Open Road. Dulles Greenway, the first private toll road built this century, opens in Virginia. The 14.1-mile tollway will soon have company–a dozen states have laws authorizing commercial roads on the books. And a private stretch of highway adjacent to Interstate 91 in Orange County, California, should open by January 1.
Safety First. The anti-terrorist bill dies. It would have classified most crimes committed with firearms as teirorist acts. An alliance of civil libertarians led by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and gun advocates led by former U.S. Attorney Bob Barr (R-Ga.) kills a bill that passed 91-8 in the Senate. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (Ill.) says the Waco and Ruby Ridge hearings, which have "given substance to a lot of the negative feelings about law enforcement," sealed the bill's fate.
Butt Out. In 33 foreign countries, smokers can try to kick the habit by buying Nicorette, the nicotine-laced chewing gum, without a prescription. A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel says American smokers should have that same freedom. Sign on, Commissioner Kessler. And why not sell birth control pills over the counter too?
Potomac Perestroika. Last year, District of Columbia School Superintendent Franklin Smith proposed letting a private company, Education Alternatives Inc., run 11 public schools. Now, the D.C. school board passes Smith's plan. And Congress may let other private companies manage additional D.C. schools.
Mall Talkers. The Supreme Court lets ACT-UP and Operation Rescue set up shop in your local mall. (See "The Mall's in Their Court," Aug./Sept.) New Jersey protesters successfully sued a mall owner for the right to picket. The mall appealed. By refusing to hear the appeal, the Court establishes that malls really aren't private property but de facto "public squares." How long before homeless people start sleeping outside Bloomies?
Green Gov. Beware moderate, tax-cutting Republicans who don't know beans about the cost of regulations. Case in point: New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman, a possible GOP veep candidate. She vetoes a bill that would give businesses due to be fined a 90-day grace period to correct environmental violations that don't threaten public health. Even if Whitman signs a modified bill, the state's Department of Environmental Protection maintains its notorious stranglehold on Garden State business owners.
Cold Steal. Since the late 1980s, Canada has tightened gun controls. Gun smuggling has surged. So has the gun-related crime rate. The number of armed robberies increased 44 percent from 1988 to 1993. The Washington Post reports that the number of crimes involving guns smuggled from the United States has also mushroomed–from 167 in 1993 to 394 last year to 204 in the first half of 1995.
Hot Hype. Global warming hysteria returns. An article in Nature says greenhouse warming has caused temperatures to vary less from day to day. What's bad about that? The article says lower temperature variability will lead to more "extreme weather events" in the Northern Hemisphere. The bottom line: Once every two years, we may have one extra day in which it rains two inches or more.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Balance Sheet".