You may recall that our FISA court revealed that our FBI routinely conducts unauthorized searches of NSA-collected data; we have already told our Congressfolk this week that the NSA shouldn't be collecting that data without a warrant, but we also need to tell Congress to close the "backdoor loophole" that allows our FBI to access the information, as Defending Rights and Dissent helps us do. You know, a lot of good folks labor under the impression that the "grave threats we face" (I just can't help quoting then-Senator Obama explaining why he'd done a 180 on government spying!) are somehow unique to our time, and I could be glib and just say "read a history book," but I'd rather just say that the values that sustain us -- you know, things like courage, doing unto others, speaking truth to power -- are not unique to our time, but have been part of our heritage for uncounted years, and when we abandon those values in the name of "security" or "fighting grave threats," then we die the thousand deaths of the coward. So let's stay on our Congressfolk to help us preserve these values.
Meanwhile, the Children's Online Privacy Act (or COPPA) helps parents protect their children's privacy by restricting the data corporations can harvest from children and limiting how they use it. But naturally the big corporations look at kids as money pots, whose data they can use to empty their parents' pockets faster, and so they're pressuring our Federal Trade Commission (or FTC) to loosen up COPPA -- and that pressure may be working, as evidenced by our FTC's decision to review the effectiveness of COPPA several years before the law requires it, and one commissioner's statement that the review would "tak(e) care of children and data both," when the law only requires them to help take care of children, data being, as you know, a thing that does not require care. Always they pretend that things are just as (or more) important as people! But they're not, and we don't have to take this lying down: we can let the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood help us tell our FTC to do their legally-mandated job to protect children's privacy from the corporations that would exploit them.
Finally, if you've missed previous opportunities to tell our EPA to reject its own proposed rollback of coal ash storage rules, then Penn PIRG still helps you do that. "What would be worse than over 100 toxic coal ash storage sites lying in high-risk flood zones?" their latest email missive asks. "Answer: loosening the laws that protect our health and communities from contamination by those sites." Yeah, you knew where that was going, too, didn't you? Coal ash is the byproduct of coal plants -- one might do better calling it coal poop -- and contains carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals. And this coal poop can very easily leech into good Americans' drinking water, as the folks in Roane County, TN and Eden, NC can attest. But then again, clean drinking water is only the bedrock of good health care in America; it's not money or power, which are literally the only things this Administration cares about. Power corrupts, and money only makes you miserable in time, but clean water will always sustain us -- if we will but work to keep it.