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Verdict Fallout, Coal Alchemy, Trying to Keep Up 

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Verdict Fallout
Let's talk about that Rule of Law thing the Republicans march out at every opportunity. How does that apply to the Oregon Standoff acquittal. What would happen if a group of American Muslims had done the same thing? Would we find them so gallant and brave? It might have been that proving conspiracy was just too dang hard, but the thought of armed civilians vetting people accessing public lands is just stunning. "From the time of the takeover through the whoops of joy released in the courtroom Thursday, the case has generated passionate support from Bundy backers who want to turn more federal land over to local control for increased grazing, logging and mining. It has also triggered a backlash from environmentalists and others who consider the occupation an assault on public land," The Seattle Times wrote. But a blog following the trial made the argument that we ought to return to the 1700s when everything was up for grabs. Sounds a little like "Make America Great Again."

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Coal Alchemy
Let's hope this isn't another Cold Fusion deal. University of Utah chemical engineering professor Eric Eddings thinks maybe he can turn coal into something environmentally friendly and keep the coal industry from political meltdown. A three-year, $1.6-million research project might just allow coal to be transformed into carbon fiber, that high-tech material that's so in demand, a Salt Lake Tribune article said. You know the problem—there's a lot of coal in Utah, but its manufacture and use promotes pollution. The Obama administration wants to help the industry transition out of its death spiral. The questions remain about mining and economic feasibility, but it's hopeful.

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Trying to Keep Up
There's a big disconnect in the conversation over affordable housing, more housing and population growth in Utah. Maybe it's everywhere, but since Utah has the nation's highest fertility rate, the dissonance is loudest in this state. The concern seems to be over building for the inevitable surge in people by 2050. Natalie Gochnour in a Deseret News op-ed wrote about imagining the future with all those people. Joe Andrade responded by imagining the "Wasatch Front will be more dystopian and apocalyptic than the worse of our modern-day youth novels." Then there's the Utah Population and Environment Council warning about the pitfalls of overpopulation, and Salt Lake City Councilman Derek Kitchen encouraging building affordably for that overpopulation. Sure, living needs to be affordable, but where does the building-up stop and the ratcheting-down begin? And can it be done in Utah's cultural environment?

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