Balance Sheet



Over Spray

Afghanistan's expected war on opium will not include aerial spraying of pesticides onto poppy fields. The U.S. backed the idea (and may have tried it without permission), but the Afghan government thought such spraying would scare and anger the very rural population that must agree to grow alternative crops.

Indecent Proposals

The Federal Communications Commission finally turns off the goofy Parents Television Council, rejecting 36 indecency complaints from the group involving shows like Friends and The Simpsons. The only indecent thing about The Simpsons is that it isn't as funny as it used to be.

Sun Rises

Sun Microsystems releases more than 1,600 patents in a bid to make its Solaris operating system an open-source darling. The hope is that freelance developers will build on and improve Sun's work, creating value as they go.

White Trash

After way too much legal wrangling, the Supreme Court lets stand a decision allowing the Ku Klux Klan to be part of Missouri's "Adopt-a-Highway" program. Klansmen can now bag roadside garbage just like decent folk do.

Extreme Decision

A U.S. district court judge dismisses porn trafficking charges against the owners of Extreme Associates (see "Xtreme Measures," May). The government cannot ban material simply on the assumption that it is objectionable, the judge rules.

Revolution Resolution

At its annual meeting, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators passes a resolution condemning the war on drugs, which jails African-Americans at alarming rates. "The war on drugs has failed," the resolution declares.


War Economy

The Iraq war begins to bite into funding for needed anti-terror systems, including intelligence gathering and airlift, while the Air Force confronts its manpower needs with the possibility of bases staffed entirely by Guard and Reserve units.

Beta Test

The U.S. entertainment industry tells the Supreme Court P2P file-swapping software can provide a "perpetual free pass" to copyrighted material. The court is poised to update its landmark 1984 Betamax ruling, which held that technology cannot be banned just because some people might misuse it.

Low Tech

Mysterious federal security objectives hold up IBM's sale of its PC division to China's Lenovo Group. Unnamed bureaucrats are said to fear Chinese spying will increase if the deal goes through.

Judicial Constraint

An Australian judge demands that any information on the Internet about an upcoming case be removed from circulation if potential jurors might see it. Justice Virginia Bell threatens contempt-of-court penalties for anyone, anywhere, who does not comply.

Dr. Strangelaw

The House of Representatives passes a provision that permits a few lawmakers to do the business of Congress in the event a terrorist attack or other disaster kills off scores of congressmen.

Docu Drama

The Securities and Exchange Commission has to consider cutting back on costly Sarbanes-Oxley documentation regulations almost immediately after they go into effect in January. One international bank estimates that fully 15 percent of its I.T. staff does nothing but Sarbanes-Oxley work.