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Each month, 24 people die from prescription drug overdoses in Utah, a statistic that makes us 4th in the nation for drug poisoning deaths. Here and across the country, opioid addiction is a problem that effects people from all walks of life. The journalist Sam Quinones calls it an epidemic, and Wednesday, he joins us to explain how we came to this crisis. We’ll talk about how opioids work on the brain, how they were developed, and how Quinones says they’ve been relentlessly marketed to patients.

Courtesy University of Utah

Recently, KUER reported on an environmental activist with concerns about corporations like Kennecott Land being listed as “friends” of the University of Utah’s Environmental Humanities Program. Carl Ingwell says they don’t reflect environmental values, and shouldn’t be associated with the program. But as higher education faces continued cut-backs in public spending, what is the proper relationship between corporate donors and university researchers? And what do each get out of the bargain? Thursday, Doug’s guests help us work through those and other questions.

Thursday, we’re asking how it is Gov. Gary Herbert ended up in a primary race. He enjoys high voter approval ratings, yet he failed to secure the nomination. Critics say it’s more proof the system is flawed. We start with Utah GOP Chairman James Evans and Count My Vote board member Kirk Jowers to debate the merits of the party’s nomination process. We’ll then turn to scholars Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann who say the 2016 Presidential election could lead to a major rethinking of the Republican Party.

Edgar Zuniga Jr. via CC/Flickr, http://bit.ly/1Swv7Bp

News broke Wednesday that the family of Utah billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr. has agreed to purchase the Salt Lake Tribune from its hedge-fund owners. The mood was cautiously upbeat in the paper’s newsroom when the deal was announced. If all goes as planned, years of speculation about the Trib’s finances could be at end. And yet, there are some who say that Huntsman ownership of the paper may have its drawbacks. Thursday, we’re discussing the deal and asking what the Trib’s future may look like under new ownership.

      

As public support for same-sex marriage gained momentum, some polygamists saw a chance to decriminalize their relationships. TV personality Kody Brown and his four wives sued Utah County, saying bigamy laws violate their right to privacy and religious freedom. They won that case in U.S. District court, but the 10th Circuit overturned the decision last week. Tuesday, we’re asking whether the recognition of gay marriage opened any doors for polygamy and what the legal future of plural marriage may be.

According to a recent poll, if the Republicans nominated Donald Trump as president, the unthinkable could happen. Utah could vote for a Democratic president for the first time in decades. So what is it about the business tycoon that rubs reliably-Republican Utahns the wrong way? Why does Bernie Sanders enjoy such popularity here? And has Mitt Romney actually stemmed Trump's tide? Monday, a panel of guests joins us to examine the state of the local electorate in the lead up to a pivotal election.

Friday, we’re live at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics for a look at Utah’s 2016 legislative session. We’ll start with House Speaker Republican Greg Hughes and Democratic Senator Jim Dabakis for an insider’s view of the 45 days. We’ll also talk to KUER’s Brian Grimmett and the Salt Lake Tribune’s Robert Gehrke and Jennifer Dobner about what passed, what didn’t, and what made two opposing lawmakers dress in 18th century costume and attempt to bust a rhyme in floor debate.

Tuesday, we’re asking the question at the heart of a resolution proposed by Utah Senator Todd Weiler: is pornography a public health crisis? Anti-porn groups point out that we’re not talking about a Playboy centerfold. They say a simple internet search will lead you to free content that’s degrading, violent, and hijacking our sense of healthy sexuality. But others say porn is a symptom, not the cause of anxiety, depression, and shame. Doug is joined by Weiler and others to explore the arguments.

  Utah Senator Steve Urquhart says the LDS Church “effectively snuffed out” his bill to strengthen the state’s hate crime laws. Last week, the Church criticized any legislation that would upset the “careful balance” Utah achieved between LGBT rights and religious liberty with last year’s anti-discrimination law. Wednesday, Urquhart and others will join us to talk about the timing of his bill, what balance should look like it, and why proponents argue the state’s current hate crime law falls short.

  Monday, our guest is political commentator E.J. Dionne, whose new book charts the course of conservatism from the Goldwater era of the 1960s to what he calls the “Trumpification of Republican politics” today. Dionne says it’s a story of disappointment as politicians have failed to fulfill their promises and rhetoric. He joins Doug to explain how this led to a steady march rightward and why reforming the conservative movement means revisiting the choices Republicans made 50 years ago.

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