U.S. Business

The

San Francisco Chronicle

spotlights the 50th state today with a look at its new high-tech edge and its

travel

bargain allure in the wake of Asian turmoil.

In other Aloha State news, the

Mauna Loa Macadamia Partners

(NUT)

had a "55.6% drop in fourth-quarter income and warned that the current drought on the Big Island could significantly reduce macadamia nut production this year." In the

Honolulu Star Bulletin

.

The

Washington Post

reports that Indonesia's

President Suharto

has told

President Clinton

that the

International Monetary Fund

is failing to stem his country's financial crisis -- and that's why he needs to make drastic changes to Indonesia's monetary system. (wink, wink)

Japan's parliament enacted a bank stabilization bill, but a widening banking scandal could be problematic. Also in the

Washington Post

.

"You stay home. I go to work," Susan informed her younger sister, Carolyn, who had the role of

Ken

.

"But that's not fair!" wailed Carolyn.

"You got downsized, silly. Downsized means you lost your job."

"But I don't want to be downed," the younger child said.

"It's not downed. It's downsized," Susan said. "And there's nothing you can do about it. Anyway, that's what happened to Daddy, remember?"

Carolyn paused. "Is that why he's home more?"

"Yup, and it's why Mommy's going to get another car, and Daddy's in school sometimes, and why we get to play with him."

"Oh," brightened Carolyn. "OK."

The

Boston Globe

looks at how

Barbie

and Ken may live in a Dream House, but reflect '90s reality.

It's not just for little girls anymore. The

Chicago Tribune

reports on the big business of figure skating.

Business Abroad

The

Telegraph

reports that

Somerfield

and

Kwik Save

have disclosed that they are in merger talks.

They are Texans after all...

Texas Utilities

(TXU)

is trying to top

PacifiCorp's

(PPW)

offer for

The Energy Group

. Also in the

Telegraph

.

In other energy news, the

Times of London

reports that

Shell

(RD)

and

Chevron

(CHV)

have "joined forces to develop their energy interests in the Caspian Sea region."

Norsk Hydro

(NHY)

, Norway's biggest quoted company, and

Statkraft

, the state-owned electricity transmission group, along with

National Grid

(NGGPY:Nasdaq ADR), are studying a the feasability of an electricity cable from Britain to Norway to either export or import power. In the

Telegraph

.

Personally, I am convinced that Norwegians can do anything after watching the

Discovery Channel's

Mega Machines:Skyscraper at Sea

, a documentary about the

Troll

, the world's largest oil rig. Check it out: Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. EST.

Ooh, the

Spice Girls

must really be a sore spot. The

Times of London

reports that Mike Metcalf, chief executive of

Thorn

(

(THRNY)

THRNY ADR) since its ill-fated demerger from

EMI

, resigned yesterday as the company issued its third profits warning.

Who knew they had Hoyts in Australia? In other entertainment news, the

Sydney Morning Herald

reports that the success of

Titanic

has boosted

Hoyts Cinemas'

annual profit after it posted a 25.2% jump in net earnings for the December half.

Ye of Little Faith

The

Times of London

reports that Helmut Hofer, 56, a German businessman condemned to death by stoning for allegedly making love to an Iranian medical student, might be spared if he can prove that he was a Muslim at the time. Herr Hofer's defense team argues that the Hamburg man had converted to Islam and that he is only guilty of kissing an unmarried 27-year-old woman.

First it's the

Queen

, now it's the Queen's religion! The

Sydney Morning Herald

reports that attendance at Anglican churches is at an all-time low and that Anglican priests are suffering from immense stress. But, it seems that the

Rev. Tony Galea

, former electrical contractor, rock musician and at one time aspiring Eastern Suburbs rugby league player, has found the answer and some divine inspiration by dressing as a clown and riding a bike down the aisle as an opening gambit for the children's talk.