Balance Sheet



Bit Barrier

The Bush administration relaxes Cold War-era computer export rules. Now countries such as Russia, Israel, China, India, and Pakistan can get more-powerful boxes, but truly high-end computers still need approval.

Code Fed

The feds drop charges against a Russian computer programmer accused of violating copyrights on Adobe's e-book software. Dmitry Sklyarov, 27, endured the first criminal prosecution under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Devout Readout

God is alive and well on the Net, suggests a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Religious cruising, mostly for info, is more popular than gambling, banking, or trading stocks. Every day some 3 million U.S. adults find religious information online, up from 2 million in 2000.

Record Sieve

Big Brother may be watching, but he can't find anything. The National Archives and Records Administration concludes that most federal agencies can't handle electronic records. Feds may create documents in digital formats but then print them on paper and bury them in storage. And some formats, such as e-mail, are simply destroyed.

Spectrum Shift

Radio space slowly trickles out as the Federal Communications Commission frees more of the spectrum for real-world uses. Private firms say new ultra-broadband technology will be the fastest yet. But large chunks of air space are still wasted on clunkers like digital television.


Chips Ahoy

A Florida company designs radio-frequency chips that work inside human tissue. Applied Digital Solutions says its VeriChip can store information about a patient's pacemaker, defibrillator, or artificial joint. But the company has hinted at a more widespread use: implanted identification.

Failed Footloose

Three college students run afoul of a Utah town's dance hall ordinance. Public parties without metal detectors, state-certified security guards, and surveillance cameras are illegal in Provo. Only church, school, or government hoedowns are exempt. The Internet church the students claim to represent doesn't count.

Condiment Cops

Forget yakking on a cell phone. A messy burrito is enough to get you pulled over in New Hampshire. Negligent driving is now illegal in the Granite State, with cops empowered to punish distractions like eating with fines of up to $1,000.

Pay Day

Congress approves its third pay increase in four years, making the salary for senators and representatives an even $150,000 a year. Wartime sacrifice is not under consideration, unlike during World War II, when Congress passed a pay freeze, or the Depression, during which the gilded domers cut their salaries twice.

Faux Fur

Government scientists planted samples of lynx fur on public lands in Washington state, finds the U.S. Forest Service. A national survey of the endangered cat's range will set land use restrictions in 16 states. The scientists remain on the job as Congress gets involved.