"Carnivore" is the name of a new Federal Bureau of Investigation system designed to covertly search e-mail messages to and from targeted suspects, but it could also be used to compromise the privacy of millions of Internet users. Details concerning the system are sketchy, but it has been suggested that the government now has the ability to intercept the communications of all of an Internet Service Provider's customers, not just those of a targeted criminal suspect. Even when programmed to obtain only the communications of a suspect, Carnivore would enable the FBI to intercept the actual content of e-mail messages without first showing probable cause, as required by the Fourth Amendment and federal wiretap statutes. By the way, Attorney General Janet Reno has promised to ensure that privacy guards are imposed. The Electronic Privacy Information Center doesn't believe her for some reason and has filed lawsuits seeking more information on the system and similarly intrusive technologies used by federal law enforcement.

House Bill 4802, introduced by U.S. Representative Mark Souder (R-IN), would render impotent any state initiatives or legislation attempting to reform laws dealing with any controlled substance, including marijuana. This comes even though seven states and the District of Columbia have passed initiatives to legalize marijuana for medical use, and Hawaii recently became the first state to decriminalize it through the legislative process. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary and Commerce committees. Souder justifies the legislation on the Constitution's supremacy clause in that states cannot pass laws contradicting federal law - including state laws to relax drug penalties. Souder needs to re-read the Constitution, particularly the 10th Amendment.

By October, six new regional-jet-service gates are expected to be completed at the Quad Cities Airport along with six commuter gates in the terminal. Plans call for a frequent-flyer lounge along with another restaurant and lounge in the gate area. Two carousels will be handling luggage. Plans are progressing for direct flights to Detroit in the near future, when passengers would be able to make direct connections to 110 domestic and 11 European and Asian locations. America West Airline is considering direct flight service to Phoenix, and Northwest Airlines is likely to switch to a jet service for Minneapolis flights early next year.

A new scholarship is being created for students at Iowa State University and other Iowa colleges for students majoring in horticulture. The Iowa State Horticultural Society is honoring the memory of Dan Cooper with this scholarship, and donations to the fund are tax-deductible. If you'd like more information, contact the Iowa State Horticulture Society; Wallace Building; 502 E. 9th St.; Des Moines, IA 50319-0058; or phone (515)281-5402 or e-mail (mike.bevins@idals.state.ia.us).

August 1 will mark the opening of the new DavenportOne office at 2nd and Main streets in Davenport. It's hoped the new quarters will provide increased visibility for DavenportOne in the downtown core area, much-needed office space, and additional in-house meeting facilities. The move was necessary after the lease at DavenportOne's present location at Union Station expired, and because of space and budget considerations. The new address is 130 W. 2nd St.; Davenport, IA 52801. The phone and fax will remain the same at (319)322-1706 and (319)322-7804, respectively.

The fight between Iowa GOP legislative leaders and Governor Tom Vilsack over an executive order protecting gay state workers from job discrimination has now appeared in court with a lawsuit recently filed by 23 Republican legislators. The lawsuit contends Vilsack exceeded his authority with the executive order. Legislators passed a bill overturning the executive order, but Vilsack vetoed it. The interesting twist comes in that the attorney the Republicans hired, Des Moines lawyer Mark McCormick, had lost to Vilsack two years ago in the hotly contested gubernatorial primary.
Illinois Governor George Ryan recently signed into law a bill making it a felony to transport anhydrous ammonia - a chemical sometimes used to manufacture methamphetamine - in a non-approved, portable container. Buckets, coolers, and even old propane tanks have been used to transport the chemical used as a fertilizer, and it used to be a trespassing or petty offense to steal anhydrous ammonia. Farmers shouldn't be concerned about being charged, though, because they're trained in the proper handling of the chemical and would not be transporting it in a non-approved container.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2000 Better Business Bureau (BBB) Integrity Awards Competition. The annual awards were established to recognize firms whose business practices and related activities exemplify the BBB's mission and principles. Eight winners will be selected by judging panels, with four recipients from Eastern Iowa and Rock Island County, Illinois, and four recipients from Central Iowa. Both BBB members and nonmembers are invited to enter the competition. Complete information on entries and the nomination process can be found at the BBB's web site (http://www.desmoines.bbb.org) or by contacting the BBB offices.

You might have already noticed that many law-enforcement vehicles in Iowa now have both red and blue emergency lights. In Iowa, blue lights have generally been used by volunteer fire fighters. Up until this year, the fire-fighting community in Iowa has fought against law enforcement using blue lights, but this year decided to support it in legislation taking effect July 1. Blue lights have been used by law enforcement on both coasts quite effectively for many years. Many in the law enforcement community believe blue lights are useful because red flashing lights can be confused with vehicle brake lights. It's also believed blue emergency lights are more visible at night, in fog, and during rainy or snowy weather.

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