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Colorado Buffaloes to offer stadium-wide alcohol sales on football game days

August 16, 2018 - 9:42am

Colorado is making several changes and improvements to its football game day experience for fans, including stadium-wide beer and wine sales.

For the first time in more than two decades, there will be alcohol sales in the general concourse areas at Folsom Field.

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CU stopped alcohol sales at Folsom Field in 1996, the year the Big Eight expanded to the Big 12. In 2014, the athletic department introduced two beer gardens at Folsom for those 21 and older.

An article on CUBuffs.com on Thursday said, “Now after a four-year track record of responsible behavior by vendors and fans, those sales will be extended to the concourse areas so patrons can bring drinks back to their seats.”

Read the full story at Buffzone.com.

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Deontay Wilder ready to announce next fight — if Tyson Fury wins Saturday

August 16, 2018 - 9:30am

By Terrin Waack, The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder is on a business trip this weekend in Belfast. He’ll be ringside as a TV commentator for Saturday’s fight between Tyson Fury and Francesco Pianeta.

But even Wilder has something riding on the outcome of this matchup.

If Fury wins, Wilder plans to challenge him to a fight they’ve already discussed — right then and there.

“Why not?” Wilder told The Associated Press. “You got two heavyweights in the same room from the same division. You got the champion, then you got the other champion. It’s only right.”

Wilder holds the WBC belt. Fury is the lineal champion, having beat Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. The lineal champion is a title given to the fighter who defeats the last fighter to hold all the boxing belts in a weight class. And Wilder wants that moniker.

“This fight is real,” Wilder said. “The fight is on.”

As long as Fury wins.

Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza said the deal between Wilder and Fury is virtually done. The only details that need to be ironed out are the specific date and location.

Wilder said Las Vegas. Espinoza said that’s the natural option, but New York is another strong contender. Nov. 17 is a possible date, according to Showtime.

Both parties agreed that Showtime, which has shown 10 of Wilder’s fights, will get the Wilder-Fury bout — available on pay-per-view.

“Wilder vs. Fury is a really intriguing fight both because of the styles in the ring and the personalities outside the ring,” Espinoza said. “Deontay and Tyson are two of the most likable and most entertaining characters in boxing. . But all the entertainment aside, it is a high-level heavyweight fight between two of the top guys in the division and two huge athletes at 6-6 and 6-7, the two tallest and biggest guys in the sport today.”

Both are undefeated, too. Wilder is 40-0 with 39 knockouts. Fury is 26-0 with 19 KOs.

Saturday will mark Fury’s second fight since he beat Klitschko. He was out of the ring for more than two years due to mental health and drug problems before making his comeback in June.

Fury was stripped of the IBF belt soon after beating Klitschko for not fighting a mandatory challenger. He relinquished his WBO and WBA titles on the day his license was suspended in 2016.

Wilder last fought in March.

“When I look at that fight between me and Fury, I just see two awkward fighters up in there,” Wilder said. “One trying to outsmart the other. It’s definitely going to be the battle of the wizards. Who’s going to be smarter? Who’s going to be faster? Who’s going to be able to have a quick reaction?

“Where I’m sitting, and with the knowledge I know and have in this sport, I know Deontay Wilder is going to be a bit of all of the above,” he added.

The last fight Wilder tried to set up fell through. WBA, WBO and IBF champ Anthony Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) and Wilder failed to come to an agreement after months of discussion. Instead, Joshua will fight Alexander Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) on Sept. 22 at Wembley Stadium in London.

Wilder won’t completely write off a fight between him and Joshua, but he’s happy to be moving on.

“I cannot wait,” Wilder said. “This is for all the marbles right here. This is for everything. We’re finally going to see who is the man. Because Fury beat the man that beat the man. And when I beat the man that beat the man that beat the man, that’ll make me the man.”

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Colorado student test scores show improvements, but persistent problems remain for some groups

August 16, 2018 - 9:30am

Colorado students overall are doing better with their reading and writing, and fifth-graders are improving in math, but statewide test scores released Thursday show that stubborn academic problems remain among the state’s black, Latino, poor, special education and male students.

The tests were given this spring to 550,000 students from 3rd through 11th grade.

To try and close the persistent achievement gaps,  the Colorado Department of Education will step up efforts to work with low-performing schools, Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said.

The effort includes more grant funding and connecting struggling schools with districts and schools that have a track record of closing achievement gaps, she said.

The CDE has to find a way “so that we can learn from one another,” Anthes said. “We have to find a way to expand successful strategies to make sure the education system is working for all of our students.”

The gaps between the number of black and Hispanic students who met or exceeded standards in math and English language arts tests compared to the number of white students ranged from 23.4 points to almost 29 percentage points.  Those gaps have remained relatively unchanged since 2015, according to the CDE.

Two digit gaps persist on state tests for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch benefits — an indication of poverty — and those students who don’t receive the benefits. The biggest difference is a 33.6 point gap on the fifth-grade science tests, the state said.

And girls continue to outperform boys in English language arts tests with the gap growing larger from third grade to eighth grade, where a 20-point gap exists.

“That trend of girls outperforming boys in English language arts is unfortunately being played out all over the country,” said Floyd Cobb, CDE’s executive director of the teach and learning unit. “We need to do a deeper analysis of what is going on there.”

The tests are given each spring to help officials gauge the progress made by students in key academic areas including English language arts, math, science and social studies. Students in grades 3-8 took Colorado Measures of Academic Success  — or CMAS tests  — in English language arts and math.

Fifth-, eighth- and 11th-graders took the CMAS science tests and fourth- and seventh-graders from sampled schools took CMAS social studies assessments.

Ninth- and 10th-graders took the PSAT, the precursor of the SAT college exam, while 11th-graders took the SAT.

[ Search CMAS, SAT and PSAT scores by school and district ]

The overall results showed that in English language arts, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations — the two top levels  — on the CMAS tests improved in every grade level – with increases ranging from 0.3 percentage points in third grade to 2.4 percentage points in seventh grade.

But more  than half of the test takers in English language arts in each grade failed to meet or exceed expectations, according to the CDE. The highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations in the English language arts was 47.4 percent in fifth grade.

There was also positive moves in math as fifth-graders showed nearly a 2-point improvement from 2017 in the percentage of students who met or exceeded expectations on the CMAS – 35.5 percent in 2018 compared to 33.6 percent in 2017. In all, the percentage of students who met or exceeded expectations on the fifth grade math tests has jumped by more than five points since the the first time the test was administered in 2015.

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver PostAngel Trigueros-Martinez pokes his head from the back of the line as students wait to enter the building on the first day of school at McGlone Academy on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018. Related Articles

In special education, gaps across the elementary and middle school CMAS between students with and without disabilities ranged from about 28 points to 43.8 percentage point, the CDE said.

Colorado, a hotbed for students opting out of standardized tests, is doing better in test participation. It improved for grades three though 10 with the biggest improvement on the CMAS test came in eighth-grade English language arts, where participation improved by 3.5 percentage points to 88.7 percent participation.

In 2018, ninth-graders took the PSAT for the first time with 93.8 percent participation. This is compared to the 76 percent of ninth-graders who took the CMAS test in 2017, the state said.

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Montbello teen accused of killing 7-year-old nephew appears in court Thursday

August 16, 2018 - 9:17am

A 16-year-old girl accused of killing her 7-year-old nephew in their Montbello home after he asked her to play videogames with him appeared in court Thursday morning to be advised of her rights.

Denver District Attorneys Office, suppliedJennie Bunsom

Jennie Bunsom stood before a judge Thursday in a green shirt and khaki pants with attorneys by her side. The teen, who faces first-degree murder charges as an adult in the killing of her nephew Jordan Vong, had several aspects of the court process explained to her including her right to ask for her case to be transferred back to juvenile court and her right to ask for a hearing to determine whether she could have a bond set.

Bunsom’s attorneys asked the judge whether the teen could be appointed a guardian ad litem, meaning someone to investigate what would be in the best interest of the child. No parents or family members were present in the courtroom.

Bunsom is accused of placing her hand over Vong’s mouth and plugging his nose after he asked her to play video games with him. When Vong stopped moving, Bunsom allegedly wrapped her nephew’s body in a blanket and stored it inside a portable closet in her bedroom.

Vong was reported missing the afternoon of Aug. 6 — a day after Bunsom turned 16 — beginning an extensive search by police and neighbors.

Two days later, after police obtained a search warrant for the house in the 4900 block of Fairplay Street, a Denver police detective found Vong’s body in a closet. The coroner’s office was called to the home, and the boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner expects to have Vong’s autopsy report complete in about 8 weeks.

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Bunsom was an aspiring hip-hop artist who performed under the name Spiffy Draco. Several songs by the teen can be found online through music streaming site SoundCloud.

Family members and friends have been vocal about the situation on social media, posting about their sadness, anger, confusion and feelings of betrayal about the tragedy.

Bunsom is scheduled to appear in court again on Aug. 24.

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Rockies’ top prospect Brendan Rodgers remains intent on proving he’s “ready and deserving” for potential September call-up

August 16, 2018 - 9:06am

The Isotopes placed infielder Brendan Rodgers on the disabled list on Tuesday with a tweaked left hamstring, but the Rockies’ top prospect says the injury is minor and that he’ll be back in the lineup for Triple-A Albuquerque soon.

“It’s nothing serious … I’ll only be out three or four days,” Rodgers said in a phone interview.  “I didn’t do it on one certain play, it was over time, but it got aggravated about 10 days ago.”

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Since being promoted to the Isotopes from Double-A Hartford on July 31, the 22-year-old is hitting .226 with two RBIs in eight games. Colorado’s top pick in the 2015 draft believes he’s still on the path toward his stated spring training goal of making his big-league debut by the end of the season, most likely during September when rosters can be expanded.

“I’ve just got to keep the confidence high — this little tweak was the first adversity all year that I’ve had, and I’m trying to not let it affect me and it hasn’t,” said Rodgers, who’s disabled list status is retroactive to last Sunday. “I’m busting my butt to get back on the field and to finish the season strong. We’ll go from there — it’s not really my call, but I’m going to do all I can to show that I’m ready and deserving.”

In the meantime, Rodgers is embracing the Triple-A grind, using his evolving skills as a Fortnite player to unwind after games (“that settles me down and I fall right asleep”) while also taking advantage of the clubhouse presence of recently signed veteran outfielder Matt Holliday (“it’s really cool to pick his brain”).

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Broncos podcast: What we learned after first day of joint practice against the Chicago Bears

August 16, 2018 - 8:44am

In the latest First-and-Orange podcast episode, Broncos beat writers Ryan O’Halloran and Kyle Fredrickson break down their observations of Denver’s first joint training camp practice against the Chicago Bears.

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Will the NFL’s new rules save the kickoff from extinction? The league sure hopes so.

August 16, 2018 - 8:32am

To most of the football-watching public, not much is different about kickoffs during this NFL preseason. The play still looks fundamentally the same, as kickers launch footballs toward distant goal lines, and would-be tacklers race down the field with varying degrees of abandon in search of speedy returners.

But to a small group of the most interested observers, including NFL rulemakers and special teams coaches, kickoffs are different this summer. Those rulemakers and many of those coaches collaborated this past offseason to design a new set of rules for this NFL season intended to make the play safer and, if all goes as planned, prevent the sport’s leaders from considering the elimination of the kickoff in the not-very-distant future.

They see different blocking. They see smaller and more agile players on the field.

They hope they see the salvation of the kickoff.

Are they right? Will the NFL’s last, best attempt to make the kickoff less hazardous for players and save it from extinction work? The answers will come only after the 2018 season is played and the injury data is analyzed, and members of the NFL’s competition committee and other league officials begin to determine the next steps.

For now, those involved in the process say they’ve done their best, and they’re optimistic their efforts will produce positive player-safety results.

“From a fan’s standpoint, you don’t see a lot different,” Washington Redskins special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica said this week. “But when you watch the tape and study what’s going on, you can see it’s a safer play in the way you have to block and the body types that are out there on the field.”

Kotwica was among the special teams coaches who participated in an NFL player-safety summit in May at the league’s offices in New York. The coaches, after being apprised of just how much peril the kickoff is in, made a series of safety-related suggestions that ended up forming the basis of the new rules, which were formally proposed by the competition committee and ratified by the owners later that month.

Under the new rules, five players on the kicking team must line up on each side of the kicker. They must line up within one yard of the 35-yard line, meaning that they no longer can get a running start. Eight of the 11 players on the receiving team must line up between 10 and 25 yards from the spot of the kickoff. The new rules establish a 15-yard no-blocking zone between the two teams until the ball is touched or hits the ground following the kick, and they eliminate all forms of “wedge” blocking (in which multiple blockers set up shoulder-to-shoulder).

The idea is to eliminate the most vicious head-on collisions between prospective tacklers — who had reached high speeds after their running start — and blockers or ball carriers. The goal is for blockers to be forced to turn and run down the field alongside defenders. Another objective is for teams to feel compelled to use swifter, typically smaller players.

“We’re hopeful that we’ve created more of a space play, more of a punt play,” Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay, the chairman of the competition committee, said during training camp.

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Man shot to death in Colorado Springs

August 16, 2018 - 8:10am

Colorado Springs police are investigating a fatal early-morning shooting in which a man was found dead on the ground outside of a car.

The name and age of the man have not been released.

Police were called to the 2100 block of Roundtop Drive on a call of shots fired at 3:24 a.m., according to Lt. Howard Black, police spokesman.

“Officers located an adult male outside of a motor vehicle with no signs of life. The Colorado Springs Fire Department confirmed the on-scene death,” Black wrote in a news release.

The department’s Violent Crimes Section is investigating the death as suspicious.

Check back for updates on this breaking news story.

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Frederick man suspected of killing wife, 2 young daughters had deep financial troubles

August 16, 2018 - 7:55am

A 33-year-old man arrested for investigation in connection with the killing of his wife and two young daughters had filed for personal bankruptcy.

Christopher Lee Watts, 33, and his wife Shanann, had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in July 2015, claiming liabilities of more than $400,000.

On July 12 of this year, the Wyndham Hill Master Association filed a civil claim in Weld County District Court against the couple, according to court records.

Late Wednesday night, Frederick police arrested Watts for investigation on suspicion of three counts of first degree murder and three counts of tampering with evidence in connection with the disappearances and suspected deaths of Shanann Cathryn Watts and their two daughters, 3-year-old Celeste and 4-year-old Bella. The woman and two girls were reported missing on Monday.

“I just want to know why,” Shanann’s brother Frankie Rzucek wrote in a Facebook post late Wednesday night. “My precious family, my one and only sibling, my sister Shanann, 2 adorable nieces, Bella and Celeste, and her soon to be found out unborn son Niko.”

 

Courtesy The Denver ChannelChris Watts with his wife, Shanann Watts, and their daughters Celeste (left) and Bella.

“I just want 30 seconds alone with that heartless psychopath,” Rzucek wrote. “May Satan have mercy on his soul… My blood is boiling and the pain and anger and sadness I have in my heart. Nothing, absolutely nothing would get in my way of taking away his life like he did mine and my ENTIRE FAMILY.”

The Watts filed for bankruptcy two years after moving into their home at 2825 Saratoga Trail in Frederick.

The list of creditors included Ford Motor Company and Toys “R” Us. Their list of assets included their home valued at $400,000, a 2006 Ford Mustang with more than 97,000 miles on it, wedding rings and a dog, which they valued at $5.

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Their debts included $11,245 in student loans, according to Denver U.S. Bankruptcy Court records. Choice Recovery in Columbus, Ohio, was seeking to recover $740 for health and chiropractic services.

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Rockies podcast: What makes Nolan Arenado so special and is this Colorado’s best rotation ever?

August 16, 2018 - 7:41am

In the 50th installment of the On the Rox podcast, Astros beat writer Brian McTaggart for MLB.com joins Patrick Saunders to talk about Houston’s World Series season and what that meant to the city after the floods, and what makes Nolan Arenado so special. Then Kyle Newman breaks down why this year’s Colorado rotation is the best in franchise history.

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Another warm day with isolated showers, storms on Denver area radar

August 16, 2018 - 7:20am

Forecasters expect another warm day Thursday with possible afternoon showers and thunderstorms.

The National Weather Service in Boulder says there’s a 10 percent chance of precipitation after 4 p.m., and is calling for a maximum temperature in the mid-80s.

Chances of rainfall increase slightly this evening, which will be mostly cloudy with a low in the upper 50s.

Heading into the weekend, the Front Range should prepare for a chance of afternoon thunderstorms through Saturday night before conditions clear Sunday.

Early next week will see pleasant, mostly sunny days with highs not breaking into the 80s.

We will see similar weather conditions today as we saw yesterday. Warm temps with isolated storms mainly over the central mountains. #cowx pic.twitter.com/CSZOgX3nyj

— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) August 16, 2018

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“Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin dies at 76

August 16, 2018 - 7:05am

DETROIT — Aretha Franklin, the long-reigning “Queen of Soul” who sang with matchless style on such classics as “Think” and her signature song, “Respect,” died Thursday at age 76, said her representative, Gwendolyn Quinn.

The cause was advanced pancreatic cancer.

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NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne retiring after 15 Cup seasons

August 16, 2018 - 6:43am

CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne says he is retiring from full-time racing.

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The 38-year-old Kahne announced his intentions Thursday on Twitter, saying “I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I’m at ease with the decision that I have made.”

The former Hendrick Motorsports driver has 18 victories in 15 years in the Cup Series, including a playoff-clinching one last season at famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That win came amid speculation that Hendrick would part ways with Kahne following six seasons. Hendrick made it official two weeks later.

Kahne signed on with Leavine Family Racing for 2018. He has one top-five finish in 23 starts for Leavine. He had been offered a ride with Leavine next year. But he plans to spend his time with young son Tanner and his sprint car team.

He says “the highs didn’t outweigh the lows, and the grueling schedule takes a toll on your quality of life. I need to spend time doing the things I enjoy and love.”

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Frederick father to face court over deaths of pregnant wife, two young daughters

August 16, 2018 - 5:39am

A Frederick man will appear in court today in connection with the murder of his missing pregnant wife and two daughters.

Christopher Watts

Christopher Watts, 33, is being held in the Weld County Jail for investigation of three counts of first degree murder and three counts of tampering with evidence, jail records show.

Watts is being held without bond on the charges.

He is scheduled for a court appearance at 2:30 p.m. in Weld County.

The Denver Channel was told by two law enforcement officials that the husband of the missing Frederick family has confessed to killing them and officials believe they know where the bodies are.

On Wednesday, both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation joined in the search for Shanann Watts, 34, and her two daughters — 3-year-old Celeste and 4-year-old Bella — who were reported missing out of Frederick on Monday.

Frederick police responded at 1:40 p.m. Monday to Watts’ home in the 2800 block of Saratoga Trail after a friend said she hadn’t heard from Watts recently. Investigators have searched the area and handed out flyers with missing persons information.

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The CBI said Tuesday that Shanann Watts and her daughters were considered endangered and missing. Watts was 15 weeks pregnant and the young girls may have medical concerns, Frederick police said. They were last seen in the Frederick area, which straddles Interstate 25 southeast of Longmont.

Watch The Denver Channel’s interview with Christopher Watts below. Warning: Video contains content that some viewers may find disturbing.

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Denver Sports Omelette: Legalized Colorado marijuana doesn’t change NFL policy for Bears in Denver

August 16, 2018 - 5:00am

The Chicago Bears arrived in Denver for joint Broncos’ practices on Tuesday, and before players exited the plane, they were given a friendly reminder from the coaching staff.

Yes, recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado.

No, that doesn’t change the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

“Part of that will be making sure that we educate them, so we make sure that they know what you can and cannot do in the state and what you can and cannot do within the government,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy told The Chicago Sun-Times. “We want to make sure there’s no gray area, that they know exactly what’s going on.”

Until national attitudes mirror Colorado’s stance on marijuana, this stands as good advice for any visiting NFL coaching staff and its players. Wait to chow down on that “special” brownie until after retirement.

Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post 

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MLB: Astros 12, Rockies 1
Full story | Box score

Check out our new and improved stats page.

Must-Read Joe Amon, The Denver PostDenver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum #4 warming up before a practice with the Chicago Bears on Aug. 15, 2018 at Dove Valley. Kiszla: Why Case Keenum made it as NFL quarterback. And why Paxton Lynch probably never will.

These two dudes have absolutely no business in the NFL, but here they were on a sunny Wednesday morning, playing quarterback, alongside Broncos and Bears. One is named Case. The other is Chase. Read more…

Andy Cross, The Denver PostColorado State head coach Mike Bobo during pregame warmups at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl at Dreamstyle Stadium Dec. 16, 2017. CSU head football coach Mike Bobo receiving treatment for peripheral neuropathy

Mike Bobo took to social media Wednesday to give an update and express his appreciation for the care he has received. Read more… 

RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostVon Miller #58 watches the action on the field as the Denver Broncos take on the Minnesota Vikings during the first preseason at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on Aug. 11, 2018 in Denver. Von Miller, held from Broncos’ first preseason game, itching for live snaps

Von Miller’s disappointment from sitting also stemmed from a missed opportunity to play alongside some prominent defensive rookies, such as Chubb, for the first time during live-game snaps. Read more… 

Quick Hits

Women’s cycling fighting for more exposure in male-dominated sport

Injuries taking toll on Broncos’ defensive depth chart

Broncos training camp rewind, practice 14: Work with Chicago Bears spirited, but not chippy

+ Broncos podcast: Evaluating the importance of Von Miller’s preseason game absence

+ Broncos WR Carlos Henderson suspended for violating NFL substance abuse policy

Broncos defensive end Adam Gotsis won’t be charged in connection with March arrest

Fantasy football beginner’s guide: The best draft picks for Rounds 1-3

Rockies will start Antonio Senzatela, send Chad Bettis to bullpen

+ Broncos Mailbag: Have a question about the team? Ask Ryan O’Halloran here.

+ Rockies Mailbag: Have a question about the team? Ask Patrick Saunders here.

By The Numbers

20th

The year in which the Mountain West Conference is about to embark upon. Here’s a list of things to know entering the college football season. Read more…

Parting Shot Brett Carlsen, Getty ImagesJermaine Carter (56) of the Carolina Panthers sacks Josh Allen (17) of the Buffalo Bills during the second half at New Era Field on Aug. 9, 2018 in Orchard Park, N.Y. Carolina defeats Buffalo in the preseason game 28-23. Jalen Ramsey thinks former Wyoming QB Josh Allen “is trash”

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey didn’t mince words when it comes to former Wyoming and now Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Read more…

Get in Touch

If you see something that’s cause for question or have a comment, thought or suggestion, email me at dboniface@denverpost.com or tweet me @danielboniface.

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As Colorado River Basin reservoirs drop to near-record low levels, possibility of unprecedented water shortage declaration rises

August 16, 2018 - 5:00am

The Colorado River is so strained amid population growth and a climate shift to hotter, drier conditions that federal water managers may declare an unprecedented “shortage” and cut releases from reservoirs.

The feds are imploring Western states to do more now to cut water use.

A U.S. Bureau of Reclamation forecast issued Wednesday for water in the Colorado River — an over-subscribed lifeline for 40 million people — anticipates declaration of a shortage in September 2019 that would trigger the reduced water releases from federal reservoirs in “lower basin” states including Nevada and Arizona.

Colorado and other “upper basin” states Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico would face increased scrutiny of flows from headwaters into the Lake Powell reservoir. On Wednesday, Lake Powell measured 49 percent full and Lake Mead measured 38 percent full.

“Water stored in Lake Mead and Lake Powell has blunted the impacts of the ongoing drought and helped ensure consistent, reliable water and power,” said Brent Rhees, the bureau’s regional director for the upper basin. “We must continue to work to protect water in the basin. Completing drought contingency plans this year will provide better certainty. …. We can’t afford to wait for a crisis.”

Colorado Water Conservation Board Director Rebecca Mitchell said “there’s no doubt” managing the river presents challenges. “Realistic predictions on the Colorado River are for increasing demand and decreasing supply,” Mitchell said.

Declaration of a water shortage along the Colorado River would be unprecedented. Federal officials are committed to waiting until the water level in Lake Mead drops below the elevation of 1,075 feet above sea level. Then they’d cut deliveries, first targeting Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

The water level on Wednesday: 1,078 feet.

“We’re within three feet. We’re not going to declare a shortage in 2019,” agency spokesman Marlon Duke said. “There’s a 52-percent chance we will have to declare a shortage in 2020. … We cannot just sit back and think the river is going to provide all the water we need, especially as our cities continue to grow. It all depends on what Mother Nature sends us next year.”

Beyond the booming Western cities that rely on Colorado River water, including Denver, Phoenix and Las Vegas, strains on the river have food supply implications affecting salad bars as far away as New York and Washington, D.C. Colorado River water irrigates 15 percent of the nation’s vegetables, nuts and fruits.

For nearly a century, Western states have shared the river water under a treaty that divvies up portions and specifies the amounts states must leave in the river to maintain healthy major reservoirs. The problem is that population growth and agriculture has been withdrawing more water each year than the river supplies. And climate conditions, far drier than the relatively wet period that was the basis for the treaty, hasten the draw-down of reservoirs meant to serve as savings accounts.

Click to enlarge

“We see this train coming, and we’re trying to get ready for it,” said James Eklund, Upper Colorado River Basin commissioner for Colorado, who negotiates river matters with commissioners from the other states, including California.

“Right now we’re OK. If they declare a shortage in the lower basin, it is going to pull more water out of Lake Powell. That would mean we are going to have to put more water into it,” Eklund said.

“The ‘shortage’ is like a yellow traffic signal that says, ‘Hey. Watch out. You’ve gotta be mindful of demands exceeding supply to such a degree that our system doesn’t work.'”

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman has warned states they must act. Burman demanded “drought contingency plans” by the end of the year. The publication of the Colorado River forecast covering the next two years is expected to spur planning, if not immediate smarter use of water.

Federal government scientists have concluded that climate change is creating conditions in the Colorado River Basin that are more variable with more extreme precipitation and more extreme drought. Scientists say precipitation increasingly will come from rain, rather than snow, as temperatures increase. The reservoirs constructed along the river have become increasingly important in easing the impact during a dry period that began 18 years ago and ranks among the driest periods in 1,200 years.

The forecast says river flows into Lake Powell from Colorado and other upper basin states, from snowpack, probably won’t exceed 75 percent of average next year. It says 8.23 million acre-feet of water will flow from Lake Powell to Lake Mead in 2019. That’s more than the amount expected to flow into Lake Powell.

Colorado, Wyoming and Utah depend heavily on mountain snowpack and have been delivering water to Lake Powell as required under the Colorado River Compact. The efforts in these states to develop a plan for conservation should a shortage be declared reflects a common interest of states in managing the river cooperatively — avoiding a federal intervention to control flows into and out of reservoirs.

That plan will be done by the end of the year, Eklund said.

“We in the upper basin face water shortages every year because the nation’s two largest reservoirs sit below, not above, us. We have to work with whatever falls from the heavens. Anytime we have to administer water under our priority system, someone in the upper basin is taking a shortage. That happens every year,” he said.

“We have ways to use less water. We fallow fields. We take water out of pipelines. We conserve. But we have less snow to work with than in the past and more people than ever reliant on the Colorado River system,” Eklund said.

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“In a system that supports 40 million people in seven states, tribes, and Mexico, a unique environment, and several billion dollars of economic output, this challenge requires contingency planning in both the lower basin and the upper basin,” he said.

“These contingency plans will have to be implemented.”

Water advocacy groups embraced the forecast as evidence the West’s water challenges are reaching a critical point.

People in the seven southwestern states “must learn to live with less water,” said Kim Mitchell of the Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates. “Unless we take decisive, proactive steps now, major water users, farmers, cities, businesses, and the environment all will lose water. … Leaders at all levels throughout the basin must understand that more water is being pulled out of the Colorado River than is being replaced and the problem is compounded by a long-term drought and climate change.”

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Ask Amy: Family worries about a father’s criminal past

August 16, 2018 - 3:30am

Dear Amy: I recently learned that my teenage child has befriended another teen whose father is a convicted criminal. The father is listed on the sex offender database for child pornography and offenses against minors. He also served time for burglary.

I discovered this background when my child received a package in the mail with an out-of-state return address that I didn’t recognize.

This information came up when I searched the address on the package.

Apparently, the friend is visiting the father, and decided to mail my child a small gift. The friend lives with their mother locally. I have not met the friend or the mother.

I have mixed feelings about this relationship.

Certainly, the actions of the father are not the fault of the child. I do not believe my child is in immediate danger because the father lives in a different state.

However, any connection to this family makes me uncomfortable.

I was direct and truthful with my child about this. I advised caution, but as you know, teenagers are not always sensible.

How do you recommend I handle this situation? Should I keep this information to myself?

— Mama Bear

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Dear Mama Bear: You should make every effort to meet this friend, and to meet the friend’s mother. I wonder about the wisdom of sending a child to stay with a parent who has this sort of criminal record, and so you should try to determine if what you have uncovered is true. The teen might not even be aware of some of the things you have uncovered about the father, so speak with the mother.

Yes, once you determine the facts, be frank with your teen, and be especially frank about any contact between your teen and this father, online or otherwise. Express an open attitude toward the friendship between the two teens because you are right — none of this is the child’s fault.

Do not push so hard that your teen is tempted to hide anything or becomes defensive about the friendship.

Dear Amy: As part of a very challenging career change, I’ve been volunteering with a tiny nonprofit that has a great mission but, I’ve come to learn, is also dysfunctional. It is now on life support.

I’ve stuck around mostly because I’m learning useful skills that I can put on my resume, or at least deploy in ways that might benefit me.

I ultimately gave this organization several months’ notice, with a promise to tackle whatever they needed me to, within reason. Recently, I agreed to do one last project over the last few months of my tenure — a project designed to take stock of where we are and maybe, possibly, save us from having to disband. This is also a project I could grow in.

I’ve been venting to my mother about all my misadventures with the organization (especially the founder, who I’m convinced is its main problem), and my mother thinks that the organization is so obviously done for, that I’m not doing anyone any favors by participating in the project, which of course is a substantial time commitment for me.

Mom thinks I should sit the founder down and say, “Look, this is over. All the evidence says that it’s over. I want to follow through on my commitment, but I honestly think we’re delaying the inevitable. Do you want to just call this whole thing off?”

Aside from job-search and resume strategy, what do you think is the most ethical way forward?

— Diligent but Frustrated

Dear Diligent: If the purpose of your final project is to take stock and see if the organization can be saved, then you should fulfill your commitment and honestly present your findings to the founder (and the board, if there is one). It sounds as if your mother is urging you to pull the plug early, in order to save you from the time commitment and frustration of sinking with the ship, or from seeing your recommendations disregarded.

If you truly believe your mother’s take is correct — that the ship will sink, regardless — then you should be honest with your assessment — sooner rather than later. This would give the organization an opportunity to try to change and possibly survive.

Dear Amy: Responding to the question from “Concerned,” whose new lady love had an erotic thing for riding tandem on motorcycles — may I suggest he get a back massager for her? Might do the trick.

— Faithful Reader

Dear Faithful: Maybe he should be the back massager.

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Colorado woman gets 18 years for husband’s shooting death borne out of “alcohol-fueled selfishness”

August 15, 2018 - 11:37pm

CRAIG, Colo. — A woman convicted of killing her husband in a northwestern Colorado motel has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The Craig Daily Press reports 40-year-old Rachel Niemeyer was sentenced Tuesday for the Oct. 4 death of 48-year-old Michael Freese. She was convicted in May of second-degree murder, second-degree assault and prohibited use of a weapon.

Investigators say Niemeyer and Freese had both been offered jobs and were drinking heavily in celebration when they started handling Freese’s rifle.

Niemeyer’s defense attorneys claimed Freese shot himself in the head. Prosecutors said Niemeyer shot him in a drunken rage.

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Moffat County District Attorney Brett Barkey says “Niemeyer’s alcohol-fueled selfishness boiled over to homicidal resentment.”

___

Information from: Craig Daily Press, http://www.craigdailypress.com

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Missing Firestone woman found dead in Wyoming

August 15, 2018 - 11:20pm

A Firestone woman missing since the beginning of the month was found dead in her car last week in Wyoming.

Courtesy photo via Daily CameraRoseanna Eileen Allen

Roseanna Eileen Allen, 49, left her home Aug. 2 in a Kia Optima, according to Firestone police.

Police said the Optima was found by the Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers Aug. 9 at the Warren Truck Parking area near milepost 345 of Interstate 80 in Laramie County, Wyoming, with Allen’s body inside.

Police have not released a possible cause of death and have not said if foul play is suspected, and are releasing no other information because the investigation is ongoing.

But Firestone police said they did not suspect foul play upon her initial disappearance, and a post by her husband, Keith, on a page dedicated to her search claimed police do not suspect foul play in her death either.

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Read the full story at dailycamera.com.

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Trump revokes security clearance of former CIA chief Brennan

August 15, 2018 - 10:25pm

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Wednesday followed through on threats to strip the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, igniting a firestorm of criticism that the president was recklessly attempting to distract from his own political problems and silence high-profile critics.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the decision at a White House briefing, reading a statement from Trump that accused Brennan of making “a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations – wild outbursts on the internet and television – about this administration.”

Brennan, who led the CIA during most of President Barack Obama’s second term, has emerged as one of Trump’s fiercest critics, denouncing his performance at a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month as “treasonous.” On Tuesday, Brennan lambasted Trump’s personal character after he derided former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman as a “dog.”

“Any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior,” Trump said in his statement. “Mr. Brennan has a history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility.”

Trump added that he is reviewing the security clearances of nine other former officials, including former FBI director James Comey, all of whom have criticized the president or been targeted by congressional Republicans seeking to discredit the ongoing Russia probe.

The move sent shock waves through Washington’s political class and the nation’s intelligence community, which has traditionally sought to avoid public partisanship but has been dragged into the debate as Trump has accused the “deep state” of seeking to undermine his presidency through leaks of sensitive material.

The president also has lashed out repeatedly against the ongoing investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller III into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian operatives accused of tampering in the 2016 presidential elections.

Brennan’s former colleagues rallied to his defense, hailing his service to the nation, including a key role in the 2011 operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

In a tweet Wednesday, former vice president Joe Biden said Trump’s decision was “unbecoming of a President” and praised Brennan as someone who “has never been afraid to speak up.”

“If you think it will silence John, then you just don’t know the man,” he wrote.

Brennan reacted to the news by comparing Trump’s actions to “foreign despots and autocrats.”

“I never, ever thought I’d see it here in the United States,” Brennan said on MSNBC. “I believe all Americans need to take stock of what is happening right now in our government – how abnormal and how irresponsible and how dangerous these actions are. If Mr. Trump believes this going to lead me to just go away and be quiet, he is very badly mistaken.”

Sanders cast Trump’s decision as the outcome of an ongoing review of former and current officials whose conduct has led the president to question their willingness to “protect classified information.”

But since aides first raised the specter that Trump would strip Brennan and several others of their clearances, security experts have described such a move as unprecedented and warned that words and actions protected by the First Amendment aren’t grounds to take a clearance away.

“As far as we know, this is the first time that a president of the United States has individually taken action against somebody’s security clearance,” said Mark Zaid, an attorney who represents government employees in security-clearance disputes.

Last month, the White House said that along with Brennan and Comey, the president was scrutinizing former CIA director Michael Hayden, former national security adviser Susan E. Rice, former director of national intelligence James Clapper Jr. and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

On Wednesday, Sanders expanded that list to include former acting attorney general Sally Yates, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, former FBI agent Peter Strzok and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, who was recently demoted.

Yates was fired by Trump last year after she defied the president and ordered federal attorneys not to defend his controversial travel ban. Strzok and Page, two of Trump’s favorite targets on Twitter, became the centerpiece of Republicans’ efforts to discredit Mueller’s Russia probe after anti-Trump texts between the two were revealed last year. Strzok was fired over the texts this week.

Ohr is also the frequent object of GOP criticism; he was named by Republicans in a memo earlier this year that targeted his ties to the former British intelligence officer who wrote the controversial dossier on the Trump campaign’s alleged contacts with Russian officials.

The timing of the announcement suggested the president may also have been trying to distract public attention from saturation media coverage of Manigault Newman’s accusations in a new book that Trump made racist statements before he took office that were captured on tape.

After Sanders’ briefing Wednesday, the White House released the written statement from Trump dated July 26 – before quickly releasing an identical statement with the date removed. That led some of Trump’s critics to conclude he had made the decision on Brennan’s security clearance weeks ago, but that the White House strategically delayed an announcement for maximum political benefit.

“This might be a convenient way to distract attention, say from a damaging news story or two,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said on Twitter. “But politicizing the way we guard our nation’s secrets just to punish the President’s critics is a dangerous precedent.”

Some Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., applauded Trump’s move. In a statement, Paul sought to take credit for the idea of revoking Brennan’s clearance.

“I urged the President to do this,” Paul said. “I filibustered Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA in 2013, and his behavior in government and out of it demonstrate why he should not be allowed near classified information.”

Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, called Trump’s action unprecedented, saying he knew of no such historical example of a president trying to “dehumanize and embarrass an outstanding intelligence officer like John Brennan. There has always been a bipartisan spirit of support since the CIA was created in the Cold War.”

Brinkley suggested the closest antecedent was President Richard Nixon’s attempts to use the Internal Revenue Service to harass rivals on his “enemies list” and former senator Joseph McCarthy’s congressional hearings to try to identify and punish suspected communists inside the U.S. government in the 1950s.

“The public outcry of Brennan being stripped will echo long and far in the annals of American history,” Brinkley said. “It will be seen like McCarthyism – a dark stain on our democracy.”

Nearly 4.1 million Americans have federal government security clearances of varying levels up to “top secret,” according to government estimates. In some cases, former officials retain their clearances and are called on to provide advice or input on classified or highly sensitive matters, experts said. Some former officials also have jobs that require a security clearance.

It’s not clear how much of an impact Trump will have if he seeks to strip others of their clearances. Comey and McCabe have said their security badges were automatically demagnetized after they were fired.

But the action was the latest in a long battle between Trump and top members of the intelligence and national security communities. During the 2016 campaign, a bipartisan group of national security experts, including Hayden, signed on to a pair of “Never Trump” letters, asserting that he “lacks self-control and acts impetuously,” has demonstrated “erratic behavior” and is “fundamentally dishonest.”

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Since taking office, Trump has faced criticism that he has been reckless in his own handling of sensitive information, including disclosing highly classified material during an Oval Office meeting last year with the Russian foreign minister. And at his Florida retreat, Mar-a-Lago, Trump appeared to discuss the U.S. response to a North Korean missile launch in full view of patrons.

Questions also have been raised about Trump’s staff, including son-in-law Jared Kushner, who had his security clearance downgraded in February before being granted a permanent clearance in May. Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter was granted clearance despite allegations that he had been violent toward two of his ex-wives, charges he has denied.

“This is not merely erratic – it’s somewhat dangerous, using clearances to get at political opponents,” Eliot Cohen, a former State Department counselor during the George W. Bush administration who organized one of the “Never Trump” letters, said of president’s decision on Brennan.

Rep. Adam Schiff, Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump’s move demonstrates “how deeply insecure and vindictive he is – two character flaws dangerous in any President.”

“An enemies list is ugly, undemocratic and un-American. I also believe this action to silence a critic is unlawful,” Schiff said in a tweet.

Republicans were more muted. Last month, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had minimized Trump’s threats, suggesting the president was merely “trolling people.” Ryan’s office declined to comment Wednesday.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who has said he won’t seek reelection after tangling with Trump on foreign policy issues, called it a “banana republic kind of step.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Brennan has been “far too political” in his commentary about Trump. But she added that recently retired intelligence officials generally have worthwhile expertise to offer and called Trump’s move “unwise.”

The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.

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