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(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File) Facebook said hashtags are a first step toward making it easier for users to find out what others are discussing.
News roundup: State Department spent $630K on Facebook likes

Legislature to start Swallow probe. State Department buys Facebook likes. Republicans crow over delayed Obamacare mandate.

Happy Wednesday. The State Department spent $630,000 of your taxpayer cash buying "likes" on Facebook, in an ill-conceived plan to get more attention online. A harsh Inspector General report slams State for artificially buying support from the young and web savvy, instead of focusing on its core audience of influential opinion leaders. [ForeignPolicy]

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Topping the news: Utah House members will meet Wednesday to create a committee to investigate allegations made against AG John Swallow. However, some fear those key to the inquiry will be reluctant to speak openly. [Trib] [DNews]

-> Mitt Romney said he wasn't sold on running for president a second time in 2010 and almost jumped out of the race in the middle of 2011, in an interview for a new book on the contest. [WaPost]

-> A key part of the Obamacare law — the mandate that larger employers must provide coverage for their staff or pay penalties — will now be delayed until 2015. [NYTimes] [WaPost] [Politico]

-> And Sen. Orrin Hatch is among the Republicans noting that the move pushes the employer mandate "conveniently" past the 2014 elections. He wants the full repeal of Obamacare. [Reuters]

Tweet of the day: From @whitehouse: "Nice hair, kid. pic.twitter.com/BPrUCEeFHb"

Happy birthday: to former state Rep. David Clark, on Friday to state Rep. Johnny Anderson and on Saturday to former State Sen. and Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner.

Programming note: Cornflakes will return to your inbox and computer screens on Monday. We wish you a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday.

In other news: The new seven-legislator Commission on Federalism launched on Tuesday, aiming to discuss the role of the federal government in the state and identify a line past which federal authorities must not venture. [Trib] [ABC4] [UtahPolicy]

-> Political action group Big Game Forever, which works to fight federal wolf management, has just released a report on its accomplishments. The report, however, fails to detail how the group spent a $300,000 state appropriation. [Trib]

-> Our very own Thomas Burr appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal to answer viewers' questions about the new NSA data center in Bluffdale. [C-SPAN]

-> During a Trib Talk online video chat about the Utah data center, experts voiced concerns that the NSA surveillance programs could harm U.S. citizens and the country's foreign interests. [Trib]

-> South Jordan-Deseret Power have been asked to pay a $35,000 fine due to excessive polluted emissions from the Bonanza Power plant, located near the Utah-Colorado border. The coal-fired plant has been emitting fine soot during startup and shutdown, posing a significant health risk to surrounding residents. [Trib]

-> Paul Rolly discusses former congressional candidate Cherilyn Eager's theories on the investigation into AG John Swallow and rebellious sprinkler usage. [Trib]

-> Due to sequestration's budget cuts, Hill Air Force Base has been forced to cancel its F-16 flights over Independence Day celebrations, ending a tradition spanning more than two decades. [Trib]

-> The court case involving the BLM's resource management plans tied to Tim DeChristopher got underway Tuesday. [DNews]

-> Rapidly deteriorating infrastructure throughout the state may leave lawmakers with no choice but to raise transportation taxes to fund highway and mass transit projects. [Trib]

-> A national study shows that Utah's highways are among the best in the nation, but the state falls down on cost-effective road spending. The UDOT refutes the figures used in the survey, labeling them faulty. [Trib]

-> The Utah Department of Transportation is advising road-users to plan ahead to avoid traffic-jam hotspots over the July 4th weekend. [Trib]

-> As part of the Salt Lake City's "Complete Streets" program, which aims to make road travel safer for cars, bikes and pedestrians, auto lanes on 1300 South between State Street and 500 East will be reduced from two lanes to one in both directions and bicycle lanes will be added. [Trib]

-> The Utah Department of Transportation is using an innovative technique to build its new I-84 overpass bridge, which should save the department both time and money. [DNews]

-> Nominees for the vacancy on the 2nd District Court have been announced. Gov. Gary Herbert is due to make the appointment next month. [DNews]

Nationally: NSA leaker Edward Snowden is running out of options as country after country denies his request for asylum. [Guardian] [WaPost]

-> Bolivian President Evo Morales's plane home from Moscow was diverted to Vienna en-route, because of suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board. While in Moscow President Morales said that he would offer Snowden asylum. [NYTimes] [WaPost]

-> First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush appeared on stage together at the First Ladies Summit in Africa on Tuesday to talk about the unique opportunities offered by their position. [Politico] [CNN]

-> Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has pledged to significantly increase his fundraising appearances to boost the finances of the National Republican Congressional Committee. [Politico]

Where are they?

  • Gov. Gary Herbert holds staff meetings and on Thursday attends the America’s Freedom Festival Grand Parade in Provo.
  • SL Co. Mayor Ben McAdams meets with Salt Lake County Economic Development Director Christina Oliver, talks to Deputy Mayor Nichole Dunn and meets with the director of Head Start, Erin Trenbeath-Murray. On Thursday McAdams takes part in July 4th parades in South Salt Lake, Murray City, West Jordan City, Magna and Sandy.
  • President Barack Obama has no public events.

Got a tip? A birthday, wedding or anniversary to announce? Email us at cornflakes@sltrib.com. If you haven't already, sign up for our weekday email and get this sent directly to your inbox. [Trib]

-- Matt Canham and Isobel Markham

Twitter.com/mattcanham and Twitter.com/i_markham



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