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Short takes on the news

Published March 21, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Welcome visitors • If you are in the vicinity of downtown Salt Lake City today, and you hear someone with a pronounced Boston accent, or see someone in a yellow T-shirt with a picture of an angry shock of wheat, please be friendly. (Not that you wouldn't be anyway.) Our city is fortunate to be the host of some of the second and third round matches in one of the world's foremost sporting events: March Madness. The NCAA men's basketball tournament is not exactly the Winter Olympics, in terms of worldwide interest, financial impact and, certainly, time. But it is a great way to draw visitors, and their money, to see a city they just might like to come back to, or tell their friends about. And the excitement might help, just a little bit, to make up for the fact that there are no Utah teams in the Big Dance this year.

Heroic beavers • Seeing as how we dirty humans aren't always able to protect the beauty and utility of our natural surroundings, it is good to hear that, sometimes, wildlife can look out for itself. For the third time in as many years, a Chevron pipeline has sprung a leak and threatened a Utah waterway. This time, it was the Willard Bay State Park at the northeastern edge of the Great Salt Lake. State and corporate workers were quick to respond, but the damage done was apparently minimized by the fact that the first place the thousands of gallons of fugitive diesel fuel spilled was into a location that had already been dammed up by some industrious beavers. Now, in addition to cleaning up the bay, the two-legged Utahns are cleaning up the beavers. It's the least they could do.

Private emails • In American politics, self-described conservatives sometimes find themselves referred to as backward-looking, behind-the-times Luddites. Not so Utah's Sen. Mike Lee, at least as it concerns a bill he is cosponsoring with one of the chamber's more liberal members, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy. The bill would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to specify that law enforcement agents must get a warrant before looking through anyone's email account. Email was something that didn't exist in 1986, when the current law was adopted. Since then, though, it has become something that FBI agents and others increasingly want to search. But it has also become not only a means of communication for most of us, but also a repository of personal data, ranging from family photos to bank account numbers. A law that keeps up with the times is a good idea, no matter who proposes it. Reaching across the aisle to promote this bill is something Lee should be proud to email home about.