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NFL Week 12 Preview: A peek at the AFC wild-card picture reveals an ugly scene

November 22, 2017 - 12:25pm

Does anybody want to make the playoffs in the AFC? The Titans and Bills, two of just three teams in the wild-card picture with a record of .500 or better, threw a combined nine interceptions in losing efforts last week. Six different teams enter Week 12 with records of 4-6, leaving the door open for just about every team in the conference to make a move. In this war of attrition, will anybody begin a hot streak this week? (All games Sunday unless otherwise noted.)

Game of the Week: Saints (8-2) at Rams (7-3), 2:25 p.m. New Orleans moved its winning streak to eight games after rallying from 15 points down in the fourth quarter to stun the Redskins in overtime last week. The Rams are hoping to rebound after a disheartening road loss against the Vikings.

Vikings (8-2) at Lions (6-4), 10:30 a.m., Thursday. Detroit has won three straight games to get back into the NFC North picture and can move within a game of Minnesota’s lead with a Thanksgiving victory. The Vikings have won six straight games since losing to Detroit at home Oct. 1.

Chargers (4-6) at Cowboys (5-5), 2:30 p.m., Thursday. Dallas QB Dak Prescott threw a career-high three interceptions in a loss to Philadelphia last week and now faces a Los Angeles defense that intercepted Buffalo QB Nathan Peterman five times last week and is tied for fourth in the NFL with 12 interceptions overall.

Giants (2-8) at Redskins (4-6), 6:30 p.m., Thursday. Washington QB Kirk Cousins needs just 204 passing yards to eclipse 3,000 yards for the season. He’s thrown for at least 300 yards in four of his last six games.

Buccaneers (4-6) at Falcons (6-4), 11 a.m. Is Atlanta’s Super Bowl hangover finally wearing off? The Falcons have responded to a three-game losing streak early in the season by winning three of their last four games, and they have a chance to move within a game of the NFC South lead.

Browns (0-10) at Bengals (4-6), 11 a.m. In an AFC wild-card picture that is crowded with losing teams, Cincinnati kept its playoff hopes alive with a road win over Denver last week. The Bengals have already beat the Browns once this season, a 31-7 victory in Cleveland.

Titans (6-4) at Colts (3-7), 11 a.m. QB Marcus Mariota had one of the worst games of his young career last week, throwing four interceptions in a primetime loss to the Steelers. He’ll need to rebound to keep Tennessee hot on Jacksonville’s tail in the AFC South race.

Bills (5-5) at Chiefs (6-4), 11 a.m. The Chiefs are just 1-4 following their 5-0 start, the lone victory in that stretch coming at home against the Broncos. The Bills are returning to Tyrod Taylor at quarterback following last week’s disastrous outing by Peterman.

Dolphins (4-6) at Patriots (8-2), 11 a.m. This is a matchup of AFC East teams speeding in opposite directions. Miami has lost four straight games. New England has won six in a row. The Dolphins haven’t notched a road win over the Patriots since 2008.

Panthers (7-3) at Jets (4-6), 11 a.m. The Panthers have won three straight games and are coming off a bye. They could potentially move into a tie for first place in the NFC South, and they could be aided by the return of tight end Greg Olsen, who has been out since he broke his foot in Week 2.

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Bears (3-7) at Eagles (9-1), 11 a.m. Chicago RB Jordan Howard is third in the NFL with 841 yards per game, but he is facing a Philadelphia defense that leads the league by allowing only 71 rushing yards per contest. The Eagles are 5-0 at home this season and are averaging 35.8 points in those games.

Seahawks (6-4) at 49ers (1-9), 2:05 p.m. San Francisco got to carry its first win of the season into its bye week. Now it hosts a banged-up Seahawks team that lost its chance to move into a tie for the NFC West lead after narrowly falling to the Falcons on Monday night.

Jaguars (7-3) at Cardinals (4-6), 2:25 p.m. Jacksonville DE Calais Campbell will make his return to Arizona, where he played for nine seasons, as the NFL’s co-leader in sacks with 11½ this season. The Jaguars have forced a league-high 23 turnovers.

Packers (5-5) at Steelers (8-2), 6:30 p.m. Since throwing five interceptions in a loss to Jacksonville on Oct. 8, Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger has completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 1,328 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions in five games — all victories for the Steelers.

Texans (4-6) at Ravens (5-5), 6:30 p.m., Monday. Baltimore’s defense has already posted three shutouts this season, including a 23-0 victory over Green Bay last week. Houston is 1-2 since rookie QB Deshaun Watson was lost for the season with a knee injury.

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15-year-old from Lakewood charged with 1st degree murder, DA wants to try him as an adult

November 22, 2017 - 12:19pm

Boulder County prosecutors this morning charged a 15-year-old in juvenile court with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Longmont resident Makayla Grote, then requested the case be moved to district court.

There, the teen — Aiden von Grabow, of Lakewood — would be tried as an adult in the fatal stabbing of 19-year-old Grote on Saturday evening at her Longmont apartment.

Facebook via Longmont Times-CallMakayla Grote

A separate transfer hearing was scheduled for March 5 to 7, at which time a judge will consider the motion to move the juvenile case to district court. Because the boy is under the age of 16, the district attorney cannot directly file adult charges.

Von Grabow was charged with 11 counts, including first-degree murder, and three counts of attempted murder.

The Times-Call and Daily Camera do not typically identify juvenile defendants in criminal cases, but have chosen to do so in this case because of the severity of the allegations and the district attorney’s decision to pursue adult charges.

Should the judge grant the motion to transfer the case, it would be the fifth time since 1998 that the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office has prosecuted a juvenile as an adult in a first-degree murder case — and the first time for District Attorney Stan Garnett, who took office in 2009.

To read more of this story go to

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Black Friday TV deals look great, but they might not give you all the features you want

November 22, 2017 - 11:44am

By Jonathan Takiff. The Philadelphia Inquirer

For would-be television buyers, the most wonderful weekend of the year is almost here, thanks to special deals available from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.

Top-tier makers — Samsung, Sony, and LG — will offer rock-bottom pricing on really big screens in leftover and less costly models built in mass quantities for Black Friday consumption. These “offer a substantial value but lack some of the features of today’s top-end sets,” said Greg Tarr, a TV product reviewer for One ripe example is the 60-inch Sony KD60X690E, marked down temporarily to $600 from an “everyday” price of $999.99.

Second-tier brands — TCL, Sharp, Element, Insignia, and Polaroid — will mark Thanksgiving and Black Friday with even lower prices. Think $89.99 for a 32-inch Polaroid High Definition TV at Target, and a Sharp 50-inch 4K TV for $180 at Best Buy. The latter, in the estimation of CNET TV tester David Katzmaier, “is perhaps the best deal of 2017 Black Friday so far.”

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Maneuvering through mounds of merchandise should not be done impulsively, pouncing on price alone, however.

The bigger, the better. First, measure your space and compare it to a desirable TV’s posted dimensions. As the picture frame (bezel) of current sets has been greatly reduced, it’s often possible to fit a 60- or even 65-inch TV into a location formerly occupied by a flat-screen 50. And though not an issue if you’re going to wall-mount it, the positioning of the television’s “feet” is critical when it’s being plopped on a piece of furniture. With a heavier, center-mounted base — as is found on many Sony, Samsung, and LG TVs — the edges of the screen can “float” over the sides of a tabletop.

Also take note of inputs and apps. Some Black Friday specials have only two HDMI connectors. Three or four is better. And leftover “smart sets” often lack on-board access to Amazon Prime Video.

Ultra-high-def and HDR. “Unless you’re buying a screen that’s 70 inches or bigger, you won’t really appreciate the improved resolution offered in a 4K ultra-high-definition TV unless you sit right on top of it,” Tarr said.

What can be noticed from a distance, Tarr said, is the added brightness and wider color range of a 4K set that offers true HDR (high dynamic range). “Less costly 4K sets — the majority of what’s being promoted for Black Friday — don’t have sufficient light output [measured in ‘nits’] and a wider color gamut to show the spectral improvements in 4K content encoded with HDR.” Enhancements you could pull from 4K Netflix and Amazon Prime originals and Ultra-High Definition Blu-ray discs.

The above-mentioned Sony 60-incher doesn’t claim to deliver HDR. Nor is there an HDR mode in otherwise fine leftovers such as the 55-inch 4K Samsung UN55MU6290 offered by Kohl’s for $500 (with an instant return of $150 in Kohl’s cash) or the 65-inch 4K Samsung UN65KU6290 Best Buy will have for $750 (spotted on Amazon for $1,047.90). The 65-inch LG 65UJ6300 online door-buster Dell will offer at 11 a.m.Nov. 23 for $800 with a bonus $150 Dell gift card boasts “Active HDR.”

Tarr translated: “Accepts HDR signals and posts an on-screen HDR bug but can’t do the full-range enhancements.”

How about deals on sets with full-blown HDR? We found a few, such as the Samsung 65-inch UN65MU7000 that will pop up at $990, a Vizio 80-inch 4K home theater display (lacks a broadcast tuner) slashed to $2,499 at Costco, and much-praised LG OLED B7A models price-cut for the weekend in 55-inch ($1,499) and 65-inch ($2,299) forms.

Consumer Reports said BJ’s Wholesale Club will offer deals on top-shelf Samsung QLED models that Tarr noted are “uniquely optimized for best viewing in rooms with some ambient light. Most high-end sets look their best in a darkened room.”

Smarts count. How has China’s TCL gone from “Who?” to second place in U.S. market share? (Samsung has a formidable lead.) Extra-sharp pricing and good performance are key. So is inclusion of the Roku smart TV operating system — “the best of the bunch,” in Katzmaier’s estimation. A cable-cutter’s dream, Roku’s screen guide lets viewers tune almost every imaginable internet streaming service (including the cable alternative Sling TV) and over-the-air TV channels (requiring an antenna connection). The Roku OS is likewise an equalizer for Chinese makers selling sets here under the licensed Sharp and RCA brands.

“Also really good,” Tarr said, “is the Android TV OS in Sonys, the Tizen OS in Samsung sets, and the webOS in LG TVs.”

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Man dies of injuries suffered in gas pipeline fire east of Greeley; two other workers still being treated

November 22, 2017 - 11:36am

A 61-year-old Greeley man has died of injuries suffered in a work-related accident last week when a gas pipeline burst into flames east of Galeton, authorities say.

George Cottingham died late Tuesday night at North Colorado Medical Center, said Jennifer Finch, spokeswoman for the Weld County coroner’s office. Cottingham was one of three workers burned in the fire.

Two other men who were injured in the flash fire are still recuperating. One man remains in critical condition, but he is responding to treatment, Briggsdale Fire Protection District chief James Dilka said. The names of the two men have not been released.

Cottingham had been treated in the hospital’s burn center, Finch wrote in a news release.

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The final manner and cause of Cottingham’s death await autopsy and laboratory results, she said.

The origin of the fire remains under investigation by several agencies. Investigators said the men, all employees of Northern Plains Trucking, were working on a gas buildup in a natural gas line owned by DCP Midstream at a well site owned by PDC Energy Inc.

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Denver’s median home value jumped $22,000 this year as number of for-sale homes plummeted

November 22, 2017 - 11:23am

The average Denver home is worth $22,000 more today than it was a year ago, nearly twice the $12,500 the typical American home gained in value over the same period, market analysts say.

But don’t let the raw numbers fool you. Home values aren’t rising at a mile above sea level any faster than the national average as the country stares down the barrel of a severe lack of homes to buy. Denver’s rate of increase was 6.3 percent compared to the national figure of 6.5 percent, due to Denver’s high median home value, according to the latest market report from real estate information firm Zillow.

Denver’s median value reached $372,800 at the end of October, up from $350,8000 at the end of October 2016.  Median values across the U.S. rose $12,500 over the same 12-month period, hitting $203,400 at the end of October, up from $190,900 a year ago.

One area in which Denver is crushing the national average is the decrease in number of homes available for sale, which may be good news for sellers but is not positive for the overall market. Denver’s for-sale inventory fell 23.3 percent October to October, Zillow says. That is more than the twice the national decrease of 11.7 percent.

There are some markets where the drop in the number of for-sale homes was even more dramatic over that period, particularly in the western part of the country. San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle and Las Vegas all saw their inventories fall by 23. 6 percent or more since last October, the market report says. In tech-mecca San Jose, Calif., inventory fell a whopping 60.4 percent. Median home values there saw a corresponding spike of 12.3 percent, an average $118,200 increase, according to Zillow.

Zillow’s home base of Seattle — also home to every economic development directors’ darling, Amazon — wasn’t far behind techie San Jose when it came to value accrued. Homes there are worth 11.7 percent more today than they were last October, or $48,100 on average, for a median value of $457,700.

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Zillow pins the numbers on simple supply and demand. There is too little of the first to keep up with a ton of the latter in a country with unemployment rates under 5 percent.

“We are in the midst of an inventory crisis that shows no signs of waning, impacting potential buyers all across the country,” Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell said in a news release. “Home values are growing at a historically fast pace, and those potential buyers want to get in the market while they still can. But with homes gaining so much value in just one year, buyers – especially first-time buyers – have to set aside more and more money for a down payment just to keep up with them.”

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Where to shop local in Adams County for Small Business Saturday

November 22, 2017 - 11:23am

You’ve heard of Black Friday, but what about Small Business Saturday? Just 24 hours after the great consumer holiday comes another day dedicated to shopping — with a focus on supporting your neighbors. Shopping in your community doesn’t just increase your chance of nabbing a distinct gift, it greatly boosts the local economy. For every $100 spent at local businesses, some studies show about $48 recirculates locally, as opposed to less than $14 if purchases are made at chain stores. And Colorado small businesses employ nearly half of all the state’s workers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Here are some Small Business Saturday markets and events to give you a taste of what local Adams County shops have to offer.

Small Business Saturday at Mile High Flea Market
Address: 7007 E. 88th Ave., Henderson
Time: 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
Contact: 303-289-4656,
The Scoop: The Mile High Flea Market is a “must stop” for scoping out local goods and services. If you haven’t visited the sprawling 80-acre open-air market, the deals offered through Black Friday and Small Business Saturday weekend are the ideal reason to make your first trip. There are also a dozen carnival-style rides and several eateries to round out your time.

Small Business Saturday at Maki Birch
Address: 121 N. Main St., Brighton
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Contact: 303-828-8442,
The Scoop: Brighton’s Main Street has dozens of local businesses to visit on Small Business Saturday. Some have been here for decades. One shop offering a special deal for the holiday is Maki Birch, a retailer of furniture, women’s clothing and distinct towels, mugs and canvas prints. The shop will be offering hundreds of clothing items for less than $15 on Nov. 25.

Small Business Saturday Craft Fair at Bennett Community Market
Address: 455 S. 1st St., Bennett
Time: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Contact: 303-502-6946
The Scoop: Turn your Small Business Saturday into a small town road trip. The Bennett Community Market sells harvest and craft items from I-70 corridor ranchers, farmers and artisans. The market hosts an annual gift and craft market for Small Business Saturday, so you can get ahead on your holiday shopping while enjoying a day away from the city.

Small Business Saturday Kick-Off in Olde Town Square
Address: 57th Avenue and Olde Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada
Time: 10 a.m.-noon
The Scoop: There are plenty of incentives to kick off your Small Business Saturday shopping spree at Arvada’s Olde Town Square. The first 100 people to arrive at 10 a.m. will score a free breakfast from School House Kitchen and Libations, and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop will serve a free lunch for the first 100 folks who arrive after 11:30 a.m. Also look out for free coffee, chances to win prizes and special deals at local businesses.

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This holiday season, mom-and-pop shops threaten the mall

November 22, 2017 - 11:19am

More bad news for America’s shopping malls: Consumers are shopping closer to home. And increasingly, home is not where the malls are.

Spending growth at mom-and-pop businesses has outpaced that of the big chains in the past two years, according to Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president at credit-card giant Mastercard Inc., which tracks purchasing patterns. When they’re not shopping online, Americans are seeking more personal connections and advice — something they can find lacking at national retailers.

“The consumer is shopping small,” she said.

Big chain stores still account for the majority of shoppers’ purchases, according to Mastercard. But many of the most affluent consumers are now clustered in walkable neighborhoods, letting them skip the mall in favor of neighborhood hardware stores, bookshops and grocers. And they’re willing to pay the higher prices, Quinlan said.

That doesn’t mean malls are going away. The A-rated shopping centers — the industry’s cream of the crop — are still doing fine. But the other roughly two-thirds of malls are struggling to cope with shifting spending patterns, an aging population and the rise of Inc. The uncertainty has even led tenants to push for significantly shorter leases, sometimes of only a year or two.

Independent retailers and small chains have been able to step into the void. Many of them are thriving in categories like hardware, furniture and crafts.

Holiday markets have capitalized on the trend, letting small businesses offer their wares in bustling pop-up shopping districts. Keoni DeFranco, who was shopping at a holiday market in Manhattan’s Union Square on Thursday, said he tries to support local stores when possible.

“I’ve become more conscious about what I’m purchasing and eating,” said the 29-year-old software executive. “I do a lot of browsing online, but I do enjoy going into stores and looking at what I’m buying before I purchase it.”

But local shoppers frequently have to overcome a big hurdle: price.

Since smaller businesses often can’t buy in bulk, customers typically have to pay more. Increasingly, that’s a sacrifice shoppers seem willing to make — at least when they’re shopping offline, Mastercard’s Quinlan said.

Sales growth at small businesses, defined as having less than $50 million in annual sales, was 7.3 percent last year, according to Mastercard. That compared with 4.6 percent for total retail sales. Small business purchases account for 37 percent of total spending.

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But online growth still overshadows both the big chains and local stores.

E-commerce sales are expected to swell by 18 percent to 21 percent during the holiday season, the National Retail Federation estimates. That’s a faster clip than last year — and well above the roughly 4 percent expected for the retail industry overall.

It’s hard for brick-and-mortar chains to beat the convenience of a few mouse clicks. So they’ve promoted the idea of a retail “experience.” Smaller stores — with all their quirks and idiosyncrasies — may have an easier time offering a memorable time. They also can be more nimble in catering their selection to local tastes.

The ultimate goal for all stores is greater personalization, said R.J. Allan, head of retail corporate banking at Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. Getting that right means more loyalty and profit.

The bigger chains have the advantage of being able to invest in technology, including apps and loyalty programs that keep customers coming back. They also can connect an expansive e-commerce operation to their physical stores.

“Retailers that are able to bridge the consumer experience across brick and mortar and online will be best positioned for success,” he said.

The smaller stores, though, have another edge: The clerk might actually remember your name when you come in.

“I prefer to shop local when I can,” even if prices are higher, said Mary Bresette, 66, of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “For me, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.”

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Colorado-based consultant behind tribe’s ill-fated marijuana resort has drug case dismissed

November 22, 2017 - 11:17am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A cannabis cultivation expert who was prosecuted in South Dakota after working with a Native American tribe trying to open the nation’s first marijuana resort will see his drug case dismissed.

A sentence handed down Tuesday for Jonathan Hunt caps the state’s prosecution of two consultants who worked with the Flandreau Santee Sioux on an ambitious venture that the tribe once dubbed an “adult playground” that could bring in $2 million a month.

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The plan for a resort north of Sioux Falls was ultimately abandoned after fears of a federal raid culminated with the tribe burning its marijuana crop in 2015.

A state judge agreed to Hunt’s request for a suspended imposition of sentence, allowing the case to be dismissed and the record to be sealed after he met the conditions of paying a $500 fine and about $100 in court costs, according to Hunt’s attorney, Clint Sargent.

“I feel free,” Hunt told The Associated Press. “I think the whole thing never should have happened.”

Read the rest of this story at

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Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, California Zephyr routes through Colorado saw small drop in ridership last fiscal year

November 22, 2017 - 11:13am

Ridership on Amtrak’s two long-haul train routes through Colorado dropped slightly last fiscal year even as interest grows in the creation of a Front Range passenger rail service.

Amtrak says the Chicago-to-Los Angeles Southwest Chief, which stops in Lamar, La Junta and Trinidad, had 363,000 riders in fiscal year 2017, compared with 365,000 the year before. Communities across Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico have been working to preserve the line in the face of millions of dollars worth of needed track repairs, with some success thus far.

The rail carrier’s Chicago-to-San Francisco California Zephyr, which stops in Fort Morgan, Denver, Fraser, Granby, Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction, dropped to 415,000 riders last fiscal year, compared with 417,000 riders the year before.

Overall, Amtrak boasted record ridership, revenue and earnings for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

Amtrak also says it achieved a record for cost recovery, covering 94.7 percent of its operating costs with ticket sales and other revenues. The carrier had 31.7 million passenger trips last fiscal year (a 1.5 percent increase over 2016), hauling in $3.2 billion in revenue.

In its ridership and earnings report, Amtrak also noted the success  of its Winter Park Express, which will again be taking skiers and snowboarders up to the mountains this winter.

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Members of a commission exploring the viability of passenger train service across the Front Range are expected next month to present state lawmakers with draft legislation that would allow progress to continue toward a Trinidad-to-Fort Collins route.

Amtrak’s long-haul routes looked to be at risk under President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget earlier this year, but their future appears less at risk for the time being. The long-distance lines had 4.6 million riders last fiscal year, a 0.9 percent increase over the previous 12 months.

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New allegations against Rose emerge from women at CBS News

November 22, 2017 - 10:48am

NEW YORK — The morning show where Charlie Rose worked until being fired Tuesday is reporting that two women at CBS News claim that Rose grabbed them inappropriately, with one saying he also whispered a sexual innuendo.

The accusations came to light after CBS News President David Rhodes fired the host on Tuesday for what he called “extremely disturbing and intolerable behavior” by Rose toward women at his PBS talk show. PBS has also cut ties to Rose.

“CBS This Morning” said three women at CBS have reported misconduct by Rose. The network said one didn’t want details of her accusations made public, and all three requested anonymity. Rose has apologized for his actions.

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Rose’s former co-host Gayle King said Wednesday that it’s important to keep reporting on the story.


This story has been corrected to show that it was Rose who was fired on Tuesday.

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How will the new rules released for the Colorado marijuana industry affect consumers?

November 22, 2017 - 10:10am

Changes to the rules governing Colorado’s cannabis industry go into effect Jan. 1, including a groundbreaking path for in-state research projects.

The state Marijuana Enforcement Division finalized and released new rules for licensed medical and recreational businesses.

Highlights include new packaging and labeling requirements for flower, concentrates and edibles to help cut down on “white noise” for consumers, a top official with the Colorado Department of Revenue told The Cannabist on Tuesday.

A good share of the regulatory changes were statutory mandates resulting from the 2017 legislation session, said Mike Hartman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Read the rest of this story at

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Nick Carter “shocked,” “saddened” by singer’s rape claim

November 22, 2017 - 10:09am

NEW YORK — Nick Carter says he’s “shocked and saddened” by accusations made by a singer who said he raped her about 15 years ago.

Melissa Schuman of the girl group Dream wrote in a blog post earlier this month that she was “forced to engage in an act against my will.” She said the Backstreet Boy took her virginity when she was 18 and he was 22.

“I am shocked and saddened by Ms. Schuman’s accusations. Melissa never expressed to me while we were together or at any time since that anything we did was not consensual,” Carter said in a statement released Wednesday. “We went on to record a song and perform together, and I was always respectful and supportive of Melissa both personally and professionally.”

Dream was signed to Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy Records in the earlier 2000s and produced the hit “He Loves U Not.” Schuman wrote that Carter invited her to his apartment and assaulted her against her will. She said she “felt scared and trapped. He was visually and clearly growing very angry and impatient with me. I couldn’t leave.”

She said she tried to speak up after the incident, but that she didn’t “have the money, the clout or access to an attorney who was powerful enough to stand up against my abuser’s legal counsel.”

“I feel I have an obligation now to come forward with the hope and intention to inspire and encourage other victims to tell their story. We are stronger in numbers,” she wrote.

Carter said Wednesday “this is the first that I am hearing about these accusations, nearly two decades later.”

“It is contrary to my nature and everything I hold dear to intentionally cause someone discomfort or harm,” he said.

The Backstreet Boys launched a residency in Las Vegas this year and have concerts planned for next year.

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Seen: Girl Scouts of Colorado’s Thin Mint Dinner

November 22, 2017 - 9:31am

You couldn’t blame her for bragging.

But the truth of the matter is that Stephanie Foote, president and chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Colorado, was simply telling it like it is when she welcomed the standing-room-only crowd that had gathered for the organization’s annual Thin Mint Dinner.

“While some people only think of us as cookies, campfires, badges and friendship bracelets, we know that Girl Scouts are so much more. Girl Scouts are groundbreakers, big thinkers and role models. Giving back is our priority. So is standing up to the challenge, no matter how big or small.”

Her descriptions were illustrated by remarks delivered by Sylvia Acevedo, the new CEO of Girl Scouts USA,  and by Emma Albertoni, a Gold Award Girl Scout and 2017 recipient of the Stephanie A. Foote Leadership Prize.

Acevedo recalled growing up in Las Cruces, N.M., where her lifelong love of science began on Girl Scout camping trips where the beauty of the stars, planets and constellations that she saw in the night time sky inspired her to learn all that she could about outer space.

Acevedo went on to become one of the first — male or female — Hispanics to receive a graduate degree from Stanford University before starting a career as a rocket scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Albertoni, a graduate of Ralston Valley High School in Arvada, has been in Scouting since first grade. She is now a classical violin performance major at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music.

Her Gold Award project was to write a financial literacy curriculum that was implemented in her school and considered by the Jefferson County School Board for district-wide use. Her goal was to better prepare today’s youth for achieving financial success.

The Thin Mint Dinner was the occasion to celebrate the 100th year of Girl Scouting in Colorado and to mark the 20th anniversary of the Women of Distinction program.

Three past Women of Distinction — Maria Garcia Berry, Jean Galloway and Arlene Hirschfeld — chaired the event that was held at the Marriott Denver Tech Center and emceed by Denver7 News anchor Theresa Marchetta.

To commemorate the WOD’s 20th year, the 426 who have been honored since the program began in 1997 were asked to choose seven of their peers for additional accolades.

2002 Woman of Distinction Elaine Gantz Berman, a former member of the State Board of Education, was recognized for Advocacy for Youth; 2003 honoree Juana Bordas, president of Mestiza Leadership International, was named Progressive Community Leader. Arlene Hirschfeld, a past president of the Junior League of Denver and member of numerous community boards, was given the Accomplished Philanthropist award.

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2007 Woman of Distinction Jean Jones, former CEO of Girl Scouts Mile Hi Council, was honored for Dedication to Girl Scouts; retired banker LaRae Orullian (1997) received the Lifetime Achievement award for service that includes time spent as national president of Girl Scouts USA.

The president/CEO of Technically Speaking, Inc., Jill S. Tietjen, a Woman of Distinction in 1997, was named the Advocate for Women and Girls while Elbra Wedgeworth, chief government and community relations officer for Denver Health, was honored for Commitment to Public Service. Wedgeworth, a former president of the Denver City Council who played an instrumental role in helping Denver to win the bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention, was a Woman of Distinction in 2004.

Rae Ann Dougherty, chair of the Girl Scouts of Colorado board, and chair-elect Kathryn Ambrose were among the guests, a group that included Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne; Sandra Shreve; Carita Watson; Faye Tate; Juanita Chacon; Lee Palmer Everding; Linda Williams; Rose Andom; Lauren Casteel; Lindy Eichenbaum Lent; Elaine Demery Potter; and Judi Wolf, who, with a couple of minor adjustments, is still able to fit into her Girl Scout uniform. Which, of course, she proudly wore to the dinner.

Joanne Davidson: 303-809-1314, and @joannedavidson on Twitter

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Seen: Fundraiser for SafeHouse Denver nets $260,000

November 22, 2017 - 9:31am

Forty years after she and Elaine Edinburg, Dr. Deborah Flick, Nickie Wolman and the late Marjorie Leidig founded SafeHouse Denver, Lenore Walker returned to Colorado for a gala that marked the organization’s milestone anniversary and raised $260,000 for its continued operation.

“Never would we have thought that SafeHouse Denver would grow and thrive and help make so many people aware of the extent of domestic violence in our community,” she said while leading a champagne toast to SafeHouse and its efforts to assist adults, children and adolescents in reclaiming their right to a life free from domestic violence by providing such things as emergency shelter, safety planning, counseling and referrals to community resources.

Flick was SafeHouse Denver’s first executive director; Edinburg, an attorney, helped get SafeHouse Denver draw up its articles of incorporation; Wolman was a founding board member and Leidig was a psychologist.

Walker is a noted clinical forensic psychologist, founder of the Domestic Violence Institute and author of the groundbreaking text “The Battered Woman Syndrome.”

She taught at Colorado Women’s College before starting her own practice, Walker & Associates, which focused on family violence and violence against women. Later, she moved to Florida to become a professor at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, a position from which she recently retired. In 1987 she was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.

Ramona Gomoll, chief people officer for the Governor’s Office of Information Technology and secretary of the SafeHouse board, chaired the dinner, dance and auction held at the Sheraton Denver Downtown.

Dayle Cedars, a member of the SafeHouse honorary board, put in her sixth year as mistress of ceremonies and served as the honorary chairwoman.

Gomoll joined chief executive officer Victoria McVicker in presenting the Susan Noble Community Impact Award to Brenda and Christopher Volgenau and the Carolyn Hamil-Henderson Memorial Award to Linda Loflin Pettit, manager of the Denver city attorney’s prosecution and code enforcement section.

The Volgenaus are organizers of the Warren Miller film screenings that for the past 10 years have raised money for SafeHouse Denver; Pettit has worked in the field of domestic violence prevention since 1989, when she joined Family Tree. She then served as executive director of AMEND, a batterer intervention and victim service organization. In her current job she oversees the domestic violence arraignment advocates and an elder abuse prevention program.

McVicker traced the success SafeHouse Denver has had since its founding as SafeHouse for Battered Women in 1977. Its current name was adopted in 1994.

“We have been proactive in identifying and addressing community needs, thoughtfully expanding early intervention, education, outreach and collaborative efforts, especially for populations at high risk for domestic violence,” she said.

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Why? Because “The reality is, every single one of us in this room, and our children, could be affected by domestic violence.”

In 2018, she said, SafeHouse Denver plans to begin an extended stay program that offers safe, affordable housing to survivors of domestic violence, making “our longtime strategic vision for a continuum of care a reality.”

Guests at the Hope Gala included Denver District Attorney Beth McCann; Denver County Court Judge Brian Campbell; Carol and Paul Rose; Michele and Ted Vanderveen; steering committee members Becca Czarnecki, Bharati Bhardwaja, Laura Keasling, Valerie Chilewski and Shannon Boltz; and auctioneer Adam Kevil, whose power of persuasion helped bring the evening’s proceeds to a record amount.

Joanne Davidson: 303-809-1314, and @joannedavidson on Twitter

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Cold War drama caught on video as N. Korean soldier escapes

November 22, 2017 - 9:26am

SEOUL, South Korea — It’s 3:11 p.m. on a cold, gray day on the North Korean side of the most heavily armed border in the world, and a lone soldier is racing toward freedom.

His dark olive-green jeep speeds down a straight, tree-lined road, past drab, barren fields and, headlights shining, across the replacement for the Bridge of No Return, which was used for prisoner exchanges during the Korean War. The shock of soldiers watching the jeep rush by is palpable from the video released Wednesday, and no wonder: They’re beginning to realize that one of their comrades is defecting to the South.

They sprint after him.

The jeep slows and turns at a monument to North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, the staging point for North Korean tours of the area.

The border is near, South Korea just beyond it.

Dramatic video shows escape, shooting of North Korean defector. By @APKlug.

— The Associated Press (@AP) November 22, 2017


Four North Korean soldiers, weapons in their hands, race by the blue huts that straddle the line and are familiar to anyone who has toured the only spot on the border where North and South Korean soldiers face off within spitting distance of each other. There are no tourists this day.

Right at the line that divides North from South, the defector crashes the jeep into a ditch. Seconds pass as he tries in vain to gun the vehicle out of the gully before leaping out and sprinting into the South. He kicks up leaves, ducking below a tree branch just as the North Korean soldiers skid into view.

Muzzles flash. The North Korean soldiers, one of whom drops flat into the leaves, fire at the defector at close range with handguns and AK-47 assault rifles — about 40 rounds, the South says.

Suddenly, two of the North Koreans run away while the soldier in the leaves jumps up and dashes across the dividing line into South Korean territory before stopping, turning on his heels and sprinting back to the northern side after his comrades. The defector falls stretched out and unmoving in a pile of leaves against a small wall on the South Korean side.

The entire sequence, from the first appearance of the jeep to the soldier’s frenzied crossing, lasts four minutes.

It unfolded Nov. 13 in the Joint Security Area, which is overseen by both the American-led U.N. Command and North Korea and lies inside the 4-kilometer (2 1/2-mile) -wide Demilitarized Zone that has been the de facto border between the Koreas since the war.

Forty minutes later, the video has switched to infrared to show the heat signatures of two South Korean soldiers as they crawl on their hands and knees, using a wall as cover, toward the prone defector. They grab hold of the defector and drag him to safety. Not far away, heavily armed North Korean troops begin to gather near the Kim Il Sung monument.

For the moment, the border is quiet again.


Surprisingly, North and South Korean soldiers didn’t exchange fire during the shooting, the first in the area in more than three decades. The bullets went in only one direction.

The defection, subsequent surgeries and slow recovery of the soldier have riveted South Korea. But his escape is a huge embarrassment for the North, which claims all defections are the result of rival Seoul kidnapping or enticing North Koreans. Pyongyang has said nothing about the defection so far.

North Korea’s actions during the defector’s escape at the Panmunjom border village violated the armistice agreement ending the Korean War because North Korean soldiers fired across and physically crossed the border in pursuit of the soldier, U.S. Col. Chad Carroll, a spokesman for the U.N. command, told reporters in a live TV briefing Wednesday. A U.N. Command statement said a meeting had been requested with the North’s military to discuss the violations.

After undergoing two surgeries last week to repair internal organ damage and other injuries, the soldier has regained consciousness and is no longer relying on a breathing machine. His doctor said Wednesday he is enjoying watching American movies and shows such as “Transformers,” ”CSI,” and “Bruce Almighty,” and listening to South Korean pop songs such as “Gee” by popular female band “Girls’ Generation.”

“His condition has become much better since yesterday. We’ve turned on the TV for him since yesterday,” doctor Lee Cook-jong told reporters.

“He said it was so painful when he was shot by bullets but that he doesn’t feel pain now,” he said.

Doctors plan to keep him at an intensive care unit for at least several more days to guard against possible infection, hospital official Shin Mi-jeong said.

While treating the wounds, surgeons earlier removed dozens of parasites from the soldier’s ruptured small intestine, including presumed roundworms that were as long as 27 centimeters (10.6 inches), which may reflect poor nutrition and health in North Korea’s military. The soldier is 1.7 meters (5 feet, 7 inches) tall but weighs just 60 kilograms (132 pounds).

About 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea, mostly across the porous border with China, since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. Now add one more to that tally — a man in uniform, fleeing gunfire toward a new life one overcast afternoon across the world’s most uneasy border.


Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim and Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.

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Sensor on DIA track fails, forcing drivers into normally automatic trains

November 22, 2017 - 9:04am

Drivers are behind the switches on board Denver International Airport trains on Wednesday morning after a sensor on one section of track failed preventing automatic movement, said Heath Montgomery, DIA spokesman.

The glitch resulted in some delays for passengers. “For about 30 minutes we saw some delays and now we are working to clear that,” Montgomery said.

The delays came on one of the airport’s busiest travel days. More than 1.5 million travelers are expected to pass through DIA during the Thanksgiving holiday.

The sensor failed at about 7:45 a.m. Trains were briefly routed around the track section until drivers could be brought aboard to control them. The drivers are able to move the trains over the section with the malfunctioning sensor.

“We do have a problem with the trains, a sensor issue but we do have technicians driving in manually,” Montgomery said.

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Trains, which normally arrive at a station every 2 minutes, are moving slower and now average about 4 minutes between stops.

“Once we catch up to the passenger demand it should be OK for the rest of the day,” Montgomery said.

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Michigan gymnastics doctor pleads guilty to sex charges

November 22, 2017 - 8:54am

LANSING, Mich. — A sports doctor accused of molesting girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple charges of sexual assault and will face at least 25 years in prison.

Dr. Larry Nassar, 54, was charged with molesting seven girls, mostly under the guise of treatment at his Lansing-area home and a campus clinic. All but one of his accusers was a gymnast. He faces similar charges in a neighboring county and lawsuits filed by more than 125 women and girls.

Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas are among the women who have publicly said they were among Nassar’s victims.

Some of his accusers attended the hearing Wednesday in a packed Ingham County courtroom. Some were crying.

Nassar admitted to digital penetrating the victims and agreed that his conduct had no legitimate medical purpose and that he did not have the girls’ consent.

The plea deal in Ingham County calls for a minimum prison sentence of 25 years, but a judge could set the minimum sentence as high as 40 years. In Michigan, inmates are eligible for parole after serving a minimum sentence.

Sentencing was set for Jan. 12.

The girls have testified that Nassar molested them with his hands, sometimes when a parent was present in the room, while they sought help for gymnastics injuries.

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“He convinced these girls that this was some type of legitimate treatment,” Assistant Attorney General Angela Poviliatis told a judge last summer. “Why would they question him? Why would they question this gymnastics god?”

Separately, Nassar is charged with similar crimes in Eaton County, the location of an elite gymnastics club. He also is awaiting sentencing in federal court on child pornography charges.

The Michigan criminal cases against Nassar followed reports last year in the Indianapolis Star about how USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, mishandled complaints about sexual misconduct involving the doctor and coaches. Women and girls said the stories inspired them to step forward with detailed allegations of abuse, sometimes when their parents were in the exam room at Michigan State.

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Should Colorado set a minimum salary for teachers?

November 22, 2017 - 8:25am

As part of a broad plan to increase the volume of high-quality teachers in Colorado, state officials are considering asking lawmakers to take the bold step of establishing a minimum teacher salary requirement tied to the cost of living.

Officials from the state departments of education and higher education are finalizing a list of recommendations to address challenges to Colorado’s teacher workforce. Pressing for the legislation on teacher salaries is one of dozens of recommendations included in a draft report.

The report, assembled at the request of the legislature, also proposes a marketing campaign and scholarships to attract new teachers to rural areas.

Representatives from the Colorado Department of Education said they would not discuss the recommendations until they’re final. However, the department earlier this month briefed the State Board of Education on their proposed recommendations in advance of the Dec. 1 deadline for it to be finalized.

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The impending report — based on thousands of responses from educators, students and other Colorado residents in online surveys and town halls across the state — is a sort of first step for the state legislature to tackle a problem years in the making. Since 2010, Colorado has seen a 24 percent drop in the number of college students graduating from the state’s traditional teacher colleges. There’s also been a 23 percent drop in enrollment in those programs.

Read the full story at Chalkbeat Colorado.

Chalkbeat Colorado is a nonprofit news organization covering education issues. For more, visit

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1 in 3 Americans dreads political talk at Thanksgiving, poll says

November 22, 2017 - 8:03am

WASHINGTON — Bring on the turkey — but maybe hold the politics.

Thanksgiving is Glenn Rogers’ favorite holiday, when people gather around the table and talk about things to celebrate from the past year. But Donald Trump’s presidency isn’t something everyone in the Rogers family is toasting.

“For the most part, we get to the point where we know that we’re not going to agree with each other and it gets dropped,” says the 67-year-old manufacturing consultant, who says he voted less for Trump than against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

With a cascade of sexual misconduct scandals now echoing similar allegations against Trump during the campaign, tempers on the subject of Trump may not have cooled, says Rogers. “When you start talking about it now, there’s still some, I think, real animosity when you start talking about character.”

Rogers is among more than a third of Americans who say they dread the prospect of politics coming up over Thanksgiving, compared with just 2 in 10 who say they’re eager to talk politics, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Four in 10 don’t feel strongly either way.

Democrats are slightly more likely than Republicans to say they’re uneasy about political discussions at the table, 39 percent to 33 percent. And women are more likely than men to say they dread the thought of talking politics, 41 percent to 31 percent.

Those who do think there’s at least some possibility of politics coming up are somewhat more likely to feel optimistic about it than Americans as a whole. Among this group, 30 percent say they’d be eager to talk politics and 34 percent would dread it.

The debate over whether to talk politics at Thanksgiving — or not — is about as American as the traditional feast itself. By Christmas 2016, 39 percent of U.S. adults said their families avoided conversations about politics, according to the Pew Research Center.

But Americans are still trying to figure out how to talk about the subject in the age of Trump, and amid the sexual misconduct allegations that have ignited a new debate over standards for conduct between men and women. The conversation, some analysts and respondents say, touches on identity among people who group themselves by other factors, such as family, friendship or geography.

Ten months into Trump’s difficult presidency, he remains a historically unpopular president and a deeply polarizing force in the United States. His drives to crack down on immigration in the name of national security and the economy cut right to the question of who is an American. And his defense on Tuesday of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, the former Alabama judge accused by six women of pursuing romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, comes amid a wider deluge of sexual misconduct scandals. Those engulfed include an array of politicians and policymakers — past, present, aspiring and presidential — of all partisan stripes.

For any mention of Moore, who denies the accusations against him, there’s Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, who has apologized or said he feels bad about the allegations against him. For every mention of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump could be heard bragging about touching women without their consent, there are allegations that Democratic President Bill Clinton assaulted women. Both men deny the accusations.

Trump won the 2016 election, even though more than a dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct, and roughly half of all voters said they were bothered by his treatment of women, according to exit polls. Trump called the allegations false and said he would sue the women, but that hasn’t happened.

Then there’s the broader national conversation about what to do with the art, public policy work and legacies of public figures accused of sexual harassment or assault.

In the past, the Emily Post Institute Inc. received Thanksgiving etiquette questions that were typically about how to handle difficult relatives, says author Daniel Post Senning.

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“Now, I am hearing questions like, ‘I don’t want to go,’ or ‘I can’t imagine sitting at a table with someone who has this perspective and staying through the meal,'” he says. “My impression is that it’s still out there. … The shock of that election is a little further in the rearview mirror, but I think people still have strong feelings about it.”

Fort Worth, Texas, resident Greg McCulley saw that firsthand last year. He recalls that of a dozen adults gathered around the Thanksgiving table, all but one was celebrating Trump’s election. That was his sister-in-law, who fumed about Trump and the “Access Hollywood” tape. Tension seethed.

“It was like, you say Donald Trump was bad, then someone says Bill Clinton was bad, so that extended to Hillary Clinton,” says McCulley, 43, an Air Force retiree who voted for Trump but doesn’t dispute that Trump’s recorded remarks were troubling. He does expect politics to come up this year, probably about sexual assault.

“The conservatives have more of a bigger bone. They’ll say look at Al Franken,” says McCully, who nonetheless looks forward to the conversation. “But it may be that my sister-in-law keeps her mouth zipped and says, ‘I don’t want to wade into those waters again like last year.'”

The AP-NORC poll of 1,070 adults was conducted Nov. 15-19 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods and later interviewed online or by phone.


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Man killed in Lakewood hit-and-run auto-pedestrian crash

November 22, 2017 - 8:00am

Lakewood police are searching for a suspect in an auto-pedestrian hit-and-run crash in which a man was killed late Tuesday night.

The man, whose identity and age have not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Ty Countryman, spokesman for the Lakewood Police Department.

The collision happened at 10 p.m. at West 13th Avenue and Otis Street.

The man was on 13th Avenue, Countryman said. The hit-and-run suspect stopped briefly following the crash before driving away, he said.

Video from surrounding businesses show the vehicle is a smaller white car with a sunroof.

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Detectives are interviewing witnesses and reviewing video to obtain a make, model and license plate.

The identity of the crash victim is still unknown. The Jefferson County coroner’s office will release the name after notifying family members.

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