Land of the Few | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Land of the Few 

A look at just who owns the land out West. What are we missing in the rapid DNA testing debate? Plus, local media grapples with candidates and ethical coverage questions.

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Land of the Few
KUER 90.1 FM starts out its story with this: "Planning a climbing trip in the West? The federal government wants to help." The Bureau of Land Management just rolled out an interactive map of popular rock climbing areas in the West, highlighting the ongoing friction between wilderness advocates and recreationists. You can thank the Obama and Trump administrations for what undoubtedly will bring in more hoards of fun-lovers. Think ATVs. The Canyon County Zephyr has long railed about the increasing pressure from recreational use, but things are getting worse fast. Now, The New York Times has weighed in with "Who Gets to Own the West?"—a startling look at the privatization of public lands. "In the last decade, private land in the United States has become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few," the Times wrote. Much like the immigration issue, the public lands debate needs some solid comprehensive planning.

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Big Brother Is Watching
What are we missing in the debate over rapid DNA testing—you know, the type that Attorney General Sean Reyes so adores? Texas and Colorado are taking a step back from the hype over concerns that criminal cases might be jeopardized by a lack of clear procedures. Utah is doing the same, according to the Deseret News. So yeah, it's cool that you can find murderers and identify remains, but at what cost? Junk science brought us bite-mark technology, too. But that's not the worst of it. Privacy concerns are bubbling to the surface as governments increasingly rely on blood samples and now, facial recognition technology that targets not only bad guys, but First Amendment protesters. Roll Call notes a bipartisan call for legislation governing its use. But before you testify, you'll first have to get through the airport facial scanners.

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Ethics & Friends
You might not have heard of it, but Cox & Friends is a thing—at least in Utah. This is Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox's podcast, which has yielded 14 episodes. But now, Cox is running for governor, and having a public forum like that could pose problems—not so much for him as the platform that hosts it, ksl.com. Bryan Schott of Utah Policy questioned whether KSL was endorsing Cox, which of course, KSL denied. Even KUTV Channel 2 saw fit to remove Salt Lake mayoral candidate Jim Dabakis from its Take 2 show. This is more than just an endorsement question. It's more than an ethical question, too. As Utah Policy's Bob Bernick notes, it's also about financial disclosure—letting the public know who's donating to candidates and how. Right now, KSL won't be telling us. Utah Policy might.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

Bio:
A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses and Citizen Revolt columns. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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