Balance Sheet

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Assets

? Healthy Trade. Biotech research may doom the U.S.-Cuba trade embargo. SmithKline Beecham plans to test a breakthrough vaccine for group B meningitis developed in Cuba–if the U.S. government will grant a waiver of the embargo. If the waiver goes through, other American companies may try to test AIDS and cholera treatments developed on the island.

? Private Possibilities. The distinction between public and private gets a boost in the courtroom, as the "Yale Five" lose. (See "For Heaven's Sake," December.) The Orthodox Jewish students sued the university rather than face the prospect of living in coed dorms. U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello is not amused. "The plaintiffs could have opted to attend a different college or university if they were not satisfied with Yale's housing policy," Covello rules.

? Cartel, Schmartel. Keep those Whip Inflation Now buttons in storage. Reports that OPEC nations plan to cut oil production and raise prices look like hooey. The International Energy Agency predicts crude prices will fall for at least another year, fueled by the Asian recession and the eagerness of exporting countries to undercut their rivals.

? Continental Air. The German government begins to privatize all its airports. Berlin accepts bids for the operation of its three existing airports; the new Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport will be privately financed and run. The federal government also plans to divest its holdings of airports in Frankfurt, Cologne-Bonn, and Munich.

Liabilities

? Pacific Palace. As Seattle Mariner Ken Griffey Jr. chases Roger Maris's home run record, the Mariners' new ballpark reaches an unsavory mark: The yet-to-be-completed, 45,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium will cost at least $498 million, making it the most expensive sports facility in the nation's history.

? Shanghaied. Promoting freedom online remains dangerous in China. Shanghai officials arrest Lin Hai, a 30-year-old computer engineer who sent 30,000 e-mail addresses to an Internet-based human rights mailing list in the United States. If convicted, Lin, who is charged with "inciting the overthrow of state power," faces a five-year prison term.

? Minor Attraction. The Federal Trade Commission accelerates its thought-police-like campaign to protect "kids" from booze. The agency forces TV ads for Beck's Beer and Kahlua White Russians off the air: The beer ad shows people enjoying themselves on a boat, and the Kahlua ad claims (correctly) that its premixed cocktail is low in alcohol. The FTC threatens action against eight other alcohol makers for using actors who look "too young."

? Mission Scrubbed. The prospects for floating industrial parks dim temporarily as the Department of State halts the Sea Launch offshore commercial satellite program. (See "New Waterworld Order," November.) The government put the brakes on Sea Launch because of concerns that Boeing, the project's main U.S. backer, may have shared sensitive satellite information with China.

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