Civil Liberties

Balance Sheet

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ASSETS

Steely Resolve

Domestic steel producers howl at the U.S. government's refusal to levy tariffs on imported steel. Both the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission find that imports of cold-rolled steel are not to blame for American steel's woes.

Joint Production

Teens polled by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse say that they can buy pot more easily than cigarettes or beer, suggesting that the best way to keep drugs from kids is to legalize them.

Peer Pressure

Citing the Recording Industry Association of America's plans to hack users of peer-to-peer file trading software, Internet service provider Information Wave Technologies blocks the RIAA from its network. In addition, Verizon resists the demands of Big Media to give up the names of file swappers.

Vice's Virtue

Texas investor Dan Ahrens sets up the Vice Fund, which will trade in the alcohol, gambling, tobacco, and defense stocks that politically correct "social equity" funds avoid. The vice stocks have done well in the bear market, and Ahrens says people "should invest to make money, not to make a political statement."

Pfysteria

Two teams of researchers say the periodic hysteria over the algae pfiesteria may be misplaced. Pfiesteria was thought to kill fish and make people sick. But independent analysis hasn't found a toxin.

Prize Poop

The Sustainable Development Network, a coalition of African and Asian farmers who support free trade, awards its "Bullshit Trophy" to Greenpeace, the Third World Network, and BioWatch in recognition of their contribution to the "preservation of poverty" in developing countries.

LIABILITIES

Beanie Babies

Florida police shoot an 81-year-old nursing home resident three times with bean bags, then pepper spray him after he waves a small glass vase at them. Willie D. Foster, who uses a wheelchair and has a pacemaker, was accorded the "safest option," according to a police spokesman.

Hotmail Defense

The judge handling the case of Zacarias Moussaoui is mystified as to how the FBI missed the alleged terrorist's e-mail account. The feds said no such account exists, but Moussaoui has said he used a Hotmail account accessed via a computer at Kinko's.

Dorm Strife

A police chief in New Hampshire suggests a private college should forfeit a dorm building because of drug busts at the school. Dover chief William Fenniman says he is willing to do whatever it takes to stop "illicit activity."

Mink Stolen

Animal rights activists believed to be associated with the Animal Liberation Front cut fences at an Iowa mink farm, releasing hundreds of the animals into the wild. Half were recovered, while others were hit by cars or killed by dogs.

Speech Impediment

The First Amendment goes too far in guaranteeing free speech, say 49 percent of people polled by the First Amendment Center. The percentage of people who think speech protections are too robust is up some 10 points from 2001.

Bulging Bars

A record 6.6 million people are now in the American correctional system. That's up from 4.4 million in 1990, a Sentencing Project survey finds. In other words, one in every 32 adults in the U.S. is behind bars, on probation, or on parole.

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