Balance Sheet



Base Motivation

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wants to close about one-quarter of the nation's 425 military bases. Army bases without quick-deployment forces are almost certain to be shut down.

J-Lo Blow

When Jennifer Lopez asks Miami police officers to "donate" their time to her celebrity security bubble, the city balks, noting "there are a lot of people with money here. They have to hire off-duty officers like everyone else."

Gift Receipts

In fiscal year 2003 total federal revenue as a percentage of GDP falls below 17 percent for the first time since 1959. Of course, big deficits and a weak economy help explain the fall, but a smaller slice of pie for the feds still means more in the private sector.

Magic Memo

A federal judge in Houston tosses a 20-year-old arms smuggling conviction because a CIA memo was kept from the defense. Judge Lynn Hughes notes that even in national security cases, due process "requires personal and institutional integrity."

Zoned Out

Voters in Williamstown, Vermont, overwhelmingly reject a plan to introduce zoning restrictions for the town. How many other jurisdictions would ditch zoning were it put to a vote?

Cash Crop

A Purdue University survey finds that, regardless of age or income level, consumers will pay more for genetically modified foods if they believe the foods provide more nutrients or other benefits.

Shot Through

A study of 140,000 kids published in Pediatrics finds no links between childhood vaccinations and autism. That won't deter the cottage industry that's sprung up to convince parents otherwise.


Crabby Padding

Crabbers in six states split a $5 million pot Congress set aside for them. Depending on whom you talk to, either bad weather or foreign competition justifies the bailout.

Briefly Noted

President George Bush explains he gets his news with a "glance at the headlines," skipping the stories because "there's opinions mixed in with news." This is in contrast to his staff briefers, who are "objective sources" on world events.

Writer's Block

Online book hawker Amazon disables part of its search engine after the Authors Guild complains that users can get too much information for free with it.

New Hickory

Fake copies of the new, "improved" $20 bill show up in several locales, and many machines cannot recognize the new version. You can buy all the postage stamps you want with it, though.

Mopping Up

Federal immigration officers crack down on members of cleaning crews at Wal-Marts across the country. The goal is to break illegal aliens' grip on the lucrative sweeping and mopping trades.

Hidden Heat

Traffic enforcement goes undercover. Police in Maine, Maryland, California, and Florida resort to posing as traffic engineers or drivers of disabled vehicles to spring radar traps on motorists.

Fertile Question

A New York University School of Medicine doctor goes to China to try his new fertility approach rather than stay in the U.S. and comply with FDA cloning regulations.