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The winners and the losers

SHARE The winners and the losers

Winner: Robots performing surgery? It's no longer the stuff of science fiction. On Wednesday, a 35-year-old woman in Richmond, Va. had her gall bladder removed by a robot, a day after federal regulators approved use of the da Vinci Surgical System in five U.S. hospitals. Surgeons operate the robot using joy sticks at a computer terminal. Lenses inserted in the patient's body give the surgeon a 3-D view of the person's insides.

The patient reported feeling "great," noting that the less-invasive procedure would allow her to be home in time for her son's sixth birthday party — the day after her surgery.

Surgeons believe use of such robots could render large surgical incisions virtually obsolete.

Loser: Imagine the dismay of Salt Lake City Public Library patrons who had checked out the "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" only to discover the last 28 pages of the 752-page book were missing. At least five of the 121 copies of the book purchased by the library system had missing pages.

The error by the book's New York publisher, Scholastic Inc., apparently was first discovered in Salt Lake City. The library system rectified the "shortfall" by purchasing 10 additional copies from Sam Weller's Books. More than 165 people are on a waiting list for the book in the city library system.

Winner/Loser: Inmates and the staff of Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane learned a tough lesson in reading the fine print this past week. Brian McCluskey, serving time on a parole violation after a drug related charge, had been treated to a bag of M&Ms for helping for assisting a corrections officer with chores. It contained an unusual mix of candy coatings, which prompted fellow inmates and officers to conclude McCluskey had won $1 million in the M&Ms/Mars "Fix-up the Mix-up" contest.

The national media, including NBC's "Today Show," pounced on the story before the candy company could reveal the actual winner of the $1 million prize. McCluskey was actually a first-place winner, which entitles him to a coupon for a 12- or 16-ounce bag of the candy. The verified winner of the $1 million prize was a family of four who plan to use the money to remodel the house and pay college expenses for their children.

Winner: Of the 14 governors elected to office since Utah achieved statehood in 1896, six have headed the National Governors Association. That's more than any other state, which is surely a feather in Utah's cap.

This past week, Gov. Mike Leavitt's term as chairman of the NGA came to a close in State College, Pa. during the organization's annual meeting. Leavitt's NGA legacy includes strategies to improve education, foster entrepreneurship and develop electronic government services.

Leavitt's tenure has has also helped ensure that Western issues receive national attention, which has been positive.

Winners: Hats off to Cottonwood High School Principal Louie Long and Dixie Middle School Principal Jim McKim, who have been named the 2000 Utah principals of the year by their peers in the Utah secondary school principals association.

The winners of the MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals award are now candidates for the National Principal of the Year and will receive an award at a National Press Club dinner.