Whoa! Did you know that Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is a satanic church? Or that Women's Day in Utah was actually a front for communism? Or that John Curtis has a history of sexual harassment and abuse, among other things? If you don't, then you haven't been trolling the burgeoning conspiracy sites—many of which purport to be journalism at its best. There's utahstandardnews.com, for one, which is trying (unsuccessfully) to get the Deseret News to pay attention. With all the tweeting about #fakenews these days, the public has become confused and duped by the purveyors of doom who claim to be the standard-bearers of truth and the American way. Anti-vaxers, for example, are complaining that Facebook is blocking their videos. Wow.
Vote or Vote!
We know how Utahns vote: They don't, pretty much. That was the conclusion of a recent Utah Foundation report, which found, not surprisingly, that Utah ranked 39th in the nation last year for voter participation. Really surprising, however, was how voters seem to just let things ride. "Uncompetitive races are the norm. In 2016, 71 percent of Utah's state general election races were won by a margin of greater than 30 percent." But there are efforts afoot to change that—maybe. Two initiatives are making the rounds—one on redistricting; the other to get rid of the caucus system. But most interesting—and maybe hardest to understand—is a legislative effort to move to instant runoff elections. Jay Evensen of the Deseret News wrote about how it could change the political landscape. Voters will have to pay attention.
It's not January yet, so Utahns can breathe a little—unless they're in the path of smoke from fires raging in the West. Still, the state is hesitant to take major steps in protecting the lungs of its population. A 2015 report by The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health said pollution was linked to 9 million deaths worldwide. A Deseret News report talked about streamlining the permitting process for the oil-and-gas industry, saying emissions somehow will be reduced because permitting is more efficient. That must make sense to someone. Coincidentally, KUER's Judy Fahys took a trip to Pennsylvania to visit the Smog Museum. Smog was cleaned up in Donora, Pa., where "people looked at the smog disaster as sort of an embarrassment—as sort of a tragedy that you don't want to revisit." In Utah, it's not just one big industry that's the problem, and someone needs to look for a systemic solution.