Environmentalism

Balance Sheet

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ASSETS

Bye Polar

Scientists from NASA say the ozone hole over the South Pole continues to shrink and is now, in fact, two smaller holes that together measure 6 million square miles. That's down about 30 percent from previous readings of 9 million square miles.

Instant Justice

Yakima County, Washington, experiments with virtual traffic court. E-mail to a judge can substitute for several hours in a courtroom. The catch: It only applies to guilty pleas.

Fish Tales

Down-market restaurant chains Long John Silver and Red Lobster resist an enviro campaign to swear off engineered seafood. Various chichi chefs, meanwhile, join in claims that biotech fish are too unnatural for their clientele.

Fair Game

The Digital Media Consumers Rights Act, which would push U.S. copyright law back toward the center after years of tilting toward the content owners, awaits a congressional committee vote. If ultimately passed, it will exhume the notion of fair use from the cold, cold ground.

Zone Coverage

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit finds unconstitutional a Cincinnati law that bans former drug offenders from particular neighborhoods. The city's "drug exclusion zone" banned anyone with a history of drug offenses.

International Currency

Dire poverty has taken a worldwide hit in the last few decades, finds the Institute for International Economics. Those who live on an inflation-adjusted $1 a day or less shrank from 63 percent in 1950 to 35 percent in 1980, then down to 12 percent in 1999.

LIABILITIES

Ultra Orthodox

The Upper House of Parliament in Belarus backs a bill that would enshrine the Russian Orthodox Church as the official state religion. Churches with less than 20 years' presence in the country could not publish literature or set up missions.

False Start

The North Carolina General Assembly, swamped by a budget deficit, nonetheless finds time to order the renumbering of state roadways so that N.C. 3 runs outside the former stomping grounds of dead NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt. His Chevy was numero tres.

Bridge Gap

A winning bridge player at the world championship in Montreal loses her silver medal after refusing to take a drug test. Random drug testing was adopted for the tournament in hopes of qualifying it as an Olympic sport. There are no known performance-enhancing drugs for bridge.

Printer Jam

Shoppers in Jefferson County, Colorado, will have to give up a fingerprint if they want to write a check. Police say an explosion in check fraud and identity theft is to blame and promise that no fingerprint database will be kept.

Test Pattern

Patients who need mammograms or chest X-rays can face a 30-week wait in Ontario, as single-payer medicine delivers on its promise to ration health care resources by something other than price. The Ontario Association of Radiologists reports that access to tests varies widely city to city.

Lite Reading

The Nova Scotia government plans an "adjusted diploma" for recipients who can't read. Education Minister Jane Purves says it's unreasonable to expect all high school graduates to be literate.

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