Balance Sheet



Checkpoint Checkmate

Tennessee's Supreme Court rules that the use of roadblocks to check identification papers, licenses, and registrations is unconstitutional. The court found that the primary goal of a Chattanooga Housing Authority roadblock was to issue tickets for minor infractions, not to promote safety.

Fat Genes

Researchers at Boston University find a genetic link to obesity that seems to run in families, which could lead to a genetic treatment and fewer attacks on junk-food advertising.

Last Resort

After issuing and then canceling a couple of subpoenas to reporters, the Securities and Exchange Commission clarifies its policy to say forced testimony should be a last resort.

Double Trouble

Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the American Civil Liberties Union challenge a Higher Education Act provision that has blocked nearly 200,000 students with drug convictions from access to federal financial aid. The groups argue this policy—which applies to pot smokers but not to rapists—amounts to double jeopardy.

Burning Hotness

Porn juggernaut Vivid Video is blazing a trail to downloadable films. Can mainstream Hollywood keep up? Vivid figures $20 should cover a burnable title while the legit side dallies with a $30 price point and tedious copying restrictions.

Motorcycle Diplomacy

A new Harley-Davidson store brings the American icon to Beijing. "My heart beats so fast when I ride mine, I always have to smoke a cigarette and drink some water afterward," one fan enthuses.


Copyright Terror

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act may get stronger. Congress sees it as a vehicle to expand police wiretapping authority and sniff out copyright cheats who, according to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, are helping fund the terrorists.

French Desserts

Street protests force the French government to withdraw a modest attempt to reform the nation's suffocating work rules. Instead of giving employers more options to replace unproductive workers, France opts for fewer jobs for all.

Museum Quality

The Smithsonian Institution inks a secretive deal with Showtime that would force filmmakers using footage from the institution's archives—much of which is in the public domain—to offer their projects to the cable network before shopping them elsewhere. The Smithsonian continues to accept government funding and otherwise act like a public museum.

Massachusetts Miracle II

Massachusetts unveils a health plan that requires residents to buy health insurance and treats the uninsured as the be-all and end-all of health care's dysfunction. They are not. But Gov. Mitt Romney only needs two years of cover.

Baby Ph.D.

British Education Secretary Ruth Kelly backs a Childcare Bill in Parliament known as the "national curriculum for babies." She insists that toddlers won't be sitting for exams; teachers will just look for "enthusiasm for learning and good communication skills."

Zone Blitz

The Connecticut Senate votes to prohibit oil companies from charging different prices to retailers in different locations. Lawmakers say such "zone pricing" is gouging. After all, location, location, location couldn't possibly have an economic effect.