Brew-haha. Crazy Horse (and the First Amendment) return to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. A 1994 Minnesota law gives the state the option of prohibiting alcoholic beverages named after American Indians. Soon after the introduction of Crazy Horse Malt Liquor, the estate of the Lakota Sioux chief complained. Officials banned the brew. Hold on, says the state Court of Appeals. The law is "impermissibly content-based, and therefore invalid."
Bleak House. Six months after House approval, the Senate agrees to reimburse $500,000 in legal fees accumulated by railroaded former White House travel office head Billy Dale. The administration's smarmy response? Nearly two dozen White House staffers ask the Justice Department to reimburse legal bills they accumulated during congressional investigations.
Third Way. After a brief lull following the Mexican peso crisis, private investment in developing countries again surges. The Institute for International Finance estimates that $225 billion in private capital will flow into the Third World this year–more than four times as much as these countries will get from the World Bank and other tax-financed sources. World Bank official Richard Frank tells The Washington Post that outside funding for newly privatized power plants and telecom systems should free up money for developing countries to finance medical care and education.
Moo-ving On. Why doesn't Dinty Moore Lite Beef Stew appear on your grocer's shelves? Stew-quality beef must originate from fatty portions of a cow, merely one of hundreds of meat and poultry standards the U.S. Department of Agriculture has set since the turn of the century. The USDA would like to get out of the recipe business, arguing that these rules prevent innovations that would make food healthier. But such Safety Nazis as the Center for Science in the Public Interest may try to get Congress or the courts to leave the standards in place.
Child's Play. If you create a Coppertone Girl screen saver for your computer, see ya in prison. As part of the massive spending bill signed September 30, Congress makes it illegal to create computer images that "appear to" involve minors in sexual situations. Violators face mandatory five-year sentences for possessing the images, 15 years for producing them, and life imprisonment if you're a repeat offender.
Smoking Guns. People who use marijuana, heroin, and other controlled substances can't obtain a federal permit to own firearms. And now that Bill Clinton has declared tobacco an addictive drug, gun owners who smoke cigarettes are worried. A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms spokesman tells The Wall Street Journal such concerns are "speculative."
Cash Crash. Federal regulators prepare to rein in the anarchic potential of electronic money. Concerned about money laundering and tax evasion, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin creates two groups of regulators to establish "consumer protection" rules for digital cash and to coordinate efforts with bureaucrats overseas. The FDIC and the Fed also squabble: The insurance commission wants to let only banks issue e-cash; the Fed would let anyone issue small-dollar cards.
Rotten Apples. Only in New York. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's workfare program has 30,000 former welfare recipients cleaning up parks, assisting in hospitals, and doing clerical work in city offices. Now they want to unionize. Local communications and transportation union officials are helping. "They are workers now," local Communications Workers of America political director Ed Ott tells The New York Times. "They want the full protections any worker is entitled to."