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AM News Brief: Long-Term Impact Of Vaping, Dire Drought & Utah Pride Celebration

Photo of flag at city hall.
Erik Neumann / KUER
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Utah Pride festivities are back on with a different look this year. Instead of the parade and festival, which were cancelled last year due to the pandemic, the focal point will be what organizers are calling a “Story Garden.” This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, May 21, 2021

State

Another ‘Boogeyman’ In Education

Some educators in Utah are calling Critical Race Theory the latest “boogeyman” in public education. It’s become a loosely-defined, catch-all phrase some parents and state lawmakers have labelled a threat to students across the state. The reaction is similar to one many people had after the early 2010s introduction of the Common Core, a Federal effort to create a set of national standards for K-12 students. The debate then, as now, has become one built around fear and misunderstanding, said Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay. But it’s more dangerous today because of the increased polarization. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Governor Gives Dire Warning On Drought

Utah is still in a state of emergency due to drought conditions and Gov. Spencer Cox issued a dire warning Thursday. “It's really bad. It's as bad as it's been,” he said in his monthly PBS Utah news conference. “We need everyone in the state to understand right now that we're heading into one of the worst drought and potentially worst fire seasons that we've seen.” At least 90% of the state has been in an extreme drought since the start of this year. There have also already been more than 180 fire starts in 2021. Cox said tighter restrictions on fireworks and yard watering are all potential options. — Ross Terrell

Long-Term Impact Of Vaping

A new Intermountain Healthcare study found that vaping injuries can lead to long-term cognitive impairment. The research released Thursday shows vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes, can also cause long lasting lung damage and depression. Researchers said 57% of the patients studied also have anxiety as a result of vaping. The average age of the study subjects was 31, and they were studied a year after their initial diagnosis. Intermountain said vaping injuries can have profound, lifelong effects and that patients may never return to normal. — Pamela McCall

Northern Utah

Charges In Utah County-based Ecstasy Drug Ring

Six Utahns are accused of being a part of an Ecstasy drug ring, and they face federal charges including conspiracy to distribute and aiding and abetting in the importation of the Schedule I substance. The investigation began in February when U.S. Customs and Border Protection found a package in Ohio containing 2.1 kilograms of Ecstasy or MDMA. The package was bound for an address in Vineyard, Utah, and the search led to another home in Vineyard that had 23 pounds of the drug. The Utah U.S. Attorney’s Office and Homeland Security are prosecuting the case. — Elaine Clark

Utah Pride Takes New Approach To 2021 Celebration

Utah Pride festivities are back on with a different look this year. Instead of the parade and festival, which were cancelled last year due to the pandemic, the focal point will be what organizers are calling a “Story Garden.” It’ll be at Washington Square in downtown Salt Lake City, and will include exhibits on issues like Utah Queer History, Suicide Prevention and a tribute to local heroes. It will be open June 3 through June 7, and tickets are required. On Sunday, June 6, the Utah Pride Center is also planning a march from the State Capitol to Liberty Park. — Elaine Clark

Region/Nation

States Look For Solutions To Shrinking Lake Powell

A 2019 drought plan for the Colorado River is being put into action as major reservoirs are projected to be at record low levels. Officials in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico said they’re working with the federal government to develop a drought operations plan for Lake Powell. That could include releasing more water from upstream reservoirs. Greg Johnson with the Colorado Water Conservation Board said that 20 years of a much drier climate has already diminished dewater storage. Lake Powell is the country’s second-largest reservoir, and it’s currently projected to be at just 29% capacity by summer’s end. The Colorado River supplies water for about 40 million people across the southwest. Read the full story. — Luke Runyon, KUNC

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