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THE WINNERS AND THE LOSERS

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* WINNER: The image of the federal government. After the bombing in Oklahoma City last April, many Americans thought the government had become so big and powerful it threatened individual freedoms. But a new survey by Knight-Ridder Newspapers shows the public is less concerned about the government's power and intrusiveness than they are about its being inefficient and out of touch. The problem, then, is bad government rather than big government.

LOSER: The old notion that to become poor is to become bigoted. A a new poll by Princeton Survey Research Associates shows that people with many economic worries are no more likely to be intolerant than those who are better off financially.* WINNER: The U.S. airline industry. Long mired in heavy losses, it has made an amazing turnaround. After posting $279 million in losses during 1994, the industry ended 1995 with net profits of some $2.2 billion - making it the most profitable year since the invention of powered flight.

LOSER: Denver's International Airport. Though the new facility overcame a baggage handling system that ate up luggage and a series of other costly problems that delayed its opening, DIA still keeps finding ways to look bad. The latest foul-up: an error that has left the airport listed in the yellow pages of the phone book but not the white pages. Just what Colorado needs - an airport with an almost unlisted phone number.

LOSER: The country's most famous weather forecaster. No, we're not talking about Willard Scott. Rather, it's Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvania groundhog. According to the old legend, if Phil comes out of the ground and doesn't see his shadow, spring is just around the corner. But if he does see it, get ready for six more weeks of winter.

Well, this week Phil saw his shadow - meaning you know what. But don't count on it. California statisticians using sophisticated computer techniques have put Phil's record through their number-crunchers. The upshot: The renowned rodent was wrong 51 per cent of the time, right only 39 per cent, and the rest of the time it was too close to call.

Relax, Willard, your job is safe.