John McCain

Balance Sheet

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>Assets

Pond Scam. The Supreme Court finds that the Clean Water Act of 1972 does not apply to seasonal ponds used by migratory birds. Mudflats and gravel pits swollen by rain or melt water had gained officially protected status under the Army Corps of Engineers' reading of the law, making the land off-limits for building.

Full Reverse. Federal Reserve Chairman-for-Life Alan Greenspan executes a rare public policy about-face and cuts interest rates by a full point in just weeks. Such a move usually takes the Fed months, far too slow to help a rapidly cooling economy.

Bundle Baby. In another twisted outgrowth of the 1996 Telecom Act, a federal appeals court rules that the Federal Communications Commission erred in exempting advanced data services from the requirement that Bell companies sell their services "unbundled" from other pricey add-ons. The ruling may slow the Bell march to data dominance, but only true deregulation can stop it.

Candid Camera. An Omaha jury rejects a wrongful-termination suit against Wal-Mart. The former employee had given the authorities a customer's photo showing an infant crawling amidst a pile of marijuana. The child ended up in foster care. But Wal-Mart's policy says only upper management can make such a call.

Metal Worker. A California judge dismisses a lawsuit claiming that music from thrash metalists Slayer caused three teenagers to kill a 15-year-old girl as a satanic sacrifice in 1995.

H2-Ownership. Ontario explores allowing the private sector to run water systems for the province. An estimated $9 billion overhaul is needed for a system that has been blamed for deaths due to bad water.

Liabilities

Cell Division. President Bush flirts with ending federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells, or any tissues gained from induced abortions. Some $20 million funds grants for research on vaccines, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's.

Potter Patter. Dijon University lecturer Pierre Bruno declares Harry Potter a "class enemy" and a "dangerous role model," Hermione, Harry's girl sidekick, a "stupid ineffectual bookworm," and Harry's school house of Gryffindor "the ascendant class of the bourgeoisie." Now you see the violence inherent in the system.

Hard Currency. Campaign finance scourge Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asks for hard money donations to his PAC so he can turn around and ban soft money donations. "I hope you will send in a contribution of $75, $50, $25 or whatever you can afford at this time," reads a letter to donors. More money "will send a clear message that we have the strength and resources to get our reform agenda passed."

Hack Attack. India and Pakistan extend their fruitless rivalry to cyberspace. Indian authorities claim many attacks on Indian Web sites can be traced to Pakistani hackers.

Instant Mess. With its restrictions on how AOL Time Warner can use its instant messaging software, the Federal Communications Commission strides into new regulatory vistas. If the system ever carries voice or video, other companies get a mandatory piece of the pie.

Board Senseless. San Francisco moves to revoke a charter school's five-year contract with Edison Schools. Although the elementary school showed big gains under Edison, the new school board president says the board is now "philosophically opposed to for-profit management."