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THE WINNERS AND THE LOSERS

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LOSERS: U.S. college students. Costs of going to college are rising faster than financial aid for students, which may price a lot of youngsters right out of higher education. Tuition and fees at public colleges and universities rose an average of 10 percent this fall, the second double-digit increase in two years. The figures are still far lower than for most private four-year schools, but that's hardly satisfying to would-be students who cannot afford either choice. Even for those who get in, the experience may be less than expected, as many colleges are cutting faculty, staff and programs because of a shortage of funds.

LOSER: A New Hampshire Libertarian candidate. Dave Parker, running for the New Hampshire state Senate, was putting up campaign signs recently when a bull moose appeared on the scene and charged across the road. Parker ran for his car, "the fastest 50-yard dash of my life." Maybe this has political overtones. After all, wasn't there a Bull Moose Party in a presidential campaign earlier this century?* WINNERS: Americans who donate to charity. Although the recession has cut into total charitable giving, seven families in every 10 still contribute to worthy causes and half work as volunteers, according to a Gallup Poll. Charitable giving dropped by 9 percent in 1991 compared to 1989; if inflation were taken into account, the decline would be nearer 18 percent. Yet leaders of charity groups are happy because they thought the drop would be much steeper. The poll found that people who attend religious services regularly are "by far" the most generous with time and money. People of more modest means gave a bigger percentage of their income than those with greater wealth.

LOSERS: College athletes. Most people believe that college athletes lead healthier lives than nonathletes. That isn't true, a university researcher says, since athletes tend to engage in risky behavior. While athletes do eat breakfast and exercise, they are three times more likely to try drugs and four times as likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases. They also are more likely to drink and drive, fail to use helmets when riding motorcycles and take thrill-seeking risks. Clearly, there are distinct advantages to being a sedentary bookworm.

LOSER: Distracted watchdog. An owner of a Wilmington, N.C., gas station kept a watchdog locked inside the building after hours. But burglars foiled the protection by breaking a window and pushing a female dog inside to distract the male watchdog. Apparently it worked because they looted the business. The canine accomplice was left behind. The gas station operator said he would keep the dog and name her B&E, for breaking and entering.

LOSER: Would-be bridegroom. When Lloyd Frederick Helwig Jr., showed up at the courthouse in Bay St. Louis, Miss., to fill out a marriage license, the clerk recognized his name on a list of people wanted by police. Officers arrested Helwig on charges of prescription forgery before he completed the marriage license. A cynical sheriff tried to look on what he considered the bright side, saying that Helwig "might be better off getting arrested than getting married."

TIME FOR A CHANGE: Instead of switching from daylight saving time to standard time at the end of October, the residents of one North Dakota's Oliver County voted to change from Mountain Time to Central Time. The time zone dividing line runs through North Dakota, roughly following the Missouri River. But it leaves some communities in a different time zone than others. The most immediate effect will be that people in Oliver County won't have to reset their clocks later this month because moving back an hour from daylight saving time will be canceled by moving forward an hour to the Central time zone. Everybody else will have to change.