Balance Sheet



Border Pass. A NAFTA arbitration panel rules in favor of Mexico and against the U.S. in a trucking dispute. As a result, Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona must allow access to Mexican trucks, provided they pass state safety standards.

Bit Nation. The Net goes unhip as a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that most people now have Net access. Fully 56 percent of the adult population—or 104 million people—now go online for their porn, stock quotes, and bomb recipes.

Crop Flop. Greenpeace backs away from opposition to field trials of "golden" rice, a vitamin A-enriched grain that could help stop blindness in the Third World.

Good Sports. Members of a Florida gay and lesbian softball league oppose quotas for straight players. Heteros are now capped at two per team lest they dominate the league. "That's ridiculous. That's like saying all African-Americans are fantastic basketball players," one gay activist notes.

Click Through. A federal appeals court gives Barnes & Noble's Internet wing the right to keep using's "single-click technology" pending a trial over Amazon's 1999 patent. Jeff Bezos' gang thinks they are the first merchants in history to remember a customer.

Game Trading. File-trading network Aimster tries to avoid the liabilities of Napster by using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act against the content owners who wrote it. Users are officially barred—wink-wink—from opening the files they download. Any attempt by anyone to check up on that would violate DMCA bans on encryption hacking.


Phased and Confused. The Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation calculates that thanks to various phase-outs and credits in the tax code, marginal rates can jump to over 50 percent in some cases. Phase-outs for the Roth IRA, for example, can add up to 12 percentage points to a tax bracket.

Irish Green. European Union finance ministers scold Ireland for its pro-growth policies. Noise is made about the Emerald Isle's "high inflation rate," but that's just a function of the weak Euro and lot of trade with the U.S., particularly in high tech. The E.U. also disses Ireland's planned tax cuts.

Berry Funny. The Food and Drug Administration decides it can regulate Web content if health claims are made about a foodstuff and product labels have Web addresses on them. Ocean Spray Cranberries is told to stop making claims about its juices, which, the FDA helpfully notes, are not drugs.

Buffalo Chips. A Buffalo, New York-area service provider pleads guilty to the charge of knowingly providing Net access to child pornography, the first plea of its kind. BuffNET was charged with failing to excise the newsgroup "Pedo University" after users complained about its content. The ISP says it is cheaper to pay the $5,000 fine than fight.

Too Fair. The Justice Department says Tenet Healthcare Corp. paid "above fair market" salaries to physicians so the docs would send patients to a Tenet hospital in Florida.

Ballot Bogey. An Oregon judge rules that the limits state voters approved on state and local government last November were unconstitutional. Ballot measure 7 forced government to compensate property owners when regulations reduce the value of their property. The judge says the measure was too broad and should not have been presented as a single provision.