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Men’s national team adjusting to Bruce Arena and altitude for showdown against Mexico at Estadio Azteca

June 5, 2017 - 3:56pm

COMMERCE CITY — As the men’s national team continues adjusting to new management under Bruce Arena, who replaced ousted Jurgen Klinsmann after a disastrous start to World Cup qualifying last November, players are also acclimatizing physiologically for a high-altitude challenge in Mexico City.

The U.S. has won only once at historic Estadio Azteca, elevation 7,200 feet, where it will face Mexico on Sunday in a crucial World Cup qualifying match. Altitude acclimatization takes weeks, not days. And so, to prepare for Sunday’s game, U.S. Soccer scheduled a two-week training camp in Colorado, plus a friendly against Venezuela at Salt Lake City last Saturday and a qualifying game here Thursday against Trinidad and Tobago.

Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard, who posted a shutout for the U.S. when it won its only game at Azteca in 2012, says the U.S. needs to win Thursday and get at least a tie on Sunday. In November, the U.S. lost 1-0 to Mexico on a late goal in Columbus, Ohio.

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The U.S. tied Venezuela 1-1 at Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium, elevation 4,500 feet. But while the team was in Utah, its lodgings were in the ski resort town of Park City, elevation 7,000 feet.

“The altitude issue is a big issue,” Arena said Monday. “The longer you’re at altitude, the more you’re affected by it. If you come up for one or two days, you can get through it because your body still hasn’t (reacted) fully. We’re playing through that a little bit. Hopefully by Thursday, we’re going to be a little bit more adjusted and be a little bit better prepared, physically, in Mexico City.”

Arena is still getting to know some of his players. Fabian Johnson, a native of Germany who plays in the Bundesliga for Borussia Moenchengladbach, has made 55 appearances for the U.S. national team but wasn’t with the team for its first two qualifying games under Arena in March. Arena made two trips to Germany to scout Johnson this spring. The Venezuela game was his first under Arena.

“Not so happy, it’s a friendly but we still wanted to win,” Johnson said. “I think it was also a good test. We know where we are right now, we know what we have to improve, what we can do better. That’s why we play those games.”

Arena also is getting to know forward Bobby Wood, who plays for Hamburg, and defender DeAndre Yedlen (Newcastle United), both of whom started Saturday.

“We’re still feeling each other out, getting to know Fabian and Bobby Wood, DeAndre,” Arena said. “They have to understand the things we’re trying to do. I don’t think we’re there. Saturday’s game was good – to show some of the issues we have and correct them and be ready for Thursday.”

John Brooks, another native of Germany (Hertha Berlin), bruised a quad muscle Saturday. The 6-foot-4 center back played for a while after the injury but left the game a few minutes later. Arena wouldn’t reveal whether he believes Brooks will be available this week.

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For slaws with staying power and no leftovers, go cabbage-free

June 5, 2017 - 3:55pm

When it comes to picnic and potluck contributions, almost everyone welcomes coleslaw. So, why is it that what lands on the table is often store-bought?

I contend the fault lies entirely with the cabbage. Unless you are serving the entire elementary school population, one square mile of a neighborhood or the largest-ever family reunion, an entire head of cabbage makes a heckuva lot of slaw. A lot. And if I want the charm of red and green shreds tangled together? Well, that’s even more slaw or, worse, lingering half heads of red and green cabbage in the vegetable drawer, to accompany the containers of leftover slaw.

Let’s turn this sad slaw story around by ditching the cabbage for the more interesting vegetables of early summer. In one: Radishes, pert and peppery, join forces with sweet snap peas and carrots. In the other, a cabbage cousin, kohlrabi, snuggles up to crisp fennel. Herbs complement the mix. These are two sturdy slaws that stay crunchy, even when tossed with a dressing.

We cannot deny what is required for homemade slaw: knife work. There will be a lot of chopping, which means it is worth extracting an appliance or specialty tool from the back of some lower cabinet. My grandmother made slaw with the chopping attachment for her stand mixer, and, while I have one of those, I prefer to use a manual mandoline (unless I’m dealing with several heads of cabbage at once). The slivered matchsticks are so pretty, and their squared structure means more of the dressing clings to each piece. This is slow and deliberate work, even meditative. To allay mandoline-phobia, you could invest in safety, cut-proof, mesh gloves.

When I’m not in a contemplative mood and simply need to get a slaw made, the grating disk on my food processor provides the muscle power. Put all the vegetables through the feed tube and they emerge similarly shaped, a riot of color. Cut the vegetables into equal-size chunks before processing to avoid long strands that dangle precariously from the fork. Similar shapes and sizes means every bite contains a bit of this and a bit of that, and it’s easier to eat while juggling plate, glass and napkin.

In a pinch, a box grater gets the job done; the same safety gloves are useful for close work. The rule of (injury-free) thumb for chopping slaw vegetables is consistency: Keep the pieces a similar size. How to dress it is a matter of personal choice. There are mayonnaise-based dressings, of course, and the ensuing discussion (Duke’s, Hellman’s, Miracle Whip vs. homemade). I am not treading into that territory. Instead, opt for a sweet-and-tangy poppy seed dressing on one slaw and a citrus-and-chile dressing on the other.

Even a slaw made of sturdy vegetables should not be dressed too far in advance. The salt and vinegar will pickle the slaw mixture, wilting it slightly and extracting moisture from the vegetables. Too much time in a salty brine and that slaw is a kissing cousin to sauerkraut – without the benefit of a slow, controlled fermentation. To avoid a pickled situation, I travel to the party with the undressed slaw in the serving bowl and the dressing in a tightly capped jar. As soon as I arrive, I’ll toss everything together for the freshest, crunchiest slaw, entirely cabbage-free.

Jennifer Chase, The Washington PostIngredients for Radish and Pea Slaw. Radish and Pea Slaw

8 servings (makes 4 cups)

Welcome at any summer picnic or potluck, this slaw gets its peppery spirit from three types of radish and a chile-laced sesame ginger dressing. And it just gets better as it sits.

Use a mandoline or a food processor fitted with a grating disk to make quick work of the radishes and carrots. The peas should be slivered by hand.

MAKE AHEAD: The vegetables may be shredded up to 1 day in advance, individually stored and refrigerated; add the cilantro and Thai basil to the salad just before you add the dressing. You may have some dressing left over.

From columnist Cathy Barrow.


  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes)
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon peeled, freshly grated ginger root
  • 1/2 seeded Fresno or jalapeño chile pepper, minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
  • 1 medium watermelon radish, peeled and grated (about 1 cup; see headnote)
  • 1/2 small daikon radish (4 ounces), peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
  • About 5 medium red radishes, trimmed and grated (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed well and grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 pint snap peas, stringed and slivered (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup packed, finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Thai basil


  • Combine the soy sauce, lime juice, grapeseed oil, vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger, chile pepper, salt and pepper in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Seal and shake vigorously. The yield is about 1 cup.
  • Combine the watermelon, daikon and red radishes, the carrots, peas, cilantro and Thai basil in a serving bowl. Use your clean hands to mix everything together gently and thoroughly.
  • Shake the dressing again; open and add about two-thirds of it to the slaw, mixing until well incorporated. Wait 10 minutes, then taste and add more of the remaining dressing, as needed, or salt and pepper.
  • The slaw will be delicious for 4 hours, after which it is still delicious but will appear more wilted, and the red from the radishes will bleed.

Nutrition | Per serving (using two-thirds of the dressing): 80 calories, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar

Photo by Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post.Kohlrabi Poppy Seed Slaw. Kohlrabi Poppy Seed Slaw

8 servings (makes 4 cups)

This slaw uses kohlrabi, which is crisp, crunchy and amenable to the same dressings used with cabbage. Use a box grater or the grating disk on a food processor to shred all the sturdy vegetables here.

MAKE AHEAD: The vegetables may be shredded up to 2 hours in advance, individually wrapped and refrigerated. The slaw will be delicious for 3 hours, after which it is still delicious but limp.

From columnist Cathy Barrow.


  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
  • 4 medium kohlrabi, trimmed and peeled, then grated (about 1 1/2 cups; see headnote)
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed well then grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and cored then grated, plus a few fronds for garnish (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh mint


  • Combine the oil, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, powdered mustard, salt and pepper in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Seal and shake vigorously to form a creamy, emulsified dressing. The yield is about 1 cup.
  • Combine the kohlrabi, carrots, fennel, onion and mint in a serving bowl. Use your hands or two forks to mix everything together.
  • Shake the dressing again; open and add about two-thirds of it to the slaw, mixing until well incorporated. Wait 10 minutes, then taste and add more of the remaining dressing, as needed, or salt and pepper.

Nutrition | Per serving (using two-thirds of the dressing): 120 calories, 0 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 125 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar

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Backyard chickens blamed for salmonella outbreaks. Do not snuggle with them, CDC says.

June 5, 2017 - 3:49pm

America’s love affair with backyard chickens is a tad too intimate, and it’s making some of us sick.

Just this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, eight separate salmonella outbreaks linked to contact with pet poultry have taken place in the United States, sickening more than 370 people in 47 states and hospitalizing 71.

No one has died in 2017 – yet. In 2016, a record 895 people who consorted with fowl came down with the nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever that characterize this infection, and three of them did not survive.

So the CDC is once again telling flock owners to hold back on the heavy petting. That’s not a metaphor: An agency study on the rise of these outbreaks found last year that nearly half of the hundreds of salmonella patients surveyed acknowledged “snuggling” baby birds, and 46 percent said they allowed their poultry in the house.

As backyard bird husbandry has spread throughout urban areas where poultry was previously confined to the dinner plate, many owners have come to see the animals as less food source than adored pet. A proposed ban on backyard flocks in Washington was recently scrapped after passionate opposition from chicken owners, supporters and some city council members.

But in a new advisory on the current outbreaks, the CDC repeats that cohabitation with poultry is not a good idea, no matter how cuddly and house-trained the birds might be. In particular, chickens, geese and the like should not be in spots where food is prepared and consumed, because their germs can transfer from feathers to casseroles and right into your gut.

The agency’s alert contains lots of other advice for keepers of flocks. Among the most important is hand-washing or hand-sanitizing after touching poultry or fresh eggs, which can also carry bacteria. But don’t wash the eggs, because cold water can push bacteria inside of them; instead, brush or wipe them off.

Elderly people should not touch backyard birds, nor should small children, who are more likely to get seriously ill from salmonella, the CDC says. This year, more than a third of those who got sick were under 5.

And remember: Even the fluffiest, most huggable chickens can be regular disease traffickers.

“Chicks, ducklings and other live poultry that look healthy and clean can still carry Salmonella bacteria,” the CDC said.

The salmonella outbreaks this year have hit hardest in Ohio, where 31 cases had been reported as of May 25.

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Has Jeff Hoffman found a lasting spot in the Rockies’ rotation? Colorado’s plan is unfolding.

June 5, 2017 - 3:41pm

SAN DIEGO — Jeff Hoffman hasn’t yet settled on a strikeout celebration. In a pivotal fifth inning Sunday at Petco Park, with a series win on the line in the ever-tightening National League West, Hoffman whiffed Padres pinch-hitter Matt Szczur on four pitches.

As he walked off the mound, the Rockies’ latest rookie standout starter clapped his hands and pumped his knee at the same time, nearly colliding the movements like a fawn learning to walk. Never mind the optics. It worked exactly as planned.

“Fill up the (strike) zone, make them hit it and when I get ahead, put them away,” Hoffman said. “That’s about it.”

His pitches pound the strike zone. Where they land him is up to the Rockies. The 24-year-old right-hander had his third impressive outing Sunday, another sign the heralded prospect is coming of age and is ready to stick in Colorado’s exceedingly young rotation.

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Hoffman, 24, was called up Sunday to replace left-hander Tyler Anderson, who was put on the 10-day disabled list with what the team said is left knee inflammation. Manager Bud Black, when asked whether Hoffman will stay with the Rockies for another start, committed only to this week.

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say he will pitch on the 10th,” Black said of Hoffman’s next turn in the rotation, Saturday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. “It might not be a real long limb.”

Anderson can’t return from the disabled list until Sunday. After that, though, the Rockies will face a difficult decision. Anderson, who is 27 but has only 30 career appearances, is a Rockies veteran — a relative term in a rotation that now includes four rookies: Hoffman; Antonio Senzatela, 22; Kyle Freeland, 24; and German Marquez, 22.

Hoffman’s addition makes the youngest rotation in the majors even younger. It also has made the Rockies better. Hoffman struck out nine and walked none in seven innings against the Padres, improving to 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA. He has Colorado’s lowest WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning pitched) at 0.73.

And he is striking out more batters than any other pitcher in the Rockies’ rotation, averaging 11.3 per nine innings, due in part to a superb curveball that complements his mid-90s fastball.

“His curveball, man,” said Padres slugger Hunter Renfroe, whose history against Hoffman dates back deep into the minor leagues. “I’ve got a lot of plate appearances against him, and he’s really effective when he throws a fastball up and he has that curveball that he throws almost in the dirt, but right off the strike zone. That’s what makes him effective: He throws 97 (mph) and he’s 6-foot-5, so he’s got a lot of leverage.”

Hoffman’s barrier to the big leagues was never his “stuff,” that vague term for an ability to throw big-league pitches. What kept him in Triple-A to start the season was a lack of self-awareness.

“You have to critically evaluate your performance,” Black said. “Was that a good pitch? Was that located well? Was that pitch truly where I intended it to be? Was the homer I gave up a good piece of hitting?”

Black, a former pitcher, has taken tough love to new heights with a rookie-dominant rotation.

“The more honest you are, the faster you can develop as a player,” Black said. “Other guys, at times, have a defense mechanism. That mechanism can keep a player from getting down on themselves. They say, ‘I’m OK. I’m fine.’ But in reality they’re not.

“With Jeff, he’s come a long way in a short amount of time in a lot of areas. He doesn’t have a lot of minor-league innings. He doesn’t have a lot of major-league innings. He does have a major-league arm. And he has the makings of being a good pitcher. But it’s a process.”

The Rockies took over first place in their division Sunday behind Hoffman’s strong start. But they have a difficult task ahead, with 18-of-27 games in June being on the road. Hoffman is scheduled to pitch Saturday in Chicago against former Rockies prospect Eddie Butler.

Whether Hoffman stays in the rotation is an ongoing debate in Colorado’s clubhouse.

“It’s really easy to come into an environment like this with good veteran leadership and a great defense behind you,” Hoffman said. “It makes things a lot easier going back and forth.”

The Hoff Rich Schultz, Getty ImagesPitcher Jeff Hoffman of the Colorado Rockies is congratulated by teammates after getting the final out in the seventh inning of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 22, 2017 in Philadelphia.

Rockies rookie right-hander Jeff Hoffman, 24, who was acquired from Toronto in the Troy Tulowitzki trade in 2015, is making a pitch to stay in Colorado’s rotation. A look at his three spot starts this season:

Date Opponent IP H ER BB K May 11 vs. Dodgers 5⅓ 6 3 2 8 May 22 at Phillies 7 3 1 0 7 June 4 at Padres 7 3 1 0 9
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The two-step secret to 20-minute chicken on a stick

June 5, 2017 - 3:40pm

The accompanying recipe is the antidote to boring grilled chicken. It’s nearly as easy to make, but so much more enticing. The key is to toss the chicken with a mix of dried spices — ginger, garlic, turmeric, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper — that turn the blank-canvas protein into something irresistibly flavorful and fragrant. No marinating time required.

The chicken would be delicious grilled just like that, but this preparation goes a step further by threading bite-size chunks onto skewers alternately with plump green grapes. Once grilled, the sugars in those grapes caramelize; the fruit takes on a deep, mellow flavor, and provides a juicy, sweet counterpoint to the savory meat.

It’s a dinner you can whip up in less than 20 minutes, or prep up to a day ahead so it is at the ready in the refrigerator when you want to cook it. The skewers are finished with a bright squeeze of lemon juice and a fresh punch of cilantro leaves for a grilled chicken dish that is sure to elicit oohhs and ahhhs, instead of the usual ho-hums.

Spiced Chicken Skewers With Grapes

4 servings

These skewers turn basic grilled chicken breast into an irresistibly flavorful and fragrant dish. The meat is tossed with a mix of dried spices – no marinating time needed – then skewered with fresh green grapes that take on a deep, mellow flavor once grilled.

They can be done on the outdoor grill as well.

You’ll need to soak 8 wooden/bamboo skewers for 30 minutes before using.

From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.


  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic (garlic powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups seedless green grapes
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral tasting oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish


  • Whisk together the ginger, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper and turmeric in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat evenly.
  • Alternate the chicken and grapes as you thread them onto the skewers. (There should be about 5 pieces of chicken and 4 grapes on each skewer; you may have a few grapes left over.) Brush with the oil.
  • Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches as needed, cook the skewers about 6 minutes total, turning them once or twice, until grill marks have formed, the grapes have softened and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Sprinkle with the lemon juice and cilantro; serve with lemon wedges.

Nutrition | Per serving: 270 calories, 32 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 105 mg cholesterol, 210 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar

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The dinner salad you could eat every week through the summer

June 5, 2017 - 3:30pm

By Bonnie S. Benwick, The Washington Post

Just the look of this salad is enough to make you want to dig right in, isn’t it? It features the interplay of warm and cool, roasted and toasted, soft and crisp.

There’s minimal prep work and one-pan ease for the oven-browned chunks of zucchini and tender yellow-fleshed potatoes. I especially like the mix of different greens: Dandelion greens, mache and basil work well here, but keep the combination of watercress, purslane and butter lettuce in mind for another time.

You don’t even have to make a dressing – drizzles of extra-virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar do the trick.

Roasted Zucchini, Potato and Burrata Salad

4 servings

Adapted from “Dinner Made Simple: 35 Everyday Ingredients, 350 Easy Recipes,” by the editors of Real Simple magazine (Oxmoor House, 2016).


  • 8 ounces burrata cheese (may substitute fresh mozzarella)
  • 2 or 3 medium zucchini (11 to 14 ounces total)
  • 1 pound small Dutch gold or Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • About 12 ounces mixed greens, such as watercress or dandelion, plus mache (lamb’s lettuce; about 6 cups total)
  • 1/4 cup packed basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (may substitute red wine vinegar)


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Let the burrata come to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, trim the zucchini, then cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch-long rounds or half-cylinders. Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters, depending on their size.
  • Place the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with the salt and pepper, tossing to coat and making sure the cut sides are facing down. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender. When you turn the zucchini pieces and potatoes over, they should be nicely browned on the cut sides.
  • While they’re in the oven, toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, shaking it to avoid scorching, until they are fragrant and golden brown. Let cool.
  • Arrange the greens on a platter. Tear the basil leaves, letting them fall on the greens. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the roasted zucchini and potatoes and toasted pine nuts. Cut or tear the burrata, arranging dollops of the cheese around the platter.
  • Drizzle the salad with the vinegar and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Serve right away.

Nutrition | Per serving: 420 calories, 17 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 29 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 380 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar

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Elvis Dumervil signs with San Francisco 49ers

June 5, 2017 - 3:12pm

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers have bolstered their pass rush by signing Elvis Dumervil.

General manager John Lynch announced the move Monday to bring in his former Denver teammate. He said the team “added another stud to harass QBs.”

The 33-year-old Dumervil has 99 career sacks in 10 seasons with the Broncos and Baltimore. He had a career-low three sacks last season for the Ravens when he was limited to eight games because of an Achilles injury. Dumervil was cut in March.

The 49ers have been seeking an outside pass rusher this offseason. Dumervil has recorded 17 sacks in both 2009 and ’14 — more than every current member of the Niners other than linebacker Ahmad Brooks (53 1/2 sacks).

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Paxton Lynch has best Broncos OTA practice, Taurean Nixon, Isaiah McKenzie shine, more observations

June 5, 2017 - 3:03pm

The Broncos began their final week of organized team activities with Trevor Siemian getting his turn to lead the first-team offense for most of practice. It was Paxton Lynch, however, who drew the most “oohs” and “aahs” with his best practice of OTAs so far.

The early stages of Denver’s QB1 battle is among the top on-field observations from Monday’s session.

  • Lynch started off practice strong by going through his progressions and hitting his receivers with accuracy. One of the highlights of his performance was hitting Demaryius Thomas in stride on a post route for a touchdown during 11-on-11 drills. Lynch ran down the field to connect on a leaping hip bump with Thomas, pumping up the offense.
  • He hit a lull in the middle of practice reverting to his tendency to hold the ball too long and forcing broken plays. Justin Simmons picked him off on one of those plays in the red zone. He also had a bad throw against his body in the red zone that was batted down.
  • Lynch finished practice on the upswing with another brilliant deep ball to Thomas with great placement down the right sidelines. He was in rhythm similar to the first half of practice and had a great rapport with tight end A.J. Derby.
  • “He had a great day,” Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said while confirming it was “fair” to say Monday was Lynch’s best day yet. “He made some nice throws.”
  • Siemian, on the other hand, had one of his worst practices of the offseason, struggling with accuracy, particularly when throwing to the sidelines. He had several passes broken up or batted at the line. The first half of practice saw him clearly losing the day to Lynch.
  • Siemian improved as practice went on Monday. He had a few nice connections with Marlon Brown, Jeff Heuerman and Emmanuel Sanders on 20+ yard passes.

Young guys stepping up

  • Have a day, Taurean Nixon. The cornerback had the best day of any Bronco on Monday with three impressive pass breakups during 11-on-11 drills. He showed quick-twitch instincts in breaking on accurate passes in all three cases. Denver’s 2015 seventh-round pick has spent the better part of his two NFL seasons on the practice squad, but he has a decent chance to make the 2017 team as a fourth or fifth corner.
  • Isaiah McKenzie is the early favorite to be the Broncos’ most impressive rookie. The fifth-round pick has shown off his shifty moves, natural hands and unique playmaking ability in nearly every OTA practice so far. Monday, he returned a punt return down the right sideline for a touchdown and earned a congrats from cornerback Aqib Talib.
  • Shane Ray was a force in the backfield with Von Miller absent Monday. He showed off his speed on several occasions, including beating first-team left tackle Ty Sambrailo for a sack.
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Other practice splashes

  • Deep ball Demaryius Thomas showed off Monday with his two long touchdowns from Lynch, along with a number of other catches from both quarterbacks. He’s looked fast and strong this offseason, possibly gearing up for a strong year.
  • Derby was impressive Monday as a consistent, pass-catching tight end for Lynch. The former quarterback is still learning the position, but may be the Broncos’ top pass-catching option at tight end in 2017.
  • Brandon Marshall, Lorenzo Doss and Brendan Langley all had good pass breakups.
  • Hunter Sharp has quietly been getting a lot of reps at punt returner (behind McKenzie) and kick returner. He was a futures signing in January.
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Likely NBA first-round pick John Collins had a remarkable jump last season at Wake Forest. Now he’s aiming even higher.

June 5, 2017 - 2:57pm

On the occasions that John Collins has visited family from his mother’s side in the U.S. Virgin Islands, it has always been easy to identify the region’s most beloved sports hero.

“As soon as you come out of the airport, there’s a flag of Tim Duncan,” Collins, a 6-foot-10 power forward out of Wake Forest, said after working out with the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on Monday. “They let you know immediately.”

Collins, voted the most improved player in the Atlantic Coast Conference as a sophomore this past season, isn’t exactly fielding comparisons to Duncan, the player he calls “the greatest power forward of all-time,” even if the two share a connection to the same islands, school and position. But Collins also has proved during his improbable basketball rise — from lightly recruited high school player to earning All-American honors as a sophomore and becoming a likely first-round draft pick — that he’s not about to set limits for himself.

“As you saw how he improved from his freshman to sophomore year at Wake, he pretty much did the same thing here,” said Jay Lower, the athletic director at Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, Fla., who was the dean of students when Collins attended the school. “As the years went by, he got better and better at what he was doing. He has a tremendous work ethic.”

Collins was a relative unknown following his freshman season at Wake Forest. He averaged 7.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 54.7 percent from the field. The Deacons went just 2-16 in the ACC during Collins’ freshman season, when he made a limited contribution. The losses stung. He knew he had to do more.

Collins chose Wake Forest largely to play for Danny Manning, the 1988 Naismith Award winner out of Kansas who has forged a reputation as a college coach for his ability to sculpt big men. So Collins listened as Manning challenged him during a summer that became a springboard for an impending NBA career. The 19-year old forward added muscle to his lengthy frame, took control of workouts and prepared himself to be a leader.

His transformation was nothing short of remarkable. He averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds this past season while shooting 62.2 percent from the floor. He had a streak of 12 consecutive 20-plus games. His player efficiency rating, a formula that evaluates players on a per-minute basis, adjusted for pace and other factors, was 35.9 — the highest mark in the country. His performance helped Wake Forest to an eight-win turnaround and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years.

“He’s a great player, athletic, has a shot,” said Caleb Swanigan, the Big Ten player of the year out of Purdue, who also worked out with the Nuggets on Monday. “You can see why people think (Collins is a first-round talent). He gets off the ground quick. He goes hard, and that’s the biggest thing. He has a motor at 6-10.”

Joe Robbins, Getty ImagesJohn Collins of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons drives to the basket against the Kansas State Wildcats in the second half during the First Four game in the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 14, 2017 in Dayton, Ohio. Related Articles

Though he never shot the ball from long range at Wake Forest, Collins has shown an ability to do so throughout the pre-draft process, including during Monday’s workout, that his range can extend to the 3-point line.

“It’s been a combination of different focuses, but that’s been one of them, obviously,” Collins said of showcasing his long-range shot. “I didn’t get a chance to shoot any threes at all in the offense we ran at Wake. I think I’ve always had the ability to shoot. Now it’s just about me coming out here and staying calm and showing my stroke.”

The Nuggets have the No. 13 pick in the June 22 draft. That spot would be on the high end of where Collins is projected. If he isn’t chosen that high, Denver could have its eye on Collins should it decide to trade back in the draft. Collins is determined, wherever he lands, to show he is still only scratching the surface of his potential.

“I think it’s always been that way from high school to college,” Collins said. “I wasn’t a very highly recruited guy out of high school. … It’s always a chip I’ve had on my shoulder. I’ve got to keep in there going to the next level and use it to show I belong in that conversation. That’s big for me.”

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Supreme Court limits government seizure of assets in drug conspiracy cases

June 5, 2017 - 2:47pm

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is placing new limits on the government’s ability to seize assets from people who are convicted of drug crimes but receive little of the illegal proceeds.

The unanimous ruling on Monday comes as the Justice Department has moved to impose harsher punishments for drug trafficking and related crimes, reversing Obama-era policies.

The case involved a Tennessee man convicted for his role selling iodine water purification filters to methamphetamine makers. Terry Honeycutt helped sell more than 20,000 filters at his brother’s hardware store and prosecutors said both brothers knew the iodine was used by local meth cooks.

Honeycutt’s brother pleaded guilty and forfeited $200,000 of the $270,000 in profits. The government tried to get the remaining $70,000 from Honeycutt, but he argued that he wasn’t responsible for it since he didn’t personally see any profits from the scheme.

A federal appeals court ruled against Honeycutt, agreeing with prosecutors that each brother bore the full responsibility for the entire amount.

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in her opinion for the high court that forfeiture laws are “limited to property the defendant himself actually acquired as the result of the crime.”

She cited as an example a case in which a marijuana farmer masterminds a scheme to sell pot on college campuses and recruits a college student to deliver the packages for $300 a month. In her example, the farmer might earn $3 million in a year, while the student earns $3,600. She said under the government’s theory, the student could face a forfeiture judgment for the entire conspiracy amount of $3 million.

“Congress did not authorize the government to confiscate substitute property from other defendants or coconspirators,” Sotomayor said. “It authorized the government to confiscate assets only from the defendant who initially acquired the property and who bears responsibility for its dissipation.”

The ruling is the latest effort by the high court to limit perceived overreaching by federal prosecutors, said John Marti, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“In short, federal criminal statutes and forfeiture statutes are not blank checks for prosecutors,” Marti said.

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Apple unveils ‘HomePod’ speaker, first new product in years

June 5, 2017 - 2:31pm

By Michael Liedtke and Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press

SAN JOSE, California — Apple nodded to several up-and-coming technology trends, unveiling a new “smart” home speaker and device features touching on virtual reality, online privacy and a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning.

The “HomePod” speaker unveiled Monday is similar to devices from rivals, some of which have been on the market for years. Like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, the HomePod will play music while also helping people to manage their lives and homes. Siri will be voice activated to respond to requests for information and other help around the house.

It is the first new device Apple has announced in almost three years. It unveiled the Apple Watch in September 2014.

Apple “can’t afford to yield valuable real-estate in the heart of people’s homes to Amazon, Google and others,” said Geoff Blaber, research analyst at CCS Insight. That’s especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more “pervasive” way that’s less dependent on smarthphones, he said.

The speaker will sell for about $350 in December in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Amazon sells the main version of the Echo for $180; Google’s Home speaker goes for $130.

The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released last year, were the first entrants in a promising market. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the U.S. are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year.


New iMacs unveiled Monday at Apple’s annual conference for software programmers are getting better displays and graphics capabilities. Apple said that makes the Mac a great platform for development virtual-reality “experiences.”

But Apple is late to the game on VR. Samsung and Google already have VR systems centered on their smartphones. Facebook, HTC and Sony have high-end VR systems, too.

Virtual reality has been described as the next big thing for decades. But so far, interest has been strongest among gamers, developers and hardware makers rather than everyday users.

Apple’s entry into the market could change this. Its entry into digital-music sales with iTunes, and into the smartphone market with the iPhone, upended those industries and gave them mass appeal.


New features coming to iPhones and iPads include messages that sync to Apple servers in the cloud. These devices will only keep the most recent messages in local storage.

For photos, Apple is turning to a “high efficiency” format to replace the widely used JPEG standard. Although the format is not exclusive to Apple, it’s not yet clear how well the photos will work with non-Apple software and devices, which mostly use JPEG.

Apple is also bringing the ability to send money to friends or other people through its payment service, Apple Pay. So far, the service has limited payments to purchases of products and services from companies and other organizations.

The free software update for mobile devices, iOS 11, is expected in September, when Apple typically releases new iPhones.


Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the latest operating system for Mac computers. Called High Sierra, it recognizes more faces automatically, which should make it easier to organize photos, and will offer more photo editing tools.

Safari, Apple’s web browser, seeks to make users’ online experience smoother and less annoying. It will allow users to automatically block auto-play videos by detecting videos that shouldn’t be playing when you open a webpage to read an article, for example.

The browser’s new “intelligent tracking prevention,” meanwhile, will use machine learning to identify and block digital-ad trackers in order to keep advertisers from following and profiling users. It will not block the ads themselves, though.


Apple is introducing an iPad Pro in a new size in an attempt to revive interest in its once hot-selling line of tablets. The new 10.5-inch model offers room for a full-size keyboard, something the 9.7 inch model couldn’t. Yet it isn’t as bulky as the 12.9-inch model.

With consumers less interested in buying new tablets, Apple has increased its focus on designing tablets for professionals to do much of the same work that they usually perform on a laptop computer. It’s also what Microsoft is targeting with the Surface Pro; a new model comes out on June 15.

The new iPad Pro also comes with a better camera — the same one found in the iPhone 7 — along with more storage, a better display and faster refreshing of moving images. The new model starts at $649 and will start shipping next week.


Apple is also updating the operating software for its Apple Watch, including new watch faces, more personalized alerts that use machine learning to tailor information to you based on your routines and tastes.

It also enhanced its workout app to, for instance, support high intensity interval training. It will also be possible to exchange data between gym equipment and the watch.

In a nod to Amazon streaming fans, Apple is also bringing Amazon Prime to its Apple TV app.

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America is a world leader in health inequality

June 5, 2017 - 2:27pm

By Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Washington Post

The divide between health outcomes for the richest and poorest Americans is among the largest in the world, according to a new study.

Of people in households making less than $22,500 a year, a full 38 percent reported being in poor or fair health in a survey taken between 2011 and 2013. That’s more than three times the rate of health troubles than faced by individuals in households making more than $47,700 a year, where only 12 percent of people reported being in poor to fair health, according to the findings published in Health Affairs.

While wealthy people around the world generally have better health outcomes than their fellow low-income citizens, the gap in the United States was among the world’s largest. In fact, of the 32 rich and middle-income countries studied, only Chile and Portugal had a wider gulf.

The timing of the study is important, as it was conducted just before many of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act’s major policies were enacted. A major facet of the Affordable Care Act was a redistribution of income, a tax on the richest Americans that helped pay to expand health coverage for the country’s poorest, and the authors said their study suggests that any reduction in coverage could be a step backward, in an area where America has been underperforming.

Now, the policies that expanded health coverage are on the chopping block. A recent Congressional Budget Office analysis found that the latest version of House Republicans’ proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured that current law by 2026. Senate Republicans are crafting their own health care bill.

“Anything, any changes that are made that threaten to undo gains in insurance that have occurred since the Affordable Care Act… would risk setting us back in an area where the U.S. is in sore need of improvements,” said Joachim Hero, who recently earned his doctorate in health policy at Harvard University and led the study.

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But he and his co-authors caution that there’s more to closing the health outcome gap than providing insurance. When the researchers tried to do more of an apples-to-apples comparison by adjusting for whether people had insurance or not when making the cross-country comparison, they found that the disparity was only slightly decreased.

“Insurance is part of the story, but not the whole story. If we really want to bring the U .S. more in line with other high-income countries with regard to health care disparities, we’re going to have to go beyond just achieving full insurance coverage,” Hero said.

Hero’s work found that the disparity between richer and poorer people was not just in their self-reported health: The U.S. also ranked near the top in the income-based disparity between people who went without needed care because they couldn’t afford it. The gap between the rich and poor skipping care because of cost was the greatest in the Philippines. But the U.S. was second on the list; one in every five people in the bottom third of income reported they skipped medical treatment due to cost. In the top third, only one in every 25 Americans did.

One of the most surprising things to the researchers was just how aware people in the U.S. were of the lack of access to health care in the country. Two-thirds of respondents in the U.S. said that there were “many” Americans who do not have access they need – considerably more than the country next on the list, Poland. At the same time, the U.S. was on the lower end of the rankings when it came to a question about whether it was “somewhat unfair” or “very unfair” that wealthier people can afford better health care, with only 54 percent of people saying it was not fair for rich people to get better health care.

“The combination of those two things raises this question: is there a lack of political will to address the issue of disparities in the U.S., relative to countries where we know they do a lot better on this issue?” Hero said.

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Broncos’ Jamaal Charles increases practice work with a lot to prove. “Why not think I’m going to be the man?”

June 5, 2017 - 2:16pm

Jamaal Charles, the player formerly known as Kansas City Chief No. 25, has goals — lofty goals — and despite missing most of the past two seasons because of injuries, and despite finding a new home amid a crowded running back room in Denver, he still has those goals.

Monday, on Day 7 of the Broncos’ organized team activities (OTAs), he checked a few minor ones off his list. As strength returns to his legs following multiple knee surgeries last year, Charles strapped on a Broncos helmet for the first time and ran through light drills with running backs coach Eric Studesville and the rest of the Broncos backs.

It was progress and any progress is good progress.

Jamaal Charles

— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) June 5, 2017

“He came here and his quad was really weak,” Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said. “He’s gotten stronger, he’s running hills, he was with Eric on a couple drills. So he’s getting closer, but his time frame won’t change. He’ll still be ready for training camp.”

Charles is no rush to go all-out. Not yet. Not before training camp and not at the risk of further injuring those legs the Broncos could pay up to $2.5 million to exploit.

“I feel good. I feel like I can do OTAs, but there’s no need to do OTAs,” Charles said. “It’s not like I’m about to go out there and play a game.”

But his role in Denver, as he sees it, is worth more than his one-year price tag.

“I want to come in and compete. Make everybody better, make the running backs better, turn (Devontae) Booker into a Pro Bowl running back when I leave here and turn C.J. (Anderson) into an all-pro,” Charles said. “I want to come here and bring the energy, the experience. I want to come here to show people what I can do. I don’t want to just show up and people are like, ‘Oh, Jamaal’s here.’ No, I want to show up and compete with my teammates and show them that I am good and I’m still at the top of my career.”

Charles, the league’s all-time leader among running backs in yards per carry at 5.5, is out to show he’s still that guy who ran for more than 1,000 yards in five seasons and topped 1,500 yards in 2012. He’s out to show he’s still that guy that tied Marshawn Lynch for the most rushing touchdowns (12) in 2013.

“It is important to me,” he said. “When I left Kansas City, I was still at the top. It was just the injury. You can’t really control injuries. You just wish for good luck.”

Since 2011, Charles has torn the ACL in both knees. Last November, he underwent two procedures, the first to trim meniscus in his right knee and the second to clean out his left knee, and over the last two seasons, he’s played only eight games. The Chiefs released him in late February and he sat on the open market for more than two months before the Broncos signed him in early May.

A month has passed since Charles swapped the red-and-white 25 for the orange-and-blue 28. But Charles insists he’s only looking forward.

“It’s a business,” he said. “I’m excited to be a Bronco. I’ve been wanting to be a Bronco since I was a kid, when I looked up to John Elway and saw how he carried his team with Terrell Davis at running back. That inspired me as a little kid.”

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His arrival, though, immediately raised questions about not only his role in Mike McCoy’s offense, but also the divvying of reps among Anderson, second-year back Booker and drafted rookie De’Angelo Henderson.

And until Charles returns to full strength and can show his true physical status, the questions may linger. But as he works his way back to the field, Charles said his M.O. hasn’t changed. He came here to compete and to make the Broncos better on the ground overall. He came here to mentor the younger players and push the veterans.

But he also came to get his.

“Why not think I’m going to be the man? You think I’m just going to come up here and (pauses)? No, that’s never been me in my whole life,” he said. “My whole life, I’m always going to feel like I’m going to be the man. That’s why I wanted to come here. If I’m not going to be the man, why am I here? I should be at home and sitting on the couch.”

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Summer 2017 reads: Books worthy of your time and worth an escape

June 5, 2017 - 2:06pm
Summer reading list illustration.

There are plenty of reasons to hide your nose in a book this summer — escape cable news, escape the kids when they aren’t at summer camp, escape to a vacation destination a long flight away. So our avid team of readers is offering up plenty of books worthy of your attention and worth the distraction. From a clever memoir to a Shakespeare reboot, from a utopian commune to a community of refugees, there’s something for everyone here. Grab one of these books and hide behind the pages — we won’t tell anyone where you went. — Jenn Fields

Fantagraphics, February 2017My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

My Favorite Thing is Monsters: Book One

By Emil Ferris

(Fantagraphics Books)

Emil Ferris’ own story is incredible — the Chicago-based illustrator had to teach herself to draw again after being paralyzed by the West Nile virus — but her debut graphic novel is even better. Presented as a sketchbook diary complete with blue notebook lines, our artist and confidante is Karen, a 10-year-old lover of pulp monster magazines growing up in Chicago in the late 1960s. When her upstairs neighbor, an enigmatic Holocaust survivor named Anka, is murdered, Karen takes on the case, sketching herself in the pages of her notebook as one part pint-size P.I., one part girl werewolf. It’s no easy mystery to solve, though, as Karen struggles not only to figure out what happened to Anka but also her own place in the world. It’s a powerful story, and Ferris’ astonishing illustrations, crosshatched and only selectively drawn in color, make it absolutely unforgettable. —  Emilie Rusch

The Dinner Party and Other Stories

By Joshua Ferris

(Little, Brown and Company)

Joshua Ferris strikes a nerve as he explores modern desperation and searching among his characters in the 11 short stories that make up “The Dinner Party”: an elderly widower whose birthday present is a prostitute and a blue pill; a childless couple stood up in an extreme way by dinner guests; a young woman whose struggles to find satisfaction in her marriage play out over planning a date with her husband. These stories aren’t of the feel-good variety. Ferris’ stories dwell on tragedy and drama — affairs, loneliness, aging, alcoholism — but he brings wit and grace to the dark corners of human nature and shines a light into the beautiful complexity of ordinary lives. —  Noelle Phillips

Riverhead Books, May 2017Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood


By Patricia Lockwood

(Random House)

She may have proudly worn the title before, but Patricia Lockwood is no longer just the poet laureate of Twitter. That’s because “Preistdaddy,” a memoir chronicling her return to the clutches of her childhood home and Catholic upbringing (her father is a priest), confirms a higher calling for the writer. Lockwood’s take on the world — one where Jorge Luis Borges references commune with the rites of furries — reads like a stupidly smart sitcom, complete with an incorrigibly dysfunctional family. Religion, parents, the internet — it’s all gleefully absurd until it’s not. Unshackled from a 140-character limit and troll vitriol, Lockwood weighs her former idols against her moral compass and scores the difference in consistently compelling prose. You’ll laugh, you’ll think, you’ll follow her on Twitter. — Dylan Owens

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

By Hannah Tinti

(The Dial Press)

Warning: You will fall in love with Samuel Hawley. In the tradition of great literary bad boys with soft hearts, Hawley fits right in: He’s a small-time hood who has killed a bad guy or three. He has a pretty big collection of weapons, a drinking problem, knows a lot of dangerous people, and scars from bullet wounds are all over his body. All he needs on the road to salvation is a little love, which Tinti provides via Hawley’s wife, Lily, and daughter, Loo. (The Halloween scene, in which his little girl, Loo, is an electric toothbrush and he is a tube of toothpaste, is especially lovely.) Tinti intersperses the chronological narrative with chapters that describe the number of times Hawley had been shot — a technique that could have been jarring, but instead builds the suspense and deepens our affection for the title character. This story of love, loss and redemption — as well as a coming-of-age tale for Loo — is one of those 3 a.m. bleary-eyed page-turners. Novelist Ann Patchett called it “one part Quentin Tarantino, one part Scheherazade.” Indeed. — Barbara Ellis

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 17, 2017Transit by Rachel Cusk


By Rachel Cusk

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

“Transit” is the second unconventional novel in the trilogy that Cusk started with 2014’s “Outline.” Pay close attention to catch the narrator’s name in both books — the people Faye encounters are much more adept at talking about themselves and sharing their inner emotional lives than she is. Faye’s story comes out little by little as a byproduct of her keen observations and perceptions, and her poignant questions for the those who cross her path as she moves into a new London flat (she’s recently divorced) and renovates it, or when she goes to a writers’ forum (she’s an author) or visits friends who have strange children (she has two boys). Everyone’s going somewhere in “Transit,” and though Faye knows who she is, she isn’t sure she’s in control of where she’s heading. The quiet intensity of that uncertainty creates a tension that’s existentially powerful and palpable, and it makes “Transit” — a tome that only has a wisp of plot — into a book that forces you to pick it up late at night and turn the page again and again. — JF

The Idiot

By Elif Batuman

(Penguin Press, 2017)

Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, starts her freshman year at Harvard, befriends a worldly Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and develops an email-based crush on a Hungarian in her Russian class, Ivan — and the mystery and comedy of growing up ensues. From her outlandish classes, teaching ESL and then spending the summer in Europe, Selin journeys into her own mind only sometimes likes what she discovers. She aspires to be a writer, so her internal monologue is pitch-perfect and witty. As Selin says to Svetlana, “I still think everyone experiences their own life as a narrative,” and lucky for the reader, Selin’s story is smart, self-effacing and full of charm. —  Alison Borden

Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition, February 7, 2017Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson

Perfect Little World

By Kevin Wilson

(HarperCollins Publishers)

In his new novel, Kevin Wilson’s kicks his exploration of family dynamics up a notch from his dark consideration of family as performance art in his debut, “The Family Fang.” This time, the family is constructed — a group of 19 adults and their newborns knit together in utopian community by Dr. Preston Grind, who is attempting to right the wrongs inflicted by his own experimental-psychologist parents. The novel spins around the evolving relationship between the brilliant but stunted Dr. Grind and Izzy Poole, the only single parent in the family, a teenager when she commits to raise her infant son in the commune funded for a decade by an idealistic billionaire. They are the warp to the weft of the other family members in this rich tapestry of relationships that bind in unexpected ways, and fray as the commune matures. The book takes on weighty subject matter — adultery, jealousy, aspiration, boredom — for sure. But Wilson’s deliciously breezy style reels you in and holds you tight. Like family. — Dana Coffield

New Boy

By Tracy Chevalier

(Hogarth Shakespeare)

Tracy Chevalier (“Girl with a Pearl Earring”) breaks “Othello,” Shakespeare’s classic play of jealousy and betrayal, free from iambic pentameter and moves the action from a military camp in Venice to an American school playground in the 1970s. The villain’s treachery and evil is, if anything, even more chilling when his motivation for wreaking havoc is just boredom rather than frustration and professional jealousy. The action plays out on the playground as the son of an African diplomat starts his first day at an all-white school. A teacher tasks school golden girl Dee with shepherding Osei, the new boy, and a romance quickly buds. It’s all too much for Ian, who quickly takes advantage of the casual racism of his fellow students and teachers to spur the familiar tragedy. —  Sara B. Hansen

“The Refugees”

The Refugees

By Viet Thanh Nguyen

(Grove Atlantic)

The ghosts of people lost in the Vietnam War inhabit the stories in “The Refugees,” a short story collection from the author of the Pulitzer-winning “The Sympathizer.” The phantoms are mostly figurative: A woman whose husband and son went missing back home in Vietnam long ago still sews uniforms for soldiers in a war that, in her mind, isn’t over. But when a young man lost at sea on the way to America comes to visit his mother and sister, it’s literal — his ghost leaves puddles on the floor. The missing are part of the dual lives these characters lead, and part of the feeling of separation, the realities of being an outsider in a new country. That struggle — and the humanity, and even humor found in the struggle — pervades this brilliant collection. — JF


By Min Jin Lee

(Grand Central Publishing)

Sunja is a teenager from a poor family in pre-World War II Korea who is seduced by a Japanese yakuza and becomes pregnant. A missionary who is staying at her mother’s boarding house offers to marry her and take her to Japan rather than have her bring shame to the family. In Japan, Sunja raises two sons and holds her family together, through poverty, war and tragedy. This sweeping tale of four generations of Koreans touches on enduring issues of displacement, regionalism, culture clashes and prejudice. It is fitting that pachinko — a pinball-like game of chance that had a reputation in Japan of being controlled by gangsters — proves to be the family’s salvation. While Min Jin Lee’s writing is unexceptional, the story is extraordinary: Ultimately, she gives us a tale of survival that should be familiar to immigrants everywhere who just want to accepted. — B.E.

The Dial Press, February 7, 2017My (Not So) Pefect Life, by Sophie Kinsella

My Not So Perfect Life

By Sophie Kinsella

(Penguin Random House)

Sophie Kinsella’s latest blends a little romance and a lot of comedy with workplace drama colored by social media-inspired envy. On Instagram, Katie Brenner has a perfect London life with a glamorous marketing job and interesting flat mates and friends. The reality is she’s stuck in a lowly administrative job and is forced to rent a tiny room and spend hours commuting to work. She’s jealous of her boss, Demeter, who seems to have it all — job success, big house, handsome husband and beautiful kids. When Katie gets laid off, she’s forced to return to her country roots and helps her dad and stepmom launch their new glamping business. Demeter and her family show up for a vacation, and Katie takes the opportunity to exact a little revenge and learns that Demeter’s life isn’t quite as picture-perfect as it seems. Since the book’s a romantic comedy, the pair ultimately work their way to happy endings. But the twists and turns along the way offer plenty of humor tinged with commentary on the unrealistic expectations social media can create. — SH

Chuck Klosterman X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century

By Chuck Klosterman

(Penguin Random House)

Here’s a bit of pop for your summer: a collection of essays and interviews from a prolific writer (and pontificator) on all things pop culture — everything you probably argued about with your college roommate (Is Eddie Van Halen the greatest rock guitar player of all time? Why doesn’t he listen to music?!?). Klosterman went into the weeds of the past 10 years of his work to compile (and comment on) this collection, and the result is a best-of, with classic interviews you appreciated the first time (Taylor Swift), essays you probably missed (on exactly why Charlie Brown is so beloved) and the story of perhaps the most amazing basketball game ever, which no one knows about. Read, enjoy, throw the book when the pontificator angers, then pick it up again and keep going because you have to. — JF

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Nearly 6 in 10 oppose Trump scrapping Paris agreement, poll says

June 5, 2017 - 1:44pm

Most Americans oppose President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, with a majority saying the move will damage the United States’ global leadership, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Opposition to Trump’s decision outpaces support for it by a roughly 2 to 1 margin, with 59 percent opposing the move and 28 percent in support. The reactions also break down sharply among partisan lines, though Republicans are not as united in support of the withdrawal as Democrats are in opposition of it. A 67 percent majority of Republicans support Trump’s action, but that drops to 22 percent among political independents and 8 percent of Democrats. Just over 6 in 10 independents and 8 in 10 Democrats oppose Trump’s action.

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The survey also finds broad skepticism toward Trump’s argument that leaving the Paris agreement will benefit the U.S. economy. While 32 percent of respondents say his action will help the nation’s economy, 42 percent think it will hurt and 20 percent say it will make no difference. On a separate question, slightly more people surveyed say that exiting the climate accord will cost jobs, such as those in renewable energy, than it will create jobs in the coal, oil and gas sectors.

Trump’s decision to exit the landmark Paris climate agreement – a pact signed by more than 190 countries around the world – faced widespread criticism last week from U.S. allies, major companies and mayors of numerous U.S. cities, all of whom underscored their commitment to what they called the necessary task of combating climate change. Trump argued that the nonbinding agreement imposed “draconian financial and economic burdens on our country,” and predicted it would cost millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to the U.S. economy – a stance critics quickly noted did not consider the health benefits from cutting emissions and the potential economic benefits of investments in clean energy.

On Sunday, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt said the Paris agreement was “a bad deal for this country” in an interview with NBC’s Meet The Press . “It’s clear that the demerits, the efficacy both in environmental outcomes as well as the cost to us from a jobs perspective was a bad deal for this country,” Pruitt said, arguing the U.S. has already accomplished a great deal in reducing its carbon footprint.

The Paris deal essentially represented a promise by countries to hold the planet’s warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to aspire to a 1.5 degree limit if possible, in an effort to stave off the worst effects of global warming. Under the deal, countries would set their own targets – and their own approaches – for reducing their emissions, with the aim of increasing the ambition of their targets over time. The United States, for instance, had agreed to cut greenhouse gases by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

“Some day we may see this as the moment when we decided to save our planet,” President Obama said last September, as he and Chinese President Xi Jinping formally joined the Paris climate accord, a move that compelled other countries to follow suit and led toward the landmark deal officially entering into force that fall. He added at the time, “History will judge today’s efforts as pivotal.”

With Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement, the United States is abandoning its role as a global leader in the fight against climate change, and instead joining only two other countries not participating in the accord: Syria, which is in mired in civil war, and Nicaragua, which refused to join because its leaders did not believe the Paris deal went far enough to combat global warming.

Beyond economic concerns, the Post-ABC poll finds 55 percent saying Trump’s decision will hurt U.S. leadership in the world, while 18 percent think it will help. Another 23 percent expect no impact. Even supporters of Trump’s action expressed mixed views on this question, with 48 percent saying Trump’s action will boost U.S. leadership, while 48 percent think it will make no difference or will harm the nation’s standing. Among those who oppose Trump’s decision, 77 percent say it will hurt American leadership.

Republicans are largely optimistic about the economic benefits of leaving the climate agreement, with more than three-quarters saying Trump’s decision will help the economy, and 73 percent saying it will create more jobs like those in traditional energy than cost jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Independents are much more pessimistic on these questions, with just over one-quarter (26 percent) saying that leaving the agreement will help the economy and 33 percent saying it will create more jobs than it costs. As expected, Democrats are even more critical, with clear majorities saying the agreement will cost jobs and hurt the economy.

More Americans expect leaving the agreement will have negative than positive consequences for international efforts to combat climate change and U.S. leadership more broadly.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted Friday to Sunday among a random national sample of 527 adults, including users of cellular and landline phones. The margin of sampling error for overall results is plus or minus five percentage points.

Emily Guskin contributed to this report.

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Broncos S Will Parks addresses domestic violence charges, Snapchat incident; Von Miller absent from OTAs

June 5, 2017 - 1:41pm

There’s little football coaches hate more than distractions. Broncos second-year safety Will Parks found himself on the wrong end of headlines multiple times in an admittedly rough last week.

Monday, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph and Parks addressed the two separate incidents and its fallout in hopes of putting it behind them.

News came out last week that Parks was charged with two misdemeanor non-violent domestic violence charges involving his ex-girlfriend in late May. It was just days after Parks was criticized for posting a Snapchat video which showed two wildly off-target throws by quarterback Paxton Lynch.

“I was just showing my progress. That had nothing to do with Paxton or anybody on the field,” Parks said on the podium after practice Monday. “It was a mistake, but at the same time it wasn’t any (bad) intentions toward anybody.”

Will Parks said posting the videos of practice on Snapchat was a mistake but no harm intended.

— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) June 5, 2017

Inside the Broncos’ locker room, the Parks Snapchat incident has been handled. Veteran defensive end Derek Wolfe called the outrage over this incident “fake news.” Parks said he and Lynch have laughed about the videos. Joseph said Parks was not punished for the Snapchat video.

“It was addressed with our team. We can’t do it. Social media is tough,” Joseph said. “What Parks did was innocent enough. He was trying to showcase how hard he’s working. But he can’t do it, because what we do here, it’s personal and private. But his intent was not to hurt us or a teammate. So in my opinion those were two separate issues.”

While the Snapchat slip-up is more of a team matter, the domestic violence charges is a more serious legal matter. Parks and Joseph deferred to the ongoing legal and NFL investigations regarding the latter.

“The facts will come out,” Parks said.

Joseph added: “It’s a league matter, so whatever happens, it comes from the league.”

Parks has remained in the Broncos’ second-team defense rotation throughout organized team activities and even got some reps in the first-team defense subpackages Monday.

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Von-less day. If there were less on-field dance moves at Dove Valley on Monday, it’s because Broncos star outside linebacker Von Miller wasn’t there.

Joseph said Miller was “out west on personal matters.” Miller was seen sitting courtside at Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Oakland on Sunday night.

“It’s a voluntary workout,” Joseph said. “I didn’t take roll, but Von told me Friday he wasn’t going to be here today. So I like that part.”

Outside linebacker Kasim Edebali took Miller’s first-team reps Monday. Joseph said he “absolutely” expects Miller to return for Tuesday’s practice. Receiver Demaryius Thomas also missed an OTA practice last week with a personal matter, but the Broncos’ overall attendance has been good for voluntary workouts.

Footnotes. Broncos waived undrafted rookie offensive tackle Erik Austell Monday. Denver’s roster sits at 89 players.

Categories: All Denver News.

Two men committed the same crimes. One was just pardoned by the governor, while the other sits in prison and asks “Can I not redeem myself?”

June 5, 2017 - 1:35pm

Michael Clifton understands that he’s a secondary character in another man’s redemption narrative — the improbable story of Rene Lima-Marin, whose mistaken early release from prison led to rehabilitation, re-incarceration and now possibly freedom, if he can resolve some thorny immigration issues.

But while Lima-Marin attracted support from social justice advocates to legislators to the governor, Clifton — his co-defendant in two 1998 video store robberies — has continued to serve a 98-year sentence that many, including the trial judge, found disturbing.

Now, after watching his childhood friend prevail in the state courts and receive an official pardon, Clifton wishes him nothing but the best. He also hopes all the attention might shine a light on his own circumstances.

“I’m not asking to be immediately released,” Clifton said by phone from the Sterling Correctional Facility. “But I’m asking: Shouldn’t we address the excessive sentence for me? Am I not deserving? Can I not redeem myself?”

Photo courtesy of Colorado Department of CorrectionsMichael H. Clifton in a 2013 photo taken at the Sterling Correctional Facility.

Clifton, 38, said that while the system imposed the same consequences on them — both received 98 years — their circumstances were markedly different from the day they entered the prison system. The error on Lima-Marin’s sentencing paperwork, which showed him serving only 16 years, offered hope and opportunity for release.

Clifton faced a virtual life sentence.

Lima-Marin served his time as a model prisoner. Clifton was cited for disciplinary violations — mostly contraband and behavioral issues but also a 2004 incident in which he stabbed another inmate.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, asked about clemency for Clifton at his news conference last month announcing the pardon for Lima-Marin, dismissed the possibility, citing the inmate’s stabbing incident.

“That’s not rehabilitating your life in the way that we’re talking,” the governor said.

Clifton counters that the stabbing occurred many years ago, and came in response to being jumped by two inmates in a prison environment — the Limon Correctional Facility — that was harsher than what Lima-Marin experienced. He claims media accounts have unfairly focused on that single incident and the fact that Lima-Marin distanced himself from his former friend as he sought to change his life.

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“It seemed like the narrative came to pit my co-defendant against me, to put him in a shining light and put me in the position that I was this bad person undeserving of a second chance,” Clifton said. “It seemed like I’m only brought up to say how he severed ties with me or how I had trouble in prison.

“I’d like to have a perfect prison record,” he added, “but circumstances didn’t allow it. Maybe I wasn’t mature enough, or had to go through my own journey. But to hold that against me, that I shouldn’t get any relief because of my prison record, is hard for me to accept.”

Clifton said he has exhausted his appeals but wants to seek a review of his sentence or, if that doesn’t happen, file a clemency petition “to see if the governor or clemency board has a change of heart.”

Although circumstances didn’t allow Clifton an opportunity to prove himself as Lima-Marin did, he said that like his co-defendant, he also has two children. Clifton’s son and daughter are now in their early 20s.

Clifton’s family shares his feeling that his sentence was excessive.

“Michael has done 19 years and counting,” said Earnestine Clifton, Michael’s mother, from her home in Louisiana. “He never had the opportunity to get out and prove himself the way Rene did. I hope he gets an opportunity to make his case, for people to listen to him and understand they were young and made some stupid choices back then.”

  • Photo courtesy of Colorado Department of Corrections

    Michael Clifton is seen in this May 15, 2000 photo.

  • Photo courtesy of Colorado Department of Corrections

    Michael Clifton is seen in this April 14, 2005 photo.

  • Photo courtesy of Colorado Department of Corrections

    Michael Clifton is seen in this Jan. 13, 2014 photo.

  • Photo courtesy of Colorado Department of Corrections

    Michael Clifton is seen in this Feb. 1, 2016 photo.

  • Photo courtesy of Colorado Department of Corrections

    Michael Clifton is seen in this Jan. 20, 2017 photo.

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Karen Harris, Clifton’s sister, said that she’s happy Lima-Marin has been given a reprieve from an unjust sentence and prays for him and his family as they navigate the immigration issues.

“But I just want to see justice done for my brother,” she added. “We need to make some noise and get people involved. It’s not fair to keep him locked up. I’m happy for Lima-Marin, but I want to talk about Michael Clifton at this point.”

Clifton developed a close friendship with Lima-Marin from the time they met in a Montbello middle school. Later, after they got into trouble as juveniles, Clifton was sent away to a Pennsylvania facility, where he earned his GED. But shortly after his return to Colorado the two reconnected and launched their ill-fated plan to rob the Aurora video stores.

Though no one was injured, prosecutors filed a litany of charges that resulted in 98-year sentences for both men. Here, their stories diverge: A mistake on Lima-Marin’s paperwork, which had his sentences running concurrently instead of consecutively, dropped his time to 16 years.

He underwent a spiritual rebirth and, after his parole in 2008, married his longtime girlfriend, started a family and became a productive member of his community. But when authorities discovered the mistake in 2014, he was sent back to prison.

Photo courtesy of Colorado Department of CorrectionsMichael H. Clifton

Last month, an Arapahoe County District Court judge granted a writ of habeas corpus and ordered him released. When immigration authorities immediately stepped in to deport Lima-Marin, who arrived in the U.S. from Cuba when he was 2, Hickenlooper quickly granted him a pardon to dissolve his felony convictions in hope of resolving his immigration issues and reuniting him with his family.

Lima-Marin remains in the custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities while an immigration lawyer pursues his case.

Clifton hopes Lima-Marin does not get deported.

“I would be sad to hear that,” he said. “He’s a father now, he’s got young kids, and his family could be left with having a long distance relationship or move to Cuba. That would be a devastating situation. I pray for him and hope that everything works out for him.”

Clifton said he takes full responsibility for his crimes and the “psychological trauma and fear I placed the victims in.” But the unfairness of his sentence, he added, is compounded by the circumstances that have put his co-defendant in a position to regain his freedom.

“What I want the public to know is I sit here a humble man,” he said. “I recognize what I did was wrong. What I’d like them to understand is I deserve a second chance just like he did. He was given his by a clerical error. And I didn’t have a clerical error.”

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Denver City Council decries “drastic cuts in safety net programs” under Trump budget proposal

June 5, 2017 - 1:33pm

The Denver City Council on Monday night plans to add its voice to the chorus of voices calling for Congress to reject President Donald Trump’s budget proposal.

Several council members have thrown their support behind a proclamation that says Trump’s $4.1 trillion budget plan will pose “substantial challenges for vulnerable Denverites and for the city’s overall economy and quality of life.” That’s if the plan is adopted by Congress — a big if, given D.C. politics.

Trump has recommended steep cuts to programs including Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, food stamps and Social Security disability benefits — all programs that benefit thousands of Denver residents, the council’s proclamation notes. The proclamation also references a 31 percent proposed cut to the Environmental Protection Agency and a 69 percent cut to the federal government’s clean energy research office, which oversees the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden.

“The President also proposes to cut major job training grants by 40 percent, even though many workers need to upgrade their skills to succeed in today’s rapidly changing economy; to eliminate housing vouchers for more than 250,000 lower-income households and end the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps poor households pay their heating bills,” the council’s proclamation says.

The proclamation calls for Colorado’s congressional delegation to help work out a “more appropriate and less onerous” spending plan that supports vulnerable populations. It says copies will be sent to the state’s U.S. House members and to Sens. Cory Gardner, a Republican, and Michael Bennet, a Democrat.

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The delegation has reacted in varying ways to elements of Trump’s budget proposal, from blasting the cuts to echoing the president’s call for fiscal responsibility in hopes of closing the federal deficit. Gardner has questioned the wisdom of the cuts that might affect the Golden energy lab.

More widely, some Republicans in Congress have suggested that Trump’s budget proposal is in for serious changes or is even “dead on arrival,” in the words of Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.

Last month, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said in a statement that Trump’s spending proposal was akin to “Robin Hood in reverse — stealing from the poor (and the middle class) to give to the rich.”

The Trump administration has defended the proposed cuts, including those to safety net programs.

“We need people to go to work,” White House Budget director Mick Mulvaney said last month. “If you are on food stamps, we need you to go to work. If you are on disability and you should not be, we need you to go back to work.”

Denver’s 13-member council is set to vote on the proclamation early in its 5:30 p.m. meeting. So far, the listed sponsors are Debbie Ortega, Paul López, Paul Kashmann, Kendra Black and Rafael Espinoza.

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Theater company cancels Aspen’s Shakespeare in the Park series

June 5, 2017 - 1:28pm

The Hudson Reed Ensemble has canceled its Shakespeare in the Park production of “Macbeth,” which had been set for free August performances in Galena Plaza in Aspen and Lions Park in Basalt.

Founder and director Kent Reed cited a combination of factors for scuttling the production, including losing its rehearsal space in the city-owned Rio Grande Room and a failed sound system.

Aspen TimesThe Hudson Reed Ensemble has canceled its 2017 Shakespeare in the Park production of “Macbeth.” Pictured here is a scene from the company’s 2016 run of “As You Like It.”

The popular annual outdoor Shakespeare series celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016 with a production of “As You Like It.” After that run concluded, city officials told Reed that his theater company would no longer have access to the Rio Grande Room, as the city planned to move its parking department into the public meeting space in a shuffle of government offices. The city had donated the space to Hudson Reed over the past 10 years, waiving most of its rental fee.

Reed worked with the city to find a replacement rehearsal space, he said, including public and commercial buildings, but could not find one within Hudson Reed’s modest budget.

The company planned to move forward with its “Macbeth” production, which it announced this spring, with rehearsals in a cast member’s home. But additional issues cropped up in recent months: Three actors and a stage manager left the show for personal reasons and the sound system Hudson Reed had previously used was unavailable for the summer run.

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Colorado film office made payments to companies ineligible for incentives, audit shows

June 5, 2017 - 1:04pm

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration is facing criticism after an audit determined the state made cash payments to film production companies that didn’t qualify for Colorado’s taxpayer-funded incentives.

The report presented Monday to state lawmakers looked at nine projects totaling $1.9 million — a small sample of the 31 productions that received $10.6 million in incentives since the establishment of the film office in 2012.

None of the nine projects met all the requirements for proper documentation — including $1.3 million in incentives that were paid without first executing a contract, as required by law.

Stephanie Copeland, the executive director at the Office for Economic Development and International Trade, which oversees the film incentives program, told lawmakers that stricter enforcement procedures began in April and new policies are expected to take effect this year. And she emphasized the audit did not find cases of fraud.

Still, the report inflamed tensions about the program and the administration’s response did little to satisfy Republican critics who targeted the program for major budget cuts earlier this year.

A longtime critic of the program, state Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, used the report to suggest that the film office’s leadership needed to be disciplined — if not fired.

“All those people are still there working and doing the same thing, and so I guess I’m trying to understand why we think there would be any change of culture,” said Neville, a member of the audit committee.

Under the program, the state offers a 20 percent cash rebate on local expenditures from film production companies that meet minimum local workforce and spending thresholds.

Hickenlooper’s administration argues it is necessary to help lure movie and television productions to the state. Since the program took effect, the state has offered incentives for six commercials, four documentaries, seven feature films, 13 television shows and one video game.

But the auditors found the film office did not have uniform criteria to decide which projects maximize economic development and job creation, and instead used “undocumented conversations with interested companies.”

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The issue became an ideological flashpoint in this year’s budget debate after Republicans in the GOP-led Senate questioned the benefit of the spending and sought to eliminate the $3 million annual earmark for incentives — which would have left the office with only $500,000 in operating expenses from state gaming revenues. The final budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 restored $750,000 for incentives and maintained the gaming money.

Donald Zuckerman, the state’s film commissioner, suggested the main findings of the audit involve two major projects, the seventh “Fast and Furious” movie and a Discovery Channel production, both of which received consent from the state’s controller.

“I feel like we had issues, we made mistakes,” he said in an interview. “But ultimately the work was done here, Colorado did benefit, local people were hired, money was spent.”

Zuckerman defended the value of the program moving forward. “It was a learning curve,” he said. “We have learned, and we will not make these mistakes in the future.”

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