News & Reviews

"News & Reviews" Continued...

Issue: "Top 40 Books," July 3, 1999
  • Ruled that the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not apply to people with correctable disabilities. That means that those with poor eyesight, diabetes, or high blood pressure-illnesses that can be well treated by medication-are not covered by the law.
  • Ruled that the ADA obliges states to let mentally disabled people live in homelike settings when such arrangements are appropriate.
  • Set strict standards before courts can approve massive, class-action settlements that apply on a mandatory basis to all potential plaintiffs. Federal panel recommends e-commerce taxes
    Taxing the net
    Not even the Internet should escape the greedy hand of tax collectors, according to members of a congressional study panel. They complain that the government will not collect its fair share from online commerce if government doesn't tax the Net. A three-year moratorium on new federal, state, and local e-commerce taxes expires in October 2001. At that point, some new tax structure is certain to enter the Net, taking a chunk out of users' wallets and weighing down business with a mountain of paperwork and accounting chores. While a standing army of online activists is ready and willing to fight to keep pornography legal online, Internet taxation faces little organized resistance. Meanwhile, the government seems to consider online shoppers deadbeats because they currently can escape sales tax by ordering goods from another state via the World Wide Web. "We must not allow the Internet to become a tax haven that drains the revenue governments need to provide the services that citizens demand," complains commission member Joseph Guttentag, a top Treasury Department official. Even corporate America is willing to play along: "Our challenge here is not to restrain the growth of the Internet but to allow the Internet to flourish," said commission member David Pottruck, president of Charles Schwab Corp. "We need to find the balance. Governments need money. Tax systems need to be fair." The No-Comment Zone
  • Teenagers do not have the right to wander the streets late at night, according to a federal appeals court that upheld the District of Columbia's youth curfew law. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled the 1995 law governing district children younger than 17 does not violate their rights or interfere with the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit. The majority ruled that instead it gives parents almost total discretion over their children's late-night activities and, in fact, helps them control their children.
  • Coca-Cola will begin producing soft drinks again under heavy government scrutiny in two Belgian plants after dozens of people who drank the product complained of stomachaches and nausea. Several countries, from France to Germany to Ivory Coast, restricted sales of Coke products, causing tens of millions of cans to be pulled from the market. No exact link between the drinks and the illnesses has yet been found.
  • Australia has deported at least three pregnant women to China, an Australian official admitted last week, and one of them reportedly was forced to have an abortion there just days before she was to give birth. Australian Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock defended the decision, arguing that his country had a duty to remove illegal aliens, but Independent Senator Brian Harradine called for a broadening of the government's official inquiry into the matter.
  • After months of sensational controversy, an independent panel of scientists reportedly determined that there is no evidence linking silicone breast implants to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or any other systemic disease. Researchers from the Institute of Medicine say their main risk is their tendency to burst or deflate and lead to infections, hardening, or scarring of tissue. No one knows yet how this will affect Dow Corning, once the largest maker of the implants, which recently agreed to a $3.2 billion settlement with thousands of women who claim silicone breast implants made them ill.
  • Almost two-thirds of Americans own their own homes now, thanks to the lowest mortgage interest and unemployment rates since the 1960s. About 1.8 million homes have been built each year since 1996 with most of the growth occurring outside of cities and in the South and the West.

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