** WINNERS: The nine nations of the drought-stricken Sahel in West Africa. After suffering drought and dry seasons since 1972, this area on the fringe of the Sahara Desert has had abundant rain, in some places the most in 50 years. Harvests may be the best in two decades. But nothing comes easy in the Sahel. The torrential rains also destroyed thousands of homes and killed 100 people. But the people of the Sahel are not complaining. They rejoice as their world turns an unusually rich green.
** LOSERS: Athletes - and the 5 million other Americans who use cocaine. The drug not only is addictive, but a new study indicates it weakens muscles and causes kidney disease. Athletes who take the drug will ruin their performance. Once thought to be relatively harmless, cocaine has now been linked to a number of serious diseases.** WINNERS: Scientists who have transplanted the human immune system into laboratory mice. In making a "human mouse," researchers have opened up a new way to develop and test new drugs and vaccines.
** LOSER: Red Cross blood service. An internal review showed that some regions had improperly released 2,400 blood units over a six-month period, including 518 without complete testing for deadly diseases. Most of the problems occurred in the South and Midwest parts of the country. The mistakes were not many considering the millions of units of blood handled, but the Red Cross is committed to a "zero error" operation.
** WINNERS: Twenty heroes honored this week by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. All of them saved the lives of other people in drownings, fires, and other accidents, or snatching them from in front of trains. Two of the heroes lost their own lives, including a man who was stabbed to death while saving a woman from an assailant who had broken into her apartment. It's nice to know that heroism has not gone out of style.
WORST COMMERCIAL: Travel ad for Jamaica. While Hurricane Gilbert was ravaging the Caribbean island, television commercials were blithely inviting U.S. viewers to "come back to Jamaica." A New York advertising executive in Jamaica finally managed to get a cable to his home office: "Emergency conditions. Total Devastation . . . Cancel all TV advertising. Appeal as a national disaster." It seems they could have figured that out in New York already.