Balance Sheet



Work Progress. Longtime immigration foe Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) softens his opposition to bringing in more foreign high-tech workers. Congress now works toward lifting caps on special work visas as the shortage of tech workers continues.

Spy Guy. The director of the super-secret National Security Agency is forced to go before Congress and deny his agency spies on Americans. Reports of the global snoop system called Echelon prompted the denial, which—even if taken at face value—is a step toward real oversight.

Bit Speech. The American Civil Liberties Union and other First Amendment defenders recognize that Internet spats over copyright have a free-speech component. Attempts to limit what programs can be distributed on the Net are called prior restraint of speech in court cases.

Money Clicks. Forrester Research finds that whites actually rank third behind Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans in online access once income is taken into account. And all groups use e-commerce for the same reason: convenience.

Irish Jigged. The evil globalists at the World Trade Organization work to win royalties for Irish musicians. A 1998 change in U.S. copyright law exempted small venues from paying for the music they play. The WTO says that's not fair.

Over Spiced. Military tactics of police get knocked with a decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Police use of pepper spray can be an unconstitutional "unreasonable use of force" when used on nonviolent protestors.


Home-Jailed. Local school districts appear to use mandatory attendance laws to punish parents who want to homeschool their kids. A Virginia couple sues their local school district for falsely arresting them after they removed their son from classes. In January, it was a Michigan couple that met the same fate. They still face criminal charges.

Model Behavior. Tony Blair's Labor government takes aim at so-called "super-waif" models. Britain's Department of Trade and Industry may draft regulations that would outlaw "use and abuse" of anyone with eating disorders in marketing.

Ding-Dong Service. The New Networks Institute concludes that local Bell companies stifle competition and the growth of broadband services in the U.S. and underserve independent ISPs. Only 8 percent of responding ISPs gave their local phone company a passing grade on services provided. And complaints to state regulators seldom corrected the problems, the survey found.

1-800 Revenge. A Canadian "snitch line" set up as part of a national firearms registry has received 3,200 calls from women concerned about spouses or estranged partners applying for gun licenses. A member of parliament claims that "vindictive" calls have denied licenses without any investigation into the complaint.

Playstation Police. Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan warns stores not to sell "ultraviolent" video games to minors. Sting operations have already been mounted in which young teens buy games rated for those 17 and older. "I urge your company to strongly consider enforcing the industry rating system by halting the sale (of) 'M'-rated games to minors," Ryan writes to retailers.

Crank Calls. A Denver bookstore is targeted by law enforcement for selling books on methamphetamine-making. A regional drug task force wants the sales records of the Tattered Cover, which may show that a drug suspect bought a book there.