Balance Sheet

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Assets

Second Fiddle? Dan Quayle, head of the president's Competitiveness Council, blocks expensive parts of the Clean Air Act. One overturned recycling rule had a $100-million price tag yet would have barely reduced air pollution. A Quayle spokesman tells the Los Angeles Times the vice president wants to make sure that "the deregulation gains of the Reagan years are not canceled out by creeping reregulation."

Champaign Charlie. Remember when Congress allocated $500,000 to restore Lawrence Welk's birthplace? Well, the polka leader extraordinaire wants the museum to be built with private money. The Senate has rescinded the birthplace's grant. But Congress may still spend that money on a German-Russian heritage museum. Honest.

Bank Shot. Congress may pass real banking reform after all. Los Angeles Times trendspotter James Flanigan suggests that legislators, fearing another S&L-style bailout, will force banks to build equity capital and shore up deposit insurance. Where will banks get the money? Flanigan predicts the profits will come from interstate banking, insurance sales, and all the other reforms Congress will enact.

Cheerio! Tired of paying $2.00 for a blueberry muffin at an airport? Hate those boring layovers? The new Midfield terminal at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport will feature a full-scale shopping mall. BAA PLC, the private firm that owns Great Britain's airports, will run the mall. Harrod's of London will have a store there—and BAA promises that its mall prices will be competitive with those of local shopping centers.

Liabilities

Wash Out. Nothing upsets California's drought czars more than 10 inches of rain. One politico told the New York Times: "From the point of view of water policy and planning, [rain's] a disaster." Perhaps so—the downpours may end the short-term crisis and stall reforms. Farmers will keep their subsidized water, market pricing will get pushed aside, and the state will repeat the process next year.

Skewered. The latest threat to law and order in Florida: fantasy-league baseball. Attorney General Bob Butterworth says rotisserie leaguers gamble; he fears that organized crime will take over the fantasy-league circuit. Since the National and USA Today publish weekly fantasy-league columns, look for RICO indictments against the papers.

Gag Order. A California government agency vindicates smog-busting biochemist Donald Stedman—almost. (See "Going Mobile," Aug./Sept.) The Bureau of Automotive Repair—which runs the smog-check program—reports that 10 percent of the state's cars cause 60 percent of all auto pollution. But state officials won't use Stedman's mobile-testing devices to locate and fix gross polluters. Instead, they're looking at buyback programs and alternative-fuel schemes that will cost bunches, keep bureaucrats well paid, and not clear the air.

Bad Trip. Head shops may enter the history books. A new federal law makes selling drug paraphernalia a felony, with $100,000 fines and three-year prison terms. How will headshop owners avoid prosecution? They'll caution customers to not mention drugs while in the stores. Illegal: "I want to smoke some pot. Can I buy a pipe?" Legal: "I want to smoke some tobacco. Can I buy a pipe?"

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