Balance Sheet



Home Court

The California Supreme Court rules that Hollywood cannot drag a Texas man into Golden State courts because he posted an unlicensed DVD decoder on the Net. The DVD Copy Control Association should file suit in the man's home state or the state where it thinks the offense occurred, the court says.

French Stew

A French court brushes aside arguments from Jose Bové's lawyers that the tech-hating sheep farmer had no choice but to attack and destroy a field of genetically modified crops. Bové now faces several months in prison and wants President Jacques Chirac to pardon him.

Net Good

Web charity is alive and well. Visitors send $20,000 to the youthful proprietress of savekaryn.com to help defray her credit card bills. And Ernie's House of Whoop Ass enters its second year of PayPal donations to fund holiday travel for overseas U.S. military. Last year visitors donated $13,000.

Duty Call

The Bush administration calls for the elimination of all tariffs on manufactured goods by 2015. The change would affect an estimated $6 trillion in goods.

Change Due

The Ohio Education Association backs down and allows a member teacher to use her dues to support the American Cancer Society instead of the union's political activities. The union admits no wrongdoing, however, and refuses to acknowledge the "sincerity" of teacher Kathleen Klamut's "professed beliefs."

Quantum Leap

Just in time for the total surveillance state, here comes quantum encryption. The process, which scrambles individual photons, is fast, requires no keys, and is thought to be unbreakable.


Mystery Map

The National Geographic Society says only 13 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 can find Iraq on a map. Slightly better known –after a year of bombing it –is Afghanistan, with fully 17 percent of those surveyed able to pinpoint it.

Secret Sales

The perverse Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is used by WalMart, Target, Best Buy, and Staples to force Web sites to delete any information giving consumers advance notice about sales. The retailers claim their prices are DMCA-protected trade secrets.

Approval Upheaval

After nearly two years without an administrator, the Food and Drug Administration now takes more time to approve an application than it has in 10 years. New drugs trickle into the market.

Official Reminder

A public school superintendent in Illinois sends policemen and truant officers to demand that homeschoolers appear for a "pre-trial hearing" to prove they are actually teaching their kids. State law has no such requirement for parents.

Pill Boxes

Patients receiving prescriptions in Indiana and 18 other states may find the Drug Enforcement Administration has information on their medical backgrounds, right down to the number of pills they take. Drugs such as Percodan, Vicodin, and Lorcet are part of the Diversion Control Program, which means the feds track who takes them.

Osama Tax

New York City adopts an 18.5 percent property tax hike that some pols call a "wartime tax." In reality, war has nothing to do with it. During the '90s states and localities went on a spending binge that now has to be paid for.