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AM News Brief: College entrance tests, national drought plan & charges in U football player’s death

Woman in a polkadot blouse sits at a table taking a test.
Marco Verch
Fewer Utah students took the ACT college entrance exam this year. This story and more in Thursday morning's news brief.

Northern Utah

Charges filed in U football player’s death

A 22-year-old man suspected of fatally shooting University of Utah football player Aaron Lowe has been charged with aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and other charges. Suspect Buk M. Buk could face the death penalty. He allegedly shot 21-year-old Lowe at a house party just hours after a home game win late last month. Charges state the shooting happened after an argument between Lowe and another group that would not move out of the way of his car so he could go home. A woman was also critically injured in the shooting. It is unclear if Buk has an attorney. — Associated Press

Exoskeleton helps amputees

Researchers at the University of Utah are working on a new mechanical device that helps people with leg amputations walk more efficiently — an exoskeleton that wraps around the waist and thigh and uses a motor to help propel the leg forward. For Stan Schaar, who lost his leg in an accident several years ago, the device has given him hope that he’ll one day be able to hike and climb stairs again. It has so far been tested mostly in a lab setting, but researchers have found that the exoskeleton reduces exertion by around 16%, akin to removing a 26-pound backpack from their shoulders. They hope it can be available to the masses in as soon as 3-5 years. Read the full story. — Jon Reed


Not as many students take ACT college entrance exam

Fewer Utah students took the ACT college entrance exam this year. Participation fell off by 11%, but the drop was twice as large nationally. The Utah State Board of Education said scheduling through the pandemic was partly to blame. According to ACT data, economically disadvantaged students and students of color were disproportionately represented in the drop in testing. The average score dropped nationally, but here in Utah, it rose from 20.2 last year to 20.6 this year. — Elaine Clark


Household growth slowed in U.S. — but not in Utah

A new Pew Research analysis of census data shows that growth in the number of U.S. households dropped to its slowest pace in history during the last decade — just 9%. Co-author Richard Fry said that’s due to a dip in population growth, multigenerational family living and housing costs. But Utah outpaced the national growth in households at 20%. Wyoming and New Mexico had the lowest rates in the region at 4 and 5%. Read the full story. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Drought plan calls for preparedness

The nation’s top authority on drought has released its operating plan for the next five years. With more than 90% of the Colorado River Basin in drought and climate forecasts calling for a warmer and drier future, the National Integrated Drought Information System highlighted the need for recovery and preparedness. That includes disaster relief programs for agriculture and recreation businesses, and even mental health programs for farmers whose bottom lines are suffering with less water. In the Southwest, drought has resulted in $7 billion of economic loss since 1980. The report also laid out plans to enhance the Drought Early Warning system, which uses complex climate data from around the region to set preparations in motion when times are dry. — Alex Hager, KUNC

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