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Avalanche acquires goalie Philipp Grubauer from Washington, selects right wing Martin Kaut with 16th pick

June 22, 2018 - 4:33pm

Shortly before the start of the first round of the NHL draft Friday, the Avalanche acquired a possible No. 1 goalie for next season and beyond.

Colorado sent its second-round pick (No. 47 overall) to the Washington Capitals for goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Brooks Orpik — the latter of whom was a throw-in to complete the deal and will be traded or bought out, Avs’ general manager Joe Sakic said.

The Avs, who went on to select Czech Republic winger Martin Kaut with their first-round pick (16th overall), still have a second-round selection Saturday for Rounds 2-7 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. They acquired Nashville’s second-rounder (No. 58 overall) for the Nov. 5 three-team deal that sent Matt Duchene to Ottawa.

As part of the Duchene trade, Colorado acquired Ottawa’s top-10 protected first-round pick this year, but the Senators used the fourth overall choice — meaning the Avs will now get the Senators’ 2019 first-round pick, regardless of position.

“No surprise there at all,” Sakic said of Ottawa keeping the fourth pick to select Boston University forward Brady Tkachuk. “It was a great pick and they got a heck of a player.”

The addition of Grubauer gives the Avs a No. 1A option along with the oft-injured Semyon Varlamov, who also was acquired from Washington, in 2011. And the move means the Colorado won’t re-sign pending unrestricted free agent Jonathan Bernier.

“We really feel you need two really good goaltenders, and we like where Grubauer is; he’s just coming into his prime,” Sakic said.

German-born Grubauer, 26, is in need of a contract as a restricted free agent. He made $1.5 million last season. He was the starting goalie for the Caps to begin the playoffs but the team turned to Braden Holtby the rest of the way in winning the Stanley Cup.

Grubauer appeared in 35 games, posting a 2.35 goals-against average and .923 save percent. Holtby’s numbers were 2.99 and .907, respectively.

“We’re certain we’re going to get something done, and it will be done shortly — at some point in the next few days,” Sakic said of signing Grubauer.

Varlamov will make $5.9 million next season before being eligible for free agency.

Orpik, 37, is under contract at $5.5 million next season before eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. “We gave up a second-round pick, a good pick, but we felt to take (Orpik) and give (Washington) cap relief, we wouldn’t have to pay as much of a premium,” Sakic said. “I talked to him and the plan is to see if we can maybe move him here or buy him out.”

Kaut, 18, had just nine goals and 16 points in 38 games for Pardubice of the Czech league last season. But he was ranked fourth among European draft-eligible forwards and defensemen. He is a 6-foot-2, 176-pound, right-shot right winger who attended the recent NHL combine in Buffalo but was not permitted to participate in drills and testing because of a congenital heart condition on his medical screenings. The heart condition is not expected to derail his hockey career.

“Everything checked out. No issues at all. No worries,” Sakic said.

Kaut represented his country at the 2018 World Junior Championship in Buffalo, and the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in which the Czech Republic won the gold medal.

“We’re really excited about this player. He’s a powerful skater, he’s got a great shot — he’s a goal-scorer and he knows where to go in the right areas. He plays hard all over the ice,” Sakic said.

At 16th overall, Kaut is the second-highest-drafted Czech-born player in Avalanche history. Forward Vaclav Nedorost went 14th in 2000 but played in just 67 career games for Colorado, and only 99 in his NHL career.

 

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Molson Coors considers getting into marijuana business in Canada

June 22, 2018 - 4:27pm

Another major beermaker is looking at ways to enter the marijuana business.

Denver-based Molson Coors Brewing Co. is weighing whether to expand into the sector with Canada poised to legalize the drug for recreational use this October. The brewer is said to have held talks with several Canadian-based marijuana companies to invest and collaborate in cannabis-infused beverages in an attempt to halt declining beer sales, according to a Friday report from BNN Bloomberg, citing several unidentified people familiar with the matter.

The company has spent the past six months engaged with as many as four cannabis companies, including Aphria Inc. and Aurora Cannabis Inc., discussing its plans to enter the space, according to the report.

“We have assembled a team in Canada to actively explore the risks and opportunities of entering the cannabis space in that market, where it will be federally legal by this fall,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Hunter said at an investor presentation on June 6. Spokesman Colin Wheeler declined to say Friday whether it was in talks with specific cannabis companies.

“We’ve said specifically we’re interested in the infused beverage space and we do intend to enter that market,” Aurora Cannabis’ Chief Corporate Officer Cam Battley said Friday by phone. The company declined to comment further. Aphria could not be immediately reached for comment.

The speculation comes the same week as Canada gave the final approval for recreational sales to begin on Oct. 17. While edibles, including beverages, won’t be legal initially, companies are already jockeying for market share due to the potentially lucrative opportunity. There’s been an “explosion of interest” in edibles and six out of 10 consumers will probably choose to consume edible products, according to a June 5 report from Deloitte.

Last year, Corona beer seller Constellation Brands Inc. bought a minority stake in Canopy Growth Growth, the nation’s largest marijuana producer with a market value of $6.6 billion. Rivals such as The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. plans to develop a product-testing and manufacturing center to explore using cannabis in everything from iced teas, juices and sports drinks.

Molson would have meaningful exposure to the North American cannabis market as the No. 2 beer seller in both Canada and the U.S., Cowen analyst Vivien Azer said Friday in a note. A deal would likely resemble the structure that Constellation laid out when it took a stake in Canopy last fall and a partner of scale will probably be the most attractive to Molson to ensure it has have adequate supply in the market, she said.

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife determines bear attack unlikely following investigation in Red Feather Lakes incident

June 22, 2018 - 4:11pm

Earlier this month, a man camping near Red Feather Lakes reported he was attacked by a bear and injured his back. Colorado Parks and Wildlife said on Friday that it was unlikely a bear caused the injury.

But what actually happened remains a mystery.

CPW spokesman Travis Duncan said it is most likely a case of mistaken identity. While camping with his family on U.S. Forest Service land northwest of Fort Collins, something hit the outside of the unidentified man’s tent. The original report said the tent was trampled.

He was taken to a hospital following the incident with a back injury.

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After conducting a thorough investigation in which officers set bear traps, searched for physical evidence, interviewed campers and locals and used specialized tracking hounds, CPW couldn’t find any evidence that a bear attack occurred. Wildlife officers did not trap or find a bear in the area, and there has been no visual sighting of an animal in or around the area in question.

CPW is closing the investigation. No further action will be taken.

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Colorado’s unaffiliated voters are the wild card in upcoming primary election

June 22, 2018 - 4:00pm

Colorado’s unaffiliated voters haven’t exactly turned out in droves to cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary election, even though a new law allows them to do such for the first time.

The lackluster interest — a turnout rate roughly half that of registered Democrats and Republicans — does not surprise veteran political observers who know from prior elections that most unaffiliated voters in Colorado are less interested in politics, less motivated to participate and less optimistic that their vote will make a difference.

Also, it’s new, and experts say it will take time for voters to get acclimated — and for the impact of their vote to make a difference.

The promise that unaffiliated voters would moderate the candidates — and prevent the two major parties from swerving to their extremes — is not taking place this year as Republicans compete to align themselves with a polarizing President Donald Trump and Democrats tout policies endorsed by far-left Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“There was never a burning desire (among unaffiliated voters) to break down the walls of a closed primary to have their voice heard,” said Republican pollster David Flaherty. “It’s not in the DNA of the unaffiliated voter in Colorado – never has been and never will be.”

The new role of unaffiliated voters made them the wild card in the primary election, with political observers saying it’s anyone’s guess as to their impact. Thousands more ballots are expected by 7 p.m. Tuesday, when polls close, so the final verdict remains an open question.

“Everyone is operating in a test tube, and Tuesday will be the first time we get results out of the test tube,” said Eric Sondermann, a Denver-based political analyst. “Both parties and all these political operatives on both sides are going to be learning on the fly here.”

Here’s a look at how many unaffiliated voters have cast ballots and the how the 2018 campaigns adapted to the new political reality in Colorado.

Andy Cross, The Denver PostDenver Election judges survey and check voting ballots filled out by members of the Logic and Accuracy Test Board during a test of the ballot system in the counting room at the Denver Elections headquarters October 13, 2016. Breakdown of the turnout numbers

Through Thursday, 138,560 unaffiliated voters cast ballots in the primary elections, making up roughly 23 percent of the 598,024 total votes.

But it represents only 10 percent of the 1.4 million unaffiliated voters in Colorado. Unaffiliated voters — who don’t want to associate with a political party but are still registered to vote — are the largest bloc (38 percent) of those registered.

About 20 percent of registered Democratic voters and 20 percent of registered Republicans cast ballots through Thursday.

The turnout is “outstanding” for the backers of Proposition 108, the 2016 ballot measure that allowed unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in primaries, said a spokesman for the group Let Colorado Vote.

DaVita CEO Kent Thiry, who was behind the push to allow unaffiliateds to participate in primary elections, is appearing in a television commercial airing that encourages unaffiliated voters to “make our voices heard.” The targeted, $100,000 effort is running on cable networks statewide through Tuesday’s election.

The Colorado secretary of state’s office spent another $900,000 to spread the word — in part, on TV ads — to unaffiliated voters about this year’s primary election.

A deeper look at the unaffiliated voters who cast ballots through Thursday shows most unaffiliated voters are casting Democratic ballots, which fits political models from prior elections.

Of the unaffiliated voters’ ballots that have been tabulated as of Friday morning, 64,930 were for the Democratic primaries and 46,899 were for the Republicans.

Low interest not a surprise

The anemic interest from Colorado’s unaffiliated voters is not a surprise.

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In December, the secretary of state’s office commissioned a poll of unaffiliated voters that showed nearly half didn’t know they could vote in the primary. And among those who expected to vote in November, only 39 percent planned to participate in the primaries.

Flaherty, who conducted the poll, said the No. 1 reason unaffiliated voters said they didn’t plan to participate in the primary is a lack of knowledge about the candidates and a fear of voting for someone who didn’t share their values.

On the other hand, he said, the main motivator for unaffiliated voters to participate was a desire to influence their candidate choices in November.

The truth, Flaherty said, is that unaffiliated voters are not as interested or worried about politics. “And it’s just such a very difficult thing to grab these voters and activate them,” he said.

Campaign outreach modest, at best

Entering the 2018 election, most statewide candidates expressed interest in reaching out to unaffiliated voters only to realize it was challenging and expensive to get their attention.

2018 candidates for Colorado governor

Who is running for governor of Colorado in 2018?

“The decision you have to make here in any campaign is this: With the resources that I have, am I trying to persuade the universe of voters that always turns out in these things? Or do you try to expand the universe, which is very hard and very expensive,” said Jim Carpenter, a Democratic strategist who is not working for any campaign. “New voters are hard to get and they are expensive to get, so a lot of campaigns then say, ‘Boy, I’m going to focus on people who are going to turn out.’ ”

Two prominent efforts from campaigns include text messages to unaffiliated voters and TV ads meant to have a broader appeal, political strategists note.

“It’s the same TV ad, but as you are creating your TV ad, it needs to be crafted also to unaffiliated voters,” said Craig Hughes, a Democratic strategist working on the campaigns of three statewide candidates. “It created a larger universe.”

But before campaigns can even target unaffiliated voters with persuasive messages, there’s a more fundamental challenge.

“The problem for a campaign to try and target the unaffiliated voters is no one knows which of them are going to vote,” said Greg Brophy, a former Republican state senator and 2014 gubernatorial candidate who is not affiliated with a campaign for governor.

Denver voters cast ballots at the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Center Draw toward the middle

Because unaffiliated voters are so difficult to target, candidates from both sides of the aisle are showing few signs of softening their stances to attract a bloc that identifies as mostly moderate.

Take the governor’s race: All four Republican candidates support Trump, who gets negative job approval ratings among independent voters. Meanwhile, Democrats in the contest are backing policy proposals — such as universal health care and 100 percent renewable energy generation — attractive to their liberal base.

2018 candidates for Colorado attorney general

Who is running for Colorado attorney general in 2018?

“I haven’t seen any candidate really have a message that goes after those unaffiliated who are truly in the middle and who will swing this election one way or the other,” said Dick Wadhams, a former Colorado Republican Party chairman. “I frankly think that all the Republican candidates have kind of missed an opportunity to tailor their agendas to target not only the conservative wing of the Republican Party, but go beyond that and keep an eye toward that general election electorate. That’s happening on the Democratic side, too.”

Adam Dunstone, a Democratic strategist, said he never believed the idea that unaffiliated voters would curb rampant partisanship.

“The theory that (unaffiliated voters) will moderate a primary is just nonsense. Because the people who are self-selecting into a primary election are partisan. They are not moderates at all,” Dunstone said.

Still time for impact

What political observers are watching is whether a late surge in unaffiliated voters comes in the final days.

“The unaffiliateds who are truly in the middle will probably wait until the end before they really tune in to the campaign overall,” Wadhams said. “They probably haven’t been paying attention — they’ve seen ads on TV, they got their ballots in the mail (a couple of weeks ago), but they will probably be really focusing on these elections in the next few days.”

If more decide to vote, it could have a significant impact given that a few thousand votes could sway the results in crowded primaries.

Either way, which party unaffiliated voters pick may offer clues to the November election.

“What  really matters to me … is what percentage of the unaffiliated voters cast ballots for Democrats versus Republicans,” Brophy said. “To me, that’ll be more indicative of the standing … of where the respective parties are with those engaged unaffiliated voters.”

Check out The Denver Post’s election coverage below:

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Former Thompson teacher Carrie Giesler sentenced to 5 years’ probation in stun gun incident

June 22, 2018 - 3:47pm

A former Thompson School District teacher was sentenced Thursday to five years’ probation for a 2016 incident in which she used a stun gun on her ex-husband.

Eighth Judicial District Judge Devin Odell sentenced Carrie Giesler to supervised probation for convictions of third-degree assault and burglary, according to Larimer County District Attorney spokeswoman Jodi Lacey.

Matthew Jonas, Reporter HeraldFormer Thompson School District teacher Carrie Giesler was found guilty of burglary and assault after a trial that ended Wednesday. She was found not guilty of the attempted murder of her ex-husband.

In an April verdict, a jury found Giesler guilty of those crimes but not an attempted murder charge. Giesler refused two plea deals in the nearly two-year case.

Lacey said that during the five years of probation, Giesler cannot partake in alcohol, recreational cannabis or any other controlled substances. She must also serve 90 days in jail and complete a domestic violence evaluation and follow the parameters of her prescribed treatment.

Moreover, Giesler must perform 200 hours of community service, maintain work or education amounting to 35 hours per week, and avoid all contact with the victim, Dan Giesler.

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Read the full story on reporterherald.com.

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For Tuesday’s Colorado primaries, here’s where metro-Denver voters can still drop off or cast ballots

June 22, 2018 - 3:19pm

Colorado’s primary election deadline is almost upon us, and maybe you’ve already filled out but not dropped off your ballot — or perhaps you’re registered to vote but haven’t cast one yet.

It’s not too late.

There are locations in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas or Jefferson counties where voters can drop off or cast their ballots Monday or Tuesday, in many cases right up until the 7 p.m. Tuesday deadline.

Here’s a list of locations across the Denver metro area:

Arapahoe County

Ballot drop-off locations
Polling places

Boulder County

Ballot drop-off locations and polling places

Broomfield County

Ballot drop-off locations and polling places

Denver

Ballot drop-off locations and polling places

Douglas County

Ballot drop-off locations
Polling places

Jefferson County

Ballot drop-off locations and polling places

Aurora Arapahoe County CentrePoint Plaza : 14980 E. Alameda Drive
Byers Kelver Library: 404 E. Front St.
Centennial Clerk and Recorder Centennial Branch Lima Plaza: 6954 S. Lima St.
Centennial Smoky Hill Library: 5430 S. Biscay Circle
Littleton Arapahoe County Administration Building: 5334 S. Prince St.

Boulder County

24-hour ballot drop-box

• Boulder County Clerk & Recorder – Boulder office
• Boulder County Courthouse – East Wing entrance
• Boulder County Housing and Human Services
• CU Campus – University Memorial Center (UMC)
• Lafayette Public Library
• Longmont YMCA
• Longmont: Boulder County Clerk & Recorder / St. Vrain Community Hub
• Longmont: Boulder County Fairgrounds
• Longmont: Garden Acres Park
• Louisville Police Department
• South Boulder Recreation Center
• Superior Town Hall

Drive-by dropoff

• Boulder County Clerk & Recorder – Boulder office
• Longmont: Boulder County Clerk & Recorder / St. Vrain Community Hub

Voter service center
• Boulder County Clerk & Recorder – Boulder office
• Boulder County Clerk & Recorder – Lafayette office
• CU Campus University Memorial Center (UMC)
• Longmont: Boulder County Clerk & Recorder / St. Vrain Community Hub

Broomfield County

Ballot Drop Off Locations Open 24/7

• George DiCiero City and County Building: 1 DesCombes Dr
• Paul Derda Recreation Center: 13201 Lowell Blvd
• Redpoint Ridge Park (Northwest Corner): 11337 Central Ct
• Flatirons Marketplace: 170 E Flatiron Crossing Dr
• Guard House @ Anthem: 16591 Lowell Blvd

Voter service and polling center locations

• George DiCiero City and County Building: 1 DesCombes Drive
8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday
7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, (June 26, Election Day)

Douglas County

24-hour ballot drop-off locations

• Castle Pines Library: 360 Village Square Lane, Castle Pines
• Douglas County Elections: 125 Stephanie Place, Castle Rock
• Town of Castle Rock: 100 N. Wilcox Street, Castle Rock
• Highlands Ranch Motor Vehicle: 2223 W. Wildcat Reserve Parkway, Highlands Ranch
• Highlands Ranch Sheriff’s Substation: 9250 Zotos Drive, Highlands Ranch
• Town of Larkspur: 8720 Spruce Mountain Road, Larkspur
• Lone Tree Motor Vehicle, Park Meadows Center: 9350 Heritage Hills Circle, Lone Tree
• Parker Police Department: 18600 Lincoln Meadows Parkway, Parker
• Parker Town Hall: 20120 E. Mainstreet, Parker

Business Hours Only Ballot Drop-off Location

• Roxborough Library: 8357 N. Rampart Range Rd., Ste 200, Littleton

Jefferson County

24-hour ballot drop-off locations

• Arvada City Hall: 8101 Ralston Rd drive-up drop box
• Jeffco Campus: 3600 Illinois St drive-up drop box
• Arvada Motor Vehicle: 6510 Wadsworth Blvd, 320
• Standley Lake Library: 8485 Kipling St
• Lakewood City Hall: 480 S Allison Pkwy
• West Woods Community Police Station: 6644 Kendrick Dr
• Conifer Marketplace: 10875 US Hwy 285
• Columbine Library: 7706 W Bowles Ave
• Evergreen Library: 5000 County Hwy 73
• South Jeffco Service Center: 11139 Bradford Rd
• Wheat Ridge City Hall: 7500 W 29th Ave drive-up drop box
• Golden City Hall: 911 10th St
• Westminster City Recreation Center: 10455 Sheridan Blvd drive-up drop box
• Jeffco Courts & Admin Bldg: 100 Jefferson County Pkwy drive-up drop box

Voter Service & Polling Center

• Arvada Motor Vehicle: 6510 Wadsworth Blvd, 320
• Evergreen Motor Vehicle: 4990 County Hwy 73
• Jeffco Elections Division: 3500 Illinois St., Suite 1100
• Jeffco Public Health: 645 Parfet
• South Jeffco Service Center: 11139 Bradford Rd

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Boulder DA upgrades murder charge as detectives cite audio evidence of strangulation

June 22, 2018 - 2:42pm

Prosecutors have decided to charge Scott Jones with first-degree murder after investigators say they uncovered audio evidence that he strangled his wife, Deborah De Pinto, in north Boulder earlier this week.

Jones, 47, originally was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder, and was scheduled to be charged today in county court. But Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty instead announced he will upgrade the charge to first-degree murder.

“After a review of the evidence in the case, the district attorney filed a motion to direct-file a charge of murder in the first degree in the Boulder District Court,” prosecutors said in a news release.

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Jones remains in custody at the Boulder County Jail and will have a hearing set at a later date to be advised of the new charge.

First-degree murder is a Class 1 felony that carries either a mandatory life-sentence in prison without parole or a sentence to death should Dougherty choose to pursue it.

Read the full story at dailycamera.com.

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PERA rescued from fiscal brink after reform of Colorado’s pension produces dramatic improvements

June 22, 2018 - 2:10pm

Colorado’s troubled public pension has been pulled back from the fiscal brink.

That was the key takeaway from Friday’s pension board meeting, the first since state lawmakers approved a sweeping rescue package in May that cut retirement benefits and increased contributions to shore up the fund.

This time a year ago, Colorado’s pension was among the worst funded in the country, sporting an unfunded debt of more than $32 billion and a 40 percent chance of running out of money to pay benefits, according to the board’s financial advisers.

The board on Friday released its annual financial report, which shows the fund’s fiscal stability has improved dramatically, although it will still take decades to pay off the debt owed to current and future retirees.

The unfunded debt fell to $28.8 billion — and would have fallen further had it not been for a surge in retirements last year. Thanks to a strong stock market, the pension also made 18.11 percent on its investments in 2017, more than doubling its 7.25 percent target.

The pension is now projected to fully fund the benefits owed to retirees within 30 years, a target long recommended by pension advisers across the country.

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While the pension’s long-term finances have stabilized, concerns remain.

This week, Fitch Ratings issued an advisory noting that Colorado and virtually all other major public pensions are banking on investment returns well above “the 6 percent level that Fitch views as reasonable.” If Colorado’s pension averaged 6 percent annual returns, it still wouldn’t be expected run out of money, but it would take 50 years to pay off its debt, according to the pension’s actuaries.

Another rating agency, S&P Global Ratings, improved the state’s credit outlook in light of the reforms, but it expressed concern that state lawmakers would continue to fund the pension adequately. The reforms call for the state to contribute an additional $225 million a year to the pension, but a future legislature could cut or eliminate that payment any time it chooses.

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Switzerland earns tournament’s first come-from-behind victory at FIFA World Cup 2018

June 22, 2018 - 1:33pm

KALININGRAD, Russia — Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri scored in Switzerland’s 2-1 victory over Serbia on Friday at the World Cup, and both celebrated by making a nationalist symbol to their ethnic Albanian heritage.

In the tournament’s first come-from-behind victory, Xhaka made it 1-1 in the 52nd minute with a powerful shot through a crowded penalty. Shaqiri added the other in injury time after running past the Serbian defense.

Both put their open hands together with their thumbs locked and fingers outstretched to make what looks like the double-headed eagle displayed on Albania’s national flag. The thumbs represent the heads of the two eagles, while the fingers look like the feathers.

The gesture is likely to inflame tensions among Serb nationalists and ethnic Albanians.

Shaqiri was born in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo’s independence and relations between the two countries remain tense.

Xhaka’s parents are originally from Kosovo and they are of Albanian heritage.

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored for Serbia with a header in the fifth minute.

The win puts Switzerland into second place in Group E with four points, the same as Brazil. The Swiss will advance to the round of 16 if they beat Costa Rica on Wednesday in Nizhny Novgorod. Serbia will face Brazil in Moscow at the same time.

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Fremont County deputy accused of stealing from death scene

June 22, 2018 - 1:05pm
Fremont County Sheriff's OfficeChristopher Pape

Already mourning the violent death of her 77-year-old father, Jeanette Orchard now worries that a deputy may have destroyed evidence needed to solve the case by stealing from the crime scene.

“The cops who were supposed to be protecting us were stealing from us instead,” said Orchard, daughter of possible murder victim Kenneth Orchard.

Her trepidation is compounded by the knowledge that this wasn’t the first time a Fremont County sheriff’s deputy has taken evidence. And she said Fremont County Sheriff Jim Beicker has failed to acknowledge that fact. She fears the entire department is corrupt and her father’s killer may never be caught.

“It’s sickening that Fremont County is hiding it rather than acknowledging what happened,” Jeanette Orchard said.

Although Beicker has said that Deputy Christopher Pape is accused of disrupting a crime scene, he has not specifically said  the 30-year-old deputy was accused of stealing from Orchard’s home.

Beicker referred the case to the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Department to investigate to avoid a conflict of interest. Pueblo County deputies arrested Pape on a bevy of felony charges including theft, attempt to influence a public servant, forging public records and tampering with evidence. The arrest warrant affidavit in Pape’s case is sealed.

Beicker did not return several phone calls seeking comment.

The theft from Kenneth Orchard’s home is hauntingly similar to events surrounding the investigation into evidence from another murder case that wound up in a former deputy’s storage unit.

That incident led to the arrest and retirement last year of former Fremont County sheriff’s Lt. Detective Robert Dodd.

In December of 2016, Rick Ratzlaff bought an abandoned Cañon City storage shed for about $50 and found an ax, a blood-stained rope and a manila envelope marked “Evidence” with bloody socks inside. The grisly discovery was evidence from the 2006 murder of Candace Hiltz, a case that has not been solved.  Dodd rented the storage unit, but failed to pay his fees.

[ Watch a video about the cold-case murder of Candace Hiltz ]

Dodd goes on trial Monday on misdemeanor charges of altering public records, and two counts of official misconduct in connection with Hiltz’ death.

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The Hiltz murder investigation led to a campaign to remove Beicker from office. Eleven other sheriff’s officers also were placed on administrative leave in 2017 for issues ranging from child abuse charges to routine procedural missteps, according to the Daily Record in Cañon City. The Fremont Freedom Fighters tried but failed to get Beicker, who decided not to seek re-election for a fifth term, removed from office.

In the Orchard case, the Cañon City Fire Department found Orchard’s burned body on May 22 after extinguishing a fire with multiple ignition points at his home in the 1800 block of Pinion Avenue. Investigators found that Orchard’s clothing had been soaked with a flammable liquid believed to be gasoline, his daughter said. Orchard had severe injuries to his neck and chest apparently inflicted before the fire was started, Jeanette Orchard said investigators told her.

“It exhibits just a wanton abuse of human life and dignity. He knew this was a robbery-homicide investigation and he knew this was going to help the killers get away with murder,” she said.

Pape was arrested on June 8. On Wednesday, Deputy Fremont County District Attorney Thom LeDoux requested and was granted a two-week extension to decide what if any formal charges to file. Pape said although he would love to speak with a reporter about his case his attorney has instructed him not to speak with the media while his case is pending.

Fremont County District Attorney Molly Chilson said she could not comment on the Pape case. But in general, criminal affidavit’s are routinely sealed to improve chances of solving cases, she said.

“It’s not uncommon to take measures to seal an arrest affidavit. The (Orchard) case remains under investigation. The information will eventually be released,” Chilson said.

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Punch List: Take steps to control pests and diseases

June 22, 2018 - 1:03pm

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Plant Health Care (PHC) are catch-all phrases for the commonsense action plans to handle pest insects, diseases and cultural issues (soil, watering, mulch, etc.) that find your garden. The goal is to address these issues economically and with safety in mind for you and your pets and respect for the environment. Last week we covered basic cultural plant care to dos. This week the pest and disease edition.

The actions steps for IPM are prevention, discernment, inspection and action.

Carefully give a twice over look for insects and disease when purchasing or sharing plants; in other words, try to prevent future issues.

Choose the right plants for your landscapes — avoid planting a problem. Look for fruit tree cultivars that are resistant to fire blight disease or street trees less prone to limb breakage. Aspen trees are not an ideal choice for urban settings. They prefer growing in their natural mountain setting with lighter, more acidic soils. Expect them to have a shorter city life expectancy and be prone to leaf spots, canker and scale insects.

Consider choosing new plants for the landscape that are not attractive to Japanese beetles, which will be emerging soon in some locales along the Front Range.

Seeing aphids on a plant, tree or shrub doesn’t require first reaching for a can of insect spray. Determine (discern) your threshold of intervention based on the plant damage and possible short or long-term plant decline.

Scouting means regularly (often daily) physically inspecting your plants and checking to see what is going on out there. Look for chewed or distorted leaves, loss of plant vigor, or color changes. If it doesn’t look right take a closer look.

Avoid spraying insects without knowing whether it is a beneficial or destructive insect. Snip some leaves with eggs (commonly found on leaf undersides) or adults (if catchable) and place in a clean, zipped baggy or paper sack. Take them to knowledgeable garden centers or your county Colorado State University extension office for correct identification.

Consider the after effects of using sprays in the garden. The use of organic and synthetic sprays often has unintended consequences like hurting pollinators and upsetting the natural balance of beneficial/predator insects taking care of pest insects.

If prevention wasn’t effective or available, or the threshold indicates more intervention, use the least disruptive measures for control first. In many cases with pest insects, the cavalry of beneficial insects will show up soon to take care of the problem. For example, lady beetles (also known as lady bugs) love to munch on aphids, but they won’t arrive to dine unless the aphid table is set. Be patient. Give your garden time for the beneficial predator insects to arrive. Also, hosing the aphids or spider mites off with water is fast, cheap and effective.

Take time to learn more about common insects in the garden — good and not so good. The larval stage of a lady beetle look like a tiny black alligator with red or yellow markings. Don’t squish them, they eat more aphids in this stage than as adult beetles. Same for beneficial green lace wing insects. Their larvae, often called aphid lions, are brownish with a ferocious-looking pair of hooked jaws. At this stage they’ll eat small beetles, caterpillars, thrips, mites and aphids. View photos and more information on beneficial insects.

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Treating the emerald ash borer, which to date has only been found in Boulder County along the Front Range, is a good example of when to step up prevention or intervention practices. A green ash tree (genus Fraxinus) without treatment will die. Homeowners have choices for management if the insect is found early. Consider starting prevention treatments when the insect is detected closer to your county. Another option is to plant a new tree near your current ash tree, so you’ll be ready to either treat or remove the ash. Stay on top of all emerald ash borer updates and more information.

Use care when spraying any product. Read all labels and the entire label — it is the law. The label includes the toxicity signal work (caution, warning, danger), mixing instructions and when to apply — temperatures matter. The label may recommend wearing protective clothing, eyewear and a mask. By law, products that harm pollinators (indicated on the label) cannot be used on plants that are visited by pollinators when the plant is in bloom.

Spray drifts move quickly and farther than you realize so avoid spraying on windy days. Drift from sprays can easily cause damage to surrounding plants, which is often mistaken for insect or disease problems.

Next week we’ll cover the Japanese beetle action plan options for the summer.

Categories: All Denver News.

Punch List: Tips for surviving a Japanese beetle invasion

June 22, 2018 - 1:02pm

It’s time for the Japanese beetle summer survival guide.

If you’re fortunate not to have beetles yet, relish and admire your uneaten landscape plants. Those of us on beetle management duty for the next eight weeks or more are envious and recall those seasons not so long ago when we didn’t even know what a Japanese beetle looked like.

Adult Japanese beetles have emerged from lawns in central Denver and surrounding locales. They are spreading west and north: Denver, Aurora, Littleton, Englewood and Centennial as well as areas of Boulder and Pueblo are battling the beetle.

As their numbers build over the summer we’re usually at wit’s end by mid-August. We’ll get through this together. Remember, we’re bigger and smarter than they are.

The best management tools are based on knowing this insect’s life cycle — both the adult and larva (grub) stages cause plant damage. Adult beetles chew on hundreds of different plants, their larvae (grubs) feed primarily on grass roots. Timing the control and kill products is important. There are also cultural lawn care strategies to consider.

Life Cycle

· Japanese beetles have a one-year complete life cycle from egg to larva to pupa to adult. Adults usually emerge in June to early July. Females begin egg laying immediately upon emergence and into September when numbers wane. Each female lays up to 60 eggs as an adult (not all at once) in nearby grass turf — they seek well-irrigated lawns. Cool-season grasses like Kentucky blue grass, rye grass and fescue are their preferred turf for egg laying. Larvae (grubs) will live in turf roots through fall, winter and spring, then emerge as adults in June for the cycle to begin again.

· Adult Japanese beetles are attracted to over 300 plant species and will eat leaves, flowers and fruits of many ornamental plants, plus agricultural plants and home-grown vegetables. They are very mobile and will fly up to 5 miles to plants they prefer. The volatile oils released from chewed plants attract more adults. They actively feed, mate and lay eggs in the heat of the day. They begin feeding at the tops of plants. They aren’t as active on plants growing in shade.

· The larvae of beetles eat grass roots, and if numbers are great enough can cause areas of the lawn to die out. Critters like skunks and raccoons can damage and dig up lawns looking for larvae to eat.

Cultural Control Options

· There is no perfect insecticide or practice to kill all adult beetles and larvae (grubs) in one season.

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· You can prevent invasion by limiting or removing plants Japanese beetles favor.

· Adult Japanese beetles need ongoing summer treatment — often daily removal by hand (from a sharp flick to drowning them in soapy water) or squishing (it’s OK). Remove adult beetles when they are most sluggish, in the early morning or evening. The benefits of hand picking or crushing them on the spot include immediate reduction and reducing the attractiveness of chewed plants, which should result in fewer beetles drawn to the plants. Discard dead beetles in the trash.

· Dead or squished beetles do not attract more live beetles to plants. The beetles are attracted to the release of plant oils when the plants are being chewed. This group dining party is called aggregation feeding.

· Squished beetles do not serve as a repellent when chopped and sprayed over plants.

· Beetles can be fed to chickens, ducks and goats.

· Deterrents — egg and grub survival is dependent on a good soil moisture in the grass during the egg-laying period (peak is July through August). Avoid over-irrigation during this period and consider reducing lawn irrigation, but not to the point of harming existing plants or trees growing in lawns that need summer water. Resume regular (and a little extra) watering in late August to September to keep soils moist for regrowth of roots, especially if larvae (grubs) have caused root injury (dead areas) to the lawn.

· Maintain a taller lawn in the egg-laying period. Higher grass has more root mass that can tolerate root damage from chewing grubs. A short lawn with less root mass is more susceptible to grub damage.

· Row covers or netting over desirable plants may keep adult beetles out. (Be careful when covering plants that need to be pollinated.)

Insecticides

· Insecticide sprays can provide effective control or death of adult beetles, but must be applied regularly through the summer.

· Larvae (grubs) require a lawn treatment in the summer, during the recommended window of application listed on the product. Options include granular or biological products. These controls move down through the lawn and infect or kill eggs and larvae to reduce next year’s population.

· There are several insecticides available to purchase over the counter or applied by licensed landscape professionals. In relation to pollinators, insecticides range from being highly toxic with long plant persistence to less harmful if sprayed when bees aren’t in the area. Some products are not restricted to use around bees and cause little or no harm to them.

· Products that harm bees should be labeled as such and prohibited for use when plants are in bloom and being visited by bees. Always read the entire label and apply properly.

· Special attention and care should be made when applying insecticide products to plants visited by both Japanese beetles and pollinator insects, particularly bees. The short list includes roses, silver lace vines, Virginia creeper, raspberry, linden, gaura, rose of Sharon and hollyhock.

· One of the best references to view for what product to apply and when, for both adult beetles and larvae, is the newly revised CSU Fact Sheet #5.601 from Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University entomologist. He includes detailed information about product and trade names, persistence of control (days-weeks), labeled use on food crops and the very important cautions and pollinator hazards.

· Read 5.601 carefully. Print a copy (or request a copy from your local CSU Extension office) and decide your management plan for the summer.

Japanese Beetle Traps

· Japanese beetle traps are very effective in capturing adult beetles and retailers are happy to sell them to you. However, they are only recommended to use for beetle detection in new areas. Research shows that once Japanese beetles are well-established over a wide area traps easily draw in more beetles, which means more surrounding plant damage. Lucky you, if your neighbors use traps!

Categories: All Denver News.

CU researchers launch “cyberbullying detector” program for social media

June 22, 2018 - 12:51pm

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a new tool in the fight against bullying on social media platforms.

Unofficially designated the “cyberbullying detector,” CU Boulder’s CyberSafety Research Center presented the computer program and app in recently published research.

The program, which is both a desktop computer application and an Android mobile app called BullyAlert, scans and analyzes massive amounts of social media data for abusive language and incidents of bullying.

The issue of cyberbullying has resonance in Colorado. In 2017, the suicides of students at multiple Denver metro area schools were attributed to bullying on social media.

The cyberbullying detector is a functional prototype and is only compatible with Instagram for now, but there are plans to expand its capabilities to analyze other social media platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat. Developers see it as a tool for school districts or other large organizations who can use the speed and accuracy of its social media analysis to prevent bullying, as opposed to simply reacting to it.

“First, if you look at some studies that are done, more than 50 percent of U.S. teenagers are being cyberbullied,” said Professor Shivakant Mishra, a computer scientist and co-author of the research. “In some sense it’s a much more serious problem than say on the school playground. The reason for that is that it can be done 24/7. Social media allows bullies to hide themselves.”

The program monitors and analyzes large amounts of Instagram data only available through public accounts. Private Instagram accounts cannot be monitored by the program.

Administrators of schools or other organizations can identify and flag multiple accounts and monitor them for aggressive comments and reoccurring incidents that may indicate cyberbullying. If the program detects aggressive comments or characteristics of cyberbullying, it sends an alert to administrators, including the post and comment in question.

Similarly, the mobile app allows parental monitoring. Instead of overseeing multiple accounts, BullyAlert allows parents to supervise their children’s Instagram accounts specifically. BullyAlert ensures parents are aware of potential incidents without requiring them to follow each individual post or intrude in their kids’ social media presence.

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Perhaps the greatest difficulty in designing the program was deciding how to define cyberbullying. After all, how can a computer program differentiate between abusive language and jokes or sarcasm on social media where comments lack tone or personal contextualization?

“Defining cyberbullying is the most difficult problem in designing a program like this,” Mishra said. “The definition of cyberbullying itself is very subjective and varies from person to person and culture to culture.”

To address the often ambiguous world of social media interactions, the research team designed the programs to learn and adapt to user input.

Initially the team employed humans to teach the program how to differentiate between benign online comments from abusive language and identify patterns of repetition that may point to an incident of cyberbullying. It’s this foundation that every desktop or mobile application uses as a standard for comparison when fist launched.

A pilot test of the program detected cyberbullying with 70 percent accuracy, according to CU Boulder Today.

Nevertheless, there’s concern that artificial intelligence is not adequate to discern the intricacies of interpersonal communication. Justin Patchin, who teaches criminal justice at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and is a co-founder and co-director of the Cyberbulling Research Center, sees programs like BullyAlert as addressing the tip of the iceberg.

“I’m skeptical, but hopeful. I think (artificial intelligence) has come a long way, but we still have a ways to go,” Patchin said. “Unless an effective response is taken, identifying incidents is only part of the equation.

“The thing about cyberbullying is that it’s contextualized. Machines can’t figure out the nature of yours and my relationship, because it doesn’t know the context. I’m more optimistic about the capabilities of machine learning, but we’re not there yet.”

Matt Farber, an assistant professor at the University of Northern Colorado who focuses on technology and education, said technologies like BullyAlert may be useful, but they should not be considered in isolation.

“It’s hard to tell if two kids are joking around with each other,” Farber said. “Typing something and putting an emoji after it — maybe you’re kidding maybe you’re not — that is a tough thing. I think we need to practice good social and emotional learning along with digital citizenship. When we have a blended experience that combines digital experience and human mediation, along with programs like the one out of CU Boulder, they can complement one another.”

The CU program comes at a time when cyberbullying is increasingly cited as a factor in teen suicide. The Center for Disease Control reports the overall suicide rate increased 31 percent for males age 15-19 and doubled for females of the same age between 2007 and 2015. Colorado saw suicides of teens ages 10-18 rise from 50 in 2014 to 68 in 2016.

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In September 2017, Littleton had two social media related suicides sparking the school  “Offline October” challenge at Heritage High School that spread to include 1,600 people at 200 schools in seven countries. Similar incidents also occurred in Aurora and Thornton the same year.

As a prototype, the BullyAlert isn’t yet used by any school districts in the state. However, schools are using other technology in an effort to prevent bullying.

Jefferson County Public Schools uses Safe2Tell Colorado, a system that allows students, parents, and teachers to anonymously report information about any issues that may concern their safety or the safety of others, including cyberbullying.

“We’re always working to keep our kids safe. Anything that helps is always worth investigating.” said Diana Wilson, communications officer for the school district.

Safe2Tell users can use the Apple or Android app to upload photos or social media posts to help schools and local law enforcement conduct an investigation. They can also also report incidents online or call 1-877-542-7233 to speak with a Colorado State Patrol dispatcher.

Categories: All Denver News.

Armed and ready to feed you: Shooters Grill in Rifle serves up barbecue with a gun on the side

June 22, 2018 - 12:07pm

At Shooters Grill in Rifle, the award-winning barbecue comes with a gun on the side.

The restaurant’s waitstaff, while serving brisket and cornbread, wear loaded and holstered sidearms. The fact that both the food and the servers pack heat has made the eatery famous around the world, drawing diners from overseas and vacationers who will drive in from Canada.

Rifle is on Interstate 70 between Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction on Colorado’s Western Slope. The name of the Western-themed restaurant originally came from a play on the town’s name. Now, it has become a symbol for gun-rights advocates around the country.

Husband-and-wife owners Jason and Lauren Boebert opened Shooters Grill in 2013 never intending to make a political statement.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostLauren Boebert, owner of the Shooters Grill, has gained national attention for her decision to encourage her staff to carry a firearm during work. The restaurant was photographed May 29, 2018 in Rifle.

But after a man was beaten to death in a nearby ally, Lauren Boebert began openly carrying a gun to protect herself and her staff. Soon after, some of her waitresses approached her about the possibility of also open-carrying their own firearms during their shifts.

With the waitstaff packing heat, the Western-themed restaurant took on new life.

Today, a sign welcoming firearms on the premises greets customers at the front door. Inside, copies of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution accompany the themed menu, which includes such plates as “Guac 9” and “Ballistic Chicken.”

Waitresses hustle past signs reading “This is NOT a gun free zone” with their personal guns holstered on their hips, delivering food to customers who often open-carry themselves.

“We’ve become a voice for the Second Amendment, and it’s a voice I’m proud to have,” Boebert said. “There are so many voices darkening the Second Amendment, and I’m proud to be a part of those standing and taking their place and saying, ‘No, we rightfully own our firearms and we’re responsible with them.’ ”

Beginning with a small staff, Boebert initially did not offer or require any gun safety training, asking only that servers — all of whom had concealed carry permits — keep their guns holstered at all times unless the situation dictated otherwise.

As Shooters grew and became a more popular tourist destination, however, the Boeberts began partnering with Legal Heat, a national concealed firearms training company, to provide an additional level of firearm safety instruction.

“Accidents happen by being careless or ignorant,” Boebert said. “Either people don’t know what they’re doing or they think they know everything.”

Legal Heat offers Shooters Grill employees tactical and concealed weapons training, along with weapon retention tactics and target practice. In addition to monthly training and safety sessions, waitresses use and practice with holsters designed to prevent the gun from being removed from behind by a third party.

“I think all of us are really conscious that we’re wearing them,” said Jessie Spaulding, a Rifle local who has been working at Shooters since the beginning. “I know that this scares people. Some people don’t know if we’re just carrying accessories. It’s important for customers to know that we know how to handle them.”

Just over five years after opening its doors, Shooters caters to a combination of locals and tourists. For the locals, the Boeberts’ seemingly unusual business is nothing special.

“They’re indifferent,” said Boebert. “Our locals want good food, good service, you to know their names and smile when you say it. Their attitude is, ‘I don’t care if you have a gun -– feed me.’ ”

RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostStan Rak, of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, looks at a photo he took of his waitress, Jessie Spaulding, at Shooters Grill on May 29, 2018 in Rifle. Rak, who is on vacation, took the photo, of the gun-packing waitress to send to a friend back home.

Tourists, on the other hand, travel thousands of miles to check out the restaurant that packs heat. Boebert said she’s served customers that have driven from Canada as well as international travelers who purposely planned a layover in Denver on their way West for vacation to eat at her diner.

“My favorite thing is that something as silly as a firearm in a restaurant has opened up the entire world to us and given us an awesome way to meet people from all over the world.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Rockies Insider: With dismal Marlins in town, Colorado must fry the fish and continue to gain momentum at Coors Field

June 22, 2018 - 11:45am

Coming off Thursday’s series-clinching victory over the Mets, now is the time for the Rockies to fry some fish.

Miami rolls into town for a three-game series starting Friday night, and considering the cellar-dwelling Marlins (29-46) are tied for the worst record in the National League, Colorado (37-38) needs to take advantage of the opportunity by — at the very least — winning the series and climbing back above .500 for the first time since June 8.

And after seeing one of baseball’s best arms in Jacob deGrom this week against New York, the clicking Colorado offense — which has an N.L.-best .283 team average in the month of June — faces a trio of Marlins starters all with losing records and with ERAs north of 4.00.

Plus, considering how poorly the Rockies have played within the normally friendly confines of Coors Field this season with a 14-20 record there (tied for second-worst home mark in the N.L.), Colorado simply can’t afford to lose the momentum it gained by ripping off three straight wins over the Mets.

There’s also good news for the Rockies’ starting trio of Jon Gray (Friday), Tyler Anderson (Saturday) and German Marquez (Sunday) seeing as the Marlins have grounded into 65 double plays this season, the second most in the N.L.

So even with inevitable traffic, if the Colorado hurlers can pitch down in the zone and let its Gold Glove defense work — and seriously cut back on walks, as the team leads the majors with 84 free passes this month — that will enable starters to go further, take pressure off the still-coming around bullpen and, perhaps, lead to a season-shifting sweep of the Marlins.

— Kyle Newman, The Denver Post

Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Denver Post and get your first month for just 99 cents. What’s on tap?
  • Miami Marlins, 6:40 p.m. Friday, ATTRM
  • Miami Marlins, 1:10 p.m. Saturday, ATTRM
  • Miami Marlins, 1:10 p.m. Sunday, ATTRM
  • At San Francisco Giants, 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, ATTRM

TV/RADIO: Here’s what sports are airing today

Scores, Stats and Standings Must-Read Rob Carr, Getty ImagesMLB attendance. MLB’s attendance is down in 2018, but struggling Rockies remain immune to the trend within Coors Field

During two different April road trips, Rockies veteran outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was already noticing the roots of a troubling trend across major league baseball this season, where attendance is down 5.9 percent from 2017 and those numbers haven’t risen annually for six years now. Read more…

Jim Cowsert, The Associated PressCharlie Blackmon. Kiszla vs. Saunders: Should the Rockies give up on 2018 and start playing for next year?

What’s so confounding about this team is that now that the lineup has become dangerous, the bullpen has become a combustible mess. Read more…

Ron Jenkins, Getty ImagesBryan Shaw. Bryan Shaw insists his troubles are fixable and Rockies manager Bud Black agrees

Bryan Shaw has become the high-profile poster boy for the Rockies’ June gloom. Read more…

 

Quick Hits

+ Rockies podcast: Secrets from the Coors Field groundskeeper

Yency Almonte makes flashy major league debut with critical relief appearance in Rockies’ win over Mets

+ Effective starting pitching, tone-setting homer by Nolan Arenado and bullpen combine for Rockies’ series-clinching win over Mets

+ Call them fools, call them true believers — an ugly June hasn’t made Rockies’ clubhouse lose faith just yet

Rockies farm update: Antonio Senzatela scheduled for Saturday start in Triple-A, Garrett Hampson keeps impressing and more

Bud Black ejected for first time this season following fourth inning of series opener against Mets at Coors Field

Nolan Arenado leads all third basemen in National League All-Star voting update

Saunders: Rockies’ season has reached a critical juncture

+ Over two decades later, former Rockies’ ace Pedro Astacio vividly recalls his first standing ovation at Coors Field

Rockies’ Trevor Story is playing like an all-star, though fans outside Colorado and Texas might not know it

+ For Rockies broadcaster Taylor McGregor, her late father figures into all aspects of her life

Former National League umpire Dutch Rennert dies at 88

Troy Tulowitzki hopes to play this season for Blue Jays

+ Rockies Record Tracker: See how Colorado has fared against each opponent this season.

Want to chat about the Rockies? Ask to join our closed discussion group on Facebook.

By The Numbers

27,623

That’s the average per-game attendance in MLB in 2018, a figure that has declined 5.9 percent compared to 2017. But people are still turning out to see the Rockies, despite their poor record at Coors Field. Read more…

Parting Shot Andy Cross, The Denver PostMartin Truex, Jr. NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr. throws out first pitch at Rockies game

Denver-based Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. was at Coors Field Wednesday to throw out the first pitch before the Rockies game against The Metropolitans of New York. Read more…

Get in Touch

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

Categories: All Denver News.

Brian Harman moves into first place at Travelers Championship

June 22, 2018 - 11:10am

CROMWELL, Conn. — Brian Harman shot a 66 on Friday to move to 10-under par and into first place after the morning rounds at the Travelers Championship.

Harman had his short game working again, putting just 26 times on the second round after needing just 23 on the first round. He finished two shots ahead of Bryson DeChambeau, who also shot a 4-under 66, and Paul Casey, who was 3-under par for the day.

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SCOREBOARD: Travelers Championship

Two-time Travelers champion Bubba Watson, who was at even par coming into Friday, shot a 63 to move into contention heading into the weekend, three shots behind the leader.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, who was tied for the lead after a first-round 63, shot a 73 on Friday, which included an eight on the par-5 13th hole.

Thursday’s other co-leader, Zach Johnson, was on the course Friday afternoon.

Categories: All Denver News.

Nigeria notches its first win at FIFA World Cup 2018

June 22, 2018 - 11:09am

VOLGOGRAD, Russia — Ahmed Musa gave Nigeria its first win at this year’s World Cup, and gave Argentina a gift.

Musa scored two second-half goals to help the Nigerians beat Iceland 2-0 Friday and move into second place in the group behind already-qualified Croatia.

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Nigeria will face Argentina in its final group match on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. If Nigeria wins, it will advance to the round of 16. But if Argentina claims all three points, it can still advance depending on the result of the other match between Croatia and Iceland.

Musa, Nigeria’s all-time leading World Cup scorer with four goals, has played well against Argentina before. His two previous goals came at the 2014 tournament in Brazil in a group match against the two-time champions.

“It’s possible I’m going to score another two goals,” the 25-year-old Musa said.

On Friday, Musa gave Nigeria the lead in the 49th minute after Victor Moses sprinted deep into the Iceland half and curled a cross to the near post. Musa deftly controlled the ball before slamming it past Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson on the half-volley.

Nigeria nearly doubled its lead on several occasions, but Musa made it happen in the 75th minute. He picked up the ball on the left side of the Iceland penalty area, mazed his way past Halldorsson and picked his spot in the Iceland goal.

“I think the control made it more perfect for me,” said Musa, who hinted he wants to leave Premier League club Leicester and play for CSKA Moscow.

Iceland, the smallest nation ever to compete in the World Cup, was not as effective as it had been against Argentina when it earned a surprise 1-1 draw.

Still, the European champion quarterfinalists had a chance to get one back but Gylfi Sigurdsson sent a penalty kick over the Nigeria bar in the 83rd minute. The penalty was awarded after a video review showed that Alfred Finnbogason had been brought down by Tyronne Ebuehi.

KEY TO SUCCESS

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr made some tactical changes for the match, and they worked.

As well as starting with Musa, he opted to play captain John Obi Mikel in a more defensive role in midfield. His presence helped to shore up the defense against Iceland’s two-man forward line.

Rohr had come under pressure on the eve of the match to play Obi Mikel as a shield in front of the defense, the position he has played for much of his career, including at Chelsea. Rohr also played midfielder Victor Moses more defensively, too.

“If you change something you have to explain why,” Rohr said, “and they have to do it with conviction and motivation.”

GROUP DYNAMICS

Croatia can be joined by any of the other three teams in Group D in the round of 16.

Iceland can qualify if it beats Croatia in Rostov-on-Don on Tuesday in a match that takes place at the same time as the game between Nigeria and Argentina.

ICELAND STILL HOPEFUL

Iceland has met Croatia several times in recent years, including in World Cup qualifying.

“We often say we are like a married a couple trying to get a divorce, but we always meet up again,” Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said. “We know Croatia. We know what kind of game it is going to be.”

MUSA AND ARGENTINA

Nigeria’s next opponent is Argentina and Musa has played well against them before. His two previous World Cup goals at the 2014 tournament in Brazil were in a group match against Argentina.
“It’s possible,” Musa said, “I’m going to score another two goals.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Michigan State University board rejects effort to fire school’s interim president

June 22, 2018 - 11:07am

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University’s governing board rejected an effort to oust the school’s interim president Friday as trustees met to discuss how to pay for a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women and girls who said they were sexually assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar.

Trustee Brian Mosallam tried to change the meeting agenda and allow a vote to fire John Engler, who had disparaged victims and their lawyers in emails that surfaced last week. The audience cheered, but the board voted 6-2 against taking up the issue.

Engler apologized Thursday for suggesting in emails that Rachael Denhollander, one of Nassar’s most outspoken victims, probably received a “kickback” from her attorney. The controversy over his remarks broke open days ago while Engler was out of town.

“I didn’t give it the consideration it warranted,” he said. “That was a big mistake. I was wrong. I apologize.”

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Later on Thursday, board chairman Brian Breslin called Engler’s apology “appropriate and appreciated by a majority of the board.” But Mosallam said the apology “is too little too late.” Fellow trustee Dianne Byrum agreed.

Denhollander said Thursday she appreciated Engler’s gesture but remains convinced he cannot lead the university.

“I am disappointed that it took eight days and came on the heels of intense political pressure,” she said on Thursday. “The most disturbing thing is that these comments are not isolated. They are a pattern that reveals a mindset toward assault survivors. And words don’t change that mindset.”

On Friday, another Nassar survivor, Kaylee Lorincz, urged against a general counsel hire, saying instating Robert Young would “only contribute to the current culture at MSU where victims are blamed and shamed and not taken seriously.” She said during mediation for the $500 million settlement, he responded to a plaintiff attorney’s inquiry on whether he would apologize to the victims with, “Why would I do that?”

The board voted 5-3 for Young’s contract Friday. Mosallam, Byrum and Dan Kelly voted against the nearly $1.3 million deal.

Engler, a former Michigan governor, was tapped in February to temporarily lead the university after the crisis surrounding Nassar, who abused hundreds of girls and women under the guise of medical treatment while employed at Michigan State. Nassar is now serving a decades-long prison sentence for molesting patients and possessing child pornography.

Engler’s presidency has since become tangled in further public relations scandals of his own doing. But he refused to back down.

“We have a lot of work to do and I’ll be here until that work is done,” Engler said while reading a portion of the apology in the Friday meeting.

Engler exchanged the emails about Denhollander following allegations at a stormy public meeting that Engler was trying to pay off Lorincz without her lawyer’s input. Engler later said he remembered the events differently.

In his Thursday apology, Engler said he never meant to have an adversarial relationship with Nassar’s victims. He admitted his speculation about Denhollander “hurt her deeply,” and that other survivors “suffered greatly.”

Another Nassar victim, Morgan McCaul, told the board of trustees Friday that she won’t back down until Engler is out.

“I would like to assure President Engler right off the bat that I am here on my absolute own accord and I’m not receiving kickbacks for this,” she said, to applause. “Stand with the fearless survivors of both Larry Nasser and William Strampel and beyond, and do what’s right. Fire John Engler.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Roger Federer again pushed hard, advances to Halle semifinals

June 22, 2018 - 11:05am

HALLE, Germany — Defending champion Roger Federer defeated Matthew Ebden 7-6 (2), 7-5 to reach the semifinals of the grass-court Gerry Weber Open on Friday.

Federer was made to work hard by Ebden, who saved five of the eight break points he faced and was leading 5-3 in the second set.

Federer, who saved two match points against Benoit Paire in the second round the day before, recovered to go 6-5 up then broke Ebden to take his first match point for a meeting with American qualifier Denis Kudla.

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Kudla earlier defeated Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-2, 7-5 to book his semifinal place.

Federer, who won his 18th grass-court title in Stuttgart on Sunday, is three match wins away from matching Jimmy Connors’ all-time record of 174 victories on grass.

Federer extended his grass-court winning streak to 19 including the Stuttgart title and last year’s titles in Halle and Wimbledon. He is bidding for a record-extending 10th trophy in Halle.

At the Queen’s Club in London, top-seeded Marin Cilic eased into the semifinals when he beat 2010 champion Sam Querrey 7-6 (3), 6-2.

Cilic will face Nick Kyrgios, who eliminated defending champion Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3).

The Croatian hit 10 aces and dropped only three points on his first serve against Querrey. He didn’t give the American a break point chance, and broke him twice.

Cilic improved to 6-0 against Querrey, including three wins at Wimbledon, one of them last year in the semifinals.

Kyrgios, who has beaten Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund this week, has momentum against Lopez, having also got the better of the Spaniard last week in the Stuttgart quarterfinals.

He served 32 aces again, as he did in beating Edmund on Thursday, matching his personal best.

Murray will continue his comeback next week after asking for a wildcard into the pre-Wimbledon Eastbourne International event.

The three-time Grand Slam champion returned after nearly a year out with hip problems when he played at the Queen’s Club in London on Tuesday.

“I’m looking forward to getting some more time on the grass courts at Eastbourne,” Murray said. “I played Davis Cup there in 2006 and I know the courts and facilities there are excellent. It was good to get back to competition at Queen’s this week and I’m hoping to build on that next week.”

Murray won Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016, and the U.S. Open in 2012.

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