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Gullible Utahns

Utahns get a dose of fake news; get to know the state's "dirty lobbyist" and the LDS church's fight against medical marijuana.

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Gullible Utahns
Some Utah stories are more than just Utah stories. This week saw one that demonstrated both Utahns' gullibility and their unrealized spiritual desires. Yes, it all had to do with the LDS church, and on another level, with Americans' odd embrace of hoaxes in an increasingly cyber-dominated world. But local TV and news reports hit the big one: some tech genius created a look-alike Mormon newsroom website and trumpeted an apology for past exclusion of blacks from the priesthood. It sparked angst and confusion rather than the dialogue he'd hoped for. "He suggested some of his detractors were directing their anger toward him because it was emotionally safer than being angry at an institution they are still devoted to," Slate reported. Said one black LDS woman about last week's announcement, "What we actually got—it was nothing."

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The Dirty Lobbyist
Meet Jeff Hartley, a "jokingly" self-described "dirty lobbyist" who works for oil and gas, Rocky Mountain Power and other energy giants. Hartley is the working face of the Inland Port, a crude plan to place a rail and trucking hub out by the Great Salt Lake. Hartley, speaking to a Vernal Energy Summit, sang its praises while salivating over "3,500-4,000 acres of developable land." Oh, it will be wonderful, just like a photo he took of the Singapore port, but without the ocean. It's all good because Utah's a right-to-work state, and shippers wouldn't have to wait at a real port to go through customs. There's a pipeline already permitted, too. Hartley so loves the industry that he sent his son to school with a report on how fantastic and safe fracking is. Thing is, he couldn't remember how old his son is.

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Bare Testimony
The good news is that it's likely four of the citizen-backed cannabis ballot initiatives will reach voters in November. Besides those power-loving legislators, who's really upset about this? The LDS church. That's because of medical marijuana. Suddenly, they have started looking into the issue big time. They are finding studies where research could not be done, you know, because it's illegal. Drug Safe Utah has whipped up a gaggle of supporters to doom the initiatives, created a website and flooded the media with horror scenarios. Not even heroin addiction has created such momentum. Despite the disdain from whomever runs the Utah Medical Association, CBS News reports that 46 percent of cancer docs recommend medical cannabis to their patients despite a lack of studies. For a religion that depends on testimonies, it's odd that the church won't hear this one.

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