The winners and the losers

Published: Saturday, Dec. 21 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

The front entrance of a Target store in Newark, Calif.

Paul Sakuma, Associated Press

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Loser: Savvy shoppers know they can be as careful as possible with their credit cards and still be vulnerable to fraud. Such is the 21st century world of cyber spies and electronic trickery. Still, news this week that as many as 40 million people may have had their cards, and possibly their identities, compromised by a theft of information from the retail giant Target was stunning.

Target isn’t saying exactly how the information was stolen. It is clear, however, that the company spends millions on security each year, as does every large retailer. If thieves were able to compromise that system, who is to say other stores are not also vulnerable? That’s hardly a good message to be getting as Christmas approaches, but it is a good reality for all consumers to consider.

Cash purchases may not be so bad, after all.

Winner: If the Salt Lake Chamber and CBRE real estate is correct, 2014 will be a good year for Utah’s economy. Their new Fall 2013 Economic Outlook report, released this week, forecasts a 3.1 percent increase in jobs in the state and a drop in the unemployment rate. Utah’s economy has become diversified, allowing it to absorb recent problems at the Kennecott Utah Copper Bingham Canyon Mine and still grow.

Growth is expected across a wide spectrum of industries. Only a big screw-up in Washington could drag things down, but what are the odds of that?

Loser: Dennis Rodman says there is nothing but love in North Korea, and that former NBA players he is recruiting for an exhibition game there have no need to worry.

We’re wondering what the strength is of the rose-colored prescription glasses he apparently wears when he visits. Rodman is training a North Korean basketball team. He speaks fondly of his friend, Kim Jong-Un. But none of this can erase strong evidence that Kim is among the world’s most brutal dictators, willing to torture, starve and kill his own people to enrich himself. His recent execution of his own uncle, who he branded a traitor, ought to be enough to make even an eccentric former basketball player think twice, if he has thought at all.

Winner: Utahns are second to none when it comes to volunteering. That was re-emphasized this week when the Volunteering and Civic Life in American report listed Utah No. 1 for the eighth year in a row. The state’s volunteer rate actually is rising. The Corporation for National and Community Service found that 47.7 percent of adults in the Beehive State perform volunteer service, up from 40.9 percent in the year before. By contrast, the nation’s overall volunteer rate fell.

As Utahns know, an army of volunteers can make up for a lot of public spending no one can afford.

Loser: Anti-bacterial soaps may not be what they’re cracked up to be. The FDA issued a rule this week requiring manufacturers to prove their soap is better at stopping disease than regular soap. Officials said there is some evidence to suggest that long-term use of anti-bacterial soap actually could lead to health problems.

We hope the FDA’s new requirements make everyone come clean.

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