Loser: Stealing copper wire is anything but a glowing occupation. In fact, because of copper thieves, a number of lights along Utah's highways have gone dark. As reported this week, the Utah Department of Transportation says it lost more than $200,000 worth of wire in 2010. It costs much more than that to replace it. And with the price of copper remaining high, there is plenty of incentive for people who lack a moral compass to keep trying to take it.
Winner: For the first time since 1965, murder did not make the list of the top 15 causes of death in the United States. The 2010 list, released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contained a lot of good news. Infant mortality dropped to an all-time low, death rates from heart disease and cancer are dropping, as are the rates for five other leading causes of death, including accidents. The bad news? We're all still going to die.
Winner: The good news this week on the medical front was that a biotechnology company has created a machine that can decode anyone's DNA within a day, and for the cost of only $1,000. By sequencing a person's DNA, physicians can pinpoint vulnerabilities and better prescribe medications that will be effective. The bad news? Even at the lower cost, the procedure remains roughly as expensive as an aspirin in a typical hospital.
Loser: Utah's weather can be a fickle companion. One year it tries to flood you out of your home; the next year it leaves you thirsting for water. December of 2010 was the fifth wettest on record, but December of 2011 was the driest ever, according to the National Weather Service. Fortunately, reservoirs remain fairly full thanks to last year's wet winter and spring. But that is no comfort to the ski industry. Officials said bookings were high this year based on last year's snow totals, but without some good storms soon the dry year may have an opposite effect on next winter's business.
Loser: Utah's public education system took a hit this week when the Quality Counts 2012 report, published by Education Week, ranked it 42nd among the 50 states. The overall grade of C-minus was based on a variety of factors from state laws and funding to teacher accountability. Not surprisingly, the education establishment discounted much of the report except for the parts concerning funding. The bigger question, however, remains how public schools nationwide plan to better compete on a global scale — something that will require greater consumer choices and accountability.