Our government does not need a warrant to access our email -- and that's not the result of some secret court decision or some secret Justice Department memo; that's actually the law. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 treats email left on a server as "abandoned" by the user, meaning that our government doesn't need to ask the user's permission to look at it. How much email were you using in 1986? Both parties have been pressing for ECPA reform in recent months, but the Securities and Exchange Commission, of all governmental bodies, is pressing to get Executive branch agencies exempted. Why, that would be like doing nothing at all! It's almost like that's the idea. So Demand Progress helps you tell our government that it should have to get a warrant before it can look at our email. Getting a warrant might seem quaint now, but warrants force two branches of government (the Executive and the Judicial) to work together in order to move against you, which is a whole lot better than one branch of government deciding it can move against you.
Meanwhile, in a perhaps related development, Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega remains in prison, having been convicted of "terrorism" in 2012, a charge that appears to be related entirely to his reporting on the Ethiopian government having put other journalists in prison on trumped-up terrorism charges. Ethiopian law criminalizes reporting the state declares "encourages" or "provides moral support" to groups the state has called "terrorists," which all sure does seem open to interpretation. But don't think this crap can't happen here -- our government declares certain groups "terrorists," and our government doesn't even bother changing the laws anymore to spy on people, so, frankly, we're not as far from here as we might like to think, and it would behoove us, then, to battle for the release of folks like Mr. Nega, wherever we may find them, lest a President Walker or a President Clinton decide one day to demand "more tools" to fight "terrorists" who happen to closely resemble their critics. So Amnesty International helps you tell the Ethiopian government to release Mr. Nega.
In other news, Free Press informs us that more than 200 TV stations have been sold this year, the most in over ten years, and they're getting sold mostly to big corporations like the notorious Sinclair Broadcast Group and the only slightly-less notorious Tribune Company and Gannett Company -- or to the shell they own. You know what more media consolidation means, right? It means fewer reporters doing local news and more newscasts with cookie-cutter content, in a land where, no matter what the internet would have you believe, the local TV news is still the first source of news for most people. You'd think we'd have more conservatives on board with local ownership of local news, and before Mr. Obama's election, we did -- yet the fight against media consolidation remains a conservative cause, as well as a liberal one. Hence Free Press helps you tell FCC Chair Tom Wheeler to stem the ongoing tide toward media consolidation. I've no particular hope that the ex-telecom lobbyist Mr. Wheeler will be substantially better on this (or any other) score than Mr. Genachowski. But I'd be happy to be wrong about that, and anyway, duty is duty.
Finally, hot on the heels of another day of fast-food worker strikes over pitiful wages, Keystone Progress joins with MoveOn to help you tell fast-food corporations to pay a $15/hour wage to their workers. We know they have the money to do it, we know it won't drive the cost of a Big Mac through the roof, we know it will put more money in the hands of the folks most likely to spend it and stimulate the economy with it -- and we also know that it will reduce fast-food workers' dependence on taxpayer money, since over half of fast-food workers get some form of public assistance every year. Just as we learned yesterday that we subsidize the banksters to the tune of over $900 million in food stamps and Medicaid assistance and the like every year, we also know that we subsidize fast-food workers to the tune of over $7 billion each year in similar public assistance. Well, gosh, wouldn't it be easier for the CEOs of McDonald's and Burger King and the like to just pay their workers enough to live on? Or would it be too tough to buy more corporate jets and gild more plumbing in some CEO's seventh vacation home?