Balance Sheet



Zone Defense. A U.S. district judge decides the First Amendment trumps zoning rules in a dispute over converting a former convent into a synagogue and Hebrew school. Abington Township, a Philly suburb, had "no rational reason to allow a train station, bus shelter, municipal administration building, police barrack, library, snack bar, pro shop, club house, country club, but not [a temple]."

Mighty Mice. Gene researchers at the University of Virginia make a mouse that changes color when it eats certain foods. The ability to switch a gene on or off with ease should be a boon for scientists studying how genes and diseases interact.

Clear Sale. Germany boots a 1933 law that effectively banned store discounts. Passed eight months after Adolf Hitler came to power, the law was supposed to protect small shopkeepers against large, often Jewish-owned, department stores. Recently, Wal-Mart had run afoul of the law.

Ms. Link. Women now make up more than half of North America's Internet users, Nielsen/NetRatings finds, when just a few years ago they were "under-represented" online. The survey also finds that women are much more efficient surfers—they spend less time online because they find what they are looking for quicker.

Base Meddle. Pentagon brass endorses a Bush proposal to close more military bases worldwide. The Air Force alone saved $5 billion from earlier closures. A bipartisan commission must be established to answer the dicey question of which pork-ridden U.S. bases to close, however.

Flushing Success. A British firm designs a toilet that can monitor human waste and spot health problems. Hooked to the Internet, it can send worrisome test results to medical specialists.


Smoke Rings. Hennepin County, Minnesota, establishes a 15-yard smoke-free zone around county-owned facilities and forbids county employees to smoke during the work day, except at lunch and other breaks. County workers in the presence of clients cannot smoke at all. Suffolk County, New York, seeks to outdo the Minnesotans, contemplating a 50-foot no smoking zone around county buildings.

Hardboiled Regs. A new FDA label on egg cartons warns buyers to "cook eggs until yolks are firm." The feds now say any egg less than 145 degrees could harbor bacteria. For years, several states have required restaurants to serve only hard-cooked eggs.

Unhooked. The wired life remains a distant dream for many in far-flung corners of the globe. Only a quarter of urban residents of India and South Africa have Internet access. An Ipsos-Reid survey also found that in urban Russia, a mere 17 percent can get online.

Crap Pipe. Viacom's MTV—the network that awarded three awards to Eminem for a body of work including an ode to raping his mom—finds geek rockers Weezer beyond the pale. The band's "Hash Pipe" video is rendered "H*** Pipe" on the network, part of a campaign against glorification of drug use.

Rubber Relief. Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi asks his countrymen to abstain from sex for at least two years to curb the spread of AIDS. His government also plans to import 300 million condoms for the 30 million residents of Kenya. The health ministry says that 700 Kenyans die every day of AIDS.