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WATCH: Broncos’ Chris Harris Jr. gets a pick-six on Cardinals’ Josh Rosen

October 18, 2018 - 6:07pm

Pick-6 x 2!@ChrisHarrisJr takes the Rosen pass to the HOUSE. #BroncosCountry #DENvsAZ

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Small Business Administration backs nearly $885 million in Colorado loans last year

October 18, 2018 - 5:57pm

The U.S. Small Business Administration approved 1,766 loans worth $884.9 million in Colorado during the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to a release Wednesday.

The number of loans went up slightly, but the dollar volume fell from the prior year, when 1,758 loans were approved worth a record $902 million.

Dan Nordberg, administrator of SBA Region VIII, which includes Colorado, attributed the lower dollar volume to the ability of more small businesses to obtain conventional financing without the guarantees the SBA steps in to provide when lenders are hesitant.

“The small business community has benefited from a very good pro-business environment, which was enhanced this year by the president’s tax cuts and reduction of red tape and regulations,” Nordberg said in a statement.

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Wells Fargo remains the state’s top issuer under the SBA’s most popular program, 7(a), with 239 loans worth $91.5 million. It was followed by U.S. Bank with 157 loans worth $14.3 million. Other banks that issued 40 or more 7(a) loans in Colorado last fiscal year included JP Morgan Chase, Hanmi Bank, Bank of the West, Compass Bank, CoBiz Bank and Key Bank.

Colorado businesses took out 1,436 loans valued at $730.1 million under the 7(a) program, with the average loan size at $508,357.

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Denver police sergeant arrested on suspicion of assault in “use of force” incident

October 18, 2018 - 5:46pm

A Denver police sergeant has been arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault related to a “use of force” incident while on duty.

Sgt. Joseph Rodarte is suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case, police said.

The incident in question happened Aug. 22, and the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau conducted a review. After consulting with the district attorney’s office, police arrested Rodarte.

Body-camera footage of the incident was not released Thursday because of pending formal charges, police said. A booking photo and arrest affidavit also were not released Thursday.

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In July of 2017, Rodarte was suspended without pay for three days for failing to obey departmental rules about using the National Crime Information Center database and failing to devote his duty time to patrolling.

In the 2017 incident, Rodarte left his district during a patrol shift and misused a federal criminal database in an attempt to find his daughter’s missing cellphone.

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Colorado Court of Appeals upholds lower court ruling banning sale of large-capacity magazines for firearms

October 18, 2018 - 5:36pm

Prohibiting the sale, transfer or possession of large-capacity magazines for firearms is constitutional, the Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled, reaffirming a lower court’s ruling.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, Colorado’s largest state-based gun lobby, sued the state in 2016 to overturn two 2013 firearm laws. House Bill 13-1224, outlawed LCMs, magazine holding more than 15 rounds. HB 13-1229, expanded mandatory background checks for firearm sales and transfers. Both were passed a year after the Aurora theater shooting, in which an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, among other weapons, was used to kill 12 people and injure dozens more.

On Thursday, the court of appeals, upholding a prior district court ruling, announced that a division of the court concludes that the “statutes are constitutional as a reasonable exercise of the state’s police power for the protection of public health and safety.”

Furthermore, the court upheld the statutes based, in part, on:

  • They reasonably further a legitimate governmental interest in reducing deaths from mass shootings.
  • They are reasonably related to the legislative purpose of reducing deaths from mass shootings.
  • They do not sweep constitutionally protected activities within their reach.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners had challenged in court the “facial” constitutionality of both bills.

Plantiffs had argued that the LCM ban should be subject to a “heightened standard of review,” according to the appeal court’s summary. They also argued that the statutes were unconstitutionally broad because they ban “an overwhelming majority of magazines.”

Lawmakers and courts considered the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, in which two assailants shot and killed 13 people and wounded 21 others.

The court found a greater than fourfold increase in mass shootings nationally with LCMs per year comparing pre-Columbine and post-Columbine.

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“In the thirty-two years between and including 1967 and 1998, there were eleven mass shootings with LCMs — approximately one mass shooting every three years,” according to the court ruling. “Since Columbine, in the eighteen years between and including 1999 and 2016, there have been twenty-seven mass shootings with LCMs — 1.5 per year.”

The court found that: “Smaller magazines create more pauses in firing, which allow potential victims to take life-saving measures. We conclude that the statutes are reasonably related to legitimate governmental purpose of reducing deaths from mass shootings.”

The appeals court concluded that the statutes “burden only a person’s opportunity to use an LCM, not a person’s right to bear arms in self-defense.”

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“I sleep like a baby”: Colorado lawyer subpoenaed by ICE over leaked memo refuses to cooperate

October 18, 2018 - 5:22pm

The Trump administration this week subpoenaed a Centennial-based immigration attorney in an effort to hunt down the source of a leaked internal memo from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

Daniel Kowalski, a managing partner with the Ware Immigration firm in Centennial and editor of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin, on Thursday said he does not plan to respond to the subpoena or provide any information about his source.

At issue is an ICE internal memo from July, which detailed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to restrict political asylum for victims of domestic violence and gang crimes.

Kowalski published the memo in Bender’s Immigration Bulletin — an immigration law journal available through Lexis/Nexis — though he took it down in September. The memo can still be found on the American Immigration Lawyers Association website.

The subpoena, which was sent by ICE, demands that Kowalski give up “all information related to the … memorandum,” including the name of his source or sources, and their contact information.

A regional ICE spokesman said he was unaware of the subpoena and declined comment.

Kowalski said he’s “under no obligation” to do anything regarding the subpoena.

“As a journalist I’m protected by the First Amendment and protected by the Colorado shield law,” he said. “They’re hoping I will give up my source, which I’m not going to do.”

The subpoena, he believes, is just a scare tactic.

“I think it was a bonehead move on their part,” Kowalski said. “If they pursue it and actually try to get me served, I’m sure a judge will toss it out in a heartbeat.”

The American Civil Liberties Union has reached out to Kowalski and offered support should he need it.

“It is quite obvious that this is not an appropriately issued subpoena,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.

The leaked memo was written by ICE legal adviser Tracy Short, and addressed to all Office of Principal Legal Advisor attorneys. It was intended to provide guidance on the agency’s new interpretation of asylum law, which sought to make it harder for victims of domestic violence or gang violence to qualify for asylum in the U.S.

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The guidance from Attorney General Sessions marked a stark change from previous administrations, which generally have treated these criteria broadly when considering asylum cases.

Attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia are challenging the Trump administration’s decision to deny asylum to these victims. The ACLU also has filed a federal lawsuit.

If Sessions’ memo stands, the lawsuit argues, people “desperately seeking safety will be unlawfully deported to places where they fear they will be raped, kidnapped, beaten and killed.”

Kowalski, a Denver native and graduate of East High School, said he’s now just waiting to see what the administration decides to do in his case.

“I’m not worried at all,” he said. “I sleep like a baby.”

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The NFL’s last-gasp effort to save the kickoff actually may have worked

October 18, 2018 - 4:50pm

NEW YORK — It is so far, so good on what amounts to the NFL’s last-ditch attempt to avoid future consideration of removing the kickoff from the league entirely.

Six weeks into a season for which the NFL made significant modifications to kickoffs in an effort to make the play safer, league leaders say their early data about the number of concussions suffered by players on kickoffs has been promising. That is significant, given that the final injury numbers for the 2018 season likely will determine whether potential alternatives to the kickoff are contemplated in the offseason.

“The video is showing us something,” said Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations. “And we’re hoping that the medical data actually marries with what we’ve been seeing on video.”

The league said at this week’s owners’ meeting in New York that there were zero concussions suffered by players on kickoffs during this year’s preseason games — three fewer than during the 2017 preseason.

The NFL will not release its injury data for the regular season until after the season concludes. But Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay, the chairman of the league’s competition committee, said this week the preliminary indication is that the reduction of concussions on kickoffs has continued into the early stages of the regular season.

“But,” McKay added, “I think it’s way too early to draw any conclusion from it.”

Even so, McKay said he is cautiously optimistic that the changes made to the kickoff this season will enable it to remain in the game.

“One thing we have really tried to do is keep working with the framers, the way they framed the game, and then make adjustments, as opposed to saying we’re going to start over,” McKay said. “So I think the kickoff’s been a part of our game. Special teams have been an integral part of our game. And we need to keep them in the game if we can.

“I think what was concerning to us is we’ve made a lot of tweaks with that play over the years. And we have moved the [injury] numbers a little bit, we truly have, the right direction, but not far enough. So I think it was time to see if we could really make a change. And I think we have. We can tweak what we’ve changed if we need to. … I am optimistic.”

NFL leaders have called the kickoff the sport’s most hazardous play. When the kickoff was discussed at a player-safety summit held in May at the NFL’s offices, Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy said the data showed that a player was five times more likely to suffer a concussion on a kickoff than on a play from the line of scrimmage.

Murphy, a member of the competition committee, said then that he was hopeful about the changes but added that the kickoff was on “a pretty short leash” before there would be consideration of eliminating it.

“We also realize it’s part of the fabric of the game,” Murphy said in May. “It’s exciting. One of the best things about our game is that you can catch up with the onside kick. To completely lose some of those things would be a big change to the game. But when you’re staring at injury data, you’ve got to do something.”

The NFL brought special teams coaches from teams around the league to the May safety meeting to provide input.

“I give the coaches [credit],” McKay said this week. “When we got together in May, we put in our competition committee report a paragraph in there that said, ‘Hey, we need to work on this play. … We just don’t know what the future of this play is.’ And they brought a lot of good ideas.”

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The changes were designed to make the kickoff more like a punt, with blockers turning and running downfield alongside prospective tacklers rather than meeting them head-on in jarring collisions. Members of the kicking team were prohibited from getting a running start before the kick. A no-blocking zone between the two teams was instituted. All forms of “wedge” blocking, with multiple players lining up shoulder to shoulder, were banned. The hope was that teams would use smaller, swifter players on kickoffs.

“The stationary start is one thing,” McKay said. “But they’re enabled to get up to full speed because they’re getting a full run because we also made it that you couldn’t block in that one zone. So they’re no longer fearful of getting ear-holed if they’re running off the start. So they’re running. But the players are different. It’s space and it’s speed and it’s size. And we definitely made the players on this play smaller. Therefore the impacts are different. And we’re seeing it.

“We’ve eliminated the double team. So you don’t see that cluster with those two bigger players, whether it was the tight end or an offensive guard or whoever it was. It was creating a lot of collisions. So far, what the coaches laid out and what we worked through, the design has worked. But it’s early. … Let’s see how the season progresses.”

McKay said he once favored getting rid of the extra point. But then it was adjusted, making it a longer kick to render it less automatic, and it remained in the game.

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Broncos Briefs: Shane Ray’s injury opens door for DeMarcus Walker’s 2018 debut

October 18, 2018 - 4:33pm

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Linebacker Shane Ray’s ankle injury kept him out of Thursday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals and created an opportunity for defensive end DeMarcus Walker.

Walker, a 2017 second-round pick, made the team as the sixth defensive lineman instead of veteran Clinton McDonald, who was cut and signed with Oakland. Walker, though, was a healthy scratch for the first six games because the Broncos opted to dress only five linemen.

Five of the Broncos inactives were injured players: Ray, left guard Ron Leary (Achilles), right tackle Jared Veldheer (knee, third consecutive game), cornerback Adam Jones (thigh, second consecutive game). Leary has been ruled out for the year.

Quarterback Kevin Hogan and linebacker Alexander Johnson were inactive for the sixth consecutive game.

Bowlen daughter hosting event. Brittany Bowlen, a daughter of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, is stepping into the public spotlight Saturday when she co-hosts the 10th annual “Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show” for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation in downtown Denver.

In July, Broncos president/CEO Joe Ellis said the 28-year old Bowlen had “expressed an interest,” in becoming the team’s next controlling owner. Since Pat Bowlen stepped aside because of Alzheimer’s in 2014, the team has been run by a three-person trust headed by Ellis.

Bowlen currently works at McKinsey & Company in Denver.

Several Broncos players, including linebacker Von Miller and quarterback Case Keenum, along with actors Jeremy Renner, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Foxx, are expected to attend the event.

Taylor making progress. Broncos receiver Jordan Taylor remains on the physically unable to perform list (hips) but was able to make a limited return to practice on Tuesday.

Because Taylor has participated in a team workout, it starts a three-week  clock where the Broncos must decide to transfer Taylor to the 53-man roster or to injured reserve.

“Obviously being able to get out there with the guys, it’s what I’ve been waiting for this nine months or however long it’s been,” Taylor said.  “Technically not 100 percent and still a little bit limited, but this is a pretty good week for me to get going (with the) lighter practices.”

Taylor laughed before starting the interview, saying he had to catch his breath because he was a “little out of shape. I have to get back into football shape. Being back out there, going through football drills, going against guys in live competition, I’ll get there.”

Taylor said he had a setback “about two months ago and (that) was obviously disappointing. The last month-and-a-half or so, I’ve started to really make progress.”

An issue for Taylor if he is cleared to play is roster space. The Broncos have kept five receivers since Week 2 and the fifth player, Tim Patrick, has been a solid special teams contributor.

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No. 58 is No. 14. Per the NFLPA, Miller’s No. 58 jersey is the 14th-highest seller for the period of March 1-Aug. 31 and the best-selling jersey for a defensive player. Miller is the only Broncos player in the top 50. Miller is one of seven defensive players on the list, which includes 21 quarterbacks.

The top five: New England’s Tom Brady, Dallas’ Dak Prescott, Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz, Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.

 

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David Carle, DU Pioneers hockey, off to 2-0 start and embracing growth

October 18, 2018 - 4:17pm

With 11 freshmen, last season’s third-string goalie as the new starter, just three seniors and no head-coaching experience to draw from, the first live week of David Carle’s head coaching career went as well as anybody following the University of Denver hockey team could have expected.

Carle, 28, embraced being a Pioneer.

The NCAA’s youngest coach in charge of one of the country’s most prestigious programs oversaw dominating victories at Air Force (4-1) and against Alabama-Huntsville (6-0). Make no mistake, that’s incomparable to defeating Minnesota and Boston University in a nonconference weekend, but nevertheless an excellent start for Carle and his program that saw five standouts ditch their NCAA eligibility for NHL contracts during the off-season.

Minus forwards Henrik Borgstrom (Florida Panthers), Troy Terry (Anaheim Ducks), Dylan Gambrell (San Jose Sharks), Blake Hillman (Chicago Blackhawks) and Logan O’Connor (Avalanche), plus four graduated seniors, Carle had his team playing with confidence and poise.

“I’m learning and that’s been part of the message, especially to our leaders,” Carle said this week from Pete’s University Park Cafe, a popular DU hangout. “I’m going to learn and grow as much as our team is going to learn and grow. Do I feel more comfortable and confident six weeks on the ice with the guys? Yeah, I do, for sure.”

Carle was a DU assistant for eight years, including the first four under George Gwozdecky as a student volunteer. After spending one season as an assistant with the Green Bay Gamblers of the junior-A United States Hockey League, Carle was hired by Gwozdecky’s successor, Jim Montgomery — now the head coach with the Dallas Stars — to serve in a full-time paid role.

Carle, who succeeded Montgomery in May, is surrounded by experience with staff, including Tavis MacMillan and Dallas Ferguson and volunteer coach Steven Reinprecht. MacMillan, 48, and Ferguson, 45, are both former head coaches at Alaska-Fairbanks, and last season Ferguson was head coach for major-junior’s Calgary Hitmen. Reinprecht, 42, is the former 2001 Stanley Cup-winning Avalanche forward who retired from his playing career last spring.

“I think I’ve gotten better in the first five, six weeks of being on the ice for practice,” Carle said. “After the first practice, I remember saying to ‘Ferg’ and Tavis, ‘That was a lot different, being at the (dry-erase) board every drill.’ And ‘Ferg’ looks at me and says, ‘It was a lot different for me, too.’ Because he’s been a head coach the last 10 years and now he’s out there pushing pucks around.”

Carle used his time as a puck-pusher under Gwozdecky and Montgomery to soak up the best from two coaches who led DU to national championships. On the ice, the Pioneers will continue to play Montgomery-style hockey — puck pursuit and puck support in all areas — the brand that helped DU win the 2017 NCAA title.

“DC has been under Monty and he brings a lot of the same ideas, the same systems, on the ice. So that’s been pretty easy,” said senior forward and team captain Colin Staub. “For the older players, there’s not much to get accustomed to as returners. Off the ice, DC brings a great intellectual side of the game and he explains the systems and everything really well.”

DU’s average age is 20 years, eight months — even with Staub, 24, in the mix. The Pioneers aren’t in a rebuilding mode just because Montgomery left, thanks in part to his staff recruiting and developing talent so well.

“Some of our freshman really take it as a slight that people doubt us because of them,” Carle said. “But we’re trying to have a growth mindset, individually and collectively. Certainly this team, with the youth we have, there is so much room for growth. We want to be a different team in February and March than we are in October. However much we grow is going to determine how far we go. That’s what’s so exciting about are youth and our older players coming together.”

In his new role, Carle will coach in his first two-game series this weekend, against Alaska-Fairbanks at Magness Arena. Sophomore goalie Devin Cooley — last year’s third-stringer — is pegged to start both games as freshman Filip Larsson, the Detroit Red Wings draftee, continues to recover from a lower-body injury.

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Conor McGregor tells Jerry Jones he wants a UFC fight at AT&T Stadium

October 18, 2018 - 3:55pm

Perhaps a sight more surprising than the Cowboys’ offense suddenly springing to life for 40 points against Jacksonville last Sunday: flamboyant UFC fighter Conor McGregor standing on the field with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during pregame.

McGregor, in a tight baby blue sport coat and French-cuffed white shirt, palled around with Jones, greeted some of Dallas’s players during warm-ups and infamously tossed a football around at midfield. (Spoiler alert: he is bad at tossing.)

But what on earth was the Irish McGregor doing deep in the heart of Texas?

Scheming with Jones to put a UFC fight in AT&T Stadium, it seems.

NFL Films caught Jones running down the specs of the state-of-the-art facility with McGregor. (In case you didn’t know, the jumbotron above the playing surface is 3 million square-feet, Jones told the fighter. The largest crowd AT&T Stadium has hosted is 113,000-some people.)

“When you’re in the ring, you’re 70 feet tall up there,” Jones said of the big screen. “They can see your eyes. They can see anything you want them to.”

“That octagon has got to be the center one day,” McGregor responded. “I’m going to make that happen. Trust me, especially now after being here and seeing it.”

“I know it was rumored many times and we never got there,” the fighter continued, after catching a glimpse of the cameras recording their conversation, “but now is the time.”

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Jerry World certainly gets a lot of use every autumn, between Cowboys games and the near-constant college football games that come to town. But Ed Sheeran is also stopping by on his North American stadium tour later this month. AT&T Stadium is hosting a football and cheerleading camp shortly after Christmas.

The rodeo comes to town in February. Then a monster truck rally. Then the rodeo returns. And then, before you know it, it’s May and a music festival is renting out the venue.

“It is a spectacle, this place,” McGregor said.

But is it fit for a UFC fight, let alone one featuring McGregor, who hasn’t won a bout since 2016? That’s up to Jones.

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Risk of stoned driver crashes grows as legal marijuana spreads across U.S., according to study

October 18, 2018 - 3:07pm

As the push to legalize marijuana gains momentum, so is evidence that more permissive policies on the drug are putting motorists at risk.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found, in a study to be released on Thursday, that traffic accidents are rising in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. That followed stark warnings from the National Transportation Safety Board, which on Tuesday issued several recommendations to combat drug-impaired driving.

“The last thing in the world that we want is to introduce another legal substance where we may be adding to that toll and to the carnage on our highways,” said David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute. “With marijuana impairment, we’re just now starting to understand what we don’t know.”

After retail sales of recreational cannabis began, the frequency of collision insurance claims in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington State rose about 6 percent higher than in nearby states where marijuana is still illegal, the IIHS said in the study.

A separate IIHS study saw a 5-percent increase in the rate of crashes per million vehicle registrations reported to police in Colorado, Oregon and Washington versus neighbors that haven’t legalized the drug.

“The bottom line of all of this is that we’re seeing a consistently higher crash risk in those states that have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes,” Harkey said.

Recreational cannabis is also legal in California, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont while 22 other states have legalized the drug for medical purposes, according to the IIHS, which is financed by insurers. Harkey said policy makers should take heed of the findings as more states are set to consider ballot referendums or legislation to expand legal use of the drug.

Combating drug-impaired driving presents many challenges. Experts say more research is needed to better understand marijuana impairment. Motorists sometimes mix different drugs, or drugs with alcohol, making it harder to isolate their effects.

Deadly Texas Crash

The NTSB’s recommendations followed an investigation of a 2017 crash in rural Texas that killed 13 people. The accident was caused by a pickup truck driver who was high on marijuana and an anti-anxiety medication and slammed head-on into a church bus. Video shot by another driver showed the pickup repeatedly veering onto the shoulder and across the double-yellow line for 15 minutes.

“The rising tide of drug-impaired driving did not begin with this driver, and it will not end with him,” Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the NTSB said Tuesday. “Law enforcement needs additional tools and advanced training to detect impaired drivers before they crash, regardless of the impairing drug they’re using.”

Drugs were detected in 30 percent of drivers who died in accidents in 2006 and were tested for drugs, according to the NTSB. That number jumped to 46 percent in 2015. In random roadside testing, more than 22 percent of drivers showed evidence of drug use, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.

Among the NTSB’s recommendations was one that called for the traffic safety administration to develop specifications for “oral fluid” screening devices that law enforcement can use to test drivers for drug impairment during roadside stops.

Now, there is no widely accepted means of testing that can be used in the way that police officers are quickly able to determine alcohol levels in motorists.

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The NHTSA convened public meetings in Seattle, Baltimore and Nashville on drug-impaired driving this year and began addressing the issue in its long-running drunk driving ad campaigns for the first first time.

A recent report by traffic safety officials in Washington State found a sharp rise in the mixing of drugs and alcohol since the state legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2014. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission found that one in four traffic fatalities in 2016 involved drivers who mixed drugs with alcohol or combined drugs.

Marijuana and alcohol was the most common combination, said Shelly Baldwin, the commission’s legislative director.

The body of available research on marijuana’s impairing effects is much more limited than studies of alcohol impairment, and much of it likely obscures the risks, Baldwin said. For example, past studies have examined driver impairment using far less potent strains of the drug than what is actually available to consumers at retail marijuana dispensaries, she said.

“We need a lot more research,” she added. “We need it on the types of marijuana that people are actually using and we needed it 10 years ago, unfortunately.”

–With assistance from Alan Levin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Beene in Washington at rbeene@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, John Harney

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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NBA G League to offer $125,000 contracts to elite prospects

October 18, 2018 - 2:58pm

MIAMI — The G League will begin offering “select contracts” worth $125,000 next year to elite prospects who are not yet eligible for the NBA, a move that could slightly lessen the handful of one-and-done players at the college level.

Jack Hanrahan, Erie Times-News via APIn this April 6, 2018, file photo, Erie BayHawks’ Josh Magette drives past Raptors 905’s Alfonzo McKinnie in an in NBA G League tournament basketball game, in Erie, Pa. The G League is planning to offer an option to players who are not yet eligible for the NBA draft a chance to turn pro out of high school and avoid the college one-and-done route.

There is no determination yet on how players will be identified as potential targets for such a contract. The G League said Thursday that it is establishing a working group to develop that process and other criteria, and that there will be no cap on how many players could be signed to a select deal.

“We recognize that talent assessment is inherently subjective,” G League President Malcolm Turner said. “But as the name would suggest, this working group will be charged with identifying the relevant pool of players who may be offered a select contract. It’s not as if any player can unilaterally raise their hand and dictate that they will join the league playing under a select contract.”

Players will be eligible to sign the select deal if they turn 18 by Sept. 15 prior to the season that they would spend in the G League. The move follows recommendations released earlier this year by the Commission on College Basketball, a group that was chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and was tasked with reforming the college game.

The commission report said “elite high school players with NBA prospects … should not be ‘forced’ to attend college.”

Turner said the move addresses that concern.

“We’ve tried to answer the basketball community’s call for an alternative in a timely and thoughtful way,” Turner said.

Players who receive the select contracts all will become eligible for the NBA draft the following year. Their rights would not be retained by an NBA club beforehand, no matter which G League affiliate they wind up with.

Under current rules, players are not eligible to enter the NBA draft until they are a year removed from high school — though that is expected to change through an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players in time for the 2022 draft.

The G League has allowed 18-year-old players in the past, but never before under any elite designation.

While it is apparent there are still details to be ironed out — such as how these select players will be allocated to G League teams — NCAA President Mark Emmert said he appreciates the G League’s plan.

“Obtaining a college education continues to provide unmatched preparation for success in life for the majority of student-athletes and remains an excellent path to professional sports for many,” Emmert said. “However, this change provides another option for those who would prefer not to attend college but want to directly pursue professional basketball.”

And this could put the G League and some big-name NCAA programs on a collision course.

Players can sign letters of intent to play for a Division I school in the 2019-20 season starting next month, and there’s nothing to suggest that some of the top recruits — whether they’ve signed or not — won’t consider going to the G League for $125,000 instead of college next season. That means the potential is there for some awkward situations if a player signs with a school, and later backs out of that commitment to turn pro.

The G League’s working group is expected to be formed and functioning within the next couple of weeks, but it’s unclear when the process of players contacting the league and vice versa will begin. It is expected that there will be an advisory council to tell athletes who contact the G League about their potential eligibility for a select deal, much like how college football players can ask about their potential NFL draft status.

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“There might be some collision points, but our role and what we intend to do is educate and inform the marketplace,” Turner said. “We’re also not going to be targeting those who have already made their decisions.”

Earlier this year, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James called the NCAA model “corrupt” and said he would suggest to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver a plan to expand the G League and turn it into more of a farm system with an eye on truly preparing young talent for the NBA.

“As the NBA, we have to figure out a way that we can shore up our farm league,” James said in February, when he was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers. “And if kids feel like they don’t want to be a part of that NCAA program, then we have something here for them to be able to jump back on and not have to worry about going overseas all the time.”

Through the first two nights of this NBA season, 35 rookies — most of them having left college early — made their debuts. Of the 35, only five scored more than 10 points in their first game.

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Colorado cracks a billion in annual marijuana sales in record time, generating $200M in tax revenue

October 18, 2018 - 1:22pm

Marijuana sales in Colorado exceeded $1 billion as of August of this year, with tax revenue from those sales coming in at $200 million, according to a report from the Colorado Department of Revenue and its Marijuana Enforcement Division.

It’s the earliest point in any of the four years Colorado has had legal recreational marijuana that combined medical and rec sales have cracked the billion-dollar mark.

Total combined recreational and medical marijuana sales through August hit $1,022,245,511, according to the MED, setting the state on a trajectory to break last year’s record of more than $1.5 billion in sales.

State officials highlighted the industry’s growth in a news release Thursday. The release also shared findings from the Marijuana Enforcement Division’s 2018 Mid-Year Update, released Sept. 10.

The quarterly report found Denver, Boulder, El Paso and Pueblo counties are the industry’s hot spots, growing 80 percent of all plants in the state as of June.

It also found that while sales of marijuana flower remained relatively steady, sales of edible products and concentrates like hash oil and live resin grew significantly. Between January and June, edibles sales shot up 13.8 percent over the first six months of last year, and concentrates sales skyrocketed, growing 94.6 percent over the same period.

That growth comes as little surprise to Nancy Whiteman. She’s the founder and CEO of Wana Brands, the leading infused products and edibles brand in the state. After clearing $14.2 million in sales last year, Whiteman said her company — led by its marquee gummies — is on pace for 25 percent growth in 2018.  Wana is in the process of ramping up production of a new disposable vaporizer line that Whiteman said uses high-end mechanical components and high-end concentrates.

Continuing sales growth in Colorado can be linked to the shifting demographics of who is buying, in Whiteman’s view.

“I think there has been sort of a stereotype that the cannabis user is a young male,” she said. “The total pie is growing because new people are entering the market.” 

Who are those people? More women and more older folks, Whiteman said. They are being drawn in by diversifying options including more products containing cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive marijuana ingredient that many people embrace for physical relaxation and pain management.

“I think in the early years of legalization a dominant story in the media was ‘This is not your parents’ THC. It is much stronger and you have to be careful,'” Whiteman said. “And I think that was off-putting for a lot of people who didn’t necessarily want that experience, but now there’s a lot more good options of them.”

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Colorado will almost certainly set a new marijuana sales record in 2018, but the rate of growth is slowing, data show.

Year-to-date sales totals through August grew 2.6 percent this year over the $996.4 million in combined med and rec sales seen to the point in 2017. But that 2017 total was up 18.7 percent over the $839.4 million in sales to that point in 2016. The 2016 total was 31.5 percent higher than a year prior.

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Aurora man suspected of raping two teen girls approached them as they left school, court documents show

October 18, 2018 - 12:47pm

A man suspected of raping two 17-year-old girls approached them as they left their Aurora high school and convinced them to get into his car, his arrest affidavit states.

Aurora Police Department, suppliedBle Ghislain Kore

Aurora police arrested Ble Ghislain Kore, 24, on Tuesday after DNA tests matched him to a sample taken from at least one of two teenage girls who said they had been raped by an unknown man, according to Kore’s arrest affidavit. Both attacks were reported to have begun near the joined campus of Overland High and Prairie Middle schools.

Kore appeared Wednesday afternoon in Arapahoe County District Court where a judge set his bond at $1 million, said Vikki Migoya, a spokeswoman for the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Police believe that the assaults did not happen on school grounds but in the general vicinity, Aurora police spokeswoman Crystal McCoy said Wednesday.

The first girl to report a sexual assault said she was walking home from school just before 3 p.m. Sept. 13 in the 2100 block of South Vaughn Way when a black sedan pulled up. The girl said the man inside, whom she did not know, told her that he knew who she was and had someone “watching” her mom.

The teen told police that she got in the car because she worried something would happen to her mom if she did not.

The man then drove to the guest parking lot of the nearby apartment complex where the girl lived, according to an arrest affidavit. He then held down her arms and raped her, the affidavit states, even as she tried to kick him and told him to stop.

The man then released the girl, who called her mom and notified police. The girl then underwent a sexual assault examination at the Medical Center of Aurora.

On Sept. 15, a second 17-year-old girl said she had been raped by an unknown man while leaving school on the same afternoon.

She gave police two versions of her story, but police found school surveillance video that supported her second account.

In her first version, the second teen told police that she was leaving school about 3:45 p.m. Sept. 13 when a man approached her near the front doors of the school.

The man gave her compliments and said he was waiting for a friend who was at football practice, according to the affidavit. The man asked for her phone number, and she refused. The man then continuously moved closer to her until she was pushed up against a wall near the front doors of the school. She tried to push him away, but could not, she told police.

The man then raped her while they were next to the wall, the teen told police. She said she didn’t say anything to him because she was scared and in shock. The man walked off after the attack, she said.

The girl told police that she waited a day to tell her mom about the attack because she was scared and needed to process what happened. She then completed a sexual assault exam at the Medical Center of Aurora and reported the attack to police just after midnight Sept. 15.

In a later interview with police, the second teen gave a different account of the assault. She said that the man pulled up next to her in a black sedan as she was leaving school about 4:30 p.m. Sept. 13. She said the man in the car told her he was a senior at the same school and asked her to get in the car. She initially refused, but later got in.

She told police that the man then drove her to a parking lot of an apartment complex near Parker Road and then raped her inside the car, according to the affidavit.

The man then drove her to mailboxes near her house, where she got out, the affidavit states.

Investigators found Sept. 13 video surveillance from the school that showed a girl get into a black sedan, like the one described by the two teens, about 4:30 p.m. that day.

Forensic scientists with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation on Monday matched at least one sample of DNA collected from the sexual assault exams with a sample from Kore, who has previous criminal convictions. Kore also has a tattoo on the side of his neck that matched the description that one of the girls gave of her attacker. He also owned a black Volkswagen that matched the description of the attacker’s car as given by the teens.

Both girls told police they had never met or heard of Kore before.

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Aurora police arrested Kore about 10 a.m. Tuesday near the intersection of South Havana Street and East Alameda Avenue near Expo Park, the affidavit states.

Kore told police that he had picked up one teen girl near the school after she had asked for a ride. He said that the girl later performed oral sex on him, but it was consensual. He denied any interaction with a second girl.

Investigators asked that anybody else who may have been sexually assaulted in connection to the two reports call Sgt. Rudy Herrera at 303-739-6250. Police spokesman Matt Longshore said the department didn’t have specific evidence to suggest other events took place but wanted people to know they should call.

Kore’s next court appearance is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 22, where prosecutors will read the official charges against him.

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A-Basin plans 10 miles of hiking, biking trails and new climbing zones

October 18, 2018 - 12:20pm

With its 2018-19 winter season just days away, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s plans to reimagine its summer on-mountain recreational offerings recently took a giant jump into the future.

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The White River National Forest announced on Tuesday that its Dillon Ranger District is now accepting comments on A-Basin’s plans for approximately 10 miles of new trails for hiking and mountain biking and two “via ferrata” zones — one beneath tree line at lower mountain terrain and one above tree line on upper mountain terrain.

A via ferrata — which is Italian for “iron path” — traditionally is a protected climbing route most often involving a steel cable that runs along the route and is periodically fixed to the bedrock, in this case A-Basin’s East Wall and a rock face within the ski area’s “Steep Gullies” terrain. The proposal doesn’t mention if those areas would be affected in the winter season. Climbers then typically scale the via ferrata by securing themselves to the cable, which limits the possibility of falling. Additional climbing aids are often provided as well, with a via ferrata kit.

Via ferratas are traditionally found in the Alps, though Telluride has the most well-known example in Colorado. As for via ferratas at ski areas like A-Basin, there is currently one at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Read more about the via ferratas and trails at Summit Daily.

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Autographed jersey that Rockies’ Nolan Arenado wore while making one of his best defensive plays is up for auction

October 18, 2018 - 10:54am

While Rockies fans can’t see Nolan Arenado on their TV sets in this Rocktober cut short, they can bid on his autographed jersey from one of the best — if not the best — defensive moments of his six-year career.

Goldin Auctions is auctioning off Arenado’s game-used jersey from April 14, 2015, when the five-time Gold Glove winner made an over-the-shoulder, Wille Mays-esque catch on a pop-up in foul territory against the Giants at AT&T Park.

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The play became known as the “tarp catch,” for the way Arenado — running full speed toward the stands and en route to his first all-star nod that season — barreled into the field tarp immediately after making the grab, and then spun and fired the ball back to the infield.

Arenado signed the purple jersey, and as an ode to the play, the third baseman wrote “tarp catch” and the date on it as well. The jersey comes with a letter of authenticity from the Rockies as well as a letter of authenticity for the signature.

Bidding ends Saturday, October 27, and the price tag was at $2,000 as of midday Thursday.

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Closure is still an option, but a new approach will let struggling Denver schools make their case

October 18, 2018 - 10:38am

Denver schools with persistently low test scores will have to present detailed improvement plans this fall, but they no longer face automatic closure or replacement.

The Denver school board on Monday night agreed to a more flexible process for intervening in struggling schools. The changes mean the board will have more options and more discretion.

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The process also seeks to give greater weight to information about a school’s culture, the demographics of the students it serves, and how school staff support those students socially and emotionally. In past years, school closure decisions were based overwhelmingly on academic factors, such how students fared on state literacy and math tests.

Ten low-performing schools are eligible for intervention this year (see box). The board is set to vote in December and January on which actions to take at each school.

How to improve struggling schools is a key question for urban school districts across the country. However, Denver Public Schools stands out nationally for adopting a policy in 2015 codifying that it should “promptly intervene” when a school is persistently underperforming and coming up with guidelines that set a clear path to school closure.

Read the full story on chalkbeat.org.

Chalkbeat Colorado is a nonprofit news organization covering education issues. For more, visit chalkbeat.org/co.

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String of smash and grab burglaries continue in Denver suburbs

October 18, 2018 - 10:37am

A string of smash and grab break-ins has continued as more Denver-area stores were broken into this week.

The number of business hit in Parker has risen to at least 10, with many other Denver-area suburbs seeing similar spikes in this type of crime. Police are unsure if all of the crimes are connected, but several break-ins in Parker appear to be the work of a ski mask-clad man, according to Parker Polices spokesman Josh Hanf.

“The thing that is most concerning is the frequency,” Hanf said, “we have not seen this before in Parker.”

Surveillance video from the Parker Honey Baked Ham-one of 7 businesses burglarized early Monday morning.
Full video of the burglary: https://t.co/WgMihvnfvS pic.twitter.com/vNhEpf9w2J

— Parker Police Dept. (@ParkerPolice) October 15, 2018

Parker police officers responded to seven break-ins early Monday morning after a male dressed in all black smashed several front windows of local businesses. Most of the businesses were small service-industry shops.

Cash drawers and tablets being used as registers were taken from several stores. Three of the cash drawers were later recovered in the parking lot of a church, Hanf said.

Three more small businesses were broken into Tuesday morning in the same manner. Police are still investigating whether the crimes are connected, but they appear similar, Hanf said. The weapon of choice for the smashing appears to be landscaping rocks.

Centennial also was hit when Wave the Grain, a new bakery, had its store front smashed early Tuesday morning. While no valuables were stolen, the cost of replacing the large glass windows and front door will cost Wave the Grain several thousand dollars, said Alex Kulinski, who works at the bakery.

With temperatures dipping overnight, heating costs are expected to put a further dent in the business’s pocket.

“No one wants to be here by themselves,” Kulinksi said. “We have been worried and having to look over our shoulder.”

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The rash of crime is not specific just to south of Denver. Several other Denver-area suburbs have seen similar spikes in smash and grabs, Hanf said.

Arvada last week experienced eight smash and grabs, said Arvada police Detective David Snelling. Detectives are working with other agencies to see whether the string in Arvada is connected with the burglaries in other areas.

The Parker Police Department is increasing patrols at night in response to the smash and grabs, and it sent an email to business owners warning them to keep valuables out of sight.

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Women may have been drugged at party on Boulder’s University Hill, police say

October 18, 2018 - 10:35am

Boulder police are investigating the possible drugging of two women at parties on University Hill.

According to a news release, two University of Colorado students were treated early Thursday morning at Boulder Community Health’s Foothills Hospital after unknowingly ingesting drugs while drinking alcohol at parties on the Hill.

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Police have not said specifically where on Hill the parties may have been taking place.

Read more at dailycamera.com.

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