Balance Sheet



Texas Two-Step

A dozen of 38 people convicted in the infamous Tulia, Texas, drug sweep of 1999 are freed from prison pending further investigation into the case. They appear to be guilty of being from the wrong side of town.

Pub Fair

The House of Commons votes to rid Britain of early "last call" regs that encouraged people to drink as much as they could, as fast as they could, before being turned out.

Book Markers

The U.S. Government Printing Office shuts down 13 retail locations across the country, noting that online orders can fill the need. Only Washington, D.C., will keep stores, as the city's interns must be kept busy.

Big Easy

A New Orleans ban on sidewalk bookselling is struck down when a federal judge notes that the law impinges on First Amendment rights to free speech.

Cleansing Agents

The General Accounting Office finds that the number of FBI field agents tasked with drug crimes has been cut nearly in half, from 1,400 in the fall of 2001 to around 800 in spring '03. New drug investigations also fell from 1,825 in 2000 to 944 in 2002.

Wet Bar

South Carolina reverses decades of blue law tradition and allows retail beer and wine sales on Sunday. Bars and restaurants in S.C. have served on Sunday since 1993.

Bell Ringer

Pacific Bell Internet Services fights Recording Industry Association of America legal tactics, arguing that nothing in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows the RIAA to issue "shotgun" subpoenas of Net users. These raise "constitutional questions that need to be decided by the courts," PacBell says.


Read-Write Error

A Massachusetts school superintendent making $156K a year fails to pass a basic literacy test after three tries. The state education commissioner won't say how many chances Wilfredo T. Laboy will get.

Tracking Adjustment

The Homeland Security Department's inspector general finds that using the department's "air interdiction" center to track down Democratic members of the Texas legislature was "appropriate." Turns out that such tracking is a "nominal" use of federal resources.

Name Gamed

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit backs the Bush administration's assertion that it can keep secret the names of hundreds detained as part of 9/11 investigations.

Twisted Norm

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University find that over half of Zimbabwean women believe wife beating is OK. Transgressions like burning dinner or leaving the house without the husband's permission can justify a beating, a survey of 5,907 women between the ages of 15?49 reveals.

Tally Whoa

Computerized voting systems are only as good as their security, and experts at the Information Security Institute find that isn't so good. "A 15-year-old computer enthusiast" could make fake cards allowing every voter to cast multiple ballots, they warn.

Busting CAPPS

Two MIT grad students find that the airlines' Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System (CAPPS) provides worse security than utterly random searches would. Terrorists could "game" their CAPPS profiles with as few as six flights.