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Denver becomes the second city in the nation to host the Energy Day Festival

September 23, 2017 - 5:13pm

East High School senior Zane Mollins remotely guided the custom-built “game bot” Riptide back and forth across Esplanade Street. Across from him children caught and released brightly colored plastic fish in the grass and volunteers torched giant marshmallows for s’mores —  all in the name of STEM.

The Energy Day Festival made its Denver debut Saturday in front of East High School. Though the second day of fall brought clouds and cool temperatures, the pavement in front of the school was filled with families, students and representatives of a handful of companies who work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Founded in Houston in 2011, the festival’s goal is to provide outreach and education about career opportunities in STEM and various energy fields through events with hands-on activities and demonstrations.

“We want to stress the importance of energy, conservation, and efficiency in our daily lives to schools, students, and their families,” said the director of Energy Day Denver, Alanna Fishman. “This festival has been so successful in Houston, which is the energy capital of the world, so it only makes sense that the next place for this festival to fall is in Denver, the gateway to energy in the West.”

A group of boys dipped giant makeshift bubble wands into a solution made at the Women’s Energy Network booth and created giant worm-like bubble shapes that floated across the grass.

“It’s amazing how many scientific properties show up in something (like) a bubble,” said volunteer Alan Lindsey. “The kids are learning how detergents and water work together to form something new; in this case something magical.”

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Consumer Energy Alliance and Consumer Energy Education Foundation partnered with Energy 360 and the University of Colorado’s Global Energy Management Program to host the free family-centric event. The bigger goal is to get young people interested in a field that continues to experience a concerning shortage of workers skilled in STEM.

According to a study released by New American Economy in April, Colorado had 15.3 job openings for every unemployed worker in STEM last year, which is near the national ratio of 13 to 1.

Fishman said that with the new school year underway, there is no better time to get students thinking about, observing and interacting with the energy process and how it works in STEM-related fields.

Wes Parham, who works for Xcel, brought his young daughter to the event.

“The great thing about these events is that it introduces the younger generation to all types of industries not just what is typically seen as STEM.”

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Sliding Rockies counting on offensive revival to salvage postseason dreams

September 23, 2017 - 4:49pm

It didn’t have to be like this.

As late as Aug. 18, the Rockies were 68-54 and tied with Arizona for the National League’s top wild-card playoff spot. Hold serve at 14 games over, and the Rockies would surely qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2009.

Now, thanks largely to their incredible disappearing offense, the Rockies are locked in a nail-biting, three-way race for the NL’s final wild card entering the final week of the season. Entering Saturday night, the Rockies led the Brewers, who beat the Cubs on a walk-off home run earlier in the day, and the Cardinals, who played at Pittsburgh, by 1 1/2 games for the final wild card.

So where do the Rockies go from here?

After wrapping up a four-game series at San Diego on Sunday afternoon, they have six games remaining, all at Coors Field — three against Miami and Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins’ slugging MVP candidate, and three  weekend games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who clinched their fifth consecutive NL West title Friday night.

“The meanings of these games have made people feel a little tighter, just because they’re big games,” said Nolan Arenado, the Rockies’ all-star third baseman. “But we’re never out of it. All we need to do is compete and win ballgames. If we would have played like we know we can, we might not be in this situation. But we’re playing teams that care. The Padres aren’t going to let up. They’re playing hard too. We have to compete better.”

That means taking care of Miami, beginning Monday. Playing the Marlins, who are well under .500, would appear to be a favorable matchup, but Miami swept three games from the Rockies at home in August.

Also, there is the Stanton factor. He entered Saturday with 56 home runs and with a chance to set what many baseball fans consider the legitimate single-season home run record. He needs five home runs to tie Roger Maris, who slugged 61 in 1961. Maris’ record stood until Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and the PED era came along.

Stanton has hit 10 home runs in 20 games at Coors Field with a .316 batting average, 24 RBIs and 1.211 OPS (on-base percentage, plus slugging).

The Dodgers, on the other hand, present a puzzling challenge.

They owned an incredible 87-34 record on Aug. 19, a full 19 games better than Cleveland’s 68-53. But they have slumped since — and the Indians caught fire, including a record-breaking 22-game win streak.

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The Dodgers entered Saturday with a two-game lead over the Indians for the best record in baseball and potential home-field advantage in the World Series. But it still seems likely that the Dodgers will ease off the gas during the final weekend of the regular season. L.A. has taken full advantage of the September roster rules, carrying 39 players, and the Rockies could see a lot of those backup players as the Dodgers rest for the playoffs.

Still, Colorado is scheduled to face Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw on Friday night and he is definitely not in coast mode. The left-hander is still trying to find his groove after missing a good chunk of the season because of a back injury.

“He’s not quite there yet,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters recently.  “You can see him feeling for things. But there are signs as we look forward to the postseason that he’s going to be where he needs to be.”

The Rockies beat Kershaw at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 7, chasing him in the fourth inning. He is 9-4 with a 4.58 ERA in 19 starts at Coors Field.

For the Rockies, the key will come down to getting their inconsistent offense righted. The Rockies beat San Diego 4-1 on Friday night, snapping a four-game losing streak that included back-to-back shutouts.

“We just haven’t been getting the big hit,” shortstop Trevor Story said. “We’ve had our chances; we just haven’t taken advantage of them. We just need to do better.”

On the plus side, Colorado’s pitchers have been sharp, posting a 4.00 ERA in September. Right-hander Jon Gray, the closest thing the Rockies have to an ace, beat the Padres on Friday, giving him 12 consecutive games of three or fewer earned runs allowed, tying Ubaldo Jimenez’s stretch in 2009 from July 10 to Sept. 7 for second-longest in club history. Gray is slated to start again Wednesday against Miami and could possibly pitch on short rest in the regular-season finale next Sunday if that becomes a must-win game.

Left-hander Tyler Anderson, who has a 1.72 ERA in three September starts, said it’s a mistake to write off Colorado’s offense.

“We’ll get there. We have a really good offense. Our offense is potent,” he said. “Every team goes through stretches like this. But there’s no doubt in my mind our offense will show up when you least expect it and put up 12 on you.”

Fans have been understandably nervous as they have watched Colorado’s slide, but first-year Rockies manager Bud Black continues to be the Pied Piper of optimism.

“The spirit is good,” Black said.  “I think guys are embracing where we are. …The last few games, the bats haven’t awoken, but you look at 10 days ago or two weeks ago, and look at where our bats were. So it’s coming. Our time is coming to swing the bats.”

Arms race

The Rockies’ quest for the playoffs concludes with six games at Coors Field, with three against the Marlins and three against the Dodgers. A look at the likely starters they’ll face.

Monday vs. Marlins
RHP Odrisamer Despaigne: He’s coming off a quality start vs. the Mets. The Cuban is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA in 16 ⅓ career innings against Rockies.

Tuesday vs. Marlins
RHP Jose Urena: The emerging ace of the staff is 9-1 with a 4.09 ERA on the road this year. Received a no-decision vs. Rockies on Aug. 11 at Miami.

Wednesday vs. Marlins
LHP Adam Conley: As his 7-7 record with a 5.20 ERA and 1.45 WHIP indicate, he’s been inconsistent. In two career starts vs. the Rockies he’s 1-0 with a 5.91 ERA.

Friday vs. Dodgers
LHP Clayton Kershaw: Three Cy Young awards, four ERA titles and seven all-star appearances glitter on his résumé, but he’s 9-4 with a 4.58 ERA in 19 career starts at Coors Field.

Saturday vs. Dodgers
RHP Yu Darvish: Is 3-3 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in eight starts since being traded from Texas. He is the presumed Game 2 starter in the NLCS.

Sunday, Oct. 1 vs. Dodgers
LHP Alex Wood: In nine second-half starts, he has served up 11 homers. Colorado rocked him for five runs on eight hits over five innings Sept. 9.

Staff writer Nick Groke contributed to this report.

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“It makes our neighborhood look shabby”: Volunteers paint over graffiti tags along Federal Boulevard for Brush Off Day

September 23, 2017 - 4:35pm

A smell of chili with a tinge of spray paint wafted down Federal Boulevard Saturday morning.

Groups of people in safety vests slowly progressed between West Sixth and Evans avenues and parts of West Alameda Avenue, covering up graffiti tags and picking up trash that lined the street as part of the eighth Brush Off Day hosted by the city of Denver.

Ginger Scholte, who lives in the Mar Lee neighborhood, was among the 165 volunteers along the street. Since 2008, she has been walking up and down Federal Boulevard, reporting tags to the city and cleaning them up herself.

“It makes our neighborhood look shabby,” she said. “It says a small, small community controls our neighborhood.”

Det. George Gray with the Denver Graffiti Unit said the city removed 5.6 million square feet of graffiti in 2007, but it has fallen to closer to 1.6 million annually. Still, it costs $145 to remove a typical tag and the city said it spends $1.4 million annually to clean up graffiti. About 10,100 incidences of graffiti have been reported this year.

Gray described two types of taggers. There are those who do it alone or with crews but for themselves. Then there are crews that can become involved with or morph into gangs, turning to more aggressive crimes like burglary or car theft.

About 65 percent of taggers are 25-35 years old, he said. The unit focuses its efforts on prolific taggers instead of the people who spend two or three hours creating a project on one wall, he said.

“The guys that do 50 places a night, they’re the ones I target because they’re crushing us and they’re causing a lot more damage to our city,” he said.

Police District Four, which includes Federal Boulevard from 6th Avenue to just north of US Highway 285, has more graffiti than the five other police districts combined, Gray said. Federal Boulevard gained a national reputation among taggers as a popular spot, he said.

“(Businesses) try to clean it off but it’s back there the next day,” he said. “They get tired and just leave it there.”

But Federal Boulevard has also seen a decline in tags. Gray thinks there are several reasons why.

As city workers clean tags, they log them into a web database. If someone is caught while writing, officers can connect them to previous tags they’ve done. That means that instead of $145, a tagger can be looking at $14,000 of restitution to the city.

“(Taggers) don’t really realize the damage they’re doing until you put it in their face,” he said.

He says he’ll explain to people that tags frustrate community members, can cause a business to lose customers and can give others the impression of gang activity.

Neighbors have also been active along Federal Boulevard, pressuring businesses to sign a waiver that allows the city to go onto their property to clean the graffiti for free, he said. This makes it easier for a quick clean up.

“The longer the graffiti is up, the more it attracts other guys to tag there,” Gray said.

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The Brush Off initiative comes a week after the end of Crush, a street festival in RiNo that celebrates graffiti and street artists.

Part of the programming included the documentary “Wall Writers,” which chronicles the foundation of graffiti art in the late 1960s and early 1970s in inner-city New York and Philadelphia. Teens started writing tags as a way to be heard while the nation was consumed with the Vietnam War.

Mike 171 and SKJ 171, some of the first taggers out of New York, spoke during Crush about tagging as an outlet. Despite its reputation, tagging did not originate out of gangs but rather connected kids from differing neighborhoods, they said.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver held an exhibit about the birth of graffiti art earlier this year, featuring work by graffiti founders TAKI 183 and CORNBREAD, who famously snuck into the Philadelphia Zoo and spray painted “Cornbread lives” on an elephant after newspaper reports that he had been fatally shot.

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CU to stick with Obama-era policies on campus sex-assault investigations despite DeVos’ decision to scrap them

September 23, 2017 - 4:23pm

The University of Colorado does not plan to require the higher standard of evidence now allowed when investigating allegations of sexual assault on college campuses following Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ decision Friday to scrap a set of Obama-era rules.

Boulder campus officials stressed, though, that they will continue to abide by federal and state laws, and remain committed to fairly investigating such accusations.

Building on remarks she made earlier in the month about providing a more fair process for both victims and the accused, DeVos on Friday rescinded guidance from 2011 and 2014 that required universities to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard when investigating claims of sexual assault.

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DeVos’ new interim guidelines let colleges choose between that standard and a “clear and convincing evidence” standard, which is harder to meet.

DeVos has said President Barack Obama’s policy had been unfairly skewed against those accused of assault and had “weaponized” the Education Department to “work against schools and against students.”

Read the full story at DailyCamera.com.

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Saunders: Casting my vote for NL MVP will be no easy task

September 23, 2017 - 4:20pm

I’ll receive my official Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) ballot over the next few days.

This year, I have a vote for the National League MVP. It’s a bit daunting because there are several intriguing story lines and two local players in the mix.

In my mind, the top five candidates, in no particular order, are Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon, Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been scouring the web, reading arguments for this player vs. that player. For example, if you want to read a solid argument for Blackmon, I suggest you read Craig Edwards’ recent article in Fangraphs. The article is heavy on metrics, but Edwards also wrote something I found compelling:

“If you do choose to penalize him further for playing in Colorado, you might want to appropriately credit him for the observed difficulty of hitting on the road after playing at Coors.”

Of course I’m going to compare statistics before I vote.

Consider Goldschmidt vs. Arenado.  “Goldy” entered the weekend batting .305, with 35 homers, 117 RBIs, a .410 on-base percentage, .986 OPS (on-base percentage, plus slugging) and a 6.0 WAR (Wins Above Replacement).  “Golden Nolan’s” stats were equally impressive: .306 average, 34 homers, 125 RBIs, .370 on-base percentage, .949 OPS and a 6.6 WAR.

Then again, Stanton’s 1.012 OPS and 7.3 WAR are impossible to ignore.

As you can see, it’s a tough call, and one I’m not quite ready to make.

A definition of MVP — most valuable player — is left to the eye of the beholder, or at the discretion of the voter. Many factors will figure into my MVP vote:

— The historical significance of a player’s season. For instance, if Stanton hits six homers down the stretch and surpasses Roger Maris’ mark of 61, that’s huge.

Then again,  Blackmon entered the weekend with 94 RBIs as a leadoff hitter, an NL record for a single season. Blackmon also had 83 extra-base hits from the leadoff spot, also an NL record and the fourth-most in MLB history.

— A team’s success, or lack thereof, matters. Goldschmidt has helped lift the Diamondbacks to the next level and they just might be the NL’s best team right now. As great at Votto is, year after year, the Reds are 66-87 and I can’t see myself casting a first-place vote for him.

Also, if the Rockies’ slide continues and they fail to make the postseason, I’ll look at that, too.

— Defense. Arenado’s incredible nightly highlight show at third base counts for a lot. I get to see him almost every night, but I make a point of it to ask other beat writers for their impressions of Arenado. Almost universally they say he’s one of the best defensive players they have ever seen.

— Consistency. This is where Blackmon shines again for me. From the beginning of the season until now, he’s been the energizing force for the Rockies.

I’m honest enough to admit that I have a built-in bias for both Rockies players. After all, I watch the Rockies almost every day, talk to them frequently and have become a fan. I’ll try to take those personal feelings out of the equation.

Bottom line: When I cast my vote at season’s end, I’ll be prepared and I’ll be honest.

Spotlight on Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Marlins

What’s up: Stanton arrives in LoDo on Monday on the cusp of baseball history, having slugged 56 home runs (entering the weekend). Six more homers and he’ll be the single-season champion, passing the 61 that Roger Maris hit for the 1961 Yankees. Wait, what about Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds? In my book, they are drug-aided, asterisk sluggers. How compelling a character has Stanton been this season? Consider some numbers that ESPN national baseball writer Jerry Crasnik put together. Stanton has swatted his 56 homers off 48 pitchers in 13 parks. Those homers have traveled a combined distance of 4.42 miles at an average exit velocity of 108.9 mph, second-highest in the majors behind Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge.

Background: Casual Rockies fans probably first became aware of Stanton on May 21, 2012. He was just 22, and he was facing 49-year-old Jamie Moyer, who was filling out a very bad Rockies rotation. Keep in mind that Stanton was born more than three years after Moyer made his big-league debut in 1986. It was the mother of all mismatches. In the fourth inning, Stanton hit a grand slam off Moyer that traveled an estimated 438 feet and shattered several panels in the video scoreboard above the stands in left field at Marlins Park.

Saunders’ take: Three years ago, Stanton’s career flashed before his eyes. He was hit in the face by a pitch and suffered multiple facial fractures, dental damage and lacerations that required stitches. It was the type of moment than can ruin a player’s career, but Stanton came back stronger than ever. Now, his career in Miami in front of those paltry crowds at Marlins Park could be over. Rumors have already surfaced that the Giants, Cardinals, Rangers and Phillies are interested in making an offseason trade for the slugger. Those teams would have to pick up what remains of the record 13-year, $325 million contract he signed in 2014. I would love to see Stanton go to St. Louis, where his skills and flair for the dramatic would be showcased.

Three up, three down

Up

1. Chicago Cubs — Close to clinching the NL Central and playing like they’re ready to repeat their World Series title.

2. Boston Red Sox — Talented, resilient Sox posted their 41st come-from-behind victory Friday night.

3. Cleveland Indians — Have lost just twice since Aug. 24 and are challenging the Dodgers for the best record in the majors.

Down

1. Detroit Tigers — “We didn’t win,” general manager Al Avila said as he announced that Brad Ausmus will not return as manager in 2018.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates — Loss to Cardinals on Friday night was Bucs’ eighth in their last nine games and they’ve become the patsies in the NL wild-card race.

3. Los Angeles Angels —  Losers of five straight and under .500 for the first time since Aug. 10, they trail the Twins by 3 ½ games for AL’s last playoff spot.

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Colorado to pay $171K to settle lawsuit over inmate’s death

September 23, 2017 - 4:15pm

PUEBLO — Colorado officials have agreed to pay $171,000 to settle a lawsuit brought over the death of an inmate who alleged prison medical workers denied him treatment.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports that the settlement was reached in a lawsuit filed in the death of Dennis Choquette.

Choquette died in November after being in prison in Las Animas and Canon City since 2014.

The lawsuit filed by his estate alleged staff at the prisons disregarded his requests for treatment of a serious foot disease. The suit also says he was denied a cane and wheelchair.

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A settlement document obtained by the Chieftain says the Colorado Department of Corrections and Choquette’s estate agreed to end the case to avoid the expense and uncertainty of litigation.

Information from: The Pueblo Chieftain

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16th Street Mall reopens after police investigate suspicious package

September 23, 2017 - 3:32pm

Denver police temporarily closed the southern end of 16th Street Mall as officers investigated a suspicious package Saturday afternoon. The mall reopened after several minutes when police gave the all clear.

The mall was closed between Tremont Place, where the package is located, and Court Place, according to a tweet from police. Pedestrians and the buses were not allowed through.

It is unclear what the suspicious package was.

#Alert: DPD evaluating suspicious package at 16th/Tremont St. – 16th St closed to pedestrians/buses between Tremont/Court. Updates as avail. pic.twitter.com/hrBKLGtseR

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) September 23, 2017

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Hurricane Maria expected to pass close to the Carolinas next week

September 23, 2017 - 3:00pm

Hurricane Maria maintained a category 3 status Saturday morning, slowly moving north and away from the Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. While Maria is not expected to impact any landmass for the next several days, concerns of some type of impact along the southeastern U.S. coast are growing after the latest model runs.

In a manner similar to Hurricane Jose, Maria will drop out of the strong upper-level winds of the jet stream, trapping the storm and preventing its escape out to sea for several days. During that time, Maria will be hovering a bit too close for comfort to the Carolina coastline.

Most global model members keep Maria meandering off shore and away from the East Coast, showing the storm eventually getting picked up by a cold front Friday and pushed out to sea. However, the exact position of Maria’s stall is uncertain, and recent model trends have placed the storm further to the west and closer to the Carolina coast, prompting the NHC to shift their official track in the 11 a.m. update.

Changes in Maria’s track will need to be monitored closely over the next few days. In particular, the exact strength and position of two high-pressure features by early next week will dictate just how close Maria will get the East Coast.

Through the weekend, Maria’s impacts to the East Coast will be limited with the NHC’s stating that “dangerous surf and rip currents (are) expected at southeastern United States beaches for the next several days.” Regardless of the exact track, Maria should track closely enough for tropical storm force conditions to impact the outer banks by early next week.



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Indiana student survives three days trapped in cave after college spelunking group leaves him behind

September 23, 2017 - 2:30pm

By the time Lukas Cavar was rescued from a cave in southern Indiana, the abandoned college freshman had spent nearly three days trapped in its dark confines, fearing he might die there.

To survive, Cavar says he licked the cave walls for moisture and the wrappers of his Clif bars for any trace amounts of food, as first reported by Indiana Daily Student. He wondered whether he would ever see his family and friends again, and began typing goodbye notes on his iPhone – before its battery died on the second day, Cavar said.

The Indiana University student had been exploring Sullivan Cave, about 10 miles south of his school in Bloomington, Ind., on Sunday with other members of the Caving Club, a campus extracurricular group that promotes “responsible caving practices with opportunities to visit caves around the area.”

Over several hours, Cavar got separated from the group – and then left behind in the cave after the rest of the Caving Club members left and padlocked its entrance gate.

It would be nearly 60 hours before they realized their mistake and returned to rescue him Tuesday.

“In that sort of situation, if you let your mind wander, it’ll go to some pretty bad places,” Cavar, 19, told The Washington Post. “I guess that’s where I went . . . that I’d die alone in this cave.”

On Sunday, after he realized he had been forgotten by the group, Cavar spent hours screaming out of the cave’s padlocked entrance – about a 1½-by-3-foot hole in the ground, surrounded by concrete with metal bars welded into place – in the hopes that someone would hear him from a nearby road. No one did.

“The first day I was in very, very bad shape. I was panicking. I was very confused. I really didn’t take any time to sit down and think of my situation,” Cavar said. “I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it out of that cave at that point.”

He told Associated Press that, with no cellphone reception, he also had attempted unsuccessfully to pick the lock on the entrance gate with a paper clip. As evening approached on the first day he was trapped, Cavar evaluated the items he had with him, his surroundings and how he could prolong his survival, according to the AP:

Once night came, Cavar took out his phone and started writing down exactly how he got lost at first, his condition, what supplies he had and any other thoughts. As it got darker outside, the cave got colder.

“Right now I need some rest and thinking. Battery around 56% of phone, and headlamp seems fine so far. Should try to conserve. Good luck me,” one note to himself read.

Later, Cavar followed up: “Many salamanders all around. Possible food source? Spiders too, disconcerting. Killed as many as I could find in vicinity. Thinking of family.”

Another day went by and he wrote: “Night two is about to begin. Let’s hope the temperature change isn’t too drastic. Bats and snakes coming out. Feels like Halloween coming early.”

Cavar started writing notes on his phone to family and friends in case he died in the cave. He dreamed of people rescuing him.

“3:45- missed all classes today. Surely somebody will have noticed by now,” another note read.

Turns out, someone did.

His friends noticed that he missed physics class Monday, which was unlike him, they said. When he didn’t show up Tuesday and never went to work that day, they knew something was wrong.

“Lukas is not one to miss class. I don’t think he’s missed a single class since college has started at all and we were a little bit worried about that,” his friend Sam Norrell, 18, told The Post. “Lukas would never miss work without calling in. He’d have to be very sick not to call work. That was the tipping point.”

When Norrell and other friends couldn’t find him around campus, they contacted the Caving Club, and that’s when they realized that he might still be in the cave. The rescue was a blur for Cavar, but what he does remember is that the club members who found him brought him a Big Mac and a pasta meal – both of which he happily devoured.

He told the Indiana Daily Student that club members apologized profusely.

“You could tell they were pretty shaken up,” Cavar told the student newspaper. “They did near kill me. I can’t imagine what kind of guilt they felt.”

His friends, including Norrell, were at his dorm waiting when he got back.

“We hugged him and we were sobbing,” his friend Maris Pilgrim, 19, told The Post, adding that they made him some pizza rolls and helped him get the dirt off his face when they were all reunited.

They stayed up until the early hours of Wednesday morning as Cavar told them of his experiences inside the cave. He resumed classes Thursday and has since started rabies shots.

Cavar wasn’t reported missing to campus police until Tuesday, officials said.

“We didn’t get involved in this until he had actually been let out of the cave,” Craig Munroe, captain of the Indiana University Police Department, told The Post. “We were notified by residence staff.”

Indiana University spokesman Ryan Piurek confirmed to The Post that Cavar was left in the cave from about 2 p.m. Sunday to midnight Tuesday, when he was rescued.

“We were extremely relieved that this brave and resourceful student, aside from being tired and hungry, was found at the entrance to the cave unharmed, composed and in good condition, and that he is currently doing very well,” Piurek said in an email. “Considering the scary circumstances, it was a remarkably good outcome.”

He added that the school’s Caving Club members had acknowledged that they failed to properly follow the club’s safety protocols. It was unclear, however, what exactly led to the lapse. Caving Club officers did not respond to messages sent to the club’s Facebook group and also declined to comment to the IU student newspaper, citing “a sensitive legal matter.”

The club’s website emphasizes an array of safety rules to follow while caving, from always carrying three sources of light per person to never going caving alone. According to local media outlets, the club published a statement to an IU student network that said Cavar’s situation was the result of “a failure in our leadership.”

“We have a series of rigorous protocols in place that are supposed to prevent situations like this, but they are only effective if followed,” the statement read. “We had a failure in our leadership to closely follow all these safety procedures. The risk that our member was exposed to as a result of these failures is a vivid reminder of why we have protocols.”

The Indiana Karst Conservancy, a nonprofit that owns Sullivan Cave, declined to give details about the case or how groups are allowed to access the cave.

“We have no comment on that, thank you,” Julian Lewis, the conservancy’s president, said by phone Saturday before hanging up.

Cavar posted a message to Facebook after he was rescued, according to the BBC: “Just wanted to let everyone know that I’m safe and sound! Just got rescued about 30 minutes ago. Boy, it’s good to be back on the surface!”

He told the AP he does not plan to go spelunking again.



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Gametracker: Live updates from Washington at Colorado

September 23, 2017 - 2:00pm

Get the latest updates, photos, analysis and more from Washington at Colorado. Mobile users, if you don’t see the live blog, tap here.

(function(d, s, id) {var js,ijs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//embed.scribblelive.com/widgets/embed.js";ijs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, ijs);}(document, "script", "scrbbl-js"));Last week vs UNC was the 11th in CU history where the Buffs have had a 300-yd passer, 100-yd rusher & 100-yard rec

#GoBuffs #PurpleReign Washington at Colorado is going to be a tough test for U Dub. #pac12 The
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Residential evacuations for Winter Valley fire lifted as it rains Saturday

September 23, 2017 - 1:47pm

Recommended residential evacuations in Moffat County due to the Winter Valley fire have been lifted as rain covers the area.

The fire has grown to 6,400 acres, up from 5,200 acres Thursday. Some of the crews have been demobilized, Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Courtney Whiteman said. U.S. Highway 40 in Moffat County has been reopened.

The fire started Thursday, jumping from 500 acres to 2,180 acres in 30 minutes as wind spurred it on.

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U.S. flies mission north of DMZ, sends message to North Korea

September 23, 2017 - 1:00pm

WASHINGTON — In a show of American military might to North Korea, U.S. bombers and flight escorts flew on Saturday to the farthest point north of the border between North and South Korea by any such American aircraft this century. The Pentagon said the mission in international airspace showed how seriously President Donald Trump takes North Korea’s “reckless behavior.”

“This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” Defense Department spokesman Dana White said in a statement.

“North Korea’s weapons program is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community. We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies,” White said.

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has said Trump would “pay dearly” for threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea if the U.S. was forced to defend itself or its allies against a North Korean attack. Kim’s foreign minister told reporters this past week that the North’s response to Trump “could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific.”

North Korea has said it intends to build a missile capable of striking all parts of the United States with a nuclear bomb. Trump has said he won’t allow it, although the U.S. so far has not used military force to impede the North’s progress.

The Pentagon said B-1B bombers from Guam, along with F-15C Eagle fighter escorts from Okinawa, Japan, flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday. The U.S. characterized the flights as extending farther north of the Demilitarized Zone, than any U.S. fighter or bomber had gone off the North Korean coast in the 21st century.

B-1 bombers are no longer part of the U.S. nuclear force, but they are capable of dropping large numbers of conventional bombs.

U.S. Pacific Command would not be more specific about many years it had been since U.S. bombers and fighters had flown that far north of the DMZ, but a spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Dave Benham, noted that this century “encompasses the period North Korea has been testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.”

At the United Nations, North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said Saturday that his country’s nuclear force is “to all intents and purposes, a war deterrent for putting an end to nuclear threat of the U.S. and for preventing its military invasion, and our ultimate goal is to establish the balance of power with the U.S.”

He also said that Trump’s depiction of Kim as “Rocket Man” makes “our rocket’s visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more.”

Trump on Friday had renewed his rhetorical offensive against Kim.

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“Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!” the president tweeted.

On Thursday, Trump announced more economic sanctions against the impoverished and isolated country, targeting foreign companies that deal with the North.

“North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development is a grave threat to peace and security in our world and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said as he joined Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a meeting in New York.

Hours later, Kim responded by saying Trump was “deranged.”

In a speech last week at the United Nations, Trump had issued the warning of potential obliteration and mocked the North’s young autocrat as a “Rocket Man” on a “suicide mission.”

Trump’s executive order expanded the Treasury Department’s ability to target anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea, and to ban them from interacting with the U.S. financial system.

Trump also said China was imposing major banking sanctions, too, but there was no immediate confirmation from the North’s most important trading partner.

If enforced, the Chinese action Trump described could severely impede the isolated North’s ability to raise money for its missile and nuclear development. China, responsible for about 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, serves as the country’s conduit to the international banking system.

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UNC team skipping White House visit due to schedule conflict

September 23, 2017 - 12:22pm

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina’s national championship men’s basketball team will not visit the White House because of a scheduling conflict.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Saturday that Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams and the players were willing to go, and the university and White House tried “eight or nine” dates but none worked.

The Tar Heels, who beat Gonzaga in April to win their latest national title, visited the White House after their 2009 championship. The team was not invited when they won the 2005 NCAA Tournament.

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On Saturday, President Donald Trump tweeted that Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors is no longer invited to the White House because of what the president called hesitation by the two-time NBA MVP in deciding whether to make the traditional trip by the NBA champions to Washington.



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Dog blood banks save pets’ lives. But are the donors protected?

September 23, 2017 - 12:00pm

A website for a Texas-based company that provides canine blood products for veterinary transfusions nationally says it sources its blood “primarily from volunteer donors” and aims to “operate in a completely ethical, humane manner.” But an animal rights group contends it has evidence that the Pet Blood Bank does the opposite, procuring its supply from a colony of about 150 greyhounds that live in squalor in dirt-floored pens.

Photographs of the facility, which People for the Treatment of Ethical Treatment of Animals says a former blood-bank employee took between February and June, show kenneled dogs with open wounds, rotting teeth and toenails curling into their paw pads. The organization sent a letter Wednesday to the sheriff of San Saba County, where the company is located northwest of Austin, urging the seizure of dogs “being cruelly confined or unreasonably deprived of necessary food, care or shelter.” A dispatcher said Friday that an investigation is underway.

The former employee’s accusations could not be independently confirmed. In an interview Thursday, Pet Blood Bank owner Shane Altizer did not deny that the images were taken there, but said they predated his 2015 purchase of the company or were “moment snapshots” unrepresentative of overall conditions now.

The allegations provide a window into an industry that helps to save thousands of animals each year, although one that critics say needs more regulation. As the U.S. pet population grows and owners increasingly opt to treat injuries and other conditions with procedures requiring transfusions, animal blood banks are struggling to meet demand. Yet no federal standards exist, and only one state, California, regulates such operations and requires annual inspections.

Veterinarian Anne Hale, former CEO of the nation’s first and largest commercial animal blood bank, said she visited the Pet Blood Bank this summer and was “pleasantly surprised” to find dogs that appeared healthy and happy. After viewing the photos and video circulated by PETA, however, Hale said Friday that her assessment had changed.

“It appears that the facility was ‘cleaned up’ before our touring,” Hale said in an email. “I agree that this facility should be addressed. This certainly suggests that regional, state and/or federal regulation is warranted.”

Experts say sanitary conditions and veterinary care are critical to ensuring that animals are healthy enough to donate blood and that they do not transmit blood-borne pathogens.

No one keeps count of animal blood banks, which take various forms. Commercial operations like the one in Texas sell their products to veterinary clinics or supply companies. But many veterinary hospitals run small-scale versions that usually get blood from staff-owned pets or from patients whose owners may volunteer them in exchange for discounted services.

And many university vet schools also have blood banks, some of which maintain in-house colonies of dogs or cats. These facilities are typically regulated and inspected by the institutions, said veterinarian Sarah Musulin, president of the Association of Veterinary Hematology and Transfusion Medicine.

The “vast majority of veterinary blood banks are overseen by veterinarians and veterinary technicians who have devoted their careers to the well being of animals,” said Musulin, who directs the blood bank at North Carolina State University. And many, she said, are eager to “create best-practice guidelines.” Those include using young, healthy animals that are vaccinated and on preventive medications and that undergo regular health screenings and assessments for stress behaviors.

One point of debate, particularly when it comes to dogs, centers on what donors to use. Many blood banks rely on a humanlike system, sponsoring blood drives and recruiting volunteers. Others use captive colonies, often made up of retired racing greyhounds, a breed that frequently has a universal blood type. Some use a mix of the two.

Colonies limit exposure to communicable diseases and keep dogs from having to travel for blood draws, but they require ample space and staff to keep the dogs fit and stimulated, Musulin said. Ideally, dogs are used for a short time and then placed up for adoption, she said.

Critics of the colony model say it is inhumane when volunteer programs are viable.

“We don’t have a problem with greyhound blood donors. We have a problem with captive greyhound blood donors,” said David Wolf, director of the National Greyhound Adoption Program. He cited the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary hospital as a model for having abandoned its colony in favor of a bloodmobile-based program. “Having blood donors is wonderful as long as they go home and sleep on their soft bed,” Wolf said.

California requires closed colonies, and Jean Dodds, the founder of Hemopet, a nonprofit commercial blood bank there, is adamant that it is the best way to ensure the safety of blood products and a regular supply. Hemopet’s website shows dogs resting in crates in brightly colored “bungalows” alongside a courtyard used for daily walks. It houses about 200 greyhounds that, depending on their weight, donate twice or three times a month before being made available for adoption after no more than one year, Dodds said.

“It should be standardized throughout the country,” she said of animal blood banking. “It’s basically a hole, and it should be filled.”

In Texas, the Pet Blood Bank has mostly used a colony model. It was founded in 2004 by Austin entrepreneur Mark Ziller, who said he initially sought volunteers and used a bloodmobile. When that did not turn up enough dogs, the company began using retired greyhounds housed in a kennel on a private farm northwest of Austin. Ziller said he sold the company in November 2015 to Altizer, whose family owns that farm in Cherokee.

“The Pet Blood Bank had a noble mission: It provided blood for veterinarians to use in lifesaving transfusions,” Ziller wrote in an email, saying that during his ownership the dogs had monthly flea, tick and heartworm medications and regular veterinary care.

After viewing the photos PETA obtained, he added, “To see the animals in that state is beyond depressing.”

Bill Larsen, 60, is the former employee who took the images. He said he first worked at the facility several years ago and that conditions were better then. He was shocked when he was rehired for several months earlier this year, he said.

He described the dogs’ quarters as pens in a former turkey shed that were frequently soiled with feces and urine. The animals had many ticks and were not allowed outside for exercise, he said. Many were what he called “cringe hounds.”

“When they see you touch the gate handle, they run into their [dog] house and hide,” said Larsen, who recounted how he’d unsuccessfully sought help from local animal shelters and a state agency before contacting PETA. “I just like dogs,” he said, and “hate for any animal to get treated like that.”

Altizer said he has tried to make rapid changes since taking over the company. A tick treatment program this summer “wiped out” that problem, he said, and he gave other explanations for other images shared by PETA: Greyhounds commonly have poor teeth; skinny, elderly dogs can get bedsore-type wounds that are hard to resolve. The pens are cleaned daily, and a local vet cares for the dogs, he insisted.

“If a dog isn’t healthy, they don’t produce a product,” Altizer noted. “And if they don’t produce a product, they’re an expense. It’s cheaper to keep a dog healthy.”

The company’s website is being updated and will no longer refer to donors being volunteers, he said.

Hale said Altizer seemed eager for advice and she saw no red flags during her visit this summer. Record-keeping seemed solid, she said, and dogs seemed relaxed in their quarters and during blood draws.

“The dogs really can’t put their paw on the paper and agree to their donorship,” she said Thursday. “We have a higher level of responsibility than even the human blood bankers, because we have to really pay attention to making sure the donors are well cared for.”

According to Daphna Nachminovitch, a senior vice president at PETA, the photos showed tattoos on some of the greyhounds that traced them to racetracks in Florida, Texas and Arkansas. Greyhound adoption programs are ready to take the dogs, she said.

“They were born into an industry that’s cruel,” Nachminovitch said. “But even if these animals are going to be kept for being bled and solely for that purpose, at the very least there are minimal standards of sanitation and veterinary care that they are due and are required by law.”



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Knicks agree to trade Carmelo Anthony to Thunder, AP source says

September 23, 2017 - 11:23am

NEW YORK — The New York Knicks agreed to trade Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a draft pick, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

The person spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade had not been announced.

A day after saying they expected their All-Star forward to be at training camp Monday, the Knicks finally found a trade they were seeking since last season. It puts Anthony into a loaded Oklahoma City lineup that includes NBA MVP Russell Westbrook and Paul George, who was acquired from Indiana this summer.

Anthony will see his old teammates soon: The Knicks open the regular season at Oklahoma City on Oct. 19.

Anthony agreed to waive his no-trade clause to complete the deal, which was first reported by The Vertical. It saves the Knicks and their longtime star from what could have been an awkward reunion next week.

Phil Jackson spent the latter part of his time in New York making it clear he wanted to move Anthony. But a deal was difficult because the 33-year-old forward has two years and about $54 million left on his contract, along with the ability to decline any trade.

He had long maintained that he wanted to stay in New York, but the constant losing and a chance to play with a talented lineup convinced him it was finally time to go.

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After making the postseason each of his first 10 seasons, he has been on the sidelines the last four years and said at the end of last season his priority was a chance to win. He wouldn’t have that in New York, where the Knicks are emphasizing youth and have little proven talent with which to surround Anthony.

But he is close with Westbrook and George and should fit in nicely. He can possibly settle into the spot-up shooter role he’s played in the Olympics, where he’s won a record three gold medals and is the career scoring leader for the U.S. men.



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Colorado Republicans vote to keep 2018 primaries open to unaffiliated voters

September 23, 2017 - 11:05am

A move to close the 2018 Republican primaries to unaffiliated voters was stopped Saturday after a majority of the party leaders voted against the proposal during a Central Committee Meeting.

2018 candidates for Colorado governor

Who is running for governor of Colorado in 2018? (And who is on the fence?)

Voters approved Proposition 108 in 2016, overhauling how major-party candidates are selected in the Colorado and allowing the state’s 1.4 million unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in either the Republican or Democratic primaries.

But a caveat allowed political parties to opt out by a 75 percent vote of its entire central committee. The party did not have enough members present to reach that percentage, making the move dead before the votes had been cast, Colorado Republican Party spokesman Daniel Cole said.

Regardless, those present voted and opt-out proponents only garnered 33 percent of the vote, Cole said. The remaining 67 percent voted to keep the primaries open.

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Had the proposal passed, the Republican party would have left statewide office nominations to party insiders. Instead, the Republican candidate will receive the party’s nomination by winning the most votes in the June 26 primary.

The move to close the primaries could technically come up again before June 26 but Cole said that won’t happen.

A motion to sue to overturn Proposition 8 also went down by the same margin, Cole said.

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State of Missouri lands at center of racial conflict — again

September 23, 2017 - 11:00am

Missouri is again at the center of a racially charged conflict after a judge acquitted a white former St. Louis police officer of first-degree murder in the death of a black drug suspect.

The Sept. 15 verdict provoked angry protests in a state still not fully recovered from the unrest that followed the 2014 death of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old shot by a white officer in the suburb of Ferguson.

Scholars and activists say the latest demonstrations in Missouri, like the Ferguson protests, aren’t just about another police shooting. They reflect unaddressed racial disparities going back generations.

The current conflict “has everything to do with a lot of the continuing, underlining social inequities,” said Kimberly Jade Norwood, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who is black. “Poor public education, poor housing … lack of access to jobs. All these issues are prominent in the protests.”

Hours after a judge acquitted Jason Stockley in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, downtown St. Louis came to a standstill as marching protesters blocked traffic. The demonstrations went on for days, with multiracial protest crowds swelling to thousands of people and spilling into a popular nightlife district in western St. Louis, the hip Delmar Loop area of nearby University City and into two shopping malls.

As the protests intensified, a St. Louis synagogue gave demonstrators shelter after police deployed tear gas. More than 160 people were arrested, and some officers were injured by hurled bricks.

Although the latest events have centered in St. Louis, the whole state has faced recent scrutiny over racial disparities. The NAACP’s national delegates voted in July to issue a travel advisory for Missouri, citing reports that African-Americans were more likely than whites to be stopped by law enforcement officers there, as well as other current and past racial issues in the state.

Earlier this year, the Republican-led state Legislature passed a much-debated law that raised the standard for suing for workplace or housing discrimination, a vote that drew scorn from civil rights leaders.

And last month, a white Missouri House member posted on Facebook that he hoped whoever vandalized a Confederate monument in the southwest of the state would be hanged, sparking calls for him to resign. Before that, a black Democratic state senator posted and later deleted a comment on Facebook about hoping for President Donald Trump’s assassination. The Republican-led state Senate formally reprimanded the Democrat, while the GOP-led state House took the less serious step of opening an ethics review of the Republican.

Advocates point to the state’s second-largest city as a place where racial inequalities are evident and often ignored.

Stockley’s acquittal was the latest evidence of a pattern that “African-Americans are subjected to a totally different justice system,” Derrick Johnson, interim NAACP president and CEO said in a statement. Smith’s death and the deaths of “countless other victims of police brutality” in Missouri are why the NAACP issued the travel advisory.

According to the U.S. Census, the unemployment rate among African-Americans in St. Louis County was 15 percent in 2015, compared with 5 percent among whites. The county’s poverty rate for African-Americans was 22 percent in 2015 compared with 6 percent for whites.

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Nationally, the unemployment rate among African-Americans in 2015 was 10 percent.

A 2015 report titled “For the Sake of All” produced by Washington University and Saint Louis University found that mainly black St. Louis ZIP codes in some cases had an 18-year difference in life expectancy when compared with largely white ZIP codes.

That type of stark difference formed the basis of a warning issued nearly 50 years ago in a report by the Kerner Commission — a panel appointed by then-President Lyndon Johnson to examine the causes of urban riots in the late 1960s. The commission predicted that cities would continue to see racial tensions if communities did not address racial barriers, poverty, housing discrimination and conflicts between police and minority communities.

“These are almost the exact same issues,” said Fred Harris, a former U.S. senator from Oklahoma and the last surviving member of the commission, who now lives in Corrales, New Mexico. “To see that these problems are still with us, I think today we can get some people to do something about it.”

Harris said he was encouraged by the activists in Missouri.

Norwood said she, too, was somewhat optimistic. Days after the demonstrations paralyzed St. Louis, the city’s Board of Aldermen voted to approve a one-year trial for police body cameras. She was also heartened to see that the protests in St. Louis and Ferguson were diverse and included white and Asian-American protesters.

Those changes are needed to tackle Missouri’s current problems, she said, because “in every system that matters, there are tremendous divides in the state based on racial lines.”

___

Associated Press data journalist Angeliki Kastanis in Los Angeles contributed to this report.



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Nail Yakupov hopes to resurrect once-promising career with the Avalanche

September 23, 2017 - 10:52am

Newcomer Nail Yakupov and many of his Avalanche teammates are kindred spirits when it comes resurrecting a young career.

Yakupov, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, hasn’t done anything spectacular since leading the Edmonton Oilers with 17 goals in the lockout-shortened 48-game season of 2012-13. And the Avs, well, they have a handful of high-profile 20-somethings coming off the worst year of their careers.

Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog — top-three overall draft picks themselves — are hoping to put the recent past behind them.

“Every year is important for everyone in this locker room,” Yakupov said. “This team, they didn’t have a good year last year and me, I wasn’t really happy about my year as well. Now we move forward and just try to have fun and play the game.”

The Russian-born Yakupov, who turns 24 on Oct. 6, was traded from Edmonton to the St. Louis Blues just before last season began. He played in just 40 games and had only three goals for the Blues.

Yakupov became a free agent July 1 and agreed to terms with the Avalanche on July 4 to a modest one-year, $875,000 contract. He was making $2.5 million with the Oilers/Blues.

“They had really good interest in me,” Yakupov said of the Avs, who finished with a league-low and club-record worst 48 points last season. “I talked to them a few times and the agents were working on it. I’m happy. I want to be here. I know a few of the guys already and it’s a good group.”

Yakupov mostly has been playing left wing on a line with Duchene, the center, and rookie Alex Kerfoot.

“That line has been really good in camp. All three of those guys,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “I think they’ve found a little chemistry there. Hopefully that will continue and get better and better.”

When asked if he thinks Yakupov will be used in a top-six forward role to begin the season, Bednar quickly said: “Yes.”

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“There’s no doubt that he’s talented. There’s no doubt he has a lot of skill,” Landeskog said of Yakupov. “He had some injuries, some tough seasons, but we’re happy that he’s here. What I’ve seen from him so far, I’m really impressed.”

Yakupov/career statistics. In offensive productivity, Nail Yakupov’s NHL career has declined since he was a 19-year-old rookie in 2012-13:

Season Team GP Goals Assists Pts.

2012-13 Edmonton Oilers 48 17 14 31 (Lockout-shortened season)
2013-14 Edmonton Oilers 63 11 13 24
2014-15 Edmonton Oilers 81 14 19 33
2015-16 Edmonton Oilers 60 8 15 23 –
2016-17 St. Louis Blues 40 3 6 9 14
NHL Totals 292 53 67 120



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New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico

September 23, 2017 - 9:06am

MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two yet-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the new, magnitude 6.1 temblor was centered about 11 miles (18 kilometers) south-southeast of Matias Romero in the state of Oaxaca, which was the region most battered by a magnitude 8.1 quake on Sept. 7.

It was among thousands of aftershocks recorded in the wake of that earlier quake, the most powerful to hit Mexico in 32 years, which killed at least 90 people.

There were some early reports of damage in Oaxaca. Milenio TV broadcast images of a bridge that partially collapsed.

Bettina Cruz, a resident of Juchitan, Oaxaca, said by phone with her voice still shaking that the new quake felt “horrible.”

“Homes that were still standing just fell down,” Cruz said. “It’s hard. We are all in the streets.”

Cruz belongs to a social collective and said that when the new shaking began, she was riding in a truck carrying supplies to victims of the earlier quake.

Nataniel Hernandez said by phone from Tonala, in the southern state of Chiapas, which was also hit hard by the earlier quake, that it was one of the strongest movements he has felt since then.

“Since Sept. 7 it has not stopped shaking,” Hernandez.

U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Paul Caruso said the new temblor was an aftershock of the 8.1 quake, and after a jolt of that size even buildings left standing can be more vulnerable.

“So a smaller earthquake can cause the damaged buildings to fail,” Caruso said.

Buildings and street signs swayed and seismic alarms sounded in Mexico City, prompting people with fresh memories of Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 temblor that has killed at least 295 across the region to flee homes and hotels. Some were in tears.

Alejandra Castellanos was on the second floor of a hotel in a central neighborhood and ran down the stairs and outside with her husband.

“I was frightened because I thought, not again!” Castellanos said.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera told Milenio TV there were “no new developments” due to the quake, though he acknowledged that it provoked “some crises of nerves” among capital residents.

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At the site of an office building that collapsed Tuesday and where an around-the-clock search for survivors was still ongoing, rescuers briefly evacuated from atop the pile of rubble before returning to work.

As rescue operations stretched into Day 5, residents throughout the capital have held out hope that dozens still missing might be found alive. More than half the dead — 157 — perished in the capital, while another 73 died in the state of Morelos, 45 in Puebla, 13 in Mexico State, six in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.

Along a 60-foot stretch of a bike lane in Mexico City, families huddled under tarps and donated blankets, awaiting word of loved ones trapped in the four-story-high pile of rubble behind them.

“There are moments when you feel like you’re breaking down,” said Patricia Fernandez Romero, who was waiting Friday for word on the fate of her 27-year-old son. “And there are moments when you’re a little calmer. … They are all moments that you wouldn’t wish on anyone.”

Families have been sleeping in tents, accepting food and coffee from strangers, people have organized to present a united front to authorities, who they pressed ceaselessly for information.

They were told that water and food had been passed along to at least some of those trapped inside. On Friday morning, after hours of inactivity blamed on rain, rescuers were readying to re-enter the site, joined by teams from Japan and Israel. Fernandez said officials told them they knew where people were trapped on the fourth floor.

It’s the moments between those bits of information that torment the families.

“It’s that you get to a point when you’re so tense, when they don’t come out to give us information,” she said. “It’s so infuriating.”



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Powerless Puerto Rico’s storm crisis deepens with dam threat

September 23, 2017 - 8:58am

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rican officials could not communicate with more than half the towns in the U.S. territory as they rushed to evacuate tens of thousands of people downstream of a failing dam and the massive scale of the disaster wrought by Hurricane Maria started to become clear.

Authorities launched an evacuation of the 70,000 people living downstream from the Guajataca Dam in northwest Puerto Rico, sending buses to move people away Friday and posting frantic warnings on Twitter that went unseen by many in the blacked-out coastal area.

“This is an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SITUATION,” the National Weather Service wrote. “All the areas around the Guajataca River must evacuate NOW. Your lives are in DANGER.”

The 345-yard (316-meter) dam, which was built around 1928, holds back a man-made lake covering about 2 square miles (5 square kilometers). More than 15 inches (nearly 40 centimeters) of rain fell on the surrounding mountains after the Category 4 Maria left the island Wednesday afternoon, swelling the reservoir behind the nearly 90-year-old dam.

An engineer inspecting the dam reported a “contained breach” that officials quickly realized was a crack that could be the first sign of total failure of the dam, U.S. National Weather Service meteorologist Anthony Reynes said.

“There’s no clue as to how long or how this can evolve. That is why the authorities are moving so fast because they also have the challenges of all the debris. It is a really, really dire situation,” Reynes said.

Government spokesman Carlos Bermudez said that officials could not reach 40 of the 78 municipalities on the island more than two days after the hurricane crossed the island, toppling power lines and cellphone towers and sending floodwaters cascading through city streets.

Officials said 1,360 of the island’s 1,600 cellphone towers had been downed, and 85 percent of above-ground and underground phone and internet cables were knocked out. With roads blocked and phones dead, officials said, the situation may be worse than they know.

“We haven’t seen the extent of the damage,” Gov. Ricardo Rossello told reporters in the capital. Rossello couldn’t say when power might be restored.

Maj. Gen. Derek P. Rydholm, deputy to the chief of the Air Force Reserve, said at the Pentagon that it was impossible to say when communication and power would be restored. He said mobile communications systems are being flown in.

But Rydholm acknowledged “it’s going to take a while” before people in Puerto Rico will be able to communicate with their families outside the island. Until Friday, he said, “there was no real understanding at all of the gravity of the situation.”

The island’s electric grid was in sorry shape long before Maria struck. The territory’s $73 billion debt crisis has left agencies like the state power company broke. It abandoned most basic maintenance in recent years, leaving the island subject to regular blackouts.

“Some transmission structures collapsed,” Rossello said, adding that there was no severe damage to electric plants.

He said he was distributing 250 satellite phones from FEMA to mayors across the island to re-establish contact.

The death toll from Maria stood at six, but was likely to rise.

At least 27 lives in all have been lost around the Caribbean, including at least 15 on hard-hit Dominica. Haiti reported three deaths; Guadeloupe, two; and the Dominican Republic, one.

Across Puerto Rico, more than 15,000 people are in shelters, including some 2,000 rescued from the north coastal town of Toa Baja.

Some of the island’s 3.4 million people planned to head to the U.S. to temporarily escape the devastation. At least in the short term, though, the soggy misery will continue: Additional rain — up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) — is expected through Saturday.

In San Juan, Neida Febus wandered around her neighborhood with bowls of cooked rice, ground meat and avocado, offering food to the hungry. The damage was so extensive, the 64-year-old retiree said, that she didn’t think the power would be turned back on until Christmas.

“This storm crushed us from one end of the island to the other,” she said.

Secretary of State Luis Marin said he expects gasoline supplies to be at 80 percent of capacity because the port in the southeastern town of Yabucoa that receives fuel shipments received minor damage.

Hour-long lines formed at the few gas stations that reopened on Friday and anxious residents feared power could be out for weeks — or even months — and wondered how they would cope.

“I’m from here. I believe we have to step up to the task. If everyone leaves, what are we going to do? With all the pros and the cons, I will stay here,” Israel Molina, 68, who lost roofing from his San Juan mini-market to the storm, said, and then paused. “I might have a different response tomorrow.”



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