Balance Sheet

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Assets

Cuba Libre

At least FBI agents know torture when they see it. Several agents are disturbed enough about the way the Pentagon runs Camp X-Ray to write memos on it, which the ACLU has dragged into the light of day.

Fish Police

The E.U. decides that fishing can continue in Scottish cod-fishing grounds after Brussels settles for restrictions on the age of fish that can be caught.

Oh, K

The Army tests the animal tranquilizer ketamine, street name Special K, as a possible substitute for morphine. Don't tell the DEA, but the military likes the way K can kill pain and still leave soldiers able to function. Or dance.

Miami Vice

Hot dog vendors outside a Miami courtroom seize an entrepreneurial opportunity and charge those with court business $2 to $10 to hold cell phones and other court-banned gizmos. Lawyers had resorted to hiding them in potted plants.

Salt Solution

University of Florida researchers use waste heat from electrical power plants to power the desalination process, which could make fresh water cheaper and more available.

Oil Change

The head of Pemex, Mexico's state-owned oil company, asks lawmakers for rules that would allow it to seek private investment. Luis Ramirez says even with high oil prices, Pemex needs help with its $37 billion debt to avoid selling its crude reserves.

Charter Mandate

Harvard research reveals that the longer charter schools operate, the greater the improvement among students. A nationwide study finds if a charter school has been operating for more than nine years, test scores are 10 percent higher compared to neighboring noncharters.

Liabilities

Capsule Summary

Health worries surrounding Celebrex, Vioxx, and other heavily marketed drugs prompt calls for advertising restrictions, as if ads had anything to do with drug safety or effectiveness. Less information seldom solves problems.

Scanning Pan

Your friends at the Transportation Security Administration want brain-mapping scanners to uncover "suspicious behavior" in airline passengers.

Supply-Snort Economics

The Washington Office on Latin America finds that the drug war has failed to raise the U.S. street price of either cocaine or heroin. Instead, U.S. efforts like the $3 billion Plan Colombia have helped to sow woe across South America.

Hot Loads

Porcelain commodes and cat litter are among the substances setting off radiation alarms designed to sniff out nuclear terror at ports and border crossings. So are the 20 million Americans who get some sort of radiation treatment each year.

Alabama Getaway

Covington County Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan hears cases while wearing a robe with the Ten Commandments stitched on the front. McKathan says the Decalogue can help a judge "know the difference between right and wrong." If so, it's unclear why he hasn't committed it to memory.

Hobby Lobby

Mediaweek finds that 99.8 percent of all indecency complaints received by the FCC in 2003 came from one group, the Parents Television Council.

Suspicious Silence

Treasury Secretary John Snow and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card hint that busting the income cap for Social Security taxes, now at $90,000, may be a part of Bush's Social Security reform plans.

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