By LISA HOFFMAN
Scripps Howard News Service
As it is now, AOL and other providers keep such data for a short period of time - no more than a month in AOL's case. Privacy advocates have been fierce in warning that the compilation of such long-term records risks Big Brother-like government intrusion.
But the Foley case demonstrates to some in Congress that preserving the data would be a substantial help to those investigating online pedophiles and other sexual predators. Copies of Foley's lascivious e-mails and instant messages, some of which were allegedly sent more than five years ago, now exist, if at all, solely in the computers used by Foley and congressional pages.
When the new Congress comes to Washington next year, Capitol Hill insiders expect they will be met with a clamor to require Internet providers to hold onto the messages for at least a year or two.
Look for the Pentagon to consider cutting the number of U.S. troops in South Korea even further, and for that to be one of the messages sent by Defense chief Don Rumsfeld when he travels there Oct. 20. As of now, the American force is slated to drop from the current 37,500 to 25,000 by 2008. But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are such a continuing drain on personnel and budgets that pulling even more U.S. soldiers from South Korea - or pressing that country to contribute more cash to the costs of basing them there - is more and more attractive.
North Country coincidence? On Wednesday, the U.S. Customs Service announces it will no longer interdict the packages containing small orders of prescription drugs being sent to Americans from Canadian mail-order pharmacies, a longtime complaint of seniors and others. The next day, the Food and Drug Administration announces fast-track approval for the U.S. sale of a Canadian-made version of flu vaccine, called FluLaval. When flu shots were scarce two years ago, there were only two manufacturers for the U.S. market; now there are five.
The Department of Agriculture just gave farm animals a break - literally. More than 100 years ago, Congress declared that pigs, cows and other farm animals being shipped on trains must be given food, water and rest after 28 hours of transport. But, until now, the agribusiness industry had convinced the feds that such a rule should not apply to farm animals shipped by truck, of which 95 percent are today. A legal petition by animal-welfare groups finally pushed Ag to apply the rule so that the 50 million miserable farm creatures packed tail-to-jowl every year in trucks for longer than a day will finally get some basic care.
The Army apparently has discovered that women come in different shapes and sizes. Just because a woman has a body type that makes her appear overweight -by, say, carrying extra poundage in the hips - doesn't mean she is fat or out of shape, the service now says. The Army says it also has discovered that, even if she weighs more than the previous maximum allowed weight, that does not mean she is unfit.
As a result, the Army has upped the weight limits for female soldiers. Those 17 to 20 years old and standing 5-foot-7 can now weigh 159 pounds, compared to the previous limit of 145. If she's 21 to 27, she can now tip the scales at 161 pounds instead of the earlier 149-pound maximum.
Rep. Joe Negron, the Florida state lawmaker tapped by the state GOP to step in and run for the seat hastily vacated by disgraced Rep. Mark Foley, struggles to make much noise in a district still distracted by the scandal, but insists he'll run a viable campaign in the remaining month before the election. His biggest disadvantage isn't name recognition, but namelessness - his name's not going to be on the ballot. People will have to cast a vote for Foley to vote for Negron.
"Most people think 'GOP' stands for 'Gay Old Pedophile.' " - Late-night NBC host Jay Leno
"This scandal with Foley has finally led to bipartisan cooperation in Congress. For example, Republican leaders had to meet with Ted Kennedy to find out what's the best rehab center." - Leno
"The ex-congressman is nothing if not contrite. He says when he gets out of rehab he'll have a fresh start and turn over a new page. I said to myself, 'That's what got him there in the first place'." - Late-night CBS host David Letterman
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