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"It's a fine piece of crystal. It won't take much to break it"--Nevada Governor Bob Miller, on the National Governors' Assn. plans to revamp welfare and Medicaid, ending budget gridlockEDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABIReturn to top


IBM HAS TARGETED ITS NIFTY Butterfly laptop for extinction. On the market barely a year, the ThinkPad 701C notebook PC is a hit, but executives feel it will soon be outmoded.

The computer solves the problem of cramped notebook keyboards. Although its screen is only 8.25 inches wide, the keyboard spans 11.5 inches. How? The board is in two halves, which can slide into the 4.5-pound ThinkPad's tiny body. The computer has racked up 27 design awards and sold 215,000 units, making it the top-selling notebook PC of 1995, according to market researcher International Data.

Poor Butterfly. It's doomed because the next generation of IBM lightweight PCs will sport screens wide enough to allow a regular keyboard. Code-named Kite, the new ultrathin model (one inch thick and weighing about one pound) is due out later this year. No wonder Big Blue is discounting the Butterfly heavily of late. It started in the $3,900 to $5,600 range. But with the latest cuts, it's now $1,499 to $2,999.

The elusive-wing keyboard isn't dead yet. IBM insiders say the company's engineers are tinkering with the keyboard for use in a handheld device such as a personal digital assistant.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI BY IRA SAGERReturn to top


BOB DOLE'S STOCK HAS fallen--literally. The polls are one thing, but we're talking about Iowa Electronic Markets, a worldwide office pool where you can buy stock in a Presidential candidate.

As the crucial Feb. 12 Iowa caucuses approach, the hottest investment action surrounds the GOP race, which is fitting for a party that embraces market forces. Dole stock was 59 cents per share Feb. 7, down from its 62 cents peak four weeks before. Just as in the polls, publisher Steve Forbes is narrowing the front-running Kansas senator's lead, climbing from 10 cents to 18 cents during the same period. Dole, trading at 55 cents on Feb. 6, got a four-cent bump Feb. 7 after Senator Phil Gramm of Texas lost the Louisiana caucuses to commentator Pat Buchanan. In that one day, Gramm dropped from 12 cents to 5 cents; Buchanan climbed from 5 cents to 7 cents. If Dole wins the nomination, his current investors will almost double their money.

More than 5,900 people have bet--er, invested--a total of $41,500 in the 1996 market, which the University of Iowa has run since 1988. Regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Iowa ballot-box bourse takes orders through the Internet (http:// and pays off shareholders of the GOP winner after the August Republican convention.

There's also a pool for the November general election. Bill Clinton (46 cents) is worth slightly more than the unknown Republican contender (43 cents).EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI BY RICHARD S. DUNHAMReturn to top


THE WHITE HOUSE HAS A short list for the U.S. ambassadorship to Vietnam. And they're all veterans of the war that ended over two decades ago.

One prominent name is from the business world, that of James Kimsey, the founder of America Online. Kimsey has financially backed an orphanage in Vietnam for a number of years. Also on the list: Thomas Vallely, head of Vietnam studies at Harvard's Institute for International Development. He has Senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), a friend and fellow vet, pushing for him. Another candidate is Representative Douglas "Pete" Peterson (D-Fla.), a former prisoner of war who isn't seeking reelection. Plus, there's the No.2 official at the Veterans Affairs Dept., Hershel Gober, an Arkansas native. He has traveled to Vietnam to assess Hanoi's cooperation in locating Americans missing in action. None commented about the list except Vallely, who said he had "heard" he was on it.

Although the U.S. and Vietnam normalized relations last year, White House sources say a final decision is still months away, awaiting the right political moment. Reason: President Clinton's avoidance of military service makes Vietnam a touchy issue in an election year. Also, some Republicans on the Hill aren't eager to accord Hanoi full relations.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI BY MARK LEWYNReturn to top

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