Telecommunications Policy

Balance Sheet

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Assets

Fleece-Rate

Congress finally investigates the E-Rate program, a plan to give schools and libraries subsidized Net access. At least $200 million of the $2.25 billion spent by the program is thought to have been ripped off or otherwise misspent.

Being Tax-Averse

Actor John Malkovich bolts France after authorities insist the American pay the full 65 percent French tax on his income despite also paying tax to the IRS. "They interpret things one way, I interpret them another," Malkovich tells the New York Daily News.

Less Wild West

New Mexico becomes the 34th state to adopt concealed-carry legislation. Residents over 25 can be licensed to carry firearms provided they pass a criminal background check and a gun training course.

Spam Lite

A Maryland state judge refuses a spammer's request to force the removal of his contact info from an anti-spam site. Francis Uy posted the address and phone number of George Alan Moore Jr., on his "Maryland's most wanted spammers" site. The court ruled that Uy merely posted accurate data.

Energy Contract

Fed up with the University of California's lax management, the Department of Energy vows to put oversight of the Los Alamos National Laboratory up for a competitive contract. It would be the first time the nuclear weapons lab has been opened up to competitive bids.

Sex Sells

A Melbourne brothel known as The Daily Planet debuts on the Australian Stock Exchange—and finds its share price quickly doubled. No word on what Lois Lane thinks—or that stuffy Clark Kent.

Liabilities

Country Life

Farm-state senators back a new "Homestead Act" to subsidize rural communities. Student loans and tax credits would be among the goodies doled out to residents, who already see subsidies on everything from telecom to air travel, not to mention billions in farm aid.

Forbidden Loot

A federal judge bans the distribution of anti-tax nut Irwin Schiff's book that argues Americans don't have to pay income tax. The court can punish Schiff for failure to pay taxes, but censorship of even "false and frivolous" material sets a bad precedent.

Super DMCA

Not content with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act at the federal level, Hollywood lobbyists drop down to the states to cook up even more stringent restrictions on the use of technology. Legislation has passed in six states and is pending in others that would, in some cases, ban the home use of network routers because they can prevent Net providers from checking for copyrighted material.

Dead Letter

FBI concerns about the accuracy of testimony in the Timothy McVeigh case somehow never made it to Attorney General John Ashcroft or to McVeigh's lawyers. FBI lawyers concluded that testimony from a Bureau bomb-expert was "false, misleading, and potentially fabricated."

Bad Faith

An aide to the governor of Idaho talks trash about the Free State Project, saying it would be a state living "under the threat of drunk drivers, drug addicts, or criminals." The project aims to get 20,000 fans of freedom to move to single state where they can make a difference at the ballot box.

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