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News roundup: Obama donors on fast track to ambassadorships

Lee's Obamacare gambit hitting resistance. Lockhart picks new head of Swallow investigation. How medical marijuana conflicts with Utah gun laws.

Happy Friday. What to be an ambassador? Well, if you're wealthy, the quickest path may be through your bank account. President Barack Obama has placed campaign contributors and the politically connected in the high prestige jobs at almost twice the rate of his predecessors and that includes his recent appointment of Caroline Kennedy to be the ambassador to Japan. [LaTimes]

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Topping the news: House Speaker Becky Lockhart has replaced Rep. Lowry Snow as the chairman of the committee to investigate AG John Swallow because he represented a key player in lawsuits, naming Rep. Jim Dunnigan as his replacement. [Trib] [DNews] [Fox13]

-> Sen. Mike Lee currently has 11 supporters for his plan to block spending on Obamacare or shut down the federal government, but some Republicans disagree and are downright blunt about it. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., called it "the dumbest idea I've ever heard." [Trib] [Politico] [USNews] [Caller]

Tweet of the day: From @MorningJoe: "We're all 11-years-old here when it comes to someone named Weiner and his proclivities." -- Nicolle Wallace."

From @JoshDorner: "Mike Lee, call your office! MT @toddzwillich Sen Burr (R) on effort to link CR to repeal of Obamacare. 'The dumbest idea I've ever heard.'"

Happy birthday: to Ron Fox and daughter Kari Fox Hardy, on Saturday to Weber State University Director Julie Snowball and on Sunday to state Sen. Ralph Okerlund, former state Rep. Todd Kiser and Caroline Updike.

In other news: More than 60 law firms from across the country have submitted bids to serve as legal counsel during the investigation into AG John Swallow. A choice will be made by August 9th. [Trib]

-> In Utah, those with medical-marijuana licenses from other states are not allowed a firearms permit under the federal Gun Control Act, an issue that could become more problematic as medical marijuana gains more acceptance. [Trib]

-> Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and his subcommittee on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are investigating a 2011 helicopter crash in Afghanistan that killed 30 Americans. The victims' family members believe the government may have been partly to blame for the crash. [FoxNews]

-> Paul Rolly discusses the GOP making a play for fired Democrat Latino Outreach Director Melodia Gutierrez and a speed trap on the 2700 East. [Trib]

-> Pat Bagley gives his take on the latest scandal engulfing New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. [Trib]

-> The Bureau of Land Management has announced its preferred route for PacifiCorp's new power line linking Wyoming and Juab County. [Trib]

-> The University of Utah is upping its fees for visitor parking in the hope of driving away students and staff who prefer to park in these more convenient spots. [Trib]

-> Voter registration for the primary for city offices closes Monday. [Trib]

-> After a researcher discovered that steel bullets can cause wildfires, the BLM banned the use of steel ammunition on public lands. Utah lawmakers and bullet manufacturers don't agree that a ban is the right way to go. [Trib]

-> Pollution levels spiked in northern Utah after Pioneer Day fireworks. SLC's sustainability office suggested that next time residents skip the personal fireworks. [Trib]

-> Bob Bernick and Bryan Schott talk about the Swallow scandal in their weekly web video. [UtahPolicy]

-> Rep. Chris Stewart's congressional office is building infographics for Facebook in attempt to grow the new lawmaker's social media reach. [UtahPolicy]

Nationally: The Economist ponders how different the political landscape might look if Republican candidate Mitt Romney had been elected president. [Economist]

-> President Barack Obama has said he won't sign into law Republican bills that drastically cut spending on domestic programs. If Republicans are unwilling to give up the fight, this could lead to a government shutdown at the end of September. [WaPost]

-> Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., is coming under fire from Republicans in his home state for voting for the Gang of Eight's immigration bill. [Politico]

-> Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been quietly reshaping the FISA court with handpicked judges that will most likely agree that NSA surveillance is necessary. [NYTimes]

-> Obama has two top choices for a replacement for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke — Janet Yellen and Lawrence Summers. If Yellen is chosen, she will be the first woman to hold the position. [NYTimes]

Where are they?

  • President Barack Obama travels to Camp David, where he has invited cabinet members and their families to spend the day.

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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