Too much ‘You’ve got mail!’

Interest on Capitol Hill is growing to create a government-run “Do Not Mail” list to fight back against the mountains of junk mail clogging Americans’ mailboxes.

Across the country, at least 15 states are currently considering no-mail lists that are loosely based on the wildly popular Do Not Call list that gave us back our dinner hours free from telemarketers. Now some in Congress are mulling a federal junk-mail registry, as well.

But proponents face a ferocious fight from the U.S. Postal Service, which stands to lose billions of dollars of revenue from direct-mail marketers if consumers can slam their mail slots shut to the come-ons. Postmaster General John Potter has already hit the hustings to try to dampen support for a no-mail list before it grows further.

Meanwhile, phone numbers now on the beloved no-call registry, which began in 2003 and now holds 149 million numbers, are due to expire next year. Unless Congress changes the rules, everyone will have to re-register their numbers beginning next June.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will launch a 20-day bus tour next Wednesday (Oct. 3) to promote the use of energy-efficient light bulbs, which staffers will give away by the thousands — for free — along the 5,000-mile route from Los Angeles to New York City. Called the “Energy Star Change a Light” tour, the extravaganza is sponsored by electric companies, clean-energy advocacy groups and the EPA.

Wonder how many bulbs they have to get people to use to offset the rather large “carbon footprint” of a fuel-hogging bus on a cross-country trek …


The veterans service group AMVETS and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund are offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of the person(s) responsible for vandalizing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial earlier this month.

The National Park Service says someone used an oily substance to stain 14 of the memorial’s 140 panels, which record the names of the 58,000 Americans who died during that war. The Park Service says the haunting “Wall” can be restored without permanent damage.

Two weeks later, the Web site for the memorial, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in November, was hacked by someone who defaced it with a message attacking Israel, the United States and others.


The mega-recall of Chinese-made toys has the U.S. Marines scrambling to make sure their annual Toys for Tots campaign doesn’t include any of the tainted playthings. The Marines put out the word for volunteers to help search through their stockpiles to see if any of the items are one of the 10 million toys recalled by Mattel and Fisher Price, primarily for possible lead contamination. The Corps says it will make sure no child receives any of the suspect goods at its Christmastime giveaway.


In other tainted-products-from-China news, President Bush signed a law Thursday (Sept. 27) that is intended to improve the government’s handling of any future pet-food crises like the one that reportedly killed hundreds of U.S. cats and dogs last spring that ate food manufactured in China containing the toxin melamine.

The new law requires companies to immediately report contaminated foods and cooperate with investigators. It also compels the Food and Drug Administration to set tough ingredient and processing standards, improve labeling, create an early-warning system and create a searchable online recall list.


TV chef-tyrant Gordon Ramsay is about to get some competition on the tube from chefs who are true masters at barking orders. The Pentagon Channel is preparing to debut “Grill Sergeants,” a program that will feature some of the military’s top cooks as they prepare dishes from “regional” recipes submitted by viewers of the official Defense Department network, which appears on many cable and satellite TV systems.

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