The winners and losers

Published: Saturday, Feb. 1 2014 8:24 a.m. MST

Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, talks with State Senators Todd Weiler, center, and Jim Dabakis, right, outside of Uintah Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. Students who had outstanding balances on their accounts had their lunches seized there on Tuesday.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Loser: It’s hard to imagine a worse way to handle unpaid school lunch accounts than to physically yank warm food from students, throw it in the trash and then hand the students fruit and milk, instead. And yet that’s what Salt Lake City School District officials allowed to happen at Uintah Elementary School this week. Small wonder the move received nationwide attention. The school’s cafeteria manager and her supervisor were placed on paid leave pending an investigation. It’s unclear, however, whether the school or the district was responsible for the action. The only thing that seems clear to everyone is that public humiliation is a poor method for convincing children their parents ought to pay for lunch.

Winner: Tomorrow’s Super Bowl will show off the tremendous profitability of the NFL, the world’s most successful sports league. But amid all the glitz, the expensive television commercials and the lavish half-time show, viewers would do well to ask themselves why the league deserves to be tax-exempt. The question has occurred to Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, as well. He’s sponsoring a bill that would remove the tax exemption of the NFL and the NHL. In both cases, teams in the leagues must pay taxes, but the leagues do not.

Chaffetz says this is just one step toward reducing loopholes in order to lower tax rates for everyone. Given the power of sports leagues, however, it may not be a simple step.

Winner: President Obama will have fewer excuses now for not approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The State Department released a report Friday that said it found no major environmental problems with the project.

The president had been standing in the way of the pipeline, which would carry crude from Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast, because of concerns it would harm the environment. The next step will be a 90-day waiting period while the EPA and other agencies have a chance to weigh in. Then the State Department can make a final recommendation to the White House.

The ever-patient Canadians are no doubt pleased.

Loser: Historic artifacts add priceless knowledge of the past and help connect present generations with people of long ago. When such things are destroyed, it is a tragedy. So it was hard to take the news this week that a bomb blast in Cairo damaged 164 of the 1,471 items on display at the Museum of Islamic Art. Observers said floors were covered in shattered glass and steel fragments. The United Nations pledged money to help restore the museum. Restoring lost artifacts, however, may not be possible.

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