Balance Sheet

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Assets

Payback Supreme

A California developer draws up plans for the Lost Liberty Hotel on what is now the New Hampshire farm of Justice David Souter, who voted with the majority in the Kelo decision allowing governments to seize property and transfer it to private developers.

People vs. Power

After two years of resistance, villagers in China's Hebei province win back their land. The local government had tried to seize it for a state-owned power company.

Don't Super Size Me

A 35-year-old North Carolina woman limits herself to 1,400 calories a day while eating exclusively at McDonald's. She loses 33 pounds in two months.

Wild Europe

Boars, bears, wolves, and other species return to the European countryside as humans abandon inefficient mines, quarries, and farms, especially in territories once within the Soviet orbit.

False Advertising

Two Ogilvy & Mather executives receive prison sentences for overbilling the government. Since they worked on the government's anti-drug ads, overbilling was only a small part of the fraud they perpetrated.

Free Spenders

A British survey finds Internet users who illegally swap tracks spend four and a half times as much on digital music as those who don't, making it harder for record companies to blame file sharers for slumping sales.

Cost Benefit

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff makes the common-sense observation that the feds should focus on protecting airplanes rather than buses and trains from terrorists. Cities with big mass transit investments fume.

Liabilities

Sex Games

At the behest of Congress, the Federal Trade Commission eyeballs the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The game was reclassified as an adults-only title after hidden sex scenes involving animated characters surfaced.

Aloha Cars

The state of Hawaii attempts to repeal economics by putting caps on gasoline prices. Probable outcome: long lines and gas shortages.

Routing Error

Cisco Systems goes to court to suppress information about a flaw in its Net routers. Researcher Michael Lynn's presentation to a computer conference was nearly derailed, but Lynn quit his job so his employer could not grant Cisco's demands that the information remain secret.

Tough Turf

Federal prosecutors in Seattle claim their attempt to charge one of the London bomb-attack planners in 2002 was derailed by Justice Department politics. D.C. told Seattle to lay off Haroon Aswat, since the U.S. attorney in New York City was to lead all terrorist prosecutions.

Phantom Hits

The lone bright spot in New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's battle against the "crime" of payola is proof that many hit records aren't so popular after all. Radio execs spun vapid tunes not because they thought the songs were decent but because they were paid to do so.

Naked Power

Teresa Hamaty takes a picture of her naked infant son getting a kiss on the belly from Dad, and the couple is charged with child abuse. Charbel spends six months in prison, and the children are removed from Teresa's care. Prosecutors dropped all charges in July.

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