Shake, Rattle & Roll 

Also: Prison Prospects, Civility & Equality

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Shake, Rattle & Roll
There’s something about digging in old terra firma. Turns out it’s not all that firm. Kennecott—the largest open-pit copper mine in the world—played host in 2013 to a huge landslide that could have buried Central Park 60 times. Besides the two big booms from the slide, there were several smaller, real earthquakes that followed. Makes you wonder. In Oklahoma, residents are complaining about thousands of quakes over the past three years. Scientists attribute the quakes to the oil & gas industry digging and pumping water beneath the surface. These aren’t isolated instances. It’s happening amid fracking in north Texas, and of course, in other countries like China and Switzerland.  Now, Kennecott wants to expand, starting with a rock-crushing plant. Besides what that would do to air quality, someone should consider what more digging means to the earth, to the groundwater and the wetlands.

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Prison Prospects
Prisons are for bad people—or they used to be. These days, prisons house a lot of nonviolent criminals—people who’ve been jailed for drug crimes or, like Tim DeChristopher, for spurious bidding. The Salt Lake Tribune overstated the problem by quoting statistics from 2010 that have more than half of all federal prisoners in for drug offenses. But in 2012, violent crimes slightly beat out drug offenses, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Still, some 330,000 druggies are crowding an already crowded system, and now even Sen. Mike Lee has joined the call for sentencing reform—with Democrats, no less. The dialogue suggests a need to look at sentencing and punishment long before states start building more prisons. 

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Civility and Equality
Can’t we all just get along? Apparently not. The battle over same-sex marriage has brought a whole new call for being nice—this time, on the front page of the Deseret News. “Civility enhances public discourse,” the paper intones, with great assumption. It’s hard to know what sparked this renewed interest in civility. It could have been the LDS Church’s statement on kindness and respect, or it could have been a letter to the editor telling people to “move to a state that embraces your values” if you don’t like the marriage law. Civility is a good goal, but this issue has gone beyond that. It’s up to the courts now to rule on the issue of equality, and niceness has nothing to do with it.

Twitter: @KathyBiele

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