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‘The Rundown’: Owens threatens Olympic leaders over ‘un-American protests’

Your Monday morning Utah political news cheat sheet

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Owens threatens U.S. Olympic committee over “un-American” protests by athletes

Rep. Burgess Owens joined a handful of other Republican members of Congress threatening to dissolve and replace the board of directors for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committees if they don’t crackdown on “anti-American” protests from American athletes at the upcoming Tokyo games.

The New York Post reports the letter, authored by Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, expressed “serious concerns about radical, anti-American statements” made by American Olympic athletes, arguing demonstrations would reflect poorly on the U.S.

The letter highlighted BMX athlete Chelsea Wolfe who threatened in a now-deleted Facebook post to burn a U.S. flag on the podium if she won a medal. They also attacked hammer thrower Gwen Berry who turned away from the American flag while the national anthem played after she finished third at the Olympic trials.

“Such anti-American statements divide the U.S. domestically and embarrass us abroad,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter warned Congress has the power to dissolve the boards and terminate the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committees as the governing body of U.S. Olympic teams and replace them with “a governing body that can adequately represent America and its athletes on the world stage.”

“Americans deserve an Olympic Committee that is patriotic and that shares their values. If the USOPC is unable or unwilling to defend America from slander, it should be replaced by a more capable committee,” the letter continued.

Since Republicans are in the minority, they don’t have the power to carry through with their threat unless Democrats get on board. However, should Republicans win control of the House and Senate in next year’s elections, that threat becomes more real.

Owens has often railed against political statements from athletes that differ from his own views. His 2018 book, Why I Stand, depicts a kneeling football player on the cover, references former NFL player Colin Kaepernick — a frequent target of Owens’ ire. Media Matters for America reported last year that Owens plagiarized numerous passages found in the book.


Here’s what you need to know for Monday morning

Local news

  • A lawsuit alleges Gov. Spencer Cox is illegally delaying the release of documents related to the state’s COVID-19 response. The suit says Cox requires any documents to go through an “additional layer of review” by his attorneys, which runs afoul of Utah’s open records law. The suit is financed by Paul Huntsman, the chairman of The Salt Lake Tribune’s board. [Tribune]

  • A coalition of conservation groups wants the feds to investigate the use of funds by the Central Utah Water Conservancy District. They allege that over $1 million in funds has been given to a private firm with ties to one of the organization’s employees. [Tribune]

  • Gov. Cox argued it’s “ignorant” to believe further water restrictions among the state’s farms and ranches are the solution to Utah’s water woes. He says current restrictions have caused a drastic reduction in crop production. [Tribune]

  • Pediatricians in Utah say younger kids and unvaccinated teenagers should still wear masks when schools resume in the fall because of the Delta COVID-19 variant. [Tribune]

  • Locals in Moab are blaming Airbnb and other short-term rental programs for the area’s lack of housing. [Tribune]

  • A group of indigenous people is urging the Biden administration to restore the Bears Ears National Monument to its original size. [Tribune]

National news

  • Breaking overnight: The U.S. will accuse China of being behind the hack of Microsoft. A coalition of allies will join the Biden administration in condemning China for cyberattacks around the globe. [NYT]

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to force a vote on a bipartisan infrastructure proposal this week, even though the bill is not finished yet. Senators have dropped an idea to pay for about $100 million of the bill with better enforcement of tax laws. [WaPo]

  • In Texas, a federal judge ruled Friday the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, immigration program is illegal. [CNN]

  • An investigation finds most of the misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine online came from just 12 people with nearly 60 million followers on multiple platforms. [Guardian]

  • Dr. Scott Gottleib, the head of the FDA during the Trump administration, warned the Delta COVID-19 variant is so contagious, unvaccinated people will likely get it. [CNN]

  • The Bootleg Fire in Oregon is the largest wildfire burning in the U.S. The blaze grew to more than 476 square miles, which is about the size of Los Angeles. [AP]

  • Retail sales in the U.S. jumped 0.6% in June, beating economists’ projections. [WSJ]

  • Ticket sales for the upcoming Donald Trump-Bill O’Reilly stadium tour are selling very slowly. It may have something to do with the price tag of $100 to $300. [Politico]

  • Military-grade spyware used to track terrorists and criminals was used to hack the smartphones of journalists, human rights activists, and others. [WaPo]


Monday morning’s Utah news roundup

Utah

  • Coalition blasts plans to divert Colorado River amid drought. [Tribune]

  • Explainer: Will help with rent get to Utah tenants in time? [Tribune]

  • Utah’s jobless rate was 2.7% in June, second lowest in the U.S. [Tribune]

  • Moving companies boxed in by Utah’s labor shortage. [Fox 13]

COVID-19

  • Breakthrough cases of coronavirus are up in Utah — here’s what to know. [Tribune]

  • Utah pharmacist surrenders license after fraudulently distributing COVID-19 cards. [Deseret News]

  • ‘I’m very worried’: Doctors urging parents to vaccinate kids before school starts. [ABC4]

Drought

  • Water levels are sinking to dangerously low levels at Utah reservoirs and lakes. [Tribune]

  • How bad is Utah’s drought? Water managers dipping into emergency supply. [Deseret News]

  • Historic drought means farmers and ranchers have cut water use. Here’s what it means for your food supply. [Deseret News]

  • Farmers calling it quits: Drought is accelerating sell-off of Utah farmland. [KUTV]

  • Boat ramps across Utah closed or restricted due to drought. [Fox 13]

Olympics

  • Tokyo Olympics: A guide to Utah’s top medal contenders, how to watch, and a look at the Games’ newest sports? [Tribune]

Education

  • A Utah school district is reassessing how it cares for athletes after concussions. [Tribune]

Washington

  • Sen. Mike Lee blasts critical race theory but admits it’s not necessarily being spread in Utah. [KUTV]

Fire season

  • How a Utah wildfire almost killed five firefighters in the High Uintas. [Tribune]

  • Utah sends 57 firefighters from multiple departments to battle Oregon wildfires. [KUTV]

On the opinion pages

  • Now is the time for Utah to decriminalize marijuana, writes Robert Gehrke. [Tribune]

  • Marina Gomberg: With chronic illness, I’m pouring dreams that could have been. [Tribune]

  • Weldon Angelos: U.S. cannabis reform is inevitable — and bipartisan. [Tribune]

  • Tricia Bunderson: Masks and vaccines needed to protect Utah children as they return to school. [Tribune]

  • Chad A. Spain: What can I do to get you to get a COVID-19 vaccine today? [Tribune]

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