Carrie Johnson

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Judy Fahys / KUER News

Forum: Water Challenges Are Many, As Are Solutions

Stephanie Duer, Salt Lake City’s water guru, sums up the state’s water challenges this way: “If there was a single solution, we all would be doing it now and this problem would be solved.”
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Andrea Smardon / KUER

A former St. George doctor has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison for illegally prescribing pain pills.

It’s been more than two months since teenage Somali refugee Abdi Mohamed was shot by Salt Lake City Police. People are still asking law enforcement to release information regarding the case.

Matt Miller/USGS

A team of Utah-based scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey has come up with a new way of measuring Colorado River flows. It helps answer a big question for the West: How much water flows down the river as it leaves Utah?

KUER Brian Grimmett

Utah Transit Authority officials are investigating the derailment Sunday of a Green Line TRAX train just after it left Central Pointe Station and began turning west.

Courtesy photo

The Utah STEM Action Center has filed for the creation of a foundation and appointed a director. The foundation will support the center’s mission to promote science, technology, engineering, and math by connecting industry resources to students.

NASA

Aspiring astronomers will want to look up into the sky starting early Monday morning to see the planet Mercury fly between us and the Sun.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

So much water‘s been pumped out of the Cedar Valley that the ground surface and the water table are sinking, and the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District has spent years tracking down new ways to get water to the people of Cedar Valley.

Brian Grimmett

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says now is a good time to consider changing or replacing the Common Core State Standards and eliminating the SAGE testing mandate for high school students. It’s a seemingly drastic shift away from his long-time efforts to defend the core against critics.

Savory Salt Lake 2016

May 5, 2016

Savory Salt Lake - SOLD OUT
Friday, May 20, 2016
6:30 PM 
VIP Hour: 5:30 PM
The Tower at Rice-Eccles Stadium, 451 S. 1400 E., Salt Lake City, UT 84112

Parking is available in the main Rice-Eccles Stadium lot to all Savory Salt Lake attendees. Visit www.lyft.com/invite/savorysaltlake for a free ride credit or call a local cab company. We want everyone to get home safely. 

Brian Grimmett

As the temperatures begin to rise and people move outside, GREENbike is announcing another expansion of service in Salt Lake City.

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For Rylee

Trever Bradshaw is a single father in Farmington, Utah. We followed him as he trained for his first professional MMA fight.

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The Code Switch Podcast Is Coming! Get A Sneak Peek!

7 minutes ago

You've been asking for it. We've been cranking on it. And now, it's happening: the Code Switch podcast!

Check out the trailer and subscribe to our podcast so you don't miss the first episode later this month!

So, what's this podcast all about? All the stuff you come to Code Switch for: deeply reported, urgent, hard-to-pin-down stories about race and culture. Conversations about the messy ways our identities crash into everything else in our lives, whether we realize it or not.

President Obama will visit Hiroshima later this month, while he's in Japan for the G-7 summit, the White House has confirmed.

The trip will mark the first visit by a U.S. president to the site since American forces dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Hillary Clinton would have a significant electoral advantage over Donald Trump in the general election, based on an NPR analysis.

The Democratic former secretary of state would start out with already exactly enough electoral votes to win the presidency, 270-191, based on states considered safe, likely and to lean toward either candidate. The ratings, which will be updated at least monthly until Election Day, are based on fundamentals — historical trends and demographics, plus reporting and polling (both public and private).

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Carrie Johnson is a Justice Correspondent for the Washington Desk.

She covers a wide variety of stories about justice issues, law enforcement and legal affairs for NPR's flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as the Newscasts and NPR.org.

While in this role, Johnson has chronicled major challenges to the landmark voting rights law, a botched law enforcement operation targeting gun traffickers along the Southwest border, and the Obama administration's deadly drone program for suspected terrorists overseas.

Prior to coming to NPR in 2010, Johnson worked at the Washington Post for 10 years, where she closely observed the FBI, the Justice Department and criminal trials of the former leaders of Enron, HealthSouth and Tyco. Earlier in her career, she wrote about courts for the weekly publication Legal Times.

Outside of her role at NPR, Johnson regularly moderates or appears on legal panels for the American Bar Association, the American Constitution Society, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others. She's talked about her work on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, PBS, and other outlets.

Her work has been honored with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. She has been a finalist for the Loeb award for financial journalism and for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news for team coverage of the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas.

Johnson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Benedictine University in Illinois.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom share pieces that have kept them reading. They share tidbits using the #NPRreads hashtag — and on Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you three items.

From NPR's South America correspondent, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro:

Advocates and inmates working to overhaul the criminal justice system will have to wait at least a little longer for congressional action.

The Republican leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley, said he won't hold a public event on sentencing reform proposals until after the August recess, as language is still being drafted by a bipartisan working group. And in the U.S. House, lawmakers and their aides will spend at least the next five weeks making adjustments to a sweeping bill sponsored by 40 Democrats and Republicans, sources told NPR Friday.

Justice Department lawyers who prosecute errant corporations and executives are bringing in a new member to the team — a full-time expert in compliance programs.

Andrew Weissmann, who leads the Fraud Section in the criminal division at the Justice Department, said the new hire is all part of a plan to reduce corporate crime.

It took a while for Dana Bowerman's long prison sentence to sink in.

Bowerman is a onetime honor student and cheerleader whose brassy personality cleared most obstacles from her path. But there was one hurdle her quick mind couldn't leap. In early 2001, Bowerman got sent away for nearly 20 years on federal drug conspiracy charges, her first and only offense. It wasn't until two years in, in her bunk behind a fence in a Texas prison, that her fate seemed real.

"It was a hard swallow," Bowerman said.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Justice Department's top watchdog said Thursday a newly released legal opinion undermines his independence and makes it more difficult to do his job.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said the memo will delay access to grand jury, wiretap and other documents he needs to investigate problems at the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and elsewhere.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

When Chuck Rosenberg took the top job at the Drug Enforcement Administration two months ago, the longtime prosecutor had a reputation as "Mister Fix It."

The DEA has had a rough time lately — including scandals like agents at sex parties financed by drug cartels. He's now going to be keenly interested in the whereabouts of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who recently escaped from prison.

But there was something else that has really taken Rosenberg's breath away these first few months on the job: drug overdose.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

FBI Director James Comey said the man accused of killing nine people in a Charleston, S.C., church should never have been allowed to purchase a weapon.

Comey said flaws in paperwork and communication between a federal background check worker and state law enforcement allowed Dylann Roof to buy a handgun in South Carolina on April 16 — weeks before he allegedly attacked black churchgoers in a failed attempt to fuel a race war.

FBI Director James Comey said authorities have arrested "more than 10 people" over the past four weeks who have been radicalized through slick electronic recruitment efforts tied to the self-proclaimed Islamic state.

"We arrested them to try to thwart what they were up to," the FBI director said in a briefing with reporters Thursday in his Washington conference room.

"I do believe our work disrupted efforts to kill people, likely related to the Fourth of July," Comey added.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Federal prosecutors in Tennessee have notified an 85-year-old nun they will not seek to reinstate her sabotage conviction for breaking into a nuclear facility.

The U.S. Justice Department has reached a settlement with the state of Mississippi to overhaul the way young people are arrested and processed through the juvenile courts, NPR has learned.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The office hallway could be in Anytown, America, with its gray walls, bad lighting and piles of photocopy paper. That is, except for this distinguishing feature: an unknown man, armed with a weapon, who popped into view.

"Do I want to shoot this guy?" I asked the law enforcement trainer beside me.

The reply came fast: "Well, he's got a gun."

My weapon: a Glock equipped with a laser, not live ammunition — and thank goodness for that.

By last count, the Justice Department estimates about 80,000 U.S. inmates live in some kind of restricted housing.

That means being confined to a cell for about 22 hours a day.

"You are going to eat, sleep and defecate in a small room that's actually smaller than the size of your average parking space," said Amy Fettig, a lawyer who runs the Stop Solitary campaign for the American Civil Liberties Union. "And you're going to do that for months, years and sometimes even decades on end."

Fettig said solitary confinement is brutal and expensive.

More than two years ago, Justice Department officials held a news conference to unveil criminal charges against BP and several executives in connection with the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

But the Department of Justice task force created to hold the company and responsible individuals to account has a track record that's spotty at best.

On Friday, a federal jury in New Orleans acquitted the highest-ranking BP executive charged in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, after just five days of trial.

It's been just two months since the Justice Department indicted Sen. Robert Menendez on bribery and conspiracy charges. But lawyers in the case already seem to be, well, getting under each other's skin.

The Supreme Court has dealt a blow to U.S. immigration officials in a closely watched case by ruling that a broad state anti-drug law may not be enough to justify deportation.

By a 7-2 vote, the court ruled that a Tunisian man convicted of carrying pills in his sock should not have been removed from the U.S. for that reason.

Prosecutors usually spend their energy putting criminals behind bars, not urging their release. But racial disparities in the system and the huge costs of locking up so many people are pushing some government officials to call for a new approach.

One of them is the woman who now runs day-to-day operations at the Justice Department. Sally Yates says she's hardly soft on crime: "I'm a career prosecutor."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Lawmakers working on fixes to the justice system say that unrest in places like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore is pushing them to act.

"The whole idea of a young man dying in police custody, the confrontations with police, the looting and burning of innocent minority owned businesses," Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said on the Senate floor this month. "The question arises, what can we do?"

From the moment she was taken into custody in 2012, outside a building that stores enriched uranium in Oak Ridge, Tenn., Sister Megan Rice has argued she has been driven by one thing — a desire to spread a message.

"And we all know that nuclear energy is linked inextricably with nuclear weapons," Rice told a group of activists in remarks captured on YouTube.

Prosecutors accused her of violating the Sabotage Act, intending to hurt the government's ability to wage war or defend itself.

A lawyer for John Hinckley told a federal judge Tuesday that it's time to grant the thwarted presidential assassin the power to leave a psychiatric hospital and live full time with his elderly mother in Virginia.

"Every witness agrees that he's ready and every witness agrees that the risk of danger is decidedly low," lawyer Barry William Levine argued.

The new U.S. attorney general said she watched the scenes of riots on the streets of Baltimore last week, her first day in office as the country's top law enforcement officer.

"I would have to say that my first reaction was profound sadness, it truly was," Loretta Lynch said.

But after meeting with community leaders and clergy Tuesday, and hearing their frustration over the death of a 25-year-old man who suffered a spinal injury in police custody, Lynch said her sadness hardened into resolve.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

FBI Director James Comey says the bureau issued a bulletin on one of the two assailants at a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, just three hours before the attack earlier this week.

Comey told reporters Thursday that the FBI had sent an Intel Bulletin to local law enforcement with a photo of Elton Simpson, his license plate number and other information without stating directly that he was heading to Garland.

Veteran prosecutor Raymond Hulser has been promoted to lead the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, the unit that goes after corrupt public officials including lawmakers, judges and military contractors.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Outside an apartment building on Broad Street, along the county line in Philadelphia, birds outnumber the rush-hour traffic.

"It's nice and quiet compared to other neighborhoods which I lived in," said Tyrone Peake, 52.

In 1981, when he was just 18, Peake was arrested with a friend for trying to steal a car to take a girl home after a long weekend.

"No, we never got the car," Peake said. "We broke the ignition column and then the cops came."

Hearing the words of a 24-year-old victim of human trafficking — and her struggle to wipe away her conviction on prostitution charges — inspired New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

That young victim, who was featured in an NPR story in February, endured years of rapes and brutal assaults by pimps who forced her into prostitution.

"I'm not ever going to forget what I've done or what I've gone through. But at the same time, I don't want it thrown in my face every time I'm trying to seek employment," she said. "I don't want to have to explain myself every time."

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