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THE WINNERS AND THE LOSERS

* WINNERS: Women. A new report from the United Nations shows the lives of women around the world have improved rapidly over the past 20 years, particularly in the areas of health and education.

LOSERS: Women. Despite the other improvements, the same U.N. report also concludes that women are overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated. More than 70 percent of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty around the globe are female. An estimated $16 trillion is missing from the world's economy, representing the value of unpaid work performed by women and men and the underpayment of women's work. The challenge, of course, is to start closing the economic gap as is already being done with health and education.* WINNER: The American dollar. After tumbling to historic lows against the Japanese yen and the German mark earlier this year, the dollar has rebounded dramatically. So dramatically, in fact, that the value of the dollar is now only 3 percent below where it was before its sharp decline began in January. This rebound is an indication of the underlying strength of the American economy.

LOSERS: Smokers in their 30s and 40s. A new study shows they suffer five times as many heart attacks as nonsmokers in the same age group. These findings mean the risk of heart attacks for young adult smokers is about double what had previously been believed. But don't hold your breath waiting to see this news in the latest cigarette commercials.

LOSERS: The three Indian tribes promoting a ballot proposal to allow unrestricted casino gambling in the state of Washington. If the measure passes, its backers have promised to pay every Washington resident who votes this fall an annual dividend on the profits from slot machines - a share that would bring the average voter $100 a year. Isn't vote-buying illegal in Washington, as it is everywhere else?