Balance Sheet



Base Desires

It's a long way from over, but the Pentagon's base-closing list includes such Cold War relics as a B-1 bomber base and an attack sub pen. Now for the lobbying, followed by more lobbying.

Shacking Gets Stirred

The American Civil Liberties Union challenges North Carolina's law against unmarried couples living together. The anti-cohabitation law has been on the books since 1805.

Second, First

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tells Larry King the right to keep and bear firearms is as vital as First Amendment protections for speech and religion. Rice recalls from experience that in the South of the early 1960s, armed blacks had to defend themselves against a hostile local regime.

Justice Nerds

So-called vigilante hackers such as the Lad Wrecking Crew take down and otherwise hobble various Net scams and phishing operations. Law enforcement must wait until sometimes reluctant victims come forward, which is often too late to catch peripatetic scammers; hence the freelance justice squads.

Mod Squat

Officials in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, move to formalize a chunk of the informal economy by granting official land titles to some 400,000 squatter shanties. Lack of modern property rights remains a stumbling block to growth in many parts of the world.

Supreme Vintage

The Supreme Court rules that state governments may not discriminate against out-of-state wine makers.


Ritual Abuse

A Marion County, Indiana, judge rules that a divorced couple, both of whom practice Wicca, may not expose their 9-year-boy to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." The ruling is under appeal.

Secret Sex Ed

In Montgomery County, Maryland, parental visits to schools during sex education lessons are not welcome, lest they disturb the atmosphere. Officials cite a "chilling effect" parents would have on a new sex curriculum.

Plane Disgusting

Tiny, lost general aviation craft spur governmental panic across D.C., complete with police officers urging building evacuees to run to the nearest exit. A planned warning-laser system evidently will not work in the rain. Various bureaucratic confusions about shoot-down authority pop up.

Corrupted Info

A former immigration inspector, a former Army sergeant, a former federal prison guard, current and former members of the state corrections department, and a local police officer are among those charged with taking bribes to help smuggle drugs into Arizona from Mexico.

Space Nuts

The Federal Aviation Administration is worried about billboards in space and wants clear authority to stop any "obtrusive" ads. Good to know that the FAA has solved all other issues related to air travel in the U.S.

Judge-Less Justice

The PATRIOT Act not being sufficient, the FBI wants new powers to use so-called administrative subpoenas to quickly seize business and private records. This will combat terrorism and protect freedom from…wait, scratch that. This will combat terror.