Tomorrow, Vietnam plans to release a lot of prisoners -- but Amnesty International helps you tell the Vietnamese government to release prisoners of conscience as well. After all, you'd hate to see 17,000 prisoners hit the streets and think it was all for show, wouldn't you? I mean, we all know that every country puts a lot of pretty undangerous people in jail, for a variety of reasons good and bad, and if we didn't see, say, Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly among them -- he being the principle author of the Bloc 8406 manifesto, calling for (among other things) a multiparty state in Vietnam -- we might start to think it was all for show. I know, the families of the soon-to-be-released prisoners will disagree, but we would still have every right to think the Vietnamese government was using them as pawns. Naturally, the Amnesty alert above cites two other bloggers it would like to see released, since blogging is, in some parts of the world, an activity the state fears greatly. What could such states be afraid of?
Meanwhile, H.R. 6, the so-called 21st Century Cures Act, passed out of the House last month, and presumably the Senate will take it up soon, since the bill reauthorizes National Institutes of Health funding through 2018. And, as you might expect, the bill holds this funding hostage to bad ideas, like forcing the FDA to evaluate drugs and medical devices for "serious conditions" much more quickly. When folks hear that a drug or medical device could cure the hated disease of a loved one, guess which part of that formulation they're least likely to hear? No one wants sick people to die, but suggesting that the FDA dithers merely by ensuring the safety of drugs and devices is quite manipulative, and there's another name for getting new drugs and devices to market science-be-damned: corporate welfare, since big pharma corporations will, after all, make lots of money from these drugs and devices. So Consumers Union helps you tell your Senators to defend science and reject corporate welfare by passing a much better bill than H.R. 6.