Balance Sheet

Absurd news bites, served fresh every day.



Fee Simple

The Prescription Drug User Fee Act of 1992 has not resulted in companies buying federal approval of new drugs. A University of Michigan study finds the $1 billion in fees bought big, politically active firms no advantage before the FDA.

Stubborn Ash

The tony Players Club in New York City challenges the city's smoking ban on First Amendment grounds—as a violation of "expressive association."

High Rolling

On the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight, Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites becomes the first private company to send up a piloted rocket at supersonic speeds.

International Calamity

Countries with a functioning Net beat back a bid by the U.N. to "manage" the Internet for the good of mankind. Instead, Net operations will be studied, with a report due in 2005. Whew.


An Oslo appeals court upholds a lower court's ruling that Jon Lech Johansen, a.k.a. "DVD Jon," did not intend his DeCSS software to be used to pirate DVDs.

Learning Curve

Some local school systems say "thanks, but no thanks" to No Child Left Behind, preferring to do without federal funds rather than submit to a one-size-fits-all education plan.

Club Rules

Finding that suspicionless drug screenings of students may violate the state constitution, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allows a challenge by two students to proceed. One justice says the policy asks students to "choose one: your Pennsylvania constitutional right to privacy or the chess club."


MDMA's Agony

Turns out the supposed horrors of the drug MDMA were largely invented by single researcher. Now Ecstasy faces an uphill battle to receive an unbiased evaluation.

Secret Sharer

The spying case against Army Capt. James Yee, the Gitmo chaplain, unravels as prosecutors steadily reduce the charges. Yet they continue to claim that Yee's counsel cannot see all the evidence against him due to national security concerns.

Costume Drama

France moves to ban any overt display of religion from public places, claiming secular society cannot survive head scarves or turbans or crucifixes. Millions take to the streets in opposition.

Forced Out

A bid to move the NBA's New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn would displace 1,000 families, a city councilwoman claims. Many city and state politicos favor building a new arena for the team, and the site developer vows to make any relocations "as easy as possible."

Slight Draft

Faced with an acute shortage of men and women in uniform, the Pentagon issues stop-loss orders to prevent personnel from going back home even after their hitches technically end.

Cashing In

Casinos, car dealerships, and other "cash intensive" businesses join the War on Terror as the FBI gets the power to demand records from them without first going to court.

Unnatural Act

Virginia opts not to comply with a Supreme Court ruling striking down anti-sodomy statutes because the state would lose ongoing court cases if it did. State law prohibits all sodomy, even between married couples.