Balance Sheet



Grossed In. Canada's graphic anti-smoking campaign, featuring full-color snaps of diseased body parts on tobacco products, becomes a collector's item among Canuck teens. If there is one thing more powerful than nicotine, it's the gross-out. Still, Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) misses the point and introduces a bill to do the same in the U.S.

Guide Wires. America Online and Time Warner announce plans to open the conglomerate's cable lines to a variety of Internet providers. Backers of so-called "open access"–mainly the competing Bell companies–had argued that only government could compel such a thing to occur.

Brain Candy. Spanish researchers find that THC in marijuana might fight brain tumors. Scientists shot cannabinoids directly into mouse brain cancers only to see the tumors shrink while normal cells thrived. Human trials are planned soon.

Open Doors. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan tells Congress that more foreign workers are needed to help keep the economy going. Uncle Alan backs a bill to increase from 65,000 to 195,000 the number of high-tech workers who could emigrate to the United States each year. "The benefits of bringing in people to do the work here, rather than doing the work elsewhere, to me, should be pretty self-evident," he says.

Tax Tips. Less than one in 300 tax returns will be audited for tax year 1999, compared to one in 67 in 1981. Adverse publicity and new taxpayer rights laws make the IRS auditors gun-shy. Auditors can now be fired outright for abusing taxpayers, a novel concept.


Gun Snobby. A Louisiana judge tosses out state laws passed in order to stop cities from suing gun manufacturers for damages caused by gun crime. The decision will be appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Craps. A former stock trader faces up to 19 years in prison and a $2 million fine after he is found guilty of helping Americans gamble on the Internet. The trial court interprets the ancient Wire Communications Act in such a way that it could apply to a bet anywhere in the world that involves a phone and an American.

Launch Time. China threatens to lob a missile at the U.S. should it get involved in any hostilities over Taiwan. A real ballistic missile defense would be nice 'long about now.

Virtual Law. Two state legislators draft the "Tennessee 21st Century Media Market Responsibility Act of 2000," which would ban the sale of violent video games to minors. Taboo games would be determined by a ratings label system. Violators would face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Finishing School. Several states look to legislate manners. South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi all weigh laws which would require kids to be polite in school. Louisiana is currently the only state with a "yes, sir" statute.