Reviving the Draft? -- With all this talk of how many soldiers the United States needs to keep its commitments around the world, talk of reinstating the draft is back on the table. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld believes the current levels of manpower are enough to get the job done in Iraq and elsewhere. But some critics, including Sen. John McCain, believe many more thousands of military personnel are needed to stabilize our 51st state. So it's not surprising that last summer, members of draft boards across the country -- who have done little more than make sure 18 year olds are registered since 1973, when the draft was abolished -- were asked to submit names to fill all the vacancies on their boards. Nationwide, it's estimated that 16 percent of the seats on draft boards sit empty. It's the first such push since the Reagan administration. Still, Pentagon sources say it has nothing to do with reinstating the draft.
Jobs on the Brink -- Before we get too happy with the supposed economic recovery, a couple of researchers say even more American jobs could be lost in the coming years to "outsourcing," the practice of shipping jobs to cheaper labor markets overseas. In their October report, "The New Wave of Outsourcing," Ashik Deo Bardham and Cynthia A. Kroll, researchers at UC Berkeley's business school, claim that white-collar jobs could be the next to go. If every job they view as vulnerable to outsourcing were to leave, that would add up to 14 million jobs. It's not hard to see why companies are interested in outsourcing: According to the report, a computer programmer is paid between $60,000 and $80,000 a year in the U.S. That same job can be filled in a variety of countries, but in India, it would pay between $5,880 and $11,000.
Spam Scam -- It's coming up on an election year, and after the wild popularity of the national "Do-Not-Call" registry, legislators have been falling all over themselves to hitch a ride on the next big voter lovefest. Turns out, voters hate spam, too. So it was not surprising when the U.S. Senate passed its so-called "Can Spam Act" with a 97-0 vote. Trouble is, say activists fighting junk e-mail, it won't do anything to actually reduce spam.
"If you want a law that ensures spam will be around for the next decade, then you should support the Can Spam Act," David Kramer, a spam-fighting attorney who has won some big cases against spammers, told Salon.com.
The trouble is, says Kramer, that the legislation doesn't strengthen consumers' abilities to sue spammers -- so far the only language they have understood. The House of Representatives is expected to take up the issue next.