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Aurora bomb squad investigating suspicious device left at Best Buy

The Denver Post - 1 hour 3 min ago

The Aurora Police Department says it is investigating a suspicious device left at the Best Buy store at the Southlands mall.

According to a tweet at 10:59 p.m., the store and parking lot were evacuated.

The bomb squad and Aurora Fire Department are assisting with the investigation.

The Denver Channel reports that the store won’t reopen tonight for early Black Friday shoppers.

Arapahoe County Bomb Squad is at Southlands Best Buy investigating a suspicious item. Store is not reopening tonight @DenverChannel pic.twitter.com/II0485IzxR

— Josh Whitston (@JoshWhitston) November 24, 2017

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This is a developing story. Check back for updates.



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Trump’s Thanksgiving message: “The enthusiasm in this country has never been higher”

The Denver Post - 1 hour 15 min ago

PALM BEACH, Fla. – On Thanksgiving, President Donald Trump celebrated winning.

Early in the morning, he tweeted a list of wins, including the “highest Stock Market EVER,” a reduced unemployment rate and a new Supreme Court justice. A few hours later, he video-chatted with troops stationed around the world and told them that they are now winning because his administration is allowing them to do their jobs and win.

Trump then traveled to a nearby Coast Guard mess hall to hand out sandwiches and commend the military branch for improving its brand over the past few months. Afterward, he stopped by his private golf club in West Palm Beach.

“Our country is doing great,” Trump said, standing behind an overflowing basket of sandwiches in the mess hall. “You folks are fighting so hard, and working so hard. And it’s nice that you’re working for something that’s really starting to work.”

Critics of the president are quick to note that this holiday victory lap is lacking some context and makes no acknowledgment of any shortcomings, such as Trump’s historically low approval rating or the Republican Party’s inability so far to make the major legislative reforms they promised voters.

The president’s day started, as most now do, with an early morning tweet.

“HAPPY THANKSGIVING,” Trump tweeted at 6:28 a.m., “your Country is starting to do really well. Jobs coming back, highest Stock Market EVER, Military getting really strong, we will build the WALL, V.A. taking care of our Vets, great Supreme Court Justice, RECORD CUT IN REGS, lowest unemployment in 17 years . . .!”

Three minutes later, the president responded to a tweet from Greg Sargent, a Washington Post opinion writer, that referenced Trump’s recent criticism of the father of a UCLA basketball player and stated: “Trump regularly attacks high-profile African Americans to feed his supporters’ belief that the system is rigged for minorities.”

“MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump wrote. The same message was later sent out on its own.

Nearly three hours later, Trump sat down at a computer screen set up in the lavish living room of Mar-a-Lago, the exclusive club in Palm Beach where he spends many winter weekends. On his screen were troops from the five branches of the military who are spending the holiday in Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Kuwait and out at sea.

“It’s an honor to speak with you all and to give God thanks for the blessing of freedom,” Trump said, often reading from a piece of paper in his hands.

He told those stationed in Afghanistan that “everybody’s talking about the progress you’ve made in the last few months since I opened it up.”

“We opened it up. We said, ‘Go ahead, we’re going to fight to win,'” Trump said. “We’re not fighting anymore to just walk around – we’re fighting to win.”

The same thing is happening in Iraq, he said, as he thanked the service members who are fighting the Islamic State terrorist group.

“We’re really winning,” Trump said. “We know how to win – but we have to let you win. They weren’t letting you win before. They weren’t letting you play even. We’re letting you win.”

Trump acknowledged that it’s difficult for these troops to be away from home during the holidays – but he assured them that he’s winning while they are gone.

“The economy is doing really great,” Trump said. “When you come back, you’re going to see with the jobs and the companies coming back into our country and the stock market just hit a record high. Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in 17 years. So you’re fighting for something real, you’re fighting for something good.”

The president, along with first lady Melania Trump, then hopped into the motorcade and traveled to the Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet in Riviera Beach, Fla. The Trumps purchased lunch for those working on Thanksgiving and briefly addressed dozens of Coast Guard members.

“It is an honor to be here,” the president said. “The Coast Guard – always respected – but if you were looking at it as a brand, there’s no brand that went up more than the Coast Guard” in responding to hurricanes that hit Texas, several Gulf Coast states and Puerto Rico.

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Trump offered to take questions, but no one spoke up. So he filled the time by telling them about increasing funding for the military and all of the new equipment that it’s buying. And he promised that America’s allies won’t get equipment that is quite as good because “even if they’re allies, you never know about an ally, an ally can turn.”

It was then time for the president to hand out sandwiches – and shake hands with the Coast Guard members. He joked about arm wrestling one of them and then remarked: “Such good shape, what’s going on here?”

Soon, the president was back on the road, this time to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, where he spent about four hours. He then returned to Mar-a-Lago for dinner with his family and some friends. The menu included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, a variety of baked goods, local produce and cheeses, red snapper and Florida stone crab, along with various cakes and pies for dessert.

In honor of the holiday, the president also released a video address in which he retold the story of Thanksgiving, thanked those who responded to disasters this year and, again, recounted the wins.

“Our country is doing very well,” Trump said. “We are doing something very special. People are feeling it. The enthusiasm in this country has never been higher. We’re very, very happy on this Thanksgiving Day.”



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Trump replies “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” to tweet about his attacks on African-Americans

The Denver Post - 1 hour 46 min ago

President Donald Trump kicked off Thanksgiving Day by replying to a tweet that said his latest Twitter feud is part of a racist pattern of attacking prominent African-Americans.

Trump’s response, tweeted at about 6:30 a.m.: “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

The tweet that prompted the response from the president came from Greg Sargent, who writes about politics for The Washington Post. Sargent had shared his opinion article about Trump’s latest tweetstorm related to LaVar Ball, whom the president has repeatedly called out for not thanking him properly for his role in resolving a shoplifting charge in China against Ball’s son.

In his piece published Wednesday, Sargent argued that Trump “goes out of his way to attack prominent African-Americans,” including Ball and professional football athletes.

“Trump’s rage-tweets about LaVar Ball are part of a pattern. Trump regularly attacks high-profile African-Americans to feed his supporters’ belief that the system is rigged for minorities,” Sargent wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

To which the president responded the following day with his campaign slogan.

It’s unclear if Trump’s tweet was meant to agree with or acknowledge Sargent’s points that his behavior on social media fits a racist pattern against African-Americans. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The president has spent the last few days engaging in a war of words with Ball, who has accused Trump of inflating his role in freeing his son, UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball, and two other teammates. The three were arrested for shoplifting while in Hangzhou for a tournament earlier this month.

Trump said that during his 12-day trip to Asia, he personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the case of LiAngelo Ball and his two teammates.

After returning to the United States, Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to himself in the third person: “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you to President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”

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Asked by ESPN later about Trump’s role in securing his son’s release, LaVar Ball said: “Who? What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

During a testy interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Monday night, Ball again questioned Trump’s role in his son’s freeing.

“It wasn’t like he was in the U.S. and said, ‘OK, there’s three kids in China, I need to go over there and get them,'” Ball said. “That wasn’t the thought process.”

In response, the president fumed, often in the form of predawn tweetstorms. At one point, he said he should’ve let LiAngelo Ball and his teammates stay in jail.

At about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, Trump called LaVar Ball an “ungrateful fool,” who, if not for his personal intervention, would have spent several Thanksgivings with his son locked up in China.

“It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair,” Trump said.

Curiously, the president resurrected attacks on the NFL a few minutes later:

“The NFL is now thinking about a new idea – keeping teams in the Locker Room during the National Anthem next season. That’s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league!. . …”

Sargent wrote that the immediate segue to football players, whom Trump has repeatedly criticized for kneeling during the national anthem, shows a clear pattern of a public attack on prominent African-Americans.

“It is true that in some of these cases, Trump was attacked or at least criticized first. But it’s hard to avoid noticing a gratuitously ugly pattern in Trump’s responses, in which Trump vaguely suggests either that his targets are getting above their station, or that they’re asking for too much and are insufficiently thankful for all that has been done for them,” Sargent wrote.

The president has repeatedly said that kneeling during the national anthem, meant to protest racism and police brutality, is disrespectful to the flag and to the country.

Last month, Trump drew criticisms over his condolence call to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed with three other soldiers during an ambush in Niger.

Myeshia Johnson said that during the call, the president told her that her husband “knew what he signed up for.” She also said that Trump couldn’t even remember her husband’s name.

Trump disputed the slain soldier’s widow’s account, saying in a tweet: “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!”



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Redskins beat Giants 20-10 in turkey of a Thanksgiving game

The Denver Post - 2 hours 11 min ago

LANDOVER, Md. — Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes to compensate for a pick-6, and the Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants 20-10 on Thursday night on a drab field in a drab game between two injury-depleted teams that did not look ready for prime time.

The two NFC East rivals combined for more punts (nine) than points (six) in the first half, which ended 3-all on a pair of short field goals — from 30 yards by New York’s Aldrick Rosas, and 28 by Washington’s Nick Rose. The big play on Washington’s lone scoring “drive” of the half? A 37-yard flag for pass interference on New York’s Ross Cockrell; the entire possession covered 38 yards.

But Cousins led Washington (5-6) on two TD drives in the second half, connecting with Jamison Crowder on a 15-yarder in the third quarter that broke a 3-all tie, and with Josh Doctson on a 14-yarder with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the game.

In between, cornerback Janoris Jenkins intercepted Cousins’ pass and returned the ball 53 yards to make it 10-all.

That one play involved more yardage than Eli Manning and the Giants (2-9) generated in the entire second half. They gained 47 yards and one solitary first down. One possession end with an interception by Manning, four ended with punts, and another dissolved they turned the ball over on downs.

This was the first time the Redskins had hosted a game on Thanksgiving, and they and the Giants didn’t exactly treat the national TV audience to a thriller. More of a snoozer.

Given the ugliness, perhaps it was fitting that it was contested on a terrible-looking field. A large swath of brown ran down the middle, all the way from one end zone to the other.

Route-runners stumbled and fell for no apparent reason. Redskins back Samaje Perine gained 3 yards on five carries in the first half, although he did finish the game with 24 runs for 100 yards. Some fans on Twitter blamed the shaky footing for Cousins’ poor throw that turned into Jenkins’ score.

The ineptness was on display all night.

One example: On fourth-and-1 at New York’s 40 with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter of a tied game, the Redskins sent out the punt unit, drawing some boos. But coach Jay Gruden called a timeout and sent his offense back onto the field. Coming out of that break, Washington made a late personnel change and drew a delay-of-game penalty — Cousins was trying to call another timeout, which would have been a penalty, too — so ended up punting. That elicited more jeers from the home crowd.

Maybe all the issues were a result of being so depleted by injuries: Washington has placed 15 players on injured reserve this season, including its top two running backs, and New York’s total is 14, including star receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Both offensive lines have been particular areas of concern, and Thursday was no different. The Redskins were missing three starters, while the Giants were using their eighth starting combination of the season.

So maybe it was no surprise that there were 10 sacks, plus penalties for false starts and holding.

In the game’s first eight possessions, the club combined for seven punts and one turnover on downs, when the Redskins failed to convert a fourth-and-1 in Giants territory thanks to Doctson’s dropped pass. Indeed, there were the same number of drops as first downs (four) in that stretch.

QB STATS

Cousins was 19 for 31 for 242 yards, the two scores and the pick. Manning was 13 for 27 for 113 yards

INJURIES

Giants: LB Deontae Skinner (hamstring), LB Curtis Grant (right leg), CB Donte Deayon (forearm and jaw).

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Redskins: RT Morgan Moses (left knee).

UP NEXT

Giants: At Oakland on Dec. 3. The Raiders are another playoff team a year ago that is under .500 currently.

Redskins: A second consecutive Thursday night game, this one Nov. 30 at the Dallas Cowboys, a team that won 33-19 at Washington last month.



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German women’s clinic’s incense therapy triggers fire alarm

The Denver Post - 2 hours 16 min ago

BERLIN — A reported fire in a Hamburg basement turned out to be a false alarm after firefighters determined that the smell of burning came from an alternative therapy being used at a neighboring gynecological clinic.

The fire department said Thursday they received a call at lunchtime Wednesday about a strong burning smell from the basement of a clothing store in the northern German city’s St. Pauli district.

When the crew of 16 firefighters arrived they also smelled the odor, but could not find a source in the basement.

Upon further investigation they determined the smell came from an incense therapy for pregnant women in the neighboring gynecological clinic.

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Authorities didn’t seem irked by the false alarm, saying “Who knows, maybe one or two of the kids will later join the fire department.”



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Meth-laden kiss kills Oregon inmate; girlfriend gets 2 years

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 9:30pm

PORTLAND, Ore. — An Oregon woman whose inmate boyfriend died from a meth-laden kiss after a prison visit was sentenced to two years behind bars Tuesday on a drug conspiracy charge.

Melissa Ann Blair and Anthony Powell shared a long kiss at the end of a visit last year at the Oregon State Penitentiary and she passed seven tiny balloons filled with methamphetamine into his mouth. Two of the balloons ruptured in Powell’s stomach a short time later and he died of methamphetamine toxicity, prosecutors have said.

U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez said Blair’s actions were part of a scheme devised by Powell and others to get drugs inside the prison. There was a dispute as to whether Blair participated of her own free will, but Powell shared responsibility for his own death, Hernandez said.

“It was tragic and sad but he shares responsibility for what happened,” the judge said.

The 41-year-old was serving a life sentence for aggravated murder in the stabbing death of his mother-in-law, according to court records.

Besides two years in federal prison, the judge also ordered Blair, 46, to complete three years of post-release supervision and participate in drug treatment and mental health programs.

She did not make a statement in court. Her sister, who attended the hearing, declined to comment.

Blair felt coerced by Powell even though he was behind bars, her attorney, John Ransom, said outside court. She used methamphetamine but was not addicted, he said.

“It was a very Svengali-type situation where he had total control over her life,” Ransom said. “She had to do whatever he said.”

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Powell’s close friend, Brandy Pokovich, attended the hearing and said she became pen pals with him after he wrote to her husband — a former inmate — and she replied to him instead. Over a dozen years, Pokovich said, they formed a deep bond through letters, phone calls and visits.

She called herself Powell’s “sister by choice” and believed he felt remorse for his crime, she told the judge.

“Now, because of the choices that were made, I no longer can pick up the phone and hear his voice, I can’t go on a visit and see his big cheesy smile and get the best hug in the world,” she said in a victim impact statement.

“He was not just an inmate. He was a very loved and cared-for person who had a family that would always be there no matter what,” she said.

Outside court, Pokovich said she helped Powell find girlfriends by using her social media accounts and introduced him to Blair.

Four other defendants in the case, like Blair, have pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge and will be sentenced in the coming weeks.

___

Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus .



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Trump credits troops, and himself, for military advances

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 9:01pm

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump thanked U.S. troops for their service on Thursday, assuring them “we’re really winning” against America’s foes as he celebrated Thanksgiving at his private club in Florida and provided lunch for Coast Guard men and women on duty for the holiday.

Using the occasion to pat himself on the back, Trump told deployed military members via a video conference that they’ve achieved more progress in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State group under his watch than had been made in years of the previous administration.

“Everybody’s talking about the progress you’ve made in the last few months since I opened it up,” he told the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division, whose members are conducting operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan. “We’re being talked about again as an armed forces — we’re really winning.”

Speaking from a gilded room at his Mar-a-Lago club, Trump said: “We’re not fighting anymore to just walk around, we’re fighting to win, and you people are really, you’ve turned it around over the last three to four months like nobody’s seen, and they are talking about it, so thank you very much.”

Turning to the 74th Expeditionary Fighters Squadron based at the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, Trump suggested the Obama administration hadn’t allowed soldiers on the ground to do their jobs.

“They say we’ve made more progress against ISIS than they did in years of the previous administration,” he said. “And that’s because I’m letting you do your job.”

Throughout the day — at events and on Twitter — Trump boasted about the economy’s performance since he took office, pointing to recent stock market gains and the unemployment rate, along with his efforts to scale back regulations and boost military spending.

“So you’re fighting for something real, you’re fighting for something good,” he told the service members

Trump and his wife, Melania, also made a trip to a nearby Coast Guard station in Riviera Beach, Florida, where they delivered a lunch of turkey sandwiches, giant muffins, heaping baskets of fruit, chips and cookies to men and women on duty for the holidays.

During his remarks, Trump, singled out the service for its hurricane relief efforts during Harvey and the other storms that battered the country earlier this year.

“There’s no brand that went up more than the Coast Guard,” Trump told them “What a job you’ve done.”

Trump praised the superiority of U.S. military equipment, too, yet said he tries to make sure that equipment the U.S. sells abroad — even to allies — is not quite as good as that kept at home.

“I always say, make ours a little bit better,” Trump said. “Keep about 10 percent in the bag.” He added: “You never know about an ally. An ally can turn.”

Among the equipment admired by Trump is the F-35 stealth fighter jet, which he recalled asking “Air Force guys” about once.

“In a fight, you know a fight like I watch on the movies … how good is it?” he recalled asking. “They said, ‘Well, it wins every time because the enemy cannot see it, even if it’s right next to it,'” Trump recounted, prompting laughs.

The F-35, plagued by development problems and cost overruns, is in fact not invisible to people nearby. Its stealth technology is designed to evade detection by radar and other sensors.

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At the earlier video conference, Trump cleared the room of press after about 10 minutes so he could have “very confidential, personal conversations” with those on the line. Borrowing a line from his “Apprentice” days, he told the reporters “You’re fired,” then wished them a happy Thanksgiving, too.

On the Trumps’ own Thanksgiving menu for family and friends at Mar-a-Lago: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, red snapper, Florida stone crab, baked goods, local produce and cheeses, and a selection of cakes and pies for dessert.

__

Follow Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj



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Jordan Spieth falls further from the lead at the Australian Open

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 8:47pm

SYDNEY — Defending champion Jordan Spieth failed to take advantage of ideal scoring conditions at the Australian Open on Friday, shooting an even-par 71 to fall further behind the leaders.

After an opening 70, he was at 1-under 141 and eight strokes behind clubhouse leader Lucas Herbert, who shot 66 on Friday and was at 9-under 133. Spieth trailed by seven strokes after the opening round.

First-round leader Cameron Davis, who led by two strokes after a 63, had an afternoon start, as did Jason Day, who trailed Davis by three shots.

Spieth, who hasn’t played since the Presidents Cup in late September, has won the Australian Open two out of the last three years and finished second the other time.

At least his morning start Saturday means he will avoid the windy conditions that the leading groups will have to contend with at The Australian in the afternoon.

And that left him optimistic of a comeback. In 2014, he shot a then course-record 63 at The Australian Golf Club to win his first Australian title by six shots.

“I feel like you can make up more ground and come from behind here over I think any tournament I’ve played this entire year,” Spieth said. “The golf course will start to bake out and you get really calm conditions in the morning that leave the windier conditions for the afternoon, so I’ll have a pretty gettable golf course. If I can post something like 5, 6-under, then I’m very much in this tournament.”

Spieth said the seven-week layoff was the longest he’s had since his college days and that he felt rusty and nervous at times during his first round which featured five bogeys in windy conditions.

The wind began to pick up late in Spieth’s round Friday, as did his frustration level at times. On the par-4 sixth — his 15th of the day — his drive traveled well over 300 meters, so far that it reached a spectator crossing area that officials obviously felt was far enough from the tee.

Spieth took a drop from it, but his approach to the green failed to spin back, leaving him a putt of at least 20 feet. He missed his birdie attempt.

“It’s just been the short game rust that’s kind of hurt me a bit the last couple of days that prevents me from being 5 or so under,” Spieth said.

At least he birdied the ninth — his last hole Friday. Finishing on even-par would have left him just one stroke away from the projected cut, which could have changed based on afternoon scoring.

“That was only my second one-putt of the day,” Spieth said. “The other was for par.”



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Southbound I-25 reopened after crash causes shutdown between 136th and 120th

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 8:03pm

Southbound Interstate 25 is open again between 120th and 136th avenues after being completely shut down for a crash earlier this evening.

The accident was first reported sometime before 6:30 p.m., according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

SB I-25 closed @ 120 Ave b/c a crash;no est time of reopening

— CDOT (@ColoradoDOT) November 24, 2017

The highway was closed for roughly 1.5 hours while Adams County emergency crews responded to the scene. CDOT gave the all clear via Twitter at 8 p.m. following clean-up efforts.

It is not known yet how many vehicles were involved or if anyone was injured in the accident.

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Education Dept. wants to narrow civil rights work in schools

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 8:01pm

WASHINGTON — The Education Department wants to narrow the scope of civil rights investigations at schools, focusing on individual complaints rather than systemic problems, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.

Under the Obama administration, when a student complained of discrimination in a particular class or school, the education agency would examine the case but also look at whether the incident was part of a broader, systemic problem that needed to be fixed.

Proposed revisions to the department’s civil rights procedures, distributed last week among civil rights officials at the department, remove the word “systemic” from the guidelines.

The changes would also allow schools a greater say in how a case is handled, compared with the student or parent who filed the complaint, and would eliminate the appeals process.

The document is only a draft; a final version is expected to be published next year after suggestions and proposals from staff.

The action comes as the Trump administration looks for ways of streamlining the work and trimming the budgets of many federal agencies. The administration has called for a $9 billion, or 13.5 percent, cut to the education budget, which would mean the loss of more than 40 employees out of about 570 at the agency’s Office for Civil Rights.

The Education Department did not comment on the proposed revisions Wednesday.

Seth Galanter, former principal deputy assistant secretary for human rights in Obama’s Education Department, criticized the proposed revisions, saying the civil rights office’s key mission is to identify and solve systemic problems.

Galanter gave an example of a complaint stemming from a white and a minority student getting into a fight, but the minority student being disciplined more harshly than the white student. Under the previous procedure, OCR would examine that particular case but also look at whether that teacher, school or school district was engaging in other similar discriminatory behavior.

“It’s a very surface level fix that certainly will make that particular parent happy, but isn’t fulfilling OCR’s obligation,” Galanter said. “OCR is underfunded and understaffed and in order to get through all the complaints in some kind of timely manner, staff is being forced to give them superficial treatment.”

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Another proposed revision would allow the school or school district to negotiate a resolution agreement with the agency before any findings are released to the parent in a letter. Galanter said that was cause for concern because the parent was being kept in the dark.

“The letter may still reach the same result, but it may be completely diluted of any fact that would inform the parent and the community about what’s going on in the school,” Galanter said.

Miriam Rollin, director of the National Center for Youth Law, said those changes, coupled with eliminating the appeals process, were bad news for students.

“School deficits will be held accountable less for violations and parents will have less opportunity to get justice,” Rollin said.

But Rick Hess, director of education policy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, praised the revisions, saying Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was seeking to fix the Obama administration’s tactic of using the agency’s civil rights investigations to push policy.

“What the Department of Education is talking about is wholly sensible and is an appropriate and totally unsurprising correction to what the Obama administration did,” he said.



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Ink! Coffee in Five Points tagged “white coffee” by vandal following gentrification controversy

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 7:00pm

Someone spray painted “white coffee” on the ink! Coffee location in Five Points and broke a window there in what appears to have been retaliation for a sign the business placed out front this week that read, “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014.”

The sandwich board sign sparked outrage and –and drew national attention — when local writer and event organizer Ru Johnson shared a picture of it on her Twitter account Wednesday afternoon. Johnson, who has contributed to The Denver Post’s Reverb and The Know sections, added the caption “yo @inkcoffee we are not cool with this sign on 29th and Larimer. Bad decision. Bad design. BAD. W.T.F.” The sign went viral on social media, motivating so many one-star reviews and angry posts on ink’s Facebook page Wednesday night that the company shut down the review function.

The Aspen-born company apologized for the sign Wednesday, first with a short message on Twitter and Facebook and later with a longer statement from founder and CEO Keith Herbert, but many made it clear they did not feel the responses, some of which cast the sign as a joke, were enough.

Really apologize by…..closing down ur store

— Zolee (@Zoleeofficial) November 23, 2017

The vandalism to the shop, located at 2851 Larimer St., appears to have taken place over night. In addition to the “white coffee” tag and set of larger characters on the front of the building, there was a smaller, more profane message written on the store’s main sign. A object appears to have been thrown through one of the windows.

The gentrification sign itself, a manufactured, metal sandwich board that read “Nothing says gentrification like being able to order a cortado,” was stolen by a man on a skateboard Wednesday evening, according to Johnson. The Post has not confirmed the theft.

Denver Police spokesman John White said Thursday he could not confirm if a police report had been filed in connection to the vandalism or the alleged sign theft. With the holiday and weekend to follow, White said it was unlikely any information would be available before Monday.

Herbert issued a third statement Thursday afternoon via ink’s Twitter account. He made no mention of the vandalism but pledged to better educate himself and his staff about the effects of gentrification in Five Points, one of Denver’s most storied black neighborhoods, and take steps to support the residents there.

“When our advertising firm presented this campaign to us, I interpreted it as taking pride in being part of a dynamic, evolving community that is inclusive of people of all races, ethnicity, religions and gender identities,” Herbert said the statement. “I recognize now that we had a blind spot to other legitimate interpretations.”

We have been following your comments on social media and listening to our customers, and we want you to know that we hear you. Included here is the full apology from our founder. pic.twitter.com/un7S3GYzwf

— ink! Coffee (@inkcoffee) November 23, 2017

Herbert did not name the ad agency behind the sign, but Twitter users quickly identified Five Points-based Cultivator Advertising & Design, Inc. The firm took to its Facebook page Thursday to own up to its own “blind spot” when it comes to effects of gentrification.

“In hindsight, our campaign was callous, naive and uninformed to the true character of the neighborhood and to those who have long called it home,” the post reads. “We assure those within the local community and throughout Denver that the literal contents of the sign do not represent the values we hold as an agency or as individuals.”

Ink representatives did not immediately return calls or emails Thursday seeking comment about the vandalism. It is unclear if the Five Points location will be open its usual 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. hours on Friday.

A public demonstration will be held outside the store from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Dubbed, “We Don’t Drink Ink,” the event is intended to highlight the negative impacts recent industrialization and redevelopment of Five Points have had on the many black and Latino families who lived there for years, organizer Tay Anderson said. More than 440 people had confirmed they plan to attend the event by Thursday afternoon.

“They need to know that their actions speak very loudly,” Anderson said of ink. “And it hurt a lot of us African Americans who grew up in the community to see a sign that said, ‘Hey, we’ve be taking over your community since 2014.”

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Anderson, who recently lost a race to represent Five Points and other portions of northern Denver on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education, said he has heard widespread outcry across the Front Range about the impact the region’s recent growth has had on minority communities, citing plans to widen Interstate 70 in northeast Denver as an example of harmful growth. He said ink’s apologies have not passed muster yet and he hopes their CEO and the managers of the Five Points store will sit down with him and community leaders to talk about the thought process behind the sign.

“This is going to be a peaceful gathering,” Anderson said of Saturday’s demonstration. “I want this to be the beginning of a dialogue on how gentrification negatively impacts African American and Latino communities.”

Anderson also has a message for local politicians who may attend the event: It’s not a photo opportunity. If you don’t mean to get involved in addressing the problem, don’t come, he said.

“Our City Council and mayor a responsible for a lot of the gentrification that has happened and pushed African Americans out of the community,” he said.

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PHOTOS: Mile High United Way’s 44th annual Turkey Trot race

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 6:05pm

Mile High United Way’s 44th annual Turkey Trot race at Washington Park on November 23, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. The annual race, which started at 1700 E. Louisiana Ave next to South High School, had record attendance with over 10,000 runners, walkers and volunteers. The event included the 4 mile race as well as a family fun run, finish village and beer garden. The proceeds from the large event benefit Mile High United Way’s mission to fight for education, health and financial stability of everyone in Metro Denver.



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PHOTOS: The Salvation Army brings Thanksgiving joy to thousands at its annual meal

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 6:02pm

The Salvation Army held its annual Thanksgiving day feast inside Exhibit Hall B at the Colorado Convention Center on November 23, 2017 in Denver, Colorado.

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Shoppers mobilize on Thanksgiving, as retailers branch out

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 6:01pm

NEW YORK — Shoppers are hitting the stores on Thanksgiving as retailers under pressure look for ways to poach shoppers from their rivals.

As the holiday shopping season officially kicked off, retailers are counting on a lift from a better economy. But they’re also looking beyond economic data and mapping out ways to pick up sales from other retailers as Amazon expands its reach.

That can mean opening earlier than rivals on the holidays or even jumping into new product categories. So shoppers may find some surprises: toys and TVs at J.C. Penney, Barbies at Best Buy, kitchen appliances like wine refrigerators at B.J.’s.

At Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan, it was the deals like cosmetic and perfume sets from $10 to $20 as well as 40 percent off on boots and shoes that drew attention. Its Apple shop was packed too, with deals on gadgets like the Apple Watch.

Tiffany Lloyd, in town from Columbia, Maryland, was visiting tourist sites when she realized stores were open.

“This is not a traditional Thanksgiving. We ate pizza,” said Lloyd, who was buying a pair of Naturalizer shoes at 40 percent off and said she planned to buy three more pairs. She said she also picked up sweaters on sale at Old Navy.

Despite the early crowds at stores, analysts at Bain say Amazon is expected to take half of the holiday season’s sales growth. And Amazon is the top destination for people to begin holiday shopping, according to a September study by market research firm NPD Group.

“The retailers are in survival mode. It’s about stealing each other’s market share,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “Amazon is the Grinch. They’re stealing the growth.”

Abi and Sush Gyawali — both 27-year-old biology graduate students at the University of Missouri — were among hundreds of people who lined up outside J.C. Penney in Columbia, Missouri, before the store opened at 2 p.m. Thursday. Abi Gyawali normally shops online on Amazon or BestBuy for Cyber Monday, where he said he finds some of the best deals.

But he said the couple wanted to check out the scene at the mall before friends came over to share a meal. He and his wife planned to just collect coupons that were being handed out, but ended up getting a discounted air fryer.

With the jobless rate at a 17-year-low of 4.1 percent and consumer confidence stronger than a year ago, analysts project healthy sales increases for November and December. The National Retail Federation trade group expects sales for that period to at least match last year’s rise of 3.6 percent and estimates online spending and other non-store sales will rise 11 to 15 percent.

Amazon is expected to be a big beneficiary as it cements loyalty among its Prime members and moves into new services and private-label merchandise. That leaves stores looking at rivals to see where they can pick up sales. There are extra dollars up for grabs this year, after thousands of store locations have closed and several retailers filed for bankruptcy protection.

Target CEO Brian Cornell recently noted that up to $60 billion in consumer spending will be up for the taking in the next few years, and said the chain has been picking up market share in such areas as clothing.

Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart’s U.S. division, said that the retail giant’s holiday shopping season appeared to be off to a good start. It got things going in the first minutes of Thursday with an online sales event that featured a range of deals from toys to TVs to slow cookers and Google Home mini gadgets.

“We have a bit of momentum and we had a good kickoff online,” Foran told The Associated Press, “and with a bit of luck we are going to have a good 24 hours and be ship-shape for the weekend, and go from here to the 25th of December.”

The Thanksgiving weekend, when stores go all-out to attract shoppers, can be an indication of how well they’ll do through the season. About 69 percent of Americans, or 164 million people, intend to shop at some point during the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, according to a survey released by the National Retail Federation. It expects Black Friday to remain the busiest day, with about 115 million people planning to shop then.

Judy St. Antoine, 60, of St. Petersburg, Florida, said she arrived at the J.C. Penney in her city about 10 minutes before the store’s 2 p.m. opening. There were already two lines of a couple hundred people each waiting. St. Antoine said she came “for the sale,” and that she’ll finish up her Thanksgiving afterward.

Mary Bergeron, 62, of Tampa, bought an oil-less fryer, a waffle maker and a steamer at JC Penney, and was headed back for more.

“It’s a tradition. We come here every year,” she said, adding that she’d eaten turkey at noon. “It’s crazy, there are so many people and it gets tense. It’s fun.”

Some retailers are using the weekend to test new product areas: Penney has TVs and consumer electronics like game consoles as doorbusters for Thanksgiving and Black Friday only, one example of what Penney’s Senior Vice President James Starke called “market share plays.”

Chris Baldwin, CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club, says it is offering more toys and clothes, including key national brands in areas like casual athletic wear.

“There’s no question that consumer spending has started to tick up and confidence is a little bit better, which is terrific, but we are also seeing some benefit from other retailers,” he said.

____

Associated Press writers Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Summer Ballentine in Columbia, Missouri, contributed to this report.



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Everything you need to know about Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 5:44pm

COLORADO AT MINNESOTA 2 p.m. Friday, ALT; 950 AM

Spotlight on: Nino Niederreiter. The Wild forward is the only Swiss-born player to produce 20 goals in an NHL season, and he has done that in each of his last three seasons. Niederreiter, 25, is on a scoring spree, with a five-game goal streak, four-game power-play goal streak and seven-game point streak. With a goal against the Avalanche, he will tie Brian Rolston for the longest goal streak in Minnesota history. Since returning from an ankle injury Oct. 31, Niederreiter has eight goals in 12 games.

NOTEBOOK:

Avalanche: Goalie Semyon Varlamov (illness) practiced Thursday but didn’t travel with the team. Jonathan Bernier will get his third consecutive start in net Friday and Andrew Hammond will again serve as backup. Varlamov is the likely starter Saturday against the visiting Calgary Flames. … The Avs had Thursday afternoon off before boarding a charter flight to the Twin Cities. Defenseman Erik Johnson, a native of Bloomington, Minn., flew commercial ahead of the team to spend more time with his family. … Center Nathan MacKinnon, who assisted on each of Colorado’s goals in Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Dallas, has 20 points (six goals) in his last 10 games. He is the first Avs player to produce 20 points in a 10-game stretch since Joe Sakic from March 20 to April 9, 2006. Sakic, now the Avs’ general manager, had seven goals and 13 assists in his 20-game stretch. MacKinnon has a league-high 13 assists this month, and his 17 points are tied for second.

Wild: It has points in six of its last seven games, going 5-1-1 since Nov. 9. … Mikael Granlund has scored four goals in his last two games and is riding a nine-game points streak. … Goalie Devan Dubnyk is 5-0-1 in his last six starts, posting a 2.00 goals-against average, .938 save percentage and three shutouts during that stretch. Since his career debut with Minnesota on Jan. 15, 2015, he is 108-60-15 with a 2.22 GAA, .923 SP and 18 shutouts — leading the NHL in games played and shutouts. … Sweden-born defenseman Gustav Olofsson grew up in the Denver area and played for Colorado College as a freshman in 2013-14. … The Wild is on a three-game winning streak over the Avs and has points in 12 of their last 15 meetings, going 11-3-1 since the start of 2014-15. Minnesota has six shutout victories and has outscored the Avs 46-22 during that stretch.

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Philip Rivers, Chargers beat fading Cowboys on Thanksgiving

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 5:42pm

ARLINGTON, Texas — Philip Rivers was more than comfortable on the Thanksgiving stage for the first time in his 14 NFL seasons.

Same with Keenan Allen, who didn’t have to wait nearly that long.

Rivers threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns, Allen had a career-high 172 yards in his second straight huge game and the Los Angeles Chargers beat the fading Dallas Cowboys 28-6 on Thursday.

Desmond King returned an interception 90 yards for the punctuating touchdown. The Chargers (5-6) moved within 1 1/2 games of AFC West-leading Kansas City after starting 0-4 while the Chiefs won their first five.

“Playing on Thanksgiving was everything it was cranked up to be,” said Rivers, who was 27 of 33 in his ninth career 400-yard game . “As a quarterback, you want to play well and throw it to your guys, and we did a lot today. But I’m more excited about our team.”

The defending NFC East champion Cowboys (5-6) have lost three straight games by at least 20 points for the first time since 2004, all without suspended star running back Ezekiel Elliott in a damaging slide for their fading playoff hopes.

Dallas, playing its 50th Thanksgiving game, finally ended a touchdown drought at a team-record 10 quarters on Rod Smith’s 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys have been outscored 72-6 in the second half of the three losses.

Quarterback Dak Prescott has looked lost without Elliott, his backfield mate for a pair of remarkable rookie seasons that led the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC last season. Prescott had two interceptions, giving him five in two games after throwing just four a year ago.

Last year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has nine picks for the season and the Cowboys already have twice as many losses as a year ago with Elliott only halfway through a six-game suspension for alleged domestic violence.

“The last thing I’m doing is pointing a finger and saying, ‘We need this guy, we need that to happen,'” said Prescott, who was 20 of 27 for 179 yards in his third straight game without a TD pass. “I’m going to say we’ve just got to figure out what’s going on and get out of this slump.”

Rivers had seven completions of at least 22 yards, including Allen’s 42-yard catch-and-run when he weaved through five defenders for a 22-6 lead.

Allen, in his fifth season, has two of his three biggest yardage games in the past two weeks. He had 11 catches and a score after 12 grabs for 159 yards and two TDs in a 54-24 win over Buffalo.

“When I first got here, he was a little heavy,” first-year coach Anthony Lynn said. “I think once he got his weight down, you could see the run after catch, the quickness, all those things you see in a No. 1 receiver.”

LA, with 500-plus total yards (515) for the first time in two years, overcame the loss of kicker Nick Novak to a back injury, the second straight game that Dallas’ opposing kicker was injured and in the same game that Dallas’ Dan Bailey returned after missing four games with a groin injury.

Just like last week in the Cowboys’ blowout loss to division-leading Philadelphia, neither of the kickers mattered much with the Dallas offense sputtering and the defense not getting key stops.

Novak returned to make a 22-yard field goal after the injury, but left for good after missing an extra point . Punter Drew Kaser was 1 of 3 on extra points. The Chargers went for a fourth-and-13 in field goal range in a scoreless game early in the second quarter with Novak’s status in doubt, coming up a yard short.

Four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith returned for Dallas after missing two games with back and groin injuries, but the Cowboys lost 2014 All-Pro right guard Zack Martin to a concussion in the first half.

Austin Ekeler had a 38-yard catch to set up San Diego’s first touchdown in the third quarter, and Tyrell Williams added a 31-yard grab before making a 27-yard scoring catch.

THANKSGIVING STREAK

LA has a Thanksgiving winning streak in Texas, because the Chargers’ previous holiday showing was a 21-17 AFL win at Houston in 1969, the year before the merger. It was the longest gap (48 years) for a team between Thanksgiving games in NFL history.

WITTEN RECORD

Dallas tight end Jason Witten, already the Thanksgiving record-holder in catches, passed Detroit’s Herman Moore for the most yards on the holiday. Witten now has 80 catches for 853 yards.

ANTHEM UPDATE

Chargers LT Russell Okung was the only player from either team with a display during the national anthem, raising his fist while he was a step behind teammates lined up on the sideline.

UP NEXT

Chargers: Browns on Dec. 3 in first of two straight home games.

Cowboys: Redskins next Thursday in last of three straight home games.

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PHOTOS: The day in pictures November 23, 2017

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 5:17pm

PHOTOS: The day in pictures November 23, 2017

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Flynn’s lawyer shuts down communications with Trump’s team, a sign he may be cooperating with Mueller probe

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 5:12pm

A lawyer for former national security adviser Michael Flynn informed an attorney for President Donald Trump this week that he can no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, a sign that Flynn may be preparing to cooperate in the probe, people familiar with the investigation said.

The call from Flynn lawyer Robert Kelner to Trump attorney John Dowd came Wednesday evening and is a potentially ominous sign for Trump and other close associates to the president. Before this week, Kelner and been strategizing with lawyers for Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, among others.

The split suggests that Flynn, who has been a top target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team, may be looking to share information with the prosecutor and his team.

The development was first reported by the New York Times.

Kelner did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Jay Sekulow, an attorney for Trump, said: “This is not entirely unexpected.”

“No one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about General Flynn cooperating against the president,” he said, adding “It’s important to remember that Gen. Flynn received his security clearance under the previous administration.”

In complex investigations, lawyers for subjects often enter into agreements that allow them to share information without waiving attorney client privilege. Such agreements generally include provisions that require the lawyers to immediately end the arrangement if their clients begin discussions with prosecutors or if other developments pose a conflict of interest.

Even if Flynn has begun discussions with Mueller’s office, there is no guarantee he will ultimately reach a deal with prosecutors.

Flynn served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama before he was pushed out in 2014 amid criticism of his management style and clashes with other Obama administration officials.

He then established a private consulting firm and gave paid speeches, work that has drawn intense scrutiny from Mueller.

In December 2015, Flynn was paid by the Russian government-funded television network RT to attend a dinner in Moscow, where he was seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Even as he became an adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, his consulting firm was paid to promote the interests of the Turkish government. Flynn failed to initially report his payments from either engagement.

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Flynn served 24 days as Trump’s national security adviser, but was forced to resign after acknowledging that he had secretly discussed sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during Trump’s presidential transition in December.

Lawyers for the president and senior White House aides had been quietly speculating over the last few weeks that Flynn was under increasing pressure to cooperate because Mueller had signaled his ability to charge his son alongside the father.

Michael Flynn , the retired general’s son, helped his father with business arrangements and served as chief of staff at his father ‘s consulting firm, the Flynn Intel Group.

Barry Coburn, an attorney for Michael Flynn, declined to comment.



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CDOT should be realistic about the costs of long-term projects

The Denver Post - November 23, 2017 - 4:59pm
Provided by Colorado Department of TransportationFinancial terms released recently for the controversial Interstate 70 expansion through northeast Denver show that a partnership agreement will cost the Colorado Department of Transportation an estimated $2.2 billion over the course of more than 30 years.

Re: “CDOT’s I-70 deal with private partner will cost an estimated $2.2 billion over 30-plus years, documents show,” Nov. 14 news story.

Your reporter, Jon Murray, seems to be more astute about life cycle cost than the Colorado Department of Transportation since, as he notes, “CDOT says it typically does not include financing or operating costs in its project estimates.” It seems unethical to not at least estimate what may become the next generation’s burden. It informs inception, planning and design. The current generation is paying dearly for deferred maintenance turned today’s capital cost. Can we learn and evolve with our public infrastructure?

Steve Fisher, Denver

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