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The winners and the losers

SHARE The winners and the losers

Loser: Researchers in London have created a skin patch that reduces cravings for chocolate. The patch uses various scents to help the body lose its taste for the stuff.

OK, we know that this ought to be a winner. Such a patch could help people lose weight. But real chocolate lovers know the solution isn't to stop eating the stuff. It would be a patch that lets people eat chocolate to their heart's content and not gain weight.

Loser: Rats, the filthy little rodents, are becoming a problem along the Wasatch Front. A mild winter, increased construction and more natural landscapes with tall plants all have contributed to an increase in the the number of creepy pests here this summer. Utah has all sorts — kangaroo rats, desert rats and Norway rats, brownish gray mammals with a pointy nose and a long, "ratty" tail.

They can carry diseases, and they also can gnaw their way into inconvenient places. Just ask the owners of a house in West Valley City where a rat entered through a dryer vent and ate its way through a water bed mattress.

The only answer is to be on the lookout. Don't leave food lying around. Set out traps if you see one. And arm yourself with a cat or two.

Winner: An entire convention full of veterinarians can't be wrong when it comes to animals. An unscientific poll conducted by a Deseret News reporter this week at the American Veterinary Medical Association convention in Salt Lake City found that virtually everyone there owned a pet at home. In other words, even though they work with the critters all day long, they still enjoy having them around when they come home at night.

This is hardly the same as a ditch digger wanting to come home at night and dig some new holes. Domesticated animals provide comfort and therapy. Studies have shown they can reduce blood pressure, even if they occasionally claw the furniture or mark the walls.

Winner: Finally, the Clinton administration is getting set to designate a national monument in Utah that has wholehearted support. The Paria Plateau is the kind of place so filled with beauty and wonder that it wouldn't be fitting to do anything else with it, but beyond that, the folks in Washington seem to have learned the value of operating in the open.

Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt has met with local people in southern Utah and northern Arizona to discuss the monument. That's a big step considering the administration told absolutely no one four years ago before designating the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument, an area so expansive it includes many acres whose preservation value is questionable.

Federal officials are promising that grazing and water rights would be preserved in the new monument. Still, one rancher told reporters he would rather have the promises in writing. Smart move.