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"By giving to the earth the remains of these murdered innocents, we want to atone for the sins of our forebears." -- Boris Yeltsin, at the burial of Czar Nicholas II and familyEDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

NIPPING FUTURE NAFTAs IN THE BUD

BY SUING THE GOVERNMENT TO OVERTURN NAFTA, the United Steelworkers may well have dimmed the prospects for future U.S. trade pacts.

The USW, supported by Harvard University law professor Laurence Tribe, is suing Uncle Sam in an Alabama federal court over the validity of the 1994 pact. The union calls NAFTA a treaty--not a trade agreement--which requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate, according to the Constitution. Since NAFTA passed with a simple majority, the USW claims it should be rescinded. "If NAFTA isn't a treaty, it's hard to imagine what would be," says Tribe, who has expressed disfavor over other trade agreements.

He concedes that even if the USW wins its suit, a judge may not rescind NAFTA. The White House believes it will win. But if the courts give the case any credence at all, it could make it more difficult for the Clinton Administration to push for an expansion of NAFTA to Latin America or renew "fast-track" trade negotiating authority that detours the Hill.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

COME BACK, MAC, ALL IS FORGIVEN

THE MAC IS BACK. A year after Yale University urged incoming students not to buy Macintosh computers, the Ivy League school has changed its mind.

Bowing to campuswide sentiment--especially from faculty members with long histories of using Macs--Yale has quit bad-mouthing the Apple Computer machines. The university is now officially neutral in the war between Wintel and Macintosh. "This year, there is no recommendation," says Yale spokesman Tom Conroy.

Yale's thousands of Mac devotees consider that a victory. Last year, the school's Information Technology Services group warned of "uncertainties about the availability of software" for the Mac, adding that it couldn't guarantee support for the platform beyond June, 2000.

But in the intervening year, Mac lovers began rallying against the school's Windows-centric majority and Apple announced its iMac PC, which it hopes will make inroads in educational markets. Also, Apple is now making money, allaying survival fears. Says Philip Rubin, a former director of the Mac user's group at Yale, "the market has changed in the last year, and there's more confidence in the Mac."EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

IS THIS FUND FAMILY STILL DYSFUNCTIONAL?

THE RODNEY DANGERFIELD OF mutual-fund families, the Steadman Funds, is looking to get some respect. Steadman Security Trust, Steadman Investment, and Steadman American Industry have long been among the industry's worst-performing funds. They were so bad, in fact, that Steadman cut off new investors in 1988, under pressure from the Securities & Exchange Commission.

But after outpacing the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index in the first half of 1998, Steadman may ask the SEC to reopen the funds after its trustees' meeting in early fall. Says President Max Katcher: "The only way the funds can survive is to open up to new investment."

Katcher began managing the funds after founder Charles Steadman died last December. New investors could help cut bloated fund expenses of about 17%--the equity fund norm is 1.2%. Overhead has eaten up returns as investors cashed out over the years, shrinking assets to $7.4 million. But two good quarters do not a strong fund make, says Morningstar analyst Russel Kinnel, especially with expenses that effectively gouge shareholders. "There are thousands of funds out there," he says. "Why buy the one that has the least respect for shareholders?"EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top


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