Balance Sheet



The Classifieds

The 9/11 commission recommends that the federal culture of secrecy be replaced with one of information sharing between agencies and the public. Classification costs at least $6 billion a year, but the exact amount the CIA spends is…classified.

Holding Court

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit finally wraps up the Microsoft antitrust case, rejecting a challenge to the settlement by the state of Massachusetts and others. Microsoft says the decision frees it to go back to just building software.

Fire Bug

Meet the next generation of fire alarms, built on beetle guts and with a range of several miles. The University of Bonn uses the infrared-sensitive sensors of the jewel beetle as a template for a remote fire-sensitive network that could sniff out forest fires very quickly.

Know-Why List

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer tells the Transportation Security Administration that information about the federal "no fly" list cannot be kept secret without justification. Breyer found that newspaper clippings and the names of federal officials were among the things the government wanted to keep "secret."

Water Lite

Researchers at Arizona State University move water molecules with light, a manipulation of basic physical building blocks with big possibilities. Microfluidics deployed in chemical or pharmaceutical research could create new compounds or make existing ones much cheaper.

VoIP Lessons

Another benefit of the Voice over Internet protocol? How about allowing cash-strapped start-ups to avoid Fortune 500-sized phone bills? Virtual offices spring up across times zones or across oceans, and VoIP keeps communication costs low.


Pot Heads

Houston landscaper Blair Davis sees the Harris County Organized Crime and Narcotics Task Force burst into his house, guns drawn, after the Texas Star hibiscus he grows is mistaken for pot. The lawmen also give the once-over to red and gold bamboo plants and Davis' melon crop.

Safe Mode

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates invites members of the National Governors Association over for a drink and triggers a "Gates Residence Security Zone" from Homeland Security. A chunk of Lake Washington near Seattle is off-limits to the public for two days as a result.

Illogical Flights

The U.S. Department of Transportation tries to fix chronic delays at Chicago's O'Hare Airport by telling airlines to change their schedules. If landing rights were doled out by something resembling a market, this "help" wouldn't be needed.

Hot Potatoes

South Africa looks to expand experiments with genetically modified potatoes, and anti-GM groups in the country go crazy. They claim South African consumers will want no part of the crop.

Particle Principle

A joint report by Britain's Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering warns that engineered nanotech particles can be toxic and therefore must be proven nontoxic before they are allowed to interact with the environment.

Bag Job

An Indiana man finds a mysterious pair of wire cutters in his luggage after a flight in which security screeners hand-searched his bags. The Transportation Security Administration says its appearance in checked baggage is not a security concern.