Balance Sheet

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Assets

? Reformers' Revenge. Ralph Nader's Public Citizen, which constantly hectors for tougher campaign finance laws, finds itself under Federal Elections Commission scrutiny. (See "Gagging on Political Reform," Oct.) The FEC alleges that Public Citizen's 1992 "Boot Newt" ad campaign was no "independent expenditure," but was illegally coordinated with Gingrich's Democratic opponent, Herman Clark.

? Prof Pay. Another sign that private colleges respond to market pressures: Faculty salary inflation is falling. (See "No Class," May.) The College and University Personnel Association's annual survey shows salaries at private schools rising by 2.5 percent this academic year, less than half of the 6.1 percent increase at public colleges. The mean private school salary is $48,850, 5 percent less than the mean for state-run schools.

? Code Green. Encryption pioneer Phil Zimmermann cashes in on his notoriety. The FBI tried to nail Zimmermann for violating "munitions export" laws when he posted his Pretty Good Privacy data-scrambling software on the Internet. When the feds abandoned their case last year, Zimmermann lined up investors. Forbes reports his company, PGP Inc., raised $8 million in venture capital in 1996 and may get another $15 million this year. PGP may soon be bundled with Lotus's cc:Mail e-mail software.

? Grain Hysteria. The perpetually pessimistic Worldwatch Institute says China will import 200 million tons of grain a year by 2030, about 40 percent of its current consumption. Not so fast, says the International Food Policy Research Institute. The IFPRI predicts China will start exporting grain by 2020. A more prosperous China can take advantage of technologies that produce more food on less land. Over the next 30 years, Harvard agricultural economist Robert Paarlberg tells Science, most experts expect China's grain production to increase by 60 to 90 percent.

Liabilities

? Communication Breakdown. Barring further retirements or resignations, Bill Clinton will choose two new members of the Federal Communications Commission. The leading candidate for the designated Democrat seat: Senate staffer Christopher McLean, author of the Communications Decency Act, currently under review by the Supreme Court.

? Joint Jerk. Direct democracy be damned: The crackdown against medical marijuana is under way. Federal agents seize 331 pot plants, growing equipment, and financial records from Flower Therapy, a patient buyer's club in San Francisco. And the Arizona legislature passes a bill requiring the FDA to approve any illegal drug before it can be prescribed. (Surprise: Marijuana isn't FDA-approved.)

? Priced Out. After intense lobbying by left-leaning groups, Bill Clinton nixes a commission that would consider revising the overstated, antediluvian Consumer Price Index. (See "Priced to Move," Feb.) Among the culprits: such tax-grabbers as the AARP, the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Federal, State, County, and Municipal Employees, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

? Campaign Chaos! The Supreme Court says states can prohibit "fusion" politics-the ballot practice of listing a single candidate's name on more than one party line. (See "Fusion Energy," Apr.) Writing for the 6-3 majority, Chief Justice William Rehnquist says giving candidates multiple party listings could promote "election- and campaign-related disorder." Bad voters. Go to your booths.

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