Balance Sheet

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Assets

Golden Age

A National Institute on Aging report finds that people are not only living longer but staying healthy longer. One indicator, the percentage of seniors with a disability that limits their activities, fell from 26 percent in 1982 to 20 percent in 1999.

Head Trip

The British Ministry of Defense still doesn't admit any wrongdoing, but three former U.K. servicemen receive settlements in connection with the LSD they were given without their consent in the 1950s. Government researchers had asked for volunteers to help find a cure for the common cold.

Clinical Issue

Oglala Sioux Tribe President Cecelia Fire Thunder says if South Dakota succeeds in banning abortions, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation could open an abortion clinic. State law would not apply to her "sovereign nation," she argues.

Vote Early, Often

Burlington, Vermont, elects a mayor using the instant run-off voting method. Voters listed their first through fifth choices on their ballots. The victor won by about 800 votes.

Tax Tide

Rising property taxes drive anti-tax ballot proposals, initiatives, and lawsuits in about half the states. The Census Bureau pegs the state and local property tax take at $339 billion last year, or some $2,750 per American household.

Good Business

A study published in the Journal of Small Business Management finds that management is getting more ethical, not less. The survey of 5,000 managers, dating back to 1985, shows respondents increasingly trying to do the right thing in 16 different scenarios.

Liabilities

Antitrusted

Add to the long list of PATRIOT Act provisions unrelated to terrorism: The law's renewal included long-sought wiretap provisions for federal antitrust cases.

Scottish Rights

Smoking is banned in Scottish pubs and restaurants, and violations come with a stiff £50 fine. The rest of the U.K. is to follow Scotland next year.

Illegal Cooking

The New York Times Magazine reports that New York City health inspectors are cracking down on shrink-wrapped food in restaurants because it does not fit any existing food handling regulations. Fines of $300 result despite no indication that the method is dangerous.

Evil Seed

After the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves Monsanto's plans for a herbicide-resistant alfalfa seed, anti-biotech forces sue, saying the department should do "a full environmental review" of the seed's impact on everything from international trade to dairy cows.

Tap Room

A retired AT&T technician says that in 2002 he helped the National Security Agency set up a secret Net traffic tap at a San Francisco switching center. The tap allowed the feds to monitor both phone and Internet communications of AT&T's U.S. customers without pesky warrants.

Dark Justice

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press finds that during the last five years more than 450 criminal cases in the U.S. District Court in D.C. were conducted in complete secrecy. These cases were not just sealed but off the docket completely, leaving no record of what happened or to whom.

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