Balance Sheet

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ASSETS

?Booby Prize. The public shaming of the Kansas State Board of Education continues, as the bunch that banished Darwin from public school classrooms wins an "Ig Nobel Prize." The annual Harvard University spoof of the Nobels, awarded by the school's science humor magazine, honors nutty ideas and pseudoscience.

?Money Talks. The Supreme Court attempts to clarify just what limits–if any–politicians can put on political fund raising. While hearing arguments for a Missouri law that placed strict limits on giving, justices are skeptical of the idea. A decision is expected just in time for the 2000 election.

?Pop Gun. Gun makers win one as a local judge throws out the city of Cincinnati's suit attempting to collect damages for crimes committed with guns. The judge stops just short of calling the idea silly, ruling that the city cannot possibly recover money spent on so basic a duty as policing.

?Fat Attack. A study of 1 million Americans published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that fat cells –not cell phones, free radicals, or moonbeams–kill. Deaths from cancer and heart disease, especially, are much more likely in the obese. Downside: Public health types take the study as a cue to attack fat like cigarettes.

LIABILITIES

?European Disease. French chefs riot over taxes, one in eight Germans pines for the Wall, and across the continent job creation is rare and economic growth stunted. The high-tax, big-social-program model delivers what it promises: more of exactly the same.

?Travail Bureau. The unfolding Waco story shows that, at the very least, the FBI deliberately withheld embarrassing information from previous investigators. But such institutional rot fails to spur any fundamental overhaul of the bureau or federal law enforcement.

?Boom Time. A military coup in Pakistan delivers fledgling nuclear power into the hands of generals who love to pick fights with similarly nuke-toting India. The Clinton administration's policy of benign neglect of the region reaps a wonderfully unnerving harvest.

?Railroaded. A train wreck in Britain that kills 30 is immediately laid at the feet of recent steps to privatize British Rail. Yet it is never explained how it is profitable to kill off one's customers. Indeed, airlines with poor safety records suffer at the gate.

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