Balance Sheet



Trending Up. By 2015, "Governments will have less and less control over flows of information, technology, diseases, migrants, arms, and financial transactions." Or so says a 70-page CIA report on the future. Globalization is to blame, and five out of six ain't bad.

Scared Simple. Net transactions spur states to pursue tax simplification. Thirty-nine states form the Streamlined Sales Tax Project to come up with ways to nix confusing cross-jurisdictional taxes.

Merge Urge. The Federal Trade Commission resists the doomsday lobbying of Walt Disney and others by voting unanimously to approve the AOL-Time Warner merger. But expect fighting over the "open access" mandate the FTC wrangled from America Warner On Time.

Child's Play. Juvenile homicide arrests fall to their lowest rate in decades; overall youth crimes drop, too. Some 1,400 youths between 10 and 17 were charged with murder in 1999, a 68 percent drop from 1993. The youth violent crime rate is the lowest since 1988.

Teaching Moment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission backs an Ohio teacher who wants the portion of his union dues spent on political activities sent to a charity, as labor law allows. Denis Robey wanted his money to go to Habitat for Humanity, but union officials threw up roadblocks.


Crippling News. Forty-five cases of polio crop up on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola in recent months. An under-vaccinated population is to blame, suggesting the plan to wipe out polio within the next two years is in jeopardy.

Cola Nuts. Coca-Cola buys its way into the Library of Congress with a "donation" of 20,000 TV commercials and $100,000 to fund the study of culture. Up next, "Tastes Great" and "Less Filling" wings for the library.

On Principals. Public school administrators go rule crazy. In separate incidents, a 14-year-old boy is charged with criminal sexual contact after slapping another 8th-grader on the butt and a 10-year-old boy is strip-searched by school employees looking for cigarettes. In both cases, higher-ups defend the actions.

Syndrome Syndrome. Belgian and Italian soldiers complain of "Balkans syndrome," allegedly brought on by depleted uranium shells used by NATO in the region. Chronic exhaustion, depression, and lethargy must be caused by something other than a soul-sapping mission.

Money Run. Since 1996, about 25,000 fugitives from felony charges got Supplemental Security Income checks from the Social Security system. Between $76 million and $283 million meant for the poor and disabled helped fund getaways, an internal audit finds.

Hatch Hash. The chief of the Health Care Financing Administration, which sets government prices for health care, is forced to resign for violating the federal law that prohibits political fundraising by federal employees. Michael M. Hash held an event for a Democratic House candidate, something even postal workers know runs afoul of the Hatch Act.