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The highest Irish pub in North America is popping up on a Colorado ski slope for St. Patrick’s Day

February 21, 2019 - 7:42am

As far as drinking-holiday stunts go, Breckenridge Brewery’s latest is straight-up creative.

The Littleton-based brewer today announced that Sevens in Breckenridge will get an Irish makeover for the month of March, transforming the 10,100-feet restaurant into the continent’s highest-altitude Irish pub — however briefly.

No word on North America’s second-highest-altitude Irish pub, but Trip Savvy rates Paddy’s Irish Pub in Nepal — at 11,156 feet above sea level — as the world’s highest.

You won’t be gasping for breath quite so desperately in Summit County. But Sevens, located inside the Great Lodge at the base of Peak 7 at Breckenridge Ski Resort (1979 Ski Hill Road), comes as close as most of us will ever get.

Related: The highest restaurant in America just opened at a Colorado ski resort

“Before enjoying an Irish apres ski, visitors can take a ride down Leprechaun Lane and follow it all the way to the Breck Snug, a cozy pop-up bar made of snow ready to welcome skiers with Nitro Irish Stout and Irish cuisine,” Breckenridge Brewery said in a press statement Wednesday.

The restaurant will be temporarily renamed O’Sevens in honor of the March promotion, but “the only thing more Irish than this event is probably Ireland,” Breckenridge said.

As a result, and starting now and running through the end of March, Breckenridge is tipping off fans to a scavenger hunt of sorts with its Nitro Irish Stout. Golden cans will be hidden in the new 12-packs of Nitro, and “those who strike gold can enter to win a trip for two to Ireland by taking a photo of their gold can and posting on social using the hashtag #GoGoldSweepstakes,” Breckenridge said.

After Sevens gets its Irish makeover, the eatery and bar also will offer “Irish inspired, Colorado crafted speciality menu items” March 11-17, followed by St. Patrick’s Day festivities March 15-17 that include  live music, a snow sculpture bar, beer specials and more.

Reminder: High-country dehydration, even among acclimated long-timers, is a very real and dangerous thing, so be sure to alternate sips of water with your spirited St. Paddy’s Day libations this year.

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Categories: All Denver News.

Rockies Mailbag: Nolan Arenado’s most-telling quote about his future may surprise you

February 21, 2019 - 7:00am

Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders posts his Rockies Mailbag every other week on Tuesdays during the season and once per month during the offseason.

Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort said he was optimistic that something would come about with Nolan Arenado and his contract. Arenado said he’s comfortable with the direction of his contract talks. Well, I would feel comfortable as well if I were set to make $26 million this summer.

Let’s just be honest here, Arenado has earned the right to explore free agency after the season is over. Is all this talk just smoke and mirrors to keep fans happy, or do you see Arenado jumping off the LoDo bandwagon at seasons end? Keep up the solid work Patrick.
— Jim, Littleton

Jim, your question found its way to our Rockies mailbag inbox before word came down on Tuesday that Manny Machado had agreed to a 10-year, $300 million deal with San Diego. That record-breaking deal shifted the baseball landscape and it will affect Arenado’s future. I wrote extensively about in a story that appeared Tuesday afternoon at denverpost.com/rockies.

To me, Arenado’s most-telling quote from the story was this:

“I’ve lived in Denver, but your mind can’t help but wondering what’s out there, right? I can’t help that, as a human, and as a person in this position, I’m like, ‘Hey, I don’t know what’s out there.’
“Part of me wants to find out, but part of me wants to be one of the best Rockies players of all time. So those are the things I think about.”

I think Arenado believes the Rockies organization is in a good place now, probably stronger than he anticipated.

But to answer your question, I don’t think it is “all smoke and mirrors.” I think the Rockies will make a genuine, good-faith effort to sign Arenado – perhaps going as high as eight years, $280 million – but the issue ultimately will be decided by Arenado.
If you had asked me before this winter if Arenado would be in a Rockies uniform in 2020 I would have said no. Now I think there is a better chance he remains with the Rockies, but it’s tough to lay accurate odds on it.

With Carlos Gonzalez still a free agent and Gerardo Parra signing (a minor-league deal) with the Giants, I feel like the Rockies’ outfield depth could be an issue. Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Ian Desmond seem like the everyday options, but are the Rockies looking into adding a proven veteran to pair with young players like Ramiel Tapia and Michael Tauchman for depth? Plenty of options still available: Adam Jones, Carlos Gomez, CarGo, Denard Span, etc.
— Steven L., Denver

Steven, that’s a really good question, but I doubt that the Rockies will add veteran depth to the outfield, and I very much doubt CarGo will return. From everything I’ve been told, he’s not coming back.

This is not what you want to hear, I’m sure, but Colorado did add veteran outfielder Michael Saunders this offseason to a minor-league deal, and he would be the veteran you’re talking about — if he makes the team.

Plus, you forgot to add Noel Cuevas into the mix. He’s a steady, if unspectacular fourth outfielder.

I should add this: The Rockies really want to see Tapia turn the corner and become a productive major-leaguer. That means he must be able to cope with being a spot starter and evolving into a more effective hitter off the bench. So far, he’s been unable to do that, but he’s matured. We’ll see.

Also keep in mind that Tapia’s speed can be a weapon on the bases, and I would not be surprised to see him replace Desmond in center field, late in games, for defensive purposes. Finally, Tapia is out of minor-league options, so the Rockies are going to try and get everything they can out of him.

There is also this to consider: The club’s payroll is currently more than $140 million and I don’t know how much wiggle room is left, especially with the prospect of a possible, long-term Nolan Arenado contract on the horizon.

Patrick, nice to see you giving some love to the Rockies bullpen. I saw you got to chat with Bryan Shaw about is sub-par year with the Rox. I agree he was a mess, but I predict a huge season for him in purple pinstripes this season. Would you agree with me on this one?
— Sal, Denver

Sal, seeing would be believing and he needs to do a lot to regain manager Bud Black’s trust. Shaw was so consistently bad last year that he has a lot to prove this spring. How bad? Shaw’s ERA at Coors Field was 6.93 vs. 5.10 on the road; he served up five home runs at Coors vs. four on the road; and he had a 2.108 WHIP at home vs. 1.523 away.

His track record suggests that he’ll rebound, but he also has a lot of miles on his right arm. As I wrote in my story:

“When Shaw struggled with Colorado last season, there were concerns that the velocity of his cut-fastball — his primary weapon — was waning. According to FanGraphs, however, his fastball averaged 93.9 mph last season, down just a tick from 2017 (94.6) and faster than in 2015 (92.8).”

Bottom line: I think Shaw will improve this year, but I don’t think he’ll be the Rockies’ primary set-up man in the eighth inning. I think that job goes to Scott Oberg.

Hi Patrick, I am an old baseball fan, going back to the 50’s, so you can guess my age, having a bit of a problem understanding some of the new analytics, in particular WAR. How does that work and how do they arrive at the numbers in that. Thanks for that and I follow you quite regularly on Twitter.
— Bob Meyer, Castle Rock

Bob, thanks for reading and thanks for the follow on Twitter (as long as you aren’t one of those nasty Twitter Trolls).

Over the last 10 years, WAR has become common baseball vernacular. Anyway, WAR is meant to measure a player’s overall value.

Here is a fairly cut-and-dried explanation from FanGraphs:

“Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is an attempt by the sabermetric baseball community to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic. You should always use more than one metric at a time when evaluating players, but WAR is all-inclusive and provides a useful reference point for comparing players. WAR offers an estimate to answer the question, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a freely available minor leaguer or a AAAA player from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?” This value is expressed in a wins format, so we could say that Player X is worth +6.3 wins to their team while Player Y is only worth +3.5 wins, which means it is highly likely that Player X has been more valuable than Player Y.”

I hope that helps. If not, simply Google “baseball WAR” and you will learn more than you ever wanted to know — mathematical formulas, various versions of WAR and why it’s the greatest thing in baseball since pine tar. Just be careful that you don’t turn into a Stat Goblin!

Patrick, I would love to know your thoughts on Kyler Murray heading to the NFL over baseball. A lot of folks are saying he is making a bad decision. And after his NFL career goes south he can always try and play baseball like Tim Tebow. I believe the A’s would still have his rights though, correct?
— RJ, Aurora

RJ, to answer your last question first, yes, the A’s will retain his baseball rights going forward and he will be placed on the minor-league restricted list indefinitely. Should Murray ever decide to return to baseball, he would have to return to the Athletics.

Here are my thoughts on the matter. First, I would love to see more young, talented, African-American players in baseball. Second, the guaranteed money that players receive in baseball sure seems tantalizing. (The Athletics and Murray agreed to a $4.66 million signing bonus following last June’s draft). Third, baseball can, sometimes, provide a longer, more-lucrative professional career. Fourth, baseball doesn’t wreck a player’s body the way football often does. Fifth, it often takes some very trying times in the minors to make it to The Show.

Yet, having said all of that, Murray’s heart seems to be set on playing football. As he stated in a tweet:

“Moving forward, I am firmly and fully committing my life to becoming an NFL quarterback. Football has been my love and passion my entire live. I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100% of myself to being the best QB possible and winning NFL championships.”

Bottom line: Murray is chasing his passion and I applaud that.

RELATED: Sign up for the Rockies Insider newsletter and Denver Sports Omelette

Hey Patrick, it looks like the only position battle heading into camp is at second base. Put your Vegas hat on and handicap the race between Ryan McMahon, Pat Valaika, Garrett Hampson, and prospect Brendan Rodgers. What do your odds on these players look like?
— Aaron Hurt, Omaha, Nebraska

Aaron, I wrote about the race for second base in a recent story and I think it’s a three-man competition between McMahon, Hampson and Rodgers. I think Valaika is a long shot.

Manager Bud Black indicated that he could mix-and-match a couple of players at second base this season, and if that is the case I think the two players who make the 25-man roster coming out of camp are Hampson and McMahon.

Having said that, I think Hampson’s nifty glove, speed and baseball maturity make him the favorite to be the starter.

Rodgers, I think, will begin the season at Triple-A, but if he has a great camp, as shortstop Trevor Story did in 2016, he could force his way onto the team as a starting second baseman.

Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see who replaces DJ LeMahieu and how they measure up.

Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders posts his Rockies Mailbag every other week on Tuesdays during the season and once per month during the offseason.

Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

Categories: All Denver News.

Denver weather: Freezing drizzle in metro area with up to 14 inches of new snow in mountains

February 21, 2019 - 6:33am

A looming snowstorm will blast the mountains with another thick layer new snow Thursday and Friday and the Denver metro area could get up to 2 inches of snow, forecasters say.

A winter weather advisory has been issued for Colorado’s central mountains.

Between 6 inches and 14 inches of snow is forecast for the Colorado Rockies by Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder.

RELATED: Denver’s seen less snow than Seattle this winter. But that could soon change.

It will be cold in Denver on Thursday, with a high temperature of 30 degrees. By 11 p.m. Friday, snow could begin to fall along the Front Range, the NWS says. Freezing drizzle is also a possibility. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch is possible, forecasters say.

A slight chance of snow and freezing rain is possible in the Denver metro area before 11 a.m. on Friday, when another half inch of snow could fall, the NWS says. The chance for snow will increase slightly Friday night.

Snow in the mountains this aftn thru late Fri. Chance of light snow & freezing drizzle NE plains. #cowx pic.twitter.com/cb10ESJ2as

— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) February 21, 2019

The weekend will be sunny with highs in the 40s, according to the NWS. Temperatures will climb to about 52 degrees by Tuesday.

Categories: All Denver News.

Rockies podcast: Colorado’s outfield has a new look. Here’s the breakdown.

February 21, 2019 - 6:00am

https://soundcloud.com/rockiespodcast/rockies-2019-outfield-analysis/

In this episode of the On the Rox podcast, Denver Post beat writers Patrick Saunders and Kyle Newman assess the new-look Colorado outfield featuring Ian Desmond in center and David Dahl and Charlie Blackmon at the corners. Is Desmond the right choice to patrol all that grass?

In the latest On the Rox podcast, Patrick Saunders and Kyle Newman assess the national media’s traditional bias against the Rockies, plus insight into the sights and sounds of the first week of spring training at Salt River.

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Time-saving “diverging diamond” may be coming to busy I-70 interchange in Wheat Ridge

February 21, 2019 - 6:00am

The diverging diamond interchange, a counter-intuitive yet increasingly popular way of safely moving large volumes of traffic through clogged intersections, is slowly shifting from curiosity to commonplace in Colorado.

The state already has three of the novel interchanges — in Grand Junction, Superior/Louisville and Colorado Springs — with at least another three on the drawing board. Colorado’s latest diverging diamond is proposed for the notoriously bogged-down intersection of Kipling Street and Interstate 70 in Wheat Ridge, where an average of nearly 200,000 vehicles pass under, over or through the interchange every day.

CDOTA look at the proposed diverging diamond interchange in Wheat Ridge.

An open house on the redesign project, which doesn’t yet have a firm timeline or budget, was held last week at the Wheat Ridge Recreation Center.

“Traffic has outgrown that intersection,” said Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tamara Rollison. “Diverging diamond interchanges are able to move larger volumes of traffic than a conventional interchange.”

The idea behind a DDI — the country’s first was built in Missouri just a decade ago — is to send traffic over or under a major highway using a crossover pattern, where motorists are routed to the left side of the road while crossing the interchange and then routed back to the right side of the roadway.

The crossover design eliminates obstructed left turns that can back up traffic for multiple light cycles and contribute to nasty T-bone collisions. The Federal Highway Administration concluded that DDIs by design reduce “vehicle-to-vehicle conflict points” by half and that overall crashes go down 46 percent in the first year a DDI is in operation compared to that same interchange five years earlier.

RELATED: More people are dying on Denver’s roads as cops write far fewer traffic tickets

The agency also calculates that DDIs increase traffic “throughput” by 10 to 30 percent over a conventional diamond interchange, and can reduce delay by 15 to 60 percent in higher-traffic areas. That will come as welcome news to a metro area where it was revealed last week that the average driver lost a cumulative 83 hours to congestion in 2018, according to a report from INRIX Research.

The other big impetus for DDIs — there are more than 100 in the United States now with more coming every year — is cost. The FHWA said DDIs can cost up to 75 percent less than building a conventional interchange because they stay within the footprint of what they are replacing.

Alex Ariniello, public works director for Superior, said improvements at the McCaslin Boulevard bridge over U.S. 36 have been noticeable since the interchange connecting Superior to Louisville went to a diverging diamond design in late 2015.

“There’s smoother traffic flow, not as much delay and accident reduction of around 20 to 30 percent,” he said.

During the first year of the new interchange’s operation, Superior reported no injury crashes and a 36 percent decrease in noninjury crashes from the crossing’s previous configuration, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.

On the other side of the state, Paul Jagim, Grand Junction’s transportation engineer, said his city’s DDI — Colorado’s first — has done away with the broadside crashes that resulted from drivers making badly timed left turns across oncoming traffic.

“People were pushing the issue trying to make that left,” Jagim said. “This handles that left-turn movement very efficiently.”

Grand Junction’s DDI, located where I-70 intersects with U.S. 50 and U.S. 6 on the west side of town, opened in 2014. Jagim said drivers have taken to the quirky new road alignment without much fuss or confusion.

“It doesn’t generate the strong reaction that roundabouts do,” he said. “People are pretty neutral about it.”

That’s because diverging diamond interchanges are generally well marked with giant painted lane arrows and sign-posted in a way that makes traffic flow obvious, said Gilbert Chlewicki, division director with Advanced Transportation Solutions in Washington, D.C., and an expert on DDIs who runs the website divergingdiamond.com.

Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostAn aerial view of the Intersection of I-70 and Kipling St. in Wheat Ridge, seen here on Feb. 16, 2019. Related Articles

“A lot of people don’t realize they are going through a DDI until after they’ve gone through it,” he said. “There’s so much guidance — you just follow it through.”

There were complaints from some motorists when Colorado’s third DDI first opened at I-25 and Fillmore Street in 2016, according to a report from KRDO, but CDOT officials said that was largely due to the fact that the interchange was still under construction and traffic signal synchronization was still being refined for efficiency.

Wheat Ridge City Manager Patrick Goff said he doesn’t worry about drivers getting befuddled by a redesign at I-70 and Kipling Street. The current situation at the 1960s-era interchange, where vehicles often stack up across multiple traffic signals in an effort to squeeze into left-turn lanes underneath the interstate, “needs significant improvements for traffic flow,” Goff said.

“This design may take a bit to get used to by drivers but with proper signage and road markings the (diverging diamond) interchange is actually fairly easy to navigate,” he said.

Categories: All Denver News.

Backpass: Why the Colorado Rapids and other MLS teams are so secretive about the preseason

February 21, 2019 - 6:00am

Soccer doesn’t have “exhibition matches.” Not by that lingo. Primarily because the games aren’t on exhibit. Most MLS teams don’t stream or provide a cable broadcast of their games in early February. This decision includes the Colorado Rapids, who have played matches against Ventura County Fusion, Toronto FC, and the Las Vegas Lights, while providing only scant details as to the proceedings: who comes on the field, who goes off, and who scores. Often, teams don’t even provide that much info. Check out this tweet from New York Red Bull this week:

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we will not be playing Real Salt Lake on Thursday. We will play a closed-door match. Our opponent’s technical staff has asked that the match not be streamed or photographed. No information will be provided from the game.

— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) February 14, 2019

If you’re lucky, you might get a 3-second video clip of a goal from a funky angle on a hand-held camera. Teams are so secretive that it is not uncommon that when a player is with the club on a trial and looking to secure a spot in the team, he might be posted on social media simply as “TRIALIST.”

Why all the secrecy?

There are two good reasons I can think of.

Firstly, teams are rusty. Some players are not in great fitness. Others are prone to the occasional clumsy mistake. The club may feel that fans will be shocked and dismayed if they tuned into an early February match to watch their center-back flubbing passing and their midfielders getting nutmegged nonstop. There may be fear by team officials that the fanbase will panic and declare the club a disaster before a single meaningful game has even been played.

Secondly, when teams start out the year, the coaches are still tweaking and playing with their tactics and formations. They may be afraid to give any tactical advantage to their opponents at the beginning of the season by providing them any opportunity to scout their club. The coaching staff wants to gain any possible advantage they can for the beginning of the year,before the games are all on TV for the world to see.

I see the logic. But it’s dumb.

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Fans aren’t stupid. They understand that the quality of soccer in February is not going to be as crisp as it will be in June. Most Coloradans can identify with the reality that they may be a few pounds heavier and have a little more trouble bounding up and down the stairs in the winter than they would be in summer. It’s cold outside. We run around less, and we couch surf more. That’s what happens. Sure, there’ll be a few people grabbing pitchforks and torches the first time a player smacks a shot 30 yards over the goal. But soccer decisions should never be dictated by the most reactionary fans on twitter.

Tactically, I can’t see much advantage being gained by showing even the earliest games. Every soccer team is rusty. Every team is trying to increase player fitness, get them sharper at touches and get them moving into the right places to suit the new plan for the year. The other teams’ tactics, fitness and rust is no real concern. Nor, to be honest, is winning. If the Rapids roll out a lineup with one player trying out a new position, another player getting a chance from the development academy and a third playing for the first time with his teammates since he moved here from Vancouver, the goal is to get acclimated. The results don’t matter. Let’s all breathe.

I’ll add that it helps the team to market to fans if they stream more games. Getting more eyeballs on the team more often sells more jerseys and more tickets. I wish I had some cool stats to prove this, but I don’t. It just follows from basic common sense. An invisible team is of less interest to its fan base.

Consider me a solid vote in favor of streaming all the pre-season games. I promise to be the first person on Twitter to calm the fans in the aftermath of a sloppy, stunning defeat at the hands of the Chenoweth School for the Performing Arts U15s.

Categories: All Denver News.

Shambhala leaders urge Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to “step back” amid new abuse allegations

February 21, 2019 - 6:00am

Longtime Shambhala leaders asked Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche — the hereditary ruler of the Colorado-born Buddhist community — to “step back” from his teachings Tuesday amid new allegations he engaged in “physical and psychological abuse.”

More than 40 Shambhala spiritual leaders, known as Acharyas, signed the open letter to the Buddhist community. Many of them have known Mipham, whose title of Sakyong means king or “Earth protector,” for much of his life, and have been involved in Shambhala for decades.

“We have an obligation to learn how to better hear and support those who have been abused, ignored or mistreated,” they wrote. “We cannot condone the Sakyong’s abusive behavior. In order to demonstrate the urgency of this cry and respond to the breakdown in trust that so many of us are experiencing, we are requesting the Sakyong to step back from his teaching for the foreseeable future.”

The letter follows both the release of a report from a third-party investigation of allegations against Mipham that was commissioned by Shambhala International, and new allegations from some of his former bodyguards who signed a 35-page open letter alleging Mipham’s behavior was worse than what was described in Shambhala’s report.

RELATED: Catholic churches in Colorado will allow former federal prosecutor to review allegations of sex abuse by priests

Mipham originally stepped aside last July following allegations of sexual abuse that first surfaced in the Buddhist Project Sunshine’s report. In a letter to the community at the time, he acknowledged he had caused “harm,” and said he would step aside from his leadership role. He remains at his wife’s family’s monastery in India.

The report issued by Shambhala on Feb. 3 documented the conclusions of an independent investigation by the Wickwire Holm law firm, which deemed credible two allegations of sexual misconduct by Mipham, and described him as abusing his power as the Buddhist community’s spiritual leader.

This past Saturday, six of Mipham’s former bodyguards issued a letter that faulted the Wickwire Holm report for not going far enough. The bodyguards are known as Kusung, or “body protectors,” and stood by Mipham’s side at all times.

“Mr. Mukpo has a longstanding history of questionable behavior towards his students, ranging from crude, harmful speech to physical and psychological abuse,” the former bodyguards wrote, referring to Mipham by his family name at birth, “Mukpo.”

One of the six former Kusung who signed the letter, Allya Canepa, told The Denver Post that over the course of her 25 years as a personal guard to Mipham, she watched “hundreds” of women leave his bedroom. She said she was left to comfort many of the women in the mornings after their sexual encounters with Mipham.

Other signers of the letter describe Mipham’s copious alcohol consumption. Ben Medrano, a former Kusung, wrote of efforts to curb Mipham’s drinking as a futile game of cat-and-mouse often ending in Mipham drinking in excess and harassing students and other community members.

Mipham responded to the publication of the Wickwire Holm report in a letter to the community on Feb. 4. In it, he did not say whether he would step down, only writing that he would remain in retreat. He has not made a public apology.

“Addressing and apologizing for these situations needs to occur at a personal level,” Mipham wrote. “I have started this process and intend to make every effort to continue doing so.”

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The public scrutiny of Shambhala’s leader comes as the Buddhist organization — which was founded in Boulder in the early 1970s but is now headquartered in Canada — also has faced investigation by law enforcement in Colorado.

In Larimer County, an investigation continues into “potential criminal activity” at the Shambhala Mountain Center at Red Feather Lakes. Sheriff’s officials have declined to specify what they’re investigating.

And in Boulder, a former Shambhala teacher, 71-year-old William Lloyd Karelis, was arrested this month on suspicion of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust in a case that dates to the early 2000s. Police say there may be more victims.

Categories: All Denver News.

Estimates of Colorado job gains continue to move lower

February 21, 2019 - 6:00am

Colorado Spring’s economy looked like it was on fire last year, creating jobs in December at the fourth fastest annual rate of any metro in the U.S.

Call off the fire trucks. An update from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment on Wednesday shows things weren’t as hot as first reported in El Paso County or in Colorado for that matter.

Monthly payroll reports showed metro Colorado Springs pumping out jobs at a 5.6 percent annual rate as of December 2018. Now, it looks like the rate might come in closer to 2 percent.

“Colorado Springs is actually growing jobs slightly below the state average,” said Ryan Gedney, a senior economist with the state labor department.

Normally, job growth in Colorado Springs gets underestimated, and then revised higher. This time around, the estimates were way high, which required an adjustment lower, he said. Greeley is now on track to beat both Colorado Springs and Fort Collins for job growth last year.

Why were the initial counts so off base? Gedney said the models can miss turns in the economy. Job growth definitely slowed in the second half of the year. Although he doesn’t predict job losses in 2019, he said slower gains are likely to continue.

Every month the U.S. Department of Labor surveys employers to estimate how many nonfarm jobs were created. Those reports are squared up with the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages or QCEW, which uses the headcounts employers provide when they pay unemployment insurance premiums.

The revisions that came out on Wednesday show that Colorado added 17,000 fewer jobs as of September than what was initially estimated. Of that reduction, 10,000 came just from Colorado Springs. Metro Denver had 4,700 fewer jobs than estimated and Fort Collins 1,400 fewer.

Adjustments were minimal for Grand Junction, Greeley and Pueblo.

Metro Colorado Springs, which covers all of El Paso County, showed steady job growth last year, Gedney said. It just happens to be less than half of what the monthly reports were showing.

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Based on industry, the biggest revisions in the third quarter came in leisure and hospitality, down 11,800 jobs in September from initial estimates; professional and business services, down 6,300; mining, down 2700; government, down 2,400; and manufacturing, down 1,000.

The industries with upward revisions included other services, up 4,500; financial activities, up 1,700; trade, transportation and utilities, up 1,200; and construction, up 1,100.

Gedney said Wednesday’s update shows why it is important to do a reality check on the monthly estimates. Employment counts are undergoing a process known as benchmarking. When the results come out March 11, a clearer picture of what actually happened last year should emerge.

Categories: All Denver News.

Denver Sports Omelette: Strap on the headgear, CHSAA state wrestling returns to Pepsi Center

February 21, 2019 - 6:00am

Happy Thursday, Omelette friends! Today is the day — Day 1 of the CHSAA state wrestling tournament. It runs Thursday through Saturday in Denver at Pepsi Center.

Student athletes from across the state have their eyes set on competing in the annual tournament at “The Can.”  If you don’t have plans the next three days, I suggest you make a trip downtown to watch some wrestling. Here’s a look at prep wrestling content and storylines you may have missed from earlier in the season:

Jeff Bailey, The Denver Post

Categories: All Denver News.

PHOTOS: Inside Denver’s newest food hall, Broadway Market

February 21, 2019 - 5:04am

Denver’s newest food hall opens Friday, and it has some of the city’s top chefs to guide your culinary journey.

Broadway Market brings together nine food concepts, a central bar, a pour-your-own beer wall and retail under one roof at 950 Broadway, the former Tony’s Market location. Chefs on board include Biju Thomas, Justin Brunson, Daniel Asher, Paul C. Reilly and more.

There’s pizza. There’s pasta. There’s fried chicken. There are empanadas. And for those waist-watchers, sushi and pressed juices, too. Wash it all down with some fancy chocolate. 

[CHECK OUT THE PHOTOS ON THE KNOW]

Broadway market comes from developer Mark Shaker (Stanley Marketplace) and Brad Arguello, co-founder of Avanti Food & Beverage. The founder of Snooze AM Eatery, Adam Schlegel, helped curate the concepts.

Much like Denver’s other food halls, the restaurants have counters where diners will place orders, then the wide-open room features communal seating in the form of high tops, cozy booths and tables for two. 

The all-black-and-white aesthetic features just a few pops of color in the red of wall murals, colorful cocktail garnishes at the bar, table succulents and edgy floral bartender aprons. The restaurant signs are neon, and neon ropes provide extra lighting.

Here’s a look at the vendors inside Broadway Marketplace:

Pizzeria Coperta

Pizzeria Coperta comes from the team behind Beast + Bottle and Coperta. Grab a thin crust pizza of the red and white variety, or just a slice. This spot also offers Roman street food. Price range is around $10-$18.

Mother Tongue

From Rome over to the Middle East, Daniel Asher and Josh Dinar (Ash’Kara) serve up Ottoman-inspired Street food at Mother Tongue — specifically the doner kebab. Options for the wraps and bowls include lamb, chicken and falafel for around $9.50-$11.50.

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Biju’s Little Curry Shop

Biju Thomas is in the house to spice up your life. The neighborhood curry shop, with other locations in RiNo and on Tennyson Street, offers Madras spiced chicken, grilled steak or charred carrots and greens served with rice, greens or tots and four sauce options. The flavor kick will run you about $11.50-$14.50.

Royal Rooster

Chicken master Justin Brunson (Old Major, Masterpiece Delicatessen) gives Broadway Market a real kick. If you’re feeling daring, the Nashville Hot Rooster made with ghost pepper is the sandwich for you. Other less-daring but still delicious options include the Spicy Rooster with chipotle mayonnaise, the French Rooster with ham and Swiss and, of course, the oldie-but-goodie Classic Rooster. The fried fiesta runs about $9-$12.

Mondo Mini

A mini version of the gourmet grocer Mondo Market inside Stanley Marketplace and The Source, Mini offers sandwiches, cheese and salami boards, salads and build-your-own pasta bowls for around $10-$12.

Maria Empanada

This vendor needs no introduction to Denverites, with Broadway Market being Maria Empanada’s fifth location. The homemade empanadas of your dreams include fluffy pillows of beef, chicken, caprese, ham, mushroom and more for the savory side of things. Dessert empanadas include nutella and fruit. The artisan empanadas start around around $4

Wonder

Bravo to the person who will walk past the juicy friend chicken and saucy pizza to head straight to Bolder-based Wonder for a fresh juices or smoothie. Bottles of health include roots, greens, fruits and nut milks. Shots are also available. Wonder also serves bone broth and toasts. Feel good about yourself for $3-$11.

Misaki On Broadway

Roll into the third sushi spot from chef Jesus Silva, Charlene Thai and Robert Thai (Misaki at Stanley). This centrally-located sushi stand will slice up sashimi and sushi, as well as offer an oyster bar.

Miette Et Chocolat

Chocolate so pretty you can’t even tell if you can eat it from Gonzo Jiminez and David Lewis. Sweet treats include bonbons, chocolate bark, macrons, chocolate chip cookies and more toothache-worthy treats.

Beer Wall and bar

Much like Stanley Beer Hall and First Drafts, Broadway Market offers a fob card system for its pour-your-own-beer wall — but it doesn’t end there. Say goodbye to multiple transactions at a food hall: You can register your fob when you walk in, order at each vendor to your heart’s content, and pay for it all at the end.

Options on the beer wall include local ciders, Coors Light, lagers, pilsners, saisons and even a gluten-free brew. Behind the bar, creatively-cloaked bartenders shake up original cocktails with colorful garnishes.

Broadway Market, 950 Broadway; open Feb. 22; 7 a.m. for breakfast spots, the rest of the vendors will follow at 11 a.m. Food vendors close at 9 p.m. daily, bar open until 11 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. broadwaymarketdenver.com.

Categories: All Denver News.

Ask Amy: Partners ponder angles on infidelity

February 21, 2019 - 4:30am

Dear Readers: I’ve stepped away from the Ask Amy column for two weeks to work on a new writing project. I hope you enjoy these edited “best of” columns in my absence. All of these questions and answers were first published 10 years ago. Today’s theme is: unhappy partners.

Dear Amy: Several years ago, I had a one-night stand with a married woman. I later learned that she had a child. DNA testing proved the child is mine.

I feel horrible knowing that there is a daughter out there who is mine, but loves another man who is not her biological father. I’ve turned into a hermit, and am unhappy. The mother has decided she wants to clear the air now, six years later. She has lived a lie all this time, and I’m messed up knowing I have a child I may never know. Where do we go from here?

— Desperate

Dear Desperate: Where you go from here is straight to the truth. You know the old saying, “The truth will set you free”? It’s true, and you will feel better when you are no longer living a lie. You should tackle this one step at a time, and it would be best to do so with some mentoring and support.

You would benefit greatly from seeing a counselor who could sit with you, listen and offer emotional support and professional advice. Your child is still young. It is not too late to establish a relationship with her. You also have legal and financial issues to consider. People who care about you will not judge you harshly, especially when they see that you are trying to do the right thing. You need to tell the truth for your daughter’s sake — and for your own. (May, 2009)

Dear Amy: My wife died seven years ago. Two weeks ago, I was reading a travel diary that she kept while in Europe on business. My wife and I were not married at the time, but had been a couple for 12 years.

My wife was staying in a converted castle for a seminar with other managers. I read in her journal that one day she had lunch and dinner with a man named Jerry. I was destroyed. I have brought this up to a few friends and relatives, and most of the women said the same thing — that it was just lunch and dinner.

I am angry that she accepted the invitation at all. I know I don’t have any way to get the truth, and I also have no recourse. I talked to an old girlfriend of hers who said my wife was a “one-man woman.” Sure, I’m thinking — maybe one man at a time. Am I being too critical?

— Devastated Husband

Dear Devastated: Being angry, confused or upset is one thing. But when you start slinging accusations and insinuations around about someone who can’t defend her own reputation, you tip the balance and seem irrational and even cruel.

I can think of several very reasonable explanations for your wife’s actions. As her loving husband, your instinct should not be to jump to the harshest conclusion, but to assume the very best about someone whom you loved and who presumably loved you. You really need to get a grip about this, but if you find you are obsessing, still angry, and can’t let it go, see a counselor. (Sept., 2009)

Dear Amy: My husband has a female friend that he just can’t seem to part ways with. They talk on the phone and send text messages. The other day he dropped off a bottle of wine at her house. What should I do?

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He says if I keep the house clean, he will stop seeing her.

— Upset Wife

Dear Upset: His offer of a deal means that he knows what he is doing is wrong, and he is using this as leverage. Carmela Soprano would have told her husband, Tony: “I’ll give YOU a deal — you can stop texting her and you clean the house.” After you explain to your husband that his behavior is disrespectful and is interfering with your marriage, get busy. Find ways to boost your self-esteem through healthy pursuits. Prepare to have a calm conversation with your husband that starts with the phrase, “Well, now that you’ve gotten my attention, let’s talk about our marriage.” (Sept., 2009)

Dear Readers: I am very active on some social media platforms. To find me on Twitter and Instagram, look for: @AskingAmy. My vibrant Facebook page address is: Facebook.com/ADickinsonDaily.

Categories: All Denver News.

Pope offers 21 proposals to fight abuse at start of summit

February 21, 2019 - 3:27am

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis opened a landmark sex abuse prevention summit Thursday by offering senior Catholic leaders 21 proposals to punish predators and keep children safe, warning that the faithful are demanding concrete action and not just words.

The tone for the high stakes, four-day summit was set at the start, with victims from five continents — Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and North America — telling the bishops of the trauma of their abuse and the additional pain the church’s indifference caused them.

“Listen to the cry of the young, who want justice,” Francis told the gathering of 190 leaders of bishops conferences and religious orders.

“The holy people of God are watching and expect not just simple and obvious condemnations, but efficient and concrete measures to be established.”

More than 30 years after the scandal first erupted in Ireland and Australia, and 20 years after it hit the U.S., bishops and Catholic officials in many parts of Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia still either deny that clergy sex abuse exists in their regions or play down the problem.

Francis, the first Latin American pope, called the summit after he himself botched a well-known sex abuse cover-up case in Chile last year and the scandal reignited in the U.S.

With his own papacy and the Catholic hierarchy at large facing a credibility crisis, Francis has now vowed to chart a new course and is bringing the rest of the church leadership along with him.

The summit is meant as a tutorial for church leaders around the globe to learn the importance of preventing sex abuse in their churches, tending to victims and investigating the crimes when they occur.

Colombian Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez warned them that they could face not only canonical sanctions but also imprisonment for a cover-up if they failed to properly deal with allegations.

Abuse and cover-up, he said, “is the distortion of the meaning of ministry, which converts it into a means to impose force, to violate the conscience and the bodies of the weakest.”

The Vatican’s onetime sex crimes prosecutor delivered a step-by-step lesson Thursday on how to conduct an investigation under canon law, citing the example of Pope Benedict XVI, who turned the Vatican around on the issue two decades ago.

Calling for a conversion from a culture of silence to a “culture of disclosure,” Archbishop Charles Scicluna told bishops they should cooperate with civil law enforcement investigations and announce decisions about predators to their communities once cases have been decided.

He said victims had the right to damages from the church and that bishops should consider using lay experts to help guide them during abuse investigations.

The people of God “should come to know us as friends of their safety and that of their children and youth,” he said. “We will protect them at all cost. We will lay down our lives for the flocks entrusted to us.”

Finally, Scicluna warned them that it was a “grave sin” to withhold information from the Vatican about candidates for bishops — a reference to the recent scandal of the now-defrocked former American cardinal, Theodore McCarrick. It was apparently an open secret in some church circles that McCarrick slept with young seminarians. He was defrocked last week by Francis after a Vatican trial found credible reports that he abused minors as well as adults.

Francis offered a path of reform going forward, handing out a 21-point set of proposals for the church to consider including some that would require changes to canon law.

He called for specific protocols to handle accusations against bishops, in yet another reference to the McCarrick scandal. He suggested protocols to govern the transfers of seminarians or priests to prevent predators from moving freely to unsuspecting communities.

One idea called for raising the minimum age for marriage to 16 while another suggested a basic handbook showing bishops how to investigate cases.

Abuse survivors have turned out in droves in Rome to demand accountability and transparency from church leaders and assert that the time of sex abuse cover-ups is over.

“The question is this: Why should the church be allowed to handle the pedophile question? The question of pedophilia is not a question of religion, it is (a question of) crime,” Francesco Zanardi, head of the main victims advocacy group in Italy Rete L’Abuso, or Abuse Network, told a news conference in the Italian parliament.

Inside the summit hall Thursday, the church leaders heard five videotaped testimonies from victims about their abuse and cruel treatment from an indifferent hierarchy.

One woman from Africa told the summit that the priest who began raping her at 15 forced her to have three abortions over the following 13 years.

“He gave me everything I wanted when I accepted to have sex; otherwise he would beat me,” she said.

The victims’ names were not released to protect their privacy, but Chilean survivor Juan Carlos Cruz confirmed he provided a video.

“You are the physicians of the soul and yet, with rare exceptions, you have been transformed — in some cases — into murderers of the soul, into murderers of the faith,” Cruz said in his testimony.

Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle choked up as he responded to such testimony, telling the bishops that the wounds they had inflicted on the faithful through their negligence and indifference recalled the wounds of Christ on the cross.

In the keynote speech, he demanded bishops and superiors no longer turn a blind eye to the harm caused by clergy abuse and cover-ups.

“Our lack of response to the suffering of victims, yes even to the point of rejecting them and covering up the scandal to protect perpetrators and the institution, has injured our people,” Tagle said. The result, he said, had left a “deep wound in our relationship with those we are sent to serve.”

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The Vatican isn’t expecting any miracles or even a final document to come out of the summit. But organizers say it marks a turning point in the way the Catholic Church has dealt with the problem, with Francis’ own acknowledgment of his mistakes in handling the Chile abuse case a key point of departure.

Hours before the Vatican summit opened, activists in Poland pulled down a statue of a priest accused of sexually abusing minors. They said the stunt was to protest the failure of the Polish Catholic Church in resolving the problem of clergy sex abuse.

Video footage showed three men attaching a rope around the statue of the late Monsignor Henryk Jankowski in the northern city of Gdansk and pulling it to the ground in the dark. They then placed children’s underwear in one of the statue’s hands and a white lace church vestment worn by altar boys on the statue’s body. Jankowski is accused of molesting boys.

The private broadcaster TVN24 reported the three men were arrested.

Jankowski, who died in 2010, rose to prominence in the 1980s through his support for the pro-democracy Solidarity movement against Poland’s communist regime. World leaders including President George H.W. Bush and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited his church to recognize his anti-communist activity.

Categories: All Denver News.

Celebrate National Walk Your Dog Day this Friday with a special walk at one of these six spots

February 21, 2019 - 1:28am

If every dog has his (or her) day, then Feb. 22 just might be that day.

That’s National Walk Your Dog Day, which seems like a pretty good day if you’re a dog. After all, say the word “walk” to your dog right now and watch him freak out. Then, after you’ve mopped up the puddle on the floor, celebrate the day by taking him outside, perhaps to a new place. Here are six ideas gathered from Dog Lovers of Denver’s Facebook group and park websites:

Lair o’ the Bear Park

This Jefferson County Open Space in Idledale — which has to be one of the coolest names ever for a park — features picnic tables and fishing at Bear Creek. But it’s also a good place to walk your dog. There’s even a 12.6-mile, round-trip trek on Bear Creek Trail that passes through three Denver mountain parks, but no one except your dog is saying you have to go that far to have a good time. Visit jeffco.us for more information.

Bear Creek Lake Park

This Lakewood spot’s extensive network of soft trails makes it the perfect place for the annual Bear Chase Trail Race ultramarathon, which covers distances from 10K all the way up to a 100K. It’s a gorgeous area, with creeks and trails you can hike for hours. Visit lakewood.org for more information.

Are you feeling a little pressure because we’ve included two places where you can go on a Bear Grylls-like adventure? Don’t worry, there are places to go that don’t require a backpack. We’re barely getting started. (See what we did there?)

Westminster Hills Off-Leash Dog Park

If you or your pup are not up for a long day of walking, this place sounds like an Elitch Gardens for dogs. There’s a dog swimming pond, a dog drinking fountain and 420 acres in which your dog can romp and play with other dogs. The best part: You don’t need a leash. You can walk your dog on the trail, play fetch or just watch the other dogs run into each other.

Keep in mind that off-leash dogs can be a little crazy, so if you bring young children, keep an eye on them so they don’t get run over. Note: Your dog should respond to voice commands and should not harass other dogs or wildlife. No bullying on the playground, in other words. Visit cityofwestminster.us for more information.

 

Cherry Creek State Park

This Aurora park, just like the one in Westminster, is a favorite of folks on Dog Lovers of Denver’s Facebook page. This is a quieter time for the park, as the lake is closed (it should open in March), but there’s a natural prairie over gentle, rolling hills. There’s also a family shooting range, but we’re guessing that doesn’t include your dog, so you may want to stick to the extensive selection of hiking trails. Visit cpw.state.co.us for more information.

North Table Mountain Park

Golden is an amazing place for trail-runners, and since the city just hosted a festival that attracted more than 1,000 Golden Retrievers (and our heart just burst at the thought of it), this is a pretty cool place to walk your dog. The area is rugged but safe, and you can go as far as you want. If you are looking for a more civilized stroll, there’s always the concrete trail next to the river that sweeps through the city and through Lions Park. Visit cityofgolden.net for more information.

Sloan’s Lake Park

This park got rave reviews on TripAdvisor for being less crowded than Washington Park or City Park. Many people say the 2-mile walk around the lake is also prettier. Bonus: There’s even a large parking lot. You’ll have to keep your dogs leashed, but we’re guessing they won’t mind. Visit cityofgolden.net for more information.

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Measles outbreak prompt state lawmakers to reconsider religion exemptions for vaccines

February 21, 2019 - 12:59am

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey, The Washington Post

Recent measles outbreaks in states such as Washington, New York and New Jersey have cast a spotlight on a group of Americans who receive exemptions from immunizing their children on the grounds that the vaccines violate their religious freedoms.

Now the states that suffered outbreaks are taking aim at those exemptions. In recent weeks, lawmakers in the New Jersey, New York, Iowa, Maine and Vermont state legislatures have proposed eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines. A Washington state representative has proposed tightening the state’s religious exemption while eliminating a separate law that allows for a personal or philosophical exemption from immunization.

Vaccination proponents and anti-vaccination activists are watching to see whether some states will follow California, which got rid of religious and personal exemptions for vaccines after a Disneyland-linked outbreak of measles that began in 2014. The only students there who can go without a vaccination without a doctor’s signature are those who are home-schooled.

High percentages of vaccinated children results in “herd immunity,” which helps prevent prevent contagious diseases from spreading. But some doctors fear that eliminating states’ religious exemptions won’t adequately address the risk of outbreaks tied to geographic clusters of parents who are opting out of vaccinating their children.

That’s partly because just a very small percentage of parents who opt out of vaccines for their children are doing so for religious reasons, according to Daniel Salmon, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety. Exemptions from vaccines have gradually grown in the past three years to a median 2.2 percent of kindergartners among all states. It’s unclear whether and by how much religious exemptions may have grown nationally, but researchers such as Salmon say more parents are using personal exemptions.

“People think of the Amish as the classic group that doesn’t want to vaccinate,” he said. (However, many Amish in Ohio began vaccinating after a measles outbreak there in 2014.) “Most people who have concerns aren’t ideologically opposed to vaccines. They just don’t trust the science, they’ve been misinformed, or they hold different values.”

Nearly every state has carved out religious exemptions for parents who wish not to vaccinate their children (West Virginia and Mississippi, in addition to California, have not). West Virginia is considering a new proposal to add personal and religious exemptions.

Washington, which is one of the least religious states in the country, is one of the 17 states that allow a personal or philosophical exemption for the vaccine, which means that most anyone can opt out for any reason. In 2018, just 0.3 percent of Washington’s families with kindergarteners used a religious exemption, while 3.7 percent of families used a personal exemption and 0.8 percent used a medical exemption.

Large majorities of Americans from all major religious groups say healthy children should be required to receive vaccinations to attend school, according to the Pew Research Center. Scholars believe no major religious group advocates against vaccinations on the basis of official doctrine. However, some individuals from various faith traditions believe vaccinating goes against their personal religious beliefs.

The United States experienced 17 measles outbreaks in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreaks in New York and New Jersey occurred primarily among unvaccinated people in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities where many believe vaccines cause diseases.

Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a group that focuses on religious freedom issues, says he has worked with clients who object to vaccines originally made using cells of tissue from aborted fetuses, which some religious institutions have addressed.

The Catholic Church has approved the use of vaccines – such as the rubella vaccine – that may be developed from descendant cells of tissue from aborted fetuses. No fetal tissue has been added since the cell lines were originally created to produce the vaccines. The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission compares such use to using organs from a person who was murdered, saying that such vaccines are justifiable.

Staver also said some of his clients have had a general objection based on a biblical passage that says the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and do not want vaccines, some of which include small amounts of weak or dead germs to help bodies fight off infections.

Staver is concerned that some people who oppose vaccines on the basis of religion get lumped into the rest of the anti-vaccination movement. The last time Staver’s Liberty Counsel litigated a case, he said, was in 2003-2004 on behalf of a New York seventh-grader. Child Protective Services wanted to take her out of her home, and state officials were going to prohibit her from going to school.

“They were strongly opposed and had reasons consistent with their faith rather than just checking the box,” Staver said of the child’s parents. “That’s different than, ‘I just don’t want to comply.’ ”

Around the country, how parents receive religious exemptions vary from state to state. Parents in Maryland sign a statement that says, “Because of my bona fide religious beliefs and practices, I object to any vaccine(s) being given to my child. This exemption does not apply during an emergency or epidemic of disease.” Parents in the District must write to the chief official of the school that immunization would violate his or her religious beliefs. And parents in Virginia must sign a notarized form stating that vaccinating conflicts with their religious beliefs and that they understand that their child could be excluded from school if an outbreak were to occur.

Researchers believe some parents use states’ religious exemptions even though they don’t necessarily have a religious objection, said Peter Hotez, a vaccination proponent and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.

“As the anti-vaccine movement grows in strength and power, they could use the religious exemption loophole,” he said. “Right now I don’t see it as significant as an issue.”

Tara McMillan, 40, has a notarized religious exemption in her files in case of an outbreak, when she might need to show that she doesn’t vaccinate her four home-schooled children in Woodbridge, Virginia, about 20 miles south of the District. She said she stopped vaccinating her children when her oldest son, who is now 13, showed signs of a reaction in 2008.

She believes that her son’s autism, which was diagnosed when he was 3, is linked to the vaccines he received as a baby. (Many who oppose vaccines cite autism based on a 1998 study that used falsified data and was later retracted. The idea has been widely completely rejected by overwhelming scientific evidence but persists in some circles.) McMillan said she tried to get a medical exemption, which is available in all 50 states, but couldn’t get a doctor to sign the form.

“We have to go the religious route even though it’s more medical,” she said. “There’s always a fear that [lawmakers will] try to sneak something in to take the religious exemption away.”

Later, McMillan says she began to read more about vaccines and developed a general religious belief opposing them, in part because she learned some are made using aborted fetal cells.

“I think it’s sacrilegious because it tries to take away what God has already given us,” said McMillan, who goes to an independent fundamental Baptist church. “When we put vaccines in our body, it disrupts your body’s system. You put things in your body, and bad things are going to happen. It’s like the Bible verse – you reap what you sow.”

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The biggest battleground for vaccine advocates, Hotez said, is in states that have personal exemptions, not just religious ones. States that have both a personal exemption and a religious exemption have higher rates of whooping cough than states that just have a religious exemption.

The type of exemption a parents uses to opt out of immunization is not as important as the the state’s process for getting one, said Saad Omer, a professor of global health, epidemiology and pediatrics at Emory University.

“What often makes the difference is how easy it is to get an exemption,” he said. In some states, he noted, it’s much easier for a parent to check off a box for an exemption than to spend time in a pediatrician’s waiting room.

State guidelines could be stricter if more documentation were required to obtain an exemption on the grounds of conscientious objection, said Charles Haynes, founder of the Religious Freedom Center at the Newseum.

“It may be politically easier to get rid of all exemptions rather than taking a more nuanced approach that continues to protect sincere claims of conscience,” he said. “Since the vast majority of parents who object do so for reasons that are not explicitly ‘religious,’ the minority who refuse based on religious conviction may get lost in a rush to change laws.”

Categories: All Denver News.

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett turns self in to face charge, police say

February 21, 2019 - 12:44am

CHICAGO — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in early Thursday to face accusations that he filed a false police report when he told authorities he was attacked in Chicago by two men who hurled racist and anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck, police said.

Smollett turned himself in at central booking and was arrested, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson was scheduled to hold a Thursday morning news conference, and Smollett was expected to appear in court later in the day. Police haven’t described a motive.

The whispers about Smollett’s account started with reports that he had not fully cooperated with police after telling authorities he was attacked. Then detectives in a city bristling with surveillance cameras could not find video of the beating. Later, two brothers were taken into custody for questioning but were released after two days, with police saying they were no longer suspects.

Following three weeks of mounting suspicions, Smollett was charged Wednesday with felony disorder conduct, a charge that could bring up to three years in prison and force the actor, who is black and gay, to pay for the cost of the investigation into his report of a Jan. 29 beating.

In less than a month, the 36-year-old changed from being the seemingly sympathetic victim of a hate crime to being accused of fabricating the entire thing.

The felony charge emerged on the same day detectives and the two brothers testified before a grand jury. Smollett’s attorneys met with prosecutors and police, but it was unknown what they discussed or whether Smollett attended the meeting.

In a statement, attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said Smollett “enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked.”

The announcement of the charges followed a flurry of activity in recent days, including lengthy police interviews of the brothers, a search of their home and their release after officers cleared them.

Investigators have not said what the brothers told detectives or what evidence detectives collected. But it became increasingly clear that serious questions had arisen about Smollett’s account — something police signaled Friday when they announced a “significant shift in the trajectory” of the probe after the brothers were freed.

Smollett, who plays a gay character on the hit Fox television show “Empire,” said he was attacked Jan. 29 as he was walking home from a downtown Subway sandwich shop. He said the masked men beat him, made derogatory comments and yelled “This is MAGA country” — an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” — before fleeing.

Earlier Wednesday, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television issued a statement saying Smollett “continues to be a consummate professional on set” and that his character is not being written off the show. The series is shot in Chicago and follows a black family as they navigate the ups and downs of the recording industry.

The studio’s statement followed reports that Smollett’s role was being slashed amid the police investigation.

After reviewing hundreds of hours of video, detectives did find and release images of two people they said they wanted to question and last week picked up the brothers at O’Hare International Airport as they returned from Nigeria. Police questioned the men and searched their apartment.

The brothers, who were identified by their attorney as Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, were held for nearly 48 hours on suspicion of assaulting Smollett.

The day after they were released, police said the men provided information that had “shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” and detectives requested another interview with Smollett.

Police said one of the men had worked on “Empire,” and Smollett’s attorneys said one of the men is the actor’s personal trainer, whom he hired to help get him physically ready for a music video. The actor released his debut album, “Sum of My Music,” last year.

Smollett was charged by prosecutors, not the grand jury. The police spokesman said the brothers appeared before the panel to “lock in their testimony.”

Speaking outside the courthouse where the grand jury met, the brothers’ attorney said the two men testified for about two and a half hours.

“There was a point where this story needed to be told, and they manned up and they said we’re going to correct this,” Gloria Schmidt said.

She said her clients did not care about a plea deal or immunity. “You don’t need immunity when you have the truth,” she said.

She also said her clients received money from Smollett, but she did not elaborate.

Smollett has been active in LBGTQ issues, and initial reports of the assault drew outrage and support for him on social media, including from Sen. Kamala Harris of California and TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

Referring to a published account of the attack, President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House that “it doesn’t get worse, as far as I’m concerned.”

But several hours after Smollett was declared a suspect and the charges announced, there was little reaction from celebrities online.

Former Cook County prosecutor Andrew Weisberg said judges rarely throw defendants in prison for making false reports, opting instead to place them on probation, particularly if they have no prior criminal record.

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Smollett has a record — one that concerns giving false information to police when he was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. According to records, he was also charged with false impersonation and driving without a license. He later pleaded no contest to a reduced charge and took an alcohol education and treatment program.

Another prospective problem is the bill someone might receive after falsely reporting a crime that prompted a nearly monthlong investigation, including the collection and review of hundreds of hours of surveillance video.

The size of the tab is anyone’s guess, but given how much time the police have invested, the cost could be huge.

Weisberg recently represented a client who was charged with making a false report after surveillance video discredited her account of being robbed by three men at O’Hare Airport.

For an investigation that took a single day, his client had to split restitution of $8,400, Weisberg said. In Smollett’s case, “I can imagine that this would be easily into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Analysis: Soft-spoken Carl Soderberg sounds off with the Avalanche’s recent success

February 21, 2019 - 12:32am

It would have been a mistake to give up on Carl Soderberg, the old-man Avalanche who had three points and a career-high plus-4 rating in Wednesday’s 7-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.

Colorado’s oldest player, 33, was thought to be over-the-hill to begin the 2017-18 season, when he was a healthy scratch in the opener at the New York Rangers. At the time, Soderberg was perhaps only still with the Avs because of his $5 million guaranteed annual salary and his $4.75 million cap hit through the 2019-20 season. There were too much money and term for his potential buyout, so the club didn’t do it.

The Avs were coming off a franchise-worst, 48-point season when they considered buying out Soderberg, who was coming off a wretched six-goal, 14 point season in 80 games played in 2016-17. They needed to get younger and faster, and Soderberg provided neither.

But it’s a good thing the Avs didn’t give up on Soderberg, because the ultra-shy, extremely soft-spoken Swede has consistently provided secondary scoring while the young group of forwards Colorado is determined to develop continues to learn from him. After scoring Colorado’s first goal Wednesday, Soderberg has a career-high 19 goals and his 37 points equal what he amassed in 77 games last season.

In 60 games he is Colorado’s fourth-leading scoring forward, right where he should be as the team’s second-line center.

Speaking of which, Avs fans need to accept the fact Soderberg is their second-line center and he and left winger Matt Nieto are now the only regular duo to remain together after coach Jared Bednar’s major line tinkering this week. Top-three scorers Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabe Landeskog are each now playing on different lines.

Don’t look now, but Soderberg and Nieto have been the Avs’ best forwards as the team pounded Vegas and Winnipeg by a combined scored of 10-1 this week. Of course, it helps to have Rantanen as your right winger.

“The Soderberg-Nieto-Rantanen line — they bagged the first two goals for us,” Bednar said after Wednesday’s victory that put his team back in the Western Conference playoff picture. “Huge to get us on the board first and then a little bit of insurance. Soderberg and Nieto are real predictable guys but hard to play against. They’re always playing on the inside, always skating in the right areas to get the puck, always on time in their routes. Managing the puck and playing the right way has helped Mikko.”

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Said Rantanen, 22, who is coming off his entry-level contract and destined to become the Avs’ highest-paid player next season: “It’s fun to play with those two. Sods is a great two-way centerman who can still make plays and sees the ice well. He has great foot speed and can pass too. It’s fun to play with those two.”

Soderberg seems painfully shy but, like many Europeans, he’s typically in no hurry to strip from his equipment and seek shelter from reporters in a private dressing room. After his line accounted for 16 of the Avs’ 46 shots Wednesday, he said: “Right now it’s pretty good, especially when you’re winning as a team. Last two months have been tough but when the whole team is going it’s a lot more fun.”

The whole team was going against the Jets, thanks to goaltender Semyon Varlamov’s big saves early and the Soderberg line establishing a 2-0 lead.

Footnotes. MacKinnon scored his 30th goal Wednesday, and teammate Gabe Landeskog got his 31st. They are the Avalanche’s first two 30-goal scorers since 2006-07, when Joe Sakic finished with 36 and Milan Hejduk ended with 35. Colorado is just one of four teams with two 30-goal scorers, along with Chicago (Patrick Kane Alex DeBrincat), Edmonton (Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid) and Tampa Bay (Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos). … MacKinnon is the first Avs player to reach 30 goals in back-to-back seasons since Sakic did it in three consecutive seasons from 2003-07. …Third-period goals by MacKinnon and Matt Calvert were scored 11 seconds apart, two seconds shy of the franchise record (nine seconds, four times — last time April 7, 2015 vs. Nashville). … The Avalanche scored five goals in the third period for just the third time. The Avs struck six times in the third period on March 3, 1999 at Florida and five times in the final frame Oct. 19, 1996 vs. Vancouver. … Rookie A.J. Greer scored his first NHL goal Wednesday, becoming the sixth Avalanche player to do so this season. Andrew Agozzino did it Monday against Vegas, Dominic Toninato on Feb. 14 at Winnipeg, Sheldon Dries and Vladislav Kamenev on Nov. 1 at Calgary and Ryan Graves on Jan. 4 vs. New York Rangers). It’s the most players the Avs have had score their first NHL goal since the 2010-11 season (seven).

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Two injured in southeast Denver shooting, police say

February 21, 2019 - 12:08am

Police responded to the 6900 block of East Evans Avenue after two men were shot late Wednesday night, Denver police said on Twitter.

Police said there was no information on a possible suspect, and the two men were being treated for their wounds.

Evans is closed in the area, police added.

#DPD Officers on-scene in the 6900 Blk of East Evans is response to a reported shooting. Two Adult Males are being treated for GSW. Evans is closed in that area. No suspect info available at this time. #Denver. pic.twitter.com/E4sjiOpgFr

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) February 21, 2019

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Coast Guard lieutenant compiled hit list of lawmakers and media figures, feds say

February 20, 2019 - 11:18pm

WASHINGTON — A Coast Guard lieutenant who was arrested last week is a “domestic terrorist” who drafted an email discussing biological attacks and had what appeared to be a hit list that included prominent Democrats and media figures, prosecutors said in court papers.

Christopher Paul Hasson is due to appear Thursday in federal court in Maryland after his arrest on gun and drug offenses, but prosecutors say those charges are the “proverbial tip of the iceberg.”

“The defendant is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct,” prosecutors wrote in court papers.

Hasson, who works at the Coast Guard’s headquarters in Washington, has espoused extremist views for years, according to prosecutors. Court papers detail a June 2017 draft email in which Hasson wrote that he was “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth,” and pondering how he might be able to acquire anthrax and toxins to create botulism or a deadly influenza.

In the same email, Hasson described an “interesting idea” that included “biological attacks followed by attack on food supply” as well as a bombing and sniper attacks, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.

In September 2017, Hasson sent himself a draft letter that he had written to a neo-Nazi leader and “identified himself as a White Nationalist for over 30 years and advocated for ‘focused violence’ in order to establish a white homeland,” prosecutors wrote.

Hasson routinely read portions of a manifesto written by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik that prosecutors said instructs would-be assailants to collect firearms, food, disguises and survival tools, court papers said. Breivik, a right-wing extremist, is serving a 21-year sentence for killing 77 people in a 2011 bomb-and-shooting rampage.

Hasson also expressed admiration for Russia. “Looking to Russia with hopeful eyes or any land that despises the west’s liberalism,” he wrote in the draft email. Prosecutors say during the past two years he had regularly searched online for pro-Russian as well as neo-Nazi literature.

Prosecutors allege that Hasson visited thousands of websites that sold guns and researched military tactical manuals on improvised munitions.

Federal agents found 15 firearms — including several rifles — and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition inside Hasson’s basement apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland. They also found a container with more than 30 bottles that were labeled as human growth hormone, court papers said.

Prosecutors wrote that Hasson “began the process of targeting specific victims,” including several prominent Democrats in Congress and 2020 presidential candidates. In February 2018, he searched the internet for the “most liberal senators,” as well as searching “do senators have ss (secret service) protection” and “are supreme court justices protected,” according to the court filing.

Hasson’s list of prominent Democrats included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and presidential hopefuls Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.

The list — created in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet — also included mentions of John Podesta, who was Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Maxine Waters, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Joe Scarborough and CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Van Jones, according to the court filing.

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Hasson appeared to be a chronic user of the opioid painkiller Tramadol and had purchased a flask filled with four ounces of “synthetic urine” online, prosecutors said. Authorities suspect Hasson had purchased fake urine to use in case he was randomly selected for a drug test.

The chief at the federal defender’s office in Maryland — which is representing Hasson — declined to comment on the allegations. The Coast Guard did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Hasson’s arrest. No one answered the door Wednesday at the home address for Hasson listed in public records.

Hasson’s arrest on Feb. 15 was first noted by Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University.

___

Associated Press writer Michael Kunzelman in Silver Spring, Maryland, contributed to this report.

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Child with autism discriminated against by St. Vrain Valley schools, complaint alleges

February 20, 2019 - 10:52pm

The mother of a 10-year-old Latina girl with autism has filed an Office for Civil Rights complaint alleging the St. Vrain Valley School District discriminated against her daughter.

The complaint, filed by Aurora attorney Igor Raykin, alleges the district discriminated by calling the police at least five times over two-and-a-half years in response to behavioral issues related to the girl’s autism disorder.

The district does not, he stated in the complaint, use the police as a disciplinary tactic as often or at all with students who are not English language learners or of Mexican descent.

The complaint also alleges the student was restrained without justification and without prompt reporting of the restraint to her parents.

“It is believed that the district has taken advantage of (the student’s) parents’ national heritage and lack of English skills,” the complaint states.

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Read more at dailycamera.com.

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“Dealin’ Doug” to open 4-brand car dealership in Loveland

February 20, 2019 - 10:39pm

“Dealin’ Doug” Moreland of TV commercial fame announced Tuesday that he would build a four-brand dealership in the Motorplex at Centerra in east Loveland.

A press release from McWhinney, developer of Centerra, said the Moreland Auto Group had purchased 15 acres of land at the southern end of the Motorplex, which borders the west side of Interstate 25 just south of Crossroads Boulevard.

The dealership, as yet unnamed, will sell and service Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Ram vehicles, according to the release. The project is in the design phase and will open in 2021.

“The location, visibility, selection and surrounding amenities are why customers come here from across Northern Colorado and beyond to shop for and service their vehicles,” Moreland said in the release.

The new dealership will bring to 12 the brands sold at the Motorplex, the release said.

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Read more at reporterherald.com.

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