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Ben & Jerry’s creating “take back Congress” flavor for Colorado Democratic congressional candidate

The Denver Post - 40 min 1 sec ago
Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Bernie Sanders’ home state are putting their ice cream expertise to work to support seven congressional candidates they call progressive.

Vermont’s Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are working with political action committee MoveOn to create ice cream flavors that reflect each candidate. They are asking for help in naming the flavors. Cohen says he will then make by hand about 40 pints of each to be raffled off to support the candidates.

The candidates are Jess King in Pennsylvania, Lauren Underwood in Illinois, Aftab Pureval in Ohio, J.D. Scholten in Iowa, Ammar Campa Najjar in California, Stephany Rose Spaulding in Colorado and James Thompson in Kansas.

Cohen says they all support “Medicare for all, debt-free public college and getting big money out of politics.”

 

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“If she said something happened, it happened”: Friends back Boulder woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault

The Denver Post - 1 hour 3 min ago
Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, via FacebookDeborah Ramirez

Friends of Deborah Ramirez say she’s a private person with a life and career focused on volunteerism and community service.

She’s the senior volunteer coordinator at the Boulder County Department of Housing & Human Services, where she’s worked since February 2013. The 53-year-old Boulder resident also is on the board of the nonprofit Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, which helps domestic violence victims.

But she now has a new role that will make her a household name: Brett Kavanaugh’s second accuser. Shockwaves are rippling through Washington after Ramirez told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while she was at an alcohol-laden dormitory party in the 1983-1984 academic year at Yale University.

Ramirez’s allegation came to light Sunday, the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing this week to take testimony Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a teenager.

Safehouse board members and staffers released a statement Monday morning supporting Ramirez.

“We know Debbie Ramirez to be a woman of great integrity and honor,” they wrote. “We stand by her and her courageous decision to come forward. It is never simple or easy for survivors to share their experiences. To do so in the face of public scrutiny requires a level of personal strength that is true to the person Debbie is. She has our support, our respect, and our admiration.”

Ramirez began her involvement with Safehouse in October 2002 as a court advocate volunteer, according to a 2011 Facebook post by the organization. She later took the staff role of volunteer coordinator and has served on the board for many years after leaving her position.

Ramirez said in the post that she was motivated to continue her work with the organization because she found a community she enjoyed.

“We are all different, we are all valued and we all are committed to creating a world that is just and equitable for all,” she said, according to the post.

“Willing to help her fellow human beings”

For those in Boulder who know Ramirez, this new public spotlight is one she never wanted. Scott Fliegelman, 50, of Boulder, said he was in the same running group as Ramirez in the early 2000s. That group, organized by the now-shuttered Fleet Feet Sports in Boulder, gathered on Monday nights.

The two have lost touch in recent years, but socialized regularly until about 2005 or 2006, he said, adding that she’s a “pretty private” person.

“I believe her without hesitation,” Fliegelman said in an interview. “I can’t imagine that Debbie would fabricate anything, much less anything of this nature, and that’s why I really felt for her.”

Fliegelman said Ramirez is a humble person who went to Yale, then chose a career path focused on helping others, including women in crisis.

“She chose to not go out and make millions of dollars, but be willing to help her fellow human beings,” he said, adding that she has a “real strong character and morals.”

“I feel so badly that this event happened to her and she’s been carrying it with her for so many years and now feels compelled to share,” Fliegelman said.

He posted his thoughts on Facebook when the news broke late Sunday: “Wow! Debbie has been a friend and running partner, but I haven’t seen her around Boulder in years. I believe her without hesitation, as I know her to be a woman of impeccable character and very strong morals. I admire her courage as her world is about to be turned upside down.”

“What a person is made of”

That theme is echoed by a former board member who knew Ramirez at Safehouse. R Mercedes Lindenoak met Ramirez in 2016 when Lindenoak joined the nonprofit organization’s board.

Lindenoak had not heard Monday morning about Ramirez’s statement that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, but said Ramirez was quiet, thoughtful and deeply kind.

“If she said something happened, it happened,” said Lindenoak, who has lived in Boulder for 48 years and works as an artist and advocate for at-risk youth.

The two women went through intense training together for the domestic violence prevention organization, Lindenoak said.

“You find out what a person is made of going through those trainings,” she said. “She really knew how to listen to people and hear the center of what they were saying.”

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Ramirez was very aware of the public scrutiny and harassment that survivors of sexual assault face when they tell their stories, Lindenoak said.

“I’m sure she knew exactly what she was doing,” Lindenoak said. “She is very intelligent.”

Ramirez never mentioned the alleged incident with Kavanaugh to Lindenoak. Ramirez rarely talked about herself with Lindenoak and was much more focused on the work of the organization.

“It wasn’t about us,” she said.

But Lindenoak noted that many people involved with Safehouse or other domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy groups often have their own history of trauma.

“She’s got a lot of inner strength,” Lindenoak said. “Usually that’s a sign that someone has been through some sort of hell or another.”

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If Le’Veon Bell is available, these four teams should try to trade for him

The Denver Post - 1 hour 3 min ago

Le’Veon Bell has voluntarily sat out the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ first three games, costing himself $2.4 million in the process. His teammates have openly and publicly rebuked him. Sunday morning, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Steelers are listening to trade offers for Bell.

This is what the point of no return looks like: stubbornness from the player, resentment from the team, eroded trust on both sides. Anything can happen in the NFL — you see that Bills-Vikings game? — but it would now come as a shock if Bell played another game for the Steelers.

If Bell makes an impact this season, it will come in a different uniform. What kind of impact that would be remains an open question. Bell and the Steelers are in this position primarily because Bell decided he wanted to enter free agency without having taken a season’s worth of punishment. A contender would have to decide if that attitude would be compatible within a winning team. Even if a team convinced itself Bell would pose no chemistry issues, there would be on-field challenges, even putting his aside Bell’s absence from practice all summer. His patient, flowing running style makes him unique, but it also makes him a difficult player to implement midseason. The way he sets up blocks would force teammates to adjust.

There’s also the money issue, as any team trying to trade for Bell would have to maneuver its salary cap commensurate with its individual circumstance.

Bell’s talent, however, makes those risks worthwhile for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations. Someone is going to take a chance on a player who gained 1,946 yards from scrimmage in 15 games last year. The most compelling question in the NFL right now might be, who?

Here are the four teams who should try, in descending order.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Maybe Bell should make the trip for Monday night and then just stay at Raymond James Stadium? The Bucs have been one of the most explosive offenses in the league behind quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and a dazzling trio of wide receivers, but eventually their utter dearth of a running game will hurt them. They’re gaining 2.7 yards per rush, last in the NFL, and have made just six first downs on running plays. Rookie Ronald Jones, expected to provide an answer alongside Peyton Barber, was a healthy inactive in Week 2.

The Bucs are surprise contenders in the NFC South, and adding Bell would put them in position to keep up in a stacked division.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Last year, the Eagles added running back Jay Ajayi to a 7-1 team, even though they already had LeGarrette Blount and decent options behind him. Spoiler: It worked out. This year, it’s not necessarily about their running backs, even if Ajayi was inactive Sunday with back and hamstring injuries and Darren Sproles missed his second straight game. Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement filled in ably Sunday.

But the Eagles’ overall depth at the skill positions around Carson Wentz is a problem. With Alshon Jeffrey injured and Mike Wallace out for the season, the Eagles are desperate for any kind of big-play threat. For large chunks of Sunday’s victory over Indianapolis, they used three tight ends. As devastating as Zach Ertz and rookie Dallas Goedert can be as a tight end combo, eventually defenses will adjust without having to keep safeties deep.

Bell’s unique ability to split out and play in the slot would help their wideout drain while also providing further depth to the backfield. His presence would make for a complicated backfield once Ajayi and Sproles return to health, but the Eagles have the kind of recent success to make some potential chemistry issues work.

2. Green Bay Packers

The Packers are bereft of offensive weapons around Aaron Rodgers, who can carry any roster with two legs, but is now trying to do so with one. Under new General Manager Brian Gutekunst, Green Bay showed a new willingness to speckle its roster with free agents and player it didn’t draft. Why wouldn’t Bell fit?

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The Packers need to protect Rodgers, and a torrent of short passes to Bell would limit Rodgers’ exposure while still creating the potential for big plays. The Packers have been trying to find a reliable running back for years. Bell would end the search.

1. Miami Dolphins

The AFC East is never a division that can be considered open for taking. But what if it is? And what if the Dolphins actually have the team to take it?

The Patriots are vulnerable, having been outscored by 20 points in three games. The 3-0 Dolphins already hold a two-game AFC East lead, and their start may not be a fluke: The Dolphins are 10-1 in the last 11 games Ryan Tannehill has started, dating back to 2016.

Bell could cement them as a surprise contender. Kenyan Drake is serviceable, maybe better than that, and Frank Gore is a reliable short-yardage hammer. Bell would provide a completely different kind of threat, a perfect complement for a wide receiving corps that already includes speed outside (Kenny Stills) and steadiness in the slot (Danny Amendola).

The Dolphins have been careful to reset their culture by ridding themselves of personalities they perceive as challenging, starting with the midseason trade of Ajayi last season and continuing with the expulsion of Jarvis Landry and Ndamukong Suh this offseason. Given the rancor his holdout has caused in Pittsburgh, Bell doesn’t exactly fit that pattern, but Miami would be betting a new setting — and maybe a new contract — would placate him.

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SiriusXM presses play on deal with Pandora Media

The Denver Post - 1 hour 15 min ago

NEW YORK — Subscription radio company SiriusXM says it’s buying music streaming service Pandora Media Inc. in a deal valued at about $3.5 billion that will allow it to expand its service beyond cars and into mobile devices and homes.

Pandora has faced intense pressure from competitors like Spotify and Apple. Its last quarterly profit was in December 2014.

But a buyout by SiriusXM, which made a $480 million investment in Pandora in June 2017, may be the boost the business needs.

The ability to provide a subscription service that gives Pandora customers access to streaming music and satellite radio could help set it apart from its rivals and would likely draw in new customers. And SiriusXM’s relationships with automobile companies will open the door for Pandora to have better distribution in that market.

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Meanwhile, the deal will help SiriusXM tap into Pandora’s mobile strength while giving it the chance to improve in areas such as making personalized listening recommendations.

New York-based SiriusXM Holdings Inc. has more than 36 million subscribers in North America, while Pandora has more than 70 million monthly active users.

Maria Ripps of Canaccord Genuity noted that data from the Recording Industry Association of America indicates consumers are increasingly moving away from physical music purchases like CDs, as well as from digital downloads, in favor of streaming. Streaming subscriptions are now the fastest-growing segment of the music market, with paid subscription revenue up 37 percent in the year’s first half, Ripps said in a research note.

Pandora stockholders will receive 1.44 newly issued SiriusXM shares for each Pandora share they own. Pandora also has a “go-shop” period in which it can solicit other offers from third parties.

SiriusXM said both brands will continue to exist, along with their respective products and services.

Both companies’ boards have approved the deal, which is expected to close in 2019’s first quarter. It still needs approval from Pandora shareholders.

Shares of Pandora, which is based in Oakland, California, rose nearly 3 percent Monday. SiriusXM’s stock tumbled 7.5 percent.

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Kiszla vs. O’Halloran: Is the Broncos’ quest to win the AFC West dead with a loss to Kansas City?

The Denver Post - 2 hours 11 min ago

Question: Is the Broncos’ quest to win the AFC West dead with a loss to Kansas City?

Kiz: The Broncos looked bad in Baltimore. In fact, they looked eerily like the 5-11 team from last year. But with a 2-1 record, Denver is only a game behind Kansas City in the AFC West standings. The Chiefs are coming to this dusty old cow town for a Monday night tilt, with the whole country watching. This game is critical. That’s obvious. But is it too bold to suggest the Broncos can’t win the division if they can’t defend their home turf against Kansas City?

O’Halloran: Even if the Broncos lose to Kansas City, it doesn’t mean their division hopes are dashed. Remember, the Chiefs started 5-0 last year before losing six of their next seven games. Any team coached by Andy Reid has a chance to be a come-from-ahead-to-lose story. Plus, there is always the chance Patrick Mahomes cools off just enough to make things interesting. But Broncos coach Vance Joseph shouldn’t listen to me. He needs to treat Week 4 like his job is on the immediate line.

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Kiz: The Chiefs have been established as a 5-point favorite as a visitor to Mile High? That’s insulting to Broncos Country. But here’s what is scary. Remember the eight-game losing streak that nearly cost Joseph his job in 2017? Well, take a look at Denver’s upcoming schedule. The Broncos might not be favored to win again until the first weekend of November, with a possible exception of their trip to Arizona. That’s why beating K.C. takes on added importance.

O’Halloran: The Broncos should be favored at Arizona, but even the Cardinals should be thinking, “Hey, Sam Bradford or Josh Rosen should be able to dissect that secondary.” The Chiefs game is crucial for the Broncos in the aspect they can’t get outclassed on their home field a week after getting embarrassed at Baltimore. Yes, fans, it has come to that: The initial hope for Monday night is for the home team to be competitive.

Kiz: The Chiefs are averaging nearly 40 points per game. Those are Star Wars numbers that evoke Peyton Manning‘s best days in Denver. So as the Broncos install the game plan for Kansas City, what will present the greater challenge: Devising schemes in the secondary to slow down “Showtime” Mahomes? Or finding a way to amp up an inconsistent Denver offense to win a shootout?

O’Halloran: Kansas City is allowing 474 yards and a shade over 30 points per game… and it’s 3-0! That shows just how potent the offense has been. The Broncos, if they don’t turn it over and keep left tackle Garett Bolles off the penalty ledger (two big “if’s”), should move the ball against the Chiefs. The Broncos’ coaches need to use the extra day to come up with a whole new pass defense plan. And that is Joseph’s area of expertise as a former secondary coach. The current over/under is 55. I’m taking the over.

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Dallas police officer accused in neighbor’s death fired

The Denver Post - 2 hours 11 min ago

By Ryan Tarinelli

DALLAS — A white police officer accused of fatally shooting her black neighbor inside his own apartment has been dismissed, the police department announced Monday.

The Dallas Police Department fired Officer Amber Guyger on Monday, weeks after she fatally shot 26-year-old Botham Jean inside his own apartment on Sept. 6. Court records show Guyger said she thought she had encountered a burglar inside her own home.

Guyger was arrested on a preliminary charge of manslaughter days after the shooting. She is out on bond.

Jean family attorneys and protesters have called for her firing following the shooting.

Guyger was a four-year veteran of the police force. She told investigators that she had just ended a shift when she returned in uniform to the South Side Flats apartment complex.

When she put her key in the apartment door, which was unlocked and slightly ajar, it opened, the affidavit said. Inside, the lights were off, and she saw a figure in the darkness that cast a large silhouette across the room, according to the officer’s account.

She called 911. When asked where she was, she returned to the front door to see she was in the wrong unit, according to the affidavit. The 911 tapes have not been released.

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Vegas odds say Bills-Vikings was biggest upset since 1995 Redskins-Cowboys stunner

The Denver Post - 2 hours 28 min ago

Just how surprising a result was the Buffalo Bills‘ 27-6 win Sunday over the Minnesota Vikings? According to Vegas oddsmakers, it was the biggest NFL upset in 23 years.

That’s because the previously winless and largely hapless Bills went into the road game as consensus 17-point underdogs. No NFL team had pulled off a win as such a large underdog, according to multiple reports, since the Washington Redskins shocked the Dallas Cowboys, who were 17.5-point favorites, in Dec. 1995.

Since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, the only other instances of a 17-point underdog emerging as an outright winner occurred that year, when the then-Baltimore Colts upset the New England Patriots, and in 1992, with the New York Jets performing the trick against the Bills. As The Athletic’s Tim Graham noted, all of those three games were decided by seven points, relatively close results especially as compared to the 21-point margin Buffalo posted Sunday.

In addition, the three previous contests were divisional affairs, meaning that the underdogs were very familiar with their opponents. The Bills and Vikings, by contrast, hadn’t played since 2014, and Buffalo, missing its best offensive player, running back LeSean McCoy, brought a team that had given up the most points in the league through two weeks to a game against a team that widely regarded as having one of the best defenses in the league in Minnesota.

That didn’t seem to bode well for the Bills’ starting quarterback, Josh Allen, the draft’s No. 7 overall pick who was making his second start. Coming from Wyoming, Allen was thought to be a talented but very raw prospect who would need plenty of time and tutelage before learning the NFL ropes, but he was composed and efficient Sunday. His high-priced veteran counterpart, Kirk Cousins, committed three turnovers, including two fumbles.

“I don’t think we took them too lightly,” Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer said of the Bills after the game. “I think they came out and kicked our butts.”

“We really don’t really pay attention to what people think about us,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “It’s all about internal belief and confidence. If you listen to outside noise, we’d never win a game because nobody respects Buffalo at all. We have to continue to go out and earn that respect.”

The respect the Bills earned Sunday may not have been quite as much, given the situation, as that garnered by Joe Namath’s New York Jets when they were 18-point underdogs before shaking up the NFL world by topping the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Still, it was a more than welcome result for a squad widely mocked last week after Bills cornerback Vontae Davis abruptly retired at halftime during a home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Buffalo players even felt chesty enough to borrow a famous line from Cousins’s time with the Redskins, as some of them yelled “You like that!” as they left the field. “They have legitimate players at a lot of different positions,” Cousins said of the Bills.

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Allen had yet to be born when a 3-9 Redskins squad traveled to Dallas to take on the 10-2 Cowboys, who had won the Super Bowl in two of the previous three years and would win another championship that season. Nevertheless, Washington won for the first time in six road games to that point, overcoming a 10-7 halftime deficit for a 24-17 victory.

“If there were 53 guys in this state that thought we could win the game, they had to be in our room because no one else thought it,” then-Redskins head coach Norv Turner said at the time. “And, as I told the team … if we don’t think we can, we’ve got no chance.”

Asked Sunday if the 17-point spread affected his team, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White replied, “Not at all,” adding, “I think ever since I’ve been here, every game I’ve been in, we’ve been the underdogs. It’s nothing new to us. We just go out and play.

“The analysts can pick whoever they want, but we gotta go out and play. So at the end of the day, it’s all just football. We executed a little bit better today.”

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Sen. Cory Gardner “absolutely supports” investigation of Boulder woman’s allegations against Kavanaugh

The Denver Post - 2 hours 51 min ago

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner “absolutely supports” a Senate panel’s investigation of sexual misconduct allegations levied by a second woman — this one from Boulder — against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The New Yorker magazine on Sunday night reported that 53-year-old Deborah Ramirez, of Boulder, recalled Kavanaugh exposing himself to her at an alcohol-fueled dormitory party in the 1983-1984 academic year at Yale University. According to her account, Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.

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Investigators from the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have been in touch with Ramirez’s attorney.

“Senator Gardner was first made aware of these allegations when the New Yorker story was published Sunday evening,” Gardner spokesman Casey Contres said in an email Monday morning. “Investigators from Chairman Grassley’s staff immediately contacted Ms. Ramirez’s attorney to gather more information about what allegedly occurred. Senator Gardner absolutely supports efforts by the Senate Judiciary Committee to gather more information and investigate these claims.”

The new allegation arose after the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing Thursday for Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who says he sexually assaulted her as a teenager.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called Sunday night for the “immediate postponement” of any further action on Kavanaugh’s nomination. She also asked Grassley to have the FBI investigate the allegations of both Ford and Ramirez.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

 

 

 

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Score! Scrabble dictionary adds “OK,” “ew” to official play

The Denver Post - 3 hours 1 min ago

NEW YORK — Scrabble players, time to rethink your game because 300 new words are coming your way, including some long-awaited gems: OK and ew, to name a few.

Merriam-Webster released the sixth edition of “The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary” on Monday, four years after the last freshening up. The company, at the behest of Scrabble owner Hasbro Inc., left out one possibility under consideration for a hot minute — RBI — after consulting competitive players who thought it potentially too contentious. There was a remote case to be made since RBI has morphed into an actual word, pronounced rib-ee.

But that’s OK because, “OK.”

“OK is something Scrabble players have been waiting for, for a long time,” said lexicographer Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster. “Basically two- and three-letter words are the lifeblood of the game.”

There’s more good news in qapik, adding to an arsenal of 20 playable words beginning with q that don’t need a u. Not that Scrabblers care all that much about definitions, qapik is a unit of currency in Azerbaijan.

“Every time there’s a word with q and no u, it’s a big deal,” Sokolowski said. “Most of these are obscure.”

There are some sweet scorers now eligible for play, including bizjet, and some magical vowel dumps, such as arancini, those Italian balls of cooked rice. Bizjet, meaning — yes — a small plane used for business, would be worth a whopping 120 points on an opening play, but only if it’s made into a plural with an s. That’s due to the 50-point bonus for using all seven tiles and the double word bonus space usually played at the start.

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The Springfield, Massachusetts-based dictionary company sought counsel from the North American Scrabble Players Association when updating the book, Sokolowski said, “to make sure that they agree these words are desirable.”

Sokolowski has a favorite among the new words but not, primarily, because of Scrabble scores. “It’s macaron,” he said, referring to the delicate French sandwich cookie featuring different flavors and fillings.

“I just like what it means,” he said.

Merriam-Webster put out the first official Scrabble dictionary in 1976. Before that, the game’s rules called for any desk dictionary to be consulted. Since an official dictionary was created, it has been updated every four to eight years, Sokolowski said.

There are other new entries Sokolowski likes, from a wordsmith’s view.

“I think ew is interesting because it expresses something new about what we’re seeing in language, which is to say that we are now incorporating more of what you might call transcribed speech. Sounds like ew or mm-hmm, or other things like coulda or kinda. Traditionally, they were not in the dictionary but because so much of our communication is texting and social media that is written language, we are finding more transcribed speech and getting a new group of spellings for the dictionary,” he said.

Like ew, there’s another interjection now in play, yowza, along with a word some might have thought was already allowed: zen.

There’s often chatter around Scrabble boards over which foreign words have been accepted into English to the degree they’re playable. Say hello to schneid, another of the new kids, this one with German roots. It’s a sports term for a losing streak. Other foreigners added because they predominantly no longer require linguistic white gloves, such as italics or quotation marks: bibimbap, cotija and sriracha.

Scrabble was first trademarked as such in 1948, after it was thought up under a different name in 1933 by Alfred Mosher Butts, an out-of-work architect in Poughkeepsie, New York. Interest in the game picked up in the early 1950s, according to legend, when the president of Macy’s happened upon it while on vacation.

Now, the official dictionary holds more than 100,000 words. Other newcomers Sokolowski shared are aquafaba, beatdown, zomboid, twerk, sheeple, wayback, bokeh, botnet, emoji, facepalm, frowny, hivemind, puggle and nubber.

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Lunch Special: Denver sports live chat with Mark Kiszla

The Denver Post - 4 hours 24 min ago
(function(d, s, id) {var js,ijs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//embed.scribblelive.com/widgets/embed.js";ijs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, ijs);}(document, "script", "scrbbl-js"));Happy Monday, sports fans! Welcome to the latest edition of the Lunch Special live chat. Mark Kiszla will be here to answer what's pondering you at 12:15 p.m., but the chat window is open, so feel free to submit your questions early.

Want to chat about the Rockies’ playoff chase or have a query about Broncos after their Week 3 loss to Baltimore? Columnist Mark Kiszla is taking your questions at 12:15 p.m.

Mobile users, if you can’t see the live chat, tap here.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Scott Frost on Purdue: “We get a game that we can win”

The Denver Post - 4 hours 42 min ago

LINCOLN, Neb. — First-year coach Scott Frost warned last week things could get worse for winless Nebraska before they get better.

Anyone who watched 14th-ranked Michigan’s 56-10 throttling of the Cornhuskers on Saturday would be hard-pressed to imagine how things could get worse than they are now.

The Huskers (0-3, 0-1 Big Ten) are off to their worst start since George “Potsy” Clark’s 1945 team opened 0-5.

They’ve lost seven straight games since last season, with the opponents scoring 31, 54, 56, 56, 33, 24 and 56 points.

A loss at home to Purdue this Saturday would give Nebraska an eight-game losing streak and seven-game home losing streak, both unprecedented in the program’s 129 seasons.

Purdue (1-3, 0-1) happens to be the only team Nebraska has beaten in its current nine-losses-in-10-games stretch. The Huskers won 25-24 in West Lafayette, Indiana, last October on a touchdown with 14 seconds left.

“We’ve got a chance to get reset next week,” Frost said. “This is a really good (Michigan) team we played. We get a game that we can win next week.

“We’ve got to find a way to get better. We’re not ready to beat a team like (Michigan) yet, but the key word is yet. Because I know where it’s going. Certainly it isn’t happening as quickly as I would like, but I’m kind of excited because it’s not going to get worse than this. It’s only up from here.”

The Huskers’ 39-0 halftime deficit was their largest on record, their 39 rushing yards were fewest since managing 31 against Southern California in 2007, and their 132 total yards were fewest since finishing with 106 against Texas in 2009.

“We’re not going to go any lower than this,” offensive lineman Jerald Foster said. “We talked about how if you’re in a swimming pool, this is the bottom of the pool. You’re finally touching the feet on the ground. At that point, you’re finally able to push off. It’s not about swimming, it’s about getting back to the top.”

Special teams struggled again. Return man Tyjon Lindsey muffed a punt to set up a Michigan touchdown, the Huskers gave up Donovan Peoples-Jones’ 60-yard punt return for a TD, and Nebraska’s Jaron Woodyard interfered with Peoples-Jones as he tried to catch another punt. The Huskers also were penalized on three other special teams plays.

“More than a few breakdowns,” Frost said. “We’re a team, so it’s on all of us. There’s some things that just keep happening and that means guys either can’t do it or won’t do it right. We can’t keep kicking the ball down the middle of the field 50 yards and give athletes like they had back deep a chance to return it. We got to be able to field a punt when it’s bouncing on the ground and not muff it and give it to them. We can’t have penalties.”

Frost said he wasn’t concerned about having players check out mentally, as some admittedly did last year when the losses began piling up at the end of Mike Riley’s time as coach.

“The only ones we would lose are the ones we never really had,” Frost said, “and that’s probably better in the long run. If there’s guys that jump off ship, then we never really had them. The guys that we’re actually going to win with and win championships with would never do that. Inevitably that’s going to happen. The wrong type of people are going to jump off if they’re not having the results they want. And that’s healthy for the team.”

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The Huskers enter this week 11th or lower in the Big Ten in three of the four major offensive categories and 10th or lower in three of the four on defense.

They’ll be trying for their first win in 336 days, almost an unfathomable dry spell for a program that ranks fifth in all-time wins.

“We’re not giving up, we’re going to get this thing right,” Frost said. “They brought us in here to get it right; we’re going to get it right. We knew it was a big job because there’s just so much that needed to be fixed and changed. We’re not there yet.”

AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Ann Arbor, Michigan, contributed to this report.

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Colorado wildfire update: Ryan fire blows up, multiplies to more than 19,000 acres

The Denver Post - 4 hours 57 min ago

Several Colorado wildfires raged into the fall season with several growing bigger and more threatening under drought conditions.

Leading the advancing wildfires was the Ryan fire in north-central Colorado and Wyoming.

Over the weekend, it raced through beetle-kill forests, increasing its size more than sixfold to 19,328 acres.

An update on some of the largest active Colorado wildfires follows.

RYAN FIRE

The wildfire, which is 27 miles northwest of Walden, grew by 5,699 acres on Saturday and 10,643 acres on Sunday.

The cause of the fire, first spotted on Sept. 15, is under investigation.

Although the wildfire began in Colorado. it is now mostly in Wyoming. The fire is chewing up forest lands in a northeasterly direction, mostly through Wyoming.

The number of firefighters tasked to the blaze stands at 223, an increase that reflects its current higher priority.

SILVER CREEK FIRE

Although the fire grew by more than 5,000 acres over the weekend, fire crews were able to gain 50 percent containment over the weekend. The fire was at 35 percent containment on Friday.

The fire, about 16 miles northwest of Kremmling, is now 18,444 acres in size.

Firefighters successfully conducted burnout operations in the interior of the fire to minimize the chance for future flare-ups. This strategy eliminates fuels including unburned trees, brush and grass, creating a barrier in front of advancing fire. It’s also used to secure fire lines and increase perimeter containment, fire officials said.

The substantial increase in acres from the previous total is due in large part to the burnout operations. The firelines used were constructed along defensible topography containing lighter fuels, such as grass and sage instead of heavy timber.

BULL DRAW FIRE

The wildfire grew 2,642 acres over the weekend and is now at least 36,442 acres in size. It is now 70 percent contained.

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Firefighters are dropping plastic balls the size of ping pong balls from helicopters to ignite on the ground.

The tactic is used to burn up bushes and trees in the interior of the fire between the main fire and fire lines to consume fuels and stop the growth of the fire.

The fire, about 12 miles northwest of Nucla, was sparked by lightning July 29.

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Inside Democrats’ struggle with the Brett Kavanaugh accusation

The Denver Post - 5 hours 1 min ago

WASHINGTON — By the time Sen. Dianne Feinstein huddled with the other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee in a room just off the Senate floor, the rumors were flying.

The senators already had heard talk of the mysterious letter from a woman. They knew something about a startling allegation about the Supreme Court nominee. They came into that room almost two weeks ago with one clear dilemma. “The question is, what should we do about this?” recalled Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was at the meeting.

Even surrounded by her fellow Democrats, the veteran California senator kept a close hold on the details in that late-night session. She was in possession of a letter that accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault back when he was in high school. She began to tell them about it. The woman did not want her name made public. Feinstein read excerpts, giving her colleagues only the information they needed to tackle the next step.

Democrats had few options. In the six weeks since Feinstein had received the letter, details had leaked. A report was breaking that night in The Intercept, an online publication. In a matter of hours, with confirmation to the court tantalizingly close, Kavanaugh’s nomination would be in jeopardy. Republicans’ uphill fight to hold control of Congress would face a new hurdle — just six weeks from Election Day. And 3,000 miles away, California college professor Christine Blasey Ford’s life would be upended as the nation debated what did or didn’t happen to her 36 years ago.

Democrats, and Feinstein in particular, have faced fierce criticism from Republicans for keeping their secret until what they say was the eleventh hour. The timing suggests a coordinated ploy to sabotage a conservative jurist they oppose. Democrats argue they were pulled between the politics and the need to respect Ford’s privacy.

This account of how that long-private, deeply personal allegation exploded into public is based on a dozen interviews with senators, aides and others. Some asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal details about the private discussions. Though many of those interviewed disagreed fiercely on motives involved, all aligned on one clear truth: The letter and the story it told was a powder keg.

That night Durbin said they realized, “This has a life of its own.”

___

It didn’t start as a letter. It started with a phone call.

In late July, Ford, a psychology professor who grew up in the same tony Maryland suburbs as Kavanaugh, called her congresswoman’s office to discuss what she described as private matter. Days later, on a Friday afternoon in her California office, Rep. Anna Eshoo sat with Ford and listened to the story, in wrenching and difficult detail.

Ford said she’d been at a party with Kavanaugh and one of his friends. The two drunken teenage boys pulled her into a room, Ford says, where Kavanaugh pinned her on to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her swimsuit. When she resisted, he put his hand over her mouth, she says. She escaped into a bathroom only after Kavanaugh’s friend jumped on the bed.

She was soft-spoken, Eshoo recalled of that first meeting with Ford, but with “an inner strength.” She said, “She’s not a pushover.”

And she had a request.

“What she was seeking was that the story be in the right hands of responsible officials but that her anonymity be protected,” the congresswoman recalled.

That weekend, Eshoo contacted Feinstein, a longtime colleague in California’s Bay Area politics and the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. She told the senator she believed Ford. At Feinstein’s recommendation, Eshoo asked Ford to outline the accusation in a letter.

A week later, on July 30, Eshoo had Ford’s letter hand-delivered to Feinstein’s office in Washington.

“My sense was, I had a passed it over into very capable hands,” Eshoo recalled.

___

Feinstein knows better than most the power of such an allegation.

She won her seat in 1992, shortly after the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearing aired an allegation of sexual harassment against a Supreme Court nominee. For many women, the hearing televised the biases of the white, male senators. It spurred women across the country to run for office and to vote for women, Feinstein among them.

At Kavanaugh’s public confirmation hearing earlier this month, she grilled the appellate court judge about his views on of Roe v. Wade, noting that unlike her, he did not endure a time when abortion was illegal.

Now 85, Feinstein is a centrist facing a re-election fight against a liberal Los Angeles state legislator.

The allegation against Kavanaugh presented a clear problem for Feinstein.

If she told others on the committee — or even Democratic leader Chuck Schumer — about Ford’s story without her permission, it risked “outing” Ford, violating a firm belief among advocacy groups that victims of sexual assault should not be compelled to relive the trauma in the pursuit of justice for the accused.

But withholding the information would shield Kavanaugh from having to answer to potentially devastating allegations — and deny Democrats a most potent weapon against a judge that could help solidify a conservative majority on the court.

Feinstein’s team stayed in contact with Ford, assessing whether she would decide to come forward. They even considered hiring their own investigator to probe the allegations, but such a move would have run afoul of Senate rules requiring Democrats and Republicans on a committee to consult with each other.

Eshoo never talked to Ford again, although she had her chief of staff send regular messages checking in, she said. And Eshoo says she never told other lawmakers, not California’s other senator, Kamala Harris, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, not her close friend, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. Yet Ford was not far from her mind. “Every waking moment I had I was thinking about her,” Eshoo said.

Ford appeared to be preparing to come forward. She hired attorney Debra Katz, a well-connected Democrat with close ties to the #MeToo movement and the Hill. She took a polygraph test and passed, she would later tell The Washington Post. She collected notes from a counseling session where she mentioned the assault and Kavanaugh’s name, she said.

By late August, even before Kavanaugh’s public confirmation hearings, Ford says she decided not to go public. She decided her story probably wouldn’t affect Kavanaugh’s confirmation and would certainly be personally painful, she told the Post.

“Why suffer through the annihilation if it’s not going to matter?” she said.

___

Feinstein, experienced as a member of the Senate’s intelligence committee with keeping secrets, says she kept mum.

Someone else did not.

Rumors of a sexual allegation trickled out. Kavanaugh allies at the White House started hearing rumors early in September, during the tail end of his confirmation hearing. They did not know details.

Frustrated Democrats and outside groups were agitating to know what was happening and how the situation was being handled. It would soon be too late to affect Kavanaugh’s confirmation, they knew. Republicans planned a committee vote on Sept. 20, then a full Senate vote. They hoped to have him seated on the court by Oct. 1, the day the court began its new session.

The story about to break, the powder keg about to explode, the Judiciary Committee Democrats who gathered off the Senate floor that night decided Feinstein should take some action. She should send Ford’s letter — her name would be redacted — to the FBI.

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The action would, perhaps inevitably, fuel the story. Feinstein would soon announce the move. Republicans would soon accuse her of sitting on an allegation, hiding it from Republicans and revealing it at the last minute to ensure, at the least, a delay in the process.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who had known none of it, would be particularly upset that Feinstein, a longtime peer, had not shared the information.

Back in California, Feinstein’s opponent in her re-election bid would accuse her of a “failure of leadership.” She could have withheld the name and still made the allegation public, said Kevin de Leon, a Democrat in the California state Senate, and she should have confronted Kavanaugh with it at his hearing.

But Feinstein would claim she had no other choice.

The next day, the FBI acknowledged it had received some new information.

___

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Jonathan Lemire, Catherine Lucey and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

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Hamilton Middle School closed due to water main break

The Denver Post - 5 hours 15 min ago

Hamilton Middle School will be closed Monday after a broken main caused the school and nine homes to be without water.

Denver Water shut off the water in the area of E. Dartmouth Avenue and S. Willow Street in the Hampden neighborhood, where the break occurred.

Crews are on their way to the break site to assess and begin repairs, said Denver Water spokesman Travis Thompson.

Denver Water does not yet have an estimated timeframe for how long the water will be off for the school and surrounding area, but believes it will be shut off for at least the day, Thompson said.

This story is developing. Check back here for updates. 

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Rain, thunderstorms and cooldown on the way in Denver

The Denver Post - 6 hours 12 min ago

A cold front accompanied by isolated rain showers will remind Denverites that it really is Autumn Monday, with temperatures falling short of 80 degrees, according to forecasters.

There’s a 20 percent chance for rain Monday afternoon. Rain will decrease in the early evening with wind gusts up to 24 mph. The high temperature is expected to reach 79 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder.

“Cooler weather arrives today, but main punch arrives tonight and Tuesday with below normal temperatures,” the NWS says.

Windy conditions raise concerns about elevated fire danger on the Western Slope.

Tuesday will be even cooler, with a high temperature of around 68 degrees.

It’s going to get a tad warmer day by day for the remainder of the week, with temperatures rising to the lower 70s on Wednesday and back into the low 80s by Monday and the weekend.

By Sunday, the high temperature will reach 81 degrees.

Cooler weather arrives today, but main punch arrives tonight & Tuesday with below normal temperatures. A few showers around this AM, and a couple thunderstorms this PM. Gusty winds and elevated fire danger mountains & higher foothills. #COwx pic.twitter.com/LcH4KnNxxH

— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) September 24, 2018

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Outside groups help fill imbalance in money race for Colorado governor

The Denver Post - 6 hours 33 min ago

Conservative outside groups are jumping into the gubernatorial money race to bolster Republican candidate Walker Stapleton’s campaign against much wealthier Democrat Jared Polis.

Polis, an entrepreneur and congressman from Boulder, is self-funding his campaign, which has already spent $18.06 million. That’s well above the spending of Stapleton, the state treasurer. In comparison, Stapleton’s campaign has spent $2.2 million so far.

But money from outside groups is making up for some of that imbalance. Pro-Stapleton outside groups have put at least $12.2 million into the governor’s race, nearly twice the $6.5 million that pro-Polis groups have put in at this point, according to filings with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.  

Outside spending can help candidates, but only so far. The candidates are prohibited from directing or coordinating with outside spending groups and therefore have no control over the ads they release. By virtue of his larger war chest, Polis is going to be able to spend far more running his own television ads.

For instance, the Republican Governors Association put up an attack ad right after Labor Day accusing Polis of not paying taxes and parking money offshore. By the end of the next day, the Polis campaign had cut and was running its own TV ad hitting back against the suggestion that he was a tax scofflaw.

The Republican Governors Association is Stapleton’s biggest ally so far and has put $4 million toward ads backing him.

Others contributing toward the pro-Stapleton side’s $12.2 million total include Americans for Prosperity, part of the conservative Koch network, which has both paid and volunteer canvassers knocking on doors from Grand Junction to Denver. The initial AFP investment will be six figures, though it could go higher.

AFP’s Colorado state director, Jesse Mallory, said the budget is “always a moving target.”

Better Colorado Now, another conservative group, says it will spend several million on digital and television ads, canvassers and direct mail. The political action committee had a fundraiser for Stapleton in August 2017, before he officially announced his run for governor. Like other political action committees, Better Colorado Now provides a way for donors to legally give more than the $1,150 limit that applies to a candidate’s official campaign.

The biggest outside contributor to Polis’ cause is Good Jobs Colorado, which has received $2.8 million in contributions. Half a million came from State Victory Action, a North Carolina-based nonprofit political organization. State Victory Action’s top donors include billionaire George Soros and mega-donor Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action Committee.

The Sierra Club and the Service Employees International Union are both backing Polis, citing his clean energy and labor-friendly policies.

The lineup on both sides includes donors who have come to represent influence in American politics.

“If you’re on the left, you think Tom Steyer is a great American and Charles Koch is corrupting our political system, and if you’re on the opposite side, you have the opposite formulation,” said Eric Sondermann, a political analyst and longtime observer of Colorado politics.

RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said Polis’ self-funding and the spending of mega-donors on the other side are among “many factors” that the group keeps an eye on while investing in the race. Getting the message out needs to continue no matter what the other side does, Thompson said.

“You’re going to continue to see us doing that, regardless of what Jared Polis is doing or Tom Steyer is doing or George Soros is doing,” he said. “It definitely comes down to messaging and who is offering the most positive message in the state.”

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Dark money — the common term for money that comes from organizations not required to disclose donors — is also playing a major role in the outside spending. The Sixteen Thirty Fund has given $920,000 toward Good Jobs Colorado’s efforts to boost Polis. One of the fund’s biggest donors in 2016 was Demand Progress Action, a group that, like Polis, is concerned about warrantless spying on Americans.

On the Republican side, the Colorado Taxpayers Advocate Fund has given $900,000 to Better Colorado Now and Coloradans for Fiscal Responsibility, two political action committees supporting Stapleton. The Colorado Taxpayers Advocate Fund and Stapleton both shared a common goal in 2016: the defeat of Colorado Amendment 69, which would have created a single-payer universal health care system. Stapleton called it risky and unsustainable before voters defeated it.

Money of all varieties — campaign, outside and dark — will keep flowing in the final six weeks of the campaign for Colorado’s next governor.

“Politics inflates at a pace that far outstrips normal inflation and the normal cost of living,” Sondermann said.

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Denver Sports Omelette: A roundup of the Denver Broncos’ Week 3 loss to Baltimore

The Denver Post - 6 hours 33 min ago

Welcome back to the work week, Omelette readers. While the Rockies are returning to Coors Field after sweeping the Diamondbacks, their NFL counterparts had a rough go on the road. The Broncos lost an ugly 27-14 game to the Ravens in Baltimore. Here’s a roundup of what you need to know from Denver’s loss:

— Joe Nguyen, The Denver Post

NEW 
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State looks to add transparency to issue of suppressed cases uncovered by The Denver Post

Denver Post Aurora - 6 hours 33 min ago

Court orders to suppress lawsuits and criminal cases in Colorado, as well as the legal reasons behind them, are to be made public under a new set of criteria being considered by the state’s Judicial Branch.

If approved, the standards would apply to any case in which there is a request to keep information hidden from the public, although it’s unclear whether it would be mandatory or simply a recommendation.

“It could be a Chief Justice directive or merely guidance to the judges. That’s not been decided,” Court Administrator Christopher Ryan told The Post. “One you don’t have to follow; the other you do.”

The suggested changes are in response to a series of Denver Post stories that revealed how thousands of cases across the state were suppressed from public view, hidden behind judges’ orders to keep them that way.

The Post found that suppression orders and the lawyers’ requests that offered the reasons for the suppression are themselves suppressed from public inspection.

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Many of the suppressed cases, The Post reported, were criminal convictions in which defendants were arrested, charged, prosecuted and imprisoned – some for felonies as violent as homicide and sexual assault – while the entire matter remained hidden from public scrutiny.

The newspaper also found that dozens of lawsuits filed against attorneys alleging varying forms of misconduct were being suppressed, most of them after settlements were reached, keeping details of the cases locked away. That’s in contrast to other professions, such as doctors and architects, which are required to report settlements and verdicts in malpractice cases to state regulators.

Ryan said his office was unaware of a computer glitch that treated suppressed cases as sealed ones and hid their details from all public computers used for record searches.

“It was an 18-year-old bit of programming that no one knew about,” Ryan said. “I was shocked.”

He said the department is reviewing the process of how suppressions are issued.

“We want to look at the matters and how they’re handled procedurally,” he said. “When an order of suppression is issued, there should be a transparent public order.”

Suppressions in a criminal case should be for a specific reason, such as the execution of an arrest warrant or “crucial to moving the case along,” Ryan said.

The Post found many suppressions were issued to protect witnesses or to allow for an investigation to continue unimpeded. In some cases the suppression order has never been lifted.

“You uncovered how no one was reviewing the initial suppression order put into place,” Ryan said. “There must be a finite timeline.”

Suppressions of a civil lawsuit are to include the length of time they will remain restricted, but there is no equivalent criteria for criminal cases.

Whether the criteria will become a binding directive issued by Chief Justice Nathan Coats is to be determined, Ryan said.

Also unclear is whether the new criteria will be retroactive, opening judicial rulings on the more than 3,000 cases that are still suppressed.

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State looks to add transparency to issue of suppressed cases uncovered by The Denver Post

The Denver Post - 6 hours 33 min ago

Court orders to suppress lawsuits and criminal cases in Colorado, as well as the legal reasons behind them, are to be made public under a new set of criteria being considered by the state’s Judicial Branch.

If approved, the standards would apply to any case in which there is a request to keep information hidden from the public, although it’s unclear whether it would be mandatory or simply a recommendation.

“It could be a Chief Justice directive or merely guidance to the judges. That’s not been decided,” Court Administrator Christopher Ryan told The Post. “One you don’t have to follow; the other you do.”

The suggested changes are in response to a series of Denver Post stories that revealed how thousands of cases across the state were suppressed from public view, hidden behind judges’ orders to keep them that way.

The Post found that suppression orders and the lawyers’ requests that offered the reasons for the suppression are themselves suppressed from public inspection.

Related Articles

Many of the suppressed cases, The Post reported, were criminal convictions in which defendants were arrested, charged, prosecuted and imprisoned – some for felonies as violent as homicide and sexual assault – while the entire matter remained hidden from public scrutiny.

The newspaper also found that dozens of lawsuits filed against attorneys alleging varying forms of misconduct were being suppressed, most of them after settlements were reached, keeping details of the cases locked away. That’s in contrast to other professions, such as doctors and architects, which are required to report settlements and verdicts in malpractice cases to state regulators.

Ryan said his office was unaware of a computer glitch that treated suppressed cases as sealed ones and hid their details from all public computers used for record searches.

“It was an 18-year-old bit of programming that no one knew about,” Ryan said. “I was shocked.”

He said the department is reviewing the process of how suppressions are issued.

“We want to look at the matters and how they’re handled procedurally,” he said. “When an order of suppression is issued, there should be a transparent public order.”

Suppressions in a criminal case should be for a specific reason, such as the execution of an arrest warrant or “crucial to moving the case along,” Ryan said.

The Post found many suppressions were issued to protect witnesses or to allow for an investigation to continue unimpeded. In some cases the suppression order has never been lifted.

“You uncovered how no one was reviewing the initial suppression order put into place,” Ryan said. “There must be a finite timeline.”

Suppressions of a civil lawsuit are to include the length of time they will remain restricted, but there is no equivalent criteria for criminal cases.

Whether the criteria will become a binding directive issued by Chief Justice Nathan Coats is to be determined, Ryan said.

Also unclear is whether the new criteria will be retroactive, opening judicial rulings on the more than 3,000 cases that are still suppressed.

Journalism doesn’t grow on trees. Please support The Denver Post.
Become a subscriber for only 99 cents for the first month.

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Michael Malone: “I embrace the pressure” as crucial Denver Nuggets season looms

The Denver Post - 6 hours 33 min ago

A couple of weeks ago, Michael Malone and Tim Connelly decided to move a meeting from their Pepsi Center offices to the streets of their city. As the Nuggets coach and president of basketball operations grabbed a smoothie and walked through the revitalized Dairy Block in LoDo and past Coors Field, their conversation flowed from the motorized scooter epidemic in Denver, to their summer vacations, to how they can each improve at their craft.

Malone called the unexpected stroll therapeutic, an example of the constant communication and collaboration between him and the man who hired him. A massive season looms for the Nuggets and Malone, who enters the final season of his four-year contract. And following an offseason that was part pain, part reflection and part recharge, Malone embraces the expectations on him to get the Nuggets back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

“I don’t mind the pressure,” Malone told The Denver Post from his office. “It’s something that motivates me and kind of drives me to become a better coach for my staff and my players and use it to do what I have to do. Ultimately, as a coach, you’re judged on wins and losses. Did you make the playoffs or not? That’s what most people look at.

“I’m excited about the year. I embrace the pressure of being a playoff team. I can’t wait to get started.”

The Nuggets start training camp on Tuesday.

Denver’s record has improved in all three of Malone’s seasons, from 33 wins in 2015-16 to 46 a season ago. The Nuggets appear to have the ingredients to make another jump, after signing star big man Nikola Jokic to a max extension, re-signing versatile swingman Will Barton, adding a playmaking backup point guard in Isaiah Thomas and shedding salary by trading veteran forwards Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur.

But the Western Conference remains “unforgiving,” Malone said, with generational superstar LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. And last season, finishing 10 games above .500 was not enough to advance beyond the regular season. The Nuggets fell one game shy.

A new defensive outlook

The day after the Nuggets’ heartbreaking season-ending loss at Minnesota in mid-April was like pulling the emergency brake on a speeding subway car, Malone said. He could not watch the first round of the NBA Playoffs — the emotions were still too fresh.

But by May, Malone’s staff had begun devising a revamped defensive philosophy that accepts surrendering more buckets in the paint if it means better protecting the perimeter, after ranking last in the NBA in opponent 3-point field-goal percentage last season (37.8). During June visits overseas to see Jokic and Juancho Hernangomez, Malone met with Serbian national team coach Aleksandar Dordevic and Spain national team coach Sergio Scariolo, who was recently hired as an assistant for the Toronto Raptors.

Throughout the summer, Malone also studied film of the EuroLeague. He jotted notes about college schemes while scouting draft prospects. And while dissecting Thomas’ sensational 2016-17 season with Boston, Malone also paid close attention to All-Star big man Al Horford. Malone sees similarities between Horford’s and Jokic’s playing styles, and Horford spent three seasons playing alongside Nuggets forward Paul Millsap in Atlanta.

Complementing Malone’s work was a two-week vacation to Amsterdam, Belgium, Paris and Prague with his wife, Jocelyn, as an early celebration of their 20th wedding anniversary. He also went mountain biking with his buddies at Crested Butte. In a league that saw Cleveland head coach Ty Lue and then-Charlotte coach Steve Clifford leave their teams in the middle of last season due to health reasons, Malone is trying to keep balance in his life and prevent burnout.

“You gotta find time to be a husband and a father,” Malone said.

While reflecting on last season, Malone calls a team meeting the day after a March 27 loss at Toronto a defining moment. The fact that he asked each individual player if they still believed the Nuggets could make the postseason may sound corny to outsiders. But that led to critical moments — like Mason Plumlee’s block on Jerami Grant to preserve an overtime win at Oklahoma City, or Jamal Murray stealing an inbounds pass, getting fouled on a 3-point attempt and sinking all three free throws to force an extra period in a win over Milwaukee — during a six-game winning streak that put Denver in a winner-take-all finale against the Timberwolves.

“It was uplifting,” Malone said. “Teaching. Learning. Positive. ‘We can do this.’ I think that was a great lesson for all of us.”

Keeping an even keel

That leadership style is an example of Malone’s ongoing quest to keep his sometimes-fiery emotions in check. He’ll still let it rip when there’s a purpose, such as when his technical foul drawn in Denver’s home finale against Portland flipped momentum in a gritty Nuggets win. But if Murray, a 21-year-old point guard, immediately looks back at his coach following a turnover, Malone has put an emphasis on exuding positive body language and communicating calmly.

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“I don’t want to be impatient. I don’t want to be moody. I don’t want to be emotional,” Malone said. “ … I can be demanding. I can hold people accountable without belittling them and demeaning them in front of their teammates.”

Malone sent periodic text messages to his players throughout the offseason, reminding them not to let the disappointment of last season’s finish fully dissipate with time. He was pleased with the turnout in Las Vegas during summer league and at a voluntary minicamp at Millsap’s training facility last month. Before Labor Day, most players had already returned to Denver to work out together in the Nuggets’ practice gym ahead of the start of training camp Sept. 25.

That’s a sign that the players also grasp — and embrace — the expectations and pressure that surround this season. Maybe this time next year, they’ll get to take a celebratory walk around the city following their first playoff berth since 2013.

“All that pain and heartache is gonna be worth it when we reach where we want to be,” Malone said. “I love where we’re headed. I love the people we’re headed there with, from front office to staff to players. I think this team is on the verge of doing something special, and that’s why I’m so excited to get going.”

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