Thank you, Pete Ashdown, for being, again, a lone voice in a hunkering herd of cattle. Ashdown, founder of XMission and former congressional candidate, won’t give up information on customers to the Utah attorney general. The Attorney General’s Office wants to chase down suspected child pornographers and has asked—successfully—for records from Utah Internet service providers from the past four years, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. But Ashdown doesn’t think that’s the way to go, and is asking for a court order. The issue’s not unlike the NSA data-gathering debacle. How much is too much, and who is safe from scrutiny? No easy answers. Meanwhile, Ashdown posts on Facebook, “$8 trillion spent on national security since 2001, while schools, science, infrastructure and broadband fall behind. Soon there will be nothing left to keep safe.”
Oh, that UTA! Money’s apparently no object for the debt-ridden agency, which paid out some $1 million in incentive bonuses in 2012, according to reports. UTA is so flush with bucks that it merrily missed a federalgrant deadline to fund the controversial Sugar House trolley extension. Not to worry, the mayor’s office assures us. There’s always another deadline around the corner. But Councilman Soren Simonsen notes that the grant still won’t solve the problem. He told The Salt Lake Tribune that taxpayers would have to come up with $10 million more to fund the cute little trolley line along 1100 East. All this during talks about raising taxes and ticket prices.
Finally, after all these years, something positive—other than isotopes—comes from those 1950s nuclear tests in southern Utah. Scientists have been able to determine the age of ivory by the amount of a radioactive byproduct in ivory being traded. Trade in African elephant ivory was banned in 1989, but it has been difficult at best to tell older from newer ivory. The Wildlife Conservation Service estimates that some 35,000 African elephants were illegally killed for their tusks in 2012. The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and was authored by Kevin Uno, who did the work for his doctoral thesis at the University of Utah.
That didn’t stop USA Today from identifying Uno only as a paleoecologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Oh well. It did credit a dead Utah elephant for helping.