The Salt Lake Tribune
State College, Pa. • Whatever anyone says about Beto O’Rourke in the coming months, no one will ever accuse him of lacking enthusiasm.
Here's how the always-energetic, always-sunny presidential candidate in shirtsleeves and a ball cap began his speech to a packed hall at the Penn State student union on Tuesday:
"It's so great to come in late at night in absolute darkness," he said of his arrival in this bucolic central Pennsylvania college town, "not be able to see where I was or the beauty that surrounded me, and wake up to one of the most glorious days I've ever had on this planet in my 46 years of existence."
O'Rourke is a planetary and existential sort of guy, someone for whom "Have a nice day" doesn't begin to get at the level of joy we ought to have during our time on this earth. He exudes energy, optimism and confidence laced with the requisite quotient of self-criticism. This Democrat is eager to make clear that he hates a politics rooted in trashing enemies. And while everything about him looks spontaneous, he speaks in the brisk, well-formed sentences that could only come from someone who knows how this game is played.
"We're going everywhere for everyone. No one is taken for granted. No one is written off."
"The challenge is our economy: It works too well for too few and not well enough for too many."
"You will not get political democracy until you have something approaching economic democracy in this country."
O’Rourke’s visit here was part of a somewhat slapdash but attention-getting multistate tour aimed at sending an early message. Within days of announcing his candidacy, he is stopping by industrial heartland states — he also traveled to Michigan and Ohio — that Hillary Clinton lost and that, O’Rourke is saying implicitly, he can bring home to his party.
One message certainly got through here: He is an excitement generator. When O'Rourke finished his speech, he had to work his way out of the building through a boisterous crowd yearning to touch him and (welcome to our era) come away with selfies. It was a smart move by his advance team. The video had the feel of a late-October general-election rally, and the youthful candidate named Robert Francis really did convey that look his partisans associate with the late Robert F. Kennedy.
Yet O'Rourke's rollout has been far from smooth. The knocks he has absorbed — from the party's left for some of his conservative votes in Congress, from women for the comment he has since apologized for that his wife Amy raised their three children "sometimes with my help," from various quarters for what they saw as a sense of "entitlement" and "privilege" — were a sign that magic and spark are not sufficient fuel for barreling through a gargantuan Democratic field.
Interviews with two dozen people in the mostly student crowd here suggested that most of them are still waiting. "I want to see if he can run with the big dogs — there are a lot of them out there," said Eric Layland, a 32-year-old doctoral student, summarizing a view offered by many here that the Democrats have an abundance of highly qualified choices.
With Vice President Joe Biden apparently prepared to jump into the race, several things have become clearer in the campaign's first few months. Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., begin with large pools of support built up over long periods that cannot simply be written off as "name recognition." Both command genuine loyalties from very different parts of the party.
In the meantime, three fresh candidates have made the best use of the early running.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., penetrated public consciousness with a very successful opening week and stands well in recent polling.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has earned respect and attention for a policy-heavy campaign of remarkably specific proposals that required a response from her rivals.
And South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has risen from nowhere with a series of savvy television appearances in which he was refreshingly direct and joined issues that run crosswise to the party’s usual ideological fights. He continued his streak Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” with a call for a renewed “religious left,” urging his party to “reclaim faith.”
None of this means that O'Rourke's obvious gifts are irrelevant. But neither Beto-mania nor any other craze will suddenly upend a contest in which Democratic voters are fiercely serious and listening more to their heads than to their hearts.
E.J. Dionne is on Twitter: @EJDionne.
Washington • Nostalgia is what Thomas Mallon is counting on to help draw readers to his new novel, “Landfall,” which takes them on a long stroll down memory lane, back to the golden days of ... President George W. Bush’s second term. Really. So, if Mallon’s wonderfully entertaining romp attracts the attention it deserves, it will be partly because, considered in the light of current conditions, it was, comparatively speaking, a golden age when:
The 43rd president was promoting his “freedom agenda” (“As freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well.”) while Iraq was being enveloped in “the insurgency,” aka barbarism, becoming the abattoir that the “Axis of Weasel” (France and others unenthusiastic about “the coalition of the willing”) had feared. (One of Mallon’s characters is propositioned by a man who suggests to her a “coition of the willing.”) Hurricane Katrina revealed the government’s competence to be approximately what most people think it is. Speaking of natural disasters, North Carolina’s Democratic Sen. John Edwards (of whom a Mallon character says, “Somebody ghost writes this guy’s conversation.”) used prostrated New Orleans as the launching pad for his campaign to become the 44th president. Harriet Miers was proposed to sit on the nation’s highest bench, where justices named Marshall, Harlan, Holmes, Taft, Cardozo, Brandeis and Jackson have sat. Congress, egged on by conservatives who misplaced their suspicion of intrusive government, waded into a family dispute over the medical care that should be provided to Terri Schiavo, who had been diagnosed as “persistently vegetative.”
So, why does Mallon think readers might want to revisit those days when real patriots ordered “freedom fries” with their cheeseburgers? To repeat: nostalgia for any time other than this one. If Mallon is right, then the most unlikely president has had the unlikely effect of rendering a service to something that is, to him, only a rumor: literature. On the eve of the 2016 election, Mallon wrote in The New Yorker:
"As we got deep into 2016, the Iraq insurgency and Hurricane Katrina came to feel almost like refuges. So did the political discourse of the early two-thousands: I invite you, in our current ghost-tweeted political era, to go back just eight years, to the Facebook postings of Sarah Palin, and tell me that they do not now read like a lost volume of 'The Federalist Papers.'"
“In narrative and dialogue,” Mallon says, his novel “tries not to reconstruct actuality but to reimagine it.” Some might question the propriety of imagining the dialogue of Condoleezza Rice in bed with the Canadian foreign minister, but perhaps fiction is its own excuse. (William F. Buckley, in the first of his 22 novels, solved what he called the problem of the OSS — the obligatory sex scene — with a flourish by having his dashing protagonist, Blackford Oakes, say to Britain’s queen at the climactic moment, “Courtesy of the United States, ma’am.”)
Mallon is a sort of Republican — he often voted Republican, before the party became a cult — and readers of "Landfall" will encounter an interestingly sympathetic portrait of Bush, with "the fast gear-grinding of his moods, from third to reverse and back again," his stubbornness, and his occasionally unvarnished candor:
"The U.S. representative to the six-party talks had declared: 'We are not going to live with a nuclear North Korea.'
"Bush frowned: 'What he said was diplo-speak for 'until we agree to do what I just said we wouldn't.'"
Writing a novel, says Mallon, who has written 10 of them, "is inherently an exercise in empathy," something that is usually in short supply when Americans judge the people they put into power and hence into dilemmas. Mallon's many years in Washington, where "the two chief conversational modes" are "argument and prediction," have not made him cynical. "Extreme cynicism is," he says, "its own kind of naivete." Certainly people who are constantly and theatrically disillusioned about politics thereby confess to promiscuously embracing illusions.
Mallon, 67, has a Harvard Ph.D. and for many years was a professor of English. Perhaps it takes a novelist's eye to notice something that, once noticed, is stunning. "Have you," asks Mallon, "ever seen Donald Trump laugh?" You probably have not. Think about that. Mallon probably will not think about it in a novel set in 2019 because characters worthy of appearing in serious novels are not too simple to discern life's incongruities, or too pompous to find them funny.
George F. Will | The Washington Post
George Will’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington • A federal judge’s ruling to halt new oil and gas leases and review hundreds of others in Wyoming doesn’t directly affect Utah but could lead to new legal challenges of leases in the state.
U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled Wednesday that the Bureau of Land Management should consider how emissions from oil and gas leases affect climate change.
“Given the national, cumulative nature of climate change," Contreras wrote, “considering each individual drilling project in a vacuum deprives the agency and the public of the context necessary to evaluate oil and gas drilling on federal land.”
His order impacts almost 500 square miles in Wyoming but didn’t address concerns brought by plaintiffs about leases in Utah or Colorado. The ruling prevents the BLM from issuing any new permits until the agency conducts a new environmental review to see how greenhouse gas emissions from leases affect the environment.
While the leases in Utah weren’t covered by the ruling, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says that Contreras’ judgment opens an avenue to challenge leases issued in Utah.
The plaintiffs in the case, WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility, have amended their complaint to include Utah leases since 2017. They comprise some 532 parcels covering more than 777,000 acres in the state.
“This ruling highlights a significant and, we believe, fatal flaw in every oil and gas lease sale held by BLM in Utah throughout the [President Donald] Trump administration,” said Stephen Bloch, SUWA’s legal director.
“Over the past two years, BLM has been hard at work implementing the administration’s outlandish ‘energy dominance’ agenda with the result being that hundreds of new leases have been sold in Utah’s wildest and most culturally significant landscapes; places like southeast Utah’s Four Corners region, San Rafael Desert, and Book Cliffs have been blanketed with oil and gas leases,” Bloch added. “Fortunately, Judge Contreras’ decision gives us a powerful tool to undo this mischief.”
A large-scale oil and gas lease auction is set for next week in Utah.
Contreras, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., kept the lawsuit in his court and said he wanted to see the BLM do a thorough review and not just file papers saying it has.
BLM spokeswoman Kristen Lenhardt said the agency was still reviewing the ruling and “determining a path forward regarding the implications.”
The plaintiffs said the ruling would have implications beyond Wyoming.
“This is the Holy Grail ruling we’ve been after, especially with oil and gas,” said Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ climate program director. “It calls into question the legality of oil and gas leasing that’s happening everywhere.”
The oil and gas industry pushed back, arguing that the BLM already analyzes climate change impacts.
“The judge is asking BLM to take a wild guess at how many wells would be developed on these leases,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, suggested the state might appeal the ruling.
“We will be exploring options and following up with our state, federal, and industry partners,” Gordon said, according to The Washington Post. “Our country’s efforts to reduce carbon should not center on the livelihoods of those committed workers and industries who seek to provide reliable and affordable energy, especially when we don’t look to the detrimental effects of other expansive industries. Bringing our country to its knees is not the way to thwart climate change.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Boston • Harvard University has “shamelessly” turned a profit from photos of two 19th-century slaves while ignoring requests to turn the photos over to the slaves’ descendants, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.
Tamara Lanier, of Norwich, Connecticut, is suing the Ivy League school for "wrongful seizure, possession and expropriation" of images she says depict two of her ancestors. Her suit, filed in Massachusetts state court, demands that Harvard immediately turn over the photos, acknowledge her ancestry and pay an unspecified sum in damages.
Harvard spokesman Jonathan Swain said the university "has not yet been served, and with that is in no position to comment on this complaint."
At the center of the case is a series of 1850 daguerreotypes, an early type of photo, taken of two South Carolina slaves identified as Renty and his daughter, Delia. Both were posed shirtless and photographed from several angles. The images are believed to be the earliest known photos of American slaves.
They were commissioned by Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz, whose theories on racial difference were used to support slavery in the U.S. The lawsuit says Agassiz came across Renty and Delia while touring plantations in search of racially "pure" slaves born in Africa.
"To Agassiz, Renty and Delia were nothing more than research specimens," the suit says. "The violence of compelling them to participate in a degrading exercise designed to prove their own subhuman status would not have occurred to him, let alone mattered."
The suit attacks Harvard for its "exploitation" of Renty's image at a 2017 conference and in other uses. It says Harvard has capitalized on the photos by demanding a "hefty" licensing fee to reproduce the images. It also draws attention to a book Harvard sells for $40 with Renty's portrait on the cover. The book, called "From Site to Sight: Anthropology, Photography, and the Power of Imagery," explores the use of photography in anthropology.
Among other demands, the suit asks Harvard to acknowledge that it bears responsibility for the humiliation of Renty and Delia and that Harvard "was complicit in perpetuating and justifying the institution of slavery."
A researcher at a Harvard museum rediscovered the photos in storage in 1976. But Lanier's case argues Agassiz never legally owned the photos because he didn't have his subjects' consent and that he didn't have the right to pass them to Harvard. Instead, the suit says, Lanier is the rightful owner as Renty's next of kin.
The suit also argues that Harvard's continued possession of the images violates the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.
"Renty is 169 years a slave by our calculation," civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, one of Lanier's lawyers, said in an interview. "How long will it be before Harvard finally frees Renty?"
Lanier says she grew up hearing stories about Renty passed down from her mother. While enslaved in Columbia, South Carolina, Renty taught himself to read and later held secret Bible readings on the plantation, the suit says. He is described as "small in stature but towering in the minds of those who knew him."
The suit says Lanier has verified her genealogical ties to Renty, whom she calls "Papa Renty." She says he is her great-great-great-grandfather.
If given the photos, Lanier said she would tell "the true story of who Renty was." But she also hopes her case will spark a national discussion over race and history.
"This case is important because it will test the moral climate of this country, and force this country to reckon with its long history of racism," Lanier said at a news conference outside the Harvard Club of New York City.
Crump, her attorney, added that the case could allow Harvard to "remove the stain from its legacy" and show it has the courage "to finally atone for slavery."
Lanier alleges that she wrote to Harvard in 2011 detailing her ties to Renty. In a letter to Drew Faust, then Harvard's president, Lanier said she wanted to learn more about the images and how they would be used. She was more explicit in 2017, demanding that Harvard relinquish the photos. In both cases, she said, Harvard responded but evaded her requests.
The school has used the photos as part of its own effort to confront its historical ties to slavery. At the 2017 conference called "Universities and Slavery: Bound by History," referenced in the lawsuit, Harvard printed Renty's portrait on the program cover and projected it on a giant screen above the stage.
In the image, Renty stares hauntingly into the camera, his hair graying and his gaunt frame exposed.
Lanier, who was in the audience at the event, said she was stunned by a passage in the program that described the origins of the photo but seemed to dismiss her genealogical findings. It said that the photo was taken for Agassiz's research and that "while Agassiz earned acclaim, Renty returned to invisibility."
The suit alleges that “by contesting Ms. Lanier’s claim of lineage, Harvard is shamelessly capitalizing on the intentional damage done to black Americans’ genealogy by a century’s worth of policies that forcibly separated families, erased slaves’ family names, withheld birth and death records, and criminalized literacy.”
The Hallandale Trio will be restored this season, wearing Nos. 1, 2 and 3 for Utah's offense. That's because No. 7 is coming back, and the potential departure of No. 6 will give him more opportunity to play.
The numbers game remains a challenge for Devonta’e Henry-Cole, at his position. He missed the 2018 season with a wrist injury and easily could be overlooked in the analysis of Utah’s running backs, with Zack Moss deferring his NFL ambitions to play as a senior and several promising young backs in the program. Yet if Armand Shyne transfers, a move he’s reportedly making after missing Tuesday’s practice, everybody moves up one spot on a crowded depth chart.
The 5-foot-8 Henry-Cole possesses “an element that we always need here at Utah, which is explosiveness,” said running backs coach Kiel McDonald.
Henry-Cole got some work with the first-team offense Tuesday, when the Utes staged their fourth session of spring practice after returning from the school's spring break. Coach Kyle Whittingham didn't address Shyne's absence, while saying generally that college football is “a different world now,” with the NCAA doing more to facilitate transfers. Utah will be back on the field Thursday.
Shyne could play immediately at another school as a graduate transfer, rather than back up Moss as a senior. And not even the No. 2 job has been guaranteed to Shyne, whose production dropped off after a sensational game against Oregon in his first week as Moss’ replacement. Shyne rushed for 174 yards on 26 carries vs. the Ducks; he totaled 172 yards on 57 attempts in Utah’s last four games.
Ute receiver Demari Simpkins wore Henry-Cole’s No. 7 last season in a tribute to his fellow Florida product. Simpkins originally switched in August to No. 3, creating a 1-2-3 sequence for Utah’s Hallandale High School group with quarterback Tyler Huntley and Moss.
Simpkins is back in No. 3 this spring, while Moss’ rehabilitation of a knee injury creates more practice repetitions for Henry-Cole and sophomores Devin Brumfield and TJ Green. High school recruits Jordan Wilmore and Micah Bernard will arrive on campus this summer.
“Everybody sees the talent, but this talent needs to continue to develop into true, solid running backs,” McDonald said. “What I see with this young group is they just need experience. We need as many reps as we can get … we just need work.”
Henry-Cole has shown glimpses of his ability during a weird three years at Utah. He voided a redshirt season in 2016 by getting one carry in a game at Oregon State in mid-October, when the coaching staff was desperate for help (due to injuries to Moss and Shyne) and unsure what Joe Williams would provide after temporarily leaving the team. Henry-Cole produced 279 yards on 55 yards as a sophomore, playing behind Moss. He then sat out last season, although the blessing was he still had a redshirt year available.
In early February, Henry-Cole tweeted a message to fans: “I think you all forgot about me ... just know I’m back.”
So he's a junior now, battling with younger players for carries in relief of Moss. His pass-catching skills may get him on the field, along with his speed. Asked about a long run in Tuesday's practice, Henry-Cole said, “I'm going to get a lot of those this year. That's just a little preview.”
Though standing only 5-8, he weighs 194 pounds and Henry-Cole prides himself on being able to run inside. He likes new offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig’s scheme with more zone blocking and downhill, power running.
Missing last season made him hungry to play, as he tried to turn the year into a learning experience. Thanks to Simpkins, Henry-Cole said, “It was nice seeing my number on the field.”
He just would prefer to be out there himself.
I think you all forgot about me 😂... just know I’m back! 🏈— ʀᴜɴ ᴅʜᴄ (@DevontaeHenry) February 4, 2019
After Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s surprising announcement earlier this week that she would not run for re-election, Salt Lake City Sen. Luz Escamilla has decided to enter the 2019 race for mayor.
“Since learning a few days ago of Mayor Biskupski’s decision to withdraw from the 2019 mayor’s race, I have fielded many questions about my future and whether I would consider a run for Mayor of Salt Lake City,” she said in a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon. “After an abbreviated process and enthusiastic expressions of support, I have decided today that I will be a candidate for Mayor in 2019. We will be announcing our campaign kickoff shortly. I look forward to an exciting race and I ask for your support going forward.”
Her announcement comes the same day as former Downtown Community Council Chair Christian Harrison’s campaign launch. She will also face former state Sen. Jim Dabakis; Latino businessman David Ibarra; David Garbett, the former executive director of the Pioneer Park Coalition; and former Salt Lake City Councilman Stan Penfold. Richard Goldberger, a freelance journalist, and Aaron Johnson, a veteran and novice politician, have formed personal campaign committees.
Four children have died from the flu in Utah since October — nearly double the average annual number of pediatric flu deaths for the past decade, health officials confirmed Wednesday.
And with a new strain of the illness, the threat may not subside for weeks.
“We’ve been swamped. ... Emergency rooms are swamped with flu cases, clinics are getting hit with a lot of flu cases — and a lot of cases we never find out about,” said Trahern W. Jones, pediatric infectious disease fellow with the University of Utah School of Medicine and Primary Children’s Hospital. “Infectious disease doctors, we’re the ones who see the worst; we see the kid who caught the flu and [developed complications.]”
In the past decade, the state has averaged a little more than two pediatric flu deaths per year, with a high of five deaths in 2012-2013, said Keegan McCaffrey, an influenza epidemiologist with the health department. The severity of this flu season, which runs from October to May, is “high,” according to state health officials, with a prolonged spike in reported “influenza-like illness” cases extending later into spring than in any of the past five years.
“Normally in the spring, we see a second wave — of Influenza B. But this year we’re seeing a second wave of Influenza A H3, ... which is associated with more illness in the elderly and people with other conditions,” McCaffrey said.
Researchers and pharmaceutical manufacturers try to anticipate the flu strains that are likely in a given year, and design the annual vaccines accordingly. The flu vaccines widely distributed in the fall were “a good match” with the first wave of illness, but have been less effective for the second, said Jenny Johnson, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Health.
Nonetheless, the initial strain could still be in the community, Johnson said, and flu symptoms are generally less severe with a shot, even if the vaccine does not closely match the strain.
“We would still encourage people to get a flu shot,” Johnson said. “We still have a couple of months left in the flu season ... and the strain can change again. Even if you do get sick with influenza, the chances that it’s going to be severe, with the flu shot, are a lot lower.”
Health officials would not confirm which strains caused the four pediatric deaths, or when or where they occurred. The state does not track adult flu deaths, but it does record hospitalizations and flu-like illnesses reported by doctors and hospitals. Although hospitalizations have been down in recent weeks, northeast Utah has had the highest numbers reported so far, with about 50 patients hospitalized this season in Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah counties.
Patients and parents with ailing children should be cautious, especially if there are signs of pneumonia, the most common life-threatening complication of the flu, Jones said.
“When people die of the flu, most often — historically and textbook-wise — they die of pneumonia,” Jones said.
He suggested that people look for “signs the child is working harder to breathe, has a severe cough, seems to be struggling to get air in.”
Less common but also serious complications include severe muscle pain, inflammation of the brain or heart, and ear infections, Jones said. Parents and patients should “play it safe” and call a doctor if they believe the flu is behind the symptoms.
“If they are sick, call the doctor because their doctor can prescribe antivirals,” agreed McCaffrey. “And if you’re sick, stay home at least 24 hours” after symptoms improve.
Health officials also advised Utahns to brace for “elevated influenza activity for the upcoming weeks" by washing hands frequently and covering coughs and sneezes — and, again, getting a flu shot.
“Really what it amounts to is a community-wide effort: We’re trying to protect each other by getting the flu shot,” Jones said. “The flu is a preventable disease. It’s within our power to stop it, but we all need to make that happen.”
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has said all he will say about what happened four weeks ago, having insisted that people show concern for the victim of the fatal accident, rather than worry about how he’s dealing with everything.
So he’s his usual self in news conferences, taking strictly about basketball and alternating between gruff and charming. Boeheim eagerly fields the questions he likes, joking about how Buddy Boeheim’s mother keeps saying the freshman guard merits more playing time. And yes, he knows who will start in place of injured guard Frank Howard in Thursday night’s NCAA Tournament game vs. Baylor, but no, he’s not saying who it is.
Boeheim, 74, is making a 34th appearance in the NCAA Tournament in his 43 years as Syracuse's coach. His son is a regular in the Orange's playing rotation and all signs suggest Boeheim will keep coaching throughout Buddy's college career.
Nine years later, the Boeheims are back in the building where the Orange arrived as a No. 1 seed in the Sweet 16, facing a Butler team led by future Jazz players Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack. Syracuse led by four points in the last four minutes, only to have the Bulldogs make some improbable plays during an 11-0 run in a 63-59 victory. Asked what kind of memories hit him Wednesday as he walked into Vivint Smart Home Arena, Jim Boeheim said, “Not good ones, at the end, that's for sure. It's a nice city. We had a good time here. You get to go to a great Italian restaurant in Salt Lake, which I never thought would happen.”
So there’s Valter’s, and there’s basketball, and there’s real life, all converging in the past month.
As Boeheim drove home after a Syracuse game, his vehicle struck and killed a man who had been involved in a freeway accident. In the investigation, Boeheim was cleared of wrongdoing. But he forever will be shaken by what happened.
“This is something that will be with me the rest of my life,” Boeheim said after coaching the Orange two days later in a loss to Duke. “This is never going away. … It's not going to be better next month. It's not going to be better next year.”
Buddy Boeheim sat in the locker room Wednesday, smiling about the years when he would miss school to follow the Orange around the country in March. He was 10 in 2010, when Hayward’s Bulldogs spoiled his first SLC visit in “a game I really remember,” he said, “and that was a tough loss.”
And now he’s a Syracuse rotation player, experiencing a season unlike any other and helping his father cope with what happened on Interstate 690.
“I mean, he’s a tough guy and he’s been through a lot and he’s had a lot thrown at him,” Buddy Boeheim said. “It’s just shown me as a person that courage and staying close to your family can help you get through anything.”
Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim, back in the building where he watched the Orange lose to Butler in 2010. pic.twitter.com/dS0ZKQXbLn— Kurt Kragthorpe (@tribkurt) March 20, 2019
The son’s role is “taking his mind off some stuff and really just having some good family time,” he said.
And the longer Syracuse's season lasts, the better, for multiple reasons.
At one time, Jim Boeheim planned to retire after the 2017-18 season, with longtime assistant coach Mike Hopkins succeeding him. Before the transition could occur, Hopkins became Washington's coach. Hopkins is now a two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, leading the Huskies into an NCAA Tournament game Friday vs. Utah State in Columbus, Ohio.
And Boeheim remains on the job at Syracuse, coaching his team again in Salt Lake City. He’s just like he’s always been, but never the same again.
After Gonzaga beat Duke for the Maui Invitational title and was absolutely crushing opponents in the West Coast Conference — including BYU — the question was asked almost every time the Zags ran out on the court.
Is this team as good, or better, than the 2016-17 Gonzaga team that won its first 29 games, inexplicably lost to the Cougars at home, and then rolled all the way to the national championship game?
Senior point guard Josh Perkins — a member of both teams — wouldn’t take the bait on Wednesday as the Zags met the media ahead of Thursday’s NCAA opener against Fairleigh Dickinson at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
“Gonzaga,” Perkins replied, when asked to pick a winner.
“The swagger, the confidence level, just the experience is all similar,” Perkins said. “This team is a lot more versatile, more athletic, I would say. We can get out in transition a bit better, square the ball better. But the teams are more similar than people would say.”
“This one is better,” Rose said after the 34-point beatdown on Feb. 23.
Local college basketball fans, many of whom watched the Zags launch their run to the Final Four two years ago, will get the chance to see if that is true for themselves when No. 1 seed Gonzaga meets No. 16 FDU at 5:27 p.m.
This is the third time Gonzaga (30-3) has earned a No. 1 seed. Each time the Zags have started their tournament at the home of the Utah Jazz, where a certain fondness exists for them because GU product John Stockton played here for 19 seasons.
The 2013 team lost to Wichita State in the round of 32 and the 2017 team defeated South Dakota and Northwestern here before eventually falling 71-65 to North Carolina in the championship game.
That 2017 team somehow lost 79-71 to unranked BYU before getting to the Final Four for the first time, but Rose was convinced a month ago — before the Zags lost 60-47 to Saint Mary’s in the WCC tournament championship game last week — that this is a better defensive team.
In that win back on Feb. 27, 2017, Cougars’ center Eric Mika got the best of GU center Przemek Karnowski, a mountain of a man who was impossible to back down in the paint. But Karnowski was not real mobile, and Mika — now playing in Italy — took the Zags big man outside and scored 29 points, most of them on deep jumpers. Rose said this year’s Gonzaga club has no such defensive liabilities.
“Mark [Few] has just done a really good job with this group to get them to not take possessions off,” Rose said. “It looks like they are really on a mission, and someone is going to have to play really well to break it. … Their depth is tremendous and it allows them to be so, so consistent. You are talking about a guy [Killian Tillie] who is kind of projected to be a lottery pick who is coming off the bench for them.”
Tillie, Zach Norvell Jr. and Rui Hachimura were freshmen on the 2017 team, while Perkins was a redshirt sophomore who ran the show with former Jazz second-round draft pick Nigel Williams-Goss. Future NBA lottery pick Zach Collins came off the bench.
“That would be a pretty good game,” Tillie told Jim Meehan of the Spokesman-Review, a GU beat writer who has written extensively on the topic. “That would be a pretty amazing game. That would be cool to see.”
Sophomore guard Corey Kispert, a senior at King’s High in Edmonds, Wash., when GU made its 2017 run, said the teams are quite a bit different.
“I would say the ’17 team was built more physically than us,” Kispert said. “Obviously, [Karnowski] in the middle was a big block for them defensively, and Nigel, the point guard, was an extremely good leader with lots of experience. This year, I would say, across the board we are much more athletic. All five guys on the floor can play above the rim, and we have a point guard [Perkins] who is an absolute wizard on ball screens who makes great plays, great reads, and is a vocal leader for us, too.”
Notwithstanding Rose’s claim that Karnowski could be exploited in 2017, the Zags were the No. 1 defensive team in the land that year, according to KenPom’s adjusted defensive rankings. As coaches say, matchups mean a lot.
This year’s team is No. 16 on defense, but No. 1 on offense.
As BYU, Duke, Creighton, Arizona, Washington and all those other WCC teams learned, the 2019 Zags score better than any team in the country. They are No. 1 in field goal percentage, scoring, scoring margin and assist-to-turnover ratio.
“The thing about Gonzaga that makes them so good is they play for each other,” said BYU guard Jesse Wade, a Gonzaga transfer who was on a church mission in 2016- 2017 and played sparingly for the Zags in 2017-18. “You know, they’ve got great guys and great players, but just their togetherness is amazing.”
Salt Lake City fans have seen it all before.
Rob Anderson, embattled chairman of a divided Utah Republican Party, will not seek re-election to a second term after two years dominated by an ongoing and costly intraparty battle over the state’s election laws.
Anderson told The Tribune on Wednesday that he made the decision to step down last week, based in part on the “solid resistance” to his calls for unity after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the party’s lawsuit against the state, challenging a 2014 law, SB54. That law allows candidates to qualify for a partisan primary through either signature collection or the support of party delegates at convention.
“I’m in a position where I don’t think I can unify the party effectively,” Anderson said “And I think it’s time for someone else to step into the fray.”
On Saturday, Anderson was censured by the Republican State Central Committee, stemming from his decision last year to ignore a new party bylaw aimed at stripping candidates of their party membership if they choose to collect signatures.
A party committee formed to investigate Anderson found “ample justification to remove the chair from office,” according to a committee report obtained by The Tribune, but instead recommended censure for abuse of authority and neglect of duty, in part to avoid the appearance of political motives ahead of the selection of a new party chairman in May.
"Our organization cannot be successful when one person substitutes his own judgment to replace that of the duly authorized body,” the investigation committee report states.
Anderson said he withheld announcing his decision to not seek re-election because he did not want to go into Saturday’s central committee meeting as a “lame-duck” chairman. Asked about the censure against him, Anderson said he believes the committee’s actions were meant as pressure to step down.
“It was a pure political ploy,” he said.
Phill Wright, a member of the State Central Committee and a leading critic of SB54, expressed his appreciation for Anderson’s service and wished him well.
“I understand, having served in a state party leadership position, it can be a thankless job,” Wright said.
Wright also confirmed to The Tribune that he again plans to run for Utah Republican Party chairman, saying Republicans need an experienced leader who understands what is at stake and the necessary steps to turn the party around.
While Republicans maintain a supermajority in the state Legislature and hold all statewide offices, the party lost ground last year, losing one seat in the Utah Senate, three seats in the Utah House and the 4th Congressional District.
“Things like that shouldn’t happen in a Republican-dominated state like Utah,” Wright said.
Anderson said he plans to attend the party convention in May, but that he hasn’t decided whom to support as his successor. He said he has no regrets, and plans to enjoy some vacation time with his family after his term ends, potentially including the construction of a cabin on family ranch property in Wyoming.
When Anderson was elected chairman, the party was deeply in debt stemming from its protracted court battles over SB54. Anderson said that debt has been cut from roughly $750,000 to now $98,000, and his remaining time as chairman will be focused on balancing the party’s books.
“I’m going to focus my efforts on turning over a fully-functioning party that’s in the black," he said. “If I could do that, I’ll have turned around at least the economic status of the party.”
The ride-sharing firm Lyft announced two moves Wednesday to help it attract more Salt Lake City area drivers — including people who don’t own cars and those who need help to drive more environmentally friendly vehicles.
The San Francisco-based company opened a new local headquarters in what was once an old gas station owned by Rocky Mountain Power for company vehicles in its campus around a power plant on North Temple at 1300 West — and announced a partnership with that company to convert the facility into a charging station for Lyft drivers with electric cars.
“Electric vehicle-charging stations will be installed to support our growing fleet of electric vehicles as part of Lyft’s Green Cities Initiative,” said Jeremy Neigher, Lyft’s Utah market manager.
Bill Comeau, Rocky Mountain’s managing director of customer innovations, said the utility is proud to partner with companies to help them achieve sustainability goals. “We couldn’t be more excited,” he said, to take an “old building that was once a gas station” and convert it into a facility that “has the potential to be a center for future electrification of vehicles.”
Neigher said Lyft chose to make the building its local headquarters also because it is near another new partner, Hertz rental cars. They work together to remove “one of the biggest obstacle to driving for Lyft, which is car ownership.”
Neigher said Hertz is working with it to provide weekly and monthly rentals for “drivers who don’t have access to either a car of their own, or access to the right car,” but want to make money by driving for Lyft.
The new Lyft center will also serve as a bricks-and-mortar center for drivers to receive training and help with problems from using its online app to issues with payment, Neigher said.
Washington • President Donald Trump continued Wednesday to attack the late Sen. John McCain, even as a growing number of Republican senators rose to McCain’s defense, calling him a war hero and a patriot — although most were careful not to criticize the president directly.
During a White House event at a manufacturing facility in Lima, Ohio, on Wednesday, Trump lashed out at McCain, saying, "I endorsed him at his request, and I gave him the kind of funeral he wanted, which as president I had to approve."
"I don't care about this," Trump continued. "I didn't get a thank-you. That's OK. We sent him on the way. But I wasn't a fan of John McCain."
Presidents don't "approve" the funerals of members of Congress. To lie in state, one needs the approval of Congress. The funeral would have been approved by the Washington National Cathedral. Trump did approve the military transportation of McCain's remains from Arizona to Washington, military pallbearers, a band and military horses.
Comments like Wednesday's and those that have preceded it were too much for Sen. Johnny Isakson. The Georgia Republican called the duration of the White House's tribute to McCain "unthinkable" last year, after it lowered its flag to recognize the death of McCain on a Saturday, then raised it again by Monday. Trump rejected his staff's suggestions and refused to follow a tradition of leaving the flag at half-staff until the senator was laid to rest.
Isakson has said that moment and others fit a troubling pattern, and after an escalation of bitter words from the president this week, the senator took to the airwaves in a rare moment for his party: a stinging rebuke of Trump.
"It's deplorable what he said," Isakson said Wednesday on Georgia Public Broadcasting, as he decried the public criticism of McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent years in brutal captivity in Vietnam. "There aren't Democratic casualties or Republican casualties on the battlefield," he said.
His comments follow an interview with the Bulwark, a conservative news website.
"I just want to lay it on the line, that the country deserves better, the McCain family deserves better. I don't care if he's president of United States, owns all the real estate in New York, or is building the greatest immigration system in the world," Isakson told the site.
"Nothing is more important than the integrity of the country and those who fought and risked their lives for all of us."
Trump unloaded on the legacy of McCain, who died of brain cancer last year, in several tweets this week. On Tuesday, he attacked McCain's vote against repealing Obamacare.
"I think that's a disgrace, plus there are other things," Trump said in the Oval Office. "I was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be."
Meghan McCain, a co-host of ABC's "The View," blasted Trump and defended her father on Wednesday.
Her father "would think it was hilarious that our president was so jealous of him that he was dominating the news cycle in death," she said.
Trump's attacks have also appeared to unleash trolls targeting the McCain family. Soon after the president's Oval Office remarks, Cindy McCain posted a profanity-laced message she received on Facebook.
A woman called John McCain "traitorous" and celebrated his death.
"I want to make sure all of you could see how kind and loving a stranger can be," Cindy McCain wrote on Twitter, referring to the woman.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, rallied to McCain's defense Wednesday.
"I can't understand why the President would, once again, disparage a man as exemplary as my friend John McCain: heroic, courageous, patriotic, honorable, self-effacing, self-sacrificing, empathetic, and driven by duty to family, country, and God," Romney wrote on Twitter.
Sen. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican appointed to McCain's former seat, also defended the former senator.
"Everyone should give him and his family the respect, admiration, and peace they deserve," she wrote on Twitter. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a Trump ally, praised McCain in a tweet but did not address the president's attacks against him.
Isakson, chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, is a general supporter of Trump but often extends more criticisms of the president than many Republican lawmakers.
After last year's controversy over the flag raising, lowering and re-raising, he took to the Senate floor to blast the perceived insult to McCain, although he did not single out the president in his remarks.
"Anybody who in any way tarnishes the reputation of John McCain deserves a whipping because most of those who would do the wrong thing about John McCain didn't have the guts to do the right thing when it was their turn," he said.
The focus has since narrowed to Trump. Isakson watched Trump's Tuesday remarks and their impact.
“These kids are out there listening to the president of the United States talk that way about the most decorated senator in history who is dead, it just sets the worst tone possible,” he told the Bulwark.
After wrapping up 13 years as chairman of the Downtown Community Council in early January, Christian Harrison announced Wednesday that he’s ready to take on a larger role in the community at his campaign launch Wednesday for Salt Lake City mayor.
Harrison, 46, made his announcement in front of City Hall on the first day of spring for a reason, he said — to reflect his “bold, constructive optimism” for a better city.
“We’re all going to talk about the inland port,” he said after his campaign announcement. “We’re all going to talk about clean air. But are we going to shift from the four-year plan to a 40-year plan? And that’s where I set myself apart.”
Harrison first came to Utah from the Pacific Northwest as a college student escaping a “dysfunctional” family. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a degree in international relations, he “fell in love” with Salt Lake City and began working with the Downtown Community Council, which he helped broaden from a focus on homelessness to an array of neighborhood issues.
“Out of the violence of my childhood, I realized that our surroundings made a huge difference in how we lived our lives and the level of satisfaction that we could find in our lives,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune in an interview prior to his campaign announcement. “I realized our built environment and political environment affects us deeply — and mostly quietly — and so that’s why I’m involved [in this race].”
As a child, Harrison was a beneficiary of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Food and Nutrition Service program, as well as Head Start, which provides comprehensive early childhood education, health and nutrition services to low-income children and their families. Those were formative experiences, he said.
“I just remember getting up on my tippy-toes and reaching for the door handle to class and using all my weight to turn it, and that’s been burned into my psyche,” he said. "It’s also kind of the way I’ve approached my entire life. I get onto my tippy-toes and I put all my weight into it and I open doors for myself and for others.”
The issues facing the Downtown Community Council are at the heart of the challenges facing the city’s next mayor, Harrison said. During his more than decade of service there, he worked closely with the city on homelessness issues, transportation and development projects such as City Creek mall, and worked on the community board for Eccles Theater.
“It was year after year of working to get people to attend [meetings] and all the work that goes into being on community councils,” he said. “Just trying to be that conduit between the city and our residents. Talking about panhandling, talking about homelessness, talking about bicycles on the sidewalks downtown and being there for our citizens.”
If elected, Harrison said his top issues would be air quality, housing affordability, homelessness, transportation and the inland port.
He says the city needs to heal its divisions — “physically, linguistically and socioeconomically” — and wants to empower neighborhood councils with better funding and staff to give a greater voice to individual neighborhoods and to create a new generation of diverse politicians.
Harrison also argues that the city needs to take back control of its work from the Legislature on issues like the inland port, a massive development planned for Salt Lake City’s westernmost side that the state has taken over.
“We must also take control of our own finances, establishing a public bank,” he said. “The Public Bank of Salt Lake City would leverage our city’s assets to fund projects that align with our values and priorities and then channel the interest those loans make back into our neighborhoods. This widespread practice of smart governments around the world is an idea whose time has come for Salt Lake City.”
Finally, he argued, the city needs to look farther down the road to the major challenges it will face in coming years.
“Right now, the plan is praying,” he said. “Praying the big [earthquake] doesn’t strike in our lifetime. Praying climate change isn’t as bad as predicted. Praying that somehow doubling our population doesn’t deliver twice the people, twice the cars, and four times the headaches.”
Christine Passey, who worked on Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s campaign and served as her coordinator for disability rights before leaving in 2017 over policy differences, said she has been impressed with Harrison’s attention to policy detail, particularly as it relates to disability and to increasing the reach of neighborhood councils.
“I was at the mayor’s office,” she said. “I saw what went well and I saw what went badly and I feel like I had a pretty good understanding of what could be done better to strengthen the office, and some of the things I really felt [Harrison] was good at is dealing with staff. There was a lot of cronyism if you will with the mayor’s office.”
Biskupski came under fire almost immediately after taking office for her purge of city staff, and Passey echoed the concern that the best people hadn’t been chosen to fill the offices.
“I think he’ll work hard to get the right people in the right positions and will really form leadership around that,” she said of Harrison.
Harrison steps into a crowded race for mayor, the landscape of which has changed dramatically since incumbent Mayor Jackie Biskupski made the unexpected announcement Tuesday that she was withdrawing from the 2019 race due to a “serious and complex” family matter.
He faces former state Sen. Jim Dabakis; Latino businessman David Ibarra; David Garbett, the former executive director of the Pioneer Park Coalition; and former Salt Lake City Councilman Stan Penfold. Richard Goldberger, a freelance journalist, and Aaron Johnson, a veteran and novice politician, have formed personal campaign committees.
The Utah Transit Authority found a quick way to increase ridership: Offer free fares throughout its bus and train system.
UTA and partners offered free-fare days Feb. 28 and March 1, a Thursday and Friday. Interim Executive Director Steve Meyer told the UTA board Wednesday that free rides attracted an extra 20,000 passengers the first day and 29,000 on the second.
“That's about a 16 percent total overall ridership increase,” Meyer said. “Buses saw about a 10 percent increase. Light rail was up 14 percent; FrontRunner, 46 percent. So it was good participation from the public.”
UTA estimates the free fares removed about 10,500 vehicles from the road each day, and each day prevented more than 2.5 tons of pollutants and 80 tons of greenhouse cases.
But it was a bit less successful than the last time UTA offered a free-fare day two years ago — when ridership rose by 23 percent. Officials have said that higher rate might have occurred because that happened near Christmas, when many people used the UTA system to look at holiday decorations in downtown Salt Lake City.
Meyer said he overheard a bus rider Wednesday telling another passenger that he tried UTA on the free-fare day and decided to keep riding because of it.
“We got one,” he said to laughs. “I hope he is one of many, because that is what we are trying to accomplish: Give people that experience and exposure, give them a reason with the air-quality concerns to get out and try our system and then hopefully they’ll find it convenient.”
The Legislature this year just created a pilot program to create more free-fare days in the future as an experiment to reduce air pollution.
The final version of the bill provided $500,000, which would fund about seven free-fare days. UTA estimates that each one costs it about $70,000 in lost cash fares. An earlier version of the legislation had proposed $1.2 million to fund 17 free-fare days over three years.
Unlike the two free-fare days that UTA just offered — which occurred on relatively clean air days — the future ones would be triggered by forecasts of an inversion.
UTA and the Utah Division of Air Quality will measure how many vehicles are likely removed from the road and the effect on the air — and help see if more free-fare days should be considered in the future.
Some bus systems in Utah — in Park City and Cache County — already offer free fares at all times. UTA has been offering it, thanks to a federal grant, on its new Utah Valley Express bus rapid transit system in Provo and Orem. The agency has said that has quintupled ridership from the old bus routes that it replaced.
The recent free-fare days were funded by $80,000 contributed by Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Davis County and Intermountain Healthcare. UTA also contributed by giving up an estimated $60,000 in lost fares.
One of the partners in the free-fare days, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, said in a news release, “This is evidence people will change their patterns if cost is addressed." She promised to work with UTA and other partners to address increasing transit use, "especially during inversions.”
Salt Lake City Major Jackie Biskupski said, “Free-fare days consistently show that when you remove burdens from transit, people take it. What leaders should take away from these results is that investing in transit pays off, both in terms of clearing our air and creating equity in our community.”
In this now-past session of the Utah Legislature, our masters knew what was best for us on several voter initiatives, and overruled them to fit their ideas instead of voters. And a couple of laws were passed to appease the LDS Corp.
One of those laws was to allow real beer to be sold in Utah in grocery stores and convenience stores. Nationally 3.2 percent alcohol beer is being discontinued, the maximum Utah would allow, outside of the overpriced state liquor stores.
Legislators, about 90 percent of whom are Mormon Republicans, didn't want real beer, or so they were told by their master. Instead, they "compromised" by allowing 4.0 percent beer to be sold in the state. So I looked on the internet for brewers that made 4.0 percent beer. The only ones that I could find were local micro-breweries around the country. Budweiser 66 is the only beer made by Anheuser Busch that fits the 4.0 percent category.
My question is whether the LDS Corp. and legislators pulled a fast one on each other, either knowing or not knowing that a 4.0 percent beer is not made by any national brewers I could find on line.
If so, this means that there will still be nothing sold in grocery and convenience stores, because 4.0 beer is not made, just as 3.2 beer won't be made.
Any legislators out there want to answer this question?
Bill Revene, West Valley City
Logan • The vote on a plastic bag ban in a northern Utah city has been tabled for six months to allow officials to develop a plastic waste reduction program for the entire county.
The Herald Journal reports Logan Municipal Council members on Tuesday voted on the motion 4 to 1, with the original sponsor of the ban, Herm Olsen, voting against tabling it.
Although Olsen did not support the motion, he says he prefers the option of tabling it to having the ban be defeated.
Cache County Executive Craig Buttars says a unique factor in the county is that its many smaller communities come together to compromise. He says he thinks more will be accomplished if there is inter-municipality cooperation on reducing plastic.
The Solid Waste Advisory Board will continue to develop the plastic reduction plan.
For the second time in three years, Andrew Catalon and Steve Lappas are in Salt Lake City to call first- and second-round NCAA tournament games on . And the sportscasters think things might be different this time.
In 2017, there were no upsets here.
“I'm not saying there's going to be upsets this time,” Lappas said, “but there certainly is potential.”
• New Mexico State (12) vs. Auburn (5) — “They’ve been in the tournament now three years in a row,” said Catalon, who will do the play-by-play on TNT (11:30 a.m. Thursday.) “Even though they haven’t won, I think the lights won’t be too bright for them.”
And Lappas also pointed to NMSU as “veterans” who “won't be intimidated.”
• Northeastern (13) vs. (4) Kansas (4) — “Northeastern is a pretty good team,” said Lappas, who’ll provide analysis on TNT (30 minutes after NMSU-Auburn ends). “They’re a very smart team. A veteran team. And when you look at Kansas, they’ve got all these freshmen that they’re playing. What are they going to be like?”
“And I think Northeastern has has a really good player in a (Serbian guard) Vasa Pusica, which will be fun to say many, many times on Thursday,” Catalon said.
| Courtesy CBS CBS analyst Steve Lappas will work the NCAA tournament regional games in Salt Lake City this week.
Neither expects Farleigh Dickinson (16) to upset Gonzaga (1). “Gonzaga, to me, has a chance to win the national title,” Catalon said.
And regardless of who wins the 8-9 game between Syracuse and Baylor (30 minutes after Gonzaga-Farleigh Dickinson ends), that won't be an upset.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN SLC • “Syracuse is one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the country,” Lappas said. “Baylor's one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country.”
• “The New Mexico State teams plays 10 guys,” Lappas said. “They're the only team I ever heard of that doesn't have one guy who started every game this year. They're so deep — one guy plays 25 minutes and everybody else plays less than that.”
• “You look at Kansas and the injuries that they've had, and now all these freshmen they're playing and having to rely on that,” Lappas said.
HIGH ON UTAH STATE • Catalon and Lappas won’t be calling the only game to feature a Utah team — Utah State (8) and Washington (9) play Friday in Columbus, Ohio, (4:50 p.m., TNT) — but they both believe the Aggies stand a great chance of advancing.
Catalon called two USU games in the Mountain West tournament, and he wasn't overly impressed with the Aggies' 91-83 quarterfinal win over New Mexico, in which they turned the all over 24 times.
“I said, 'What's the big deal with Utah State?' And then I saw them in the semifinals” — an 85-60 win over Fresno State — “and I said, 'Wow! This team is going to win a game or two in the NCAA tournament.”
“There's no doubt that they're capable of winning,” Lappas said. “If you're [Washington coach] Mike Hopkins, you're thinking to yourself. 'Boy, this is not a great team to play zone against.' Washington's zone has been really good all year, but they're playing against a team that shoots it well … “I think if you're Washington, you're saying, 'Man, this is a tough draw.' Especially the way Utah State passes the ball. They're one of the best passing teams in the country.”
ROOTING INTERESTS? Catalon graduated from Syracuse, but he laughed at the (joking) suggestion that he might have to recuse himself from the Syracuse-Auburn game. He worked a Syracuse-Louisville game a couple of years ago, “and I did not feel anything going on in my head other than calling the game.”
“I think announcers always root for a close game. I don't think any announcer roots for a team to win.”
And if anyone should raise a question about that, “Well, I'd have to recuse myself from the Gonzaga game because my son's an assistant at Farleigh Dickinson,” Lappas said with a laugh.
LONGTIME PARTNERS • Catalon and Lappas been partnering on basketball games for seven seasons “and we're right around 200 games, give or take, together,” Catalon said. ““I always joke that Steve and I are like an old married couple. We spend about four to five days a week together during the basketball season, so we definitely see each other more than our wives during basketball season.”
“I think we play off of each other very well,:” Lappas said. “People say that we have a tremendous chemistry. I feel it.”
“Knowing exactly where he wants to go, how I can get him to where he needs and just the ability to have a laugh, because you've got to keep it fun — especially on a long day like Thursday.”
They're calling four games in one day, and it will be the first time either of them has seen any of the eight teams in person this season. So they've been watching film and doing research on all eight since the brackets were announced on Sunday.
“You just hunker down and you do it. But you know there's no doubt that it's a whirlwind,” Lappas said.
They've had it worse. Two years ago, they did two “first four” games on Tuesday and then worked the Thursday-Saturday subregional in Salt Lake City.
“That was tough,” Catalon said. “This will seem easy compared to that.”
If you’re bored with Gonzaga and don’t really care about Kansas or Syracuse, if you think Auburn should stick to football and you have no clue what or where Fairleigh Dickinson is, and you’re just plain looking for a team for which to root during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament here in Salt Lake City, we’ve got the one. A team for you to dial in on, to watch, to adopt. Your team.
The New Mexico State Aggies.
Not only are these guys lovable underdogs, a 12-seed from the WAC going up against the SEC’s fifth-seeded Auburn on Thursday at Vivint Arena, they are kind of weird, in the best sense. They do things in ways rarely seen in college basketball.
If you’ve never watched the Aggies — and chances are you haven’t — they play as though they are … well, the Philadelphia Flyers.
They not only move and share the ball and their playing time, they employ line shifts in the middle of the action, replacing an entire group with a fresh one, changing up three, four, five guys at a time. You can almost imagine them climbing over the boards and skating out in their Nikes to do their business.
On this team, bench players don’t stay seated for long. They go 12, 13 deep. If they dress, chances are they’re going to sweat through their jersey. Stars don’t play all that much more than the role guys, nor do they lord over their teammates.
Everybody’s in the pool.
That’s not only unusual, it’s pretty cool.
“There’s nobody in our league that plays like them,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
The Aggies are a diverse group, a bunch of big-school castoffs and junior college transfers coming to Las Cruces from all over the place — Florida to California, Canada to Texas, Senegal to Spain and points in between. One of them — JoJo Zamora — used to play for Utah. And they breathe, run and play as a single organism.
“This team really is different,” said Shunn Buchanan, a junior guard from Mississippi. “Nobody stands out. We’re all equal in production. We play hard — grinding, grimy basketball. We play what we think is the right way — unselfishly. We’re OK with it. We don’t just like each other, we love each other and play for each other, whoever’s on the court.”
A lot of teams move their lips in concert, in that direction. The Aggies actually mean it.
“We don’t do or say anything for show,” said Trevelin Queen, a junior guard from Maryland. “With this team, it’s real. It’s genuine. It’s a lot of fun, taking this journey together.”
It might not be all that much fun if it weren’t for the fact that New Mexico State wins by the truckload. The Aggies put up a record of 30-4 this season, the second under coach Chris Jans. He is the one who made the determination for his team to throw numbers at opponents. But, on Wednesday, Jans said the key to a win over an opponent like Auburn is the way whoever is on the court at one time connects.
“That is our biggest [asset], our spacing and having more guys on the floor that are capable scorers and teams can’t focus on one or two guys,” he said. “Hopefully, that will help us in being able to get better shots off against a team that is trying to turn you over.”
The Aggies like to spread the floor and bomb away, having launched nearly a thousand 3-pointers, and they score better than 78 points per game. They also have built a 10-plus rebounding margin against opponents, including an average of 13 offensive boards.
Auburn is better than most of the teams New Mexico State played this season, and comes in having won the SEC tournament, which included a rout of Tennessee in the final. The Tigers most definitely will be difficult for the Aggies, who have a track record of losses in the NCAA Tournament, the school losing 12 straight.
But those were other Aggie teams, not this one. That’s, at least, the way the current players are looking at it. Whether the infamous 12-5 upset plague will come into play here depends, more than anything, on New Mexico State’s level of confidence and execution.
They’ve certainly got the former covered.
“We’re very confident,” said AJ Harris, a junior point guard, a transfer from Ohio State, who called himself the team’s leader. “I’m the general, the head of the snake. The snake, this team, believes we can beat anybody.”
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.
March exists for the absolute stunners, the underdogs, the most clutch of clutch shots, that uncanny momentum that some team, playing somewhere around the country, can immediately cultivate in a matter of 40 minutes. Salt Lake City has welcomed March Madness back to its streets and with it eight random teams from around college basketball who all believe their march to Saturday, next weekend and beyond starts here beneath the shadow of the snowcapped mountains.
Each spring SLC plays host, the same question surfaces: Is there a Cinderella in our midst? After last year, it’s no longer impossible to think that a 16 seed is just going to show up for the sake of saying they’ve been there and drew a powerhouse No. 1 seed. Salt Lake has its share of low seeds daring to dream this week. One will capture the hearts of the locals and back home, wherever home is. And whether he did so knowingly or not, Northeastern junior Shawn Occeus mentioned a local legend’s name when asked about his all-time NCAA Tournament memories.
Occeus dropped a Jimmer reference. He remembers the pull-up 3’s from near half court and the run that the former BYU sharp-shooting superstar took the Cougars upon. The No. 13-ranked Huskies arrived in Utah from Boston knowing they’d get a bunch of underdog questions, because let’s face it, when you’re facing a storied program like Kansas just about anywhere, that will be your narrative.
“We're not looking at the name on the front of the jersey,” Occeus said. “At the end of the day, you tie your shoes the same way as we do, you put on the jersey the same way we do. You have to come to play and we're going to make sure we're prepared to play.”
The Huskies, the Colonial Athletic Association champions, believe they are. They went 14-4 in league play, 23-10 overall, and topped CAA No. 1 seed Hofstra in the conference title game to book a ticket from Beantown to SLC. Redshirt senior guard Vasa Pusica hit seven 3’s in that game. The 6-foot-5 guard from Serbia isn’t flinching in drawing the Jayhawks.
“Kansas is a big name,” he said.
“We are also talented as well,” Pusica added.
Northeastern has the DNA of a mid-major team aiming for an upset of a college basketball blue-blood. The Huskies shoot, and shoot, and shoot some more. As a team they shot 39 percent from beyond the arc this year and have four players shooting over 40 percent from distance. They’re in the top 20 overall nationwide in 3’s made and 3-point field goal percentage.
“It’s who we are and what we do, it is how we’re built and it’s how we like to play,” head coach Bill Coen said. “We can’t match [Kansas] bucket for bucket in the paint so we will have to make threes to keep pace.”
Coen said there hasn’t been much underdog talk. The Huskies may be able to play their way through if they can will themselves against a Jayhawks team that has suffered plenty of injuries this season. Maneuvering “Northeastern basketball” from the CAA stage to national TV is, as Coen admitted, part of the challenge.
“I think if you get swept up in the enormity of the moment, you know, and try to put too much pressure on yourself,” Coen said, “that's when you kind of don't play your best basketball.”
Occeus reiterated that the Huskies aren’t just happy to be in Utah for a few days. No, they are one of the best 64 teams in college basketball this year and have proved it so. “We came here to win games — not just to take pictures and talk on the mic all day.” Sounds like a group that’s ready for a heavyweight’s best shot.
“There’s a great saying,” Coen said Wednesday, “Where you think you can and where you can’t, you’re right. Why not choose to believe?”
Don’t try and tell the Northeastern Huskies they’re just here for the madness of March. They think they’ll have a say Thursday. Some players have sleeves with a phrase written on it: “Unleash chaos.” The Huskies want to. And they’re choosing to believe.
Craig Smith is quick to remind folks that Friday night will be game No. 35 for his group. And when you get this deep into your season, there’s a reason you’re now starring on the national stage, on national TV, with just a shot to make a run at the whole thing.
“There’s not much we haven’t seen,” he said.
He’s right, too. The Utah State Aggies are motoring along at 28-6, as Mountain West Conference regular-season champs and tournament champs, winners of 17 of their last 18, the longest such streak since 2010-11. But their first-round matchup presents such a distinctive test that it’s not like preparing for pretty much any other team. The No. 8 Aggies and No. 9 Washington Huskies face off Friday in Columbus, Ohio, in the first round of the Midwest region, and the Huskies will be daring the Aggies to adapt to their vaunted 2-3 zone, which Washington head coach Mike Hopkins brought with him after years as an assistant under Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.
“It’s not like a total foreign concept,” Smith said, “but they’re very long on the perimeter and have very quick and active hands. We have to take care of the ball and not allow them to create catastrophic turnovers.”
What makes this first-round bout among the most fascinating in this opening week of the NCAA Tournament is it’s strength vs. strength. If you’re a hoops geek, geek out on it. The Aggies can shoot it, they can move the ball around the arc, and they have a talented two-way big man in Neemias Queta, who can pass out of the block with ease. The Huskies, conversely, are filled with athletic big men who can create their own shot, play isolation ball if needed, and have arguably the best 1-on-1 defender in the game to combat one of the best players in college basketball in USU junior and MWC Player of the Year Sam Merrill.
Senior Matisse Thybulle grabs headlines for being a thorn that simply will not go away. He’s the two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and up for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award. The 6-foot-5 guard is the only player in the last 25 years to have 110 steals and 72 blocks and leads college basketball in 3.55 steals per game.
Merrill will have his hands full, no doubt, which makes this game that much more intriguing.
“When I first heard about him, I was confused how a team that plays zone has a Defensive Player of the Year candidate,” Merrill said. “He’s one of the longest basketball players I’ve ever seen, and does a really good job anticipating, getting into passing lanes and has a great motor.”
Smith echoed his star player’s thoughts: “He’s a game-changer. He can dominate a game by just how good he is defensively.”
Hopkins knows the talk of this game — and every game, for that matter — will revolve around how opposing teams adjust to the Huskies’ unique style of play. He knows it’s very difficult to mimic in practice, especially when you have the luxury of a player like Thybulle on your side. But the Washington coach isn’t assuming this will be a walk in the park. USU’s unselfish style of play can make the zone approach weak if prepped for the right way.
“They’re going to pose a challenge for us, too,” Hopkins said. “They haven’t seen our defense, but their team moves the ball as good as any team that we’ve seen on tape. They move it, they share it, they look for each other, and they’ve got four guys out there that can all make a play and those are always dangerous teams against our defense.”
Merrill is already preaching patience, which will be necessary come Friday, because the Aggies will need it when the ball tips in Columbus.
“They do a pretty good job of limiting open 3’s, so you have to try and take good shots,” the USU star said. “What teams often do against the zone is just force up the first 3 they get, but the way we play we’re going to go inside-out, I think there are opportunities to get shots at the rim in the midrange and the open 3. We’ll just try and move the ball.”
The recently completed session of the Utah Legislature appeared poised to ban so-called conversion therapy, barring therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation of minors.
The bill had not one but two Republicans championing it and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — seen as a potential stumbling block — had taken a neutral stance on the measure.
But conservatives hijacked the bill and watered it down beyond recognition.
The clash highlighted once again the divisions on LGBTQ issues.
Discussing those issues on this week’s podcast are psychologist Lee Beckstead, a gay former Mormon who testified against conversion therapy in a prominent court case, and therapist Ty Mansfield, an active Latter-day Saint who has written about his same-sex attractions and his marriage to a woman.
Both Beckstead and Mansfield are involved in a united undertaking known as the Reconciliation and Growth Project, a joint effort that includes a far-reaching study, to find common ground within the LGBTQ community.
Washington • Two missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who had been detained for nearly three weeks in Russia have been released and are returning to the United States, the church announced Wednesday morning.
Kole Brodowski, 20, and David Gaag, 19, had spent about 19 days in detention after Russian authorities arrested them on suspicion of teaching English without a license, a charge the faith had denied. Missionaries for the church are not allowed to proselytize in Russia and are dubbed “volunteers” during their time in the country.
“The two volunteers detained in Novorossiysk, Russia, have been released and have left the country,” church spokesman Eric Hawkins said Wednesday.
(Photo courtesy Brodowski family) Kole Brodowski poses in this undated photo. Brodowski and his companion on his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were detained in Russia on March 1, 2019. They were released 19 days later.
Brodowski was nearing the end of his two-year mission and will return home to California, Hawkins added, while Gaag, who is from Washington state, will return to the United States for a short time for any help he may need after the ordeal and then head to a new mission.
“While in detention, the volunteers were treated very well and maintained regular contact with their families and mission president,” Hawkins said. “The church is closely monitoring conditions in Russia for all volunteers and will continue to fully comply with Russian law.”
The two men were detained March 1 at a local church, and a court later ordered them deported for teaching English without a license in violation of their visas.
Brodowski’s father, Kyle Brodowski, thanked supporters on Facebook.
“It’s finally over!" he wrote. “Kole is headed home, and his companion will receive another call. I want to thank the thousands of people worldwide that prayed for him/ us and sent messages of comfort and support.”
It’s finally over! Kole is headed home, and his companion will receive another call. I want to thank the thousands of...Posted by Kyle Brodowski on Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Gaag's mother, Lisa Krulish, said in a phone interview that her son would be back in the United States sometime Wednesday.
Krulish said her son was held in a holding facility for immigrants. Conditions were humane, she said, and his family was able to speak to him.
“He was treated well,” Krulish said.
She declined to say where in the U.S. Gaag will go first. But Krulish said Gaag will resume his mission “probably abroad.”
(Photo courtesy Lisa Krulish) David Gaag poses in this undated photo. Gaag and his companion, Kole Brodowski, were working as volunteers for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Russia. Authorities there detained the men on March 1, 2019. They were released March 20.
Gaag’s father, Udo Gaag, provided a statement to the LDS Church-owned Deseret News.
“We are so relieved and happy about this news,” the family statement said. “We spoke with David and he is healthy and in good spirits. He is happy that the detention is over but sad to leave his Russian friends. It is clear to us that he enjoyed his experience serving the Russian people and truly grew to love them.”
The State Department declined to provide more information about any diplomatic efforts made to get the volunteers released from custody, citing privacy considerations.
“We have no higher priority than the protection of U.S. citizens abroad,” a State Department spokesman said on background.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, tweeted his support for their release.
Very pleased that Russia has released the two Church volunteers and that they are now returning home to their families. https://t.co/H25Y1tIVmK— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) March 20, 2019
“Very pleased that Russia has released the two Church volunteers," the senator said, “and that they are now returning home to their families.”
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, echoed that sentiment.
“Prayers have been answered with the return of these two elders serving in Russia,” Curtis said. “I am grateful for their release and may God continue to bless them and their families.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, said he and his wife, Jeanette, were grateful that the volunteers were headed home.
Jeanette and I are so grateful to hear that these volunteers have finally been released from a three-week detainment in Russia. We wish them well as they continue to serve and return home. https://t.co/qyLdHHIhWc— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) March 20, 2019
“We wish them well," the governor tweeted, “as they continue to serve and return home.”
Reuben Davis, of Provo, returned in June 2017 from a mission in Novosibirsk, Russia, about 300 miles north of where Brodowski and Gaag served. Davis said he was there when Russia passed the anti-terrorism measures that limited proselytizing.
In the first year of his mission, Davis said, he stopped Russians on the street and knocked on doors much like other Latter-day Saint missionaries. After the clampdown, Davis and the other missionaries in Russia switched to doing service work.
“We made ourselves available out in the community,” Davis said Wednesday. “We would be walking around and if we saw someone working in the yard, we would help them. We mostly tried to start friendly conversations and put ourselves out there.”
Much of the help was provided to Russian Latter-day Saints, but Davis said one day he dug a trench for a nonmember trying to get her yard irrigation working. If nonmembers asked questions about the Utah-based faith, Davis said, he would answer them, but he was taught to let the Russians begin the conversation.
Police stopped him a couple of times and asked to see his visa and other documentation, Davis said. He was never detained more than a few minutes.
Davis said the church might have to withdraw volunteers from Russia if conditions continue to deteriorate for them, but for now he favors the church keeping them in Russia.
“They do a lot of good, especially for the church members there,” Davis said. "A lot of the branches [small congregations], there’s only a very small portion of active members. The people who have the experience to lead those congregations effectively can be even smaller.
“So I think the volunteers do a lot of good and maintain a fairly positive presence there.”
Russian Latter-day Saints number barely 22,000 in a vast nation of 145 million. Church President Russell M. Nelson announced plans last year to build a temple in a “major city” there.
At this point, though, especially given the constraints on missionaries and proselytizing, that proposed temple seems more aspirational than operational. Apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf visited Moscow later and tamped down expectations that a House of the Lord would be rising anytime soon in Russia.
(Adriana Usero | The Washington Post)George Conway, conservative lawyer and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, is a frequent critic of President Donald Trump.
Washington • President Donald Trump on Wednesday escalated his feud with the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, calling him a “wack job” and “husband from hell” who is hurting his wife and family.
Trump's broadside against George Conway, a conservative lawyer and frequent critic of the president, began early Wednesday on Twitter as Trump responded for a second day in a row to Conway's suggestions that his mental health is deteriorating.
"George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife's success & angry that I, with her help, didn't give him the job he so desperately wanted," Trump wrote. "I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!"
George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife’s success & angry that I, with her help, didn’t give him the job he so desperately wanted. I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2019
Speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon, Trump said George Conway is a "wack job," adding: "Kellyanne is a wonderful woman. He's doing a tremendous disservice to a wife and family."
George Conway responded less than 20 minutes after Trump's morning tweet.
"You seem determined to prove my point. Good for you!" he wrote on Twitter, adding: "#NarcissisticPersonalityDisorder."March 20, 2019
In a subsequent tweet directed at Trump, he added: "You. Are. Nuts."
Kellyanne Conway defended Trump during an interview with Politico on Wednesday, calling him a "counterpuncher."
"You think he shouldn't respond when somebody, a nonmedical professional accuses him of having a mental disorder?" Conway said, according to the publication. "You think he should just take that sitting down?"
She did not immediately return a call from The Washington Post seeking comment.
George Conway has pushed back on several of Trump's assertions, including the notion that Trump decided not to give him a job.
Conway said Tuesday that he opted against working in the Justice Department after Trump offered him a position heading the civil division because he watched Trump attack the department's leaders and then fire James Comey as FBI director in May 2017.
On Wednesday, Conway shared a letter he wrote to Trump, dated May 31, 2017, in which he thanked Trump for selecting him for the job but said he was backing out.
"I have reluctantly concluded, however, that for me and my family, this is not the right time for me to leave the private sector and take on a new role in the federal government," Conway wrote. "Kellyanne and I continue to support you and your Administration, and I look forward to doing so in whatever way I can from outside government."
It was unclear what Trump meant by his assertion in his tweet that Kellyanne Conway had a role in denying her husband a job.
Conway said in Tuesday's interview that he has had a number of notable interactions with Trump over the past decade, often concerning legal representation and sensitive legal matters since Trump became president.
Wednesday was the second consecutive day that Trump has used Twitter to attack George Conway. In a much shorter tweet Tuesday, he called him a "loser."
George Conway has been a persistent critic of Trump's policies and actions, frequently going on Twitter to question whether the president is operating within the Constitution and other accepted boundaries. But the criticism recently has become more personal, and he has often attacked Trump just after his wife has defended the president on television.
In tweets Monday, Conway included images from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, including pages with diagnostic criteria for "narcissistic personality disorder" and "antisocial personality disorder."
In Tuesday's interview, Conway said his tweets questioning the president's mental health were aimed in part at avoiding conflicts with his wife.
“It’s so maddening to watch,” Conway said. “The mendacity, the incompetence, it’s just maddening to watch. The tweeting is just the way to get it out of the way, so I can get it off my chest and move on with my life that day. That’s basically it. Frankly, it’s so I don’t end up screaming at her about it.”
The Weekly Run is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly newsletter on all things Utah Jazz. Subscribe here.
It was last Thursday against Minnesota that Jazz point guard Dante Exum’s latest comeback from injury was cut short by another injury — this time, a partially torn patellar tendon in his right knee.
He was cleared on March 8 to return to practice, and then on March 11, hours before facing Oklahoma City, he met with a select few members of the media to discuss his rehab of and return from a sprained ankle that kept him sidelined for more than two months. And then, three games and a combined 27 minutes, 15 seconds of game time later, he was checking out against the Timberwolves and heading straight to the locker room, his season again in jeopardy.
The days since have been filled with plenty of Monday morning quarterbacking — about whether the Jazz can ever count on him going forward, about whether it was a mistake to sign him to a three-year extension last summer, about what kind of potential he truly has. Maybe before we all play armchair GM, though, we can take a minute to remember that Exum is more than a name on a roster, more than a salary cap figure on a budget spreadsheet. Take a minute to think what it might be like for a 23-year-old to be constantly battling his body, and what kind of physical — and mental — strain that can have on a person.
I’d been planning to write a feature story about Exum’s latest return, and spoke to him a little bit postgame in Phoenix after the Jazz knocked off the Suns last Wednesday. The story got scrapped, obviously, when he got hurt the next night, but his comments were still telling. He hadn’t played well vs. the Suns — 0-for-2 shooting, two rebounds, two turnovers, three fouls in 9:12 on the court — and was clearly trying to shake off the rust of a two-month layoff. But he was clearly also thrilled to be back out there playing again, if a little annoyed with himself that he was struggling as much as he was.
A snippet of an interview with Dante Exum I didn't get to use, because he got hurt the next day; here he is postgame in Phoenix last Wednesday, talking about the struggles of re-acclimating and trying to stay positive: "Just keep my head up — that’s the main thing." pic.twitter.com/MmQIT1Q1IW— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) March 20, 2019
“Obviously it felt good. … I just wanna play a bit better and not turn the ball over,” he said. “It’s just gonna come with time — I just need to make sure I’m going out there and doing the right things.”
He acknowledged that “it’s always frustrating” when you don’t play well. And he admitted that the biggest challenge to that point had been readjusting to the physicality of NBA-level games: “Just getting out there and getting hit, taking hits. I need to be delivering hits. I’ve been kind of shying away from that. But I did do that the last little bit, so it’s coming back.”
Mostly, though, he spoke about the need to remain upbeat and positive through it all: “Just keep my head up — that’s the main thing,” Exum said. “It’s gonna come back. That’s just what I’m gonna continue to do.”
Regardless of how you feel about Exum as a player, I think we can all agree that his attitude, at least, is pretty special.
Donovan speaks — about early-season struggles, being a free-agent recruiter
Donovan Mitchell recently did a Q&A with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, and dropped a couple of interesting tidbits. You should give the whole thing a read, but the two things I found most fascinating from the interview are:
• Donovan addressing getting off to a slow start this season, and the difficulty he had in adjusting to being the focus of opponents’ game plans: “Everyone says, ‘It’s going to be different! It’s going to be different!’ But it’s one thing to hear it, it’s another thing to go through it. I think it’s just one of those things that you have to go through. For me, I hold myself to such a high standard so I was pretty upset; I was upset with my first three months of the season.”
• His optimism that he can help recruit some key free agents to Salt Lake City this summer: “I definitely think I can. It’s not just a single person [who I can recruit], it’s the fact that I know a lot of guys throughout the league. I think that will definitely help [our free-agency pitch]. I think we’re in a position where we can bring guys in. I think guys want to play with us. We have a lot of chemistry with this team, and it’s easy for everyone to see that. We’re not a typical NBA team when it comes to our chemistry. I think that’s something that will stand out to players.”
In case you missed it …
There’s been no shortage of Jazz news to keep up with of late — four games last week and four more this week; the Russell Westbrook situation, Dante’s injury, et cetera, et cetera. You might have missed something, so here’s a partial recap.
It’s probably not all that surprising that basketball players are basketball fans. So Andy Larsen asked some Jazz players about following the NCAA Tournament. He also wrote about Jazz center Rudy Gobert being named the Western Conference Player of the Week. Gobert’s frontcourt mate, Derrick Favors, has been on a bit of a tear of late, so I broke down what’s gone into his uptick in production.
And if you care to re-hash it — and maybe you should, because this stuff is important — there was plenty written and said about a pair of Jazz fans receiving lifetime bans from Vivint Smart Home Arena for hurling racist abuse at Russell Westbrook. Gordon Monson wrote a column about how there’s a definite line between passionate fandom and stupidity. I wrote a column about how Utah’s culture bubble is part of the problem, considering the sheer number of fans who apparently don’t know calling a black man “boy” is racist. Andy wrote about Jazz owner Gail Miller addressing the fans and telling them this behavior won’t be tolerated. Andy and I combined on a story about the second fan being banned. And Andy and Chris Kamrani did a deep dive on why Utah’s fan base has a reputation as being exceptionally racist. Andy made an appearance on the Dan Patrick show to discuss the issue:
- Jazz fan banned for life for "excessive and derogatory verbal abuse"
- Russel Westbrook fined $25K
@andyblarsen with the latest out of Salt Lake City on the Westbrook / fan incident pic.twitter.com/sD5VGypsSE
Other people’s stuff
As the HoopsHype Q&A showed, there’s good Jazz stuff out there from people other than us. Here’s some of the other good stuff from the past week:
• Sports Illustrated’s NBA-centric site, The Crossover, talked to Donovan about his transition from being a breakout player as a rookie to a dependable star as a sophomore.
• Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News talked to Donovan about his New York roots, and how his second trip to Madison Square Garden will be different. Ryan Miller of KSL.com had a story on Mitchell and MSG as well.
• Tony Jones of The Athletic also got a chance to talk to Gail Miller about her decision to ban fans who engage in improper conduct at games.
• James Hansen of SLCDunk foresees the Jazz proving a playoff pain to whomever they play in the postseason.
• In a guest editorial for KSL.com, Ben Anderson says it’s time for the Jazz to start planning on life without Dante.
• That other Eric W., of the D-News, spoke to Latter-day Saint NBA player and part-time Utahn Jabari Parker about the perception of Jazz fans.
Three games remain on the Jazz’s final extended road trip of the season: they’re in New York tonight to face the Knicks, they’ll make a quick trip down to Atlanta to take on the Hawks on Thursday, and then they head to Chicago for a Saturday game against the Bulls. Their next game in Utah comes next Monday against the Phoenix Suns.
Olympus High point guard Rylan Jones has enjoyed plenty of accolades over his time as a Titan. Now he can add one more to the trophy case.
Jones was named the Gatorade Utah Player of the Year in boys basketball for the second straight year last week after leading his team in virtually every statistical category in his senior year. He averaged 21.2 points, 8.3 assists, 8.3 assists, eight rebounds and three steals.
Titans coach Matt Barnes texted Jones with the news. He told The Salt Lake Tribune that he was proud of Jones and that winning the award in back-to-back years was “pretty special.”
“The thing about him is he just plays the game the right way,” Barnes said of Jones. “He’s an all-around player. … He just fills up the stat sheet.”
Jones led the Titans to a 23-3 overall record and a Region 6 championship in Class 5A after boasting a 10-0 region record. Olympus advanced to the 5A state semifinal game, but lost to Corner Canyon.
Jones said he was “shocked” to learn he had won the award considering the Titans didn’t win the championship this year.
“It was a good feeling because I was not expecting it at all,” Jones said.
Winning the award in consecutive years is rare. Those that have done it include Karl-Anthony Towns and Chauncey Billups, both of whom currently played or have played in the NBA.
“It’s just an honor to have my name mentioned with their names,” Jones said. “I was just honored to win it two years in a row.”
Jones signed a national letter of intent in November to play with the University of Utah.
Jones is the second boys basketball player from Olympus to win the award. The last player to win it was Shaun Green for his work in the 2004-05 season.
Vista, Calif. • There’s always been a rebelliousness and a bit of an attitude to skateboarding, and now there’s credibility.
That's what being added to the Olympics will do for a sport, and that was the vibe when USA Skateboarding announced its first-ever national team of eight men and eight women, including stars Nyjah Huston, Brighton Zeuner and Tom Schaar.
"I think that skateboarding is fully legitimate," Josh Friedberg, CEO of USA Skateboarding said Tuesday, when the national team was introduced at the CA Training Facility, which has a street course on the ground floor and a park course on the second floor of a warehouse in an industrial park in this northern San Diego County city. "Skateboarding grew up outside of the Olympic structure. It's a lifestyle, it's a culture, it's about finding freedom of expression. All these things are why the IOC wanted skateboarding in the Olympic Games in the first place.
"Olympic inclusion is a historic moment for any sport," Friedberg added. "The U.S. is where skateboarding came from. The chance to name the first USA skateboarding national team today and share that with the world and celebrate these skaters for their abilities and help them along their path to qualifying for the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, we couldn't be more excited. It's an incredible, historic moment in the history of skateboarding."
The 16 skaters qualified for the national team based on their performances in international-level events during the previous year and will receive support from USA Skateboarding while they attempt to qualify for the 2020 Games. Skaters will have the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics based on their three best results in World Skate sanctioned events during the 2019 qualifying season, combined with their six best results during the 2020 qualifying season. A maximum of 12 American athletes can qualify for the Olympics. Skaters not on the national team can qualify on their own merit.
The disciplines are street and park.
Huston, of Laguna Beach, who has dominated Street League Skateboarding, is joined by fellow street skaters Chris Joslin of Hawaiian Gardens, Jagger Eaton of Mesa, Arizona, and Louie Lopez of Hawthorne. Schaar, of Encinitas, the first skater to land a 1080, is joined by fellow park skaters Alex Sorgente of Lake Worth, Florida, Tristan Rennie of Rialto and Zion Wright of Jupiter, Florida.
Huston, 24, was the first skater to win $1 million in contest prize money, and has won a lot more since then.
"I'm obviously happy it's in here at this time and I'm like honored to be able to have a chance to skate the first one, but if it was me, I would have thought it would have been in at least one or two Olympics ago, just because there are so many kids out there skating such a diverse sport, all around the world kids are doing it," Huston said. "But at least it's in there now."
Huston likes his chance to make the Olympic team, which will be announced in May 2020.
"I feel like I'm in a good place and I'm definitely confident to be there supporting my country," he said. "Obviously there's only one goal, and that's to win. No matter if it's the Olympics or any other contest I'm normally skating, I'm always there to do my best to win."
Zeuner, 14, of Encinitas, is the youngest gold medalist in X Games history. She skates park, along with Bryce Wettstein of Encinitas, Jordyn Barratt of Haleiwa, Hawaii, and Nicole Hause of Stillwater, Minnesota. The women's street skaters are Alexis Sablone of Old Saybrook, Connecticut; Jenn Soto of Jersey City, New Jersey; Lacey Baker of Covina and Mariah Duran of Albuquerque.
"Now it's like perfect timing for everyone to be a part of the whole Olympic thing," Zeuner said. "We used to compete in little contests so I think it's great experience and opportunity to be part of it.
Snowboarding superstar Shaun White, a three-time Olympic halfpipe gold medalist, has expressed interest in skating in the Summer Games.
"Shaun's a real interesting case," Friedberg said. "He's an amazing skateboarder; obviously he's an even more amazing snowboarder. He's expressed interest to compete in skateboarding in Tokyo. I know he's been practicing and skating a lot more on that mission right now," said Friedberg. "The park discipline doesn't necessarily line up with his strength in skateboarding, which is vert skating, but you never count a person like Shaun White out. He is the ultimate competitor. So if there's anybody who could get it together and qualify for the Olympics, Shaun could potentially do that."
Park is a set of combined concrete bowls that have different featured obstacles, such as banks and rails, and some elements of vert.
"Park is relatively new to contests," Schaar said. "It's different than street. It's a lot more transition, you're going a lot faster and you have to kind of flow and connect your tricks together pretty well. But I think it's a lot of fun. You can be really creative and do a lot of different things with it."
Schaar, 19, said the road to the Olympics is "going to be a challenge but I'm up for it and it should be a fun adventure."
Street courses include obstacles that can be found in any urban environment, such as stairs, rails, benches, ledges and banks. Park is a set of combined concrete bowls that have different obstacles.
Washington • In refusing to release his tax returns, President Donald Trump bucked decades of tradition and set off a Democrat hunt to obtain them. Now several statehouses are looking at making their release a condition of the 2020 presidential election: Show us your tax returns, or you can’t be on the ballot.
Eighteen states have considered legislation this year that would require presidential and vice presidential candidates to post their tax returns to appear on the ballot during a primary or general election, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
Proponents of the bills, such as the one passed by the Washington state Senate this week, say they are aimed at increasing transparency and returning to the “norm” of candidates releasing their financial records. But Democratic lawmakers behind the some of the legislation have admitted they are also very much about Trump, which raises legal and political questions about how far states can — or should — go in regulating who appears on their ballot, especially in a hyper partisan climate.
Trump has long insisted that he won't release his returns because they are under audit, though that would not preclude him from doing so. The documents have become something of a liberal white whale, and Democrats at federal level have been pursuing laws or legal maneuvers aimed at obtaining them.
In addition to Washington, several other states, including California, Hawaii and New Jersey are considering similar bills. Many, though not all, of the legislatures considering the bills are controlled by Democrats, but even in Republican-controlled states, Democrats have put forth such legislation. Measures failed earlier this year in Mississippi, New Mexico and New Hampshire.
"It is so obvious with this president that had voters known some of what seem to be his business interests, he may not have been elected president," New Jersey Sen. Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill approved by the state senate last month, told the Courier-Post.
Similar attempts have been made by states since Trump was elected. In 2017, Dan Diorio, policy specialist in NCSL, noted that at least 25 state legislatures put forward such bills. "Nearly every bill has been introduced by Democrats, in reaction to President Donald Trump's refusal to release his tax returns as per the custom of previous presidential candidates," he wrote of the 2017 legislation.
While Democrats appear to be driving these bills, Dan Weiner, a senior counsel for the Brennan Center's democracy program, told The Post that there was bipartisan support more generally for increasing transparency around presidential candidates' finances.
"It is always true in American politics that these ideas are championed by perhaps the side that has more of political grievance at that particular moment," said Weiner. "That doesn't mean it's not a good idea."
However, Weiner said it would be more helpful for a uniform federal law that dictates disclosures, rather than having individual states pass laws with different or conflicting requirements of candidates.
And not all politicians think this kind of legislation is a good idea. In 2017, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie vetoed one bill that made it to his desk, calling it "politics at its worst." Former California governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, did the same when California's legislature passed similar measure.
"First, it may not be constitutional," Brown wrote in his decision. "Second, it sets a 'slippery slope' precedent. Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?"
In 2019, both states have new governors, and their legislatures are once again considering bills that will force candidates to release tax returns if they want to appear on a ballot.
States have the right to set requirements for candidates to appear their ballot, such as obtaining a certain number of signatures or abiding by campaign finance rules. But whether they can demand tax returns from a presidential candidate remains legally untested.
Richard L. Hasen, an election-law expert, considered the legality and prudence of these measures in Politico Magazine. While Hasen argues that cases for and against constitutionality could be made, Democrats might be opening a "Pandora's box" by pursuing it.
"Will solidly Republican states allow electors to vote only for Republican candidates for president?" he wrote. "If the tax gambit is okay, then such a law might also be constitutional. Or perhaps the GOP would retaliate with laws aimed at voter suppression or other such measures that target typically Democratic constituencies."
Plus, Hasen writes, "no doubt as soon as they are enacted, such laws would be challenged in court. Trump would already have standing to challenge, as he declared his candidacy for reelection in 2020 on the day he was inaugurated. There's plenty of time for courts, even the Supreme Court, to work out the issue before 2020 ballots would have to be printed in any state."
Demanding tax returns is not the only gambit that states have pursued to remedy perceived flaws in the democratic process. In recent years, some states have voted to restore voting rights to certain formerly incarcerated individuals or establish independent commissions to draw congressional districts in an attempt to crack down on gerrymandering.
When Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a Democratic presidential candidate, called for the abolition of the electoral college this week, she put a spotlight on several states' efforts to reform that system. Twelve states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, in which states pledge to give their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. However, not enough states have signed on for it to have an impact on the 2020 presidential election.
“I think one of the things we’re seeing is the resurgence in the general public’s interest in democracy reform,” said Rudy Mehrbani, a colleague of Weiner’s at the Brennan Center for Justice. “I think this goes hand in hand with other efforts around empowering voters, increasing access to the ballot, and making sure that democracy is more responsive to constituents generally.”
St. George • A lawyer for a Utah man charged with accidentally starting a massive wildfire says he will likely get a trial date this year.
Robert Lyman’s attorney tells KUTV that the defense has been in discussion with prosecutors about setting a trial date on misdemeanor charges of reckless burning and burning without a permit.
A judge decided last September that the trial would happen in Provo, saying Lyman wouldn’t be able to get a fair trial in southern Utah.
Andrew Deiss says he expects his client to prevail and demonstrate his actions were not reckless.
Authorities have said the fire was started in June 2017 by weed burning at a cabin in a popular getaway for Las Vegas residents. It destroyed 13 homes and cost nearly $40 million to fight.
The Taylorsville man could face up to a year in jail if convicted on the reckless burning count and six months on a burning without a permit charge.
(Jenny Starrs | The Washington Post) Scientists say global warming nears an irreversible level, President Trump has been promoting business growth instead of climate change.
Washington • A federal judge ruled late Tuesday that the Interior Department violated federal law by failing to take into account the climate impact of its oil and gas leasing in the West.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras of Washington marks the first time the Trump administration has been held to account for the climate impact of its energy-dominance agenda, and it could have sweeping implications for the president’s plan to boost fossil fuel production across the country. Contreras concluded that Interior’s Bureau of Land Management “did not sufficiently consider climate change” when making decisions to auction off federal land in Wyoming to oil and gas drilling in 2015 and 2016. The judge temporarily blocked drilling on roughly 300,000 acres of land in the state.
The initial ruling in the case brought by two advocacy groups, WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility, has implications for oil and gas drilling on federal land throughout the West. In the decision, Contreras - a Barack Obama appointee - faulted the agency's environmental assessments as inadequate because it did not detail how individual drilling projects contributed to the nation's overall carbon output. Since greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change, the judge wrote, these analyses did not provide policymakers and the public with a sufficient understanding of drilling's impact, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
"Given the national, cumulative nature of climate change, considering each individual drilling project in a vacuum deprives the agency and the public of the context necessary to evaluate oil and gas drilling on federal land before irretrievably committing to that drilling," he wrote.
Contreras did not void the leases outright, but instead ordered BLM to redo its analysis of hundreds of projects in Wyoming.
Western Energy Alliance president Kathleen Sgamma, whose group is one of the defendants in the case, said in a phone interview that she was confident the ruling could be overturned on appeal. She noted that the Obama and Trump administrations had conducted similar climate analyses in their leasing documents, and that it was impossible to predict the cumulative impact of these auctions because just under half of all federal land leased for drilling is eventually developed.
"This judge has ignored decades of legal precedent in this ruling," she said. "The judge is basically asking BLM to take a wild guess on how many wells will be developed on leases, prematurely."
Jeremy Nichols, who directs WildEarth Guardians' climate and energy program, said in a phone interview that the decision would force the administration to reveal how its policies are helping to fuel climate change. He said his group would now take steps to try to block federal oil and gas lease auctions scheduled for next week, which encompass 560,000 acres of western land.
"It calls into question the legality of the Trump administration's entire oil and gas program, Nichols said. "This forces them to pull their head out of the sand and look at the bigger picture."
Federal oil, gas and coal leasing - both on land and offshore - accounts for a quarter of America's total carbon output, according to a report issued last year by Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. Oil and gas drilling accounts for about 40 percent, or 500 million metric tons, of that total.
Evenif Contreras's decision stands, however, it may not block the administration's energy agenda altogether. While BLM would be required to disclose the overall climate impact of its leasing decisions, it could potentially still go ahead and open those lands up for development.
While the Interior Department began to take into account the climate impacts of federal oil, gas and coal leasing toward the end of Obama's second term, Trump administration officials jettisoned those plans right after President Donald Trump took office. Interior lifted a moratorium on federal coal leasing in 2017, and is working to overhaul a 2016 guidance that requires federal agencies to assess the global climate impact of their policies.
Trump and several of his top deputies have dismissed recent federal findings that the United States and other countries must curb their carbon output in the next decade or face potentially disastrous consequences from climate change. In a draft analysis last year of its plan to freeze fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projected that if the U.S. continued on its current path the globe could warm by 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century and suggested that this trend illustrated why curbing carbon emissions would make little difference to the planet.
Interior officials did not immediately comment Wednesday.
Even though the new ruling eventually could be overturned, proponents of oil and gas drilling cautioned that it could still have a chilling effect on development out West.
"Any time there's a ruling that sows more uncertainty on federal land, that has a ripple effect not just on these leases in question, but throughout the entire federal onshore system," Sgamma said.
And Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement, “This bad decision will hurt workers in Wyoming, reduce revenue for the state and slow America’s energy production.”
The Washington Post’s Brady Dennis contributed to this report.
As we near April 1, we wait for word on whether the federal government will approve the first in series of waivers and allow Utah to implements its Medicaid “bridge” program before potentially moving to the partial expansion approved in Senate Bill 96, the Utah Legislature’s bill to replace the Proposition 3 ballot initiative to expand Medicaid.
If we had simply stuck with Prop 3, we would know what was about to happen, and a lot more people would be getting covered. But whatever happens, it’s important to remember that the credit for providing coverage to tens of thousands of Utahns should go not to the Legislature, but to the efforts of Utah’s tireless and committed health care advocates, and the choices of Utah voters.
Since 2013, we’ve campaigned for Utah’s governor and then the Legislature to accept and implement Medicaid expansion as offered under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We fought, we spoke up, we pleaded with legislators, and we showed our willingness to make reasonable compromises by supporting Gov. Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan.
But at every turn we’d been rebuffed by a Legislature that seemed unwilling to listen, and ideologically dead set on blocking a substantial expansion.
So, in 2018, we took the choice into our own hands. We threw our hearts and souls into the Utah Decides Health care ballot initiative. We were relentless in gathering signatures and in giving the public full and accurate information (despite claims by our opponents that voters didn’t known what they were choosing, which insults the intelligence and moral courage of Utah voters). We worked in the rain and the snow. We went through every part of the state. And against the odds, made it on the ballot.
We knocked doors, marched parade routes, had extensive phone banking sessions and spoke to anyone who would listen, which turned out to be 53 percent of Utah voters in 59 percent of legislative districts, with an astonishing 75.55 percent voter turnout.
We did what some legislators had told us could never be done in Utah. Utah stood up and said determination and compassion are stronger than the fear mongering distortions of the facts of Medicaid expansion that opponents had used for six years.
Sadly, we were not able to get the Legislature to honor the will of the voters (their own constituents in many cases) and implement Prop 3 as the well-informed public chose to do. But, while the final version of SB96 wasn’t what we wanted, it could have been a lot worse. In fact, it was a lot worse before huge numbers of dedicated advocates and voters applied enough pressure by speaking up that we forced them to do better.
Tens of thousands of Utahns will get the coverage they need. We can celebrate that victory at the same time we mourn for what should have been. This is an important achievement. And it is not the achievement of the Legislature. It’s ours, the advocates and the voters. Every person who gets coverage will get it, not because of a legislator or the governor, but because of everyone of you who gathered signatures, made calls, or voted yes.
This isn’t the expansion we deserve or the one we fought for, but the fact that there is any expansion at all is our accomplishment, and no one can ever take that away from us.
There is more to do, and we’ve proven we have the will to do it. We’ve made Utah better, and if we refuse to let ourselves defeated, we’ll keep making it better. Utah decided. That will always be true.
(Photo courtesy of Paul Gibbs) | Paul Gibbs and his 3-year-old son, Timothy, at the Rally Against Repeal on the first day of the 2019 legislative session at the Utah State Capitol
Paul Gibbs, West Valley City, is an independent filmmaker and former Medicaid patient who has advocated for Medicaid expansion in Utah since 2013.
People always seem surprised in moments like this. Always shocked.
But they have no right to be. After all, the road goes where the road goes. If you travel southbound U.S. 1 long enough, you are not surprised to end up in Key West. If you stay on northbound Interstate 5 long enough, you are not surprised to end up in Canada.
And if you denigrate, demonize and dehumanize long enough, you ought not be surprised to end up in bloodshed.
That is arguably the signature lesson of human history, but somehow, the teaching never takes. Each succeeding generation always seems doomed — or perhaps the better word is determined — to re-learn the lesson for itself, each time paying the horrific price of doing so.
On Friday, the cost of tuition went up by 50 lives, congregants murdered in attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, a small and peaceful nation in the South Pacific. Before a gun-wielding 28-year-old white supremacist livestreamed himself in the act of massacring Muslims, it had been nearly 30 years since New Zealanders had seen such carnage.
But the road goes where the road goes. Meaning that this butchery is the predictable result of rising international intolerance, of singling out this group or that and declaring that these people are the source of our misery, the monster in the dark, that they are not like us, do not share our humanity and are undeserving of our compassion.
In this country, it is a message that has often been brayed loudly from beneath pointy white hoods. But it is arguably more dangerous and certainly more insidious, when it puts on power ties or red lipstick and speaks in tones of reason from a press room podium, a pulpit or a television studio.
That allows people who are uncomfortable with admitting intolerance, even to themselves, to pretend the message is not what the message is and that the messengers simply speak maverick truths in a politically correct world. Worse, that veneer of respectability and reason also bamboozles thoughtful people who simply value divergent voices into inviting to the debate table those whose only interest lies in kicking it over.
Like the bigots Jeanine Pirro and Tucker Carlson. And the bigot Donald Trump, who was, not incidentally, praised by the New Zealand shooter in a manifesto as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose."
"The president is not a white supremacist," claimed Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney Sunday on Fox. White supremacists obviously disagree.
Of course, preserving the facade of innocence — both before the world and one's own mirror — is a big part of the game. Yet, the road goes where the road goes. Between 1938 and 1945, you may recall, it went to the mass murder of 11 million human beings — homosexuals, Slavs, Jehovah's Witnesses, socialists and, most infamously, Jews.
We think of the Holocaust as a unique crime, and it is. But its uniqueness lies mainly in the massive, industrialized scale of the killing. Otherwise, it is little different than what happened in New Zealand, each the predictable result of denigration, demonization and dehumanization that exile some of us from the rest of us in the circle of shared humanity.
And it doesn't matter how much innocence you protest, or what sort of tie or lipstick you dress your intolerance in. The road goes where the road goes.
Thankfully, each of us also has the option of taking other roads to better places. Consider the last words of Haji Daoud Nabi, an Afghan refugee who was the first victim of the massacre. He is reported to have greeted the shooter at the worship house door.
"Hello, brother," he said.
Leonard Pitts Jr. (CHUCK KENNEDY/)
Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald. email@example.com
Flagstaff, Ariz. • Seven states that rely on a major waterway in the U.S. West have finished a yearslong effort to create a plan to protect the Colorado River amid a prolonged drought, the federal government declared Tuesday.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman commended Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming for reaching a consensus on the Colorado River drought contingency plan. Now the states are seeking approval from Congress to implement it.
"It is time for us to work with our congressional delegations to move forward to make sure we can implement DCP this year," Burman said on a call with reporters.
The Colorado River serves 40 million people and 7,812 square miles of farmland in the West.
Under the drought plan, states voluntarily would give up water to keep Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border and Lake Powell upstream on the Arizona-Utah border from crashing. Mexico also has agreed to cuts.
The push for federal legislation comes after the Colorado River Board of California voted Monday to move ahead without a water agency that has the largest entitlement to the river's water.
The Imperial Irrigation District was written out of California's plan when another powerful water agency, the Metropolitan Water District, pledged to contribute most of the state's voluntary water cuts.
Imperial had said it would not commit to the drought plan unless it secured $200 million in federal funding to help restore a massive, briny lake southeast of Los Angeles known as the Salton Sea. The district also accused others in the Colorado River basin of reneging on a promise to cross the finish line together.
"IID has one agenda, to be part of a DCP that treats the Salton Sea with the dignity and due consideration it deserves, not as its first casualty," Imperial board President Erik Ortega said.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority called Imperial's refusal to approve the plan "shortsighted" and "manipulative." Burman has said the drought plan would have no effect on the Salton Sea, and Imperial could choose to join the deal later.
The Bureau of Reclamation had given states until Tuesday to submit comments on what to do next after California and Arizona failed to meet federal deadlines to wrap up their drought plans. The agency received no comments, and Burman canceled the request.
Arizona says it doesn't expect its remaining work to delay implementation of the drought plan. But the state cannot officially sign on until Congress approves it.
At least two congressional subcommittee hearings on the drought plan are scheduled for later this month.
The states' plans are meant to supplement existing guidelines that dictate water deliveries to Arizona, Nevada and California. The Bureau of Reclamation previously predicted a more than 50 percent chance that Arizona and Nevada would not get their full allocations of water in 2020.
The latest study shows a shortage might be averted because of above-average snowpack, though the call for 2020 won’t be made until August. In New Mexico, the basin that feeds the Rio Grande is about 135 percent above median levels.
But officials say one good year of snowpack won't reduce long-term risks for the Rio Grande or the Colorado River.
The drought contingency plan takes the states through 2026, when existing guidelines expire. The states already are preparing for negotiations that will begin next year for new guidelines.
“We all recognize we’re looking at a drier future,” said Tom Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
Washington • It is rare that a leader takes the bull by the horns and corrals support for a cause in which all Americans have a steak.
I'm not referring to Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang's cutting-edge decision to oppose circumcision, though voters may reward his foresight in defense of foreskin.
No, today I celebrate Rep. Devin Nunes of California, top Republican on the Intelligence Committee and close Trump ally, who has just shown the world that he has the chops to sue a cow.
Not just any cow: Nunes’s defamation lawsuit names his own cow — “Devin Nunes’ cow” is its name on Twitter — and a couple of other Twitter users, as well as Twitter itself, seeking $250 million in compensation because mean things were said about him on Twitter.
Nunes tells Sean Hannity this is "the first of many" lawsuits to come, and Trump signaled support by tweeting about it Monday night. We must hope that Nunes's bovine broadside won't end until he sues cows into extinction.
My friend Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine calls this "bonkers," and The Washington Post's Aaron Blake sees "ridiculousness" in the lawsuit, particularly given Nunes's co-sponsorship of a bill called the Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act.
That's a bunch of bull! Nunes's naming of a cow as a "defamer" in his lawsuit substantially beefs up the GOP policy stable in otherwise lean times.
People are only beginning to understand the threat posed by cattle, a docile-looking but murderous beast that tramples, gores or otherwise kills, in cold blood, 20 people a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found — way more than are killed in shark attacks. Cattle burps and flatulence are the largest component of livestock’s 14.5 percent share of global greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the United Nations — as much as the entire transport sector. And then there are all the dangerous illnesses cows spread, such as lactose intolerance.
These animals — yes, I am not afraid to call them animals — invade our country from Asia ("wagyu," they are called) and from Mexico in menacing herds. This is why we need to build a wall, or at least a 1,500-mile emergency cattle guard.
Some suppose that Devin Nunes' cow is not really a cow, in the same way they suppose another account the congressman sued, "Devin Nunes' Mom," is not his real mom. No? Anybody who has read Doreen Cronin's illustrated work "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type" knows that cows used a typewriter to organize a socialist collective, forcing Farmer Brown to give them electric blankets.
Ruminate on that for a moment.
The Nunes lawsuit states: "Like Devin Nunes' Mom, Devin Nunes' cow engaged a vicious defamation campaign against Nunes that lasted over a year. Devin Nunes' cow has made, published and republished hundreds of false and defamatory statements of and concerning Nunes, including the following: Nunes is a 'treasonous cowpoke' … 'Devin's boots are full of manure. He's udder-ly worthless and its pasture time to move him to prison.'" (The cow, revealing its true species, spelled "move" as "mooove.")
Cows were an obstacle to Nunes before this week's tipping point. Esquire's Ryan Lizza reported last year that the Nunes family dairy farm quietly moved from California to Iowa.
Predictably, the cows went mad in response to the Nunes lawsuit (these black-and-white supremacists dominate the dark Web). Devin Nunes' cow, which had only 1,204 followers when the lawsuit was filed, had bred a herd of 119,000 followers by Tuesday afternoon. Spoof accounts proliferated: Devin Nunes Mom's Cow. Devin Nunes's Cow Psychiatrist. Devin Nunes's Mullet. Devin Nunes is a Whiny Baby.
Hopefully, the lawmaker isn’t cowed by being branded anti-bovine, for there is much work to be done to protect America from the coldblooded violence the cow is causing in the British countryside. According to the BBC’s Countryfile magazine:
"In 2014, Peter Jakeman, 62, from Callington, was trampled to death by a herd of stampeding cows while walking his dogs through a field in Derbyshire."
"In 2009, Liz Crowsley, 49, from Warrington, was walking the Pennine Way in the Yorkshire Dales, when she too was trampled to death. … Police believed that the cows had become aggressive after feeling threatened by Ms. Crowley's spaniel and collie."
The BBC offered tips for "Avoiding a cow attack."
But Nunes, a patriot, will stop the vicious cow in its tracks. So gird your loins, congressman. I've got your flank. And, before long, a grateful nation will say: Well done.
Dana Milbank | The Washington Post
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.
As amorous embraces go, few could be more ardent than the one Beto O'Rourke got this month from Vanity Fair magazine.
The perfectly timed cover treatment was the full monty: Rugged-glam photo by the legendary Annie Leibovitz, the former Texas congressman's earnest Kennedy-esque gaze, and the ripe-for-parody headline including this immortal quote: "I'm just born to be in it."
Most Americans wouldn’t see the magazine itself, of course, but the rest of the news media — including network evening news — helped spread the image around as they gave over-the-top coverage to O’Rourke’s kickoff.
Does soft-focus treatment like this help a candidate's cause?
It sure doesn't hurt. His campaign raised more than $6 million its first day, edging out Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' impressive one-day fundraising a few weeks earlier.
A few days later, the website PredictIt ("the stock market for politics") listed as its top three presidential contenders: former Vice President Joe Biden (who hadn't even declared yet), Bernie Sanders and Beto O'Rourke.
Somehow, despite a remarkably diverse Democratic field — which includes a record number of women, a gay man and several people of color — the B-Boys (that is, Beto, Biden and Bernie) — were off and running.
The news media undoubtedly was part of the equation. With more than 18 months to go before the 2020 election, the love and attention was not being dished out in equal measure.
As author Rebecca Traister described it, she woke up one morning this week thinking about the flawed notion that being a white man is actually a disadvantage, given this diverse field.
The reality is quite the opposite, she wrote on Twitter: "Early metrics would show it to be an extremely powerful polling & fundraising boon, as it has always, always been."
Author Linda Hirshman told me how frustrated she felt this week after watching "brilliant" town-hall appearances featuring Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. The candidates offered detailed policy proposals and came off as smart and appealing.
"But I woke up to still more media fixation on Beto," she said. (Warren did capture some prominent headlines for saying she'd like to see the end of the electoral college in favor of a system where "every vote matters.")
The reason for this, Hirshman posits, is the almost cartoonish way in which the national media depicts candidates: as characters in a drama.
"The national media is most interested in telling stories, in an almost novelistic way," said Hirshman, whose book "Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment" will be published in June.
This gives candidates like the B-Boys a "structural advantage," she said.
Traditional fiction, after all, likes to depict a woman in peril and the caped male avenger swooping in to save the day. While local news media tend to focus on policy that would affect their communities, national media look for — and endlessly repeat — the broad-brush caricature: Gillibrand is the mean woman who unfairly took down former Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.; O’Rourke is “tall and cute” and wants to heal a divided country.
Robert Leonard, news director of two Iowa radio stations, told me in an email exchange that he's been impressed by the enthusiastic welcome that candidates including Gillibrand, Sen. Kamala D. Harris, D-Calif., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., are getting in his state.
“I think the women have lots of traction — especially Warren and Harris,” Leonard said.
He described the Massachusetts senator as "electric," attracting a huge crowd and exuding personal warmth. (A far cry from the fretting about whether she is likable enough.) "People love (Sen.) Cory Booker (D-N.J.), too."
Having talked to Iowa supporters of every candidate in the race (and some who aren't yet), Leonard sees the contest as wide open and offers this caution: "Poll numbers that show Biden and Sanders up top only tell us about the past, not the future."
But, one might argue, doesn't it make good sense to give the most coverage to those candidates who seem to have the most early support?
Well, that depends on what the coverage aim is.
Is it the “horse-race” model that attempts to say who’s ahead and who will ultimately win the nomination and the presidency? You might recall from 2016 that — despite all the honing of this skill — prognostication is not the media’s forte.
Or is it a citizens-first model that attempts to inform the electorate so they can make the best decisions?
The horse-race model seems, as usual, to be out ahead by more than a few furlongs.
And so, we hear a lot about the B-Boys. In polling, in fundraising, in media ardor, they begin to seem inevitable.
It's early, of course. And these patterns may well change.
But right now, these three almost seem to have the whole thing sewn up.
And, when many Democratic voters put sheer electability (unseating President Donald Trump) as the top priority, this media-driven momentum takes on even more power.
That's potentially dangerous.
It would be a shame — and counterproductive — if premature judgments end up transforming all this diversity and talent into a shrugged-off bunch of also-rans.
| Courtesy Margaret Sullivan, op-ed mug shot.
Margaret Sullivan is The Washington Post’s media columnist. Previously, she was the New York Times public editor, and the chief editor of the Buffalo News, her hometown paper.
San Francisco • A man who spent more than six years in prison after police framed him for murder received a $13.1 million settlement from the city of San Francisco on Tuesday.
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to settle a civil rights lawsuit filed by Jamal Trulove. The settlement was part of the board's consent calendar and was approved without comment.
San Francisco's city attorney and Trulove's lawyers negotiated terms of the settlement before it was presented to the board for approval.
Trulove was an aspiring actor and hip-hop artist when he was arrested for the 2007 murder of his friend and neighbor in a low-income housing project. A jury convicted him of murder in 2010 and he was sentenced to life in prison. Alex Reisman, one of Trulove's lawyers, said Trulove spent eight years in maximum security prisons, mostly in Southern California hundreds of miles from family. He was also stabbed, Reisman said.
"He endured a lot," Reisman said.
An appeals court overturned the conviction in 2014 and ordered a new trial. He was acquitted in a 2015 retrial. Three years later, Trulove sued the police department and four officers saying they fabricated evidence, coerced a key eyewitness and withheld vital information that may have exonerated Trulove.
A federal jury last year determined the two lead homicide detectives had violated Trulove's civil rights and awarded him $14.5 million. Trulove accepted the $13.1 million offer in exchange for the city's dropping of its appeal. The jury cleared two other officers of wrongdoing.
The jury found that detectives showed an eyewitness a single photo of Trulove rather than presenting the person with photos of other people as part of a "lineup" to identify a suspect. Evidence also was produced showing the detectives were aware of another suspect who they did not investigate, among other failures.
The four officers named in Trulove’s lawsuit have retired. No officers were disciplined for their roles in the case, Reisman said.
As expected, FOX 13 has been sold — twice.
After its parent company was acquired by the Nexstar Media Group, KSTU-Channel 13 and seven other stations were sold to the E.W. Scripps Co. for a total of $580 million to comply with FCC regulations.
KSTU vice president and general manager Tim Ermish said his station “is excited to join one of the most prestigious broadcasters with a long history of excellence in independent journalism.”
After a failed attempt by Sinclair Broadcasting (the parent company of KUTV-Channel 2) to acquire the Tribune Media (the parent company of FOX 13), Nexstar (the parent company of KTVX-Channel 4) announced a $4.1 billion deal to take over Tribune. However, in order to comply with FCC rules prohibiting ownership of multiple stations in the same TV market under certain circumstances, Nexstar agreed to sell 21 stations in 16 markets.
(Tribune Media is not in any way affiliated with The Salt Lake Tribune.)
Nexstar already owns two Salt Lake stations, KTVX-Channel 4 and KUCW-Ch. 30. The FCC prohibits one company from owning two of the top four stations in a market, so Nexstar could not keep KTVX and add FOX 13.
In addition to the Scripps deal, Nexstar sold another 11 stations to Tegna for $740 million; it is still looking for a buyer for two stations in Indianapolis.
With the acquisition of FOX 13 and seven other stations in New York, Phoenix, Miami–Fort Lauderdale, Norfolk, Va., Richmond, Va., and Grand Rapids, Mich., Scripps expands to 59 stations in 42 markets that, combined, reach nearly 30 percent of American TV viewers. Scripps paid $75 million for WPIX in New York City, and $505 million for the other seven stations, including FOX 13.
"This acquisition represents another step in our plan to improve the depth, reach and durability of our broadcast television station portfolio while adding nicely to the company's free cash flow generation," said Scripps president and CEO Adam Symson in a prepared statement.
Scripps recently purchased stations in Florida and Texas, and is awaiting approval from the Federal Communications Commission to buy 15 more stations from Cordillera Communications.
Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune is a content partner with FOX 13.
New York • If you ask him to, Donovan Mitchell will fill out your bracket for you.
Just don’t expect him to give an unbiased opinion.
Mitchell has No. 7 seed Louisville, his alma mater, winning the title in his NCAA bracket, going on a run that goes through No. 10 Minnesota, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 1 Duke and more before cutting down the nets in Minneapolis.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s unfortunate that all of these guys are going to lose. I’m excited for my guys at Louisville, they’re going to make a run, make a push,” Mitchell said.
But go around the Jazz’s locker room, and you’ll see that Mitchell’s fan-driven optimism isn’t exactly unique. Georges Niang believes No. 6 Iowa State will come out ahead in its games as well, making a run to — and through — the Final Four.
“Our schedule takes up a lot of time, but whenever you get a chance to watch your alma mater, you tend to tune in and want to be able to have bragging rights, especially if it’s your school beating another guy’s,” Niang said.
It might be belief in Baylor that’s at its highest in Jazzland. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey attended Baylor, as does his son Jake. Center Ekpe Udoh and guard Royce O’Neale both attended Baylor as well. The Bears’ first-round game is in Salt Lake City at Vivint Arena on Thursday night at about 8 p.m., which means it should tip right after the Jazz play Atlanta on the road.
While they may be able to watch the game, Udoh and O’Neale are disappointed to be out on the other side of the country while their school visits Utah for a rare trip. They’re also expecting a close game against Syracuse in the first round.
“It’s going to be a slobber-knocker. Both teams run zone, it’s going to be a long game,” Udoh said.
Mitchell thinks Syracuse is going to come out ahead in the matchup, though that might more reflective of his desire to see his team get further in the tournament than buddy O’Neale’s squad instead of actual basketball analysis. Niang, on the other hand, thinks Baylor will get to the Sweet 16, upsetting Gonzaga along the way.
For his part, Jae Crowder watches Marquette as much as possible, logging in on his phone when the Jazz are on the road and can’t get to a television set. Reports say Joe Ingles has been wearing a Marquette sweatshirt around, too, presumably a gift of Crowder’s.
But Crowder is wary of Marquette’s first-round opponent, Murray State, and that always-tricky No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchup. Murray State is led by Ja Morant, likely to be selected at No. 2 in the NBA Draft come June.
“If we get past those guys, we’ve got a chance to make some real noise,” Crowder said. Either Florida State or Vermont would be up next if they Golden Eagles were able to win their first round game.
Meanwhile, Kyle Korver’s Creighton squad and Derrick Favors’ Georgia Tech are both on the outside looking in this season. Creighton, at least, has had a respectable history of making it to the tournament in recent years, making it in five of the last seven years.
For Favors, though, it’s a little bit harder. He still loves Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets haven’t found their way to the NCAA Tournament since 2010. So maybe it’s not a coincidence that he says he doesn’t watch college basketball much, even at this time of the year. “I haven’t paid attention to college basketball since my fourth or fifth year in the league,” he said.
“They had a tough year this year,” Favors laughed. “We’ll be back next year.”
Herriman • Tuesday morning before training, Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke showed his team the tape of the first 30 minutes against D.C. United. It was the only period of the game that felt good for RSL after a string of unfortunate events led to an ugly 5-0 loss.
In the days after a game that personified Murphy’s law, RSL’s players were more focused on looking ahead to this Saturday at Los Angeles Football Club rather than looking back. But for some, it seemed the sting of experiencing the game unravel before their eyes lingered.
“It wasn’t great, especially for the amount of time that we had left,” said center back Nedum Onuoha, who added that D.C. was the first time in his career he experienced playing with nine men on the field. “[United’s] attacking line, they were having a field day, really.”
The optics of losing the way RSL did to United didn’t look great, mostly due to the final score. For Petke, however, the score didn’t matter. Once the team lost two players due to red cards, he just wanted to finish the game without any of his players incurring injuries.
And while fans, and even some players on the team, would rather forget the final 60 minutes, Petke will use that stretch to his advantage, he said.
“I don’t throw it out. I keep it documented,” Petke said. “Perhaps we have to work on, more than we have, scenarios like that — man down, two men down.”March 19, 2019
Sebastian Saucedo, sporting a new hairdo, said he thought the first 30 minutes against D.C. were “great.” A few seconds later, he adamantly rebuked the idea that RSL should be judged on the final score of that game and the numbers left on the field.
“We wish that was an 11-v-11 game,” Saucedo said. “Something different could’ve happened. Maybe we would’ve been with 0-0 against D.C. … But that’s just how it is, and we turn the page on that game and get the best out of that.”
Petke said the D.C. debacle was already out of the minds of him and his team. Veteran midfielder Kyle Beckerman said forgetting the game was the team’s only real choice, and it was “fairly easy” doing so.
But Onuoha seemed to take something of value from those difficult 60 minutes. He said the nine players that finished the game “represented themselves well in a difficult situation.” He added that although D.C. ended up amassing five goals against RSL, it could have been more if Real’s nine players had given up.
“The people that ended up on the field, for as much as it wasn’t how we wanted to finish the game,” Onuha said, “I could look around at every single one of them and know that we gave our best.”
Injured players return (kind of)
Joao Plata, who has not trained in recent weeks due to an ankle injury, returned to the training field on Tuesday. Although he did not participate in drills with the rest of the team, he did some running with a trainer.
Petke said Plata hasn’t been in “any live practice action,” and did not provide an update on his potential availability for Saturday’s game.
“Obviously that’s the next evolution that we have to have before he steps on the field in a game,” Petke said. “So we’ll see Thursday.”
Also seen on the field Tuesday was Justen Glad, who has been out all season with a broken toe. He did not have any sort of protection on the affected foot, but he did not do any practice activity either. He sat on a bench and watched his teammates train. The initial timetable for Glad’s return was 4-6 weeks.
Tests taken after Sandy’s recent water contamination found no sign of elevated lead levels in residents’ blood, the Salt Lake County Health Department reports.
Intermountain Healthcare administered 704 blood tests between Feb. 23 and March 8 to residents of the three zones in Sandy where fluoride, copper and lead leaked into the water system. Of those tested, only one — an adult over 65 – was found with a lead level of 5.1 micrograms per deciliter of blood, above the level where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends launching public health actions.
One out of 704 is lower than what the county health department would statistically expect for a population that size, based on the expected prevalence of elevated blood lead levels across the county.
Health officials said they expect the Sandy water contamination — which began Feb. 6 when a power outage caused a malfunction in one of the city’s pumps — is unlikely to cause long-term health damage to residents in the area. This is what health officials predicted before the tests were administered.
“We are grateful that these results confirm for those screened that any potential exposure to elevated levels of lead in this incident was indeed brief enough to not cause elevated blood lead levels,” Gary Edwards, executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, said in a statement.
Lead is common enough in the environment that health officials recommend all pregnant women and children under 6 years old, in Sandy or not, get a blood lead test from their health care provider.
The most common source of lead is old paint in homes built before 1978. Lead also can be found in such common products as jewelry, tableware, charms, ammunition, fishing sinkers, stained glass, miniblinds, roofing and artificial turf. It can also be found in toys made in countries without strict safety guidelines.
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality cited Sandy for the excess fluoride.
Sen. Mitt Romney offered a strong rebuke to President Donald Trump two days after the president criticized the late Sen. John McCain in a series of tweets.
In his own tweet, Romney said he couldn’t understand why the president would “once again disparage a man as exemplary as my friend John McCain.” He went on to describe McCain as "heroic, courageous, patriotic, honorable, self-effacing, self-sacrificing, empathetic and driven by duty to family, country and God.”
McCain died in August at the age of 81 after a battle with brain cancer.
I can’t understand why the President would, once again, disparage a man as exemplary as my friend John McCain: heroic, courageous, patriotic, honorable, self-effacing, self-sacrificing, empathetic, and driven by duty to family, country, and God.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) March 19, 2019
In a series of tweets sent from the president in the early morning of March 17, Trump made allegations that McCain sent a “fake dossier” to both the FBI and media about Trump’s ties to Russia. He also criticized McCain for voting against the repeal of former President Barack Obama’s health care law, also known as the Affordable Care Act.
So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) “last in his class” (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election. He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2019
Later, when asked to explain the tweets by reporters during an Oval Office meeting with the visiting president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, Trump said “I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be.”
Meghan McCain, the daughter of Sen. John McCain, responded to Trump’s tweet, saying “No one will ever love you the way they loved my father...”
No one will ever love you the way they loved my father.... I wish I had been given more Saturday’s with him. Maybe spend yours with your family instead of on twitter obsessing over mine? https://t.co/q7ezwmHiQ4— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) March 16, 2019
Utah's football program staged one of the shortest Senior Night ceremonies in school history last November, when only 13 departing players were honored.
This year's event would have lasted nearly three times longer, if all of the juniors from last season's roster had stayed in the program. The Utes' senior class would have consisted of 33 players, a number that's “unheard of,” coach Kyle Whittingham said Tuesday, when the Utes staged their fourth session of spring practice after returning from the school's spring break.
The remaining group of 22 seniors is slightly bigger than average, bolstered by graduate transfer Manny Bowen, a linebacker from Penn State, and receiver Derrick Vickers, who was listed as a senior last year but hopes to receive another season of eligibility.
The Utes have lost one-third (11 players) of that gigantic class of 2018 juniors since last December for various reasons — not including the NFL, because all of their early-entry candidates stayed in school. Starting tight end Jake Jackson took a job offer, four players have entered the NCAA transfer portal in search of more playing time, three have retired from football for medical reasons and three walk-on athletes have left for financial reasons, Whittingham said, attributing the attrition to “a combination of three or four factors.”
Offensive tackle Johnny Capra may have become a starter, if not for his injury last August. He has given up football, along with defensive end Rex Jordan and safety Philip Afia, who would have contended for playing time in the secondary in 2019.
Jackson is the biggest personnel loss, having started 12 games last season. He’s in a graduate program in finance and accepted an offer from a real estate development firm — “a tremendous opportunity professionally to take a job that was not going to wait for him,” Whittingham said.
Jackson caught three passes for 33 yards and a touchdown in Utah’s Holiday Bowl loss to Northwestern and was a solid blocker. Jackson’s absence leaves sophomores Cole Fotheringham and Brant Kuithe as the primary tight ends.
In a recent development, running back Armand Shyne intends to transfer, rather than play behind Zack Moss as a senior, according to Alex Markham, publisher of Ute Nation on the Rivals network. Shyne didn’t practice Tuesday, when Devonta’e Henry-Cole worked with the first team. Shyne started the last five games of 2018 after Moss was injured. He would become the 12th junior from the 2018 team to leave the Utes.
After starting five games in 2018, receiver Siaosi Mariner has transferred to Utah State, along with defensive end/tight end Caleb Repp. Mariner made four receptions for 38 yards in the Holiday Bowl, responding to his rough night in the Pac-12 championship game. Mariner dropped a pass with the ball bouncing off his leg as he slid along the grass, with Washington’s Byron Murphy returning the interception 66 yards for a touchdown.
Utah appears well stocked at receiver and at linebacker, where Donavan Thompson played a lot in reserve last season. Whittingham had expressed hope two weeks ago that Thompson would end up staying, but that apparently won’t happen, to the coach’s disappointment.
The list of departures is “larger than usual,” Whittingham said, “but my guess is now with the portal situation, that's going to become the norm. It's just a different world now. It works both ways.”
The Utes landed quarterback Cameron Rising via Texas in the transfer portal. “We’re still not done,” Whittingham said. “We’re still looking at the portal every day.”
Utah projects having 80 scholarship players in August, leaving five vacancies that potentially could be filled by transfers. Whittingham recently awarded a scholarship to senior offensive lineman Kyle Lanterman, who had persevered as a walk-on.
Other walk-ons, including running back Joey Wood, who carried the ball three times last season, have left the program.
Bill Kunkel used to vaccinate his kids, before he read where some vaccines come from.
He is skeptical of the pharmaceutical industry's motives and came across anti-vaxxer theories online, though they aren't supported by science. But his main objection is about abortion. Decades ago, cells were taken from legally aborted fetuses to create some vaccines. Kunkel is Catholic. Vaccines derived from an abortion are, in his mind but not the church's, immoral.
So he and his wife chose not to vaccinate their fourth child, Jerome — including for chickenpox.
Years later, that decision has positioned the Kunkels and their now 18-year-old son as the latest face of the nation’s anti-vaxxer movement — and the tension between individual liberties and the public good. Since Feb. 5, Jerome’s K-12 Catholic school, Assumption Academy, has been experiencing an outbreak of Varicella zoster — the virus commonly known as chickenpox.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department intervened, banning unvaccinated kids like Jerome from the classroom and athletic events until the virus is contained. And Jerome, a senior and the starting center on the school basketball team, was forced to miss their playoff game. His team lost by one point, ending the season.
Now, the Kunkels are suing, a move that has thrust religion, the Constitution and health policy into a battle over church and state.
"This is tyranny against our religion, our faith, our country," Bill Kunkel told The Washington Post.
Jerome Kunkel has not contracted chickenpox, but officials at the Northern Kentucky Health Department say at least 32 other children have shown symptoms of the highly-contagious illness, which covers the skin in a blisterlike rash and causes fever. The Varicella virus can be especially dangerous, even deadly, for infants, pregnant women or those whose immune system is already compromised.
Over the last month, health officials have taken steps to keep the outbreak from spreading. First, they announced that unvaccinated students could not participate indefinitely in extracurricular activities, including athletic events, because the risk of exposure was too high.
Then, last Thursday, they banished unvaccinated students from school grounds altogether.
The move was "in direct response to a public health threat," the Northern Kentucky Health Department said.
(Courtesy of Bill Kunkel) Jerome Kunkel, 18, with his father, Bill Kunkel. Their family is suing the Northern Kentucky Health Department claiming officials violated Jerome's first amendment rights when it banned him from school and extracurricular activities because he has not been vaccinated for the chickenpox. (Courtesy of Bill Kunkel/)
But for the Kunkels, the decision felt personal - an infringement, they say, upon their individual rights and religious freedom.
The Kunkels filed their lawsuit Thursday in the Boone County Circuit Court alleging that the Northern Kentucky Health Department had violated Jerome's first amendment rights. Accepting the chickenpox vaccine would be "immoral, illegal and sinful," they said, according to their Catholic beliefs. The lawsuit also alleges that the health department violated due process when officials enacted the extracurricular and school attendance bans without declaring an official emergency, which would have triggered the involvement of the state legislature.
The lawsuit alleges that health department officials showed particular animus to the Kunkel family during one-on-one meetings, leading the Kunkels to believe the bans were the result of religious discrimination.
The Kunkels' attorney, Chris Wiest, said he has been approached by more than a dozen other families who want their children to be added as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Wiest said many of the children at Assumption Academy have not been vaccinated for chickenpox.
"This is a gift-wrapped establishment clause case," Wiest said.
Officials from Assumption Academy and Our Lady of the Assumption Church did not respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post.
The health department has issued two statements acknowledging the lawsuit and denying its claims, but declined an interview request because of the pending litigation.
The bans are "consistent with this agency's statutory charge to protect the public health," officials said in one statement. The agency also shared copies of three informational letters sent to parents and school staff - on Feb. 5, Feb. 21 and March 14 - to combat what they consider a misleading narrative that Wiest and other community members had shared on social media.
"It is unfortunate when social media is used as a weapon for misinformation to advance litigation agendas and to undermine our mission to protect public health," the department statement said.
The Kentucky statute that governs state health departments allows health officials to take action or adopt rules that could prevent the spread or introduction of infectious diseases, including enforcing quarantines "as it deems proper."
The statute also provides guidelines for navigating public health concerns when religion is a factor, saying that Kentucky law cannot be "construed to require the immunization of any child whose parents are opposed to medical immunization against disease, and who object by a written sworn statement to the immunization of such child on religious grounds."
What's at stake is whether health officials overstepped those statutory duties in their pursuit to protect the public.
Kunkel said he wants the school and health officials to "look out" for the well-being of the community.
"But doggone," he said, "they don't have to be tyrants about what they want to do."
The Kunkels began seeking legal recourse last month, pleading with the school and with health officials to end the ban so Jerome could finish his senior season, Kunkel said. But health officials balked.
On March 14, the Kunkels filed their lawsuit — and hours later the health department issued its last letter, which said that students without proof of vaccination or immunity against the Varicella virus were not permitted to come to school until 21 days after the onset of rash for the last ill child or staff member.
Wiest, the lawyer, said he has since amended their lawsuit, claiming the final letter was "at the heart of a first amendment retaliation claim."
A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for April 1, when a judge will rule on an injunction filed by the Kunkels' lawyer asking to end the bans.
Many of the parents at Assumption, including the Kunkels, attribute their moral opposition of vaccines with fetal tissue origin to Catholic doctrine. But the church ruled nearly 15 years ago that Catholics are morally free to use those vaccines when there's a threat to public health. Catholic leaders have also encouraged those uncomfortable with the vaccine origin to encourage drug manufacturers to create a version of the vaccine not derived from aborted fetal cells.
The Varicella vaccine, specifically, is derived from the cell lines of two fetuses that were electively aborted in the 1960s. "There are no further abortions that have occurred to continue these cell lines," said Josh Williams, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado, Denver who studies the influence of religion on vaccine decisions.
"This highlights the need for us to continue to partner with and engage with religious leaders around the conversation about vaccinations," Williams said. "Clergy can be really powerful advocates for vaccinations."
Kunkel said he is aware of the Church's ruling on vaccines derived from fetal tissue.
"That doesn't mean nothing to me," Bill Kunkel said. "I follow the laws of the Church, and I know what's right and wrong."
Abortion, he said, is a moral absolute.
The school canceled class on Friday and Monday and avoided interacting with reporters during a parent meeting last week about the outbreak chaos.
It's unclear if vaccinated students will return to school this week and how unvaccinated kids will go about their studies during the quarantine.
Jerome Kunkel said he's not sure how he'll fill his time. He cleaned out his car, he said, and will likely begin practicing baseball with a teammate also kept from school by the ban. Three weeks is too short a time span to get a job, the high school student said. And he's nervous about falling behind in class.
"He's being penalized because he's a healthy child," Bill Kunkel said. "He may not ever get chickenpox."
Kunkel said he attended "chickenpox parties" as a child and took his own kids to one at his brother's house. The so-called parties are a common way for parents to expose their kids to the virus all at once.
But health officials strongly urge parents not to do this because the virus can cause unpredictable and severe reactions. The Northern Kentucky Health Department recommend the vaccine in each of their letters to parents at Assumption Academy.
Before the Varicella vaccine was created, about 4 million people each year were infected in the United States, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Now, just 12,000 people contract the infection - about a 99 percent decrease.
We’ve all become a little cynically conditioned to roll our eyes whenever a politician or sports star, for that matter, hangs it up to spend more time with family.
And when Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced Monday that she was abandoning her re-election bid to focus her time and energy on dealing with a family health crisis, there was the usual chirping on social media.
Could she have won anyway? Was this just a way to find a graceful exit without risking defeat?
It’s true that Biskupsi was polling poorly for an incumbent, finishing behind former state Sen. Jim Dabakis in the most recent poll by The Salt Lake Tribune and Hinckley Institute of Politics and just ahead of state Sen. Luz Escamilla. Still, her campaign account was flush, with more than $120,000 in the bank, despite raising just $4,200 over the past nine months. Her top competitors have raised about $100,000 each.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced Monday she will not seek re-election with her spouse Betty Iverson by her side and staff backing her. "In making this decision I weighed three things," she said in her statement. "My responsibility to my family, something I have fought to legally have for most of my personal and professional life. My duty to the people of Salt Lake City and to the office I hold. And, my desire to be a candidate for mayor." Biskupski, who was elected in 2015, had announced on Feb. 9 she was seeking re-election. (Leah Hogsten/)
But she was starting to show the fight of a campaigner, honing her re-election message around improvements in transportation and gains on affordable housing and beginning to present herself as the scrappy underdog on the port issue, the only one willing to stand up to the Legislature, the port board and the City Council that were all working against her.
So could she have won? Maybe. But more fundamentally, I’m not sure any of that matters.
I’ve never been a mayor or run for office. I’d imagine both are incredibly demanding. I have been a parent, so I get the work and energy that entails in the best circumstances. Add in a family crisis and her explanation makes sense.
Ultimately, her motivations for leaving the race are a lot less important than where the mayoral campaign and Salt Lake City go from here.
Campaign-wise, Dabakis would appear to have gained the most from Biskupski’s departure. His closest competitor is gone and he seemingly has his ticket punched into the general election.
For candidates like David Ibarra and David Garbett, there is new daylight where they can introduce themselves to voters and try to carve out enough support to contend in the primary, which will take place this August. And a candidate like Stan Penfold now becomes the most experienced contender when it comes to city government.
The earthquake that shook the field will probably also attract other candidates, perhaps even some qualified women who are disappointingly underrepresented in the current mix.
Salt Lake City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall has had people urging her to run for months and the pressure on her ramped up again with Biskupski’s announcement. Escamilla is also considering a bid. Monday, she thanked Biskupski for her service and said she would weigh her options.
“I have not yet had a moment to have a serious conversation with my family and those with whom I would need to discuss this decision,” Escamilla said in a Facebook post. “I will take a serious look at participating in the 2019 mayor’s race. With that being said, I will take the proper time to do so and will make a statement in due time.”
More significant than changing the faces in the race, I think Biskupski’s departure will change the tone of the campaign.
The last time the mayor’s office has been open was back in 2007 after Rocky Anderson announced he wasn’t running again and whenever you have an incumbent in the field, the race inevitably turns into a referendum on the sitting mayor’s performance.
That’s clearly how it played out when Ralph Becker ran for re-election four years ago, with pretty much the entire field taking shots at what they felt Becker had mishandled, and this year was shaping up to be a similar referendum on Biskupski’s tenure.
Now, with an open field, the discussion can be less about contrasting candidates with the sitting mayor and more about engaging in a broad discussion about who has the best vision and ideas and skills and temperament to run the city.
There are big issues to debate — affordable housing and air and water quality, transportation and port planning, building a future while holding onto the city’s character. So let’s take a moment to acknowledge the work Biskupski put in over the past three years. Then let’s start that new discussion about what we want this city to look like in the decades ahead.
West Valley City residents will have the opportunity to own up to four cats or dogs thanks in part to the determination of one cat lover.
Last November, Jim Vesock went to the city’s pet shelter to adopt a sister for his two black cats but was told that this was not possible. The city’s code allowed for up to four domestic pets in a household but a maximum of two cats and two dogs.
The shelter told him that the only way for him to adopt a third cat was to get the City Council to change the ordinance. So he set to work.
Vesock “went to every council meeting and the study meetings, talked to council members in the hallways and after almost six months got it [the code] changed,” he told The Tribune in an interview.
The relaxed pet ordinance, approved unanimously on March 5, would allow for pet owners to apply for a permit to have up to four cats or dogs. The overall household limit of four pets would still apply (you couldn’t have four cats and four dogs) as would an exception to the limit in the case of kittens and puppies up to 4-months old.
Vesock said his first move was to approach councilman Jake Fitisemanu about changing the pet ordinance. Fitisemanu said in an interview, that while other residents had previously brought the issue to his attention “residents like Jim Vesock are great at bringing visibility to issues that might otherwise be overshadowed by more pressing municipal priorities.”
Vesock spoke on the ordinance at almost every city council meeting for the last six months, council minutes confirm. On each occasion he presented members with current numbers of cats and dogs being held at the city’s shelter.
“I am ecstatic that there is a way for myself, a responsible pet owner, and other responsible pet owners to be able to adopt up to four cats or dogs,” he said. Vesock believes the change will help reduce the number of cats and dogs at the shelter by increasing adoption.
The new ordinance was modeled on Taylorsville’s city code which allows for up to four household pets by obtaining a “hobby permit.” Vesock however was adamant that West Valley’s code not include the word “hobby” in it. “To me and other pet lovers our pets are not hobbies” he said. The council ultimately decided to call it a “pet exception permit.”
Although the black cat that Vesock originally hoped to adopt in November has already found a home, he said he now has his eye on another. As soon as the city attorney gives him a permit, he said he will head over to the shelter to pick her up.
He already has a name picked out: Raidas. She will be a companion to Raidan and Raidat. The trio’s names are a tribute to Vesock’s favorite football team, the Oakland Raiders.
The 2019 Economic Report of the President is 705 pages and features chapters on “expanding labor force opportunities” and “ensuring a balanced financial regulatory landscape.” The report also credits writers of superhero fame — including Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man), Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Bruce Wayne (Batman). The White House Council of Economic Advisers’ official Twitter account said Tuesday that the list was an effort to call attention to its intern “super heroes,” who made “significant contributions” to the economic report. [NYTimes]
Topping the news: Federal land management officials are abandoning plans for a reservation system at Utah’s Arches National Park that aimed to reduce congestion and traffic. The idea was tossed over strong opposition to potential economic loss if the program slashed visitation. [Trib]
-> Two days after President Donald Trump disparaged John McCain in a series of tweets, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney fired back on Twitter in McCain’s defense, calling the late senator “heroic” and “courageous.” [Trib] [Fox13] [DNews]
-> The Salt Lake County Health Department said an analysis of hundreds of blood tests administered to Sandy residents after a fluoride pump malfunctioned and leaked toxic levels of the mineral into the city’s water last month found no trace of elevated lead levels. [Trib]
Tweets of the day: From @ConanOBrien: “Got some wires crossed and now I have Temple vs. Pete Buttigieg in my NCAA bracket.”
-> From @aedwardslevy: “if it were released in 2019, ‘the dark side of the moon’ would just be an expose of the moon’s long history of misconduct”
-> From @NateSilver538: “Candidates, ranked by how much traffic their ‘How ___ Could Win the 2020 Democratic Primary’ post got on 538: 1. Harris 2. Klobuchar 3. Bernie 4. Buttigieg* 5. Beto* 6. Warren 7. Castro 8. Booker 9. Inslee 10. Gillibrand 11. Gabbard 12. Hickenlooper.”
In other news: Salt Lake City leaders celebrated the next step in completion of the North Concourse at the under-expansion Salt Lake City International Airport with a “topping off ceremony” Thursday. [Trib] [Fox13]
-> The remains of a Utah vet who died in Germany while serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II were finally returned to his family on Tuesday after they were discovered by a German researcher in 2016. [Trib]
-> Although the Utah Legislature now has the power to call itself into a special session, Gov. Gary Herbert said he will be the one to do so this summer in order to complete a restructuring of the state’s tax system that failed to pass during the regular legislative session. [DNews]
-> After a vigorous debate, the Logan City Council decided to delay its vote on an ordinance that would have restricted stores from distributing plastic bags. [DNews]
-> In recognition of Women’s History Month, the Salt Lake City Police Department photographed all the current women who have worked at the force as well as some retirees — a moment that prompted some to reflect on their experiences in a male-dominated field. [Fox13]
-> Heather Bennett, a passionate voice for children’s education and a long time member of Salt Lake City’s Board of Education, died Monday at age 61. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley depicts his view of a strong leader. [Trib]
Nationally: Trump announced he will be “looking into” what he called biased opinions of tech companies and media outlets that he says have stacked the decks against him in his 2020 reelection bid. [Politico]
-> Social media clap backs are not uncommon for Trump, and his target Tuesday was presidential aide Kellyanne Conway’s husband, whom the president called a “total loser” after George Conway questioned his mental fitness. [NYTimes]
-> A federal lawsuit accusing the president of violating the Constitution faces an uphill battle in the courts — a reality that became apparent in its hostile first hearing in front of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, of which four judges are GOP appointees. [Politico]
-> The Democratic Party has two sets of criteria for presidential hopefuls to qualify for the first debates: They must either earn a minimum of 1 percent approval in public polls or attract 65,000 individual donors. [WaPost]
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What moral lessons can be learned from Rep. Karianne Lisonbee’s efforts to gut the protections of House Bill 399, which would have protected LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy — a practice considered unethical by nearly every major medical organization?
Purportedly, Lisonbee is now facing an “onslaught of vitriol” for her efforts, and has apologized to fellow House colleagues for any “tension” she brought them.
If only she could self-reflect, and bring herself to apologize to those LGBTQ children who will be subjected to conversion therapy in the future, and the dangers of self-degradation that it inflicts, including anxiety, depression, suicidal feelings and suicidal actions.
Imaginably, given her belief in its effectiveness, Lisonbee could subject her own children to conversion therapy, whereby their sexual orientation would be changed to homosexual. She could then authoritatively report to her colleagues on the benefits and harm caused by the therapy, and justly experience the discriminatory animus imposed on her children by religious prejudice and the Utah House of Representatives.
David Pearce, Salt Lake City
Utah has a problem. Every Republican state legislator has an 'A' grade from the NRA. A few might dislike the label, but the majority glory in it. Little wonder the Republican Legislature refuses to pass a single gun regulation, although clearly they would save lives. Putting gun rights ahead of citizens' right to life is the problem.
A huge majority of Utahns favor a universal background check for all gun sales, and a safe storage bill for all guns in the owner's absence. Yet these bills can't even make it out of committee.
NRA loyalists even killed House Bill 217, an absolute no-brainer that requires those openly carrying a weapon to stay 500 feet away from any school building. School administrators would panic and call a lockdown, scaring the hell out of little kids. Certainly someone brandishing a Glock or AR-15 would demand a response. GOP/NRA arguments against the bill were jaw-droppingly pitiful.
Unless there are enlightened changes, a vote for a Republican is a vote for a continued, scandalous death toll. In the meantime, all GOP legislators should recuse themselves from voting on any gun bill because they have a vested interest in the NRA.
Ron Molen, Salt Lake City
A Layton man has been charged with torturing and killing his dog — and he reportedly told a friend he “enjoyed" it.
Cailean Torquil Macdona MacLeod, 20, has been charged in 3rd District Court with torture of a companion animal, a third-degree felony; and unlawful detention of his girlfriend, a class B misdemeanor.
According to court documents, a friend reported to police that MacLeod “told him that he had killed his dog and wanted to join the military to kill people.” The friend went on to say that MacLeod “admitted … that he enjoyed hurting the dog” and “deeply loved” choking the animal.
When police interviewed MacLeod's live-in girlfriend, she reported an earlier incident when he had thrown the dog down a flight of stairs, breaking the animal's leg — which had to be amputated. He also admitted to her that he had “strangled” the dog, Mocha, and “knew that he had taken it too far” — that after strangling the animal, “he had taken a knife and cut Mocha's tongue twice and punched her in the head.” And that “he enjoyed hurting Mocha and would often look forward to it.”
The dog, a collie-Australian shepherd mix, died in January.
The girlfriend told police MacLeod had showed her the areas in the apartment complex where he had abused the dog — “punching, kicking, throwing and strangling Mocha.” She said that while he was telling her this, he pushed her against a wall to “show her how he would pick Mocha up by the throat.” He then picked the woman up; forced her into their apartment; took her phone and keys and “refused to let her leave.”
According to police, MacLeod admitted to them that he abused and killed the dog — that he “mostly wanted to inflict pain” on Mocha. He also acknowledged he had prevented her from leaving the apartment.
“The defendant also admitted that he struggled with the thought of killing people,” according to the charging document, and said “he wanted to be a drone pilot because they have a high-kill ratio.”
Tokyo • Ichiro Suzuki drew the loudest ovation back home in Japan and Domingo Santana delivered the biggest hit, launching a grand slam that led the Seattle Mariners over the Oakland Athletics 9-7 Wednesday in the Major League Baseball opener.
The game at the Tokyo Dome marked the earliest opening day ever — the summer sport actually started on the last day of winter. No doubt, most fans in North America were sound asleep when Oakland's Mike Fiers threw the first pitch at 5:36 a.m. EDT (6:36 p.m. local).
A year after the Cubs' Ian Happ homered on the very pitch of the season, the ball again was flying.
Tim Beckham also homered as several Seattle newcomers excelled. Khris Davis, who led the majors with 48 home runs last year, Stephen Piscotty and Matt Chapman connected for the A's.
A packed crowd of 45,787 was buzzing for its favorite star, sending cheers, chants and camera flashes for Ichiro bounding all around the park. Signs and Ichiro jerseys were plenty, too.
At 45, Ichiro became the second-oldest position player to start an opener, only a few months younger than Julio Franco was for Atlanta in 2004.
Batting ninth and playing right field, Ichiro popped up and worked a walk his two times up. After taking his defensive spot in the bottom of the fourth inning, he was pulled to another ovation, with his Mariners teammates gathering in the diamond for hugs.
Ichiro is expected to play again Thursday when the two-game series finishes, and that might be the end of a sensational pro career that began in Japan in 1992 when he was at 18. He stopped playing last May to become a Mariners special assistant — after totaling 4,367 hits on both sides of the ocean — and struggled in spring training this year.
Santana, one of many Mariners new to the lineup, had no trouble at the plate. His opposite-field grand slam capped a five-run burst in the third for a 5-2 lead and Beckham's drive in the fifth made it 9-4.
Beckham got three hits and three times. Also making a nice debut for Seattle were Jay Bruce, who singled for MLB's first hit of the season, and Edwin Encarnacion, who scored twice.
The Mariners won for the 12th time in 15 openers. They also beat the A's in 2012 when MLB last started in Japan.
Seattle starter Marco Gonzales hung in for six innings, allowing three earned runs and seven hits, and got the win. Felix Hernandez had started the last 10 openers for the Mariners.
Hunter Strickland pitched a scoreless ninth for a save in his first game for Seattle. Edwin Diaz, who led the majors with 57 last year, was traded with Robinson Cano to the Mets in the offseason.
Fiers, making his first opening day starter at 33, was hit hard for three innings and took the loss.
NOT THIS TIME
After a lot of offseason talk about improved pace of play, the opener took 3 hours, 24 minutes. ... The Mariners had held opponents to no more than three runs in their past 12 openers, an MLB record.
Mariners: C Omar Narvaez got stung in the bare thumb on a fastball right down the middle after an early cross-up with Gonzales. Narvaez was checked by a trainer and stayed in. ... 1B Daniel Vogelbach was hit in the elbow by a pitch and kept playing.
Athletics: OF Nick Martini (sprained knee), who hit well after making his big league debut last season, is on the injured list for at least another week.
Mariners: LHP Yusei Kikuchi makes his major league debut in his home country. The 27-year-old lefty starred for Seibu last season, then joined Seattle with a contract that could be worth $109 million over seven years. Kikuchi mixes a hard fastball with a tough, looping curve.
Athletics: RHP Marco Estrada makes his debut after signing with the A’s. The 35-year-old was 7-14 with a career-worst 5.64 ERA last season for Toronto and was hampered by hip and back problems.
Weeks before the 2016 presidential election, Donna Brazile became something more than her usual pundit self. She was a bona fide campaign story. Emails published by WikiLeaks showed that she had shared questions with the Clinton campaign before a CNN town hall event as well as before a debate with Bernie Sanders. Around that time, CNN announced that it had parted ways with Brazile, who had served in leadership positions at the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Meantime, Fox News announced its outrage over Brazile's back channel to the Clinton campaign. Then-host Megyn Kelly poked holes in Brazile's defense in October 2016. It was brutal. "As a Christian woman, I understand persecution, but I will not sit here and be persecuted because your information is totally false," said Brazile.
In a November 2016 program, host Sean Hannity expressed the in-house line: “Now, Wikileaks - they exposed rampant collusion between the media, and of course, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign,” he said. “We now know that interim DNC chair Donna Brazile from the Clinton campaign gave them multiple debate questions. That’s called cheating!”
There's a flip side of this coin, too. Brazile has tweeted out a thought or two about Fox News, including this one about Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., a frequent target of Fox News opinionators:
“Stand with @MaxineWaters — a woman of valor, tenacity & resiliency. She will not back down from a fight - or a litany of @FoxNews insults.”
She has also promoted the work of Media Matters for America, a watchdog nonprofit that has had Fox News at the center of its mission statement for years.
And Brazile's history with the DNC gave her a special link to Fox News' 2017 groundless story promoting the idea that Seth Rich, a young DNC staffer who was slain in D.C., was at the bottom of the WikiLeaks scandal.
All of this mutual enmity makes for a perfect Washington story, in which both parties set aside their principled objections in favor of their unprincipled interests. Brazile needs a gig and a platform; Fox News needs a strong liberal voice so that it can continue attempting to cast itself as a purveyor of fair-and-balanced coverage. So they inked a contributor contract, as Variety reported on Monday.
Fox News host Dana Perino called Brazile's signing a "bold move" as she introduced the new contributor on Monday afternoon's show. Said Brazile: "I've been on and off Fox for the last 15 years, but this is an opportunity to reach across the aisle, to reach even within my own political party and to independents and others who might want to hear what's happening within the Democratic Party, what's happening in the country and, of course, hear my perspective. During the Lenten season, I try to give up something that I enjoy and I try to do something different, and I decided I'm not going to be a hypocrite. I want to talk to people. I want to listen. I want to reach out, I WANT TO DO SO IN CIVILITY and most of all, I want to be able as a Democrat and a progressive and a liberal to talk to the Fox family, because they're Americans and they care about many of the same issues and concerns that I have."
(Caps added to highlight the fact that this civility warrior is joining a network where the prevailing wisdom holds that immigration makes the country "dirtier.")
Similarly, the idea of “reaching across the aisle” on a cable-news set is risible. Brazile is, again, a television pundit who’ll be laying out her expert commentary in panel discussions for the foreseeable future. What happens on Fox News panels doesn’t qualify as genuine political engagement. It’s all a show ― a show that thrives on bickering and sound-bites that play well on tweeted videos. It’s the locus of division and misconception, not healing.
Eric Wemple | The Washington Post
Erik Wemple, The Washington Post’s media critic, focuses on the cable-news industry. Before joining The Post, he ran a short-lived and much publicized local online news operation, and for eight years served as editor of Washington City Paper.
"I brought this fabric for you," my mom said in Bengali.
She lifted an emerald and ecru plaid from a Jo-Ann bag. My fingers read the twill weave. We couldn’t tell what the fiber was exactly. Maybe rayon? The yarns had a sheen, like the glint of an eyeball. My mom let the cloth hang from her hands to show me its heavy drape. “I thought you could make a nice skirt with it,” she said, her voice breaking.
My mom understood how sewing fluttered me out of depression. After all, sewing compelled her, too. When I was growing up, the thrum of her sewing machine would lull me to sleep as she pulled all-nighters to make us matching shalwar kameezes — tunic, trouser and stole sets — for Eid. Her machine was humming in the background the evening we found out from family in Dhaka, Bangladesh, that Nani, my maternal grandmother, had died. My cousin tucked me into bed and said my mom didn’t know. Later in the glow of my night light, I heard the sewing machine fall silent and my mom cry.
In May 2015, after taking my last law school final, I asked my mom if we could sew a dress together. I knew my way with a needle and thread, but I wanted to learn how to construct a garment. For me, sewing clothes like my mom and aunts do had always been a latent aspiration. My legal career loomed that summer. I dreaded joining a Midtown Manhattan law firm in the fall. Conforming to a corporate firm's glib culture felt distant from my creative ambition. Sewing, with its paper patterns, step-by-step instructions and my mom's example, reaffirmed my confidence and encouraged me forward.
I tend to pause on how my mom must have felt in the fluorescence of Jo-Ann, examining the plaid fabric. In the summer of 2015, she had observed my inability to study for the New York Bar Exam in July. To my parents' disappointment, I had skipped my law school graduation that May to attend a swimsuit-sewing class in Brooklyn instead. In the months after, I ignored lectures and floppy textbooks that were supposed to prepare me for the Bar. I retreated to a small room in my parents' house with a sewing machine and a cutting table. By the time I sat for the exam, I hadn't opened a single practice test. But, I had cut into a black-and-red polka dot Lycra and ruched the fabric for a '50s style swimsuit with a sweetheart neckline.
My swimsuit project coincided with my discovery of the online sewing community. Instead of reviewing covenants and easements, I curled up with tea in the mornings and pored over sewing blogs, where sewists all over the world gush about fabric and patterns and share their processes and techniques. My imagination was awash with drafting princess seams, hemming chiffon and applying lace. When I didn't feel like getting up in the morning, I pictured the dresses I wanted to make.
Although I grew up wearing clothes that my mom and aunts sewed, the online sewing community opened the horizon of what I could accomplish. I progressed quickly with confidence that I struggled to find in my legal practice. I have sewn bras, T-shirts and culottes. I am tailoring my first coat! In the evenings after work, I've been basting silk organza to black wool and cashmere for a crisp winter coat with raglan sleeves that reaches past my knees. The only thing keeping me from sewing a gown for the Met Ball is an invitation. It's hard to overstate the elation I feel when I'm wearing clothes I've made. One of my first dresses was a bright floral sheath with puff sleeves. I had picked out the fabric from my mom's stash, thinking it was good to practice with because of the loud primary colors. I felt happy as soon as I put the dress on and shimmied to my parents' room to show it off. The silhouette enveloped my frame. I can only imagine the depth of my mom's joy in seeing me smile again.
During my first year at the law firm, my mom often ended up holding my hand at the kitchen table.
“I see you, and I can’t understand why you would feel so low about yourself,” she said. “Why can’t you get out of the water and shake it off, like a duck?”
My mom shook her shoulders to show me what she wanted me to do. “Look at everything you’ve accomplished,” she said. “I was never that ambitious.” Never that ambitious? My mom deferred her dream to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology to raise my little brother and me. But she continued to cultivate her ambition by sewing. She has sewn my Halloween costumes, suits for high school speech tournaments, and a prom dress from my drawings of designs and clippings of Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy. For my Sweet 16, I opened my European history textbook to Jacques-Louis David’s painting of Napoleon’s coronation and pointed to Empress Joséphine. From that tiny image, she sewed an ivory silk gown with three-quarter-length sleeves, a gathered bodice and an empire waist. Is this not ambition?
"It's not as easy as it looks," my mom would say when I showed her my sketches. Now that I sew, I know what she meant. I realize how much I hadn't noticed in her handiwork before: her clever solutions when there was barely enough fabric and her foresight in allowing for fitting adjustments. To sew is to engineer with cloth and anticipate how it might stretch or sag with wear. To sew clothes to last, my mom thought beyond how the garment looked on the outside and assessed how to join and reinforce seams that people might never see.
My own sewing practice reflects my mom's habits and drive. Like her, I press every seam before stitching it to another one. When I get stuck on a project, I call her to discuss ideas. Through her, I have accessed a craft that reminds me of my capacity for trial and error. As I checked off projects, sewing confirmed that if I tackle something a little bit each day, I can progress toward my goal. In a way, my sewing practice offered an analogue to moving forward in my career.
While I hesitated to approach law firm partners, I grew close with my pro bono asylum client. We met almost every week to talk through her story and draft her affidavit. "I will pray for you," she said in French when she sensed my sadness. Our connection prompted me to look for jobs in public-interest advocacy. The diligence that I indulged in with sewing helped me reshape my daily routine to research and pursue the organizations I might work for.
As my handmade wardrobe grows, my confidence as an attorney grows, too. My pencil skirts buoy me before judges. My knit dresses keep me cozy in the office. The clothes I make support my body as I discuss forms of relief with clients. When I am trying to finesse a legal argument, looking down at my stitches assures me of my ability. And when the subway stalls, I can dip into daydreams about blazers and bishop sleeves.
Sewing may not be necessary for me as it was for my mom and aunts in present-day Bangladesh. Nevertheless, for my mental health and creative compulsion, sewing has been indispensable. When it's difficult to make out a path, I can turn to the steps of making a garment. I can wear the confidence that sewing brings.
I'm thinking of making an A-line skirt with two pleats at the front out of the plaid my mom got me. It's a simple design that's easy to sew and comfortable to wear. As I weave through crowds and beat green lights to cross streets, I can grip the fabric to remember that I contain the diligence to step toward where I want to be.
Sumaiya Ahmed is an immigration attorney with a non-profit in New York City.
Video: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said he’s suing Twitter and three individual users for more than $250 million dollars on March 18, accusing the defendants of defamation and negligence. (Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post)
There is a Twitter account called “Devin Nunes’ cow” that has tweeted nasty things about Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. Evidently, the account is not actually run by a cow belonging to Nunes. Nunes is now suing his purported cow.
Nunes is suing @DevinCow, along with another parody account called @DevinNunesMom, Republican strategist Liz Mair and Twitter as an organization, alleging a concerted effort to defame him and work against his 2018 reelection campaign. He's also accusing Twitter of unfairly targeting conservatives through a practice known as "shadow banning." He's asking for $250 million.
What might be most notable about Nunes’s suit is that this is the first battle he chose. Nunes said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Monday night that this is “the first of many” lawsuits to come. Does he really think his most obvious and airtight case involved ... @DevinCow and @DevinNunesMom?
Here's a sampling of the tweets he alleges are defamatory, using language directly from the lawsuit Fox obtained:
• “Devin Nunes’ cow has made, published and republished hundreds of false and defamatory statements of and concerning Nunes, including the following: Nunes is a ‘treasonous cowpoke.’”
• "'Devin’s boots are full of manure. He’s udder-ly worthless and its pasture time to move him to prison.' "
• “In her endless barrage of tweets, Devin Nunes’ Mom maliciously attacked every aspect of Nunes’ character, honesty, integrity, ethics and fitness to perform his duties as a United States Congressman.”
• @DevinNunesMom “falsely stated that Nunes was unfit to run the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.”
• @DevinNunesMom "falsely stated that Nunes was ‘voted ‘Most Likely to Commit Treason’ in high school.’ "
• @DevinNunesMom "falsely claimed that Nunes would ‘probably see an indictment before 2020.’ "
It's almost as if the accounts were created to sound ridiculous in a lawsuit and make it seem frivolous.
Unless, of course, this isn't about winning lawsuits. Unless, this is really just about exacting financial pain on outspoken opponents and making Twitter and others who would dare to run afoul of Nunes think twice. If that's the goal, then suing @DevinCow seems rather savvy. What better way to draw attention to something than to sue what is obviously a parody account claiming to be a creature without the opposable thumbs necessary to fire off a tweet?
If such a ridiculous account can be subject to a $250 million lawsuit, then what about someone using their own voice and identity to attack Nunes or other Republicans?
The legal merits of the case appear highly questionable at best. The standard for defamation of a public figure such as Nunes is much higher than for an average person. One expert The Washington Post talked to cited the landmark Supreme Court case in which Jerry Falwell sued Hustler magazine for a satirical advertisement in which his likeness was engaged in sexual activity with his mother in an outhouse. The court ruled that public figures aren't protected from "patently offensive speech" if the statements couldn't be understood as actual facts.
Most of the tweets cited by the lawsuit are ugly and speculative, alleging Nunes has engaged in treasonous and other unseemly behavior. They even carry parallels to the Falwell case, alluding to sexual contact between Nunes, President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nunes was the high-profile chairman of the House Intelligence Committee last Congress, and his pro-Trump actions in the Russia investigation repeatedly came under scrutiny.
But the idea that any of them were understood to be facts rather than hyperbole and/or political speculation is a little difficult to swallow. These kinds of over-the-top and unproven allegations are a feature of our political debate, and they are trafficked in by people from all parts of the political spectrum. If these are subject to damages, the impact on our political discourse would be massive. The number of Twitter users alone who could be successfully sued would be almost impossible to quantify.
More likely is that this is the latest installment in a long-running Republican campaign to "work the refs" when it comes to political discourse. Republicans have alleged media bias for decades, tempting the press to adjust its coverage to avoid criticism. Trump, who promoted Nunes's effort in a tweet Monday night, has talked publicly about opening up libel laws to make it easier to sue people. Conservatives, including Donald Trump Jr., have increasingly argued that social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook censor them. A $250 million lawsuit would seem a good way to make Twitter think long and hard about how it's applying its standards.
So feel free to chuckle about the spectacle of Devin Nunes suing “Devin Nunes’ cow” — especially given Nunes’s past opposition to “frivolous lawsuits” — but know that this most likely isn’t about his purported cow or what it said. Nunes is telegraphing an expansive effort to go after people who hurt Republicans with their public discourse. Its potential impact, not so much legally as from personal behavioral standpoint, shouldn’t be so casually dismissed.
Aaron Blake is senior political reporter, writing for The Fix. A Minnesota native, he has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Hill newspaper.
The highest support comes from white evangelical Protestants, 69 percent of whom approve of the job Trump is doing. This represents a decline from evangelicals’ previous approval rating of 78 percent, but is more than a two-thirds majority.
Among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, another group that has long supported Republican candidates and presidents, Trump’s overall approval rating was lower, 52 percent, but still in majority territory. A strong plurality, 39 percent, of Latter-day Saints disapprove of Trump, and 10 percent say they have no opinion.
Gregory A. Smith, Pew’s associate director of research, says that when Pew aggregates all 11 approval surveys it has conducted since Trump became president — surveying 316 Latter-day Saints, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.5 percentage points — several interesting trends emerge.
• Mormon men are “significantly more approving of Trump’s job performance than [Mormon] women.”
Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Latter-day Saint men approve of Trump compared with 42 percent of female church members. That’s a 21-point spread.
Among Latter-day Saint women, a slightly higher percentage (45 percent) actually disapprove of Trump than approve of him. Latter-day Saint men, on the other hand, approve of the president by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.
• Age is a factor among Mormons, as it is in the general population.
Nearly 6 in 10 (59 percent) of those over 50 approve of Trump, compared with 46 percent of those younger than that.
“The differences between men and women and between older people and younger people roughly resemble patterns seen among the public as a whole,” says Smith.
In January, Pew released findings that indicated a sharp generational difference in support for Trump. Nationally, 54 percent of silent generation Americans approved of the job he is doing, but only 29 percent of millennials did, with baby boomers and Gen Xers falling in the middle.
• Mormons are noticeably cooler toward Trump than toward George W. Bush, the nation’s most recent Republican president.
When Pew collected data from Latter-day Saints during the first two years of George W. Bush’s presidency, more than three-quarters approved of the job he was doing, compared to just over half who now approve of Trump’s performance in office.
On the other hand, Trump’s approval numbers are significantly higher than those Democratic President Barack Obama received in his early tenure. Of the Latter-day Saints interviewed during the first two years of the Obama administration, a scant 28 percent approved of the president.
Not only has approval dropped by 25 points from Bush to Trump, but also disapproval has tripled, from 13 percent to 39 percent.
Editor’s note • The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.
Just months before the end of World War II, Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Lynn W. Hadfield was piloting a bomber plane from France to Germany when it was struck by anti-aircraft fire and crashed somewhere near the German city of Dulmen.
Crews scoured the landscape for the Utahn and two other men in the plane, but found nothing conclusive. That is, until 2016, when a German researcher found evidence of a crash site in Hülsten-Reken, about 10 miles away.
It was Hadfield’s plane.
On Tuesday, his remains arrived in Utah. And Thursday, 74 years to the day of Hadfield’s crash, he’ll finally be laid to rest by friends and family back home.
“I didn’t think that after 74 years he would come back, and I would be here to see it,” said Mary Ann Turner, Hadfield’s daughter.
Turner was 2 years old when her father was killed.
Welcome home 2nd Lt. Lynn W. Hadfield, 74-years after his plane was shot down in Germany. pic.twitter.com/OXUjd75hJf— Utah National Guard (@UTNationalGuard) March 19, 2019
Hadfield, from Salt Lake City, was 26 during his last bomber mission, meant to obstruct German troop movement as Allied forces crossed the Rhine River two days later. Crewmen Sgt. Vernon Hamilton and Sgt. John Kalausich were also aboard, according to a statement from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
In June 2016, German researcher Adolph Hagedorn found what appeared to be an aircraft crash site inside a horse paddock. That winter, crews excavated and found parts of the bomber, medical equipment, personal mementos and possible human bones.
A DNA analysis confirmed the remains belonged to Hadfield and his crew members.
“It gives me peace that I haven’t known my whole life,” Turner said.
Before the crash site was discovered, Turner said her only knowledge of her father’s death was what was in the telegrams her mother and grandmother received — the general location of the crash, and that Hadfield was missing in action. Researchers were able to determine the exact time of the crash and even the angle of the plane as it hit the ground — 45 degrees, Turner said.
The excavation team also recovered Hadfield’s officer wings and his ID tag, which Turner now has.
“I don’t remember him, but I see pictures of him holding me,” she said. “I’m really vexed that I don’t remember him.”
Now Turner’s relatives and friends are gathering in an unforeseen reunion to pay respects to the war hero. Hadfield will be buried Thursday — the anniversary of his death — in Bluffdale Veterans Memorial Park cemetery after a funeral service at Larkin Sunset Gardens Mortuary in Sandy. The funeral will begin at 11 a.m., three seconds before the time of day that the plane crash was recorded, Turner said.
The service will be officiated by the son of a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, she said.
Hadfield joined the Army Armed Forces on Dec. 22, 1942. He was a member of the 642nd Bombardment Squadron, 409th Bombardment Group, 9th Bombardment Division, 9th Air Force.
Turner plans to visit the crash site in Germany with a cousin who speaks German and hopes to thank Hagedorn and others who helped recover her father’s remains.
“It’s indescribably beautiful that a German man would do this for an enemy aircraft," she said.
For years, eastern Utah counties have been deemed the least-healthy counties in Utah, and 2019 is no different — but health officials say new efforts are underway to help alleviate two of the biggest catastrophes in the state’s poorest rural corners: opioid addiction and suicide.
“It is distressing when you start circling all those names and looking at the ages,” said Bradon Bradford, director of the Southeastern Utah District Health Department, who recently tallied all of the opioid overdose deaths in the past eleven years .
There were 88 deaths just in Carbon, Emery and Garfield counties — and the victims’ average age was 34. Bradford is beginning a similar review of suicide deaths, and while the average age appears to be similar, the number of victims is even larger.
Those two crises almost certainly explain why those counties are among the bottom five in the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps list, which is created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin and evaluates an array of health criteria to rank almost every county in the country.
Only San Juan County ranked lower; Duchesne, Uintah and Sevier counties also have made frequent appearances in the bottom five of Utah’s 27 ranked counties (Daggett and Paiute are too small to be ranked).
Morgan County was deemed the state’s healthiest county, a ranking it has held every year except one since 2010, the date of the earliest available report.
The report ranks counties by “health outcomes,” measuring how long people in each county live and how healthy they report feeling, as well as the prevalence of low birth weight. Early deaths are given the heaviest weight in counties’ scores, making the dual crises of opioid addiction and suicide noticeable in the rankings.
The state legislature last year provided funds for two southeast Utah health department employees to work full time studying and preventing suicide and opioid abuse, Bradford said. They have been working to connect new moms, recently-released inmates and people with mental illnesses to resources, and their projects have caught the attention of some federal agencies for their success in reducing stigma around treatment.
“Being toward the bottom ... alerts us to some of the problems,” Bradford said. “We’re not trying to be No. 1 tomorrow. We’re trying to look at each of those factors. We understand there are some inherent challenges and we’ll try to address those a little bit at a time.
Meanwhile, Utah’s healthiest counties generally are among the most affluent, with Morgan, Cache, Summit, Utah, Davis and Wasatch counties shifting around the top slots from year to year.
(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)
Salt Lake County ranked 10th for health outcomes and 11th for “health factors.” Those factors include health behaviors in each county, like drinking alcohol, smoking and exercise; access to clinical care; social and economic factors; and environmental factors, such as air and water pollution and how much time people spend driving alone.
Most, but not all, of Utah’s counties had similar rankings for health outcomes and health factors. Emery County ranked near the bottom — 25 of 27 — for health outcomes, a ranking pulled down by a relatively high number of years lost to “premature” deaths, defined as deaths before age 75. But the county’s high environmental quality pulled its ranking for “health factors” up to 13 of 27.
Meanwhile, Juab County’s residents appear to be healthy on the whole, ranking 9th for “health outcomes,” thanks to a low number of reported sick days and people describing their health as fair or poor. But the county had the state’s highest rate of preventable hospital stays, which calls into question the quality of clinical care there, per the report’s metrics. It’s ranking for “health factors” was 19 of 27.
San Juan had the highest percentage of homes with severe housing problems, defined as the cost burden, overcrowding or the lack of a kitchen or plumbing. While Wasatch County had the highest cost burden, followed by Washington, Wayne and Salt Lake counties, San Juan led the state on the other measures.
Morgan County’s consistently high rankings come despite some significant shortfalls. The county ranked dead last for “physical environment,” with the state’s highest percentage of people who drive alone to work (85 percent) and the seventh-worst air quality. The county’s ratio of residents to mental health care providers is the lowest in the state — 5,940:1, more than 10 times worse than the national average. But with the lowest rate of uninsured residents, high rate of mammography screening and low number of preventable hospital stays, the county still ranks high for quality of and access to clinical care.
Racial disparities in Utahns’ health outcomes were wide, with American Indian residents faring worse than all other racial and ethnic groups in premature deaths, poor or fair health (reported by 26 percent of Native American respondents polled), and days of poor physical and mental health.
However, low birth weight was more frequently experienced by Utahns of Hispanic (10 percent) and Asian (9 percent) descent. White newborns in Utah were underweight 7 percent of the time, with black and American Indian newborns at 8 percent.
Dayton, Ohio • Darnell Edge scored a career-high 33 points, and Fairleigh Dickinson rallied to win its first ever NCAA Tournament game, taking down Prairie View A&M 82-76 in the tourney opener on Tuesday night.
Edge was 7 for 9 from beyond the 3-point line, and Jahil Jenkins scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half for the Knights (21-13), who advanced out of the First Four to play No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
Prairie View (22-13), also seeking its first tournament win, built up 13-point leads in both halves, but Fairleigh Dickinson took control in the second half behind the shooting of Edge and Jenkins.
A 3-pointer by Gary Blackson pulled Prairie View back to within two points, 78-76, but a layup from Mike Holloway Jr. and a pair of free throws by Edge with 17 seconds left sealed it for Fairleigh Dickinson.
Blackson led the Panthers with 26 points and Devonte Patterson had 17.
Prairie View threatened to run away with it early, ripping off a 14-0 first-half run as Fairleigh Dickinson committed nine turnovers in the first 10 minutes to fall into a 19-6 hole. The Knights chipped away, with Edge hitting a 3-pointer and a layup in the last minute of the half to reduce the deficit to 41-34 at the intermission.
Fairleigh Dickinson: The Knights got their first tournament win in six tries, and they earned it by staging a furious comeback and holding off Prairie View down the stretch.
Prairie View: The Panthers’ only previous tournament appearance was 21 years ago. They had high hopes after winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular season and tournament, going 21-2 to finish the season.
Fairleigh Dickinson: Enters the main NCAA bracket as the No. 16 seed in the West Region and plays Gonzaga on Thursday.
Prairie View: Season ends.
The Osguthorpe farm on Old Ranch Road would make members of that Summit County family rich indeed if they sold the 158-acre tract near Park City to developers, but they would rather keep the Snyderville Basin’s last working historic farm in production.
The wool from Osguthorpe sheep is used to make military dress uniforms. Yet the land that sustains the sheep producing that wool also preserves open space that now helps sustain Park City’s status as a beautiful place to live and visit.
The family has agreed to sell a conservation easement that preserves the property as a working farm to the nonprofit Summit Land Conservancy, but the clock is ticking to raise the final $535,000 of the nearly $18 million deal.
“We put our life’s work there. We have houses built all the way around it now. If I looked down [Old Ranch] road and saw houses built on that property, I would not be able to live with myself,” said landowner Steve Osguthorpe. “We want to preserve it. We have seen so many changes in our lives. The thing we enjoyed about the area has disappeared, and we don’t want that to happen to our property.”
Summit Land Conservancy is making an all-out push to raise the purchase money by the March 31 deadline under a matching grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“It’s not just about preserving a slice of the past but supporting Park City’s economic future and image,” said Cheryl Fox, the conservancy’s executive director. The group has taken out full-page ads in Salt Lake City newspapers, pleading for donations.
“We’ll lose $8.8 million in federal funding,” the ad states. “We’ll lose $4 million donated by your neighbors.”
The federal Natural Resources Conservation Service provided the largest-ever grant for farmland conservation in Utah, covering half the deal’s price tag, while the Osguthorpes shaved $4 million. Fox’s group has been raising the balance since September 2017 and has so far pulled in 900 donations.
“There used to be 26 dairies in the Snyderville Basin. This is the last real farm,” Fox said. “It’s expensive, but that is because it’s flat and in a high-end neighborhood. It’s high-end because it has a lot of open space that the community has preserved.”
The Osguthorpe farm, located just northeast of Willow Creek Park, would bring a fortune to developers. But its value as open space is worth far more to Park City, whose tourism economy depends of scenic venues and outdoor recreation, according to Fox.
(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)
Steve Osguthorpe’s father, well-known veterinarian D.A. “Doc” Osguthorpe, who died in 2009, bought the tract in 1947, back when many Synderville farms raised feed for horses that toiled in nearby mines, hauling ore to the surface. The pivot-irrigated half-mile-by-half-mile quarter-section was the Osguthorpes’ first of many acquisitions in the Snyderville Basin at a time when the area economy was shifting from natural resources to tourism and skiing.
After Park City’s mines closed, Osguthorpe bought out other farmers who had lost their main source of income. These holdings are now key pieces of Park City’s remaining open space.
“We are fortunate the Osguthorpe family is so committed to farming and conservation. This is a family that has never sold for development,” Fox said. “Sometimes people need money. This family looks for a conservation solution for those problems, and we are so lucky they do.”
Since 1998, the Summit Land Conservancy has acquired development rights in Utah’s once-bucolic basin that now harbors some of the West’s priciest real estate. The group manages 38 conservation easement on 5,700 acres of undeveloped land in Summit County, much of it with public access in and around Park City.
The Old Ranch conservation deal is the fourth for Osguthorpe family members, who have forgone lucrative development on highly visible properties, such as Round Valley’s Land of Oz and the conspicuous barn, once part of a thriving dairy, off State Road 224. As they have done at Round Valley, they are open to allowing wintertime access to the Old Ranch property, which could be tied in into Park City’s cross-country ski trails through Willow Creek Park.
While surrounding parcels turned into subdivisions, the Osguthorpe holdings continued to be used for growing alfalfa and oats to support the family’s sheep and dairy operations and to sell to horse owners.
“We appreciate the people here stepping up,” Steve Osguthorpe said. "The last thing we want to do is just sell it and have it developed. That is not what we are. Money doesn’t motivate us. Farming and ranching do.”
The excitement in Logan isn’t tied specifically to what’s going on with Craig Smith and the NCAA Tournament-bound Aggies.
On Tuesday afternoon, Round II of the Gary Andersen era in Cache Valley got underway. The Utah State football program opened spring practice on a sunny afternoon in Logan for the first time since Andersen returned to coach the Aggies in December. The Aggies are coming off an 11-2 season in 2018, including a runaway 52-13 win over North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl.
Of the 91 players at Tuesday’s spring opener, nine are returning starters, including seven on defense. Returning in 2019 will be two All-Americans and eight players who earned various all-Mountain West Conference honors from the team that finished No. 22 in the final AP poll.
"It was a great day with good effort and energy, which you would expect on day one," said Andersen. "Overall, I'm proud of these kids and there hasn't been one day where we haven't had effort. You always have a long way to go, I don't care how experienced or inexperienced of a team you have on day one of spring ball. There's a lot of new faces and we're doing a lot of new things on both sides of the ball."
Notable returners include junior quarterback Jordan Love, junior linebacker David Woodward, junior wideout Savon Scarver, senior linebacker Tipa Galeai, senior defensive end Fun Leilua, senior defensive tackle Christopher ‘Unga and senior defensive back DJ Williams.
Love set five USU school records in 2018, including 32 touchdown passes, 3,567 passing yards, seven 300-yard passing games, 234 points responsible for, and was named MWC Player of the Week five times.
"It was good to be back out here and everybody was flying around," Love said. "We are keeping the same offense, so we don't have to learn much, we just have to keep getting better."
The Aggies are scheduled to have 15 spring practices during the five-week-long period, culminating in the annual Blue vs. White spring game on Saturday, April 13, at Maverik Stadium at noon.
There is no issue as representative of the moral and intellectual decline of the Republican Party as immigration. The GOP has gone from the party of economic growth and innovation (for which legal immigration is essential), optimism (not Malthusian economics, which posits every new American uses up scarce resources), inclusion and family values (e.g., keeping immigrant families intact) to the party of xenophobia, lies (terrorists! murderers!), cruelty (child separation, deportation of "dreamers") and economic illiteracy.
The traditional immigration approach that President Ronald Reagan advocated didn’t evaporate some time in the distant past. President George W. Bush was a fierce advocate of immigration reform, as he and his wife Laura Bush reminded us at a naturalization ceremony on Monday.
"We're a state that thrives due to the prosperity, ingenuity, transformation, and generosity of immigrants. And we are a much richer state for all the cultures that have settled on our land," Laura Bush said. "My life has been shaped by this richness. My grandparents were drawn to Texas by the twin promises of opportunity and good health amid the bright sunshine and dry desert air of West Texas."
She put her own family within the tradition of immigration to Texas.
“The values and dreams that drew our families here to Texas are the same ones that have drawn tens of thousands of others, from around the United States and around the world. And I know that these values and dreams are part of what led each of you on the journey that brought you to this ceremony today.”
Unlike the president, who wants to keep out immigrants from "s---hole" countries to keep America white, she reminded us that new immigrants become just as much a part of America as past immigrants.
“Today’s new citizens represent many cultures and nearly every region of the world, from Asia to the Indian subcontinent, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, South America, and Central America — and our next-door neighbors of Mexico and Canada. It is never an easy path to leave what is familiar and venture into the unknown. Each of you has done just that. And Texas and the United States are better for it.”
President George W. Bush stressed that America is the big beneficiary of immigration. “We have individuals and families from many backgrounds and cultures. ... You paid America the high tribute of aspiring to live here, leaving behind familiar ways and places, and accepting a process that everyone knows is not easy. Our country, in return, honored your efforts, and soon we will be honored to call you ‘citizen.’” He explained, “The United States of America is in many ways the most successful of nations. Historically, where immigration is concerned, we are also the most welcoming of nations. And these two facts are related.”
Bush gave voice to what a responsible immigration debate should sound like:
"America’s elected representatives have a duty to regulate who comes in and when. In meeting this responsibility, it helps to remember that America’s immigrant history made us who we are. Amid all the complications of policy, may we never forget that immigration is a blessing and a strength. ...
“That [debate] starts with recognizing a plain responsibility at the border — and, in an often chaotic situation, being willing to state the obvious: Borders are not arbitrary and they need to be respected — along with the fine men and women of immigration services and the Border Patrol. Immigration statutes, likewise, reflect the will of the people and the Congress, and must be enforced. And when the laws are outdated and ineffective, they must be rewritten. I hope those responsible in Washington can dial down the rhetoric, put politics aside, and modernize our immigration laws soon.”
He concluded by expressing regret he didn't achieve his goal of passing immigration reform.
Those sentiments, which echo the foundational creed of America (“All men are created equal...” ) have no place in the Trumpized GOP. On this issue alone, the GOP has lost many of us who subscribed to the believe that free markets, robust immigration and inclusiveness made the secret sauce for American success. A party that rejects the American creed and sneers at its formula for success is unworthy of our support.
The final steel beam placed atop the under-construction North Concourse was celebrated Tuesday as another milestone in progress of the the Salt Lake City International Airport expansion.
This so-called “topping off” ceremony was similar to one last May on the new airport’s central terminal.
Construction workers listened to remarks by Salt Lake City Council Chairman Charlie Luke; Patrick Leary, chief of staff to Mayor Jackie Biskupski; Department of Airports Executive Director Bill Wyatt and Brett Okland, president of Okland Construction.
The practice of “topping off” is a Scandinavian religious rite of placing a tree atop a new building to appease the tree-dwelling spirits displaced during construction.
The groundbreaking for the $850 million North Concourse was held in January 2018, and since that time workers have poured approximately 16,190 cubic yards of concrete and erected more than 5,000 tons of structural steel.
Phase 1 of the project will include 20 gates in a 465,775-square-foot building. The second phase will include 10 gates in a 364,479-square-foot building with the ability to build an additional 15 gates.
Charleston, W.Va. • A Catholic diocese and its former bishop in West Virginia knowingly employed pedophiles and failed to conduct adequate background checks on camp and school workers, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the state attorney general.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s suit against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and Bishop Michael Bransfield was brought under the state’s consumer credit and protection act, which several lawyers said is a first-of-its kind move.
The suit alleges the diocese and Bransfield chose to cover up arguably criminal behavior and says the diocese employed admitted sexual abusers and priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse without adequate background checks. It comes about a week after church officials barred Bransfield from priestly duties following an investigation into claims that he sexually harassed adults and committed financial improprieties.
“The Catholic Church has been covering up, concealing and denying that it’s harbored child-molesting priests for a long time, including right here in West Virginia,” Morrisey said at a news conference.
A spokesman from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston issued a statement saying some of the allegations are not accurately described and adding that they would address the litigation “in the appropriate forum.”
In one decades-old instance cited in the lawsuit, the Rev. Victor Frobas, who was forced out of the Philadelphia seminary system because of a credible accusation of child sexual abuse, was made the director of a summer youth camp owned by the diocese. Frobas was then accused of sexually abusing children at that post and, after a leave of absence, was later assigned to work as a chaplain at Wheeling Central Catholic High School, the lawsuit said.
In 1987, Frobas was indicted for molesting two boys at a parish in suburban St. Louis. He pleaded guilty, served about two years and then died in 1993, according to the lawsuit, which seeks a court order to stop the diocese from continuing its alleged practice of employing admitted abusers and trying to cover them up. Morrisey said his office is in the process of referring individual cases to local prosecutors.
“We believe an important first step for the diocese,” Morrisey said, “is to come clean with what it knows.”
A statement from the diocese says the allegations do not “fairly portray its overall contributions to the education of children in West Virginia nor fairly portray the efforts of its hundreds of employees and clergy who work every day to deliver quality education in West Virginia.”
No one responded to a voicemail left with a phone number listed for Bransfield.
St. Paul, Minnesota-based attorney Jeff Anderson, who has handled church abuse cases for more than three decades, is one of two attorneys who said using the consumer credit and protection act in such a suit was a unique move sure to inspire other states.
“This is unprecedented and appropriate, and foreshadows other actions to come,” Anderson said. “There’s no question that this is a wellspring with many tributaries to follow.”
Morrisey and the president of the board of directors of the national nonprofit group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Tim Lennon, also said they had never heard of using the consumer credit and protection act in such a way.
The Vatican announced that Pope Francis accepted Bransfield’s resignation in September and appointed Baltimore Archbishop William Lori to take over the Wheeling-Charleston diocese. Bransfield had been implicated in a 2012 case against Philadelphia priests accused of sexual abuse, but he denied abusing anyone.
Last week, Catholic Church officials said they were imposing ministerial restrictions on Bransfield pending the Holy See’s final assessment on the investigation into the claims in West Virginia.
A Catholic high school in Wheeling, West Virginia, voted recently to remove Bransfield’s name from a gym. His name also has been removed from a care center at Wheeling Hospital.
Lennon applauded the attorney general’s suit.
“It holds those people — those criminals — accountable and those who are complicit in covering up for those criminals, accountable,” he said.
Vatican City • Pope Francis has declined to accept the resignation of French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin as archbishop of Lyon after he was convicted of failing to report a known predator priest to police, the Vatican said Tuesday.
The decision greatly disappointed abuse survivors, given that Barbarin had traveled to the Vatican on Monday to present his resignation after the March 7 verdict and six-month suspended sentence he received.
Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said Tuesday that during the audience, Francis didn’t accept the resignation and instead asked Barbarin to do what he thinks is best for the archdiocese. Barbarin has decided to take time away and has asked his deputy in Lyon, the Rev. Yves Baumgarten, to assume leadership of the archdiocese, Gisotti said.
“The Holy See repeats its closeness to victims of abuse, to the faithful of the archdiocese of Lyon and the French church who are living in a particularly difficult moment,” Gisotti said.
The French court found that Barbarin had an obligation to report the Rev. Bernard Preynat to civil authorities when he learned of his abuse. Preynat, who is scheduled to be tried on sexual violence charges next year, confessed to abusing Boy Scouts in the 1970s and ’80s. His victims accuse Barbarin and other church authorities of covering up for him for years.
Barbarin has appealed the conviction, which could have influenced Francis’ decision to not immediately accept his resignation. Francis has been loath to take such measures lest they influence the outcome of trials.
But the decision nevertheless left French abuse victims disillusioned, particularly given Francis’ recent comments about ending cover-up that he pronounced at the end of a high-level Vatican summit last month.
Bertrand Virieux, a victim and co-founder of the association La Parole Liberee (Lift the Burden of Silence), told France Info radio he doesn’t understand Francis’ decision and doesn’t expect anything anymore from the church.
He noted the disconnect between the “strong words pronounced a few weeks ago that might have given hope to victims and to those who want some change within the church” and “the daily reality in the church.”
Another victim, the president of the association Francois Devaux, called Francis’ decision a mistake.
“It shows that we are right and that the problem is inherent to [religious] dogma,” he told French media.
Last year, Francis reluctantly accepted the resignation of one of his key supporters, Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, after he was implicated in cover-ups from decades ago.
The cases were revealed by a Pennsylvania grand jury report. Wuerl was never criminally charged, but he determined he could no longer effectively lead the archdiocese after he lost the trust of the flock and some of his priests.
Francis also accepted the resignation last year of Philip Wilson, archbishop of Adelaide, Australia, after he was convicted of covering up abuse. Wilson’s conviction was reversed on appeal, but he had already had been replaced. His future status is unclear.
Columbia, S.C. • South Carolina lawmakers are taking steps to lure the Carolina Panthers to move their practice facility and operations across the North Carolina state line by introducing legislation that would provide tax credits and incentives to professional sports teams.
Members of the House Economic Development Legislative subcommittee voted Tuesday in favor of the Professional Sports Team Investment Act. The proposal would allow the NFL team to be eligible for tax credits and exemptions, incentives they would not have been eligible for under current laws. A Senate subcommittee passed their companion version of the bill Tuesday.
The bill's author, House Majority Leader Gary Simrill, said the legislation is intended for all prospective professional teams to consider the Palmetto State as a viable location for their franchise.
"It allows South Carolina to welcome pro sports teams to South Carolina, giving them basically what is afforded to other businesses when they bring investments to South Carolina, jobs to South Carolina," the Republican lawmaker said. "This just adds that to the list."
The legislation comes after talks last week between South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, lawmakers and Panthers owner David Tepper. Following the meeting, McMaster along with members of the General Assembly held a news conference at the Statehouse expressing their excitement about the possible move and its potential financial implications on the state. Along with an indoor practice facility, owners are considering building a sports medicine facility, restaurants, hotel and meeting spaces, McMaster said during the news conference. No deal has been finalized; however lawmakers are continuing to strengthen their appeal.
"We are so grateful that we have the opportunity to do that, to work with the Panthers and other sports teams as South Carolina continues to grow both from an economic standpoint and a livelihood standpoint," Simrill said. "This legislation will benefit South Carolina and the Panthers."
The House panel unanimously passed the bill out of subcommittee.
Both the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means full committees will take up their versions of the legislation Wednesday. The Rock Hill lawmaker said he expects the bipartisan-backed legislation to pass swiftly through both chambers.
"The governor has responded that he would sign them with alacrity," Simrill said. "I look forward to it happening soon, and then everything else is really up to the Panthers."
The state and Tepper have not settled on any potential site and are considering an area in York County about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of its stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The game was the biggest of its kind ever — and it happened right here in Salt Lake City.
It was more than big. It was transcendent.
It launched the NCAA Tournament on a flight to its current status as one of the sports calendar’s premier events, prompting millions of Americans each March not only to watch the games, but to participate in them, to make them theirs by filling out brackets in countless office pools from coast to coast. And it lifted basketball — college and professional — to new heights.
Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores versus Magic Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans.
This year’s NCAA Tournament marks the 40th anniversary of that championship game, played in the building now known as the Jon M. Huntsman Center, a contest that ended up being the most-watched basketball game of all time. One in four of the country’s television sets were tuned into that game on that night, March 26, 1979.
“It was the booster rocket that took college basketball to the stratosphere,” Dick Enberg, the late broadcaster who called the action for NBC, along with Al McGuire and Billy Packer, once told me.
Entire books have been written on the game’s magnitude and effect, including Seth Davis’ “When March Went Mad.” Basketball had never stirred that kind of interest, never pulled those kinds of ratings before. John Wooden’s UCLA teams were popular, and there had been notable athletes come though the college game and move on to the pros. But at that time even the NBA Finals were a relative afterthought, shown on TV on tape delay.
This event was different. It was can’t-miss.
Jud Heathcote, the late coach of Michigan State that night, put it this way: “The buildup was unbelievable. I had been to other Final Fours and they were just games, and this one, the media just descended on Salt Lake. Everybody wanted to watch me coach, is what I say.”
There were those two other guys who had captured the nation’s interest, too.
Magic and Bird were a couple of basketball’s greatest-ever talents. Nobody knew it with exactness back then, because they were yet in embryonic form, just starting on their arc toward the Hall of Fame. But there were compelling indications of the quickly emerging prowess. And there were backstories, as well.
They were a contrasted pair of school kids, one white, a shy, countrified lad who liked to hunt and fish and work on a maintenance crew back in French Lick, Ind., and the other black, with an expansive personality, a lanky showman of a point guard with physical and imaginative dimensions heretofore unseen, from Lansing, Mich.
A magician and a hick.
Each of them could score like crazy — Bird averaged 30.3 points over his college career — and do so with flash and panache, but they did more than that — they involved their lesser teammates by way of the pass, happily sharing the ball via timely, appealing, remarkable awareness.
“They had two things others didn’t have,” Heathcote said. “Great hands and great court vision.”
Enberg described Bird as “a dolt, a funny-looking farm kid who had a great game, but you wondered if he knew his middle name.” He described the Sycamores as “Larry Bird and four chemistry majors.”
Magic was all Hollywood, long before he owned that town as a Lakers star. And the Spartans looked to be better than Indiana State, even though they had played unevenly, at times. In Davis’ book, he tells Heathcote’s story about the reaction from Michigan State fans, after the team lost earlier in the season to Northwestern, revealing that he got only one letter requesting his resignation: “Unfortunately,” Heathcote said, “it was signed by 10,000 people.” On the other hand, the Sycamores were 33-0 the night they entered Utah’s home arena.
Neither star played for a traditional powerhouse, ISU and MSU being obscure hardwood outposts at the time, which fueled the intrigue even more.
“The two teams involved made it what it was,” Bird said a few years ago, adding that people to this day, even after all the championships he won with the Celtics, ask him about the game at the Huntsman. “Not just about the game, but the team I was on and how we got there. Winning 29 [regular-season] games that year, and the run we had and the players I played with, that is what I remember most. As for the game itself, I don’t like to talk about that.”
In the semifinals, Michigan State crushed Penn and Indiana State struggled to get past DePaul.
The night before the national title game, Heathcote tossed his team’s curfew, allowing his players to live in the moment, to do pretty much whatever they wanted: “I figured they couldn’t find any trouble in Salt Lake, anyway. Gregory [Kelser] said, ‘Coach, we’re all exhausted. We’re just going to go back and sleep.’”
Bird and his Indiana State team stayed at the old Hotel Utah, which might have been fine accommodations, except for the fact that Michigan State’s band and fans were also staying there, producing music and noise deep into the night.
Larry said he loved playing in Salt Lake City: “I remember thinking, ‘Man, this place is beautiful.’ Every time I go there, I think that … ‘This is an awesome place.’”
The anticipation in the run-up to the game was awesome, too. At one point, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir put on a performance for the schools’ assembled fans, committing a turnover, though, when it sang “The Victors,” Michigan’s famous fight song, instead of Michigan State’s, a tone-deaf, five-octave “Oops.”
Nonetheless, the pregame ambience was unforgettable.
“All our fans were there, and people were in the streets,” Bird said. “Everywhere, it seemed like there was a sea of blue or green.”
The sea flowed that Monday night into the arena, jamming its 15,410 seats — a minuscule number compared to modern-day Final Fours now held in football palaces — alongside some of the game’s notables, from Bob Knight to Digger Phelps. “The confines of the arena were great,” Packer said. “It was a knowledgable crowd.” The atmosphere was electric.
The game itself, though, was not.
Bird had an off night, scoring 19 points on 7-for-21 shooting against Heathcote’s matchup zone, and the Spartans breezed to victory by the count of 75-64. At the end, Larry the Legend buried his head in a towel.
“The game didn’t live up to its billing,” Heathcote said. “It wasn’t a classic.”
But the game’s impact was huge, having grabbed the attention of the American public, sending Magic and Bird onto additional fame and wealth and success in the NBA, lifting the college tournament, elevating basketball to the lofty spot it has occupied over the ensuing years, through eras from Michael Jordan to Tim Duncan to Kobe and Shaq to LeBron James to Steph Curry.
Forty years ago this week, Salt Lake City linked Larry Bird and Earvin Johnson, as Magic once put it, “together forever.” It is the place where the Madness of March began.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.
Heather Bennett, a member of the Salt Lake City Board of Education since 2005 and a passionate voice for children’s education, has died.
She was 61.
Bennett died Monday night, “unexpectedly from a vascular issue, the origins of which have not been determined,” her husband, Kevin Hanson, said Tuesday. Bennett had been treated for pancreatic cancer for several months, the Salt Lake City School District confirmed in a statement.
“We’ve lost not only a fierce advocate for our students but also a kind, compassionate, and exemplary public servant,” Lexi Cunningham, the district’s superintendent, said in a statement. “Her passion for providing equitable opportunities for all SLCSD students drove her work on our Board. This is the legacy she leaves behind, and we at the district are committed to carrying on the important work that so fueled her.”
Katherine Kennedy, who was Bennett’s friend and her colleague on the school board, told The Salt Lake Tribune, “Heather was so thoughtful about how she approached education issues. She was really able to see a big picture, or big consequences, before other people did.”
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski tweeted her condolences. “For 14 years, Heather dedicated her life to school policy, inspired to get involved as a parent of #SLC students,” Biskupski posted on Twitter.
We are saddened to hear of the death of @slcschools Board Member Heather Bennett. For 14 years, Heather dedicated her life to school policy, inspired to get involved as a parent of #SLC students. Our hearts are with her family at this time. #utpol https://t.co/CTZdHZRwG6— Mayor J. Biskupski (@slcmayor) March 19, 2019
Bennett represented Precinct 5 in the Salt Lake City School District — an area that extends from the Jordan River to 1300 East, between 900 South and 2100 South, and includes East High School, Horizonte Instruction and Training Center, Innovations Early College High School and five elementary schools. Her current term was set to run through Dec. 31, 2020. From 2015 until the start of this year, Bennett served as the board’s president.
Bennett argued against vouchers for private-school tuition, writing in a 2007 Salt Lake Tribune opinion essay that “vouchers let Utah legislators off the hook. They do nothing to address underfunding of public school programs.” She helped craft the district’s policy to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ students in 2010, and supported including domestic partners on the insurance coverage for district employees. She championed later starts for the school day, citing studies that show students do better when they’re not up too early.
As board president, she is credited with supporting early childhood education and early literacy programs, and extending the accelerated Extended Learning Program, or ELP, to more students. She oversaw the rebuilding of the former Lincoln Elementary, renamed Liberty Elementary, and the opening of the Liberty Community Learning Center.
District officials note that while Bennett was board president, the board in 2017 passed the district’s Safe Schools Resolution, the first of its kind in Utah, designed to head off violence in public schools before it starts.
Board member Kristi Swett, in a statement, said, “I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor and example of what it means to be a public servant. … I learned so much from Heather, her grace, and her ability to look past what was on the outside and really dig for what was on the inside."
“She had an enormous intellect, but she never paraded that,” Kennedy told The Tribune. “She was collegial, and really worked hard to build a community.”
That collegiality wasn’t always easy to achieve. Bennett’s time as board president overlapped with the brief, contentious tenure of board member Michael Clara, who represented Salt Lake City’s west side.
The conflict came to a head in 2015, when Clara complained he was being discriminated against because Bennett ordered a school resource officer to the front of the board’s meeting room — a response to an angry, profanity-laced phone call between Clara and then-superintendent McKell Withers. Clara countered by donning a sombrero and poncho, what he called a “Frito Bandito” costume, during a board meeting. Clara lost his re-election bid in 2016 to current board member Michael Nemelka.
Bennett became a school activist as a parent of students at Lowell Elementary School in the Avenues. She represented Lowell parents when the district closed the school in 2001, a decision that some parents still haven’t forgotten or forgiven.
When Bennett’s children started at Lowell in 1993, she became a volunteer and PTA member there, Kennedy said. When Bennett arrived, Lowell had two PTAs, one for the neighborhood kids and one for the ELP students.
“She brought those PTAs together,” Kennedy said. “She was a unifier.”
Survivors include her husband, Kevin Hanson, a professor in the Film and Media Arts Department at the University of Utah; three children: Samuel Bennett Hanson, Hannah Harper Hanson and Emma Rose Hanson; four brothers and a sister.
Hanson said the family is planning a memorial service Saturday, with details to be announced. District officials said Bennett’s family is in the process of establishing a charitable fund that will support her priorities.
London • Facebook says none of the 200 or so people who watched live video of the New Zealand mosque shooting flagged it to moderators, underlining the challenge tech companies face in policing violent or disturbing content in real time.
The social media giant released new details about its response to the video in a blog post. It said the gunman's live 17-minute broadcast was viewed fewer than 200 times and the first user report didn't come in until 12 minutes after it ended. Fifty people were killed at two mosques in Christchurch.
Facebook removed the video "within minutes'" of being notified by police, said Chris Sonderby, Facebook's deputy general counsel.
"No users reported the video during the live broadcast," and it was watched about 4,000 times in total before being taken down, Sonderby said. "We continue to work around the clock to prevent this content from appearing on our site, using a combination of technology and people."
Facebook has previously said that in the first 24 hours after the massacre, it removed 1.5 million videos of the attacks, "of which over 1.2 million were blocked at upload," implying 300,000 copies successfully made it on to the site before being taken down.
The video's rapid spread online puts renewed pressure on Facebook and other social media sites such as YouTube and Twitter over their content moderation efforts. Many question why Facebook in particular wasn't able to more quickly detect the video and take it down.
On Tuesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed frustration that the footage remained online four days after the killings. She said she had received "some communication" from Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on the issue. "It is horrendous and while they've given us those assurances, ultimately the responsibility does sit with them."
Facebook uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect objectionable material, while at the same time relying on the public to flag up content that violates its standards. Those reports are then sent to human reviewers who decide what action to take, the company said in a video in November , which also outlined how it uses "computer vision" to detect 97 percent of graphic violence before anyone reports it. However, it's less clear how these systems apply to Facebook's live streaming.
To report live video, a user must know to click on a small set of three gray dots on the right side of the post. When you click on "report live video," you're given a choice of objectionable content types to select from, including violence, bullying and harassment. You're also told to contact law enforcement in your area if someone is in immediate danger.
Before the company was alerted to the video, a user on 8chan had already posted a link to copy of it on a file sharing site, Sonderby said. 8chan is a dark corner of the web where those disaffected by mainstream social media sites often post extremist, racist and violent views.
In another indication of the video's spread by those intent on sharing it, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, a group of global internet companies led by Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft and Twitter, said it added more than 800 different versions to a shared database used to block violent terrorist images and videos.
The group said it added "digital fingerprints" for visually distinct versions of the video to its database. The move came in response to attempts by internet users to share the video by editing or repackaging versions with different digital fingerprints to avoid detection.
"The incident highlights the importance of industry cooperation regarding the range of terrorists and violent extremists operating online," said the group, which was formed in 2017 in response to official pressure to do more to fight online extremism.
In a series of tweets a day after the shootings , Facebook's former chief security officer, Alex Stamos, laid out the challenge for tech companies as they raced to keep up with new versions of the video.
"Each time this happens, the companies have to spot it and create a new fingerprint," said Stamos. "What you are seeing on the major platforms is the water leaking around thousands of fingers poked in a dam," he said
Stamos estimated the big tech companies are blocking more than 99 percent of the videos from being uploaded, “which is not enough to make it impossible to find.”
He called him charitable and inspirational, someone who was a “better man than many walking outside the prison.”
Chuck Thompson, a onetime Latter-day Saint bishop, penned these words of praise about death row inmate Douglas Lovell, according to the inmate’s attorney, as part of a book Thompson wrote while battling terminal cancer.
Lovell’s attorneys want that book admitted into court to help prove The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meddled in his 2015 trial.
Four years ago, a jury sentenced Douglas Lovell to be executed for killing 39-year-old Joyce Yost in 1985. Lovell is appealing the decision, arguing the church affected the outcome by telling his former religious leaders to either not testify or limit what they said on the stand.
Lovell’s attorneys had planned to have a handful of former bishops and others who worked at the prison testify about the positive interactions they had with Lovell. They did not dispute that Lovell killed Yost but instead asked jurors to spare him the death penalty. His was a life worth saving, they said, that he had been a model prisoner for three decades who donated most of the meager money he earned at the prison to charity.
But Lovell wrote in an affidavit that on the eve of his trial, another former mentor of his came to him in tears, asking him not to call him as a character witness. The man told Lovell that a “member above him” in the church told him he could not testify.
Four other bishops and a woman serving a Latter-day Saint mission at the time of the trial also reported they were told to either not testify or give only short answers, so it would not appear they were representing the church. The LDS Church has a neutral stance on the death penalty.
One of those bishops was Thompson. He testified only briefly, telling jurors he had a standing appointment with Lovell, whom he characterized as a model prisoner. As did many other church members called to testify, he told the jury he was there “under order of subpoena.”
But Thompson wrote an email to another witness after the trial, according to court filings, and said he had to walk a “delicate tightrope” as he testified while being monitored by attorneys hired by the church.
He wanted to help Lovell, he wrote, without running afoul of his religious leaders and their wishes.
"I was instructed to say as little 'opinion' as I could and followed council," he wrote in the email.
A Latter-day Saint spokesman has said any limitations in the testimony of witnesses was agreed to by Lovell’s trial attorneys, adding that church leaders generally do not participate in legal proceedings when the church is not directly involved.
“In this case, these leaders were required by subpoena to appear in court,” spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a 2016 statement. “Their statements represent their personal experiences and opinions. They do not speak for the church. Our hearts go out to the victims of this unspeakable crime.”
The Utah Supreme Court has ordered an evidentiary hearing for Lovell, asking a district court judge to decide whether one of Lovell’s court-appointed attorneys “performed deficiently” by failing to object to purported interference by church lawyers and failing to properly prepare witnesses.
Thompson would have testified at this upcoming hearing — but shortly after Lovell was convicted in 2015, Thompson was diagnosed with brain cancer.
He died in 2017. He spent much of those last two years writing a short book about his life called, “The Mountain.”
Thompson wrote about his five years working with inmates as a “Maximum Security Bishop” — including his interactions with an unnamed inmate, whom he describes as a “model prisoner.”
Lovell’s appellate attorney, Colleen Coebergh, said the inmate described in Thompson’s book is Lovell, and argued the writings appear to be Thompson’s last effort to “set the record straight.”
She’s now asking a judge to allow Thompson’s book to be admitted as evidence, arguing in court papers that Thompson’s writings show his true feelings about Lovell — what he could not tell jurors on the witness stand because of the limitations placed on him by church attorneys.
Thompson’s book centers around spiritual teachings and life lessons, as well as detailing his own struggles with depression. He wrote about the importance of charity and helping others, and shared details about an inmate he knew who helps those incarcerated with him and who donates his money to a charity.
“He has influenced many inside and outside the prison,” the book reads. “It makes a small difference but he sacrifices from behind bars when those of us on the outside do nothing. He is an inspiration to many who visit, including the founder of the charity.”
The Utah attorney general’s office has asked the judge not to allow the book to be a part of the hearing, saying it’s too vague and never mentions Lovell by name. It also argues that Thompson wrote the book over a two-year period and is not considered a “dying declaration” that would make it admissible in court.
The state attorneys further argued that Thompson’s book is irrelevant to the question the judge has to decide: Did Lovell’s trial attorney, Sean Young, “perform deficiently”?
Besides the issue with the church attorneys, Lovell has also raised questions about Young’s preparation before the trial.
Lovell's lead trial attorney, Michael Bouwhuis, wrote in an affidavit that Young, his co-counsel, was assigned to interview and prepare 18 witnesses, including former church members, Lovell's family members, and an inmate who said Lovell positively affected his life.
Of those 18, only two have said that they were contacted by Young before trial — but the conversations were brief and mostly concerned when they would testify, not the substance of what they would say.
Young’s public defender contract was terminated after Lovell’s trial, and he later had his law license suspended for three years.
A judge has not yet ruled whether Thompson’s book will be a part of Lovell’s hearing. That evidentiary hearing is scheduled to begin in early April and is expected to continue through the month. If a judge finds that Young was deficient, Lovell can use that finding to argue that he should get another trial because of ineffective assistance of counsel.
If he does get another trial, it would be the third time Lovell would face the possibility of the death penalty.
A judge initially sentenced him to die by lethal injection in 1993, after Lovell struck a plea deal that spared him execution if he could lead authorities to where he hid Yost’s remains in the mountains east of Ogden. Despite days of searching, her body was never found.
In 2011, the Utah Supreme Court ruled Lovell could withdraw his guilty plea because he should have been better informed of his rights during court proceedings. That led to the 2015 trial, in which a jury deliberated for 11 hours before deciding he should be executed.
Wendy Williams has built a reputation on her willingness to talk about pretty much anything, but the daytime talk show host stunned viewers Tuesday when she tearfully revealed she has been living in a sober house.
Williams, 54, has been open about her past struggles with cocaine abuse. She has said she was a "functioning addict" who would sometimes party all night during her days as a brash radio host.
"So you know me for being a very open and truthful person," Williams said on "The Wendy Williams Show." "And I've got more to the story for you."
Williams broke into tears before noting that her family foundation had just launched a substance abuse hotline. "Well, for some time now, and even today and beyond, I have been living in a sober house."
Williams, who said she has a 24-hour sober coach, did not specify whether she was being treated for cocaine addiction. She explained that after taping her show, she does Pilates for two hours and then attends "several meetings" around the Tri-state area.
"And I see my brothers and sisters caught up in their addiction and looking for help. They don't know I'm Wendy, they don't care I'm Wendy, there's no autographs, there's no nothing," Williams said. "It's the brothers and sisters caught up in the struggle and it's been really interesting, this ride."
Williams said only her husband, Kevin Hunter, and their son have known about her treatment. "Not my parents, nobody. Nobody knew," she said before breaking into a smile: "Because I look so glamorous out here."
But Williams described a less-than-glamorous stay at the sober-living house. "Doors locked by 10 p.m., lights out by 10 p.m. So I go to my room and I stare at my ceiling and I fall asleep to wake up to come back here to see you," she said. "So that is my truth."
Williams has had a series of public health struggles since fainting on her nationally syndicated talk show in 2017. Following the terrifying on-air incident, she took an unprecedented three-week leave from the show and later opened up about her battle with Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid.
In December, Williams hosted her show with her arm in a sling after fracturing her shoulder, an accident that prompted her to cancel a taping of her show. Later that week, she drew concern after appearing to slur her words and struggle through an interview with rap group the Lox.
"I sincerely apologize if you feel that today's show was less than stellar," she wrote in a subsequent Instagram post. Williams wrote that she had taken pain medication to cope with the fracture "which hurts like hell."
"I promise you a better Wendy in 2019. I will get some much needed rest and healing over these next couple of weeks," she added.
A month later, Williams announced she would take an extended leave from "The Wendy Williams Show" to focus on her health amid ongoing thyroid issues. The show ran a series of repeats and also aired live shows featuring famous friends including Nick Cannon, Jerry O'Connell and Sherri Shepherd as guest hosts.
"Thank you so much for waiting for us," Williams said when she returned earlier this month. She said she had not intended to be on leave for two months, but noted that thyroid disease is "a lifelong thing" and that her doctors were frequently adjusting her medication.
Amid Williams' health struggles, tabloids and even some fans have seized on her past drug abuse. On Tuesday, Williams confessed she had never sought formal treatment for cocaine addiction.
“I never went to a place to get the treatment. I don’t know how, except God was sitting on my shoulder and I just stopped,” Williams said. “But there are people in your family, it might be you, who have been struggling. And I wanted to know more of the story. So, this is my autobiographical story and I’m living it and I’m telling you this.”
Chicago • Former Major League Soccer coach Jason Kreis has been hired to run the U.S. under-23 team and tasked with the challenge of reaching next year’s Olympic tournament after the Americans failed to qualify for the London and Rio de Janeiro Games.
He will coach the team for the first time in exhibitions on Friday against Egypt and Sunday versus the Netherlands, both in San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain.
The 46-year-old is a former U.S. national team player, like new senior national team coach Gregg Berhalter. Kreis enjoyed success as coach of Real Salt Lake from 2007-13, winning the 2009 MLS Cup title and reaching the finals of the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League and 2013 MLS Cup. He had less successful tenures with New York City from 2014-15 and Orlando from 2016-18.
Kreis made 14 appearances for the U.S. from 1996-2000 and was hired by U.S. national team general manager Earnie Stewart, his former American teammate. Kreis was hired in January for an unspecified role on the technical staff of David Beckham's Inter Miami MLS team, which starts play in 2020, and Kreis will continue in that role.
His contract with the U.S. Soccer Federation, announced Tuesday, runs through the 2020 Olympics.
The U.S. failed to qualify for 2012 under Caleb Porter and for 2016 under Andreas Herzog, the top assistant to then-national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann. The under-23 team has not played since March 2016, when it lost a playoff to Colombia for a berth in the Olympics.
Cheyenne, Wyo. • The U.S. government has approved the expansion of a Wyoming uranium mine and is reviewing plans for a new mine not far away.
Both projects involve the use of wells rather than pits or shafts to extract uranium in a process called in-situ mining. Wyoming produces more uranium than any other state and all of it comes from in-situ mines.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Tuesday it has approved an expansion to double the surface area of Littleton, Colorado-based Ur-Energy's Lost Creek Mine.
The BLM is meanwhile reviewing the company’s plans for an in-situ mine located at a former conventional uranium-mining site about 50 miles away.
Water pumped from in-situ mines is processed into a uranium concentrate. The concentrate is then processed into nuclear fuel.
Dunedin, New Zealand • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would deny the accused gunman the fame he sought by refusing to even speak his name in an emotive parliamentary meeting on Tuesday, the first since the worst massacre in her country’s modern history.
Espousing anti-immigrant, white nationalist ideology, 28-year-old Australian national Brenton Tarrant allegedly killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, rattling a country that takes pride in its safety, diversity and openness.
"He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety," Ardern said. "And that is why you will never hear me mention his name."
She added: "He is a terrorist, he is a criminal, he is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless."
The parliamentary session opened with a recitation in Arabic of verses from the Quran that "provide comfort and reassurance" from Imam Nizam ul Haq Thanvi.
Ardern opened her address to Parliament with a greeting in Arabic. "As-salamu alaykum," she said, looking up to the public gallery. "Peace be upon you, and peace be upon all of us."
Tarrant has so far been charged with a single count of murder, but authorities say more charges are coming. On Tuesday, police had just wrapped up forensic work at the house he rented in the city of Dunedin, south of Christchurch, and where authorities believe he had meticulously planned his attack.
Tarrant has fired his court-appointed lawyer and says he plans to represent himself in court, leading some to speculate that he's hoping to use the proceedings as a further platform for espousing his extremist white-nationalist beliefs.
The massacre has shocked the world not only because of its scale — the shooter continued his rampage for more than 30 minutes at two mosque before he was arrested — but also for the brazenness in which it was live-streamed on Facebook. Dozens commented, cheering him on, while others watched horrified as social media giants struggled to prevent the 17-minute video from being downloaded and re-shared over and over again.
He also published a 74-page manifesto ahead of the attacks, sharing it on Twitter and sending to dozens within New Zealand, including Ardern's office and media outlets.
While Tarrant is held in detention ahead of his next court appearance on April 5, he will be denied access to media, including radio, television and newspapers. The New Zealand Herald reported that he is under 24-hour surveillance and will not be allowed visitors.
Ardern declined to say whether his trial will happen behind closed doors, but she emphasized to reporters that New Zealand will deny him the ability to lift his profile through the attacks. In his only court appearance so far, Tarrant's face was blurred out in photographs and the video feeds showing him escorted into the courtroom, which the judge says will protect his right to a fair trial.
Despite the overwhelming support and praise for New Zealand's handling of the massacre's aftermath, families of victims are growing increasingly frustrated at the delay in receiving their loved ones' bodies.
Post-mortems had been completed on all 50 victims, police said in a statement Tuesday night, more than four days after the attacks. Twelve victims had been identified but only six bodies had been returned to their families.
"Police are acutely aware of frustrations by families associated with the length of time required for the identification process following Friday's terror attack," the police said.
According to Muslim beliefs, bodies should be washed and buried as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours. The delays are causing many families more trauma after the attacks.
"Normally we shouldn't wait too long to bury, but in this case they're still taking time," Mohammed Bilal, whose cousin Syed Areeb Ahmen was killed in the attacks, told the New Zealand Herald.
Tariq Mohammed, whose father was killed, said tensions were running high.
"Fathers have died. Brothers have died. Everyone wants their body back, man," he told Stuff, a local news website. "There's going to be a lot of emotions, man. We are humans; we are not angels. We will have feelings."
Facebook said it removed more than 1.5 million versions of the attacker's live video feed of his mosque attack in Christchurch. Other platforms such as YouTube and Twitter similarly struggled to contain the spread of the gruesome footage. At the same time, users worldwide read through the attacker's manifesto, in which he laid out his worldview in a Q&A format.
Ardern's case for not naming terrorists or focusing on them isn't exactly new.
Some researchers argue that terrorism wouldn't exist without the publicity media grant them by reporting on their actions and ideologies.
On the flip side of this argument, however, some terrorism analysts have maintained that examining and discussing motives as well as individuals' path to radicalization is crucial to understand how to prevent future attacks. Democracies in particular, they argue, should have an inherent interest in understanding why some in their midst feel the need to resort to violent means to pursue ideological goals.
Besides that, there just aren't a lot of options to stop people from focusing on suspects, as history shows. When Germany's left-wing terrorists began kidnapping people across the country in the 1970s, the government introduced a news embargo. In other countries, terrorism suspects were charged in secret trials to avoid publicity and to prevent national-security-relevant details from becoming public. In both cases, however, foreign media outlets - not bound by the same rules - broke embargoes and questioned the government-imposed secrecy.
On Tuesday, Ardern was widely applauded for her initiative, including by the husband of late British lawmaker Jo Cox, who was murdered by a right-wing extremist in 2016.
"When Jo was killed I vowed the same," Brendan Cox wrote on Twitter. "I have often genuinely forgotten the person's name and my kids have never heard it. Notoriety is such an important driver for terrorists and we should all get better at denying them it."
Fifield reported from Christchurch, New Zealand. The Washington Post’s Rick Noack in London contributed to this report.
Provo • The first time BYU’s Moroni Laulu-Pututau suffered a season-ending injury, he wasn’t sure what had just happened, and figured he would be back on the field after a day or two of rest. The second time, he knew immediately.
“It was the worst feeling in the world,” said the receiver-turned-tight end of the knee injury that caused him to miss most of the 2018 season. “I knew it was bad. I knew something was wrong. It was almost like a numb feeling. I couldn’t move it. It just felt weak. It was crazy, how much it hurt.”
It was a major knee injury — his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) were both torn — that would require full reconstruction.
It was also incredibly disheartening, considering Laulu-Pututau had missed the entire 2017 season due to a Lisfranc foot injury he suffered three days before the opener. He felt a pop in his foot while making a simple cut in practice and at first thought he would miss a practice or two. He was wrong, obviously.
The timing couldn’t have been worse with the second injury.
It happened on the third offensive play — against Washington — in BYU’s fifth game of the 2018 season, so it basically meant that Laulu-Pututau could not get the year back via the new redshirt rule that allows players to play in up to four games without losing the year of eligibility.
He said he will never forget the play.
“Washington brought a corner blitz, and the play was going away from me,” he said. “The corner hit Squally [Canada], and he stumbled into the back of my knee. He lost the ball, and I am laying there, and my ACL is torn, and the ball is laying there by me. So I just grabbed the ball and I was holding it, couldn’t grab my knee, because everyone was trying to rip the ball away from me.”
So the 2019 season will be Laulu-Pututau’s last in Provo. And yes, he plans to be ready to play, thanks to a new medical procedure performed a few weeks after the knee injury that has him healing faster than expected.
“I’m doing great,” he said after watching a spring practice last week along with other offensive stars who are missing March practices, guys such as receivers Aleva Hifo and Inoke Lotulelei, tight ends Matt Bushman and Hank Tuipulotu and quarterback Zach Wilson. “I’m still on schedule to be back for fall camp.”
The groundbreaking surgery method was designed to return athletes to the playing field 40 percent faster than traditional knee surgery methods and was developed by renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews. It was the first time the doctor has performed the surgery outside of Alabama and Auburn, where he is on the medical staffs of both universities.
Dr. Kirt Kimball, who is BYU’s orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Wallentine and Dr. Kevin Christensen were also part of the surgical team in Provo last October.
“It was my call to go with the new procedure,” Laulu-Pututau said. “I was the one who actually pushed for it to happen. Coach [Jeff] Grimes had brought it up. It got to my ears and I started looking into it. I said, ‘why not?’ There was no risk, but there was a better reward.”
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Laulu-Pututau hasn’t been fully cleared to practice, and won’t participate in Saturday’s open-to-the-public scrimmage at Provo High, but he’s already doing some light running and expects to get in heavier work this summer in player-run practices and workouts.
“It has been hard, man, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “Few people can go through that type of thing and come back once. I am going to do it twice. But it is the love I have for the game that drives me on. I just told myself that I have been through it once before and I can do it again.”
Laulu-Pututau said he has a “great supporting cast,” which includes his wife, Kiralyn, BYU’s coaches, and his family.
“It hasn’t been easy, by any stretch,” he said. “But I’ve been so blessed with having these talented doctors available to perform this cutting-edge surgery. I can’t thank them enough. I’ve been in good hands this entire time.”
Laulu-Pututau said the surgical procedure is so new that it doesn’t even have a name yet.
“I just call it a big blessing,” he said.
Sandy • Utah’s police regulators suspended three officers for misconduct Tuesday and discussed whether to follow state auditors’ recommendations about when an officer is considered to have lied.
Nathan Jacobsen resigned from the Willard Police Department in February 2018, but the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council still had to decide what to do with his police certification.
Jacobsen was found to have used a department laptop computer to create a temporary phone number and send harassing text messages to his estranged wife and her friends. He pleaded guilty in a criminal court to two misdemeanor counts of telephone harassment.
“I was going through a rough time, and I was drinking a lot,” Jacobsen told the POST Council. He apologized and said he has undergone counseling and quit drinking.
The council voted to suspend Jacobsen for 2½ years, meaning he would have to wait that long before he could apply to work at another police force.
In a separate presentation Tuesday, POST Director Scott Stephenson presented stats showing almost no officers return to policing after a two-year suspension.
The council also issued 2½-year suspensions to two officers who weren’t employed at the time they committed offenses. Kristopher Pease was working at a store and inputting merchandise at below its marked price. He was convicted of misdemeanor retail theft. Shane Visser was convicted of charges related to drunken driving and intoxication.
The state auditor recently examined how POST disciplines officers. Stephenson agreed with the audit on some points. But he explained to council members that he disagreed with how the auditors recommended defining lying.
Auditors suggested defining lying as anytime an under-investigation officer is dishonest with investigators. Stephenson said his policy has been to allow the officer, if he or she chooses to lie at first, to “come clean” at anytime during the interview. Sometimes the accused officer begins with denials and needs a chance to stop and realize he or she needs to tell the truth, Stephenson said.
The audit also found at least a handful of misconduct cases that police departments and sheriff offices had not reported to POST. Stephenson said he’s unaware of any police chief or sheriff hiding misconduct; that those administrators sometimes don’t know what offenses need to be reported to regulators.
“Are there cases not being reported?” Stephenson said. “I think we all agree there are, but it’s hard to prove intent.”
Pittsburgh • A prosecutor urged jurors Tuesday to focus on a white police officer’s frame of mind when he shot and killed an unarmed black teenager near Pittsburgh last summer.
Former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld, 30, fired three bullets into 17-year-old Antwon Rose II after pulling over an unlicensed taxicab suspected to have been used in a drive-by shooting minutes earlier. Rose was a front-seat passenger in the cab and was shot as he fled.
Prosecutors said Rosfeld, who was charged with homicide, gave inconsistent statements about the shooting, including whether he thought Rose had a gun.
"What really, really matters is what Michael Rosfeld knew and what he believed and what he thought when he pulled the trigger," Deputy District Attorney Daniel Fitzsimmons told jurors in his opening statement.
Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey said Rosfeld did not intend to shoot anyone that day and did nothing wrong in his fatal encounter with Rose.
"You think Michael Rosfeld got up on the 19th of June and thought he was going to shoot someone? Of course not," he said.
The shooting was captured on video by bystanders and posted online, triggering protests in the Pittsburgh area last year, including a late-night march that shut down a major highway.
A jury of six men and six women, including three African-Americans, was selected across the state in Harrisburg last week and will be sequestered in a Pittsburgh hotel for the duration of the trial, expected to take a week or more.
The families of Rose and Rosfeld were in the courtroom Tuesday as the trial got underway.
"Antwon's family is here seeking the justice they so deserve and to assure that the light of Antwon's memory shines forever," said a statement issued Tuesday by the family's lawyer, Fred Rabner, who represents them in a wrongful death suit against Rosfeld, the borough and its mayor and police chief. The family statement called Rosfeld "hair-triggered" and "overly aggressive," adding that his gun had "left an irreparable hole in their collective souls."
Rose had been riding in the front seat of an unlicensed taxicab when the backseat passenger rolled down a window and shot at two men on the streets of North Braddock.
The shooter was Zaijuan Hester, 18, of Swissvale, who pleaded guilty Friday to aggravated assault and firearms violations for the shooting, which wounded a man in the abdomen. Hester told a judge that he, not Rose, did the shooting. A judge ruled Monday that jurors will hear evidence of that shooting but likely will not hear about a robbery that occurred several hours earlier.
Police Sgt. Brian Hodges of North Braddock testified Tuesday that he and Rosfeld responded to the drive-by, and that Rosfeld went in search of the car spotted leaving the scene. A short time later, Rosfeld pulled it over. While Rose ran from the vehicle, Rosfeld shot him three times — in the right side of his face, in his elbow and in his back — a bullet tearing through his heart and lung.
In its opening, the defense asserted that Rose was complicit in the drive-by shooting, identifying the target to the gunman, Hester. Rose had an empty ammunition clip in his pants when he was killed, and two handguns were recovered from inside the vehicle.
The prosecutor urged jurors to focus on what Rosfeld knew about any of that when he shot Rose.
Rosfeld initially told investigators that he saw something in Rose's hand that Rosfeld thought was a gun, according to a police affidavit.
"This observation caused him to step from behind the cover of his car door to acquire a better view," the affidavit said. "He then fired his weapon."
Investigators have said Rosfeld subsequently told the detectives he did not see a gun when the passenger ran.
"When confronted with this inconsistency, Rosfeld stated he saw something in the passenger's hand but was not sure what it was," police wrote. "In addition, Officer Rosfeld stated that he was not certain if the individual who had his arm pointed at him was still pointing at him when he fired the shots."
Rosfeld had been on the East Pittsburgh police force for just a few weeks after working for other departments over seven years. After the shooting, East Pittsburgh shut down its police force and began to rely on state police to cover the territory.
Provo • The Utah Supreme Court has heard arguments over the possibility of a new trial for a woman convicted as an accomplice in a police officer’s killing.
The Daily Herald reports that no decision was reached when the court convened at Brigham Young University Monday to hear whether Meagan Grunwald should have a new trial.
Grunwald was convicted of 11 charges including first-degree aggravated murder for the January 2014 death of Utah County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Cory Wride.
She was sentenced in 2015 to 30 years to life in prison.
Authorities say Grunwald and boyfriend Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui were stopped along State Route 73 when Garcia-Juaregui fatally shot Wride in his cruiser.
Grunwald's attorney says she received ineffective assistance from her previous lawyer.
The state attorney says Grunwald was fully complicit.
Duke, Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina and UCLA.
Name almost any blue-blood program in college basketball, and that team has appeared in one or more NCAA Tournament games in Salt Lake City. Who’s missing? Kansas. The Jayhawks will check that box Thursday, facing Northeastern in a first-round game at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
This week marks the 20th time the University of Utah has hosted NCAA games over 52 seasons, in Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse, the Huntsman Center or Vivint. Kansas is competing in the tournament for a 30th consecutive year. Only now, though, are SLC and KU converging.
The Jayhawks never have played a regular-season game in Utah, either. But the historic program that was once coached by James Naismith and Phog Allen and produced Jazz players such as Danny Manning and Greg Ostertag is now appearing in the Jazz’s arena.
The Jayhawks beat BYU and Utah State in NCAA games in the 1990s and 2000s. Kansas won the national championship in 1988, the year when Ute legend Arnie Ferrin (then Utah’s athletic director) was the NCAA basketball committee chairman. Those are the closest basketball connections between Kansas and Utah — until this year, when coach Bill Self’s recruiting trip turned into a site visit.
“I'm a veteran when it comes to the city and cultures and all those things,” Self said.
Self came to Mount Pleasant last month (taking photos of the snow-capped mountains on the drive), to recruit Wasatch Academy star Tristan Enaruna, according to the Kansas City Star, and now he’s returning to Utah.
Kansas is seeded No. 4 in the Midwest Region. So the big story line for Jayhawks on Selection Sunday was how they could win two games in Salt Lake City, against Northeastern and probably No. 5 Auburn, and then go to Kansas City for the Sweet 16.
Self was “almost shocked” to be placed in that region, he said. “I like that we’re in the Midwest, but it would have been nice if we could have driven to Des Moines or Tulsa, but usually when you’re a four seed you don’t have everything catered to you like we have in the past, because we’ve been a one seed.”
This is new territory for Kansas, in multiple ways. No. 4 is the Jayhawks' lowest seed since 2006, when a team with three freshman among the top four scorers was upset by Bradley (coached by former Jazz guard Jim Les) in the first round.
Brandon Rush, who would play briefly for the Jazz late in his career, was among the young stars of the team that won the national title two years later.
This year's Jayhawks are led by junior forward Dedric Lawson, who averages 19.1 points and 10.3 rebounds, and freshman guard Devon Dotson, with 12.1 points and 3.6 assists. Salt Lake City's tournament draw includes three of the 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, with Lawson joining Gonzaga forwards Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura (the Bulldogs are in a West Region bracket).
Kansas (25-9) has played the toughest schedule in the country, according to the kenpom.com analytics. So the Jayhawks will be prepared for tough competition, including a potential Sweet 16 meeting with North Carolina. Tar Heel fans already are angry about the possibility of facing Kansas in Kansas City. Lawson said KU’s chance to play close to home next week “definitely gives us a little edge to play for and give these fans something they want.”
But first, the Jayhawks have to do something they’ve never done: win in Utah.
A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels are close to finalizing a $432 million, 12-year contract that would shatter the record for the largest deal in North American sports history.
The deal was disclosed Tuesday by a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been finalized and had not been announced.
Trout would top the new $330 million, 12-year contract between Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies, and his $36 million average annual value would surpass Zack Greinke's $34.4 million in a six-year deal with Arizona that started in 2016.
Progress toward an agreement was first reported by ESPN.
Trout's deal includes a signing bonus and would supersede the $144.5 million, six-year contract that had been set to pay him $66.5 million over the next two seasons.
This story will be updated.
Washington • Special counsel Robert Mueller obtained court-approved warrants to search the emails of President Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen in July 2017, according to newly unsealed documents illustrating how the investigation moved quickly and quietly to scour the digital trails of the president’s associates.
Search warrants unsealed Tuesday in Cohen’s case offer new insight into how Mueller and his team handed off a key part of the Cohen investigation to federal prosecutors in New York in early 2018, and how much evidence prosecutors already had against Cohen even before they searched his office, home, and hotel room in April of that year.
"In connection with an investigation then being conducted by the Office of the Special Counsel ("SCO"), the FBI sought and obtained from the Honorable Beryl Howell, Chief United States District Judge for the District of Columbia, three search warrants for emails and other content information associated with two email accounts used by Cohen, and one search warrant for stored content associated with an iCloud account used by Cohen," states one of the newly-unsealed affidavits.
The first such warrant was dated July 18, 2017. In early 2018 the special counsel's office referred a part of its Cohen investigation to federal prosecutors in New York. As part of that referral, on Feb. 8, 2018, the special counsel's office turned over relevant emails from its warrants to the New York prosecutors, according to one of the newly-unsealed affidavits.
Cohen's home, office, and hotel room were searched nearly a year ago as the FBI ratcheted up its investigation of the lawyer's finances, and his work on behalf of Trump. That same day agents also executed a search warrant for a safe-deposit box used by Cohen.
The searches set off a protracted legal battle over how the files of Cohen, an attorney, would be reviewed by agents and prosecutors. A federal judge appointed an outside lawyer to review the material before Cohen's prosecutors to exclude any material that was covered by lawyer-client privilege or otherwise should not be shared with investigators.
Months later, Cohen pleaded guilty to tax violations, lying to a bank, and, during the 2016 campaign, arranging hush-money payments for women who claimed that they once had affairs with the future president.
Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in statements that concealed the true time frame in which he had sought a real estate development deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow - conversations that continued, contrary to initial claims, well into the Republican presidential primary.
At Cohen’s December sentencing, U.S. District Judge William Pauley III said Cohen should serve three years in prison for “a veritable smorgasbord of criminal conduct.”
Cohen cooperated — partially — with federal prosecutors in New York, as well as special counsel Robert Mueller, in hopes of reducing the amount of prison time he would have to serve.
Cohen has provided information to investigators about Trump and the Trump campaign, but prosecutors said he refused to tell them everything he knew.
Since pleading guilty, he has publicly blamed Trump for his downfall, calling his former boss a con man, a racist, and a cheat. Trump and his supporters have repeatedly attacked Cohen as a convicted liar trying to save himself by speaking against his former boss.
In dramatic public testimony to a congressional committee last month, Cohen declared, "I am no longer your fixer, Mr. Trump."
Cohen is due to report to prison in May, and he is likely to serve his sentence at a federal lockup in Otisville, New York.
A Spring City man was hospitalized after he was shot by police — after police say he shot at them first.
According to the Sanpete County Sheriff's Department, they received a call about 5:30 p.m. on Monday that a man had fired a gun at the caller. When police arrived at 379 N. Main Street and spoke with the 53-year-old man inside, he was “uncooperative” and “refused to exit the residence.”
Sanpete County officers called in the Utah County Metro SWAT team, and efforts continued to convince the man to leave his home. When the man eventually came outside at about 1 a.m. Tuesday, he fired at officers, according to police, and was wounded when officers returned fire.
The man was transported to the Sanpete Valley Hospital in Mount Pleasant and then flown by helicopter to a Salt Lake area hospital. He is reported to be in stable condition.
The investigation into the incident is continuing.
Ashwaubenon, Wis. • Wisconsin-based retail chain Shopko Stores plans to close its remaining 120 department stores by mid-June.
The company filed for bankruptcy in January, citing excessive debt and ongoing competitive pressure. It announced it would close more than 100 stores, including 13 of its 20 outlets in Utah. Monday’s announcement will affect the seven that were spared at that time — in Ballard, Layton, Logan, Moab, Riverdale, Salt Lake City and Tremonton.
Shopko said Monday the company was unable to find a buyer for its business. The company plans to begin winding down its retail operations this week.
WLUK-TV reports those closings will affect an additional 5,000 employees.
Shopko says it will not move forward with an auction that was scheduled Tuesday. The liquidation is expected to take 10-12 weeks.
CEO Russ Steinhorst says in a statement “this is not the outcome that we had hoped for when we started our restructuring efforts.”
Shopko began with a store in Green Bay in 1962.
Washington • President Trump is right. This is a witch hunt.
Monday morning, he used the term for the 261st time as president (according to the Factba.se database), this time tweeting: “50% of Americans AGREE that Robert Mueller’s investigation is a Witch Hunt.”
On a weekend of rage directed at late senator John McCain, “Saturday Night Live,” Fox News and many others, Trump rose Sunday morning to denounce Crooked Hillary’s Fake and Unverified Dossier, “the info that got us the Witch Hunt!”
Sometimes it's the "Mueller Witch Hunt," other times it's the "Russian Witch Hunt," occasionally it's in ALL CAPS and often punctuated: "RIGGED WITCH HUNT!"
Just because Trump says something, however, doesn't automatically mean it's wrong. The treatment of Trump by special counsel Robert Mueller and other investigators does have characteristics of a witch hunt. This is because Trump has characteristics of a witch.
So says a leading authority on the history of witchcraft, Thomas J. Rushford, history professor at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale. In an anthropological sense, Trump "is really quintessentially a witch figure," the professor tells me, and if what is happening to Trump is a witch hunt, "it is only in a good sense, that is, this is society policing the boundaries that they believe to be ethically and morally right."
Some explanation is in order.
Witch hunts get bad press, probably because of playwright Arthur Miller's portrayal of the Salem witch trials in his immortal takedown of McCarthyism, "The Crucible." We tend to think of innocent women burning at the stake because of accusations by devil-possessed girls (or, if not so literary, we might think of a wart-nosed hag stirring a noxious potion with the broomstick she uses to commute). But witch hunts weren't all bad, and their targets weren't always innocent.
Therefore, to dismiss what is happening to Trump as groundless by calling it a witch hunt is unfair — to witch hunts.
In the time of the witch hunts, roughly the 1530s through the 1690s, the existence of magic and witchcraft was as universally accepted as the existence of electricity is today. Though typically illegal, the practice was generally tolerated until something really bad happened — cows got sick, babies died, men went lame. When that happened, authorities (they lacked our modern understanding of illness) cracked down on bad magic.
Likewise, today's laws and norms say that certain behaviors — cheating on your taxes or your spouse, holding racist views, lying to business associates — are bad, even if they are fairly commonplace and often ignored. But when, say, the president smashes social norms in an extreme way — attacking minorities, boosting his wealth with foreign money, paying hush money to a porn actress — the culture no longer tolerates his bad magic.
"A witch would be doing a lot of magical things all considered to be wrong," the witchcraft professor says, but authorities "wouldn't do anything about it until there was some egregious enough act." If somebody was "truly a witch figure," Rushford said, he eventually "crossed a line." He also noted: "Trump has done the same kinds of things." Trump's dubious legal and ethical standards didn't matter as much when he was in the private sector. But people are alarmed now that he's using those same dubious standards to run the country.
This defense of witch hunts isn't to excuse the long-ago practice of torture-induced confessions and executions of innocent people — often women or those on the margins. But it's unfair to say, with the benefit of modern scientific knowledge, that earlier cultures were foolish because even the best-educated among them believed magic controlled the unseen, which led them to regulate witchcraft. "If you take that culture on its own terms, they had every right to punish people who were breaking the law," Rushford argues. "They were saying, 'Here is a person we believe to have violated the ethical and moral conventions of our society.'"
Just as Europeans had laws against witchcraft some 450 years ago, the United States today has laws about cheating on taxes, working for foreign powers, and lying to lenders and civil authorities. Five former Trump advisers have admitted violating these laws, and a sixth has been charged. That's half a coven.
As far as we know, Trump hasn't turned anybody into a newt yet. But the dubious business dealings he has conducted for years and continues to conduct in the White House are a 21st-century form of bad magic. You can't plausibly complain about a witch hunt if you're the guy stirring the cauldron.
Dana Milbank | The Washington Post
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.
Ogden Police are investigating an apparent murder-suicide that resulted in the deaths of a mother and daughter.
On Tuesday at 2 a.m., officers arrived at a home on 27th Street and discovered two women dead inside the residence as “the result of an apparent murder-suicide by gunshot.” Police identified the women as 31-year-old Bianca Villalobos and her 63-year-old mother, Maria Villalobos.
Police did not indicate who they believed used the gun, or when they believe the women died. The investigation is continuing.
When I first learned of Princeton University economics professor Alan Krueger's tragic passing over the weekend, I thought about happiness.
Sure, most people would probably associate this intellectual giant and longtime public servant with his work on the minimum wage. In a paper looking at cross-state labor markets, he upturned decades of conventional wisdom that said raising the minimum wage would necessarily reduce employment. His finding that a higher wage floor could actually increase jobs for low-wage workers has become a staple of Econ 101 syllabuses.
Or perhaps people think of his work exploiting strokes of luck (season of birth, Vietnam draft numbers) to reveal how randomly assigned additional schooling could affect earnings. These and other pioneering papers — which inspired an entire generation of economists to look for similar “natural experiments” — probably would have won him (and his co-authors) a Nobel Prize in the coming years.
Or maybe you've heard about the rock-star job he did as chair of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. Or the rock-star job he did studying, well, rock stars.
Or some of the other eclectic, off-the-beaten-path subjects that his omnivorous curiosity led him to, including: terrorism, the gig economy, Super Bowl tickets, offshoring, the digital divide or the relationship between income inequality and mobility (which he popularized as "the Great Gatsby Curve").
But, for me, his happiness research was top of mind. The cause of his passing hadn't yet been made public; in retrospect, maybe I wanted to think about this sunny stretch of research to keep from entertaining the dark possibility that his sudden death at 58 might be because of suicide, as his family would later confirm. Or maybe I was just thinking about it because it was the subject of one the last major assignments he gave me more than a decade ago, when I was his undergraduate research assistant.
Stories of Alan's fundamental decency are legion, but let me personally attest: He was a terrific and unpretentious boss.
In fact, it was not until my junior year or so — when he invited me along to a TV interview — that I grasped what a big shot I was working for (and that perhaps I should stop showing up to his office in my ratty Snoopy-themed sweatpants). I cringe to recall, as a nobody 19-year-old, scribbling (likely unsolicited) suggestions in red pen across an op-ed he was drafting. But he was not the type to throw his weight around. I think he just laughed. He may have even used my suggestions.
In the years since, Alan served as a mentor, friend and generous advocate. In many ways, I owe my journalism career to him — not least because he suggested me when he heard the New York Times was expanding its economics coverage as the financial crisis erupted.
So why, all those years ago, was Alan studying happiness, a topic that usually falls under the fiefdom of psychology, not the dismal science?
I don't know whether Alan felt he had a personal stake in the subject; right now, it's hard not to wonder, though he never said anything to me indicating this was the case. Then, as now, the research looked mostly like the perfect microcosm of what made Alan's scholarship so remarkable: That is, it was clever, resourceful, interdisciplinary, unorthodox and, most of all, public-spirited.
Working with a team of elite psychologists, Alan measured what conditions and activities make people happy (both in the moment and in retrospect). He was interested in why lottery winners, paraplegics or others who experience a sudden change in life circumstances often returned to their previous levels of contentment. And how much cultural norms affected self-reported levels of happiness. (Are the French actually more miserable than Americans?)
To some economists, investigating happiness probably seemed silly. But Alan saw it as a central mission of his discipline. The whole point of economics is to figure out how, in a world of scarce resources, we can make people’s lives better. And how is that possible without investigating and measuring their well-being — not their wages or the stuff they buy, but whether they are happy? Efficiency, gross domestic product, other “traditional” economic metrics — these were at best intermediate goals, or imperfect proxies, for the overarching objective of human welfare. And Alan always had his eyes on this prize.
Alan found creative ways not only to study important problems but also to evangelize his findings. At one point, when academic-research-as-metaphor-for-the-human-condition looked like a trendy Broadway genre, Alan and I even discussed writing a play inspired by his happiness work.
The play never got off the ground, alas. But the plan was quintessential Alan: He was a scholar motivated to use every tool in his kit to leave the world a bit better than he found it. And for all the heartache those who loved him are now suffering, that's what he did.
Catherine Rampell’s email address is email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.
If you’re a parent of one of the 2.2 million high school seniors who applied to college last fall, then you’re probably following the admissions scandal exposed in the media last week.
You were probably shocked when the FBI uncovered a ring of parents, coaches and counselors who bribed, forged and cheated to get students into elite colleges. These parents were so afraid to let their children face rejection (and had such a corrosive need for prestige) that they went to illegal and immoral lengths to avoid it. But even for honest, upright citizens (like you and me), it’s hard to see our children face rejection.
March 28 is decision-release day for many universities. Most students will get in somewhere, but most students will also receive rejections. Rejection is hard for mature adults, let alone for teenagers.
So how do you help your child deal with rejection? Here are some strategies:
First, acknowledge that the system isn’t fair. We knew this before the scandal broke. This cheating, an extreme form of unfairness, affected relatively few students: six Georgetown cheaters out of 3,369 students admitted is only 0.2 percent of the accepted class. But even if we eliminate cheating, it’s still not fair. There is quite a bit of luck involved. Selective schools can’t possibly take all the highly qualified applicants. Last year Brown University accepted only 15 percent of applicants with perfect SATs. Admissions officers have to make tough choices. Many acknowledge that if they repeated any year’s admission process, they would end up with a very different freshman class. There are many factors beyond your child’s control. Maybe she was edged out because this year the school needed an oboe player more than a soccer goalie.
Second, recognize it’s okay to be disappointed. Give your child space to feel sad. Let them know that rejection is an important part of life. If you’re never disappointed, it means you’re never challenging yourself. J.K. Rowling was rejected by every major British publisher. Einstein didn’t get into his dream school — really. Learning to handle disappointment will make more resilient and more compassionate individuals.
Third, help them get excited about where they were accepted. Order some swag from the bookstore and sign them up for admitted-student weekends. They might discover perks at this school (personalized attention from faculty or research opportunities) that would be unavailable at their “dream” school.
Fourth, help your child remember that college is a means to an end, not the end. The goal is to be a happy, informed, productive adult. Read Frank Bruni’s “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be” about students who never realized how amazing they were because they were always surrounded by overachievers. Or read Malcom Gladwell’s “David and Goliath” where he argues that it’s better for your career and your self-esteem to be in the top third of the class at a good university than the bottom third at a highly selective university. Many highly successful people went to less-selective schools.
Fifth, as hard as it will be, help them be supportive of their friends who had better luck. If they can manage to be gracious, they will develop a strength of character that will serve them well all their life.
Finally, if they can’t get excited about going anywhere they were accepted, they can always take a gap year and try again. And next round, they’ll have had some practice at rejection.
Sarah Sandberg is a college adviser and founder of Navigate to College. In addition to her regular clients, she spends about half her time helping low-income students, including volunteer work at West High School.
Thank you, Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, and your fellow representatives, who have gutted a bill to protect LGBTQ youth in our state and left them at risk for another year. You should be so proud.
However, it is with deep sadness and a heavy heart that I reflect on the silence of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City during the Utah Legislature’s debate on the practice of conversion “therapy.”
As a lifelong Catholic and as a developmental psychologist for nearly 50 years, I would have liked to have seen my Utah Catholic leaders condemn a practice that creates the potential for serious and sometimes fatal mental health problems. If the CDSLC truly promotes “respect for life,” does this respect not extend to our LGBTQ sisters and brothers?
Please, CDSLC, speak up for some of the most vulnerable members of our community. And if he honestly seeks social justice, Bishop Oscar Solis should announce a plan to direct all Catholic priests, deacons and religious in Utah to denounce this horrific practice.
Frank R. Ascione, Logan
A Dartmouth College professor who says he is a religious agnostic but whose work has focused on the links between science and the mysteries of creation is the winner of the 2019 Templeton Prize.
Marcelo Gleiser, 60, a native Brazilian, is the first Latin American to win the prestigious prize, which honors an individual “who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works,” said the John Templeton Foundation, which is based in West Conshohocken, Pa.
Gleiser, whose full title is Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy and a professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., won the honor for being “a prominent voice among scientists, past and present, who reject the notion that science alone can lead to ultimate truths about the nature of reality,” the foundation said Tuesday in announcing the award. “Instead, in his parallel career as a public intellectual, he reveals the historical, philosophical and cultural links of being alive.”
While Gleiser describes himself as an agnostic, he is an avowed critic of atheism.
“I see atheism as being inconsistent with the scientific method as it is, essentially, belief in nonbelief,” Gleiser said in a 2018 interview in Scientific American. “You may not believe in God, but to affirm its nonexistence with certainty is not scientifically consistent.”
The foundation noted that Gleiser’s research “has examined a wide array of topics, ranging from the behavior of quantum fields and elementary particles, to early-universe cosmology, the dynamics of phase transitions, astrobiology and new fundamental measures of entropy and complexity based on information theory.”
A milestone in his scientific work was his co-discovery, in 1994, of “oscillons.” These are “small, long-lived energy ‘lumps’ made of many particles,” the foundation noted, and Gleiser continues work on their properties.
In an interview with Religion News Service before Tuesday’s announcement, Gleiser said he reacted with disbelief when told he had won the prize, which comes with $1.45 million, calling it “a very humbling thing. I am deeply moved and humbled by this.”
Heather Templeton Dill, president of the John Templeton Foundation, whose late grandfather, philanthropist and investor Sir John Templeton established the prize in 1972, said in a statement that Gleiser “embodies the values that inspired my grandfather to establish the Templeton Prize and to create the John Templeton Foundation.”
“Two values which were especially important for him, and the focus of various foundation grants, are the pursuit of joy in all aspects of life, and the profound human experience of awe.”
Templeton Dill added, “Professor Gleiser’s work displays an undeniable joy of exploration. He maintains the same sense of awe and wonderment that he first experienced as a child on the Copacabana beach, gazing at the horizon or the starry night sky, curious about what lies beyond.
“As he writes in [the 2014 book] ‘The Island of Knowledge,’ ‘Awe is the bridge between our past and present, taking us forward into the future as we keep on searching.’”
Gleiser was born in Rio de Janeiro into a prominent Jewish family, receiving a traditional, conservative Hebrew school education, according to a biographical profile provided by the foundation.
The profile also noted that “The Old Testament stories, taught as literal history, [caused in Gleiser] a mix of fascination and fear, resulting in a growing skepticism of the ancient texts.”
Gleiser earned his bachelor’s degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in 1981, followed a year later by a master’s in physics from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He earned a doctorate in theoretical physics from King’s College London in 1986.
Though widely published in academic journals, Gleiser has also taken on the role of a public intellectual, co-founding the National Public Radio blog, “13.7: Cosmos and Culture,” and penning a weekly column in Folha de São Paulo, Brazil’s largest newspaper. He also narrated the Latin American edition of the four-part documentary series “The Known Universe” for the National Geographic Channel.
In a videotaped acceptance of the award, Gleiser said the “path to scientific understanding and scientific exploration is not just about the material part of the world.
“My mission is to bring back to science, and to the people that are interested in science, this attachment to the mysterious, to make people understand that science is just one other way for us to engage with the mystery of who we are.”
The Templeton Foundation noted that through the years, Gleiser has become skeptical of pronouncements that “physics has solved the question of the universe’s origin. He also increasingly rejected the claims of fellow scientists who asserted the irrelevance of philosophy or religion.”
Gleiser told RNS that this position, as well as his agnosticism, stems from his belief that “science has to show soul” and that, in the end, both religion and science “share the same seed.”
“You must keep an open mind,” he said. “The mystery [about the universe] remains.”
Gleiser said his future efforts will include a focus on the challenges that face humanity and the planet, including the existential threat of climate change.
“Earth is a very special place,” he told RNS. “Life is unique, and intelligent life is rare.” As such, Gleiser said, “We need a new morality for the 21st century [based on the belief] that all life is sacred, and … we must look beyond the tribalism that surrounds us.”
In winning the Templeton Prize, Gleiser joins distinguished company. The 2018 Templeton winner was King Abdullah II of Jordan, who was honored for his commitment to promote inter-religious dialogue and for affirming the peace tradition in Islam.
Other winners have included Mother Teresa, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Billy Graham, Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, as well as a distinguished roster of scientists, including Martin Rees, John Barrow, George Ellis, Freeman Dyson and Paul Davies.
Gleiser will formally receive the award at a public ceremony in New York on May 29.
President Donald Trump averages about 16 tweets per weekend but was recently unusually active on the platform, posting more than 50 times from Friday morning to Sunday evening. He took on “Saturday Night Live” and the late Sen. John McCain and defended Fox News opinion hosts who have recently come under fire for bigoted statements. It was unclear what had provoked his flurry of activity, and even advisers were searching for the normal cues that set him off: White House officials performing poorly on the Sunday show circuit or his delayed distillation of negative coverage from the week before. [NYTimes]
Topping the news: Utah Gov. Gary Herbert quietly let a controversial bill that could open the door for the storage of depleted uranium in the state to take effect without his signature or veto. [Trib] [DNews]
-> Federal authorities are seeking larger monthly restitution payments from Utah Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, who was ordered in 2015 to pay $95,955.61 in damages to the Bureau of Land Management following an ATV protest ride on closed public land. They say his appointment to the state Legislature has increased his ability and moral responsibility to pay up. [Trib]
-> From @JimDabakis: “Jackie out for Mayor. Everyone remember how much grace and aplomb she acted with as first lesbian LGBTQ legislator. Some pompous lawmakers refused to shake her hand. Thanks trailblazer Jackie."
-> From @iversonSLC: “Regardless of your thoughts on the mayor, it’s a bit of a shame there are now no women in the race."
-> Clean air activists derided the state Legislature’s passage of a controversial gravel-mining bill that they say puts business interests over the health of Utahns; lawmakers defended the bill as protecting private property rights. [Trib]
-> Utah’s Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, which has yielded thousands of dinosaur bones, is now Jurassic National Monument under a sweeping public lands bill Trump signed recently. [Trib]
-> State officials are taking steps to solidify the implementation of newly legalized medical marijuana facilities in the state, which will include tracking each plant to make sure nothing goes missing. [Fox13] [DNews]
-> A federal judge upheld the constitutionality of a bump stock ban after a challenge by Utah gun advocate Clark Aposhian, the chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council. Aposhian has since filed a notice of appeal to the 10th Circuit Court. [Trib]
-> A series of small housing projects popping up in Salt Lake City’s east side reflect a generational shift in Utahns’ home buying preferences and are part of a business strategy of catering to renters and buyers that want to live in up-and-coming urban locations. [Trib]
-> Two missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been in detention in Russia for nearly three weeks, despite reports that a Russian court had ordered they be deported for teaching English without a license. [Trib]
-> Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke criticizes the way lawmakers have distributed funds, which he says benefits businesses at the expense of Utah taxpayers. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley imagines a presidential bathroom gaffe. [Trib]
Nationally: Although United States intelligence agencies often share information about international terrorist groups with global allies, the same system doesn’t exist for domestic terrorist groups like white nationalists, which often share similar models or international networks via the internet. [WaPost]
-> Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke announced Monday that he has raised $6.1 million in campaign funds thus far, a record-setting haul that outpaces everyone else in the 2020 field. [WaPost] [NYTimes] [Politico]
-> Democrats remain split on Medicare for all, as freshmen push for it and more senior representatives throw their support behind smaller, incremental moves, like shoring up the Affordable Care Act or decreasing out-of-pocket costs for care and prescription drugs. [NYTimes]
-> The U.S. Supreme Court appears divided over a lower court’s determination that a Republican-drawn districting map of Virginia discriminated against black voters. [WaPost]
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-- Taylor Stevens and Christina Giardinelli
Why is it more important for one person to be able to sport a gun within a 500-foot perimeter of a school than it is for hundreds of children within that school to have to hide in their classrooms in fear that that person could come into their school and start shooting?
As the grandmother of 12, I spoke before the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, pleading with them to move House Bill 217, Open Carry Near Schools, forward in order to help prevent unnecessary lock-downs that are terrorizing our students.
Committee Chairman Lee Perry worried that hunters in his rural district might need to openly carry their hunting rifles in front of schools. Another speaker’s argument was that a person might walk by a school in the summer when school is out, with a gun, and be arrested.
These arguments appeared to convince six representatives on the committee that we need to protect the few who choose to openly carry a gun in front of a school in session rather than the thousands of students this decision impacts.
We, as Utah citizens, need to know how each of our representatives are voting on bills that are being presented, and re-elect accordingly.
Marsha Olsen, Holladay
It’s obvious that many Utah lawmakers were unhappy that three out of four ballot initiatives passed last November. Medical cannabis, expanded Medicaid and redistricting measures were just too much for them to tolerate.
Our patriarchal lawmakers are threatened by the actions of the citizens and have decided to make the initiative process much more difficult. Requiring the names of people who have signed petitions to be posted online is meant to suppress citizen action and intimidate voters. Delaying the implementation of voter initiatives until after the legislative session gives lawmakers time to change them and, as we have seen them do since November, change them in ways that were not envisioned by the voters.
This is a power grab by the Legislature intended to take power away from the people.
Chelsea Taylor, Salt Lake City
In calling the Green New Deal “tantamount to genocide,” and “born of attitudes that show no respect for the lives and livelihoods of the American people,” Rep. Rob Bishop exhibits, once again, his extreme bigotry and ignorance.
Science has shown the dire condition our planet is in. We all are experiencing the effects of climate change now in our daily lives. Immediate action is needed.
It shows a complete lack of respect to deny these facts, and I’m dumbfounded as to how Bishop and most of the GOP explain their continued short-sighted pillaging to their children and grandchildren.
The Green New Deal is an amazing footstep, demonstrating that we, as Americans and cohabitants of this planet can create jobs of the future that both protect our livelihoods and sustain the Earth.
Candace Wagner, Salt Lake City
If you are driving east on Florin Road toward Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California, you will pass under a pedestrian bridge that has a message permanently affixed to it: “If you dream it, you can do it.”
It's the kind of message I have seen in neighborhoods where aspirations far surpass resources - and in that way it is fitting. More than three-quarters of students at Burbank qualify for free lunches. A fifth of students come from households where Hmong is the primary language. The school has one of the highest concentrations of Hmong students in the city.
It was here, last year, that school counselor Janet Spilman and teacher Katherine Bell dreamed up a scheme: They would get every eligible senior to apply to college — any college. “It wasn’t just the 4.0s,” Bell told me in December, sitting in the light-filled front office. “It was the 2.0s and everyone who was within one year ... of being eligible” to apply. In the end, they wrangled about 400 students into the school’s two computer labs, sat them down and walked them through the application process.
The massive undertaking taught Spilman and Bell a lot about what was keeping students from making post-high school plans: Many Hmong students had no idea they were "college material." Some said they had thought about college but no adult had ever spoken to them about it. Others fretted about the finances and negotiating with parents who expected them to remain home.
FILE - In this March 7, 2017 file photo, rowers paddle down the Charles River past the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. A federal judge in Boston is scheduled to hear closing arguments Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in a highly publicized lawsuit alleging that elite Harvard discriminates against Asian-Americans. Much of the spotlight has been on affluent Chinese-Americans with stellar academic scores who say the college rejects Asians in favor of lesser-qualified applicants. They say factoring in race hurts Asian-Americans. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File) (Charles Krupa/)
When Students for Fair Admissions sued Harvard in 2014 over its race-conscious admissions policies, only one member of the organization was described in detail, a young man who, according to the lawsuit, deserves a seat at the university. He is the son of Chinese immigrants, attended one of the nation's top high schools, was captain of the tennis team and got a perfect score on the ACT. By contrast, Hmong students at Burbank come from a community with a childhood poverty rate of about 40 percent statewide.
"Some Asian Americans came to the United States to escape communism, authoritarianism, war, and poverty, while others simply sought out greater opportunities. Some Asian Americans come from highly educated families, but many others do not," Students for Fair Admissions noted in its complaint. But Harvard officials, the group went on, "lump all Asian Americans together in the admissions process" by taking into account race when whittling down the roughly 40,000 applicants for a class of 2,000. In an effort to create a diverse student body, Harvard holds Asian Americans to a higher standard than other races, the group argued. The result is "a remarkably low admission rate for high-achieving Asian-American applicants."
Harvard says that its admissions process considers race in the context of a candidate's whole life story - not independent of it - and lets applicants distinguish themselves. "Harvard doesn't have quotas," said spokeswoman Rachael Dane. "Students of one racial category are not competing against each other."
In a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Harvard, a group of social scientists also singled out applicants like the kids at Burbank High who don't fulfill the model-minority stereotype "but nevertheless have the potential to make enormous contributions to the campus community." Such candidates, the brief went on, "benefit greatly from holistic review processes like Harvard's."
A judge heard arguments in the fall and had not issued a ruling as of early March. During the trial, Students for Fair Admissions argued Harvard punished Asian-American applicants by giving them lower "personal ratings" than those of other races, accusing admissions officers of evoking stereotypes of Asians as sharp and studious, but not sociable. (Harvard disputed the analysis.) Edward Blum, a conservative activist who founded the group, told me in an interview: "Race is not just a light thumb on the scale, but it is a dispositive thumb on the scale."
As a remedy, Students for Fair Admissions wants the court to declare Harvard's admissions practices unconstitutional. But it goes further: It wants an injunction that would bar Harvard admissions officers from learning the race of applicants - a prohibition that might force students to scrub any mention of their race in their applications. If the case advances through the courts, it could have wider implications. President Trump's Justice Department has backed the fight, and the Supreme Court's shift to the right has raised the odds that a majority of the justices could vote to abolish or curtail the use of race in admissions at colleges across the country.
Implicit in the argument made by Students for Fair Admissions is that ending racial considerations in admissions would ultimately benefit the kids at Burbank High. And yet, in the coverage of the Harvard lawsuit, and indeed in almost any story on affirmative action, you rarely hear from this group — the ones without the Tiger Moms and the private SAT tutors — or from the high school counselors like Spilman and Bell who worry less about whether their students will appear “too Asian” and more about whether they even know how to apply to college. Decades after the myth of Asians as a model minority took hold, we seem unable to escape it.
As I followed the Harvard lawsuit, I wondered whether the debate around it would be different if Harvard were not in the Northeast but in a place like Sacramento, one of the few places in the country that captures the diversity of Asian America and the pitfalls of the model-minority stereotype. The California capital has also existed in a post-affirmative-action world for more than 20 years, thanks to Proposition 209, which ended race-conscious admissions policies at state schools. And it happens to be my hometown.
The family of my dad, Albert Balingit, arrived there more than six decades ago from the Philippines, settling in the Meadowview neighborhood when he was a child. At the time, Meadowview was one of the few communities that did not explicitly bar nonwhite families from moving in - though individual homeowners could refuse to sell to them. Elsewhere, real estate agents had formed pacts to keep nonwhite buyers out of centrally located neighborhoods like Land Park, and some homes had deeds that barred nonwhite people from ever setting foot in them. My grandfather, though, managed to find someone who would sell a house to him.
My dad shared a cramped home with some assortment of his seven siblings and other Filipino families or distant relatives who were down on their luck. His father worked as a janitor while he flipped burgers, sometimes sneaking food for his mother and younger siblings. When he started at Burbank High in the late 1960s, the country was roiled with racial tension that spilled over into the school's hallways. My dad was on the college preparatory track, one of the few students of color preparing for an education after high school. But as graduation approached, a counselor advised him to become a carpenter, which was a bad idea since he was a strong student and to this day can't drive a nail.
Instead, after a stint at community college, he transferred to the University of California at Davis, just outside of Sacramento, where he would start the first club for Filipino students, called Mga Kapatid, the Tagalog phrase for "brethren." He became a leader in the movement to bring ethnic studies to the campus. And after he graduated, he was accepted to the law school, which placed him in the ranks of Asians in this country who today, as a group, are better educated than white Americans, and out-earn them, too.
But these superlatives obscure the extreme poverty among some subsets, in particular refugees whose stories get lost in the averages when they are included with more-established groups from places like China and South Korea. In 2014, for example, nearly 40 percent of Hmong had less than a high school diploma. Asian Americans are now the most economically divided racial group in the country, with the wealthiest 10 percent earning more than 10 times the amount of the poorest 10 percent, according to a report from the Pew Research Center. And that gap is growing: Rich Asians are getting richer, and poor Asians are staying poor.
You can see this trend playing out in Sacramento, where Southeast Asian refugees have settled in poor communities like Meadowview, while Chinese and Japanese families have decamped to newer housing developments in wealthier neighborhoods in adjacent Greenhaven. Recent arrivals from Laos, Bhutan and Myanmar are more likely to have come because they were displaced by war or religious and ethnic persecution. Many are Hmong, a mountain tribe in Laos whose members in the 1960s and 1970s were recruited by the United States to battle communist forces taking over their country. When the Americans pulled out of Laos in 1975, the Hmong had to flee or risk execution. Many were slaughtered, and those who survived ended up in camps in Thailand, where they languished for years, sometimes decades, waiting to immigrate to America. Once they arrived, they were deeply unfamiliar with modern American life, and some were forced to abandon farming and hunting.
Mai Xi Lee, the director of social-emotional learning for the Sacramento City Unified School District, remembers the day she left Laos. She was 5, and her mother slaughtered a chicken and gave her the prized drumstick. Then, her mother told her to pack. Within an hour, they were marching with Lee's siblings toward the Mekong River. They made it to Thailand, where Lee spent a few years in a refugee camp before immigrating here.
Lee told me her story as I sat in her air-conditioned office in the Sacramento City Unified headquarters. A longtime educator, she has become an advocate for Hmong schoolchildren. One of her battles has been to get the district to tally performance measures for Hmong children separately from their Asian peers. It has been a longtime fight for many Southeast Asian advocates, who want to raise attention - and draw resources - to where their communities are falling short.
"When we look at Asian data, it is absolutely misleading, and I don't think that there is great awareness of the tremendous differences even [among Asians]," she said, "what it means to be a refugee versus what it means to be an immigrant."
She bristles at the notion that Students for Fair Admissions represents Asian Americans. Blum, the group’s founder, had previously challenged affirmative action at the University of Texas. For that case, he recruited a white female plaintiff who said she was rejected from UT because of her race. When that suit failed, Blum tried again, this time arguing race-conscious admissions policies penalize Asian Americans. He recruited members of Students for Fair Admissions through websites like HarvardNotFair.org, which features a stock photo of a college-aged Asian woman sitting on the floor next to a bookshelf. She wears jeans and a forlorn look. “Were You Denied Admission to Harvard?” the website asks. “It may be because you’re the wrong race.”
He found support for his crusade among well-educated and wealthy Chinese Americans in places like Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area, people who had grown suspicious when their high-achieving children were rejected from top-flight schools. They spread the word of their fight through WeChat, a Chinese messaging program.
In Lee's eyes, it is Students for Fair Admissions, not Harvard, that doesn't recognize socioeconomic diversity among Asians. "It's very specific groups filing this lawsuit, and yet we're all being clumped together," she said. She is skeptical that eliminating race from college admissions decisions will benefit Hmong students, young people who, like her, grew up poor and in households where no English was spoken. "It will definitely hurt them," she predicted.
At Burbank High, Katherine Bell wonders how admissions officers will be able to do their job without considering race. "How do you do that without erasing history and identity and self?" she said. "One of the strengths our students potentially have is their story."
She talked about how her own upbringing informs her work with Hmong students. She grew up in San Francisco and attended Lowell High, one of the most exclusive public schools in the state. She was the only white student in her clique of mostly affluent, high-achieving Chinese and Japanese classmates — “the quote-unquote ‘right’ kind of Asian,” Bell says.
Lowell High was also one of the early sites of Asian-American resistance to affirmative action. In the late 1990s, a group of Chinese parents successfully sued to get the school’s racial quota system — which permitted no single racial group to exceed 40 percent — dismantled. The number of Chinese students at the school has soared, and the number of black and Latino students has plummeted.
In many ways, Bell wants Burbank to be the antithesis of Lowell. As she sees it, nearly all schools fall into one of two categories. "Do we exist as an exclusive institution, and that is how our identity is constructed," she says, "or do we exist as an inclusive institution? Knowing that in some ways that's more work because of the students who need extra support financially and academically?"
Ten or 15 years ago, that meant supporting Hmong girls and boys who married and began having children in high school. It meant making parents comfortable with the idea of their children leaving home. Linda Yang, a counselor at the school who is Hmong, told me that Hmong parents are sometimes incredulous at the notion of scholarships. When one of her students got a full scholarship to UC-Davis, her parents brought in the letter to ask her if it was a hoax.
The number of Hmong students at Burbank is unclear - about 30 percent of the school’s 1,700 students are Asian - but it has one of the largest concentrations of Hmong students in Sacramento. Some of them are zoned for Kennedy High, which sits in a more-affluent area on the other side of Interstate 5. But they prefer to come to Burbank, they told me, because they feel more comfortable around students who speak their language, understand their cultural obligations and face similar challenges.
(Max Whittaker | For The Washington Post) Keng Thao, an 18-year-old student at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif., was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. (Max Whittaker/)
I met with about a dozen Hmong students in an empty classroom on the edge of campus. Some of them are aware of the stereotype that Asian Americans are well-off, a notion that makes them conscious of their own station in life. Keng Thao, an 18-year-old who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, highlighted the difference between him and wealthier Asians using a footwear metaphor: “You see some Asians wearing Jordans. I’m wearing flip-flops.”
Many of them speak Hmong at home, abide by Hmong customs and rituals, learn Hmong history at school and are surrounded by Hmong peers. Many also have responsibilities that conflict with homework and sometimes interfere with college aspirations.
Angely Vue, a high school senior, explained the expectations Hmong girls face. "You have to be a perfect Hmong daughter," she said. As the eldest child, she was charged with caring for five siblings; in large Hmong families, it's not unusual for the eldest girl to serve as a sort of second mother to her brothers and sisters. That meant cleaning, supervising and cooking - often boiled chicken and rice - and then ensuring the younger children were bathed and put to bed. And all that came before homework. "It's not as if you can put those things aside," Vue said.
For boys, there are rituals and lengthy funerals to attend, and sometimes they are expected to earn money to support their loved ones. Many families still expect a "bride prize," a payment to the bride's family upon her marriage, often worth thousands of dollars. The mother of Nathan Yang, a senior, suggested to him that he hold off on marriage. "She told me, 'Don't get married, because we can't afford it,'" Yang said, laughing.
I asked what it would mean for the students if admissions officers could not consider their race and if they weren't able to share anything about it on their college applications. They said it would be nearly impossible. "I want them to know that I'm Hmong so they can see that I don't have money to pay for a private tutor," Vue said. "Even though I don't have that help, I still study really hard and still worked hard to get to where I am."
(Max Whittaker | For The Washington Post) Burbank High School senior Samantha Vang. The school has one of the largest concentrations of Hmong students in Sacramento, Calif. (Max Whittaker/)
Her classmate, Samantha Vang, who squeezes in homework in between caring for a 3-year-old sister and shifts at KFC, put it more succinctly: "It's what makes me me."
I spoke to Blum by phone several weeks later and told him what the students had said. He said he couldn't comment on exactly what barring admissions officials from considering race would mean for applicants - that is, whether it would bar them from mentioning their race in applications. But he said he found it worrisome that teenagers would consider their race and ethnicity as central to their identity. "Do we want to elevate our race and our ethnicity to the most existential part of who we are?" he told me. "I think we're at a very bad gateway if that's how 17- and 18- and 19-year-olds are viewing themselves in the greater context of America and this society."
He also said it was wrong for admissions officials to think they can make assumptions about the financial or academic barriers a candidate faces based on what racial box they check. "There are lots of Vietnamese whose dads are corporate lawyers and whose moms are architects. There's lots of Chinese kids whose dad is working in a Chinese kitchen in the Bronx," Blum said. (Dane, the Harvard spokeswoman, said that the admissions committee considers all of those factors and does not assume anything about a candidate's financial background based on his or her race.)
Instead of race, Blum argues, Harvard should lend more consideration to a student's socioeconomic status, to give students with the odds stacked against them a fighting chance. An expert hired by Blum's group, Richard Kahlenberg, testified that emphasizing socioeconomic diversity would keep classes racially diverse. Kahlenberg, who declined to comment because of the pending lawsuit, produced models predicting how campus diversity would shift if Harvard stopped using race and giving preference to legacies or children of employees, and started giving more weight to socioeconomic barriers. His models showed that the number of disadvantaged students would radically rise, and there would be fewer black students and more Asians.
OiYan Poon, an education professor at Colorado State University, disagrees with Kahlenberg's perspective. Admissions officers who are considering an applicant's socioeconomic status but not their race might never learn that they don't speak English at home or that they're refugees - barriers to academic success that exist independent of how much money their parents made.
I asked Yukong Zhao, a Chinese immigrant who worked in business development for Siemens, and who helped form the Asian American Coalition for Education in 2014 with the goal of eliminating race-conscious admissions in the Ivy League, about the situation of lower-income Southeast Asians who believe his efforts would harm them. He said he's sensitive to the disparities in the American education system that disadvantage poor students, but that the solution is to address those disparities instead of letting more members of underrepresented groups into elite schools.
Zhao and others who support the lawsuit cite an internal Harvard study unearthed by the litigation that estimated that Asian Americans would constitute 43 percent of the student body if only grades and test scores were considered. (In 2018, 23 percent of students admitted to Harvard were Asian American.) They also note that Asian enrollment increased at California's public colleges after affirmative action was barred in 1996.
But that's only part of what has happened since Proposition 209 passed. The data also suggests that the current approach does not benefit all Asians equally. One caveat in measuring the impact that Prop. 209 has had on worse-off Asian-American groups is that the University of California system began tracking Asian subgroups only after its passage. But it is clear that some subsets have done better than others. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, those who are Chinese account for about 4 percent of California's population, but they make up 13 percent of domestic UC students. Hmong account for 0.25 percent of the state population and 0.21 percent of UC students. The gap is wider at the most selective campuses: Chinese students make up about 16 percent of UC-Berkeley's domestic students, whereas Hmong account for less than 0.10 percent.
In addition, it isn’t clear to what extent — or even whether — Asian Americans as a whole have benefited from Proposition 209. In her research, Poon has found that the increased number of Asian students at UC schools “was most likely caused by significant demographic shifts in the state and a higher yield rate among admitted [Asian] applicants” - not by Prop. 209. Then again, not everyone agrees that Prop. 209 has been fully implemented: Recently, an affirmative action critic filed a lawsuit alleging that UC is still considering race in admissions.
Before leaving Sacramento, I stopped by Sacramento State, which sits on a leafy campus east of downtown, hemmed in by the American River. The university is part of the California State University system, which is separate from the UC system. It makes a point of welcoming students who might have never considered college and who arrive with a host of challenges: first-generation students, refugees, undocumented youths.
Chao Vang was one of those students. The seventh of 10 siblings, he grew up in Stockton, California, and is now a staff member coordinating equity programs on campus. He wrote his dissertation on the outcomes of Hmong students at Sacramento State, and what he found was deeply disheartening. The number of Hmong students on campus grew exponentially, from 153 in 2005 to 1,07511 years later. But they were rarely graduating within four years. None of the Hmong students who began at Sacramento State in 2007 or 2008 graduated within four years. In 2016, just 1.3 percent of the Hmong students who started four years prior graduated. (The university's overall four-year graduation rate is about 14 percent.)
A survey of nearly 500 Hmong students in 2014 and 2015 found that nearly all of them lived off-campus and about half were living in households with seven or more people. Nearly half were working more than 20 hours a week, and about 70 percent reported feeling depressed on campus. The phrase "achievement gap," usually used to describe the performance gap between white and black students, has taken on a new meaning for Vang: the gap between Hmong students and other Asian students.
The challenges of groups such as the Hmong get overlooked, he explains, because Asians are not considered underrepresented minorities at California's public universities, so they don't qualify for the same resources that black, Hispanic and Native American students do. As I followed Vang through campus, he pointed out initiatives that target other minority groups: Black students can retreat to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center; Latino students have the Serna Center, named for the late Sacramento mayor Joe Serna Jr.; and there is a Dreamer Resource Center for undocumented students. "There's still this blanket perception, like: Why do Asian students need support?" Vang said.
We found Hmong students congregating around tables outside the offices of the Multi-Cultural Center. Inside, I met Robert Yang, a sociology student who grew up in Sacramento. He is one of 11 children and has older siblings who went to college, but he says he was not always on that trajectory. His father was diagnosed with cancer when he was in high school and, overwhelmed with work, school and his home life, Yang fell into a depression.
I visited Yang a few days later at his home, a three-bedroom ranch-style house that he shares with his parents, a younger brother and an older brother who is disabled. The front sitting room was sparsely furnished, dominated by a shrine on the wall opposite the front door. It was covered in gold paper, with ceremonial items placed on its mantel — including eggs and teacups. Another wall was covered with photos taken before they had left Laos, of his parents in traditional Hmong clothing made of intricately woven fabric. His father, John, a shaman, also had several blown-up photos of himself and his wife posing next to their prized possession: a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Yang told me he had planned on studying that day, but instead he had to help his father sacrifice some chickens in preparation for the Hmong New Year. The rituals are intended to ensure that ancestors are cared for in the afterlife.
He recalled another time when he missed class to represent his family at a days-long funeral of a distant relative. He said he can’t imagine omitting race from the story he shared with admissions officials. Growing up in poverty, and knowing that his parents had worked so hard to provide for him, inspired him to get his grades up so he could go to college. It is shaping his academic future, too: Sociology has given him the language to understand the difference between the world he grew up in — which emphasizes community and family — and university life, which pushes him to pursue his own intellectual passions. Eliminating race from the admissions process, he said, “takes away from the individual who is actually applying. It takes away from their story. It takes away from who they are.”
Politics is a mix of show biz and public policy, but lest you think with the entry of Beto O'Rourke into the race that the coverage is only about the former, the Sunday shows did talk to other candidates, who showed what serious and sober presidential candidates can sound like.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in particular seems like the anti-Beto. She said on "Meet the Press" on Sunday that she wouldn't have ever said she was just "born to run."
She is comfortable talking about health care, which she did at length:
CHUCK TODD: What will you make - what is number one, in your mind, that you've got to, that you know - that is going to be the hardest thing to do, so you're going to do it early? Health care was Obama's. What is yours?
KLOBUCHAR: Bringing down health-care costs with some much-needed changes to the Affordable Care Act. And that would be, first of all, pharmaceutical prices. I have been on this for over a decade. And neither during Democratic or Republican administrations, have we had any significant votes in this Congress. Pharma may think they own Washington. They don’t own me. And this means everything from unleashing the power of 43 million seniors to negotiate lower prices under Medicare, bringing in less expensive drugs from Canada, stopping the pay-for-delay practice, a bill that I have with Senator Grassley. ... I believe in bringing out universal health care to all Americans. And we’re not there yet. And the fastest way -
TODD: But you want to use the, but you want to use the structure of Obamacare?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, I do. And the fastest way you get there is with a public option. You can do that with Medicaid. You can do it with Medicare. I would get that done in the first year as president. There's no reason we can't do that, as well as immediately using reinsurance and cost sharing, things that would really help here in Iowa, where they've had some major issues with their premiums.
TODD: What do you tell the folks that say, "No, no, no, no, no, no. You know, stop that. Obamacare isn't the answer. Go to Medicare-for-all"? What do you tell those folks?
KLOBUCHAR: I tell them that we have had some major successes with the Affordable Care Act. We have made sure kids get on their parents' insurance until they're 26. We have stopped people from being thrown off their insurance for preexisting conditions.
Clear, direct answers based on experience. It's not impossible, you see. She also answered questions on reparations, Venezuela and the Paris accords. (Oh, and she got into politics after she went through the experience of getting kicked out of the hospital 24 hours after giving birth despite her daughter having a serious medical condition. She has written a book and talked publicly about her own experience and that of other working mothers, but it seems she has never gone on a solo road trip to lick her political wounds.)
She also sat down with Jake Tapper on Sunday’s “State of the Union” to talk about President Donald Trump’s role in the propagation of white nationalism. (“There has been an increase in hate crimes. There has been an increase in very negative rhetoric at groups. And ... no matter how someone looks, it happens to them. They could be Orthodox Jews. It happens to them. They could be Hispanics. It’s been happening to them.”) She went after tech companies. ("I want privacy legislation to basically say, hey, we have a right over our data. Stop messing around with us, and then also put in plain language what your rights are, instead of 50 pages. And then, finally, notify us when there’s breaches. And when it comes to hateful violence like this, they should have to get this off the Internet immediately. There is no place on the Internet for people watching murders. ") And she defended her prosecutorial record on race:
"We worked very hard on several fronts. The first is to diversify the office and to add more people of color to the ranks of prosecutors. And I did that.
"The second was to look at how we were handling drug court and make sure that we were doing it in a way that wasn't racist. And you can always do better. I can tell you, you learn in retrospect, when you look back, things you can do better.
"The third thing was to up our focus on white-collar crimes. Things that are committed in the boardrooms are just as bad as things that are committed with a crowbar if someone is trying to break in a house.
"And so I really made a major effort on that. And then, finally, I was one of the first prosecutors in the country to work with the Innocence Project to do a DNA review on our cases, to do something differently when it came to eyewitness identification, so you would have the police officer who was not involved in investigating the crime show the photos. And you would show the photos one at a time, instead of all at once.
"And then, finally, we had videotaped interrogations in Minnesota. We were one of the only states that did it at the time to make sure that suspects were treated fairly, Miranda rights were being read."
When she talks about herself, she talks about what she's done, not her destiny to run for president. "[I] was just ranked by Vanderbilt as getting the most done for any Democratic senator on 15 different metrics. And that's because I have been able to find common ground to get bills passed and to respond to my constituents. And I think that's what we need in the White House."
That’s about the most substance, aside from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., you’ll hear from any candidate. And yet many outlets run the same story (was she a hellish boss or just tough?) over and over — with no inquiry into the supervisory skills of others. Is this sexism or just superficiality? Maybe some of both.
Voters who say they want an informed and competent president need to look for presidential candidates who exhibit those attributes. If they don’t want a president who thinks he alone can fix things or who has gone through life coasting and talking a good game with little to show for it, they’d better find someone who talks authoritatively about issues, not himself, and has been a work horse, not a show pony. Otherwise, we’ll wind up with another president whose self-regard is radically at odds with his or her capacity to govern.
Jennifer Rubin | The Washington Post
Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion for The Washington Post.
Beto O'Rourke continues to live his best Generation X life. The former punk rocker and still current skateboarder's Thursday presidential announcement video featured his wife, Amy Hoover Sanders, sitting silently by his side and smiling at him lovingly while he pontificated for more than three minutes. He was rewarded for this straight-out-of-1959 performance by crowds who came to gawk at the charismatic candidate in Iowa, where he told a group in a coffee shop that his wife is raising their children "sometimes with my help." He was so pleased with the line, he repeated it the next day.
More than a few of his female peers responded to this with a collective gag. "The idea that a woman could EVER, even in self-deprecating conscious acknowledgment, joke about how she's "helping" to raise her kids, is inconceivable," feminist journalist Rebecca Traister immediately tweeted out. Others piled on and by Friday night, O'Rourke apologized. "Not only will I not say that again, but I will be much more thoughtful in the ways that I talk about my marriage," he said. "I hope as I have been in some instances part of the problem, I can be part of the solution."
It all didn't seem to matter much - O'Rourke raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours after he made his announcement. But it's still worth taking a moment to explore the situation. A moment of virtue-signaling - I am aware I should do more as a father! - revealed a fault line that runs through O'Rourke's own age cohort.
Generation X, once so hip and so cool, grew up to become born-again traditionalists. The group, which ranges in age roughly from those just shy of 40 to those in their mid-50s, was never as liberated as advertised. From early on, many women of Generation X refused to define themselves as feminists even as they supported feminist goals, and told pollsters and demographers they would devote more time to their families than their own parents. They pretty much kept to that. By the mid-aughts, a working mother spent more time with her children than a homemaker of a few decades earlier. Yes, Generation X men put more hours in with their sons and daughters than their fathers before them, but don't mistake that for equal parenting. The same is true of all forms of housekeeping, from cleaning to cooking. At the same time, the standards for what makes a good parent have increased enormously - a burden that has mostly fallen on mothers, not fathers. Men are celebrated for simply remembering it is actually a child's birthday, or taking them to a playground once a week. Women often feel judged if the tiniest thing is amiss.
There's quite a bit of anger over this situation, but until recently it was all but suppressed from the commons, mostly confined to the mommy blogosphere, social media confessionals and novels with pink covers where women wrestle with the demands of children, work and less-than-available husbands. It took Hillary Clinton's surprise loss to the supremely unqualified Donald Trump to both bring much of this simmering resentment into the open and connect the dots to our politics, where women, even after the 2018 congressional wave, remain underrepresented.
You can compare O'Rourke with his fellow female Generation X contender Kirsten Gillibrand - who formalized her own presidential run this weekend - to see how this plays out in our lives and our civic life. Gillibrand, who moved from conservative positions to more liberal ones over the years, is branded as an opportunist Tracy Flick (something of a Gen X stereotype, by the way). She's openly and repeatedly discussed how she adjusts her schedule so that she can spend time with her children, with little to no credit. Despite the fact she has been outspoken for the better part of a decade on what would come to be called #MeToo issues, when she demanded that then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., resign in the wake of allegations he groped a number of women, many portrayed it as an operator looking to ace out a possible 2020 rival.
Meantime, O'Rourke, who spoke out against the Affordable Care Act before he voted to defend it, and enjoyed significant financial support from Republicans when he ran for Congress in 2012, is allowed to present himself as a progressive champion. Few seem to recall that O'Rourke declined to endorse Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones when she ran for election last year against one of his friends, Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas. His action quite possibly cost Jones the election - she lost by fewer than 1,000 votes. But instead of getting branded as a disloyal political shape-shifter, O'Rourke is touted by many as a charming unifier.
Our sexist reality really does bite. But O’Rourke says he has seen the light. By Saturday night, he was proclaiming he would likely choose a female vice president if he’s lucky enough to get the Democratic nod. “It would be very difficult not to select a woman with so many extraordinary women who are running right now,” he said. Hopefully he won’t expect her to gaze adoringly at him