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"It is a procedure which is never the only appropriate procedure."

--Nancy W. Dickey, chair of the American Medical Assn.'s board of trustees, in a statement in support of restricting late-term abortionsEDITED BY PAT WECHSLERReturn to top


ENVIRONMENTALIST DOUGLAS Foy's new motto is: "If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em." He and World Wildlife Fund President Roger Sant, who happens to be chairman of power-plant manager AES, want to buy old power plants and replace them with "superclean" ones.

But their first attempt, a bid for 18 installations owned by New England Electric System, has stalled: NEES rejected the environmentalists' offer after the first round because it came in below several other bids--at even less than the $1.1 billion book value of the 18 plants.

Still, their plan is an interesting approach to pollution. Foy and Sant would have replaced 5 of the 18 plants, which they considered among the region's worst polluters, with a natural-gas facility. These could produce electricity at 3 cents per kilowatt-hour instead of existing plants' 4 cents. But it was their novel financing scheme, which creates cost-savings by selling off federal emission credits--granted to utilities for curbing pollution--that caught the industry's attention. One bidder's banker predicts the approach may be adopted by others.

Meanwhile, Sant is checking out new prospects: plants from Boston Edison and a Maine utility.EDITED BY PAT WECHSLER Geoffrey SmithReturn to top


WORKERS MAY DERIDE THE standard 8-foot-by-10-foot prefabricated office cubicles as "veal pens" or "shoe boxes." But employers seem to love them.

Since 1977, when the cubicles first came into vogue, their U.S. sales have grown twentyfold, to $3.4 billion last year. At Haworth, one of the largest makers of cubicles, 1996 sales climbed 17% over the level of the year before, to $680 million; in 1997's first quarter, they rose 26%. Competitors Steelcase and Herman Miller are also cashing in--but they won't disclose their sales figures.

Demand is strong because these work spaces can be easily reconfigured--say, after a downsizing. In addition, cubicles accommodate lots of people in a small space, thereby reducing employers' expenses for rent.

So what about the boxes' hapless inhabitants? Lighting maker Bio-Brite recently introduced an artificial, electrically lit window that hangs on a cubicle wall like a picture. Pay $150, and you could be gazing upon a golf course, an En-glish garden, a tropical beach scene--or a photograph you took yourself.EDITED BY PAT WECHSLER Kathleen Kerwin and Catherine ArnstReturn to top


TO THE HARVARD LAMPOON, the royalties of $226,000 that it claims the National Lampoon owes it are no laughing matter. What's more, the student-run humor magazine has brought in lawyers to make that very point to J2 Communications, National Lampoon's Los Angeles owner.

J2 acquired National Lampoon, the satire magazine, in 1990. With it came an unusually generous agreement dating from the magazine's 1969 inception: National Lampoon was obliged to pay its Harvard counterpart 2% of revenues from any publication using the Lampoon name and 2% of pretax profits from any other Lampoon-ized venture. For many years, this meant that Harvard Lampoon's take was calculated primarily on the sales of the once monthly magazine--which is now published only once a year. But more recently, the Lampoon name has been attached to several Chevy Chase films, direct-to-video and direct-to-cable movies, TV shows, CD-ROMs, and potentially J2's yet unrealized plans for comedy-theme restaurants.

Now, Harvard Lampoon's lawyers claim it's not getting a fair shake. In 1996, the magazine was paid $11,000, less than half its haul two years before. J2 declines to comment. And the lawyers, trying to avoid arbitration, are still haggling.EDITED BY PAT WECHSLER Jeffrey KrasnerReturn to top

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