George Washington University Battleground Poll: A newly released George Washington University Battleground Poll shows the upcoming presidential race effectively tied. Forty percent of voters told the bipartisan organization that they plan to vote for John McCain, while 39 percent favor Barack Obama. Other questions reveal a continuing low approval rating for President Bush, with only 35 percent of respondents saying they "approve" or "strongly approve" of his performance. Approval ratings are even worse—only 19 percent—for Congress.
New Rules for Telemarketers: New Federal Trade Commission rules will prevent telemarketers from using prerecorded messages to call prospective customers. If you are one of the few who enjoy such calls, you'll need to "opt in" in writing before next September. Don't expect all recorded calls to stop after that, though—there are still some exceptions, including one for "informational" messages (such as those letting you know about a canceled flight).
Senate Judiciary Committee Requests Justice Documents: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee complain that they have trouble getting information from the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, even though they are responsible for oversight of its operations. This letter, signed by Sens. Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter, complains that requests for documents are often ignored or delayed. Some files were requested in 2003 but were "only recently received" in redacted form. The letter requests, by next Friday, the release of 10 documents relating to detainees, torture, and the application of the Geneva Conventions.
Homeland Security Data Collection: The Department of Homeland Security has announced a new system for tracking travelers as they move in and out of the United States. Information such as names, travel dates, and license plate numbers will be collected. DHS stresses that this type of data collection is not new and describes how the information will be retained and safeguarded in its database. This new border crossing information system is scheduled to take effect on August 25.