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"Louie Louie...oh-oh...me gotta go" -- Lyrics to the song Louie, Louie, recorded in 1963 by the Kingsmen, who regained the rights to the master recording and the considerable royalties from itEDITED BY JOAN OLECKReturn to top

DEMS ARE HUMMING "GEORGIA ON MY MIND"

IT COULD BE NEWT GINGRICH'S FINAL NIGHTMARE. First, the Georgian led his party to an embarrassing election defeat; then he gave up his Speaker job and vowed to quit his congressional seat. Imagine the final insult: the Dems capture that seat.

True, a Democratic win is a long shot in Gingrich's heavily GOP suburban Atlanta district. But here's the scenario: The still-unscheduled special election becomes a Republican bloodbath. Say the current front-runner--moderate Gingrich ally and Georgia Board of Education Chairman Johnny Isakson--loses in the primary to a hard-right Republican. Meanwhile, the Dem candidate becomes pro-business centrist Michael Coles, who founded the Great American Cookie Co. The Dem dream scenario has Coles, who has run respectable races against Gingrich and GOP Senator Paul Coverdell, beating a Republican the Dems paint as an extremist. But Coles hasn't decided whether to jump in.

Even if he does, says pollster Claibourne Darden, any Republican will be favored in the district Gingrich has owned since '92. Still, Newt has had a year where everything that could go wrong has gone wrong--and it's not over yet.EDITED BY JOAN OLECKReturn to top

DAMMING CHINA'S CURRENCY FLOOD

A SHARP CRACKDOWN ON THE FAMILIAR CURBSIDE money changers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen has mainstream business worried. Police are swarming the bazaars of Chinese cities, shutting down black-market operators as part of Beijing's campaign against foreign-exchange violations. The reason? Officials' fears that the country's $141 billion foreign-exchange hoard may not be enough to weather the Asian crisis.

Hence the effort to stamp out currency smuggling, which has channeled billions out of China. Banks also are policing forex transactions as if national survival depended on it. And with good cause: New rules against the illicit outflow require that foreign-exchange transactions be more thoroughly documented than ever. The result is that legitimate business feels squeezed. Multinationals are rewriting contracts and struggling to collect overdue bills from customers or trade companies, the import middlemen.

Officials say these snags will disappear in time, but foreign execs are uneasy. "The vigor with which enforcement is being tightened suggests growing alarm," says Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst John Pinkel. Is the economy more fragile than Beijing lets on? As any Shenzhen money changer could tell you, the signs are not good.EDITED BY JOAN OLECKReturn to top

MIXED REVIEWS FOR AN OZONE-EATER

IT HAS BEEN DUBBED THE "SMOG EATER" because it consumes low-level ozone. On Nov. 5, the California Air Resources Board agreed to award pollution credits to carmakers using PremAir, a radiator coating from Engelhard Corp. As air flows through the radiator fins, a catalyst in the coating converts the ozone into harmless oxygen. Ozone results from the auto-produced precursors, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. PremAir offsets about 25% of the ozone created by the cleanest cars.

For carmakers, an even bigger reward is pollution credits, which lower the emission average for their fleets. That's a plus for Volvo, which already planned to install PremAir in its S80 model late next year. Ford Motor Co., however, has nixed PremAir. "It wasn't as effective as we had hoped," a spokeswoman explains. Engelhard counters that PremAir's performance has improved since Ford's evaluation. But the Sierra Club argues that better performance isn't enough. PremAir's very concept fails, says the club's energy director, Daniel Becker, because ozone output should be cut at the source. "It's like selling cigarettes with an asthma inhaler," he says. Maybe it's more like selling cigarettes with filters.By Amy BarrettReturn to top


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