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San Juan County Voting and New Nuclear Energy

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San Juan County Voting
You know how it is these days with voting rights and the Republican majority: The elite know best and "democracy" is a bad word. So, it's refreshing to see the scrappy Navajos of San Juan County fighting for their right to vote—a right they gained in 1957 only after a federal judge forced Utah to allow it. Krista Langlois recently wrote an in-depth article for High Country News on the long-fought battle for Navajo voting rights. This year, "U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that San Juan County violated both the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution by relying on race to draw the boundaries of its voting districts," she said. It's called racial gerrymandering, like refusing to let Native Americans register and having English-only ballots. And despite laws that require redrawing districts every 10 years, the San Juan County districts hadn't been redrawn since 1986. Because of court intervention, Navajos may soon be enfranchised.

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More Spencer Cox
There is the governor of Utah—you know, "the Utah Way," "Protecting Utah from the Federal Government," as the campaign goes. And then there's the lieutenant governor—Spencer Cox. This is a self-professed "balding, youngish middle-aged, straight white male Republican politician with all the expectations and privileges that come with those labels." Cox spoke at a vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting, apologizing to the LGBTQ community for long-past and unkind actions [News, "Not Just Statistics," June 16, City Weekly]. "My heart has changed ... because of you ... you have treated me with the kindness, dignity, respect and love that I very often did not deserve." He asked how we should respond to the tragedy and to beware of demagoguery. His speech has since gone viral—YouTube, NPR, CNN, Time, etc. Utah needs more of Spencer Cox.

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New Nuclear Energy
Well, of course the Governor's Office of Energy Development is excited about a new nuclear reactor. That's because the group proposing it—Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, is a political subdivision of the State of Utah. The Deseret News reported that UAMPS is already in the first phase of development for the plant in eastern Idaho. Don't panic yet. It takes years and years to get all the federal and regulatory approvals. On the bright side, it will employ a new technology supposedly dramatically safer than the big plants of yesteryear. But safe is relative when you consider millions of years in the ground. The profit motive is part of what drives these nuclear decisions, made with the help of many grants. Too bad those grants can't go toward sustainable energy sources.

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