ASSETS

Patriot Gain. The military buildup of the 1980s-including some of its “waste, fraud, and abuse”-pays off as Patriot missiles intercept Iraqi Scuds. With hardliners resurgent in Moscow, defensive weapons that actually work look like a good buy. Why can’t we get some of that missile defense here in the States?

Basic Story. “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Croft destroys the conventional wisdom about acid rain. Relying heavily on the government’s $500-million NAPAP study-which portrays acid rain as basically harmless- Croft concludes that “America is suffering from environmental hypochondria.” Enviros downplay NAPAP’S findings: A Natural Resources Defense Council lobbyist tells Croft that the NRDC doesn’t care whether acid rain is a threat: it just wants tough environmental legislation. If only CBS had listened to scientists about Alar...

Express main. Morrison Knudsen Corp. bids $5.7 billion to build and operate the nation’s first high-speed “bullet train” in Texas. The 590-mile railway will connect Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio with trains traveling nearly 200 miles per hour. The state legislature refuses to finance the project. So Morrison Knudsen will seek its own (mostly private) funding.

Honesty Pays. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit holds that life-insurance policyholders who lie about smoking can lose their coverage. New York Life doesn’t have to pay a $50,000 insurance claim from the estate of a Pennsylvania man who died of AIDS--but claimed he didn’t smoke when he signed up for the policy. New York Life’s attorney says a smoker can still get insurance, but “you just have to tell the truth in the application.”

LIABILITIES

Dumb Questions. Reporters’ inane queries hurt the early coverage of Operation Desert Storm. “General, when will the ground war start?” “Where will you attack?” “What units will you use?’ No wonder people hold the press in such low regard.

Smilin’ Mike. As tanks roll through the Baltics, Mikhail Gorbachev performs last rites for glasnost and perestroika. He asks the Supreme Soviet to suspend press freedoms-it temporarily refuses-and outlaws 50- and 100-ruble notes, destroying most private savings. So 300,000 Muscovites take to the streets, calling for Gorbachev’s resignation. These are the times that try Soviet souls.

Desert Slick. Forget chemical warfare against the Kurds. Forget the Scud attacks on Tel Aviv. Forget the assassination of his air defense commanders. Saddam Hussein knows how to get the U.S. media steamed: Spill a lot of oil in the Persian Gulf. Environmental terrorism!, they cry. This brutal slime ball may actually kill some birds! Will the man stop at nothing?

Disability Check. The federal government publishes enforcement guidelines for the Americans with Disabilities Act. All new or renovated grocery and retail store aisles (including checkouts) must be wheelchair-accessible; theaters and concert halls must provide listening devices for the hearing-impaired; two-thirds of restaurants’ seating area must be handicapped-accessible. How much will this cost? A hint: There goes the economic recovery.