Balance Sheet

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Assets

Chemical Reaction. The Environmental Protection Agency repeals a 1989 ban on EDBCs, chemicals that cheaply kill fungi on crops. Early studies suggested EDBC residues might cause cancer, but new research reveals that most residues disappear before crops get to market. EPA chief William Reilly says, "Good science drove this policy." Is Alar next?

Reform School. During the 1980s, New York state's prison capacity doubled. Even so, the state has 10 percent more prisoners than prison beds. Nearly half the inmates broke drug laws. Gov. Mario Cuomo wants to take nonviolent drug offenders out of jail and put them in treatment programs. Says Cuomo: "I…built more prisons than any governor in [state] history, and it disgusts me."

Competitive Advantage. Protectionism loses big in New Hampshire. Pat Buchanan briefly ignores tariffs and calls for tax cuts and deregulation. Antiprotectionist Democrats Tsongas, Clinton, and Brown get 70 percent of the vote; Japan bashers Kerrey and Harkin barely tip the scales. Among potential draftees, Gephardt's star plummets, free-trader Bentsen's ascends.

Dr. Butts? Biotechnology's latest miracle: Make the tobacco plant a medicine factory. California's Biosource Genetics Company, reports Discover, uses tobacco to spawn genetically engineered medical proteins—key components of AIDS and hemophilia drugs. Why tobacco? Its fast-growing, protein-rich leaves contain little starch or sugar. Biosource plans to pay farmers competitive prices to grow its lifesaving variety of the killer weed.

Liabilities

The Spending Thing. George Bush's 1993 budget totals $1.52 trillion—31 percent bigger than Ronald Reagan's final tally. So let's blame runaway spending entirely on congressional Democrats. NOT!!

Boris Blunders? Economic reforms lag in Russia. Fault Boris Yeltsin's befuddling privatization plans. State-run enterprises go private only after they jump through Gosplan-like bureaucratic hoops. Better, The Economist says, to simplify: Divvy up state firms and give away tradeable shares to every citizen—fast.

Drug Crimes. Marijuana suppresses the nausea caused by chemotherapy and AIDS drugs. Last June, the federal government approved medicinal marijuana for 30 seriously ill patients. But the Public Health Service hasn't let them get the pot yet. Deputy drug czar Ingrid Kolb calls the delay "unconscionable." A spokesman for the PHS tells the Los Angeles Times there's no "true proof" marijuana is useful. Besides, the spokesman says, only 12 of the 30 are still alive.

Flame Slower. Congress says chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting chemicals must vanish by 1996. One victim of the ban: airline safety. Halon, the amazing fire extinguisher, will disappear with other CFCs. It's the cleanest and least toxic way to put out electrical fires in such confined areas as commercial airliners, where three accidental blazes (but only 11 deaths) occurred in 1989. Save the ozone layer; let frequent fliers die.

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