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No Psychics. Just Good Old-Fashioned Common Sense Predictions

December 22, 1996

Because America is a nation in constant need of lists, we will be fed this month with list after list of predictions about next year. They will range from the psychic and nonsensical forecasts of the tabloids to the self-serving and sanctimonious pronouncements of the various media pundits. * We chose a slightly different approach: We asked the editors and reporters of the Los Angeles Times to tell us what will happen next year--guaranteed. *Some may make you say "sure, of course." Some will amaze you to a small degree. But the predictions are based on history, experience and common sense. If you are expecting a prediction that we'll make first contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence, forget it. (Although, who knows?) *Should you take a second mortgage out on the house and head for Las Vegas? Well, nothing in life is guaranteed, except death. But what about taxes, you say? We deal with that in Prediction 14.

1. L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan will easily win a second term.

2. L.A. Police Chief Willie L. Williams will not.

3. Researchers will isolate the genes that cause Parkinson's disease and inherited prostate cancer.

4. Tree-hugger, cyberpunk and dust bunny will be included for the first time in Webster's, as will 67 other words.

5. House Speaker Newt Gingrich will get a slap on the wrist from the House Ethics Committee.

6. Timothy McVeigh will be sentenced to death in the Oklahoma City bombing. His Army buddy, Terry Nichols, will get life by pleading guilty or go to trial and be found guilty of a lesser charge than capital murder.

7. The Dow Jones industrial average will hit both 7,000 and 6,000, but don't try to pin us down on which will come first.

8. NATO will add Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to the 16-nation alliance.

9. "The Lost World," Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" sequel, will enjoy record-gobbling opening grosses. Look for $70 million after four days over the Memorial Day weekend.

10. Paula Jones will beat Bill Clinton in the Supreme Court, and the president will be told he must defend sexual harassment allegations while in office.

11. Hypericum perforatum, the herb also known as St. John's wort, will become the popular "natural" alternative for treating mild to moderate depression. Look for an explosion in the number of scientific studies about hypericum and new products containing it.

12. The amount of rain we get will remain uncertain, but the Fourth of July will again be foggy.

13. Evidence for "supersymmetry"--a big step toward a "theory of everything," which says that every particle in the universe has a mirror-image particle that is so far undetected----will be discovered at the CERN accelerator in Switzerland

14. We'll pay way too much in taxes, and they will not be well spent.

15. Parliament Speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri will be elected president of Iran.

16. The 1997 North American Car of the Year, selected by auto writers in January, will be the Jaguar XK8. A steal at $65,000 to $70,000.

17. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will testify before Congress, and everyone will disagree on exactly what he said.

18. Thomas Pynchon's "Mason & Dixon," Philip Roth's "American Pastoral" and anything by John Grisham or Judith Krantz will head the best-seller lists. John McPhee's "Irons in the Fire" is a darkhorse.

19. A major gastrointestinal outbreak will occur aboard a cruise ship.

20. The Internet will bog down further or crash because of wildly popular new 56- kilobyte- per-second modems.

21. Lady Di will take a lover.

22. Neither Bill nor Hillary Rodham Clinton will be indicted by the Whitewater grand jury, but two former high-ranking presidential aides will.

23. Traditional fabrics such as wool and cotton will be increasingly replaced by stretch-wool and stretch-cotton blends that are comfortable and retain their shape.

24. Southern California will still be without professional football.

25. Smog in the L.A. Basin will continue to improve, but we'll still be breathing the most disgusting air in the country.

26. George Clooney's star presence will drive "Batman and Robin" to bigger numbers than any of the first three "Batman" films. Figure $55 million after three days.

27.. In general, Southern California real estate values will climb.

28. The value of your own home, however, will fall.

29. Scientists will not be able to prove whether those tube-shaped forms on the Martian rock are really fossils of ancient life.

30. Proposition 187, Proposition 209 and welfare reform will spend all year in the courts.

31. Congress will crack down again on HMOs and managed care with more rules such as the recent guarantee of a 48-hour hospital stay for new mothers. Look for laws that guarantee hospital stays for women who have had mastectomies.

32. More unexpected sources, such as stockbrokers, will add frequent-flier miles as incentives for customers.

33. The political helm in Great Britain will change hands; the Labor Party will be in power for the first time in nearly two decades.

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