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Former Rockies first-round pick Greg Reynolds whose career cratered after punching naked man on LSD gets $2.3 million

March 20, 2018 - 3:15pm

Former MLB pitcher Greg Reynolds said his pitching hand was never the same after he punched a raving naked man on LSD who attacked him and tried to break into his Half Moon Bay home. The movement on the Stanford prospect’s heater that had flustered big-league hitters was gone.

On Monday evening, a San Mateo County jury awarded Reynolds and his wife some consolation: $2.3 million from the man he said he punched in self-defense and from the neighbor who had invited that man over for an acid party that turned into a bad trip.

“It was a tragic case where people’s selfish behavior cost Mr. Reynolds his dream,” said his lawyer, Niall McCarthy of the Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy firm in Burlingame.

Reynolds, now 32, attended Stanford University and was chosen by the Colorado Rockies as the second overall selection in the first round of the 2006 MLB Draft. He pitched his first Major League game May 11, 2008, a 6-1 road loss to the San Diego Padres. He later pitched for the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds, for whom he pitched against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 23, 2013.

On Jan. 16, 2016, Reynolds was living in a gated Half Moon Bay community called Ocean Colony and working his way back onto a Major League roster when he noticed a naked man cussing at bystanders and trying to knock over a mailbox.

According to reports cited by his lawyer, Reynolds approached the man, Dominic Pintarelli, to ask if he needed help, but Pintarelli attacked him, punching him several times. Reynolds retreated into his house and locked the door.

But Pintarelli followed and tried to force his way inside, throwing his body against the front door in an attempt to break it down. Reynolds stepped outside and punched Pintarelli, knocking him into some bushes, but the blow fractured his knuckles, his lawyer said.

“I only hit him one time, and it was bad enough to where I knew immediately it was broken,” Reynolds said in an interview. “It all happened so quickly, you don’t have time to think about it. We were definitely in fear for our lives.”

Pintarelli walked away from the home and later confronted deputy sheriffs a short distance away near the front gate for Ocean Colony, charging at them and punching one before they subdued him with a Taser stun gun, McCarthy said.

Pintarelli, 19 at the time, later was convicted on assault charges, McCarthy said. In the civil trial, Reynolds argued that both Pintarelli and his host, Connor Pope, who also had taken the potent hallucinogenic drug, were liable for the loss of his baseball career.

The right-hander had broken his pitching hand in the punch to defend his home, and testified at trial that the hand injury cost him the ability to make the baseball move and to control it.

Former MLB pitcher Greg Reynolds’ swollen hand. (Courtesy Greg Reynolds)</p> <p>

“The biggest problem was that I broke my index finger knuckle, the most important finger for throwing the ball,” Reynolds said. “It affected all my pitches.”

The San Diego Padres signed Reynolds to a minor league contract on Feb. 19, 2016, but released him three months later.

Lawyer Daniel Himmelhaber, who represented Pintarelli, was not immediately available for comment. Attorney Dewey Wheeler, who represented Pope, said he was not authorized to comment.

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McCarthy said Reynolds was “quite happy with the jury’s verdict,” which included $300,000 for Reynolds’ wife, for pain and suffering from being terrorized by the incident.

“She testified that to this day, she is scared of strangers,” McCarthy said.

Since his pro baseball career ended, Reynolds returned to Stanford where he earned a degree in economics. He now works in finance.

“The initial shock of the whole event was pretty bad for a while,” Reynolds said. “But you have to pick yourself up and move on. We’re trying to put this behind us and move forward, and the result of the trial will definitely help us do that.”

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Cambridge Analytica: CEO suspended, Zuckerberg called to testify in U.K. over Facebook’s use of data

March 20, 2018 - 3:12pm

LONDON — The head of Trump-affiliated data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica has been suspended, while government authorities are bearing down on both the firm and Facebook over allegations the firm stole data from 50 million Facebook users to manipulate elections.

Cambridge’s board of directors suspended CEO Alexander Nix pending an investigation after Nix boasted of various unsavory services to an undercover reporter for Britain’s Channel 4 News.

Channel 4 News broadcast clips Tuesday that also show Nix saying his data-mining firm played a major role in securing Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential elections.

Nix said the firm handled “all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting” and said Cambridge used emails with a “self-destruct timer” to make its role more difficult to trace.

“There’s no evidence, there’s no paper trail, there’s nothing,” he said.

In a statement, Cambridge’s board said Nix’s comments “do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation.”

Cambridge has denied wrongdoing, and Trump’s campaign has said it didn’t use Cambridge’s data.

Facebook also drew continued criticism for its alleged inaction to protect users’ privacy. Earlier Tuesday, the chairman of the U.K. parliamentary media committee, Damian Collins, said his group has repeatedly asked Facebook how it uses data. He said Facebook officials “have been misleading to the committee.”

The committee summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify.

“It is now time to hear from a senior Facebook executive with the sufficient authority to give an accurate account of this catastrophic failure of process,” Collins wrote Zuckerberg. “Given your commitment at the start of the New Year to ‘fixing’ Facebook, I hope that this representative will be you.”

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Leading Democrats in the U.S. Senate also called on Zuckerberg to testify. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Facebook’s latest privacy scandal a “danger signal.” She wants Zuckerberg’s assurances that Facebook is prepared to take the lead on security measures that protect people’s privacy — or Congress may step in.

Facebook sidestepped questions on whether Zuckerberg would appear, saying instead that it’s currently focused on conducting its own reviews.

The request to appear comes as Britain’s information commissioner said she was using all her legal powers to investigate the social-media giant and Cambridge Analytica.

Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is pursuing a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s servers. She has also asked Facebook to cease its own audit of Cambridge Analytica’s data use.

“Our advice to Facebook is to back away and let us go in and do our work,” she said.

Facebook has weathered many such blow-ups before and is used to apologizing and moving on. But the stakes are bigger this time. The latest scandal has some people reconsidering their relationship status with the social network, though there isn’t much of anywhere else to go.

Cambridge Analytica said it is committed to helping the U.K. investigation. However, Denham’s office said the firm failed to meet a deadline to produce the information requested.

Denham said the prime allegation against Cambridge Analytica is that it acquired personal data in an unauthorized way, adding that the data provisions act requires services like Facebook to have strong safeguards against misuse of data.

Chris Wylie, who once worked for Cambridge Analytica, was quoted as saying the company used the data to build psychological profiles so voters could be targeted with ads and stories.

Wylie has agreed to be interviewed by Democrats on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. A date has not been set, and it’s unclear if Republicans on the panel will attend.

Cambridge Analytica found itself in further allegations of wrongdoing. Britain’s Channel 4 used an undercover investigation to record Nix saying that the company could use unorthodox methods to wage successful political campaigns for clients.

In footage released Monday, Nix said the company could “send some girls” around to a rival candidate’s house, suggesting that girls from Ukraine are beautiful and effective in this role.

He also said the company could “offer a large amount of money” to a rival candidate and have the whole exchange recorded so it could be posted on the internet to show that the candidate was corrupt.

Nix says in a statement that he deeply regrets his role in the meeting and has apologized to staff.

“I am aware how this looks, but it is simply not the case,” he said. “I must emphatically state that Cambridge Analytica does not condone or engage in entrapment, bribes or so-called ‘honeytraps’, and nor does it use untrue material for any purposes.”

Nix told the BBC that the Channel 4 sting was “intended to embarrass us”.

“We see this as a coordinated attack by the media that’s been going on for very, very many months in order to damage the company that had some involvement with the election of Donald Trump,” he said.

The data harvesting used by Cambridge Analytica has also triggered calls for further investigation from the European Union, as well as federal and state officials in the United States.

On Tuesday, a dozen consumer-advocacy organizations pressed the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. to investigate whether the release of data violated an agreement Facebook signed with the FTC in 2011 offering privacy assurances.

The move comes after Bloomberg first reported the FTC could already be investigating. The FTC hasn’t confirmed the investigation but said it takes “any allegations of violations of our consent decrees very seriously.”


AP Technology Writers Mae Anderson and Anick Jesdanun in New York and AP writers Mary Clare Jalonick and Richard Lardner in Washington contributed to this story.

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Can one Colorado city claim land belonging to another? State appeals court hears arguments in Lafayette-Erie dispute

March 20, 2018 - 3:10pm

KEENESBURG — An unprecedented legal scuffle between a pair of Colorado communities that centers on whether one municipality can condemn and claim land belonging to its neighbor went before the Colorado Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

The arguments before the three-judge panel came after Lafayette failed in its effort last year to convince a judge that it should be allowed to condemn 22 acres at the southeast corner of U.S. 287 and Arapahoe Road — inside Erie’s borders — for the purpose of creating an open space separation between its Beacon Hill neighborhood and a planned retail development at that corner.

The district judge ruled that Lafayette had not proven that the condemnation, which the city put into motion in the summer of 2016 through a lawsuit, was for a proper public purpose — as is required by the state’s eminent domain laws. The case was dismissed, prompting Lafayette’s appeal.

“Lafayette is trying to create some space,” Stephanie Ceccato, an attorney for the city of nearly 30,000 people 11 miles east of Boulder, told the appeals court Tuesday.

Ceccato said Lafayette has already amassed 1,300 acres of open space on its borders to provide a natural buffer between the city and neighboring communities — to create a “sense of separation, a sense of place.”

“All they are doing is continuing with that,” she said of Lafayette city leaders, who nearly two years ago passed an ordinance authorizing condemnation of the property owned by Erie’s urban renewal authority.

The Colorado Supreme Court a decade ago affirmed the right of a home-rule city to condemn land beyond its boundaries for the purpose of creating open space and parks — a ruling spurred by Telluride’s efforts in 2008 to conserve from development a 570-acre meadow framing the entrance to the picturesque mountain town. But an eminent domain fight in the name of creating open space involving two competing municipalities had yet to arise in Colorado.

Appellate judge Terry Fox wondered if a ruling favorable to Lafayette would set the stage for a series of neverending “serial” cross-border land grabs by neighboring cities in the state. But the judge also questioned Erie’s objection to the eminent domain action, given that the town would still have plenty of land at the corner — more than 20 acres — to develop.

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But Erie’s lawyer, Mikaela Rivera, said because of the difficult topography at the site, known as Nine Mile Corner, Lafayette’s claim to the 22 acres it wants as a buffer would make it prohibitively expensive for a developer to move forward with a project in Erie. Specifically, it would constrain the size of a King Soopers and related retail opportunities envisioned for the corner.

“This 22-acre taking absolutely prevents Erie’s development plans,” Rivera said. “It becomes nearly impossible to finance the project. Why does Beacon Hill, one little neighborhood, need 22 acres of protection?”

Erie has cast the protracted battle with its neighbor as an attempt by Lafayette to quash competition for sales tax dollars along the busy U.S. 287 corridor, where the city already has a Walmart and a King Soopers. Erie points to Lafayette’s ambitious development plans, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of square feet, all around the Nine Mile Corner intersection as evidence that it is being hypocritical in its call for open space preservation.

Rivera noted that Lafayette doesn’t require anywhere near the same kind of separation between its residential areas and commercial developments inside its municipal boundaries.

“You allow development to occur without a buffer before, so why not here?” she asked Tuesday.

Lafayette said it made a good-faith effort to arrive at a compromise with Erie that would protect its Beacon Hill neighborhood long before it resorted to condemning the land at Nine Mile Corner.

The case, City of Lafayette v. Town of Erie Urban Renewal Authority, was argued in front of an auditorium of students at Weld Central High School in Keenesburg as part of the judicial branch’s Courts in the Community program.

The court of appeals will likely issue a ruling in the case in the coming weeks.

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Analysis: Cambridge Analytica’s reach went far beyond the U.S. elections

March 20, 2018 - 3:08pm

American voters have big questions about what role Cambridge Analytica, a London-based data firm, may have played in the 2016 election of President Donald Trump.

The company, which consulted for Trump during the campaign, was rocked Friday by reports from the New York Times and Britain’s Observer that it had improperly acquired data from Facebook users – prompting Facebook to ban the firm from its platform and British authorities to demand an explanation.

But Cambridge Analytica may be an issue not only for Americans and Britons. The firm claims to have worked in a wide range of countries, including Australia, Brazil, Kenya, Malaysia and Mexico, and politicians in several of them are calling for investigations of the company’s work.

That list comes directly from the company’s representatives, who were recently filmed by an undercover reporter from Britain’s Channel 4 News. The journalist presented himself as a potential client, a representative of a wealthy Sri Lankan family eager to increase its political influence. During meetings over four months, Cambridge Analytica employees touted their work worldwide.

Although criticism of Cambridge Analytica focus on its alleged use of data harvested from social media sites, the firm’s chief executive, Alexander Nix, appeared to condone using bribes and sexual blackmail to help swing elections. “Please don’t pay too much attention to what I’m saying,” Nix said over drinks with Channel 4’s reporter at a West London hotel. “I’m just giving you examples of what can be done and what has been done.”

Cambridge Analytica was founded in 2013, but it is affiliated with an older company called SCL Group, an established British firm that has operated since 1993. According to its website, SCL Group has “conducted behavioral change programs in over 60 countries,” describing itself as a service that provides data, analytics and strategy to “governments and military organizations worldwide.”

SCL Group formed Cambridge Analytica five years ago to participate in American politics; the company is partly owned by Robert Mercer, an American hedge-fund manager and billionaire. But the company’s website lists offices in Malaysia and Brazil along with those the United States and Britain, and its activities extend far beyond U.S. borders.

Cambridge Analytica’s alleged role in last year’s chaotic Kenyan elections already has come under scrutiny. Last year, the firm refused to confirm to Kenyan reporters what role it was playing there, and its website refers only to its work in data analysis and surveys during the 2013 election cycle. But in Channel 4’s undercover footage, Mark Turnbull, the managing director of Cambridge Analytica Political Global, said the company “ran” Kenyatta’s campaigns in 2013 and 2017.

“We have re-branded the entire party twice, rewritten their manifesto, done two rounds of 50,000 surveys,” Turnbull said, later adding that the firm had been involved in “just about every element of his campaign.”

Kenyatta won the August election, the result of which was contested by the opposition and then annulled by Kenya’s Supreme Court. Kenyatta then won the October revote after his challenger, Raila Odinga, refused to participate. As in previous years, protests and violence broke out around the elections. At least 92 Kenyans died.

Last year’s elections were especially noteworthy for the use of social-media-friendly attack ads, a powerful new medium in the country. Privacy International, a London-registered charity, found that an American digital media company called Harris Media LLC had helped created these online campaigns for Kenyatta. Like Cambridge Analytica, Harris Media worked on the Trump campaign in 2016, and the Texas-based firm also has worked for far-right groups such as Alternative for Germany in Europe.

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Kenyan opposition leaders are now calling for an inquiry into Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in Kenyan politics, and other nations are likely to follow suit regarding their own elections. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied claims that his government worked with Cambridge Analytica, instead accusing his rival Mahathir Mohamad’s son of using its services. Australian political parties also have denied using the firm, although a former minister responsible for cybersecurity told SBS that he had met Nix and other Cambridge Analytica representatives at a “private dinner.”

In India, there has been renewed scrutiny of SCL Group’s 2010 work in an assembly election in the state of Bihar. The Hindustan Times also reported Friday that Cambridge Analytica and its Indian partner have been in talks with both the governing Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Indian National Congress ahead of national elections next year.

The full extent of such work is unknown. In footage from Channel 4, Turnbull suggested that Cambridge Analytica had used “a different organization to run a very, very successful project in an eastern European country,” adding that it had “ghosted in, did the work, ghosted out and produced really, really good material.” The country was not named.

Nix pushed back against Channel 4’s report over the weekend, saying that his talk of bribery and other underhanded tactics captured on video were “ludicrous hypothetical scenarios” designed to get the measure of a potential client.

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Charlie Blackmon and Chris Rusin beat Nolan Arenado and Zach Wilson in Rockies’ epic pingpong tourney

March 20, 2018 - 3:00pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Rockies held the finals of their titanic table tennis championship Tuesday morning in the packed weight room at Salt River Fields.

OK, so it wasn’t quite Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe or Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal, but it was epic, nonetheless.

When the cheering stopped and the trash talking ceased, the doubles team of Charlie Blackmon and Chris Rusin beat the tandem of Nolan Arenado and Zach Wilson, the Rockies’ farm director, in three games. The scores: 21-10, 16-21, 24-22.

“That … was a lot of fun,” exclaimed Blackmon, who tossed his paddle into the air after the final point.

Mike “Tiny” Pontarelli, manager of the Rockies clubhouse, dressed in Wimbledon white, was the line judge and pingpong ball boy. Rockies players and staff gathered around the table, hooting, cheering and cajoling.

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“Teamwork, perseverance and desire won out,” manager Bud Black said with a chuckle. “We had eight guys to start out and they were all really good players. That was great.”

At one point, Arenado and Blackmon barked at each other about whose turn it was to serve.

“It got a little contentious didn’t it?” Black said. “We had a little bit of gamesmanship and a little bit of emotion. That was good stuff.”

In last year’s tournament, Wilson hung on to beat Rockies icon Vinny Castilla in singles.

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Parker police officers hospitalized for potential fentanyl exposure that turned out to be meth and cocaine

March 20, 2018 - 2:46pm

Parker police officers who were hospitalized Tuesday after believing they came in contact with the drug fentanyl, later learned the powdery substance they were near was cocaine and methamphetamine.

The officers were treated and have been released from the hospital, officials said.

“Thankfully, they’re all doing well,” said Parker Police spokeswoman Sherry Corcoran.

Officers responded around 9 a.m. to Parker Adventist Hospital on a report security there had found a suspicious substance, Corcoran said.

Officers took the substance back to their labs to determine what it was. An officer investigating the substance thought at that point, the powder was fentanyl — a substance Corcoran noted could be deadly.
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That officer along with another officer and two members of the evidence department were then taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Officers later discovered the substance was actually a combination of meth and cocaine.

Corcoran said the officers were taken to a hospital out of an abundance of caution because of fentanyl’s potency and ease of inhalation.


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Man arrested in stabbing death of Denver 7-Eleven clerk

March 20, 2018 - 2:37pm

A 32-year-old man has been arrested for investigation of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of a 7-Eleven worker who accused him of theft, authorities say.

Denver Sheriff's DepartmentLuis Perez

Luis Antonio Perez was arrested on his birthday Tuesday in the fatal stabbing of 29-year-old Derek Sorenson, who was found outside the 7-Eleven store at 621 17th St. on March 15, Denver police said.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, detectives reviewed surveillance video of an argument between the men that started at about 8:38 p.m. in the foyer of the 28-floor high-rise, just outside the convenience store.

Three hours later, a man wearing a Philadelphia Eagles baseball cap and a hoodie ran up to Sorenson as he stood outside the building, the affidavit says. The suspect immediately began stabbing Sorenson repeatedly, it says.

An autopsy the next morning indicated that Sorenson had been fatally stabbed in the heart and lungs.

[ Related: Denver Homicide Report ]

On Monday, a woman called and said she believes the suspect is the same man who was asked to leave the store a week before the stabbing.

Another witness told police he saw the suspect go inside the federal bankruptcy courthouse, 721 19th St. Detectives later learned that Perez had filed for bankruptcy that day.

Another witness, a 51-year-old man, called police and said that he recognized the suspect from pictures that had been distributed by police and published by local media including The Denver Post. He identified Perez, a man he had known for eight years, he said.

The witness said after seeing the picture of his friend he went to see him on Saturday.

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“Mr. Perez initially denied any involvement in the homicide but then later said the 7-Eleven clerk had accused him of stealing something,” the affidavit says. Perez told the man he felt threatened by the clerk.

A security officer at the high-rise said he ordered the suspect to leave the building. The suspect, who was wearing a baseball cap, said that the 7-Eleven clerk had become confrontational. The security guard told the man to return later to make a “complaint to the manager.”

Updated March 20, 2018 at 4:41 p.m.: Due to a reporter’s error, this story has been updated to correct the relationship between Perez and Sorenson.

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Duke’s Grayson Allen making the most of his final NCAA Tournament

March 20, 2018 - 2:13pm

DURHAM, N.C. — Grayson Allen wants to make the most of his final run through the NCAA Tournament.

It hasn’t exactly been a smooth four years for the Duke senior who won a national title in 2015 before becoming one of the sport’s most polarizing figures amid a series of tripping incidents.

But he’s evolved into the elder statesman on a team full of freshmen, and he has No. 2 seed Duke (28-7) preparing for a rematch with 11th-seeded Syracuse (23-13) on Friday night in Omaha, Nebraska, in the Midwest Regional semifinals.

“There’s obviously no way I’m going to hold any words back or anything like that,” Allen said Tuesday. “And I think it really helps with this team.

“It speaks to the maturity level of our team, and everyone’s secure in their role on the team,” he added. “Me, by being that secure leader and telling these guys and them either following or becoming a leader in their own right. … Everyone is speaking up right now and it helps with our togetherness.”

Part of his willingness to speak up, of course, is because this is his last shot at a national championship. But it’s also a reflection of how he has grown more comfortable in leading through not just action but by words.

“He’s just grown into being a leader,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He’s not a vocal guy, so just learning about that and still playing his game, it’s an evolution. He’s a much better player now than he’s ever been because he’s learned all these things.”

He can certainly draw upon plenty of the experiences — good and bad — of his previous three years.

His hustle plays against Wisconsin in the 2015 national championship game sparked Duke to its most recent NCAA title. During the following two seasons, though, his name became synonymous with three separate tripping incidents that earned him a flagrant foul, a reprimand from the Atlantic Coast Conference and a one-game suspension.

Aside from his hip-check foul on North Carolina’s Garrison Brooks two weeks ago in the ACC Tournament — an incident that later was laughed off by the Tar Heels — Allen’s senior season has been generally devoid of any controversy.

Instead, the focus has been on his production on the court and his leadership off it. Allen is the team’s second-leading scorer at 15.6 points per game.

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And though leadership skills are tougher to quantify, Krzyzewski offered an anecdote: He said he and Allen were among the last people out of the locker room following the second-round victory over Rhode Island, and the Hall of Fame coach told him that he noticed the rest of the Blue Devils listening to him.

“And he smiled. ‘Your team is really listening to you,'” Krzyzewski told Allen. “Keep saying what you think you should say. And you could see he was proud of it. … He’s telling people what to do, and it was really neat to see where he’s at right now.”

Allen said his teammates are developing leadership habits of their own, and the cumulative effect has been a group sense of ownership of the team. Duke has won nine of 11 games and beat Iona and Rhode Island by 20 points apiece.

“I think it’s clear to anybody who’s seen us play … that we’ve really come together, and so they’re not only listening to me, they’re listening to each other,” Allen said. “There’s a lot of back and forth going on between guys, and we’re really embracing the group, team mentality and it’s a really cool thing.”

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Breaking up with Facebook? It’s harder than it looks

March 20, 2018 - 1:56pm

NEW YORK — Facebook’s latest privacy scandal, involving Trump campaign consultants who allegedly stole data on tens of millions of users in order to influence elections, has some people reconsidering their relationship status with the social network.

There’s just one problem: There isn’t much of anywhere else to go.

Facebook has weathered many such blow-ups before and is used to apologizing and moving on. But the stakes are bigger this time.

Regulatory authorities are starting to focus on the data misappropriation, triggering a 9 percent decline in Facebook’s normally high-flying stock since Monday. Some of that reflects fear that changes in Facebook’s business will hurt profits or that advertisers and users will sour on the social network.

The furor over Cambridge Analytica, the data mining firm accused of stealing Facebook data, follows a bad year in which Facebook acknowledged helping spread fake news and propaganda from Russian agents. It also comes less than three months after CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the world that he would devote the year to fixing Facebook. Instead, things seem to be getting worse.

“It’s more serious economically, politically, financially and will require a more robust response in order to regain users’ trust,” said Steve Jones, a professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Yet leaving Facebook, like ending a long marriage, isn’t remotely simple. Starting with the little things.

Arvind Rajan, a tech executive from San Francisco who deactivated his account on Monday, suddenly discovered he needs to create new usernames and passwords for a variety of apps and websites. That’s because he previously logged in with his Facebook ID.

It’s a pain, he said, “but not the end of the world.” And because he is bothered by Facebook’s “ham-handed” response to recent problems, the inconvenience is worth it.

For other users looking to leave, it can feel as if there are no real alternatives. Twitter? Too flighty, too public. Instagram? Whoops, owned by Facebook. Snapchat? Please, unless you’re under 25 — in which case you’re probably not on Facebook to begin with.

Facebook connects 2.2 billion users and a host of communities that have sprung up on its network. No other company can match the breadth or depth of these connections — thanks in part to Facebook’s proclivity for squashing or swallowing up its competition.

But it is precisely in Facebook’s interest to make users feel Facebook is the only place to connect with others. Where else will grandmothers see photos of their far-flung grandkids? How will new mothers connect to other parents also up at 4 a.m. with a newborn?

“My only hesitation is that there are hundreds of pictures posted over 13 years of my life that I do not want to lose access to. If there was a way to recover these photos, I would deactivate immediately,” Daniel Schwartz, who lives in Atlanta, said in an email.

People eager to delete their profiles may find unexpected problems that point to how integral Facebook is to many activities, said Ifeoma Ajunwa, a professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University.

“It is getting more and more difficult for people to delete Facebook, since it’s not just as a social media platform but also almost like a meeting square,” she said.

Parents could soon realize that their child’s soccer schedule with games and pickup times is only on a Facebook page, for example. Many businesses also schedule meetings via Facebook.

“It’s more and more difficult for people to feel plugged in if you’re not on Facebook,” Ajunwa said.

Not surprisingly, Facebook doesn’t make it easy to leave. To permanently delete your account, you need to make a request to the company. The process can take several days, and if you log in during this time, your request will be canceled. It can take up to 90 days to delete everything.

There’s a less permanent way to leave, deactivation, which hides your profile from everyone but lets you return if you change your mind.

Lili Orozco, a 28-year-old office manager for her family’s heating and cooling company in Watkinsville, Georgia, deleted her account in December. She was upset that every new app she downloaded would ask for her Facebook contacts.

And while she liked staying in touch with people, she was irritated by the conspiracy stories her high school friends would share.

“Falsehoods spread faster on Facebook than the truth does,” she said. She now gets her news from Twitter and shares pictures with friends through Instagram.

AP Technology Writer Mae Anderson in New York and Associated Press Writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed to this story.

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Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers made big impact before being sent to minors

March 20, 2018 - 1:31pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There were hugs all around and showers of praise for Brendan Rodgers Tuesday morning when word came down that the Rockies’ top prospect was being reassigned to minor-league camp.

“He’s so fundamentally sound, that’s what impressed me,” all-star third baseman Nolan Arenado said.

Rodgers, 21, batted .286 (12-for-49) with three home runs over 23 games in his first big-league camp. He had a .352 on-base percentage, with 13 strikeouts vs. four walks. He played both second base and shortstop, showing good range and a strong arm. Rodgers will likely start the season at Double-A Hartford, with an eye toward a promotion to Triple-A Albuquerque and possibly even his major-league debut before the end of the season.

In other roster moves, the Rockies optioned infielder/outfielder Jordan Patterson to Triple-A and reassigned infielder Garrett Hampson and catcher Jan Vázquez to minor-league camp.

“I had a great time, and the guys treated me right,” Rodgers said. “It was great learning process, both defensively and offensively. I got to talk to a lot of guys and I got to pick a lot of coaches’ brains.”

Rodgers showed progress in two specific areas.

“I worked on my footwork around (second base),” he said. “On offense, I worked on pitch recognition, especially on off-speed stuff. So, seeing the spin and recognizing pitches was good for me.”

Manager Bud Black praised Rodgers, but emphasized that work remains for him to become a big leaguer.

“My takeaway: this was a great experience for him,”  Black said. “I can see why he’s being talked about, outside of our organization, and inside our organization. He’s got a skill set that I think will hopefully play in the big leagues.

“But the thing that I told him was that there is some room to grow, there are some things he has to take care of in player development to become the player we think he can become.”

Black said Rodgers has “some thunder in his bat,” before adding that Rodgers needs to improve his plate discipline. On defense, Rodgers needs to work on a more consistent throwing motion and better footwork, Black said.

Rockies shortstop Trevor Story was effusive with his praise for Rodgers’ offensive approach,

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“He’s very talented and his  bat speed is way up there,” Story said. “You can just tell in batting practice because he hits the ball really hard, a lot of line drives. And he works hard, that’s great to see. He’s already really good and he wants to get better.”

Arenado, 26, thinks Rodgers is already a better hitter than he was at age 21.

“The way he hits is very advanced for his age,” Arenado said. “To see a young kid with a lot of power and without a lot of movement, to go with that short swing, it’s impressive.

“I remember when I was at that age, I had a lot of movement, a lot of head movement. Brendan gets in the right slot almost every time. Most young kids get a little wild at the plate, including myself. I’m really impressed with him.”

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Denver Nuggets at Chicago Bulls: Everything you need to know

March 20, 2018 - 1:28pm

When: 6 p.m.  Wednesday

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV/Radio: ALT; 950 AM

Spotlight on Denzel Valentine: College basketball fans will remember the versatile swingman from his Michigan State days. And Valentine is again making an impact in March, dropping a career-high 34 points and adding seven rebounds and six assists to spearhead an injury-riddled Bulls team in a loss to the Cavaliers on Saturday. Valentine, who is averaging 10.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, has toggled between a starting and reserve role so far this season, depending on the health status of teammate Zach LaVine.

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Nuggets: They have lost four road games in a row and are 11-23 away from home, the worst mark for any Western Conference playoff contender. … Leading scorer Gary Harris will miss his third consecutive game with a right knee sprain/strain. Will Barton has been starting in Harris’ place, with two-way rookie Torrey Craig sliding up into a primary reserve role. … Nikola Jokic is averaging 23.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and six assists over his past seven games and recorded his 31st double-double (34 points, 15 rebounds) of the season in Monday’s double-overtime loss in Miami. … After giving up 149 points in double-overtime to Miami, Denver entered Tuesday ranked 26th in the NBA in defensive efficiency (108.9 points allowed per 100 possessions), last in opponent field-goal percentage (48) and 27th in opponent 3-point field-goal percentage (37.8).

Bulls: They have lost four of their last six games, with their wins coming over fellow “tankers” Atlanta and Memphis. … Chicago is 28th in the NBA in offensive efficiency (101.8 points per 100 possessions) and 22nd in defensive efficiency (108.6 points allowed per 100 possessions) to equal the third-worst net rating in the league (minus-6.8). … Noah Vonleh has averaged 6.2 rebounds in the 13 games since Chicago acquired him from  Portland.

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Broncos could be tempted to wait on a quarterback in the NFL draft. Who could they target in the later rounds?

March 20, 2018 - 1:14pm

When the Broncos introduced Case Keenum as their new quarterback at Dove Valley last week, they did something they hadn’t done in three years: name a starting quarterback during the offseason.

The previous two offseasons in Denver were headlined by major uncertainty at the position, and quarterback competitions in training camp followed. The Broncos have made no secret about how glad they are to be avoiding a third consecutive battle.

“That’s good for everyone involved,” coach Vance Joseph said. “That’s good for the players and that’s good for the coaches who are building a scheme around a player. The last two years here it’s been a competition in training camp, and that takes away from what you want to do.”

Keenum has been locked into the starting spot for now, but what that means for the Broncos’ plans with the overall No. 5 draft pick is far less clear. One scenario is that the acquisition of Keenum, coupled with a likely early run on the top quarterbacks in the draft could leave the Broncos tempted to grab a blue-chip, non-quarterback prospect and wait until later in the draft to add a quarterback.

The “Big Four” group of quarterback prospects in this year’s draft — Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield — have bathed in attention during the build-up to the draft. But there’s a fairly deep second wave of players at the position. Here is a look at three players who might pique the Broncos’ interest if Denver waits until later in the draft to snag a quarterback:

Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State: Mayfield may have a reputation as the draft’s most brash quarterback, but his counterpart at rival Oklahoma State doesn’t lack for confidence.

The 6-5, 230-pound Rudolph was asked at the NFL combine whether his big college numbers — 12,765 passing yards and 86 touchdowns in three years as a starter — were propped up because of poor Big 12 defenses.

“Well, we played Colorado, Washington and Virginia Tech and we beat the crap out of all of them,” Rudolph said. “Those are not Big 12 defenses, and we played pretty well against those guys. So you throw on that tape and I think that’ll kill that argument right there.”

That doesn’t mean Rudolph doesn’t have plenty of areas that need work. He’s not overly athletic, and he had a tendency in college to hold on to the ball too long. Still, he completed 65 percent of his passes as a senior.

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Kyle Lauletta, Richmond: The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has been lauded for his smarts and his accuracy, and he put all of that on display at the Senior Bowl in January, earning the game’s MVP honors by completing 8-of-12 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns.

Lauletta played for four different offensive coordinators while at Richmond, where he battled back from an ACL injury he suffered during his junior season.

“It was a blessing in disguise for me, as a quarterback, being forced to adapt and learn a playbook quickly,” he said. “As far as (learning) new terminology, I’ve seen the same formations for four straight years be named four different things. The same goes with the passing concepts. That’s very similar to what’s going to happen in my transition to the NFL. So having already been through that the past four years is great for me and already puts me at an advantage.”

Luke Falk, Washington State: Falk may have had better luck coming out after his junior season at Washington State given the depth of the 2018 class. After all, there wasn’t much more he could prove by putting up another season of big numbers in coach Mike Leach’s spread offense.

In the last six games of his college career, Falk threw 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as the Cougars went 3-3, so he didn’t exactly go out with a bang. Still, Falk is viewed as a player with enough arm talent to make teams consider taking him in the mid-to-late rounds, and he could benefit by NFL teams moving more toward spread concepts. He completed 68 percent of his passes in college, so his accuracy lays a strong foundation.

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Deep partisan divide over future of Colorado Civil Rights Commission shows no signs of breaking

March 20, 2018 - 1:01pm

A partisan stalemate over the future of the controversial Colorado Civil Rights Commission barreled forward Tuesday, as Democrats in the House of Representatives rejected change after change proposed by Republicans, foreshadowing what could be a complicated path to a middle ground.

Republicans again tried to significantly change the commission’s makeup after raising concerns about the fairness of its current processes and also tried to open an avenue for employers and landlords to defend themselves against discrimination claims by citing their religious beliefs.

Democrats accused their GOP counterparts of trying to weaken protections for those facing discrimination.

“We are harkening back to a time that we have said that we have moved past,” state Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, said of Republicans’ proposed changes to the commission.

“I’m being told, ‘Do not mess with it!’ I’m being told, ‘Pass this clean bill,’ ” said Rep. Yeulin Willett, R-Grand Junction. “… I’m voting ‘no’ because it’s a broken commission and a broken system and no one is giving me a chance to fix it. I proposed six amendments with my colleagues in (the House Judiciary Committee). No, no, no, no, no to the amendments.”

House Republicans we’re near unanimous today in their calls for changes to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Democrats are set to pass it out of the House, but alterations seem imminent in the GOP-controlled Senate. Question is: Where’s the middle ground? #copolitics

— Jesse Aaron Paul (@JesseAPaul) March 20, 2018

House Bill 1256, which would reauthorize the Civil Rights Commission without changes, passed the Democratic-controlled House by a voice vote Tuesday without any amendments despite Republicans’ efforts, giving it a clear path to the Republican-controlled Senate, where alterations appear inevitable. Lawmakers between the two chambers will have to find a compromise to keep the panel functioning, which both sides generally agree is a must.

But it’s unclear where any agreement might be found, with almost no Republican support in the House for continuing the commission as it exists and funding for the panel still pending in the budgeting process. The debate over the commission, which is charged with crafting policies and hearing appeals in discrimination cases, is gearing up to be one of the largest policy issues of the legislative session.

The commission has been a source of drama at the statehouse since February, when Republicans on the Joint Budget Committee voted to withhold its funding, at least temporarily, as they sought legislative changes.

The commission is at the center of the pending U.S. Supreme Court case involving the refusal of Lakewood baker Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012. The commission found Phillips discriminated against the pair, but the court is expected to rule this spring if that finding was valid.

Statehouse Republicans have made it clear that they want Democrats to heed concerns about the commission involving religious freedom and other issues raised by Supreme Court justices.

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Republicans have also complained about the commission’s members, last year rejecting Gov. John Hickenlooper’s reappointment of an LGBT advocate — Heidi Hess — to the panel over concerns that she was anti-business. Hickenlooper kept her in place on the panel anyways, until she resigned a few months back.

On Friday, Hickenlooper announced that he was appointing Denver Democrat and lawyer Charles Fredrick Garcia to the commission to replace Hess. The GOP has been calling for more legal expertise on the panel, and Garcia has a long resume filled with stints as one of Hickenlooper’s special counsels, overseeing Denver’s Crime Prevention and Control Commission and working as a public defender.

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Denver Nuggets aim to halt road slide against “tanking” Chicago Bulls

March 20, 2018 - 12:27pm

CHICAGO — Following the Nuggets’ shocking Saturday loss in Memphis, coach Michael Malone said he had not “been that angry after a game in a long time.” But Malone’s mood dramatically shifted Monday night in Miami. He repeatedly expressed how “proud” he was of his players’ effort, despite the Nuggets falling short in a highly entertaining, double-overtime scoring spree.

Still, the coach has cautioned that Denver cannot let these losses snowball on its season-long seven-game road trip during which the Nuggets have absorbed two more blows to their slipping playoff hopes. Next up is a Bulls team that is legitimately “tanking,” the NBA buzzword to describe when a team is strategically trying to lose in order to increase its odds of landing a higher pick in the draft lottery.

On paper, this looks like the perfect “cure-all” for Denver to temporarily right a season on the brink. Except the Nuggets often have often fared poorly against the NBA’s worst teams.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Malone said. “Any game with 11 games to go is going to be a hard-fought game.”

If Denver’s playoff drought stretches to five seasons this spring, players and coaches will likely look back on the times they tripped up against inferior competition. In January, the Nuggets lost home games to the teams that entered Tuesday with the worst records in the Eastern Conference (Atlanta) and Western Conference (Phoenix) and fell on the road at Sacramento (23-49). Denver has two road losses at Dallas (22-48), including on March 6 when standout big man Nikola Jokic and starting point guard Jamal Murray were benched in the fourth quarter. Then came the St. Patrick’s Day disaster in Memphis, in which Denver fell behind by 21 points in the first half before its rally came up short against a Grizzlies team that entered that contest on a 19-game losing skid.

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The Bulls are resting veteran contributors like Robin Lopez while prized rookie Lauri Markkanen and fellow promising youngsters Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine are nursing injuries. Chicago’s starting lineup in Monday’s loss to lowly New York? Paul Zisper, Denzel Valentine, Cristiano Felicio, Justin Holiday and Cameron Payne.

Following the Nuggets’ crushing loss in Miami, veteran power forward Paul Millsap insisted “the door isn’t slammed yet” on Denver’s postseason hopes because “you never know what can happen” down the stretch.

Denver will need to rack up wins against tough competition in its final 10 games in order to force itself back into the postseason picture. But first, the Nuggets must beat an overmatched opponent that would prefer to lose — which has not exactly been an easy task for Denver.

“Effort, fight, urgency, (competing) cannot be words that we’re talking about,” Malone said.

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Daniel Bryan medically cleared to return to the WWE ring

March 20, 2018 - 12:21pm

Two years after he announced his retirement from in-ring performances in World Wrestling Entertainment, pro wrestler Daniel Bryan has been medically cleared to wrestle again, according to the WWE.

“Bryan underwent a full review of his medical history and received comprehensive neurological and physical evaluations independent of WWE. He was cleared by each doctor as well as WWE’s Medical Director, Dr. Joseph Maroon,” according to the WWE.

He retired in February 2016 after he started suffering seizures after concussions.

“I have loved this (pro wrestling) in a way that I have never loved anything else,” he said during his retirement speech on the Feb. 8, 2016 episode of “Raw.”

The 36-year-old Bryan, whose real name is Bryan Danielson, is a four-time WWE world champion and for the past two years has served as the on-screen general manager for “SmackDown.”

The announcement comes less than three weeks before WrestleMania 34, the company’s biggest show of the year. The event takes place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, the same venue in which Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 30.

This is great news. No one needs to wish anymore. They can see it with their eyes. #NakamuravsBryan

— Shinsuke Nakamura (@ShinsukeN) March 20, 2018

Amazing news.

— Rebecca Quin (@BeckyLynchWWE) March 20, 2018

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Avalanche gameday at Chicago: Carl Soderberg questionable with illness

March 20, 2018 - 12:06pm

CHICAGO — Avalanche center Carl Soderberg might miss Tuesday’s game against the Blackhawks because of illness. He was a healthy scratch on opening night Oct. 5 and he missed two games against Ottawa in Sweden in November to witness the birth of his son. Otherwise, he has been a rock in Colorado’s lineup for 69 games, logging between 18 to 22 minutes of ice time as the team’s No. 2 center.

Soderbery did not not participate in the morning skate Tuesday, and if he can’t play rookie Dominic Toninato will replace him on the second line alongside wingers Matt Nieto and Blake Comeau.

The Avs will have other changes to their lineup, too. Forward Colin Wilson, who has missed the last eight games with a head injury, will play on the fourth line with Alex Kerfoot and Gabriel Bourque. Wilson replaces rookie Vladislav Kamenev, who played in Sunday’s 5-1 win over Detroit after missing 51 games with a broken arm.

Veteran forward Nail Yakupov also won’t play, serving as a healthy scratch for the fifth consecutive game and 10th time in the last 15 games.

In goal, Jonathan Bernier will back up Semyon Varlamov, who will make his 18th consecutive appearance. Bernier has missed the last four games win a concussion, after previously missing eight games with a head injury. He took a shot off the helmet March 10 against Arizona after returning from his original head injury.

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The Avs will again scratch defensemen Anton Lindholm and Duncan Siemens, preferring to keep David Warsofsky on the third pairing with rookie Sam Girard — in what could be the NHL’s smallest pairing. Warsofsky is 5-foot-9, 170 pounds and Girard goes 5-10, 162.

Sakic in Florida. Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic is at the NHL’s GM meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., this week. He spoke about his team to on Monday.

“Well, they really compete,” Sakic said in the interview from Florida. “They come in the rink every day and work to try and get better. I’ve been impressed with (them) really believing in one another. It started in training camp, just setting the bar higher than expectations. They’ve done a tremendous job of sticking to it. Everybody goes through adversity, but they don’t accept it.

“They keep going. They really believe in each other. They’ve been a fun team to watch. They’re exciting. They’re fast. They play fast. And it doesn’t hurt when Nathan MacKinnon is playing at a whole new level. He’s really taken it upon himself to become that leader and really carry the group. There’s not many players in the league that can do what he’s doing for our club.”

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For the Cleveland Cavaliers, this season has just been one thing after another

March 20, 2018 - 11:30am

Since last summer, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been playing catch-up with the rest of the NBA. Once the Cavaliers chose to trade Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics, they have been engaged in a race against time to get whole before the postseason begins.

Lately, in a season in which the team hopes to make a run at a fourth consecutive NBA Finals, it’s simply been one thing after another.

Their season hit yet another snag Monday, when the Cavaliers announced Coach Tyronn Lue would be leaving the team for an undetermined period of time to address the health issues that have plagued him virtually the entire season.

In a statement, Lue said this leave of absence is intended to create the opportunity for him to return to coaching the Cavaliers this season. Sources said the goal — or, more accurately, the hope — is for Lue to get healthy and return to the team well before the start of the playoffs, which begin in about 25 days.

Even if that occurs, nothing else has gone according to the plan for the Cavaliers this season. A campaign that was always going to be defined by the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming free agency of LeBron James has become more like a death march, with Cleveland trudging from one issue to the next.

Yes, the Cavs still have a valuable unprotected first-round pick in the upcoming NBA draft (via the Brooklyn Nets), which they hope will either net them a star to pair with James or serve as the bridge to a future without him. But the players Cleveland received in exchange for Irving — Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder — were expected to help them this season and instead turned into unmitigated disasters.

Thomas missed the first two-and-a-half months of the season recovering from a hip injury, then struggled mightily and made several controversial comments to the media. Crowder — whose mother died the same day he was traded to Cleveland — never came close to the form he displayed under Coach Brad Stevens in Boston, repeatedly discussing how uncomfortable he felt within Cleveland’s offense.

Both were shipped out of town on deadline day — Thomas to the Los Angeles Lakers, Crowder to the Utah Jazz — as Cleveland reshuffled its deck and brought in four new players — George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.

Despite a hot start with the new guys which provided hope that the Cavs had discovered a second wind, Cleveland has been virtually the same team since the trade deadline (9-7, good for a 56.3 winning percentage) as it was before (31-22, 58.5 percent).

Before the season, if Cleveland was hovering in the middle of the pack in the East playoff picture, the assumption would have been James — in his 15th NBA season — had finally missed significant time with an injury. But the most remarkable thing about all of the chaos and drama that’s engulfed the Cavaliers this season is that James hasn’t missed a moment of it.

James, who has never played all 82 games in a season, will go 70 for 70 when the Cavaliers take on the Milwaukee Bucks at home Monday night.

Speaking of the Bucks, there’s more than a bit of irony in them being the opponent for Cleveland in associate head coach Larry Drew’s first game in place of Lue. Drew spent nearly two decades as a journeyman NBA assistant — following a decade as a journeyman NBA player — before getting a chance as the head man first with the Atlanta Hawks for three seasons, and then with the Bucks in 2013-14.

After that first season in Milwaukee, though, he was shoved aside for Jason Kidd — with both Drew and General Manager John Hammond having no idea ownership, which had prior ties to Kidd, had begun pursuing him.

Their confusion was understandable, given Kidd already had a job at the time — as coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

But Drew was displaced by Kidd and eventually joined the Cavaliers as part of David Blatt’s coaching staff later that summer.

Now, after being part of three straight trips to the NBA Finals and winning a championship in 2016, Drew suddenly finds himself at the helm of a team with no sense of direction and plenty of problems to address.

He’ll have a healthy James, but not much else. Cleveland, which has been dealing with an injury crisis for weeks now, has at least four players — Hood, Nance, Tristan Thompson and Cedi Osman — who will miss Monday’s game. Meanwhile, Kevin Love — who has been out as well for over six weeks with a broken hand — and Kyle Korver are both questionable to return.

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Cleveland has only had its full roster on a handful of occasions this season — and, given Love has been out since before the trade deadline moves, hasn’t had its current roster whole at any point. The Cavaliers remain a wretched defensive team, ranking 28th in the league by allowing 109.5 points per 100 possessions.

No team in NBA history has ever made the NBA Finals while being that easy to score against.

In truth, the only reason to keep any faith in Cleveland’s ability to extend its Finals streak to four straight appearances — and to increase James’s personal streak to eight — is the presence of the game’s greatest player on its roster. Nothing else in the Cavaliers’ profile, from injury issues to lack of time together to on-court production, can justify it.

And that was before Monday, when Lue’s departure became the latest setback for a Cavaliers team that has to lead the league in them.

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Police chase involving Douglas County deputies ends in rammed cop cars, roll-over crash

March 20, 2018 - 10:58am

Two suspects are in custody following a police chase where the suspects rammed officers’ cars and ended up in a roll-over crash on C-470.

The suspects were taken to a local hospital but did not have reported injuries, according to Douglas County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Lauren LeKander. The officers involved in the incident were not hurt.

Just before 3 a.m. Tuesday, Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies spotted a stolen Jeep near Holly Street and County Line Road.

Officers set up a perimeter, but the driver of the Jeep began ramming police cars and then took off on westbound C-470, police said.

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A police chase ensued, ending when the Jeep rolled over on C-470, south of U.S. 285.

At least one of the suspects involved will be charged, LeKander said, but their exact charges were not known as of 9:30 a.m.

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Minneapolis officer charged in shooting of Australian woman

March 20, 2018 - 10:56am

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an Australian woman in July turned himself in Tuesday after a warrant was issued for his arrest, his attorney said. A jail roster said he was held on third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

Officer Mohamed Noor shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old life coach on July 15 minutes after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home. Damond’s death drew international attention, cost the police chief her job and forced major revisions to the department’s policy on body cameras.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, planned a Tuesday afternoon news conference to discuss the charges.

Noor has not spoken publicly about the case. His attorney, Thomas Plunkett, confirmed Noor turned himself in, but had no other immediate comment.

A policeman who was with Noor at the time of the shooting, Matthew Harrity, told investigators that he was startled by a loud noise right before Damond approached the driver’s side window of their police SUV. Harrity, who was driving, said Noor then fired his weapon from the passenger seat. Damond died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

The officers did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting, and there was no squad camera video of the incident.

The lack of video was widely criticized, and Damond’s family members were among the many people who called for changes in procedure, including how often officers are required to turn on their cameras.

The shooting also prompted questions about the training of Noor, a two-year veteran and Somali-American whose arrival on the force had been celebrated by city leaders and Minnesota’s large Somali community. Noor, 32, had trained in business and economics and worked in property management before becoming an officer.

Then-Chief Janee Harteau defended Noor’s training and said he was suited to be on the street, even as she criticized the shooting itself. But Harteau — who was on vacation when the shooting happened and didn’t make her first public appearance until several days after the shooting — was forced out soon after by Mayor Betsy Hodges, who said she had lost confidence in the chief.

Harteau’s replacement, Medaria Arradondo, quickly announced a policy change requiring officers to turn on their body cameras in responding to any call or traffic stop.

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AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs in midst of roster overhaul

March 20, 2018 - 10:22am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — They have a new quarterback and a new middle linebacker. They’ve released veterans, traded away one of the top cornerbacks in the league, signed wisely in free agency and loaded up on draft picks.

Sounds like a losing franchise trying to turn things around.

Try the two-time and defending AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs.

The slew of offseason moves began even before free agency, when the Chiefs agreed to trades that sent quarterback Alex Smith to the Redskins and cornerback Marcus Peters to the Rams. But the pace of the dealing has hardly slowed down as the Chiefs remake an aging and expensive roster that was good enough to reach the playoffs last season but not good enough to beat Tennessee in the wild-card round.

That’s why they signed wide receiver Sammy Watkins, cornerback David Amerson and middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens, and landed cornerback Kendall Fuller in the trade with Washington.

“We’re not trying to win a Super Bowl four years from now. We’re going out there and we’re trying to win a Super Bowl next year,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said. “Whether that happens, I don’t know, but I know that we’re going to do everything we can to put our team in position to do so.”

Many teams coming off back-to-back division titles would try to hold on a little longer. And the result would be a slow regression that would ultimately force the team to begin a complete rebuilding job anyway.

Veach, who took over for John Dorsey last summer, took a refreshingly different tack. He went after the trade market, was decisive in his convictions and landed his biggest priorities, even if he may have had to pay a premium to get Watkins and Hitchens in the door.

It was a sign the candid, confident Veach is going to be a far different GM than his predecessors in Kansas City.

“If we have shortcomings,” Veach said, “we’ll continue to work on those things. Our mindset is at every period to get our team in a position to win a Super Bowl. We have a lot of talent here. It’s a lot of young talent, which is exciting for the fans, but we realize there may be some growing pains. But we have some guys that can straight up play football, and that’s exciting.”

There is no doubt an abundance of talent, especially on offense.

Patrick Mahomes II is poised to take over for Smith under center, and he showed flashes of his big arm and gamesmanship in a Week 17 victory over Denver. To ease the transition, the Chiefs added Watkins to what is arguably the best set of skill-position players in the division, headlined by NFL rushing king Kareem Hunt, Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce and speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

They also retained one of their own when they brought back bruising fullback Anthony Sherman.

“As a team, we’ve won a lot of games in the last few years,” Mahomes said, “and we’re bringing a lot of those guys back. And with the additions that we have added, I feel like we can have a very, very good offense. It’s all going to start with how we prepare, especially at my position.”

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Yes, the Chiefs expected to have a very good offense, just as they did last season. But one of the big challenges this offseason has been to fix a defense that ranked among the worst in the league.

Hitchens was a good first step, and he’ll step in to the void created by the release of the aging Derrick Johnson, the franchise’s career tackles leader. Amerson and Fuller will help to cover the trade of Peters, and the draft picks netted this offseason will almost certainly be used on defense.

Still, the question remains: Is that enough to make an appreciable improvement?

“We’ve got a great nucleus coming back. We’ve added some players that are top-notch,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said last week. “We’re fired up about this whole thing. I’m not great at standing up and going, ‘Hey, here we go!’ But I’m ready to roll as we’re sitting here in March.”

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