Elaine Taylor

5:30 News Co-host / Reporter

After graduating with a B.S. in Anthropology from the University of Utah, Elaine developed a love of radio while working long hours in remote parts of Utah as an archaeological field technician. She eventually started interning for the radio show Science Questions and fell completely in love with the medium. Elaine is currently taking classes at Utah State University in preparation for medical school applications. She is a host of UPR’s 5:30 Newscast and a science writer for the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station. Elaine hopes to bring her experiences living abroad in Turkey and Austria into her work.

eagle, bald eagle

Four eagles have died over the past two weeks from an unexplained illness that has left a fifth, discovered on Saturday, paralyzed but in stable condition. The eagles were discovered across northern Utah in Weber, Box Elder, Tooele and Utah counties.

Dalyn Marthaler is a wildlife specialist with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, which has cared for four of the birds, and said the birds are coming in with the same symptoms.

“They’re coming in with paralysis and tremors, and showing neurological issues. We don’t yet have the cause of that. It’s kind of a mystery at this point,” Marthaler said.

Two new species of spider wasps were discovered by USU researchers in Brazil.
Waichert and Pitts

Two new species of wasps have been discovered by a pair of researchers from Utah State University. Professor James Pitts and graduate student Cecilia Waichert found the new species of spider wasps while examining a century-old Brazilian museum collection.

Named for their method of reproduction, spider wasps lay a single egg on a spider they capture and paralyze. When the egg hatches, the young wasp feeds on the immobile spider.

bilingual, study, students
NYC Department of Education

One Utah State University researcher has found a way to better identify language impairments in bilingual children through English language testing. It can be difficult to identify delayed language development in bilingual children, who show impairments in both of the languages they speak.

Older methods identified problems by testing children bilingually, but USU professor Ronald Gillam said this method has limits.

air quality, mandatory action

As a familiar winter haze settles over the state, the Utah Division of Air Quality has issued mandatory action warnings for five Utah Counties. The use of wood stoves and fireplaces is prohibited in Cache, Box Elder, Salt Lake and Davis counties, as well as Utah and Weber counties until the Department of Environmental Quality lifts the limit with the improvement of air quality.

Utah Division of Air Quality Environmental Scientist Ken Simmons said the early warnings were issued to inform the public.

Lauryn Schroeder/ The Medill Justice Project

Northwestern University’s Medill Justice Project released some of their findings from an investigation into the rate of legal cases surrounding shaken baby syndrome on Tuesday. The Justice Project is an investigative journalism program that researches criminal justice issues, including wrongful convictions.

Project director Alec Klein said the investigation was difficult because few of the crimes had witnesses and because little data has been collected to understand national trends.

One BYU senior is filming a documentary about his journey to find lasting love. Film student Stephen Nelson is on a mission to find true love and get engaged in six months. He said he woke up one morning with the idea, which has now grown into a documentary called 6 Till Engaged.

gay marriage

A federal judge heard arguments from both sides of a lawsuit surrounding Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. Three couples who were denied Utah marriage licenses filed the lawsuit in March, saying the ban violated their constitutional rights.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby heard arguments Wednesday from both sides, who had each asked for a summary judgment—meaning that a ruling could be made without material facts.

John Majia the legal director for the ACLU, which is in support of the couples, explains the arguments in the case.

Rescuers are searching for a white and maroon BE-36 Beech Bonanza.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

Rescuers continue to search for a small aircraft carrying five people that disappeared in rural Idaho on Sunday.

The six-seat, single engine Beech Bonanza left Baker City, Oregon on Sunday morning headed for Montana. The plane reported engine trouble as it crossed central Idaho around 1 p.m. before it lost contact with air traffic controllers.

Rescue crews have been searching near the Johnson Creek airstrip, where last contact was made.

Over five hundred Utahns died of drug overdose in 2012.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

State representative Carol Moss is sponsoring a bill she hopes will reduce the number of drug overdose deaths in the state. Moss’ “Good Samaritan” bill is her second piece of legislation on the topic. The first, which was introduced in 2006 and died in committee, would have penalized a person for abandoning someone who was overdosing on drugs.

Moss’ new bill adopted suggestions from people who work in substance abuse and addiction programs, and instead uses incentives to solve the growing problem.

Permits for Christmas tree cutting are still available across most of the state.
United States Department of Agriculture

Thousands of Utahns cut their own Christmas trees in national forests every year, and the day after Thanksgiving remains one of the most popular days to do so.

Though some areas like the Heber-Kamas Ranger District have sold out of tree cutting permits, the Forest Service’s Kathy Jo Pollock said most forests in the state have permits available.

Aggie Blue Bikes is a USU organization that provides refurbished bicycles to Sub for Santa.
Aggie Blue Bikes

With winter fast approaching, children around the state are making their holiday wish lists. Still, many families are continuing to struggle with the implications of the Great Recession and high poverty levels, making the holidays an especially stressful time of year.

One Cache County organization is looking to ease some of that stress by donating refurbished bicycles. Utah State University’s Aggie Blue Bikes will continue its tradition of donating fixed up bicycles to Sub for Santa.

The group has donated nearly 90 bikes over the past eight years and expects to help even more families than average this holiday season.

Biking in Utah has increased by nearly 60 percent over the past 7 years.

Biking to work is up in Utah according to a new study released by the League of American Bicyclists. The study, based on data collected in 2012, shows that Utah is ranked number 9 in the nation for growth in commuters getting to work by bike. Nearly 1 percent of Utahns biked to work in 2012, that’s compared .6 percent in 2005—an increase of 59.8 percent in 7 years.

In a unanimous decision Tuesday the Provo City Council asked their staff to begin researching housing and employment discrimination against the LGBTQ community in Provo.

Councilman Rick Healey said the issue was brought to the council by a special interest group, and that he has not personally heard of any discrimination in the city.

Healey said he is interested in seeing how ordinances have been implemented in other Utah cities like Salt Lake and Ogden—specifically, how common complaints are received and how they have been handled.

Nov. 22, the Utah State University Department of Physics will enthrall and inform the public as they put on a demonstration about the physics of light.
Utah State University

An upcoming event at Utah State University sets out to dispel the idea that science, especially physics, can’t be fun.

The Department of Physics will host the sixth annual November Demo Show this Friday, which is quickly becoming a Thanksgiving tradition. The theme of this year’s show is "The Physics of Light."

ISON is expected to be nearest to the sun on Thanksgiving Day. It is unknown how the comet will react to the sun's high temperatures.
Mike Hankey of Auberry, CA

A comet new to the inner solar system from the distant Oort Cloud has made its way into Earth’s orbit and is now headed for the Sun. Astronomers hope the comet named ISON, discovered just last year, will put on a good show as it heats up. But so far, it has not been as bright as originally predicted.

Many Northern Utah residents woke up to a blanket of white on the ground Friday morning—a signal the seasons may finally be changing. Another greener indication that winter is upon the state is changing green waste collection schedules.

In Logan, the city will soon be asking residents to put their green waste bins into hibernation until March.

Logan’s green waste program started in 1994 and expanded to include roadside service in 2000. Conservation Coordinator Emily Malik said the city collects thousands of pounds of waste each year.

Cache County’s own water war continues to cause heated debate in the valley over two years after the original complaint was filed by a group of Utah citizens.

The most recent dispute that has gained attention was sparked by the filing of a countersuit by Cache County itself, against citizen plaintiffs including members of the Utah Foundation for Land and Open Water, also known as Utah FLOW.

No cases of krokodil have been confirmed by the DEA in Utah.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

Rumors that the drug krokodil has made its way to the U.S. have been circulating for weeks. Unconfirmed cases have popped up in the Southwest, including in one hospital in Murray.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Albert Villasuso said no reports have been confirmed in Utah yet, but the administration is working hard to identify the dangerous drug.

"Unless we have conformation from one, the user and two, the actual substance that they injected, there’s really no way for us to confirm it,” Villasuso said.

A display of objects at the Western Heritage Museum in Vernal.
Uintah County Western Heritage Museum

After 32 years working for Uintah County, Western Heritage Museum director Evan Baker has been dismissed from his position. Baker has served as director of the museum for the last eight years, and said he unexpectedly received a letter telling him his position had been eliminated under county budget changes.

“This is my last day. I’m through at 5 [p.m.]…Personally, I’m upset. It totally blindsided me,” Baker said.

Mayor Ralph Becker was named to the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience
U.S. Department of Energy

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker has been named to a new task force that will advise President Obama’s administration on how to respond to the impacts of climate change.

Becker, along with other state and tribal leaders from around the country, was selected by President Obama to be part of the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience on Friday.

Becker’s Deputy Director of Communications, Art Raymond, explained the group’s role.

A tree fell onto South Hall during a wind storm on Southern Utah University campus Monday.
Southern Utah University

Weather around the state was blustery Monday. Winds at the airport in Bryce Canyon measured above 40 miles per hour for much of the day and gusts in Logan reached 49 miles per hour late in the afternoon.

However, none of these winds compared to those in Cedar City, which experienced gusts in the 60s and 70s according to the National Weather Service.

Nine trees on the Southern Utah University campus were uprooted. The largest of those, a 60 to 70 foot pine, came to rest on South Hall. Amy McIff, a spokesperson for the university, said damage was minor.

Utah was one of 47 states to score above the international average in science.
National Center for Education Statistics

The National Center for Education Statistics has released a new study synthesizing test scores from across the globe. The study looked at how eighth graders from the United States and 38 other countries scored in math and science.

Researchers compared U.S. scores on the NAEP test with international scores on the TIMSS test. U.S. states and foreign countries were then rated on a scale of 0 to 1000, with 500 being the international average.

Left half of skull of Parasaurolophus.
Andrew A. Farke, Derek J. Chok, Annisa Herrero, Bradon Scolieri, Sarah Werning

Four years after his somewhat miraculous discovery, “Joe” the dinosaur is making his public debut.

Joe, a young Parasaurolophus—or duckbilled dinosaur—was discovered by a high school student visiting Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument on a school trip led by paleontologist Andy Farke.

File photo: Crews work to reconfigure the Logan and Northern Canal at 600 E. 800 North in Logan.
Cache Water Restoration Project

The lawsuit surrounding changes made to canals in Cache County following a 2009 mudslide that killed three people continues to wind its way through court.

A group of citizens, who sued the county over what they claim to be illegal action to bury canals, recently filed a motion to dismiss the county’s counterclaim.

The county filed a 76 million dollar counterclaim suing the citizens for defamation and libel, a charge Tony Wegener of the group Utah Foundation for Land and Open Water—known as Utah FLOW—said is illegal.

Mercury emission limits prompted the closure of Carbon Power Plant near Helper, Utah.
Environmental Protection Agency

Mercury and Air Toxics Standards proposed in 2011 by the Environmental Protection Agency are slated to take effect soon—prompting the early closure of a Utah Power Plant. The Carbon Power Plant near Helper, Utah will close five years ahead of schedule in April of 2015.

Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Dave Eskelsen said the company determined that changes to make the 60-year-old plant compliant with the new standards would not be possible.