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"It is nasty and brutish without being short." -- Anthony Lake on the Senate confirmation process, after giving up his quest to be CIA chiefEDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top


MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL may be emerging from its slump. After two poor years, ticket sales are projected to rise by 8.8% in 1997, to 65 million, based on early returns from the 28 teams. That's still less than the 70 million sold in 1993, the last full season before the eight-month players' strike. But analysts say the labor pact signed last fall, virtually guaranteeing an uninterrupted season, is apparently bringing fans back.

Another key factor is interleague play, a big marketing coup. For the first time, American League clubs will face National League teams during the regular season. This allows for regional rivalries that only a World Series could previously accommodate. Example: the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the Anaheim Angels. In nearly every big-league city, interleague games are selling much faster than others. The Pittsburgh Pirates, for example, have sold nearly 100,000 tickets already for a three-game September series at home against the Cleveland Indians--twice the usual attendance level.By David Leonhardt EDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top


HEWLETT-PACKARD MAY be elbowing aside Digital Equipment Corp. to be Bill Gates' best networking buddy. At stake is the lead role in making Microsoft's Windows NT software the favorite for backoffice operations. In 1995, Digital CEO Robert Palmer got the inside track via a deal to install and service NT software for corporations. For DEC (and now for HP), the service deal allows entree for follow-on hardware sales. Up to $5 billion of DEC's yearly sales--one-third of revenue--is from Microsoft work.

HP announced on Mar. 19 a wide-ranging pact with Gates that some analysts say overshadows Microsoft's with Digital. As well as installing and servicing NT software, HP, for instance, will help Microsoft adapt HP's OpenView network management software to run with NT. To Mark Specker, a Soundview Financial analyst, Digital hurt itself with Microsoft by pushing its Alpha chip when customers preferred Intel-based machines for NT.

Although HP execs are crowing, Digital Veep Robert Bismuth says the Microsoft deal isn't as far-reaching as it seems. Digital, he says, will keep its lead because of the "stellar job" it does for Microsoft. At the HP news conference, Gates called the HP link "a broader relationship" than Microsoft has ever had before, but he deferred any comment on Digital.By Paul Judge and Peter Burrows EDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top


ADD THE "DENG DEFENSE" to the tobacco industry's arsenal of arguments against an onslaught of lawsuits. Big Tobacco recently unveiled the defense during a pretrial session in a Florida case. The gist: Smoking can't be so bad if such lifelong smokers as Deng Xiaoping can live so long. The vast majority of smokers escape harm, the industry says.

In the Miami session, tobacco lawyer Theodore Grossman produced a photograph of the elderly Deng holding a lit Panda cigarette. He painstakingly quizzed Dr. Allan Feingold, an expert witness for the anti-tobacco forces, on how Deng could make it to 92. Feingold replied he knew little about Deng's actual smoking or how he died. Beijing says Deng died on Feb. 19 of Parkinson's disease and related complications--with no mention of lung cancer or heart problems, both commonly linked to cigarettes.

The lawyer also pointed to Nobel laureate Howard Temin, a nonsmoker who died at 59 of lung cancer even though he would leave a room if someone smoked. Norwood Wilner, an antiweed attorney, doubts that the Deng tactic will succeed. Unlike the venerable leader, he says, "many of our clients died early."By David Greising EDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top

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