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The Dillon Ice Castles will close the 2019 season in less than two weeks

February 26, 2019 - 3:28am

Dillon Ice Castles announced Tuesday that it’s nearly time to close the frozen gates.

The popular attraction’s last day will be Saturday, March 9. Tens of thousands of people visited the castles in the past nine weeks, according to a press statement from the company.

Roughly 25 million pounds of ice are used to create the attraction’s towers, slides, tunnels, fountains and thrones, according to Ice Castles.

There were six ice castle locations in North America: Midway, Utah; North Woodstock, New Hampshire; Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; Excelsior, Minnesota; and Edmonton, Alberta.

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The raptors are coming: Rocky Mountain National Park closes some areas for the bird’s nesting season

February 26, 2019 - 1:38am

It’s that time of the year again: the start of raptor nesting season.

And that means some areas will be closed to humans at Rocky Mountain National Park.

The temporary closures in the Lumpy Ridge area will begin March 1 and are expected to continue through July 31 as needed, according to a news release from Rocky Mountain National Park.

Park officials put these temporary closures in place for the birds of prey during their nesting and breeding seasons.

“The National Park Service is committed to preserving birds of prey. The same cliffs that are critical for raptors also appeal to climbers,” said spokeswoman Kyle Patterson in the news release. “The cooperation of climbing organizations and individuals continues to be essential to the successful nesting of raptors in the park.”

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The closures may be changed as wildlife managers collect data on the birds’ breeding and nesting seasons, according to park officials.

The closures include Checkerboard Rock, Lightning Rock, Batman Rock, Batman Pinnacle, Sundance, Thunder Buttress, The Parish and Twin Owls, Rock One, and their rock formations and surrounding areas, climbing routes, outcroppings, cliffs, faces, ascent and descent routes, and climber access trails.

For updates on the closures, visit ps.gov.

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New Avalanche forward Derick Brassard had an interesting 11 hours

February 26, 2019 - 12:41am

Derick Brassard would have liked a little warmup. After scoring a goal in his Avalanche debut Monday night — approximately 11 hours after switching locker rooms at the Pepsi Center — the Avs’ new forward from the Florida Panthers revealed he hadn’t skated in the previous three days.

The Panthers didn’t have a morning skate Saturday before an afternoon game against the visiting Los Angeles Kings — a game Brassard was scratched because of his likely trade — and Florida didn’t practice Sunday after arriving in Denver.

Brassard, a pending unrestricted free agent/attractive “rental,” really wanted a morning skate at the Pepsi Center to either prepare for his next game for another team or the Panthers’ game against the Avs if his trade didn’t unfold.

He got neither, and just “five seconds” after hopping on the ice for Monday’s morning skate he was pulled off and told he was traded to the Avalanche. He was expecting to catch a flight but instead switched locker rooms and spent the afternoon dealing with another move. Brassard was traded from Pittsburgh to Florida on Feb. 1, before the Panthers played themselves out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

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“It wasn’t great. I didn’t skate for three days before (Monday). So I was really hoping I could go on the ice this morning and move around a little bit,” Brassard said after the Panthers’ 4-3 overtime victory over the Avs. “I just tried to prepare myself to play a game tonight, trying to keep it simple. The first period, I had some butterflies out there. (But) the guys made it really easy for me. They make me feel really comfortable around the room.”

Brassard said he woke up at 6 a.m. from his Denver hotel Monday and didn’t get in an afternoon nap because of the logistics surrounding his trade. He came to Denver for a hockey game but is now looking for a place to live.

“I wanted to know where I was going. I haven’t been asleep since 6 o’clock this morning. It’s been a long day, a lot of stress involved in that,” Brassard said. “I’m looking forward to relaxing tonight. I really enjoyed my first game (with the Avs). I wish we would have got the two points. We didn’t play a bad game. (But) I think we could play a little bit better.”

Footnotes. The Avalanche is scheduled to take Tuesday off before Wednesday’s morning skate at the Pepsi Center, where it hosts the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night. … With the point Monday, the Avs have collected points in nine of their last 11 games. They are 4-0-1 in its last five games and 5-1-1 over its last seven. … Colorado right winger Mikko Rantanen had a goal Monday to tie Nathan MacKinnon for the team lead in points (80). Rantanen is four points shy of his career high, set last season in his second year. He and MacKinnon are tied for fourth in the league in points.

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N. Colorado’s Davis sinks free throws and Montana 74-72

February 25, 2019 - 11:14pm

MISSOULA, Mont. — Jordan Davis scored 23 points and his two free throws with five seconds left gave Northern Colorado a 74-72 win over Montana on Monday night.

Northern Colorado (18-9, 12-4 Big Sky Conference) closed within a game of the conference-leading Grizzlies (20-7, 13-3). The Bears have won four of their last five while the Grizzlies saw their 10-game win streak come to an end.

The Bears led 72-70 on Sam Masten’s layup with 80 seconds left. Sayeed Pridgett made 1 of 2 free throws for the Grizzlies 12 seconds later. With 15 seconds remaining Pridgett again made 1 of 2 to tie it. But he fouled Davis to send him to the line for the game-winning shots.

Ahmaad Rorie led Montana with 22 points, Donaven Dorsey scored 20 and Pridgett 17. The trio each made seven field goals — Dorsey was 6 of 7 from 3-point range — and made 21 of Montana’s 27 field goals.

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Colorado man gets 12 years in prison for infant son’s death

February 25, 2019 - 10:19pm

GREELEY — A Colorado man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for the death of his 4-month-old son.

Nathan Archuleta

The Greeley Tribune reports Nathan Archuleta was sentenced Monday for the August 2015 death of Donovan Archuleta. He was convicted of child abuse resulting in death.

Investigators say Donovan’s mother dropped the baby off at Archuleta’s home, where he lived with his mother, Sandra Archuleta. Over the next week, the boy developed chemical burns to his face, mouth and gums, as well as a sepsis infection from pneumonia and bruises from being pinched by tweezers. Donovan also had broken ribs.

Sandra Archuleta said Donovan had a fever, and to reduce symptoms, she used vinegar and potato slices, which burned him.

She was sentenced to 24 years, and Donovan’s mother, Angelica Chavez, is serving eight years.

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Avalanche’s OT curse continues with 4-3 loss despite late goal from new addition Brassard

February 25, 2019 - 9:57pm

Derick Brassard, acquired from the Florida Panthers ahead of Monday’s 1 p.m. trade deadline, helped the Avalanche earn a point against the Panthers on Monday night in a strange 12 hours for the veteran forward.

Brassard, 31, awoke at his Denver hotel as a member of the Panthers. But he was pulled off the ice shortly into Florida’s morning skate at the Pepsi Center and was told to switch locker rooms. He would play his first game in an Avs sweater against the Panthers, scoring early in the third period to give Colorado a 3-2 lead.

The Avs went on to lose to Florida 4-3 in overtime, falling to a league-worst 1-12 when games go beyond regulation. Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad beat goalie Semyon Varlamov with a shot 26 seconds into OT.

“In the first period, it took me a few shifts to kind of get used to it and be comfortable out there,” Brassard said. “As far as the goal there, it was a great play by Graveys (defenseman Ryan Graves).”

He added: “It was a fun night. Always a good atmosphere. Coming for a visiting team it’s always a special place. I’m going to try to play well for the team, for the fans.”

Boxscore

Brassard is a pending unrestricted free agent who was expecting a trade. He served as a healthy scratch in Florida’s previous game Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings, but he didn’t figure his day would unfold as it did.

The Avs dominated early, carrying a 2-0 lead into the last two minutes of the second period before everything changed. The Panthers scored twice in 1:09, beginning with Troy Brouwer’s goal at 18:26. On the ensuing faceoff, Colorado defenseman Nikita Zadorov was whistled for interference, and Evgeni Dadonov scored 1:02 into the penalty, at 19:35.

“Breakdown in D-zone coverage. No talk, so there’s a duplication. They find a guy open. He scores,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of Brouwer’s goal. “And then right away we take a penalty off the faceoff. They have a lethal power play. We knew that coming in. But even after that we had another lead with about eight minutes to go.”

Florida tied it 3-3 with Mike Hoffman’s goal at 11:57 of the third period. Each team had one shot in OT.

“Kind of a weird game, but we have to find a way to get two points,” Avs forward Matt Calvert said. “Every point is going to matter down the stretch here.

Tyson Jost and Mikko Rantanen scored at 2:12 and 14:31 of the second period to give the Avalanche what seemed like a comfortable lead.

Brassard played left wing on Colorado’s third line against his former team. Following the trade, the Avs learned left winger Matt Nieto will miss 6 to 8 weeks with a leg injury. Nieto was previously labeled “week to week.” Nieto blocked a shot Friday at Chicago and missed Saturday’s game at Nashville. The Avs had Sunday off and didn’t learn the full extent of Nieto’s injury until Monday afternoon, general manager Joe Sakic said.

Sakic said he didn’t make more moves before Monday’s deadline because he believes in his team that had won its previous four games in dominant style.

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Footnotes. Following Monday’s morning skate, the Avalanche reassigned forwards A.J. Greer and Andrew Agozzino to the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League. Those moves led to Gabriel Bourque returning to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the previous 10 games. Colorado’s only healthy scratch was defenseman Mark Barberio. In addition to Nieto, forward Colin Wilson (upper-body) is on the injured list with defensemen Ian Cole (orbital bone) and Conor Timmins (head).

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Use of meth, heroin, other drugs may be linked to growing rates of syphilis

February 25, 2019 - 9:42pm

Public health officials grappling with record-high syphilis rates around the nation have pinpointed what appears to be a major risk factor: drug use.

“Two major public health issues are colliding,” said Sarah Kidd, a medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and lead author of a new report on the link between drugs and syphilis.

The report shows a large intersection between drug use and syphilis among women and heterosexual men. In those groups, reported use of methamphetamine, heroin and other injection drugs more than doubled from 2013 to 2017.

The data did not reveal the same increases in drug use among gay men with syphilis, the group with the highest rates of the disease.

Researchers said the results suggest that drug use — and the risky sexual behaviors associated with it — may be driving some of the increase in syphilis transmission among heterosexuals.

People who use drugs are more likely to engage in unsafe sexual behaviors, which put them at higher risk for sexually transmitted diseases, experts said. The CDC also saw increases in syphilis among heterosexuals during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s, and use of the drug was associated with higher syphilis transmission.

“The addiction takes over,” said Patricia Kissinger, an epidemiology professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

For example, people using drugs may avoid condoms, have multiple sex partners or exchange sex for drugs or money — all significant risk factors for sexually transmitted diseases, said Sara Kennedy, medical director of Planned Parenthood Northern California.

“I think it’s impossible to eradicate syphilis and congenital syphilis unless we are simultaneously addressing the meth-use and IV-use epidemic,” Kennedy said.
Syphilis rates are setting records nationally. They jumped by 73 percent overall and 156 percent for women from 2013 to 2017. The highest rates were reported in Nevada, California and Louisiana.

Syphilis — which had been nearly eradicated before its resurgence in recent years — is treatable with antibiotics, but if left untreated it can lead to organ damage and even death. Congenital syphilis, which occurs when a mother passes the disease to her unborn baby, can lead to premature birth and newborn deaths.

The study’s authors analyzed syphilis cases from 2013 to 2017 and determined which patients had also reported using drugs. They discovered methamphetamine was the biggest problem: More than one-third of women and one-quarter of heterosexual men with syphilis reported using methamphetamine within the previous year.

Substance use among both populations was highest in 13 Western states and lowest in the Northeast. In California, methamphetamine use by people with syphilis nearly doubled for women and heterosexual men from 2013 to 2017, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The intersecting epidemics of sexually transmitted infections and substance abuse make it harder to identify and treat people with syphilis because drug use makes people less likely to go to the doctor and to report their sexual partners, Kidd said.

Pregnant women also may be reluctant to seek prenatal care and get syphilis testing and treatment because of concerns their doctor will report the drug use.

To stem the transmission of syphilis, the CDC urges more collaboration between programs that address STDs and programs that treat substance abuse.

Drug use is an “incredibly huge contributing factor” to somebody getting an STD and transmitting it, said Jennifer Howell, sexual health program coordinator for the health district in Washoe County, Nev.

“Everybody needs to see that we are dealing with a lot of the same clients,” she said.

Fresno County has the highest rate of congenital syphilis in California. Its health department analyzed 25 cases of congenital syphilis in 2017 and determined that more than two-thirds of the mothers were using drugs, said Joe Prado, the county’s community health division manager.

The county has started offering STD testing for people entering inpatient drug treatment facilities, Prado said. “That’s our opportunity to get them screened,” he said.

Those who return for the results are offered incentives such as gift cards. The county also gives people in drug treatment a care package that contains condoms and education materials about sexually transmitted infections, Prado said.

The city of Long Beach sends a mobile clinic to drug treatment facilities, where it provides HIV testing, said Anissa Davis, the city’s health officer. She said Long Beach hopes to expand services to include screening for other sexually transmitted infections.

Although increased collaboration between drug treatment providers and STD clinics is essential, it’s not always easy because they traditionally have not worked together, said Kissinger of Tulane.

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“The STI people are hyperfocused on STIs, and the substance-abuse people are focused on substance abuse,” she said. It is an “opportunity lost” if people in drug treatment aren’t screened for syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections, she added.

Fighting the rising rates of syphilis will also require more resources, said Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine and public health at UCLA.

“The STD workforce has almost entirely disappeared,” he said. “While policies could be put in place that require syphilis testing, those policies also have to come with resources.”

This report is from Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Trump tamps down expectations as he heads to Kim summit

February 25, 2019 - 9:13pm

WASHINGTON — Redefining success, President Donald Trump headed to his second meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on Monday, determined to tamp down expectations that he’ll achieve big strides toward denuclearization. Yet he was still eager to claim an attention-grabbing victory to offset the political turmoil he faces at home.

Trump is set to land in Vietnam late Tuesday and will have meetings with the host country’s president and prime minister Wednesday before sitting down later with Kim for a private dinner.

Trump will be joined at the dinner by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, the White House said Monday. Kim also will have two aides with him, and there will be translators for both sides. Trump and Kim, who arrived in Vietnam Tuesday, will have a series of official meetings Thursday.

Trump laid out ultimate goals for both the U.S. and Kim in an appearance before the nation’s governors Monday before boarding Air Force One to fly to Vietnam: “We want denuclearization, and I think he’ll have a country that will set a lot of records for speed in terms of an economy.”

Worries abound across world capitals about what Trump might be willing to give up in the name of a win, but there seems less mystery about his North Korean counterpart. Survival of the Kim regime is always the primary concern.

Trump was the driving force behind this week’s summit, aiming to re-create the global spectacle of his first meeting with Kim last year. But that initial summit in Singapore yielded few concrete results, and the months that followed have produced little optimism about what will be achieved in the sequel.

Trump is publicly unconcerned.

He once warned that North Korea’s arsenal posed such a threat to humanity that he might have no choice but to rain “fire and fury” on the nation. However, in the leadup to the new summit, he’s proclaimed himself in no hurry for Pyongyang to prove it is abandoning its weapons.

“I’m not in a rush. I don’t want to rush anybody, I just don’t want testing. As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy,” Trump told the governors on Sunday.

In fact, he is ready to write himself into the history books before he and Kim even shake hands in Hanoi.

“If I were not elected president, you would have been in a war with North Korea,” Trump said last week. “We now have a situation where the relationships are good — where there has been no nuclear testing, no missiles, no rockets.”

While Trump was airborne, Kim’s armored train was on the move in China, bound toward Vietnam’s capital. Vietnamese officials promised security at “the maximum level.” Reporters from 40 nations were expected to transmit the story to the world.

Kim inherited a nascent nuclear program from his father, and after years of accelerated effort and fighting through crippling sanctions, he built an arsenal that demonstrated the potential to rocket a thermonuclear weapon to the mainland United States. That is the fundamental reason Washington now sits at the negotiating table.

Kim, his world standing elevated after receiving an audience with a U.S. president, has yet to show a convincing sign that he is willing to deal away an arsenal that might provide a stronger guarantee of survival than whatever security assurance the United States could provide. The North Koreans have largely eschewed staff-level talks, pushing for discussions between Trump and Kim.

Though details of the summit remain closely held, the two leaders are expected to meet at some point one-on-one, joined only by translators.

The easing of tension between the two nations, Trump and his allies contend, stems from the U.S. president’s own unorthodox and unpredictable style of diplomacy. Often prizing personal rapport over long-held strategic interests, Trump has pointed to his budding relationship with the young and reclusive leader, frequently showing visitors to the Oval Office his flattering letters from Kim.

Trump, who has long declared that North Korea represented the gravest foreign threat of his presidency, told reporters recently that his efforts to defang Pyongyang had moved Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize, something Abe would not confirm or deny.

Four main goals emerged from the first Trump-Kim summit: establishing new relations between the nations, building a new peace on the entire Korean Peninsula, completing denuclearization of the peninsula and recovering U.S. POW/MIA remains from the Korean War.

While some remains have been returned to the United States, little has been achieved on the other points. Korean and American negotiators have not settled on either the parameters of denuclearization or a timetable for the removal of both Korean weapons and American sanctions.

“The key lessons of Singapore are that President Trump sees tremendous value in the imagery of diplomacy and wants to be seen as a bold leader, even if the substance of the diplomacy is far behind the pageantry,” said Abraham Denmark, director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

U.S. intelligence officials testified before Congress last month that it remains unlikely Kim will fully dismantle his arsenal. And many voices in the Trump administration, including National Security Adviser John Bolton, have expressed skepticism that North Korea would ever live up to a deal.

Mark Chinoy, senior fellow at U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California, said that after generations of hostility, the convivial atmosphere of Singapore “can’t be discounted.” But Chinoy noted that Trump had agreed to North Korean’s “formulation of ‘denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,’ which Pyongyang has long made clear meant an end to the US security alliance with South Korea and an end to the U.S. nuclear umbrella intended to defend South Korea and Japan.”

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After the last summit, Trump unilaterally suspended some military drills with South Korea, alarming some in Seoul and at the Pentagon. But he was insistent this week that he would not draw down U.S. troops from South Korea. And American officials, even as they hint at a relaxed timetable for Pyongyang to account for its full arsenal, have continued to publicly insist they would not favor easing sanctions on North Korea until denuclearization is complete.

A year ago, North Korea suspended its nuclear and long-range missile tests and said it dismantled its nuclear testing ground, but those measures were not perceived as meaningful reductions. Experts believe Kim, who is enjoying warmer relations with South Korea and the easing of pressure from Russia and China, will seek a U.S. commitment for improved bilateral relations and partial sanctions relief while trying to minimize any concessions on his nuclear facilities and weapons.

“Kim is doing pretty well as it is,” said Scott Seaman of the Eurasia Group. “The threat of a U.S. military strike is essentially zero, Kim’s diplomatic charm offensive has made him into a bigger player on the world stage, and he continues to whittle away at international commitment to sanctions.”

The Hanoi summit comes at a politically uncertain time for Trump.

His potential 2020 foes have begun unleashing attacks. The newly elected Democratic House has begun its investigations of the president, calling his former legal fixer, Michael Cohen, to appear before Congress while Trump is in Vietnam. And special counsel Robert Mueller, who has investigated possible ties between Trump’s campaign Russian election interference, may finalize his report within days of the president’s return to the United States.

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Associated Press writers Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul and Deb Riechmann, Catherine Lucey, Zeke Miller and Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire

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Follow all of AP’s summit coverage at https://apnews.com/Trump-KimSummit

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Pence announces new sanctions on Venezuela’s Maduro

February 25, 2019 - 8:54pm

BOGOTA, Colombia — The Trump administration announced new sanctions Monday on allies of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro as it struggles to find new ways to boost his opponent after an effort to deliver humanitarian aid to the economically devastated nation faltered amid strong resistance from security forces loyal to the socialist leader.

Vice President Mike Pence arrived in the Colombian capital for an emergency summit of regional leaders to discuss the deepening crisis and immediately met with Juan Guaido, the opposition leader the U.S. and 50 other nations recognize as Venezuela’s rightful president.

In a speech, Pence urged regional partners to freeze oil assets controlled by Maduro, transfer the proceeds to Guaido and restrict visas for Maduro’s inner circle. He said the U.S. was imposing more sanctions on four pro-government governors, including a close Maduro ally who negotiated the release of an American jailed for more than two years.

“It’s time to do more,” Pence said. “The day is coming soon when Venezuela’s long nightmare will end, when Venezuela will once more be free, when her people will see a new birth of freedom, in a nation reborn to libertad.”

Pence’s appearance before the Lima Group comes at an important crossroads for the coalition of mostly conservative Latin American nations and Canada that has joined forces to pressure Maduro. A month after Guaido declared himself interim president at an outdoor rally, hopes that support for Maduro inside the military would quickly crumble have faded.

Over the weekend, security forces on the borders with Colombia and Brazil fired tear gas and buckshot on activists waving Venezuelan flags while escorting trucks with emergency medical and food kits. Four people were killed and at least 300 wounded, although only a few were hospitalized.

While Colombian authorities said more than 160 soldiers deserted their posts and sought refuge across the border over the weekend, the highest-ranking among them was a National Guard major. No battalion or division commanders have come forward to challenge Maduro despite almost-daily calls by Guaido and the U.S. to do so.

That’s left many asking what Guaido and the U.S. can do to break the stalemate.

The Lima Group, in an 18-point declaration signed by 10 nations and Guaido, reiterated their call on the Venezuelan military to recognize the opposition leader as their commander in chief, urged the International Criminal Court to declare Maduro’s aid blockade a crime against humanity and pressed the United Nations to play a bigger role in resolving the crisis.

For now, the U.S. is showing no signs it is considering a military intervention to remove Maduro.

During his visit, Pence repeated President Donald Trump’s threat that “all options are on the table” but gingerly avoided talking about the potential for military action.

Instead, he stuck to traditional policy tools that so far have only hardened Maduro’s resolve. Foremost among them was the addition of four governors to a growing list of more than 50 Venezuelan officials under sanctions and blocked from doing business or having accounts in the U.S.

The most prominent target was Rafael Lacava, the governor of central Carabobo state who played a key role negotiating the release last year of Joshua Holt, a Utah man jailed without a trial for two years on what were seen as trumped-up weapons charges.

Pence also said the U.S. would continue to search for places to pre-position aid for eventual delivery to Venezuela, and announced $56 million in new assistance to countries in the region helping to absorb an exodus of more than 3 million Venezuelans who have fled hyperinflation and shortages in recent years.

“In the days ahead, the United States will announce even stronger sanctions on the regime’s corrupt financial networks. We will find every last dollar they have stolen and return that money to the Venezuelan people,” he said.

Guaido, in his visit to the Colombian capital, was afforded all the trappings of a head of state. He posed for selfies with well-wishers upon arriving for the summit and stood before a pile of aid boxes stamped with the U.S. flag as he and Pence greeted a group of Venezuelan migrants, including an elderly man who wept as he shook hands with the U.S. vice president and pleaded for help.

But Guaido’s speech to the diplomats was short on specifics despite speculation he would request a military intervention as close ally Julio Borges, the opposition ambassador to the Lima Group, suggested on Sunday.

“Being permissive with the usurpation of power would be a threat to democracy in all of America,” Guaido said.

Meanwhile, the Lima Group, which has been staunchly behind Guaido, rejected the use of force.

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“Let’s hope that the pressure of the international community, dialogue and prudence will prevail,” said Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, who likened the crisis in Venezuela to the one his country faced in the run-up to the 1989 U.S. invasion to remove dictator Manuel Noriega. “Although the circumstances are similar, we must have the capacity to find a solution different than the one used back then.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in interviews on “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “State of the Union,” did not rule out U.S. military force but said “there are more sanctions to be had.”

Any additional sanctions will increase the suffering of the Venezuelan people and may lead to more political violence, said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who advocates a negotiated end to the political crisis.

“The ‘humanitarian aid’ this weekend was a public relations stunt, since the aid was just a tiny fraction of the food and medicine that they are depriving Venezuelans of with the sanctions,” Weisbrot said. “As the Trump administration admitted, it was an attempt to get the Venezuelan military to disobey Maduro. It was a farce, and it failed.”

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Eli Parquet shows off promising defensive skills for CU basketball

February 25, 2019 - 8:43pm

Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle remembers what it’s like to be a young player in Eli Parquet’s shoes.

Just months earlier, that sort of player is lighting up their high school gym, often leading their team in myriad roles while also often being the focal point of win after win.

That player gets to college and not only are wins much more difficult to come by, but so are minutes. That changed somewhat for Parquet during a largely forgettable trip for the Buffaloes through Washington this past weekend, with the freshman guard showcasing some of his promising defensive skills while logging more meaningful minutes than he had over the previous month.

“He just needs to focus on doing the things that he does well,” Boyle said. “Eli is going to be a good player. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re in Eli’s shoes. I’ve been in Eli’s shoes as a player, where your leash is maybe not as long as McKinley (Wright’s) is, or even Shane (Gatling’s) is. He doesn’t get the minutes to maybe get in a flow of the game. Sometimes it’s two or three minutes here, two or three minutes there. That’s sometimes hard on a young player because they’re used to playing so much more.

“But I think he’s handled well. He’s adjusted well. This is something he can build on, because he can help us defensively.”

Parquet played nine minutes at Washington State last week, with that appearance counting as his second-most minutes since playing 17 minutes in a starting role at Utah on Jan. 20. While Parquet botched an easy scoring opportunity by missing a dunk instead of opting for a layup — a miscue in a tie game late in the first half that WSU turned into a 3-pointer at the other end — Parquet also nabbed a midcourt steal he turned into a layup and a 3-point play.

It was Parquet’s first field goal in nine games dating back to that same Jan. 20 Utah date.

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Read more at buffzone.com.

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Denver’s “Fox Island” development may continue with 120 micro-apartments

February 25, 2019 - 7:42pm

Development interest continues to grow for “Fox Island,” a corner of Globeville surrounded by highways and rail.

Google EarthOne of two lots in Globeville — this at 4055 North Elati St. — that have been approved for rezonings that would allow construction up to eight floors.

On Monday, the Denver City Council unanimously approved rezonings that would allow construction up to eight floors at two sites on Elati Street and Delaware Street.

The change doesn’t mean that development will happen, but it’s part of a larger trend near the 41st and Fox rail station, which will serve the G Line.

On one half-acre lot, 4055 North Elati St., the owners hope for a “compact, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development,” according to an application. It could include about 120 “micro” apartment units and some retail spaces, according to developer Chris Hudon.

The new zoning would allow development up to eight floors for residential and commercial uses on the vacant industrial lot.

“Our company is really focused on what we call attainable housing,” Hudon said.

The broader area is primed for intense development.

Another property owner already is searching for a developer for 41 acres around the old Denver Post printing plant on the so-called island, among other plans. The Crafty Fox pizzeria and The Regency student housing community are nearby, too.

A second, separate rezoning approved on Monday would allow eight-story development at 4201 Delaware St., but the owners plan a smaller project of townhomes, according to Isiah Salazar, vice president of Central Street Capital.

“This will be one of the first newer townhome projects in this area,” he said. “We’re very excited to see how the light rail continues to change the neighborhood.”

Councilwoman At-large Debbie Ortega asked whether the area’s ready for development.

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“We’ve got one road into this site,” she said, asking if the city is allowing “more development in there than what the roadway can handle.”

City staff said they’re working on a next-steps study, and the larger printing-plant development won’t be allowed to proceed until the city decides the roads are ready.

For his part, Councilman Albus Brooks asked whether the hype was real, since he hadn’t seen any dirt turning yet.

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Denver council moves toward max pay raises for city’s elected officials

February 25, 2019 - 7:06pm

A majority of Denver City Council members on Monday indicated their support for a salary raise for the city’s elected officials, potentially including themselves.

Under a voter-approved city law, the salaries for elected officials are up for review every four years.

Right now, Denver City Council members make about $92,000; the council president makes $103,000; the auditor and clerk make $148,000; and the mayor makes $171,000.

The proposed bill would raise the salaries annually starting this summer and ending in 2022. The 10-percent cumulative raise is the maximum allowed under city law; it’s based on a measure of inflation in recent years.

The council voted 8-3 to move the proposal toward a final vote. If approved, the change would go into effect after the citywide elections this May; every council member is up for election.

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Denver’s leaders last approved elected-official raises of 10.3 percent in 2015.

The average city employee has gotten a bigger relative pay boost since then — about 13 percent.

Councilman Kevin Flynn said he respected the process but opposed the raises. He said that their jobs were different from city employees, who will leave the city if they’re underpaid.

“We are temporary placeholders,” he said. And he pointed out that there is no lack of candidates — more than 60 people have declared for office.

“Our salaries are higher than the governor’s,” he said.

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But other council members earlier said that the change kept pace with the cost of living and allowed more people to take on the full-time work of governing. Commissioners in major Colorado counties earn $120,000 a year; Denver is both a city and a county.

Council members Flynn, Wayne New and Kendra Black voted against the preliminary measure. Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore was absent.

The measure will return at an upcoming meeting.

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Englewood man sentenced after agreeing to testify against brother in child sexual exploitation case

February 25, 2019 - 6:46pm

A 62-year-old Englewood man was sentenced in Arapahoe County District Court on Monday to 22 years in prison on felony charges of sexual exploitation of a child.

Arapahoe County JailTimothy and Daniel Alberts

Timothy Alberts pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to two counts of child sexual exploitation, Class 3 felonies, and will serve consecutive 10-year and 12-year sentences, along with five years of mandatory parole.

As part of his plea deal, he also agreed to testify against his brother Daniel Alberts, who is facing similar charges.

Daniel Alberts pleaded not guilty to 12 child sexual exploitation charges and a habitual offender sentence enhancer, according to the district attorney’s office.

The two men were arrested on the charges after police found children’s underwear and child pornography in their home, according to arrest documents. Daniel Alberts is scheduled for a motions hearing next month and is expected to go to trial on July 31.

Timothy Alberts has a criminal history that includes other child sexual-abuse charges, including an arrest in 1982 in Boulder for child sex assault and another in 1989 in Adams County for sex assault, court records show.

Alberts addressed Judge Andrew Baum on Monday afternoon, saying he was “deeply sorry” for his actions and knows that he can’t turn back time.

Defense attorney Alaina Lea Almond said that Alberts was a victim of childhood sexual abuse and may have tried to compensate for his own actions — which she said he was ashamed of — by being very involved in the community and volunteering.

Baum detailed facts of the arrest, including that police entered the Alberts’ home, where they lived with their father, and found it uninhabitable before discovering the evidence of child sexual exploitation.

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Alberts admitted that he and his brother were pedophiles, arrest documents show.

Baum said that although the child victims in pornography are not always known, the effects on the victims are long-lasting throughout their lives as the photos and videos continue to be shared.

Alberts will have to register as a sex offender and cannot have contact with anyone under the age of 18. His sentence cannot be amended or terminated early without agreement from prosecutors.

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Denver just made a big change on social-use cannabis: It will be permanent

February 25, 2019 - 6:34pm

One of the clouds over Denver’s marijuana hospitality businesses is about to go away.

On Monday night, the Denver City Council decided in a 10-1 vote that the city should permanently allow “social” cannabis use at certain businesses in the city. Until now, the city’s social-use laws were scheduled to expire at the end of 2020.

The change is meant to give some stability to businesses where people can vaporize or eat marijuana legally.

The social-use law approved by voters in 2016 included a four-year “sunset” date. But the industry has been slow to develop since then. So far, only two businesses have won a social-use license: a coffee shop in a strip mall and a new lounge on Broadway.

The time limit has discouraged some business owners, according to Councilwoman Kendra Black.

“With less than two years available, it’s difficult to get financing. If you’re leasing a space, most leases, they’re three to five years. And then you’d have to get funds to build out the space,” she said at an earlier meeting. “And so it’s just really not feasible for a prospective business to open a business in that time frame.”

Councilman Kevin Flynn wasn’t convinced. He said that the city should take on business owners’ other complaints first.

“I think that we ought to have a more comprehensive package of changes that could address the problems that we’re looking to solve,” Flynn said at the earlier meeting

Councilman Rafael Espinoza agreed that it was too early, with the program still struggling, to end the sunset. The bill passed with Flynn opposing; Espinoza and Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore were absent.

City officials also are examining the city’s distance requirements. Social-use businesses must be at least 1,000 feet from schools, day care centers, city recreation centers and pools, and addiction treatment centers.

Council members are considering further changes to loosen those distance restrictions. Meanwhile, state legislators could tackle an agenda of cannabis changes, including a potential bill for use at businesses.

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