Balance Sheet



Modern Pro-Meatiness. In the face of WTO protests in Seattle, President Clinton defends genetically modified foods. So-called Frankenfoods have Europeans up in arms, mostly because they are American and cheap. "I would never permit any pound of American food product to leave the country if it was unsafe," Clinton says. The Euros drop a demand for a "working group" on the issue.

Health Bid. The Internet routes around medical supply choke points, as sites like Pharmabid (www. bring the auction site model to medical supplies. Small providers can now get blood products, vaccines, hormones, and syringes at rates previously available only to the big guys. Of course, the FDA worries that buyers will be duped.

Diesel and Dust. Good ol' Standard & Poor's adds Yahoo! Inc. to its S&P 500 index. The Web portal replaces Laidlaw Inc., which runs school buses, the Greyhound bus line, and ambulances–not exactly a New Economy business model.

Return Fire. Gun supporters launch a legal counterattack on the mayors of 23 cities sho have sued gun makers for damages. The Second Amendment Foundation accuses the mayors of conspiring to bankrupt and destroy the gun industry. The mayors claim to have arrived at the lawsuit idea independently. The Feds, though, sign on to the lawsuits.

Film Noir. The FBI fails to disappear a Web-based Y2K-disaster spoof video. It tells the Michigan-based Web host of a six-minute film, a pretend peek inside plans for a race riot, to pull the movie lest his upstream provider nuke him. Mirror sites appear overnight for the film, which gets thousands of viewings thanks to the FBI attention.


Shrub Man. What do George W. Bush and Howard Stern have in common besides multi-million-dollar hype machines? Both use platinum-plated lawyers to go after bootstrap Web sites they don't like. For Stern it is a site devoted to his marital woes; for Bush it is satirical site which calls him a drug war hypocrite.

Out Numbered. California manages to lose $1 billion to health care fraud because Medicaid ID numbers are handed out like AOL software. Just about anyone could start billing the system for bogus claims. So eager was the state to sign up "clients" that new ID numbers could be had by those who simply reapplied to the system.

Chew Noise. The European Union bans plastic toys containing a chemical the E.U. frets might harm babies. Chemical softening agents called phthalates, often used in teethers or pacifiers, are the villains. Yet the agents have been in use for 40 years without any sign that they hurt infants.

Gang Violins. A high school in Amherst, Massachusetts, abandons a production of West Side Story for fear that the tale of the Hispanic Sharks and Anglo Jets will offend someone. Playwright Arthur Laurents calls the decision `'a slightly insane moment." Back in 1962 the Hollywood version of the musical story of cross-cultural forbidden love only pulled in 10 Oscars. Good thing the school didn't stage Romeo and Juliet.

Brotherly Dove. As if North Korea didn't have enough problems, First Brother Roger Clinton adds his musical stylings to a concert in Pyongyang. Clinton joins South Korean teenage pop stars as part of the "2000 Peace and Friendship Concert." Rog helped belt out "Our Wish Is Unification."