ag-gag" law, if you'd shot that film, you could be heading off to jail. Because freedom! Freedom for big agricultural corporations to continue doing whatever-it-takes-no-matter-how-cruel to make more money for its CEOs, that is. "Ag-gag" laws are, as you might expect, largely a creation of the American Legislative Exchange Council (or ALEC), which used to promulgate "stand your ground" gun laws and anti-minority "voter ID" laws until they became politically unpopular. ALEC no doubt anticipates that folks' feelings about eating meat are more ambiguous, but you don't need to be a vegetarian to know that slamming chickens' heads against walls isn't a good way to deliver meat to your dinner table -- that raising animals yourself is the best way, and dealing with a local farmer you know and trust is the second-best way. CREDO helps you tell Congress to outlaw "ag-gag" laws at the state level, so that we can be a more humane civilization.