Balance Sheet



Herbal Remedy

Britain will no longer arrest citizens for possessing pot. The drug is now in the same category as anti-depressants and steroids. Penalties for selling pot will also be reduced. Officials say they will focus more on heroin and cocaine prosecutions.

Bits Bought

The Net prepares to take up the slack caused by travel and snail-mail delays. AOL Time Warner says daily e-mail use peaked in September at 280 million messages—nearly double the 150 million of a year ago. Web shopping may also boom. Forrester Research projects a holiday e-commerce total of $11 billion, up 10 percent from 2000.

Code Break

A California State Appeals Court says that the DeCSS software that unscrambles DVD codes is protected by the Constitution. Hollywood has argued the software is illegal and should be banned. The court said that the movie studios' "statutory right to protect [their] economically valuable trade secret is not an interest that is 'more fundamental' than the First Amendment right to freedom of speech."

Estimated Aid

The Internal Revenue Service allows estimated income tax payments to slide for anyone who expects the September attacks to take a big chunk out of his 2001 income. The ruling helps solve a cash-flow headache for small business owners who won't make as much money this year as last.

Tower Power

Developer Larry Silverstein, the man who helped the Port Authority privatize the World Trade Center by signing a $3.2 billion, 99-year lease just weeks before the towers were attacked, vows to rebuild on the site. Insurance and political hurdles remain, and new 110-story buildings are unlikely.


Clash Symbol

Goodwill Industries of South Florida fires Miami mayoral candidate Michael Italie, calling him a "subversive." He is a member of the Socialist Workers Party and has criticized the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan. The nonprofit has a government contract to make American flags. "Goodwill will not allow anyone to bring dishonor to such an important symbol," says the charity's CEO.

Car Crazy

California's Orchard School District spends $79,856 for a BMW 740iL, giving the keys to its superintendent as a reward for higher student test scores. The district overshot its current budget by $2 million, and roughly 30 percent of its charges live below the poverty line.

File Lock

Attorney General John Ashcroft overwrites the Freedom of Information Act. Government agencies should withhold info and let the DOJ fight any challenge in court, he says. Janet Reno's crew, itself plenty secretive, had held that agencies should disclose info unless it was "reasonably foreseeable that disclosure would be harmful."

Toe Story

Shoe designer Manolo Blahnik nixes a pair of stiletto pumps from his latest collection. He worried that airport security would consider the 3.5-inch titanium heels to be weapons. Given that books and cameras now trigger interrogations and flight bans, killer heels are not that much of a stretch.

Juice Loose

California's adventure in electricity purchases hits a new low. The state has gone from losing money on power contracts to simply giving it to utilities—or even paying them to take it. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power charged the state about $33,000 to take a 2,175 megawatt-hour surplus. Overall, the state lost $26 million in 90 days of power trading.