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The winners and the losers

SHARE The winners and the losers

Winner: Congratulations to Britain's Queen Mother, who this week became the first member of the royal family to reach the age of 100. A crowd estimated at more than 40,000 showed up to pay their respects as the "Queen Mum" made her way from her residence to Buckingham Palace.

The queen has acted with grace and dignity through a century of abdication, war and, more recently, a seemingly endless trail of scandal.

Loser: Whoever stole the U.S. bobsled team's revolutionary new blades this week has little appreciation for hard work and sacrifice. The blades, stolen from a storage lock in South Salt Lake, were specifically engineered for optimum performance at the Winter Sports Park near Park City, site of the 2002 Winter Olympics. In all, thieves made off with 44 of them, including older blades against which the new ones were tested.

Officials guess the thieves were hoping to find guns in the cases. If they have any conscience at all, or any desire to cheer for the Americans in 2002, they ought to return them.

Winner: Utah had the sixth largest increase in eligible voters nationwide from 1996 to 2000, adding about 115,000 to the pool. Most of that was a natural increase. In other words, a lot of kids turned 18. This is a good-news/bad-news situation. An increase in voters ought to make for a more dynamic local political scene, but statistics show most young people have little interest in politics and tend to vote as their parents do. A Harvard study earlier this year found that only 16 percent of students have joined a political organization. Only 7 percent plan to volunteer for a political campaign. So don't expect candidates to begin wearing baggy pants and backwards baseball caps any time soon to court the young voters.

Winners: Let's hear it for firefighters — easily the most over-worked and exhausted people you'll find anywhere in the country right now. As of the end of July, 955 wildfires had been reported in Utah this year. The biggest are burning right now, and crews are struggling to keep up before the flames start to threaten homes and communities. Triple-digit temperatures, dry winds and lightning strikes haven't helped at all. These unsung heroes deserve thanks and support. The least everyone can do is pray for rain and cooler weather.

Winner: John Starks made Utahns happy this week — not just because he decided to help the Jazz next season but because he eased the state's inferiority complex a bit. After what seemed like a long list of free agents that rejected offers from the Jazz in recent years, for no apparent reason other than that they didn't want to live here, it was nice to hear of good player who recognized Utah could offer one thing few other places could — a chance to win a championship.

Loser: Utah's college and university presidents are talking about tuition increases — some as high as 10 percent or more. Education officials say they need to retain top professors and make up for money the state should have been allocating to them. That is understandable, but at some point tuition will become so expensive average students can't attend, and that would defeat the purpose of having so many high-quality public institutions in the state. The Board of Regents needs to view these proposals with a skeptical eye.