* WINNERS: The hundreds of firefighters from the lower 48 states who are going to Alaska to help battle the big wildfire there. At least 1,000 of the blaze battlers have arrived in the past two days. Most of them are coming from Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Montana. Even more may be needed since the blaze tripled in size in just a few hours, burning an area roughly the size of Miami.
LOSER: The war against crime - because the proportion of homicides from gunfire in the United States has jumped 18 percent in 10 years, making firearms the cause of almost three-quarters of all homicides. The new data this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates the need for more wide-ranging crime prevention tactics. A good place to start would be with the elimination of the many new laws letting Americans carry concealed weapons.* WINNER: Utah's economy - because the Beehive State's exports increased the ninth fastest among the states in the past eight years. That's the latest word from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its figures indicate exports support more than 60,000 jobs in Utah.
* WINNER: The Postal Service - for achieving a 90 percent on-time rate for overnight delivery of first-class mail within metropolitan areas. That's the best performance since the Price Waterhouse accounting firm began independent measurement of mail delivery six years ago.
LOSERS: Young Americans - because so many of them are not interested in learning. That's the conclusion of a 10-year study by Temple University psychology professor Laurence Steinberg. Among the disturbing findings: More than a third of the students surveyed said they get through the day in school primarily by "goofing off with their friends." The average American high school student spends only four hours a week on homework, while students in other industrialized nations spend four hours a day on homework. Fewer than one in five students says their friends think it is important to get good grades. More than half said they could bring home grades of C or worse without their parents getting upset. To describe the problem is to prescribe the cure.