All Denver News.

FBI and state agents find 12-year-old Fowler girl possibly kidnapped by stranger

The Denver Post - 1 hour 31 min ago

A 12-year-old girl who was apparently kidnapped by a stranger from a park in Fowler Sunday afternoon was found Monday morning in Aurora.

Juanita Pack was found after an intensive search through the night that involved the FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents and police from Aurora and Fowler.

“We are going down there right now to pick her up and see what happened,” Fowler Police Chief Jacob Freidenberger said. “It was really good work.”

Pack disappeared from the town park at around 3 p.m. Authorities believed she was taken by a white male who had been driving a gold Ford Explorer, according to Fowler police.

Freidenberger said his department immediately called state and federal authorities. A news release went out at 2:29 a.m. Monday.

Categories: All Denver News.

Forecast: Cold drizzle in Denver, snow in the mountains and 70s by the weekend

The Denver Post - 2 hours 23 min ago

A northeast weather system will continue to bring scattered rain showers and cool temperatures Monday along the Front Range, forecasters say.

The high temperature will only be around 52 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder. There’s a 40 percent chance of rain. The low temperature will dip to around 38 degrees.

There’s a chance for snow in the upper elevations of the Colorado Rockies.

It will be mostly sunny Tuesday with a high of 61 degrees. The high will be around 64 on Wednesday.

There is a 20 percent chance of rain on Wednesday night and a slight chance for rain on Thursday. The high temperature will be around 63 degrees Thursday.

Afternoon thunderstorms and rain is possible on Friday, forecasters say. The high temperatures will be around 68 degrees.

A warm up is expected this weekend with a high of 73 degrees on Saturday and a high of 74 on Sunday. There’s a slight chance for rain on Saturday night.

Click here for more Denver7 weather coverage.

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Trump revels in latest war of words with professional sports

The Denver Post - 2 hours 43 min ago


WASHINGTON — With his attacks on activist athletes, President Donald Trump plunged into the middle of his favorite kind of drama — personal, aggressive, culturally volatile and entirely of his own making.

For three days, the provocateur president has drawn criticism from the worlds of politics and sports for saying that football players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired. The conflict peaked Sunday with Trump’s remarks, which had the effect of uniting a newly minted opposition coalition that included a growing number of players and coaches, as well as some owners who have backed the president.

Late Sunday, Trump continued to defend the scrap — which prompted about 200 players to stand, kneel or raise their fists during the national anthem at games — telling reporters in New Jersey that kneeling was “very disrespectful to our flag and to our country” and that “owners should do something.”

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Trump also offered his own take on the players and coaches who chose to lock arms on the field during the anthem, describing it as a display of “solidarity” that he approved of. And he pushed back against the suggestion that his critique could inflame racial tensions, arguing: “I never said anything about race.”

After a week dealing with weighty international issues at the United Nations General Assembly, Trump seemed to relish the moment, which he started with comments at a rally Friday night and continued on Twitter throughout the weekend. In addition to attacks on NFL players, he also rescinded a White House invitation for basketball player Stephen Curry, a star player on the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

On Twitter Sunday night, Trump continued to press his case against politically charged athletes, saying: “sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!”

Brynn Anderson, The Associated PressPresident Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala.

White House aides and allies said Trump remains confident that his supporters are strongly behind his attacks on kneeling players, a practice that started with a handful of players to protest a number of issues, including police brutality against black people. As criticism rolled in, supporters argued the president was not targeting African-Americans, but simply expressing patriotism.

“It’s a perfect example of where the president gets it right,” said Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax and a longtime Trump friend, who said team officials and the news media were not in line with much of the country. “It’s a win for him at the end of the day.”

Some allied groups were quick to take action. The pro-Trump political non-profit America First Policies released a Facebook ad with the tagline “Turn off the NFL.”

Trump has had a history of engaging in racially fraught battles, from his promotion of the false story that the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama was not born in the United States, to his campaign proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from the United States. He drew condemnation last month for saying “both sides” were to blame for violence between white supremacists and their opposing demonstrators during clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Some longtime supporters of Trump distanced themselves this time, notably New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. In a statement Sunday, Kraft said he was “deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the president.” He added that there is “nothing more divisive than politics” and said he supported players’ “right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful.”

Trump shrugged off the comments, saying: “he’s a good friend of mine and I what him to do what he wants to do.”

Critics argued the president had waded into an unnecessary — and potentially damaging ‘battle.

“There’s no upside here except he may stimulate some excitement by the base,” said former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele. “I think it’s the president’s way of continuing his reality TV presidency.”

Trump began his latest tirade during a raucous campaign rally in Huntsville, Alabama Friday evening before thousands of cheering fans. Amid comments about a Senate candidate and his agenda, Trump said: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired, he’s fired.”

The crowd chanted: “U.S.A, U.S.A.”

Trump continued: “that’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for, OK? Everything that we stand for.”

Top administration officials backed the president on Sunday talk shows, saying he just wanted players to show patriotism and respect. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on ABC’s “This Week” that players have “the right to have the First Amendment off the field.”

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Still, Republican strategist Karl Rove said Trump had missed an opportunity. Rove said there is support for the president’s overall argument about patriotism and the flag, but he could have offered a more unifying message.

Said Rove: “the president, in the middle of huge battles that are so consequential to the future of his presidency, gets involved in this dispute and does it in a way that makes him look smaller not bigger.”


Associated Press writer Tom LoBianco contributed to this report from Silver Spring, Maryland.

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Health care bill teeters, GOP adds money to woo dissidents

The Denver Post - 2 hours 47 min ago

WASHINGTON — Top Republicans are adding money to their staggering effort to repeal the Obama health care law and say they’re pushing toward a climactic Senate faceoff this week. Yet their path to succeeding in their last-gasp effort has grown narrower, perhaps impossible.

GOP senators’ opposition to their party’s drive to scrap President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act swelled to lethal numbers Sunday. Moderate Sen. Susan Collins all but closed the door on supporting the teetering bill and conservative Sen. Ted Cruz said that “right now” he doesn’t back it.

President Donald Trump has pressed for a fresh vote, and White House legislative liaison Marc Short and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the measure’s sponsors, said Republicans would move toward a vote this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he intends to consider the measure but hasn’t firmly committed to a vote.

The Congressional Budget Office was expected to release its analysis of the legislation early this week.

But the CBO, which is lawmakers’ nonpartisan fiscal analyst, has said that it doesn’t have time to determine the bill’s impact on coverage and premiums, major factors for some lawmakers deciding their votes. Instead, the office is expected to only detail its estimates of the measure’s effect on federal deficits.

A vote must occur this week for Republicans to have any chance of prevailing with their narrow Senate majority. Next Sunday, protections expire against a Democratic filibuster, bill-killing delays that Republicans lack the votes to overcome.

Already two GOP senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona, have said they oppose the legislation. All Democrats will vote against it. “No” votes from three of the 52 GOP senators would kill the party’s effort to deliver on its perennial vow to repeal “Obamacare” and would reprise the party’s politically jarring failure to accomplish that this summer.

In a late stab at attracting votes, Republicans were adding $14.5 billion to the measure including extra funds for states of dissenting GOP senators, according to documents obtained late Sunday by The Associated Press.

A chart Republicans circulated said the legislation’s grants would provide 14 percent more money for Arizona than under Obama’s law; 4 percent more for Kentucky; 49 percent more for Texas; 3 percent more for Alaska, home to undecided GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski; and 43 percent more for Maine, home to Collins. Some extra money is specifically directed at sparsely populated states.

The numbers are misleading, partly because they omit GOP Medicaid cuts from clamping per-person spending caps on the program, said Matt House, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. In a statement, Schumer said the measure would “throw our health insurance system into chaos.”

Collins’ criticisms included the bill’s cuts in the Medicaid program for low-income people and the likelihood that it would result in many losing health coverage and paying higher premiums.

“It’s very difficult for me to envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill,” said Collins.

The conservative Cruz also voiced opposition, underscoring the bill’s problems with both ends of the GOP spectrum.

“Right now, they don’t have my vote,” Cruz said at a festival in Austin, Texas. He suggested the measure doesn’t do enough to reduce premiums by allowing insurers to sell less comprehensive coverage than Obama’s law allows.

Paul said even though the bill transforms federal health care dollars into block grants that states would control, the GOP bill left too much of that spending intact.

McCain has complained that Republicans should have worked with Democrats in reshaping the country’s $3 trillion-a-year health care system and cited uncertainty over the bill’s impact on consumers.

Murkowski has remained uncommitted, saying she’s studying the bill’s impact on Alaska. Her state’s officials released a report Friday citing “unique challenges” and deep cuts the measure would impose on the state. She and Collins were the only Republicans who voted “no” on four pivotal votes on earlier versions of the GOP legislation in July.

The bill now in play would repeal much of the 2010 law, including its tax penalties on people who don’t buy insurance and on larger employers not offering coverage to workers. States could loosen coverage requirements under the law’s mandates, including prohibiting insurers from charging seriously ill people higher premiums and letting them sell policies covering fewer services.

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It would eliminate Obama’s expansion of Medicaid and the subsidies the law provides millions of people to reduce their premiums and out of pocket costs, substituting block grants to states.

Collins was on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and CNN’s “State of the Union,” Graham appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and Paul was on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and Short was on CBS, NBC and “Fox News Sunday.”


Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey in Somerset, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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Rangers: Maine Woman armed with frying pan helped stop forest fire

The Denver Post - 2 hours 50 min ago

BEDDINGTON, Maine — Maine forest rangers say the quick actions of a woman armed with a frying pan helped stop a forest fire.

Rangers say Nancy Weeks used a frying pan to carry water back and forth between the flames and a nearby pond in a wooded area near Beddington. WGME-TV reports Weeks kept the fire under control until crews arrived.

Officials say the fire was sparked by an unattended camp fire.

Rangers say it’s still fire season in the state, and likely will remain so until the first snowfall.

Meet Nancy Weeks. She found this fire in T22 MD, reported it and worked on it until we arrived. Campfire caused. 100% contained. THX!#MEfire

— Maine Forest Rangers (@MaineRangers) September 23, 2017

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Denver city government is five years into a hiring blitz. Can taxpayers afford it?

The Denver Post - 2 hours 53 min ago

In a boom town full of growth industries, one of the most consistent job producers in Denver for five years running has been city government.

After a post-recession hiring blitz, Denver government offices have outgrown several city-owned office buildings, including downtown’s massive and modern Wellington E. Webb municipal building.

That expansion, which includes plans for more hiring next year, could end up increasing the municipal workforce by nearly one-fifth between 2012 and 2018, a Denver Post review has found.

As city finance officials have inked multiyear deals for private office space fronting Civic Center, the number of budgeted positions this year reached the equivalent of 12,445 full-time positions, including some temporary workers. Mayor Michael Hancock’s proposed $2 billion operating budget for 2018 would increase that total to 12,918.

Denver’s hiring spree has been no secret, with each year’s budget adding hundreds of new positions. Some have addressed crises, including a dangerous shortage of jail deputies. Others provided staff for new buildings the city has opened. Many more positions have been sprinkled across departments citywide, from core operations to self-sustaining entities such as Denver International Airport.

Hancock and his financial advisers say the hiring, while robust, has been targeted to respond to a multitude of needs in a fast-growing city that has increased its population by nearly a quarter in a decade.

They maintain that the spending on payroll — roughly $1.1 billion last year — is sustainable. Even so, chief financial officer Brendan Hanlon says the next recession still may require austerity because the city relies on sales and use taxes, which fluctuate with the economy, to pay for about half its core operations. (Property taxes cover 9 percent.)

But some outside observers question what they see as largesse.

“Denver just seems to be a place that, whenever some new thing comes along, (officials) never seem to say: ‘If you want to do B, let’s do less of A to pay for it,’ ” said Mike Krause, the director of the Local Colorado Project at the libertarian-leaning Independence Institute. “You can only do it so long before you have to pay the piper.”

Such disagreements often hinge on whether city leaders, in new ventures such as a recent 10-year, $150 million affordable-housing funding initiative, are straying beyond the proper role of city government.

Hancock and the council may have drawn the ire of conservatives — who are in short supply in liberal Denver — as they also have looked to expand the city’s involvement in transit, social problems and other issues. But they have been pushed to take action by a range of urban activists.

Initially, with voters’ approval, the city hiring surge reflected a reversal of a few years of belt-tightening during the Great Recession and its lingering aftermath, including employee furloughs.

And then, as Denver’s economy took off and a population boom took hold, officials continued hiring.

Starting last year, the city has looked across the street from the Webb building for more space. It has signed two multiyear, market-rate subleases, valued at $21.7 million, that will allow use of more than 92,000 square feet on three floors of The Denver Post building well into the next decade.

City recoups recessionary cuts — and then some

A full decade after the recession’s start, Denver has done far more than recoup its downturn losses, The Post found in its review of city finance data.

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Using the city’s measure of “full-time equivalent” positions — combining full- and part-time employees into one number — the city this year has 1,681 more authorized city jobs than in 2007. Under Hancock’s 2018 budget proposal, that nearly 11 percent total increase would grow to 15 percent.

That growth steepens when you narrow the frame to city job growth only since the most recent low point in city employment, when Denver had the equivalent of 10,813 full-time positions in 2012 amid a recessionary dip in sales tax revenue. The projected workforce growth from that year through 2018 would amount to 19.5 percent.

Total payroll has grown even faster. The city spent $972.5 million last year on salaries, benefits and other payroll expenses. Adjusting for inflation, that’s a 25 percent increase since 2007.

Those expenses provided by the city’s finance department don’t include DIA, which has a separate finance staff and wasn’t able to provide actual spending data by The Post’s deadline. This year, DIA budgeted $124 million for airport personnel expenses.

Jon Murray, The Denver PostCity of Denver Chief Financial Officer Brendan Hanlon details elements of the city’s 2018 budget proposal during a news conference on Sept. 12, 2017. Mayor Michael Hancock, at left, was joined by Cabinet members and aides in the City and County Building.

The hiring hasn’t bankrupted the city. Far from it — in recent years, city officials have transferred tens of millions of dollars a year in excess reserves to transportation projects and other one-time uses. Denver still has adhered to a city target of setting aside the equivalent of 15 percent of general-fund spending in reserves.

“That’s a nice position to be in,” Councilman Kevin Flynn, who represents southwest Denver, said during a recent budget hearing.

But does all the hiring threaten to break the budget?

Hanlon, a longtime Denver budget director before Hancock elevated him to chief financial officer last year, says his staff’s budgeting is careful.

All three major ratings agencies generally agree, giving Denver pristine AAA budget ratings in 2015 for its general-obligation debt, based on appraisals of the city’s financial management.

“I believe that we have the revenue profile to sustain the FTEs that we have added,” Hanlon said, using the abbreviation for full time-equivalent positions. “I believe also that we are not frivolously adding employees.

“We’re adding employees that serve a purpose — you know, we’re opening fire stations. We’re staffing more police officers. We’re staffing up the Sheriff Department,” along with the city’s permit-review office, which has been inundated by developers’ plans. “I believe that these are demand-driven responses. Now if we see changes in that demand, we have to consider whether we need all the FTEs on staff — but we have tools to do that.”

In the meantime, a finance spokeswoman pointed out, not all employees are in permanent jobs. This year, of the 9,068 positions budgeted in the general fund, which covers most day-to-day operations, 8 percent were deemed temporary or on-call positions.

Population boom puts pressure on services

Denver’s population has increased by 24 percent in the last decade, to a projected 709,164 this year, according to the state demography office.

That breakneck growth — along with a strong economy — has placed demands on police, the jail, the 911 call center, city streets, parks and recreation centers and other services, city officials say. The city also has designated hundreds of acres of new parks and opened three new library branches, while passenger traffic has grown quickly at the airport.

“I know there are areas where we’re bursting at the seams right now,” council President Albus Brooks said. “The public’s concern is whether we’re addressing our needs.”

Hanlon cited one comparison to show city employment growth may not be as large as it seems: For every 10,000 residents in 2007, the city had 130.4 general-fund positions. Next year, based on projected population growth, the city would have just 119.6 jobs per 10,000 residents.

In Hancock’s second year in office in 2012, he and the council faced a starkly different budget climate. Over the previous five years, city officials had cut a combined $540 million from annual budgets.

So they put a question to voters, asking them to opt the city out of a remaining state-mandated spending cap formula, under the state Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, that had handcuffed those budgets. The promise was to hire 100 more police officers, restore cut library hours and reverse several other reductions.

Voters agreed, with nearly 74 percent supporting that year’s Measure 2A. Its passage unlocked about $42 million a year in property tax proceeds the city previously hadn’t been allowed to keep.

Taxpayers pay tab for expansion

Since then, Hanlon said, that extra annual revenue from 2A has been diminished by a booming real estate market that has resulted in property valuation increases across the city, increasing tax collections. The measure did impose a replacement revenue growth cap that keeps the city from collecting taxes on all of the growth in value.

The growth in local government is worrisome to some property owners, who haven’t seen tax rates go up but still pay more because of the valuation increases.

“I just think someone should be raising the larger philosophical question: Should the city be adding resources and people, or should it be more focused on sticking to its primary functions of supplying safety, security, roads, garbage pickup and so on?” said Z.J. Czupor, who lives in southeast Denver.

But Brooks, who joined the council in 2011, said the turnaround from the recessionary years should be celebrated.

“We’re living in the land of milk and honey right now in Denver, and it feels great,” he said, giving credit to the city’s CFO. “We work very well with Brendan Hanlon. I think he’s conservative, and yet he’s innovative and (willing to take) some risks. I think we have a pretty good balance.”

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Cory Gardner sees his North Korea “playbook” showing up in Donald Trump’s decisions

The Denver Post - 2 hours 54 min ago

WASHINGTON — Long before President Donald Trump dubbed him the “Rocket Man,” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was known by a different nickname in the office of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner: the “Forgotten Maniac.”

That’s the moniker Gardner coined for Kim in the first year that he chaired the Senate subcommittee that oversees East Asia policy, and the dig was intended as a swipe at both Kim and an Obama administration that Gardner saw as too lax on North Korea’s ambitions.

“Chaos in the Middle East has diverted Western eyes, but Kim Jong Un’s reign of terror in North Korea continues,” the Colorado Republican wrote in a December 2015 essay in The Wall Street Journal. “It is time for the U.S. to counter this forgotten maniac.”

Twenty-two months later, Kim is far from forgotten — though Obama officials would dispute he had ever been overlooked — while Gardner has become a leading voice in Congress on what to do about North Korea and its growing nuclear arsenal.

“Today, I no longer call him the Forgotten Maniac,” Gardner said in an interview.

Through both legislation and diplomacy, Gardner has advocated a strategy that would isolate North Korea as much as possible.

It’s an approach that is widely — though not universally — supported and one that received a big boost last week when Trump ordered new sanctions on North Korea’s trading partners.

“The actions announced by the administration … are what I have been calling for, and are a huge step forward in the United States’ efforts to stop a nuclear war from breaking out on the Korean Peninsula,” said Gardner in a statement.

His press office said it came straight from the “North Korea Playbook” of the first-term senator.

The degree to which Gardner is actually affecting U.S. policy is up for debate, though there’s little doubt he has assumed a bigger role since the White House changed hands.

In the short term, that means Trump has an ally who can help him pressure North Korea from Capitol Hill — even if Gardner hasn’t always agreed with Trump’s rhetoric.

Longer term, it keeps alive the political ambitions of the 43-year-old lawmaker.

“He’s had an unusual opportunity, but I think he’s played it well,” said Doug Bandow of the CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Gardner clamors for new sanctions

Few of Gardner’s ideas on North Korea are original; policymakers long have discussed additional sanctions or a diplomatic push that would force China to take a more active role with its neighbor. And it’s hard to imagine the U.S. not taking a tougher approach in light of several recent weapons tests by Pyongyang.

But Gardner has staked out a space for himself since introducing a bill in fall 2015 that called for new penalties on people or companies that aided North Korea and its pursuit of weapons.

Initially, the measure didn’t gain much traction. But after North Korea claimed in January 2016 that it had detonated a hydrogen bomb, Congress and President Barack Obama moved swiftly to turn the idea into law.

Now, with a Republican in the White House, Gardner said he talks frequently with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley — often after something bad happens, aides said — and stays in contact with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Gardner’s primary role, said Trump administration officials and Republican allies, is to serve as point man in the Senate on legislation and ideas related to North Korea.

“Senator Gardner has become a great partner and supportive friend as we take on the challenges facing the world, like North Korea,” Haley said in a statement. “He’s very smart, very engaged and very tough-minded.”

Last week, Gardner sent letters to the ambassadors of China and 20 other countries asking that they sever diplomatic ties with North Korea.

Earlier this year, Gardner was criticized for meeting with the president of the Philippines because of Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal crackdown on his country’s drug users and traffickers. But Gardner said he used the time to press Duterte to suspend trade relations with North Korea, which he later did.

Legislatively, Gardner has targeted 10 individual Chinese companies with sanctions for doing business with North Korea. Gardner said the mere threat of official action has prompted commitments from some of the companies to stop trading, though his office did not identify which ones.

“The United States needs to get China to put pressure on North Korea,” said Victor Cha, a former Bush administration official reportedly in line to become Trump’s ambassador to South Korea.

“If they are not willing to do that, for whatever reason, then the only choice the United States is left with is to pressure China directly and to single out those individuals (and) those companies that we suspect” are doing business with them, he added.

Cha argued that sanctions are the device that will force North Korea back to the negotiating table — though not everyone agrees.

Ken Gause, of the think tank CNA, said efforts to further isolate North Korea only gives Kim more of a motivation to develop the means to strike the U.S. mainland with a nuclear weapon.

After North Korea watched the U.S. lead efforts to depose foreign leaders in Iraq and Libya, its military became convinced that a nuclear arsenal was the best way to prevent a similar fate, Gause said.

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For that reason, he said current U.S. policy leads to only two outcomes: a military fight or a change in strategy built on accepting and containing a nuclear North Korea.

“Our definition of diplomacy is basically dictating the terms of surrender of North Korea’s nuclear program, which isn’t really diplomacy,” Gause said.

Instead, he suggested an approach that would provide economic incentives in exchange for North Korea freezing its nuclear program and halting tests.

“The idea that we can completely strangle North Korea is a fallacy,” Gause said.

Across the aisle, Gardner’s approach gains traction

But congressional Democrats and Republicans both have advocated for tougher measures.

Over the summer, Gardner put forward legislation with Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, his Democratic counterpart on the East Asia subcommittee, that would exclude from the U.S. financial system any company that did business with North Korea, including those 10 Chinese companies.

Trump seems to agree with that approach. Last week, he ordered a new round of sanctions that echoed much of what Gardner and Markey outlined in their bill.

“I can see that, increasingly, the Trump administration is adopting the view that we included in our legislation,” Markey said.

He described Gardner as “energetic” and “extremely easy to work with” and said the two were “looking to introduce even stronger legislation in October” aimed at North Korea.

“I find him to be focused on developing serious ideas and solutions,” Markey said.

While Gardner and Trump often are in agreement, there is some daylight between the two politicians on how best to talk to North Korea.

After Trump referred to Kim as “Rocket Man” and threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” in a speech at the United Nations, Gardner said he would have handled it differently.

“I think it sent a strong message, (but) I would have used different words,” Gardner said.

Gardner said his trips to Seoul have convinced him that the U.S. must expend every effort to develop a peaceful solution, as a war would devastate the South Korean capital.

“That’s why we have to avoid military conflict,” Gardner said. “And that’s why we have to make this ‘maximum pressure’ doctrine work.”

As has often been the case, North Korea responded to Trump’s latest provocation with its own insult; Kim on Friday said of Trump: “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”

In a sign, perhaps, of his own relevance to the debate, Gardner also has been the target of verbal attacks from the Kim regime. In May, he was called a “psychopath” who is “mixed in with human dirt.”

Said Gardner in response of his own new nickname: “I’m going to continue to call on the president to fully enforce my legislation that will economically cripple the North Korean regime, and if that gets this madman to send nonsensical insults at me, so be it.”

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McCain calls brain cancer prognosis “very poor”

The Denver Post - 2 hours 55 min ago

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John McCain says doctors have given him a “very poor prognosis” as he battles brain cancer.

McCain underwent surgery in July for a brain tumor that was later found to be a form of glioblastoma, the same type of cancer that took the life of his former Senate colleague Edward M. Kennedy in 2009. McCain tells CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired Sunday night that he thinks about Kennedy a lot. He says Kennedy continued to work despite the diagnosis and “never gave up because he loved the engagement.”

McCain says he has “feelings sometimes of fear of what happens,” but counters that with gratitude for having lived “had a great life.”

He adds: “it’s not that you’re leaving, it’s that you — that you stayed.”

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McCain: Trump has never apologized for saying he was “not a war hero”

The Denver Post - 2 hours 57 min ago

By Derek Hawkins, The Washington Post

Sen. John McCain said President Trump still hasn’t apologized for disparaging his war record on the campaign trail, but signaled he had put the matter behind him and would be open to reconciling with the president.

During an interview with “60 Minutes” broadcast late Sunday, host Lesley Stahl asked the Arizona Republican whether he would be receptive to a “rapprochement” with Trump, who mocked him in 2015 for being captured and imprisoned during the Vietnam War.

“Of course. I’ve supported him on national security. I’ve supported his team,” McCain said.

“But personal,” Stahl asked. “I’m talking about man to man.”

“Personal? Sure,” McCain said. “I’d be glad to converse with him. But I also understand that we’re very different people.”

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CBS News started promoting the interview around the same time Friday that McCain announced he would not vote for the latest Republican effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, potentially dooming the bill sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. McCain said he thought lawmakers could develop better legislation by working across the aisle.

Trump tweeted his outrage at McCain’s decision early Saturday morning, saying the senator had betrayed his state and his colleagues.

“John McCain never had any intention of voting for this bill, which his governor loves,” Trump wrote.

In July, McCain broke with his party and voted against a different ACA repeal measure that the White House and Republican leaders hoped would deliver on years of promises to unravel the health care law. Cameras captured the dramatic moment late that night when McCain approached the Senate clerk, raised his arm gave a thumbs down, sinking the legislation and infuriating the president.

Tension between Trump and McCain goes back years. Shortly after Trump announced he was running for president in summer 2015, he ridiculed McCain’s military service at a summit in Iowa. McCain, a decorated U.S. Navy pilot, was imprisoned in Vietnam for more than five years, during which time he was tortured and kept in solitary confinement. “He’s not a war hero,” Trump said, adding “I like people that weren’t captured.”

The remarks, which have tainted the relationship between the two men ever since, came up again in McCain’s interview with “60 Minutes” on Sunday. After playing a clip of Trump’s words, Stahl asked if McCain’s theatrical “no” vote in July was “more like a middle finger” and an attempt to retaliate against Trump.

“If I took offense at everybody who has said something about me, or disparaged me or something like that – life is too short,” McCain said. “You’ve got to move on. And on an issue of this importance to the nation, for me to worry about a personal relationship, then I’m not doing my job.”

The interview also touched on Trump’s decision to end DACA, the Obama-era program that allowed young undocumented immigrants to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation.

Trump has met with Democratic leaders in recent weeks to discuss a legislative deal to allow hundreds of thousands of dreamers, as the young immigrants are called, to remain in the country. The White House has offered conflicting messages about whether such a deal is feasible, and some in Trump’s conservative base have recoiled at the possibility.

Stahl asked McCain if the president had “initiated divorce proceedings with Republicans.”

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“I don’t know what he’s gonna do tomorrow or say tomorrow,” McCain told the host. “He changes his statements almost on a daily basis. So for me to spend my time trying to analyze what he says, I don’t know.”

When the conversation turned to Trump’s comments about McCain’s war record, McCain said the president had never apologized to him. He said he would be happy to talk with Trump but noted that they had “different life experiences.”

“He is in the business of making money and he has been successful both in television as well as Miss America and others,” McCain said. “I was raised in the concept and belief that duty, honor, country is the lodestar for behavior that we have to exhibit every single day.”

McCain has been outspoken in his criticism of Trump. In a commentary for The Washington Post last month, he urged members Congress to seek compromise with each other, even if it means bucking the president. Trump, he said, “has no experience of public office, is often poorly informed and can be impulsive in his speech and conduct.”

“We must, where we can, cooperate with him. But we are not his subordinates,” McCain wrote. “We don’t answer to him. We answer to the American people.”

McCain, 81, was diagnosed with an deadly brain cancer called a glioblastoma in July. He receives chemotherapy and radiation treatment in the mornings, then heads to the Capitol for work. The cancer is fatal for many patients. McCain said he would not let the disease slow him down.

He told “60 Minutes”: “It’s a very poor prognosis. So I just said, ‘I understand. Now we’re gonna do what we can, get the best doctors we can find and do the best we can.’ And, at the same time, celebrate with gratitude a life well lived.”

“I am more energetic and more engaged as a result of this,” he added, “because I know that I’ve got to do everything I can to serve this country while I can.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Trump says he’s focused on “largest tax cut in the history of our country” as health care bill falters

The Denver Post - 3 hours 11 sec ago

By Catherine Lucey and Marcy Gordon, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Poised to reveal a tax plan that is a pillar of “his economic policy and delivering on a campaign pledge, President Donald Trump is promising “The largest tax cut in the history of our country.”

Trump’s declarations came as the health care legislation brought forward by Republicans teetered near failure. He said his “primary focus” is the tax overhaul plan, which would be the first major revamp of the tax system in three decades.

Trump has promised economic growth of 3 percent, and insists that slashing taxes for individuals and corporations is the way to achieve it. He said the tax plan that the White House and Capitol Hill Republicans have been working on for months is “totally finalized.” He was speaking on the tarmac at the Morristown Municipal Airport.

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Trump’s details weren’t firm. He said “I hope” the top corporate tax rate will be cut to 15 percent from the current 35 percent. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said a 15 percent rate is impractically low, with a rate somewhere in the low- to mid-20 percent range more viable to avoid blowing out the deficit. The rate is “going to be substantially lower so we bring jobs back into our country,” Trump said.

Trump also said “We think we’re going to bring the individual rate to 10 percent or 12 percent, much lower than it is right now.” He did not say whether the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans, now at 39.6 percent would be cut, as some Republicans have advocated.

“This is a plan for the middle class and for companies, so they can bring back jobs,” he said.

The plan also is expected to reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three.

Trump spoke as House Republicans on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee huddled behind closed doors to discuss the plan. They have promised to reveal an outline and possible details of the plan later this week, after all Republican lawmakers in the House get a chance to discuss it and put questions to the chief architects, including Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who heads the Ways and Means panel.

“We’ll let the White House determine the timetable” of releasing the plan, Brady said following the meeting. He added it will “definitely” occur this week.

Republicans have been split on some core issues. They are divided over whether to add to the nation’s soaring $20 trillion debt with tax cuts. The GOP also is at odds over eliminating the federal deduction for state and local taxes.

Republican senators on opposing sides of the deficit debate have tentatively agreed on a plan for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts. That would add substantially to the debt and would enable deeper cuts to tax rates than would be allowed if Republicans followed through on earlier promises that their tax overhaul wouldn’t add to the budget deficit. That would mark an about-face for top congressional Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Ryan, who had for months promised it wouldn’t add to the deficit.

Earlier Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a television interview the plan “creates a middle-income tax cut, it makes businesses competitive and it creates jobs.” He added that there are changes, too, for the “high end,” including “getting rid of lots of deductions.” He did not offer specifics.


Gordon reported from Washington, D.C.

Categories: All Denver News.

North Carolina church stoked tithing with unemployment scam, ex-members say

The Denver Post - 3 hours 3 min ago

Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Moor, The Associated Press

SPINDALE, N.C. — When Randy Fields’ construction company faced potential ruin because of the cratering economy, he pleaded with his pastor at Word of Faith Fellowship church to reduce the amount of money he was required to tithe every week.

To his shock, Fields said church founder Jane Whaley proposed a divine plan that would allow him to continue tithing at least 10 percent of his income to the secretive evangelical church while helping his company survive: He would file fraudulent unemployment claims on behalf of his employees. She called it, he said, “God’s plan.”

Fields and 10 other former congregants told The Associated Press that they and dozens of employees who were church members filed bogus claims at Word of Faith Fellowship leaders’ direction, and said they had been interviewed at length about the false claims by investigators with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The unemployment allegations were uncovered as part of the AP’s ongoing investigation into Word of Faith, which has about 750 congregants in rural North Carolina and a total of nearly 2,000 members in its branches in Brazil and Ghana and its affiliations in Sweden, Scotland and other countries.

Some of the ex-members said they turned critical documents related to the unemployment claims over to authorities, even though they knew they could be charged with defrauding the government.

The former members estimated the fraudulent claims — some filed by the business owners’ wives and other family members — would have drawn payments totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars over a six-year period.

The Department of Homeland Security referred questions to the U.S. attorney’s office in Charlotte, which cited an “ongoing investigation into allegations against Word of Faith Fellowship” and would not elaborate. The State Bureau of Investigation said the agency would not comment “due to the overall investigation” involving the church.

Whaley and church attorney Josh Farmer did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

In February, the AP cited more than three dozen former Word of Faith Fellowship members who said congregants were regularly punched and choked in an effort to beat out devils. The AP also revealed how, over the course of two decades, followers were ordered by church leaders to lie to authorities investigating reports of abuse.

Last month, the AP outlined how Word of Faith created a pipeline of young laborers from its two Brazilian congregations who say they were brought to the U.S. and forced to work at businesses owned by church leaders for little or no pay.

The AP’s stories have triggered investigations in both the United States and Brazil.

Over the years, church leaders have owned and operated more than two dozen businesses. The interviews with former followers, along with documents reviewed by the AP, indicate at least six companies owned by leaders were involved with filing fraudulent unemployment claims between 2008 and 2013. Most of those businesses’ employees are congregants, the AP found.

The AP reviewed individual checking account records that showed unemployment benefits deposited by the state, along with income tax records summarizing how much money some of the former followers interviewed received annually in such payments.

Fields, who spent 24 years in the church before leaving in 2015, said his employees kept working without pay while collecting unemployment benefits. “Basically, their unemployment checks would become their paychecks,” he said.

It is illegal for employers or employees to knowingly file fraudulent unemployment claims. Since Dec. 1, 2012, violators in North Carolina can face felony fraud charges if the illegal benefits totaled more than $400. Before Dec. 1, 2012, filing false claims was only a misdemeanor.

If investigators believe employers or employees were involved in a conspiracy, however, they could be charged with serious state and federal felony charges.

Fields said he knew the plan was illegal but went along with it because of intense pressure from Whaley, who founded the church with her husband in 1979.

“I’m not proud of what I did, but I have to make this right,” he said.

The price of the refusal, Fields said, could be beatings administered by fellow church members and public shaming by Whaley. The church also might mandate that he be cut off from any contact with his family, he said.

“You knew it was wrong, but you knew you couldn’t say a word,” said Rick Cooper, who acknowledged falsely filing for unemployment from April 2011 to April 2012.

In North Carolina, companies pay a quarterly unemployment tax based on the number of their workers, with the money going into a fund used to pay out claims, according to Larry Parker, spokesman for the Division of Employment Security, which oversees the program.

When a worker files for unemployment, the agency checks with the employer to learn the reason. If an employer says a worker was let go because of the poor economy, payments usually are approved quickly, Parker said.

During the recession, which started in 2007 and was driven by the housing meltdown, laid-off workers could receive state and federal extensions increasing unemployment to 99 weeks with a maximum weekly check of $535. But in 2013, North Carolina legislators tied benefits to the state’s unemployment rate. Currently, laid-off workers can receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment, with a maximum payment of $350 a week, Parker said.

And, he emphasized, a worker must have been laid off to collect unemployment.

“If a company is trying to make workers work while they collect unemployment, that’s a potential fraud situation,” Parker said.

The former congregants said that not only were they coerced into continuing to work while collecting unemployment, the money fell short of what they needed to pay their bills.

“The unemployment checks never equaled what you were making,” said Cooper, who worked for Diverse Corporate Tech Inc., a manufacturing company owned by church leader Kent Covington.

“I was making about $700 a week, but I only collected $235 a week in unemployment,” Cooper said. “So I’m working the same hours — many times, much longer hours — for less. It was devastating for my family.”

Church members were expected to keep tithing regardless of their financial situations and Whaley kept close tabs on “who was giving what,” Cooper said.

Some of those interviewed by the AP said they learned about the practice at meetings with company officials, but that Whaley herself also promoted it.

“Jane was heavily involved. She was always asking questions about it,” said Rachael Bryant, who calculated that she had received unemployment benefits of about $200 a week for 18 months while still working for a Word of Faith minister.

“I remember after I was on unemployment for a few months and Jane said, ‘You’re still on unemployment, right?’ And I said ‘yes.’ And she said, ‘Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!'” Bryant said.

Workers receiving unemployment benefits must check in every week and demonstrate they are actively seeking work by providing the names of businesses where they filed job applications, and the former Word of Faith members told the AP that church leaders had a plan for that.

“Every week we’d go to the unemployment office and put down that we looked for work at other companies operated by Word of Faith Fellowship leaders,” Rick Cooper said. “Those companies would vouch for the Word of Faith members at the unemployment offices. It was a conspiracy. What’s amazing to me is that this went on for years and no red flags ever went off.”

Cooper said Whaley told him Covington’s business needed the money because “the devil had been attacking the company’s finances” and the minister might lose his house.

Rick Cooper’s son Jeffrey, an attorney and accountant who also has broken with the church, worked for Covington’s company, too. Jeffrey Cooper said he was so uneasy about the practice that he called the Division of Employment Security to ask what he labeled a “hypothetical question.”

“I said, ‘Can an employee file for unemployment while they were still working for a company?'” he told the AP. He said the state official replied that he hoped it was only a hypothetical question because the practice was illegal and anyone involved with it could face serious charges.

Cooper said he relayed the information to Covington, who exploded. “He started screaming at me at the top of his lungs that I was wicked,” Cooper said.

As a result, Cooper said he was publicly rebuked by Whaley and completely segregated from his wife for six months. Other church members interviewed by the AP corroborated his story.

Rick and Jeffrey Cooper that they and nearly three dozen employees at Diverse Corporate Tech and Covington’s other company, Integrity Marble and Granite, filed false unemployment claims over the course of several years.

Covington did not return several phone messages from the AP.

Benjamin Cooper, Jeffrey’s brother, told the AP that Whaley touted the success of the unemployment tactic from the pulpit in 2009.

“There was a church service and Jane got up and started saying that Kent had heard from God of a means to save God’s companies’ money,” Benjamin Cooper said. “She needed to have a meeting after church with all the business owners. I knew what she was referring to. That’s why I remember it. We were already on unemployment at that point.”

Rachael Bryant said she was pressured into filing false unemployment claims in 2008 after her boss, a medical professional who was a leader in the church, was audited by Medicare and told he owed money because of coding errors.

Bryant said one of her boss’ sons told her the company wouldn’t be able to pay her for a while, but that Whaley refused to let her look for another job. Eventually, she said, Whaley said they had a plan to help both the doctor and his employees.

“She said, ‘Rachael, God found a way where you can make some money. Kent’s done it with some of his businesses. So we’re going to put you on unemployment,'” Bryant said.

Some of her boss’ family members also filed for unemployment while continuing to work at the business, she said.

“I remember that I went to Jane after being on it for like three or four months and I remember asking her if I could apply for a job opening in another doctor’s office. Well, she started screaming at me, ‘You’re wicked! There’s nothing but the money devil in you!'” said Bryant, who had been making about $500 a week before being reduced to only unemployment checks.

Bryant said she was too scared to leave.

Looking back, Fields — whose oldest daughter and grandchild remain in the church — said he struggles with his decision to knuckle under pressure and participate in the plan. And he regrets it.

“The businesses helped support the church,” he said. “We would make large donations. Without the businesses, they would have been in trouble.”

He paused for a moment to collect his thoughts.

“At the time, it just seemed like the right thing to do. But I was wrong,” he said. “We were all wrong.”


Mohr reported from Jackson, Mississippi. AP researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report.

Categories: All Denver News.

Ask Amy: HOA’s rules may make for a scary Halloween

The Denver Post - 4 hours 23 min ago

Dear Amy: My husband and I live in a medium-sized townhome community in a large city. We have a homeowner’s association (HOA). We’ve had no issues with the HOA, up until now.

The president of the HOA recently sent an email to all owners, saying that any Halloween decorations that included “representations of the occult or supernatural” (skeletons, witches, vampires, monsters, and even jack-o-lanterns), were unacceptable and would result in a fine. The only decorations permitted would be of a “general fall theme,” and not Halloween-related.

My husband, as a lifelong fan of Halloween, absolutely flipped out. He replied to the email, told them they were overreaching, and that their religious preferences are not our problem. They responded that he will be fined if he breaks the rule, and that the rule is meant to preserve the aesthetic of the exterior of our homes, and doesn’t have to do with religion.

Over the last week, he purchased every tacky Halloween decoration he could find.

He is intent on making a point, and the potential of a fight with the HOA is stressing me out. I agree that this is an overreach on the HOA’s part, but I don’t think it’s worth fighting over.

Do I continue to allow his protest, or do I push back?

— Unsure

Dear Unsure: Do you have the power over your spouse to allow (or deter) a protest? If you possess this influence, please bottle it and send me a dose.

Many HOAs can control the color of your house, what plantings or fencing you are permitted to use, and many (seemingly trivial) aspects of the outside look of your home that seem (to me) like a basic trampling of a person’s freedom to exercise their own bad taste at their own home.

However, this is the life you two signed up for.

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I happen to agree with your husband. If he asked me how to launch this protest, I would advise him to dive into any holes created by vague directives. So unless the HOA specifically disallowed “Zombie Meg Ryan,” I’d go with that. (Also, for many people, jack-o-lanterns and carved pumpkins and gourds ARE harvest/fall themed.)

He should enlist whatever neighbors agree with him to join this protest, and also campaign for a position on the HOA board.

He should pay the dues on time, keep written records of his correspondence about this, and make a series of choices regarding how far he is willing to take it.

If you don’t like your husband doing this, you can differentiate from him publicly by saying, “He has the right to his own point of view. I don’t happen to agree, but I don’t control him.”

If he is dragging you into a nasty and public fight that will have a serious impact on your own social or home life — and certainly if he becomes obnoxious toward your neighbors — then you should insist that he dial it down. Otherwise, like many spouses who disagree, you should quietly stick to your own knitting and sit this out.

Dear Amy: I don’t like most photos of myself, and I prefer people not post a picture of me on social media. I think I look fine in person, but I am not photogenic.

This morning I deactivated my Facebook account because once again — there I was, faced with a photo of myself.

Even if I choose settings that don’t allow this, my spouse and I have some mutual friends, so if he “likes” the photo, then I will see it.

My husband thinks I overreacted by closing my account. He wants me to see a therapist.

I think he’s the one overreacting.

What do you think? Do I need to see a therapist?

— Photophobic

Dear Photophobic: Deactivating your Facebook account should be seen as a sign of mental health — not the opposite.

This is not a cry for help on your part, but a perfectly legitimate choice.

Dear Amy: “Disconnected Father” reported that his teenage son had rejected him because he corrected the boy on his foul language.

For a father who wants to be “connected” to his 17-year-old son, he sure isn’t working very hard.

If my son decided to drop me from his life I’d spend every weekend necessary at the kid’s door.

— Rad Dad

Dear Dad: “Disconnected” was making some efforts, but he seemed stuck on the original incident. I agree with you that he should try harder to connect.

Categories: All Denver News.

Weld schools leaders counter Denver high school’s allegations, saying no Confederate flag was displayed at football game

The Denver Post - 7 hours 47 min ago

Weld County schools leaders weighed in Sunday after a football game in Denver where Manual High School players and the principal alleged a Confederate flag was displayed and that players were taunted with racial slurs — saying they found no evidence this happened.

The Weld officials declared they’ve canceled future sports competitions with Manual High School in Denver and denounced any form of racism.

Photo provided by The Greeley TribuneThis January file photo depicts Weld Central Middle School’s mascot. The mascot, which is the same one used by Weld Central High School, has come under fire recently.

Weld Central High officials reviewed a video recording of the Friday night football game at Manual that included shots of the crowd, Superintendent Greg Rabenhorst and Weld Central High School Principal Dan Kennedy said in a letter distributed to families.

“From our viewings, no signs of a Confederate flag exist. Further, we have no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior on or off the field….,” Rabenhorst and Kennedy wrote.

“We are not certain what may have led to what currently appears to be false accusations toward our team and spectators.”

Weld Central is located in Keenesburg, about 40 miles northeast of Denver, and the school’s Confederate-themed “Rebel” mascot has stirred conflict recently reflecting the national debate around Civil War monuments and racism.

Concerns surfaced Saturday after Manual Principal Nick Dawkins put out a letter addressing incidents he called “extremely concerning” and publicly shared “the facts as I know them at this time.”

The visiting Weld Central team had “a Rebel mascot,” Dawkins said in a letter to families, and “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the game, offending many members of the Manual community. We asked them to remove the flag and they did so. However, the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field. Three of our players were injured during the game, including a student who suffered a concussion and a student who was transported to the hospital for a leg injury.”

Those players will be fine, the letter said.

But, in addition, “some of our players reported that, when tackled, players from the opposing team taunted them with racial slurs,” Dawkins wrote.

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg was notified and “is reaching out to the Weld County superintendent to express our concerns that such symbols of racism and hatred, and racial slurs, ought to have no place in athletics or in any part of our students’ experiences,” Dawkins’ letter said. “We are all very concerned about what occurred and are trying to gather as much information as we can so we can determine next steps.”

The Weld schools officials’ letter said their investigation isn’t done and that “any behavior of this form found to be true will be subject to discipline. In the event any accusations are substantiated, we as a district will take full responsibility in condemning such behavior and disciplining students as appropriate.”

On Sunday, Denver Public Schools officials posted a follow-on letter from Dawkins to parents saying Monday’s junior varsity football game with Weld Central has been canceled and that Manual officials are “reaching out to the Colorado High School Athletics Association (CHSAA) for support in ensuring all future athletic contests are conducted in a positive spirit.”

Dawkins’ Sunday letter thanks families for support and kindness, noting that Manual has been “challenged by our fears over DACA” and by the deaths of two Manual students.

On Sept. 5 the Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shielded immigrants brought as children illegally to the U.S. from deportation.

“It is in this light that I am asking our community and media to respect the healing and grieving process our students are going through by allowing us to return our focus to school and the upcoming spirit week and homecoming activities that can make high school so fun,” Dawkins wrote.

Categories: All Denver News.

Messenger or Messages or something else? The search for an all-in-one mobile messaging app is elusive

The Denver Post - 8 hours 52 min ago

Q: My issue: Understanding the Messages app (on Android phone) and the Messenger app (part of Facebook) and why they seem to fight each other? First, it starts out very confusing because the names are very similar. Second: Not all of my family and friends are on Facebook. The majority are on Facebook. When I receive texts from some friends, it comes up in Messages and asks to be the default app. Then a text will come in on Messenger on FB, causing Messenger to load and ask if IT can be the default app. Also, each app has a switch to turn on SMS capability. Is there a single app that would work for both FB and non-FB friends (sacrificing some of the integration with FB)?  Or should I use Messenger exclusively and remove Messages from my phone? Or is there another app that is better than both?  ~ Steve Pitts, Boulder County

Tech+ You only use two messaging services Steve? What about WhatsApp, Slack, Skype and SnapChat?

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Excessiveness aside, you’re not alone in your ask. Wired, Engadget and others have complained about the lack of a single universal messaging app for years. But the idea of using just one mobile app to communicate with friends and family who prefer a service different from yours has been elusive, and something the technology universe just won’t seem to give us. Or not quite.

One promising app that does come to the top is Disa, at, and is available for Android devices. It combines three services: Facebook messaging, WhatsApp and the phone’s built-in texting. (It, too, also asks to take over the phone’s built-in Messages app). But the good news is the company isn’t done. It hopes to integrate more messaging services by encouraging developers to create more plugins for alternative messaging options.

For iPhone users, IM+ from developer Shape, also mixes multiple messaging services into one app. But recent reviews are mixed as to whether everything is working as promised.

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We know this challenge isn’t impossible. For computers, there are many more options, such as Franz, which supports Slack, WhatsApp, WeChat, HipChat, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Google Hangouts, GroupMe, Skype and “many more,” according to the European developer (Wired magazine’s review called Franz “not perfect” but the next best thing). These apps — including All in One Messenger and Rambox — are limited to PCs, Macs and Linux computers.

But for now, universal messaging apps for mobile devices are not as universal as one would hope.

ScreenshotAndroid’s built-in “Messages” app lets users pick a separate messaging app by default.

Of course in your case Steve, it sounds like you’re just using Facebook Messenger and your phone’s built-in SMS texting app — i.e. Android’s Messages.

If you prefer to use just one, then it’ll have to be Facebook’s option because Android’s built-in “Messages” doesn’t connect to Facebook. However, Facebook will oblige so you can keep messages from all of your Facebook friends and non-Facebook friends in one app.

Prefer to keep them separate? Go into Android’s Messages app, select the three vertical dots in the top right, select “Settings” and pick the top option “Default SMS app.” You’ll be able to pick which messaging service you want to have priority.

Likewise, go into Facebook Messenger settings (click your circle photo to get into settings), then select “SMS” and turn it off. Then you won’t get those annoying requests to make Facebook the default.

Hey readers, if you have discovered a must-share universal app, then please, share it. Comment below or contact Tech+ via

Everything’s better online! For complete answers and quick links, see the latest Tech+ Q&A at Miss a week? Then subscribe to the new weekly Tech+ newsletter to get this week’s question and more delivered to your inbox. Sign up, see past Tech+ answers or ask your own tech question at If you’re emailing your question, please add “Mailbag” to the subject line.

Categories: All Denver News.

In Denver’s raucous RiNo market, an island of affordable apartments will rise

The Denver Post - 8 hours 53 min ago

Mayor Michael Hancock likes to refer to the area along the the University of Colorado A-Line train route in north and east Denver as the “Corridor of Opportunity.” With a high concentration of undeveloped land there, Hancock and city officials believe the spaces along the 22.8 miles of RTD track connecting downtown and Denver International Airport represent one of the best commercial investments opportunities in the world.

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Property along the corridor, particularly in the River North neighborhood, is getting mighty expensive these days. Thanks to the foresight of a local nonprofit, an island of permanently affordable housing soon will be established amid that roiling real estate sea.

The Urban Land Conservancy announced today it is partnering with Medici Communities to build 65 apartments on 1.5 acres at the corner of 36th and Walnut streets. A block from RTD’s 38th & Blake Station, the Walnut Street Lofts will be reserved for people making 30 percent to 60 percent of the area’s median income when it welcomes its first tenants in late 2019, offering rents ranging from $400 for a one-bedroom, to $1,200 for a three-bedroom. 

“ULC is thrilled to partner with Medici to bring the only affordable housing option to RiNo’s 38th and Blake Station area,” Debra Bustos, the Conservancy’s vice president of real estate, said in a news release.

Aaron Miripol, ULC’s president and CEO, credited Bustos for taking the lead on purchasing the property for $1.7 million in 2011. It’s an example of “land banking,” a key strategy for the organization in which it swoops in and buys land along transportation corridors before major development begins and prices explode. The purchase price breaks down to less than $30 per square foot, Miripol said, while he is seeing properties selling for $200 per square foot in the area today.

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority awarded Medici $1,198,115 in low-income housing tax credits to help finance the estimated $17 million project. Medici previously worked with ULC to build the 50-unit Evans Station Lofts in  southwest Denver in 2013. Features of that affordable housing project, including community space for nonprofit organizations and artists, a computer lab and rooftop deck, will be echoed on Walnut, ULC said. One difference is the Conservancy sold Medici the land for the Evans project, but it is maintaining a 99-year, automatically renewing land lease on Walnut Street and selling Medici development rights. That means for 198 years ULC will control what happens on the land.

“Whatever happens in the future, it’s going to remain affordable,” Miripol said. “We going to ensure it remains a community resource. It will last multiple generations.”

“This is a great (transit-oriented development) location, and it will provide affordable access to jobs across metro Denver to people who can’t afford or don’t want to pay for a car,” Medici principal and Walnut Station project leader Josh Russell said. “When you reduce the cost of housing and transportation for a moderate-income household, you have a chance to make a really positive impact and set the table for long-term self sufficiency.”

Colorado development firm McWinney is chipping in $1.5 million toward the Walnut Street project. The company owns an adjacent property and is putting up the money to earn a height variance for whatever it builds there from the city of Denver. Under the guidelines of a plan unanimously approved by the City Council last year, developers who build affordable housing or pay cash in lieu of affordable units can earn approval to construct buildings up to 16 stories tall on the blocks nearest the 38th & Blake Station.

“We have been working on a zoning incentive package for two years with stakeholders that increases density at the station, in exchange for affordable housing and community serving businesses,” City Council President Albus Brooks said in a news release. “We hope this will be a model for the rest of our city.”

The Urban Land Conservancy has invested in 28 projects in the metro area since it was founded in 2003. That includes a 156-unit affordable apartment project near the 40th and Colorado train station, also in the “Corridor of Opportunity.” Miripol said the nonprofit still has 20-plus acres in its bank to continue its mission of benefiting urban communities.

Jeff Allen is president of the Cole Neighborhood Association. His group represents Denver’s Cole neighborhood, just across the train tracks from RiNo and the Walnut Street project. The association endorsed the project and wrote a letter supporting Medici’s application for low-income housing tax credits to finance it. 

“We recognize that there is a critical need for affordable housing all over Denver but especially close to light rail or commuter rail stations,” Allen said.

Categories: All Denver News.

J.D. Martinez’s clutch hit secures top wild card for Diamondbacks

The Denver Post - 9 hours 57 min ago

PHOENIX — J.D. Martinez lined a two-out RBI single to deep left field with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Miami Marlins 3-2 on Sunday to clinch the top wild card in the National League.

The Diamondbacks, who won only 69 games a year ago but are 90-66 this season, were already assured a playoff berth earlier in the day when St. Louis lost at Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee was beaten at home by the Chicago Cubs.

The comeback victory over Miami ensured Arizona will host the NL wild-card game Oct. 4.

Fernando Rodney (5-4) pitched a perfect inning for the win.

A throwing error by reliever Justin Nicolino (2-3) on Kristopher Negron’s sacrifice bunt helped load the bases with no outs in the Arizona ninth. Ketel Marte and Paul Goldschmidt each hit into a forceout at home. That brought up Martinez, who has been spectacular since he was acquired from Detroit in July. He sent Javy Guerra’s pitch on a line shot over the head of left fielder Marcell Ozuna to win it.

Giancarlo Stanton and Brian Anderson each doubled in a run for the Marlins.

Chris Herrmann homered for the Diamondbacks

Arizona tied it 2-all when Goldschmidt led off the seventh with a single, went to second on Ozuna’s error and scored on Daniel Descalso‘s single.

Miami starter Dan Straily gave up one run on four hits in six innings, striking out nine and walking three. Diamondbacks counterpart Patrick Corbin allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings.

The Diamondbacks learned they had clinched a postseason spot halfway through the fourth inning with an announcement on the big message board that was followed by a roar from the crowd. In the Arizona dugout, there were hugs and high-fives, and players even came out briefly and clapped hands and cheered the fans.

It’s the sixth time Arizona has advanced to the postseason in its 20-year history. The other years were 1999, 2001 (World Series champions), 2002, 2007 and 2011.


Plate umpire Jeff Kellogg was hit in the head inadvertently by Marte’s bat. After one more batter to lead off the eighth, Kellogg left the game was replaced at home by first base ump James Hoye.


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Diamondbacks: Manager Torey Lovullo said an X-ray on Friday revealed the fracture in INF Chris Owings’ middle finger is not completely healed. The earliest possible return for Owings would be the NL Division Series. … C Jeff Mathis (broken hand) has been cleared for more baseball activity and hopes he can play in the final series of the regular season at Kansas City.


Marlins: RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (0-3, 4.37 ERA) starts Monday night at Colorado against RHP Tyler Chatwood (8-13, 4.56).

Diamondbacks: Arizona continues its final regular-season homestand Monday night when RHP Zack Godley (8-8, 3.20 ERA) pitches against Giants RHP Johnny Cueto (7-8, 4.49).

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FBI: “Double Hat Bandit” suspect arrested for bank robberies

The Denver Post - 10 hours 9 min ago

BOISE, Idaho — A 54-year-old man suspected of robbing banks and credit union in seven states has been arrested in Indiana.

The FBI announced on Friday that Shayne Carson was arrested Thursday without incident in the parking lot of a motel in Whiteland, Indiana. Carson is scheduled to be transferred to Utah to face a bank robbery charge stemming from a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City, Utah.

According to the complaint, Carson is believed to be the “Double Hat Bandit.” Carson allegedly wore two hats — typically a beanie over a baseball cap — during 13 bank robberies throughout Utah, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Idaho since last December. All the banks hit were inside grocery stores.

Carson is also a suspect in additional bank robberies in Colorado, Iowa and Ohio. Those incidents are still under investigation.

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Man with pellet gun who was shot by Fort Collins police officer is sentenced to community corrections

The Denver Post - 10 hours 11 min ago

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A man who was shot by a police officer in northern Colorado while he was holding a pellet gun has been sentenced to three years in a community corrections program.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports Austin Snodgrass struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty Thursday to felony menacing.

Prosecutors say the officer was justified when he shot Snodgrass, who walked toward him while pointing a pellet gun at him outside of a home Jan. 21.

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Investigators say Snodgrass acknowledged luring police to his home with a false report that his roommate had been stabbed. He says he lied to get officers to shoot him because he did not want to live anymore.

Community Corrections aims to reintegrate felony offenders into the community by providing counseling and life skills training.

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Mexico honors its greatest wrestler, El Santo, at centennial

The Denver Post - 10 hours 31 min ago

By Gustavo Martinez Contreras, The Associated Press

TULANCINGO, Mexico — You may have never heard the name Rodolfo Guzman.

But his silver-masked alter ego, El Santo, was a larger-than-life presence in professional wrestling rings, in comics and on the silver screen, helping popularize Mexico’s “lucha libre” around the world and entering the pantheon of pop culture icons.

“Lucha libre wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for El Santo,” said Roberto Shimizu, art director for the Old Toy Museum in Mexico City. “And for us Mexicans, El Santo is a figure of rectitude, of integrity, of dedication. He represents every virtue.”

Even as Mexico remains in shock from this week’s devastating earthquake, the country has been quietly marking Saturday’s centennial of the birth of El Santo, or the Saint. On Friday his son — also a pro wrestler who wears a silver mask and goes by El Hijo del Santo, or El Santo’s Son — hosted a Mass in memory of both his father and the victims of the quake.

Born Sept. 23, 1917, in Tulancingo, a small city about two hours northeast of Mexico City, Guzman’s family moved to the capital’s notoriously gritty Tepito neighborhood with his family as a boy. Today a statue of El Santo stands in Tepito, where he began his career.

He became a superstar after a legendary match in 1953, around the dawn of the television era in Mexico, in which he wagered his mask against nemesis Black Shadow.

Soon afterward a comic book series featuring El Santo was a smash hit, and the next step was obvious: movies. El Santo shot his first, “Santo vs. the Evil Brain,” in 1958, and went on to star in nearly 50 films including the most celebrated, 1962’s “Santo vs. the Vampire Women.”

“While Americans had Superman, Batman or Spider-Man, we had Rodolfo Guzman, El Santo, fighting everybody from the mummies to the Nazis,” said Felipe Carrillo Montiel, an El Santo expert. “But unlike those American superheroes, he was a real man — you could read his comics during the week and then go see him wrestle on the weekend at your local arena.”

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The silver screen cemented El Santo’s international celebrity and laid the foundations for what remains a profitable brand. El Hijo del Santo, his youngest son and the only one who followed him into wrestling, has similarly crossed over into films and comics and even environmental activism. The younger Santo runs three stores where you can buy all manner of merchandise, from T-shirts to posters to El Santo-brand tequila.

Tuesday’s earthquake led to an El Santo event in Tulancingo being partly rescheduled, and a lucha libre show planned for Saturday was also postponed.

Yet despite the muted celebrations, observers say Guzman’s legacy at 100 is palpable. This summer an exhibit in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park showcased 100 photographs to mark the centennial, and El Hijo was the guest of honor at a celebration at city hall honoring his father.

“He was the original action figure,” Shimizu said. “His image was reproduced millions of times, and every single kid in Mexico had one.”

Guzman died of a heart attack in 1984. He was buried wearing his silver mask.

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Redskins put it all together in prime time to rout Raiders

The Denver Post - 10 hours 49 min ago

LANDOVER, Md. — Kirk Cousins threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns, Chris Thompson had 188 all-purpose yards and a score and the Washington Redskins sacked Derek Carr four times and held the Oakland Raiders to 128 yards in a dominating 27-10 victory on Sunday night.

Cousins was a spectacular 25 of 30, including TD passes to Thompson, Vernon Davis and a 52-yarder to Josh Doctson. Thompson had 150 yards receiving and 38 yards rushing, joining Jamaal Charles as the only running backs to put up 150 yards receiving against the Raiders (2-1) since they moved to Oakland in 1995.

Thompson was again a difference maker and has four of Washington’s seven offensive touchdowns this season. The Redskins (2-1), who piled up 472 yards, improved to 4-6 in prime-time games under coach Jay Gruden and tied the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East.

Under pressure all night, Carr was 19 of 31 for 118 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Carr had thrown 112 consecutive passes before being picked off by Montae Nicholson on the second play of the game.

Oakland’s rushing offense, which came in ranked fifth in the NFL, managed just 32 yards.


The Raiders went 0 of 11 on third down as part of their anemic offensive effort. Their 47 first-half yards were their fewest since Week 14 against Denver in 2015, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Oakland’s only touchdown, a 21-yard pass from Carr to Jared Cook, came after the Redskins’ Jamison Crowder muffed the punt return and the Raiders recovered at the Washington 18. The Raiders had scoring drives of 18 and 8 yards.


The Redskins’ defensive front dominated the Raiders’ offensive line for much of the games. Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan each had a solo sack and rookie Jonathan Allen was in on two — with Junior Galette and Matt Ioannidis.

It was the most sacks of Carr since the 2015 finale against Kansas City (six).


Washington’s Dan Snyder followed the lead of a handful of other owners by linking arms with his players on the sideline during the national anthem. Seven Redskins players kneeled: tight ends Jordan Reed and Niles Paul, receivers Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Brian Quick and linebackers Chris Carter and Ryan Anderson.

A vast majority of Raiders players sat on the bench arm in arm. Carr was among those standing, along with coach Jack Del Rio.


Raiders: WR Michael Crabtree left with a chest injury. … CB Sean Smith returned from a neck injury and was beaten down the field by Davis and others.

Redskins: Reed (chest/rib), RB Rob Kelley (rib), and LB Mason Foster (shoulder) were all inactive . … RB Samaje Perine injured his hand on the play he fumbled in the fourth quarter. … OT Ty Nsekhe suffered a groin injury.


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Raiders LT Donald Penn to NBC on President Donald Trump’s comments about anthem protests: “I think it’s just going to start a domino effect. I think it’s going to start a lot more protests, a lot more guys are going to start taking knees, a lot more guys are going to start sitting through the national anthem because he’s basically calling us out.”


Raiders: Visit the Denver Broncos in an AFC West matchup Sunday.

Redskins: Visit the 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs on Monday, Oct. 2.

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