Corruption

Balance Sheet

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Assets

Test Case. Pregnant women do not trade their rights for fertility, the Supreme Court rules. A South Carolina hospital had for years required drug tests of expectant mothers and forwarded any positive results to police for follow-up.

Free Spite. A federal appeals court confirms that the First Amendment protects tacky and shrill anti-abortion Web sites that cheerlead the deaths of abortion-performing docs. The court notes that no matter the bad taste, the written material cannot be construed as an imminent threat.

Comp Time. Pennsylvania will transfer control of an entire school system to not one, but three private firms; parents can choose which will teach their kids. Real competition gives the 7,500-student Chester Upland school district a shot at improvement.

Born Free. Killers may be made, but not by movies, a Louisiana judge rules. A civil suit sought to hold Oliver Stone and Time-Warner responsible for a store clerk's shooting by way of the movie Natural Born Killers.

Party Party. Australia's smut merchants explore starting their own political party. The Eros Foundation notes the trend toward increased government control of adult entertainment, such as the new laws that decimated phone sex.

Fox Hounds. Mexican President Vicente Fox says out loud that legalizing drugs would solve the violence and corruption problems his country faces. But he quickly adds that such a thing will only happen "some day" and that Mexico cannot possibly do it alone.

Liabilities

Cookie Mobsters. Police in DeKalb County, Georgia, ticket Girl Scouts for selling Thin Mints without a permit. A local ordinance requires a permit for anyone soliciting in neighborhoods, with a fine of up to $200 for offenders. Police top brass later void the tickets.

Doubleplus Ungood. New Jersey second-graders branded "terrorists" over a paper gun, kids in Maryland playing "too rough" tag, and a Florida boy who drew a picture of a deadly "laser" gun, are all smacked down by public school apparatchiks bent on bringing order to their Orwellian fiefdoms.

Pledge Pinned. Virginia joins New York and Montana in the recent trend to require public school kids say the Pledge of Allegiance in their classrooms each day. The sponsor of the Virginia law, state Sen. Warren Barry (R), is clear on the purpose: "Some people say you can't force patriotism. I disagree."

Bad Business. Lawmen in Kansas oppose a civil forfeiture reform bill because seized loot would go to schools instead of cops. "Why would a local law enforcement agency seize property for forfeiture—when they do not receive any of the proceeds?" a prosecutor asks.

X-File. The U.S. Sentencing Commission decrees that the criminal penalties for importing or selling Ecstasy will be more severe than for dealing powder cocaine. Drug warriors lobbied for the change lest X destroy the republic. Yet researchers say the drug is not as dangerous as coke, smack, or even alcohol.

Power Rangers. Saudi Arabia intends to stamp out Pokémon, as the card game is said to run counter to Islamic law. Religious leaders pledge to catch 'em all, saying that "most of the cards figure six-pointed stars, a symbol of international Zionism and the state of Israel."