Balance Sheet


Assets Outside Job. Massachusetts voters pick gubernatorial hopefuls John Silber and William Weld over establishment pols. By a 2-to-1 margin, Oklahomans approve 12-year term limits for state legislators. In California and Colorado, pre-elections polls show similar support for term-limitation initiatives. Incumbents beware!

Clean Pool. One year after scientists discovered the gene that causes cystic fibrosis, research teams in Michigan and Iowa use the gene to "fix" defective cells from CF patients. Drugs to cure CF may follow. And gene-replacement therapies might soon treat common diseases, not just the rare ones genetic engineers first targeted. There may be something to that biotech thing after all.

Tuned Up. Donald H. Stedman's mobile smog tests get serious attention in the mainstream press. (See "Going Mobile," Aug./Sept.) The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Business Week favorably profile Stedman and his machine. Car and Driver's Patrick Bedard heaps praise on the chemistry professor and notes, "The day of the gross-polluter ticket is fast approaching."

Baser Instincts. The Pentagon plans to shut down or cut back 150 U.S. bases overseas. Germany and the rest of Europe will absorb most of the losses. With the Koreas talking of reunification and the Philippines threatening to toss us out, look for more announcements soon.

Liabilities No 'Count. Surprise, surprise, and go-ol-ly, officials in nearly every American city plan to challenge the 1990 census. Why? Low tallies mean fewer federal handouts. New York City Mayor David Dinkins wins the honesty award: "If the paltry results…aren't challenged, New Yorkers will lose representation in Congress as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid." Mr. Mayor, if you'd cut taxes and clean up the subways, maybe people would stay around.

They're Nuts. After six years of delays, the world's most powerful land-based telescope may soon be located in Chile instead of Arizona. Environmentalists trying to save the Mt. Graham red squirrel win an appellate court injunction that will tie up the University of Arizona for at least another year. The university, which already spends $200,000 annually to protect the squirrels' habitat, can't clear one acre of land to build an observatory. Score another one for the eco-freaks.

Tank Job. The S&L virus infects the entire banking system. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will lose more than $3 billion this year; in February, FDIC head William Seidman guessed it would break even. Chase Manhattan's estimated $625-million third-quarter loss sends shock waves through the markets: With only $11 billion in reserve, one major bank failure will wipe out the FDIC. Better stuff that mattress.

Nader Trap. Ralph Nader keeps playin' that same old tune. On "The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour," Nader claims greedy oil futures traders, feeding inflation, will lead the country into recession; then overleveraged corporate victims of mergermania won't make enough profits to repay their junk bonds. Tortured logic aside, Nader's message remains: Make me Dictator of the Universe before all hell breaks loose.