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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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Roger Goodell, NFLPA, players respond to Trump’s remarks about anthem protests

September 23, 2017 - 8:05am

Hours after President Donald Trump called for NFL owners to fire “son of a b****” national anthem protesters, urged fans to walk out of games if players protest and ridiculed the league’s hitting rules, the NFL Players Association, commissioner Roger Goodell and dozens retired and active players responded.

“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said in a statement released Saturday morning. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”

DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFLPA, said in a lengthy statement that player protests during the national anthem “are protected speech and a freedom” and that no athlete “should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety.”

“The peaceful demonstrations by some of our players have generated a wide array of responses,” Smith wrote. “Those opinions are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history.  This expression of speech has generated thoughtful discussions in our locker rooms and in board rooms. However, the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just ‘shut up and play.’

“NFL players do incredible things to contribute to their communities. NFL players are a part of a legacy of athletes in all sports who throughout history chose to be informed about the issues that impact them and their communities. They chose – and still choose today – to do something about those issues rather than comfortably living in the bubble of sports.  Their decision is no different from the one made by countless others who refused to let ‘what they do’ define or restrict ‘who they are’ as Americans.

“No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights. No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety. We understand that our job as a Union is not to win a popularity contest and it comes with a duty to protect the rights of our members. For that we make no apologies and never will.”

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NFLPA president and current free agent Eric Winston added that he is “extremely disappointed” by Trump’s remarks and that NFL players will continue “to unify people in our country’s toughest moments.”

“Our players are men who are great philanthropists, activists and community leaders who stand up for each other and their beliefs,” Winston said. “I am extremely disappointed in the statements made by the president last night. The comments were a slap in the face to the civil rights heroes of the past and present, soldiers who have spilled blood in countless wars to uphold the values of this great nation and American people of all races, ethnicities, gender and sexual orientations who seek civil progress as a means to make this country, and this world, a better place.

“The divisiveness we are all experiencing in this country has created gridlock in our political system, given voice to extreme, fringe beliefs and paralyzed our progress as a nation. Divisiveness breeds divisiveness, but NFL players have proven to unify people in our country’s toughest moments and we will continue to do so now.

“We will not stop challenging others on how we can all come together to continue to make America the greatest country on earth.”

Speaking to a crowd during a rally for Alabama senatorial candidate Luther Strange, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b**** off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!” Trump also claimed NFL ratings are down “massively,” mocked the league’s rules on hitting, which were installed for player safety, and encouraged fans leave games when they see a player protest.

Saturday afternoon Trump doubled down on his comments by tweeting: “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

Trump also rescinded an honorary invitation to the White House (though one was never reported to be extended) to the Golden State Warriors for winning the NBA championship.

“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team,” Trump tweeted. “Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

The tweet invoked a flurry of responses from NBA players, including LeBron James. It was later reported that the North Carolina men’s basketball team, which won the 2017 NCAA Tournament, will not be visiting the White House, either.

Teresa Kaepernick, the mother of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who led the movement of national anthem protests last year, responded to Trump’s remarks about the NFL, tweeting: “Guess that makes me a proud b****!”

Many other players past and present chimed in, too:

Wow https://t.co/enJBSLTTtY

— Brandon Marshall (@BMarshh54) September 23, 2017

What an emphatic response, where was this passion in response to Charlottesville…🤔 https://t.co/OkVZTdloXx

— Max Garcia (@MGarcia_76) September 23, 2017

Everyone should take a knee this Sunday and Monday.

— Owen Daniels (@owendaniels) September 23, 2017

When I hear the anthem it’s not the words that make me feel like an American. It’s us as people for one moment feeling united standing

— Shane Ray (@StingRay56) September 23, 2017

Together. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize we are kneeling because we need everyone’s focus and eyes so that we can work for

— Shane Ray (@StingRay56) September 23, 2017

Country

— Shane Ray (@StingRay56) September 23, 2017

Wrong my grandfather was in the military. Served in the army Ww2. If he could see how the president of the country he fought for https://t.co/GhOj42KrlE

— Shane Ray (@StingRay56) September 23, 2017

Treated his people and people of color he would stand with his fist high or take a knee right along with the others fighting for a voice https://t.co/GhOj42KrlE

— Shane Ray (@StingRay56) September 23, 2017

The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!

— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) September 23, 2017

Does anyone tell trump to stick to politics, like they tell us to stick to sports? Smh.

— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) September 23, 2017

Ppl said it was disrespectful not going to the White House..I’m sure they are quiet about us being called “sons of bitches” 🤦🏿‍♂️(D-Mac)

— Devin&Jason McCourty (@McCourtyTwins) September 23, 2017

Trump stay in ur place… football have nothing to do wit u smh

— Zach Brown (@ZachBrown_55) September 23, 2017

Smh! Gives more reason https://t.co/TyVCJgQK0L

— T.J. Ward (@BossWard43) September 23, 2017

cloth has more value than people. apparently. https://t.co/PZjeRA9861

— feeno (@ArianFoster) September 23, 2017

I hope more players kneel https://t.co/FjBHNhESh0

— Terrance Knighton (@MisterRoast98) September 23, 2017

Tell 45 to stick to politics. I go to politics to get away from sports.🤔 https://t.co/BSwG5sttfo

— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) September 23, 2017

Where was Trumps “son of a bitch” comments when the racists gathered in Charlottesville?! He spoke about them in a respectable way smh

— Jermon Bushrod (@j_bushrod7475) September 23, 2017

So Trumpster is more mad at “son of a bi!@&” athletes than he was the neo-nazi’s in Charlottesville. How am I not surprised?

— Lance Moore (@LanceMoore16) September 23, 2017

#Kaepernick we riding with you bro ✊🏾

— Reggie Bush (@ReggieBush) September 23, 2017

pic.twitter.com/Xumc820Yj3

— Connor Barwin (@ConnorBarwin98) September 23, 2017

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Trump tells NBA star Curry that White House visit is off

September 23, 2017 - 7:28am

Stephen Curry and President Donald Trump agree on one thing: The Golden State star is not going to the White House anytime soon.

Trump tweeted Saturday that Curry 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 champions’ trip to Washington. Trump’s comment on Curry came one day after the president told NFL owners to fire players who won’t stand for the national anthem.

It was not immediately clear whether Trump was rescinding the invitation for Curry or the entire team.

“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” Trump wrote from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The Warriors, who hold their first practice of the season Saturday, had not made a collective decision whether to go to the White House in celebration of last season’s title. Curry has said he did not want to make such a visit.

“By acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to,” Curry said Friday at the Warriors’ media day. “It’s not just the act of not going. There are things you have to do on the back end to actually push that message into motion.”

The Warriors were expected to comment further later Saturday after their opening practice. Other athletes weighed in quickly, including LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going!” James tweeted. “So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”

For Trump, it was the NFL one day, the NBA the next.

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At a rally in Alabama on Friday night, Trump said NFL players who refused to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” are exhibiting a “total disrespect of our heritage.” Several NFL players, starting last season with then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have either knelt, sat or raised fists during the anthem to protest police treatment of blacks and social injustice.

“That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said, encouraging owners to act. He added, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell strongly backed his league’s players.

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,” Goodell said in a statement.

Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman said the president’s behavior is “unacceptable and needs to be addressed.”

“If you do not condemn this divisive rhetoric you are condoning it!!” Sherman tweeted.

Trump also bemoaned what he called a decline in violence in football, noting that it’s “not the same game” because players are now either penalized or thrown out of games for aggressive tackles.

“No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights,” DeMaurice Smith, the NFL Players Association executive director, said Saturday. “No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety.”

The NBA did not immediately react to Trump’s tweet about Curry. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Players’ Tribune in July he believes teams should visit the White House when invited, though also said he would not order anyone to make such a trip.

“I think that these institutions are bigger than any individual politician, any individual elected official,” Silver said then. “And it concerns me that something like going to the White House after winning a championship, something that has been a great tradition, would become one that is partisan. I will say, though, even though I think that teams should make decisions as organizations, that I would also respect an individual player’s decision not to go.”

Trump has met with some teams already in his first year in office.

Clemson visited the White House this year after winning the College Football Playoff, some members of the New England Patriots went after the Super Bowl victory and the Chicago Cubs went to the Oval Office in June to commemorate their World Series title. The Cubs also had the larger and more traditional visit with President Barack Obama in January, four days before the Trump inauguration.

And if the Warriors don’t want to meet with Trump, they may still get a welcome in Washington: House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California has said she would like to bring the team to the Capitol.

___

Reynolds reported from Miami.

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Broncos at Bills: Who has the edge?

September 23, 2017 - 7:00am

Three things to watch Sunday

The blind side. It’s unclear if rookie left tackle Garett Bolles, who suffered a lower-leg bruise against the Cowboys, will suit up against the Bills. Whether it’s Donald Stephenson, Allen Barbre or another lineman, the player who replaces Bolles, if he can’t play, will have a tall task against a Bills front seven that is the best the Broncos have faced — preseason or regular season — in 2017, coach Vance Joseph said.

Handling the crowd. The Broncos have become comfortable in their own beds. They’ve played four consecutive games at home, including the preseason, dating back to Aug. 26. Sunday marks the team’s first regular-season road game under Joseph. “Nothing’s like playing at Mile High, but road games are awesome, too,” safety Justin Simmons said. “It’s great when you’re able to have that affect to quiet the crowd and go into someone else’s house and get a W.”

Turnover tally. If there’s been one eyesore for the Broncos’ offense through two games, it’s been the turnovers. Two turnovers in the fourth quarter against the Chargers nearly derailed an otherwise strong performance. And the Cowboys turned both of Denver’s giveaways into touchdowns Sunday. They were able to survive those miscues at home, but similar ones could be far more costly in hostile territory.

Game Plan

When the Broncos run. The Broncos have the top rushing offense in the league through two games (159 yards per game), and C.J. Anderson‘s 199 yards are the second-most in the NFL behind Kansas City rookie Kareem Hunt. The Bills have been stingy against the run; the 57.5 yards per game they’ve yielded are fifth-fewest in the league. Edge: Broncos.

When the Broncos pass. Trevor Siemian is averaging 225 yards and three touchdowns per game. He’s been highly efficient on third down (14-of-20, three TDs), an especially key factor on the road. The Bills sacked Panthers QB Cam Newton six times in a 9-3 loss Sunday, and they’ve surrendered just 177 passing yards per game. Edge: Bills.

When the Bills run. LeSean McCoy had just 9 yards rushing against the Panthers, 1 yard more than Ezekiel Elliott produced against Denver last week. Buffalo presents an added element in the run game with QB Tyrod Taylor, who has rushed for 93 yards on 16 carries in two games. Edge: Broncos.

When the Bills pass. Taylor struggled during the preseason and he hasn’t improved much through the first two games of the regular season. He threw for just 125 yards against the Panthers. Each of Denver’s top three cornerbacks — Aqib Talib, Chris Harris and Bradley Roby — has already recorded an interception. Edge: Broncos.

Special teams. Isaiah McKenzie’s average of 13.6 yards per punt return is the highest in the league among players with at least four returns. Denver kicker Brandon McManus has missed his last two field-goal attempts, but he nailed a 50-yarder Sunday that was taken off the board after the Broncos accepted a Dallas penalty. Edge: Broncos.



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National Weather Service: “Yep, it’s fall”

September 23, 2017 - 6:33am

The National Weather Service predicts a rainy and cool weekend for the Denver metro area, which encouraged meteorologist Nazette Rydal to say, “Yep, it’s fall.”

Saturday should have a high in the upper 50s or lower 60s, she said. The low is expected to be around 46 degrees. There’s a 60 percent chance of showers, growing to 70 percent in the evening.

Sunday should have less rain and a high near 51 degrees, she said. The low should be around 43 degrees.

The mountains may see about 2-5 inches of snow above 10,000 and 10,500 feet on Saturday and Sunday, Rydal said.

NWS removed the red flag warnings that were in place yesterday.

Click here for more Denver7 weather coverage.

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Colorado’s wild horses face a new danger on the range: Trump budget cuts

September 23, 2017 - 6:00am

LITTLE BOOK CLIFFS — The stallion broke away from a band of horses and charged past a small knot of visitors at the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range, its coal-black tail streaming like a wind-borne challenge.

The show wasn’t for the two-legged intruders. He was moving on another male, a “bachelor” lurking nearby hoping for a chance to cozy up to a mare in the stallion’s band, said Jim Dollerschell, wild horse range specialist for the Bureau of Land Management.

“The bachelor was making his move to see how far he could get,” Dollerschell said.

The 36,113-acre preserve northeast of Grand Junction is home to 165 mustangs. It’s one of the few areas of federal land where the population of wild horses is generally in sync with the BLM’s mandate to balance the needs of mustangs with other users of the public land.

  • Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver Post

    Wild horses graze on the Bureau of Land Management's Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area on August 4, 2017 near Grand Junction.

  • Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver Post

    Wild horses graze on the Bureau of Land Management's Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area on Aug. 4, 2017 near Grand Junction.

  • Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver Post

    Wild horses graze on the Bureau of Land Management's Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area on August 4, 2017 near Grand Junction.

  • Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver Post

    Wild horses graze on the Bureau of Land Management's Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area on Aug. 4, 2017 near Grand Junction.

  • Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver Post

    Wild horses graze on the Bureau of Land Management's Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area on Aug. 4, 2017 near Grand Junction.

  • Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver Post

    Wild horses graze on the Bureau of Land Management's Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area on Aug. 3, 2017 near Grand Junction.

  • Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver Post

    Wild horses graze on the Bureau of Land Management's Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area on Aug. 4, 2017 near Grand Junction.

  • Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver Post

    Wild horses graze on the Bureau of Land Management's Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area on Aug. 4, 2017 near Grand Junction.

  • Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver Post

    Wild horses graze on the Bureau of Land Management's Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area on Aug. 4, 2017 near Grand Junction.

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Rapid population growth of the herds has resulted in ranchers’ complaints that the animals consume forage and water needed for cattle; an exploding numbers of horses and burros that challenge the BLM’s ability to manage them on and off the range; and anxiety among advocates who fear the government will legalize their slaughter.

Advocates say contraceptive drugs can halt galloping herd growth, but the BLM says the drugs are difficult to administer and require frequent reapplication.

The Trump administration has proposed a $10 million reduction to the government’s wild horse management program, a cut that advocates fear will place the horses in jeopardy of wholesale destruction.

The 2018 budget proposal would reduce money for birth control and asks Congress to kill a rule that prevents the BLM from selling horses to slaughter houses where they would be butchered for human consumption. It also would allow the agency to destroy healthy horses.

A House appropriations committee has paved the way for a reset in policy, recently voting to do away with a prohibition against euthanizing healthy wild horses.

“Removing the prohibition against destruction of healthy horses — that would allow them to kill potentially tens of thousands of horses and burros in holding facilities and on the range,” said Susan Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. “House members are trying to hide the true implications of this vote from the public by calling it ‘euthanasia.’ The mass destruction of federally protected wild horses and burros is not a mercy killing; it’s slaughter.”

How the horses fare ultimately will be determined during negotiations between the House and Senate on a final budget, Roy said.

Wild horse advocates say the animals are an icon of the American West that cattlemen view as competition for cheap, subsidized grazing on public lands.

Horse slaughter ended in the U.S. in 2007 when the last horse slaughterhouses were shuttered.

“Americans don’t eat horses, and the idea of slaughtering them is opposed by 80 percent of the public,” Roy said, citing a 2016 national survey by Public Policy Polling.

However, horse meat is eaten elsewhere in the world, and domestic horses no longer considered useful to their owners are frequently trucked across borders to slaughter facilities in Mexico and Canada.

A 2015 report by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General, found that between 2008 and 2012, La Jara rancher and livestock hauler Tom Davis bought 1,794 horses from the BLM, and many were transported to Mexican slaughterhouses.

In slaughterhouses, horses “are shot in the head with a captive bolt gun in an attempt to stun them before slaughter — an imprecise process that can result in these animals sustaining repeated blows or remaining conscious during dismemberment,” according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver PostWild horses graze on the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area on August 3, 2017 near Grand Junction. Related Articles

A BLM statement on the budget proposal says that due to extensive overpopulation, wild horses and burros routinely face starvation and death from lack of water.

“(The advocates’) position is ‘Do nothing and the problem will work itself out,'” said Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Federal Lands. “You have this one out-of-control element that is causing tremendous ecological damage to the range and a horrifying emergency for these horses.”

The BLM manages 247 million acres of land in the West, and livestock grazes on 155 million of those. Horses are present on 27 million acres.

A recent Government Accountability Office review found that the wild horse population, both on and off range, last year increased to about 113,000, more than double the 55,000 in 2000. As of March, 73,000 wild horses and burros lived on BLM-managed range land, a number the agency says is unsustainable and wreaks havoc on the land and the animals.

Each year, the agency rounds up large numbers, moving them to holding facilities. The BLM has 46,000 in holding pens and off-range pasture today, and the numbers continue to grow.

The BLM’s wild horse and burro budget has climbed to $80.4 million this year from $20.4 million in 2000.The animals have no natural predators.

“If we left them alone, the populations would double in four years,” said Chris Joyner, Grand Junction BLM office spokesman.

Long-acting contraceptives could solve the problem, without destroying any of the animals, Roy said.

“A humane solution exists in the form of birth control, but the federal government continues to fail to use it,” she said.

Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver PostWild horses graze on the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area on August 3, 2017 near Grand Junction.

At Little Book Cliffs, Dollerschell and others routinely inspect the land, replacing some vegetation with grasses more palatable to the animals. Also, with the help of Friends of the Mustangs, a volunteer group, they handle herd management, gathering, adoptions and application of contraceptive drugs.

Dollerschell, a mustachioed agency veteran who can predict a horse’s behavior with speedy accuracy, offers a noncommittal grunt when asked what effect he thinks the budget reduction will have on the herds.

The BLM has used contraception and adoption to keep the herd close to the 150-horse target set for the rugged juniper and piñon-studded Little Book range.

Walled in by steep cliffs, with fences blocking breaks in the natural barrier, Little Book Cliffs presents ideal conditions for using the contraceptive porcine zona pellucida, or PZP.

Unlike many herd areas, Little Book Cliffs is only eight miles from a population center, Grand Junction, with its 146,000 residents. Tourists and residents visit the range to see the horses, hike or otherwise enjoy the desert. The horses are accustomed to human visitors and aren’t as prone to bolt as those that live on more remote land, Joiner said.

Before PZP was introduced in Little Book Cliffs, the herd produced up to 40 foals each year.

The contraceptive has cut that number in half, reducing the need for “gathers,” the roundups of horses that are put up for adoption or sent to storage.

“The population grows slower, so you don’t have to gather as much,” Dollerschell said.

The BLM uses specially designed CO2 powered air rifles to fire darts containing PZP into hind-quarters of mares. Current vaccines are effective for only a year or two, Dollerschell said. It can take an hour of stalking to get within the 60-yard range needed to dart a wild horse, he added.

Much larger herds roam in more remote areas where the horses are more wary of human interlopers, and it is harder to get close enough to dart them.

The BLM treated only 467 horses with the contraceptive last year, said BLM spokesman Jason Lutterman. 

“We would need to gather tens of thousands of animals each year” to ensure that all mares that needed the contraceptive were rounded up, treated and released, he said.

It costs an average of $500 to shoot a dart containing the drug into one horse.

But BLM doesn’t have to stalk the animals to get them into position to dart them, Roy said. They can also be lured into an enclosure with food or water.

Lutterman said the BLM doesn’t track expenses in a way that would show the cost per animal of gathering a group of horses, and then administering the drug.

The number of horses administered PZP on the range shows the agency “is not even trying,” Roy said. “They are spending tens of millions on warehousing. If that was changed to managing on the range, putting resources into that, it could be done.”

“They can also bait or water-trap them, bring them into a corral, dart them and let them go,” she said.

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Q&A with Broncos rookie outside linebacker DeMarcus Walker

September 23, 2017 - 5:00am

When Shelby Harris blocked the would-be tying field-goal attempt of Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo at the end of regulation in the Broncos’ season-opening victory, the play was a trip down memory lane for Denver outside linebacker DeMarcus Walker.

The Broncos rookie authored one of the most memorable plays in the history of the heated Florida State-Miami rivalry. It came last season, when he blocked Miami’s point-after attempt at the end of the game, preserving a 20-19 win in regulation for the Seminoles at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. The play became known as “The Block at the Rock.”

The Denver Post spoke to Walker this week about the legacy of that play, his relationship with Nuggets guard Malik Beasley, preparing for Denver winters and more.

Q: When Shelby Harris had that blocked field goal against the Chargers, did it bring back memories of your blocked extra point to beat Miami during your senior year at Florida State?

A: Most definitely, it really did. I was so happy for him because it was a great play and I know how that feels. I wish it was me, but it was even better to have my first NFL game as a W.

Q: Do you still hear from people about that play?

A: All the time, all the time. That’s going to live forever.

Q: Where did that play stack up in your college career?

A: That’s probably in the top three moments.

Q: Was one of those moments getting tweeted at by Kobe Bryant last season?

A: (Laughs) Nah. That was great, but winning the national championship (as a freshman in 2013), that block or having 4½ sacks (in a game against Ole Miss last season), those were probably my top three moments.

Q: Kobe tweeted you because you mentioned his “Mamba Mentality” after having those 4½ sacks. Is he a guy you’ve always looked up to?

A: Most definitely. You know that when tough moments get there, he takes over. That’s the type of player I want to be on this level. So I’m just staying patient, but hungry also, and trying to get better every single day and just waiting for my moment.

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Q: Speaking of basketball, I understand you and Nuggets guard Malik Beasley are good friends. You both went to Florida State and now are professionals early in your careers here in the same city. What’s that like?

A: To be honest with you, it’s a dream come true. The last thing he said to me when we got to talking was, ‘Man, we’re here now.’ Basically, that’s it. We’re here and we’re fulfilling our dreams. We’re going to take the city over.

Q: Are you excited to go see some of his games?

A: Oh, yeah. I actually met with (president of basketball operations Tim Connelly) of the Nuggets, and I’ll be down there.

Q: Do you play basketball in high school?

A: I did. I was a power forward.

Q: Switching gears, I think people got a kick out of seeing, when you got drafted to Denver and came out here after the draft, that it was your first time experiencing snow. Have you prepared your winter wardrobe yet?

A: I’m getting to that, to be honest with you. I’ve started. That’s a great question. I started on my wardrobe. I’ve bought over five pairs of pants, three trench coats, a bunch of hoodies. I’ve got a lot more to go.”

Q: It will come fast, the weather. That’s what they’ve told you right?

A: Oh, yeah. It was even cold (Wednesday and Thursday) morning. I actually like a little breeze in the morning. I’m getting used to it. I’ve just got to get ready for that cold.

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Ask Amy: Mom wants adult son to step up at home

September 23, 2017 - 3:30am

Dear Amy: My 30-year-old son returned to live at home from several states away.

He has a college degree, is handsome, charming, and quick-witted.

His former position with a well-known insurance company ended when the contract ran out.

Initially I thought he would be living at home for two or three weeks, but we have now hit 12 weeks.

I am getting frustrated, as he seems to have become very comfortable with not really doing much to help around the house, and not helping with utilities.

He is going to interviews often, but hasn’t been offered a position yet.

We have always been very close, but this has put a wedge between us.

I am also raising my 12-year-old grandson, and have my elderly parents here. My plate is full.

I don’t want another person to take care of, and I know he doesn’t want me to feel that way, but … I do.

Can you offer advice on how to approach the subject of helping to pay the utilities and helping at home, without an attitude?

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— Concerned Mother

Dear Concerned: Your son is a functioning adult. Obviously, you have every right to expect him to step up at home. But your inability to ask him to step up is your own problem — not his.

There is no “attitude” involved in communicating your needs clearly. You speak to him adult-to-adult, and expect him to understand and do what he can to comply.

It is not unusual in the current job climate to spend several months interviewing at various companies for a professional position. You should assume that this is a potentially lengthy process.

Have a meeting with your son. Say, “Here’s what I need from you in order for this to work, longer term.” Surely there are ways he can help with your grandson and your parents. Assign regular and reasonable tasks that will help to relieve your burden.

If he is receiving unemployment insurance or has savings, he should pay toward living expenses while he is with you. If he doesn’t have income or savings, he should also look for a part-time job in order to help with the bills while he is living with you.

Dear Amy: I’m responding to the question from “Kathy in Colorado,” who was shocked when she and her friend were asked to vacate their table at a cafe to make room for other customers.

When we retired a few years ago, my husband and I started taking trips. We often stop for coffee in small towns.

In one cute little Vermont college town, a well-frequented cafe had signs above the tables, basically saying: “Please use for up to two hours” or “Please stay no longer than 30 minutes” — something to that effect.

We were in this town for several days, and noticed people engaged in what seemed to be lengthy conversations, or studying with their laptops at the “long-use” tables, while others enjoyed coffee and bagels at the “short” ones.

The cafe owners were smart — they had their long-use tables in the front window, so it seemed that it was a busy place (even when the rest of the place might be relatively empty).

In small Iowa towns, a large, round, re-purposed wooden dining-room table is frequented by the “regulars,” with chairs pulled up as needed. There are smaller booths or tables as well.

It is so fun visiting these small towns — strangers are immediately spotted, and if we tell them we are taking tombstone pictures, pretty soon we hear stories of local tiny cemeteries and old pioneer times.

When we’re home, we read your column in Blair, Neb.

— Small Town Tourists

Dear Tourists: Like you, I have an abiding love of small towns. (I currently live in the town where I grew up, which has a population of 540). I like the solution these cafes have arrived at regarding “long-use” tables, and enjoy picturing old friends gathering and sipping their coffee. This probably wouldn’t work in higher-volume restaurants, which is one more reason to stay small and local.

Regarding your fascinating hobby of photographing tombstones — what a wonderful way to discover and chronicle history!

Dear Amy: Hooray for your practical and wise answer to “A Lot to Handle,” the parents who were basically enabling their adult son’s drug addiction. It is so hard to detach from another’s addiction, while still remaining concerned and involved.

— Family with Addiction

Dear Family: Concerned family members need to make a choice to lovingly detach, and to only support recovery.



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PHOTOS: Pamona vs. Valor in 5A football

September 22, 2017 - 10:16pm

Pomona took on Valor Christian in a Class 5A nonconference high school varsity football game held at the North Area Athletic Complex Friday, September 22, 2017.



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Nolan Arenado leads a solo-homer trio as Rockies snap a troubling skid in victory at San Diego

September 22, 2017 - 10:04pm

SAN DIEGO — The clicker does not reside in Jonathan Lucroy’s locker, so the televisions hanging from the clubhouse ceilings at Petco Park flashed with ballgames from around the National League on Friday afternoon. He crossed his arms and scowled.

“If it was up to me, I’d turn off every TV here,” the Rockies’ veteran catcher said. “Just go play the game and not worry about what anybody else is doing.”

There were plenty of worrisome situations on the field and off for the Rockies before they dug out a 4-1 victory over the Padres later in the night.

The Cardinals and Brewers had crept up on Colorado like cat burglars in masks, underlining the wild in a wild-card chase just as the Rockies lost their offensive prowess.

And Jordan Lyles, the lanky right-hander discarded from Colorado’s bullpen in July, was blowing by his former team with four perfect innings. The Rockies had gone scoreless in two consecutive games prior and their 19-inning skid without a run became 23.

“It felt like two months,” Nolan Arenado said. “You hold us down two games in a row, it’s kind of a shock.”

Then Arenado hit an opposite-field solo home run to right field to pop a hole in the dam. His leadoff shot was followed three batters later by another from Ian Desmond — his sixth this season and fourth in San Diego — and the Rockies drew a crooked number on the scoreboard for the first time since Tuesday.

“We’re like, ‘Man, we have to at least score some runs,'” Arenado said. “These are bigger games. We have to do something. Us getting shut out just gives us a better chance to break out.”

Trevor Story added a line-drive homer to lead off the seventh and Lucroy drove in a run with a single to left as the Rockies carved space to catch a breath.

The Brewers fell to the Cubs in extra-innings for a second time in as many nights, falling 2 games back in a wild-card chase. The Cardinals topped the Pirates in Pittsburgh to leap-frog past Milwaukee. They remain 1 1/2 games behind Colorado.

If Friday’s slog through San Diego was not a do-or-die game, it sure felt like it. The Giants were 22 games behind the Rockies, so far down they could see roots, but they swept a two-game series against Colorado earlier this week. And the Padres, 14 games in the rear, drowned the Rox for an easy 3-0 victory Thursday.

Jon Gray, the Rockies’ right-hander, continued to thrust his team toward October, throwing six quality innings on just five hits. As he struck out eight Padres batters and walked just one.

And Gray extended to 12 games a streak of allowing three or fewer runs. That tied the second-longest mark in club history, along with Ubaldo Jimenez’s number from 2009. Jimenez threw 14 quality starts in a row in 2010. Gray will likely not reach that record. He has just one more scheduled start before the postseason.

“I feel more comfortable every time out,” Gray said. “I knew as long as I kept the same mindset, everything would work out. Our offense is too good to stay where they were at. I knew they would get out of it. They hit the ball hard.”

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Lyles upset Gray’s shutout outing with a run-scoring single to center in the fifth and he fared significantly better than his last outing, a four-inning effort that resulted in seven runs and eight hits in a loss to the Rockies.

Right-hander Pat Neshek squirmed out of the seventh after relieving lefty Chris Rusin with runners on first and third. He struck out Manuel Margot and Arenado sprinted back to a cranny corner in foul territory for a nifty catch to put out San Diego Christian Villanueva, the rookie who homered the Padres to victory Thursday.

Jake McGee then pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and closer Greg Holland pitched a clean ninth for the first time since Sept. 8, tying a club record with his 41st save, matching Jose Jimenez from 2002.

The Rockies snapped a four-game skid.

“Wins like this make it feel like we’ve won five in row,” Arenado said. “It’s that big.”



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North Korean leader Kim called Trump a what? A “dotard”

September 22, 2017 - 10:02pm

By Hyung-jin Kim, The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — Famous for using bombastic, derogatory and often-awkward English slams against enemies, North Korean state media sent people scrambling for dictionaries Friday with a dispatch that quotes leader Kim Jong Un calling President Donald Trump “the mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”

The what?

Dotard means a person in a feeble or childish state due to old age. It’s a translation of a Korean word, “neukdari,” which is a derogatory reference to an old person.

It was used in an unusual direct statement from Kim that the Korean Central News Agency transmitted verbatim in response to Trump’s speech at the U.N. this week, in which he mocked Kim as a “Rocket Man” on a “suicide mission,” and said that if the U.S. is “forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

Past KCNA reports have used the Korean word against South Korean conservatives, but they rarely translate it as dotard.

Sometimes, it is translated into the neutral “old people” or omitted, depending on the context or the importance of the statement. KCNA last used the word in February to describe supporters of ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye, whom it also called “neukdari” and a “prostitute.” Before that, KCNA called Park’s conservative predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, “the traitor like a dotard.”

So why did KCNA use the word again?

It may have simply resorted to a Korean-English dictionary. Putting “neukdari” into a popular online Korean-English dictionary in South Korea returns two English equivalents: an “aged (old) person” and a “dotard.”

There has been a widening linguistic divide between the rival Koreas, but “neukdari” has the same meaning in North Korea as in the South, according to a South Korean organization involved in a now-stalled project to produce a joint dictionary.

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The Korean version of Friday’s dispatch places “michigwangi,” which means a mad or crazy person, before “neukdari,” so a more accurate translation might have been a “crazy old man” or an “old lunatic.”

In the past, KCNA has occasionally not published English versions of crude insults directed at U.S. leaders or officials in an apparent effort to differentiate its statements for domestic audiences and outsiders.

KCNA called President Barack Obama a “monkey” in 2014, but attributed the remarks to a factory worker and did not issue an English version. Later the same year, an unidentified North Korean defense commission spokesman called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a wolf with a “hideous lantern jaw,” but again only in Korean.

After Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” in August, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the North’s strategic rocket forces, was quoted in a KCNA Korean dispatch as saying Trump showed his “senility” again. But the KCNA English dispatch omitted that word.

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The Cassidy-Graham bill probably won’t become law. And more than half of America is good with that, according to poll

September 22, 2017 - 9:49pm

Republicans’ last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare was always a moonshot.

A bill proposed by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., looks like it doesn’t have enough support in the Senate to pass a party-line vote. Republican leaders were trying to rush something through by Sept. 30. And now, we find, it’s unpopular with the broader electorate.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that more than half of Americans prefer Obamacare (56 percent) to the latest GOP plan. A much smaller 33 percent of Americans prefer the bill that Senate Republicans, panicked by a month back home with their base and no Obamacare repeal to show, abruptly put on the table this month.

Worse for Republicans: Roughly twice as many people strongly prefer the current law to Republicans’ plan, 42 to 22 percent.

These aren’t necessarily gut reflexes either. The Post-ABC poll described three aspects of the Cassidy-Graham proposal to voters before asking what they prefer: its elimination of the requirement for nearly all Americans to have health insurance, the phasing out of federal funds to help lower and moderate income people buy health insurance, and letting states replace federal rules on health coverage with their own rules.

Of course, partisanship does color the way voters see this bill. Democrats are unsurprisingly supportive of the current health-care law – in all 85 percent of them prefer it to the Republican plan, with 70 percent strongly preferring it. Large majorities of urbanites, people under 40 and nonwhites also favor Obamacare to the GOP alternative.

Republicans favor the new plan by a nearly 3 to 1 margin, 66 to 23 percent over the current health-care law. But note that nearly a quarter of their party doesn’t support this bill, which is the closest thing to an Obamacare repeal that Congress has seriously considered.

Republicans are trapped right where they’ve been all along: struggling to pass a bill that’s unpopular within ideologically wide wings of their party and unpopular with a sizable swath of the general public. At one point, some reputable polls found Republicans’ health-care bill was about as popular as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, Obamacare and big-government ideas like single-payer have been getting more popular.

Republicans were always going to be up against a perception problem on repealing Obamacare. “Government should get out of people’s health care!” is an easy sell for a politician, but it’s a much harder sell as a policy. Taking government out of people’s health care will take away some people’s health insurance – millions, according to official estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said.

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Public opinion didn’t stop Republicans from voting on unpopular health-care bills earlier this year. Republicans may still try again early next week to pass this bill, given it’s their last chance for a while to do something on health care. It’s likelier than not it fails, given that Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., oppose it, and two other senators have serious concerns about it.

That would mean Obamacare would be the law of the land for the foreseeable future. And more than half of America is okay with that.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted Sept. 18-21 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults reached on cellular and landline phones, with overall results carrying a plus or minus 3.5-point margin of sampling error.

The full wording of the question is: “There’s a new Republican proposal to replace the current federal health care law, known as Obamacare. It would (end the national requirement for nearly all Americans to have health insurance), (phase out the use of federal funds to help lower and moderate-income people buy health insurance), and (let states replace federal rules on health care coverage with their own rules). What do you prefer: the current federal health care law, or this Republican plan to replace it?” Phrases in parentheses were read in a random order to respondents.

Scott Clement and Emily Guskin contributed to this report.

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Latest GOP effort to dismantle Obamacare on the brink of failure after defections

September 22, 2017 - 9:41pm

WASHINGTON – The latest Republican effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act stood on the brink of failure Friday after Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., announced his opposition to the proposal and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she was leaning against it.

The intensifying resistance dealt a potentially decisive blow to the renewed attempt to fulfill a seven-year-old GOP promise. McCain joined Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in formally opposing the plan, leaving party leaders one senator away from defeat.

Friday’s developments forced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and President Donald Trump into a difficult corner. They must now decide whether to continue to pursue a vote that increasingly appears likely to fail, or short-circuit the endeavor and deal with the backlash after another unsuccessful try.

Another GOP failure to undo Obamacare could have a seismic impact on the legislative dynamic in Washington and the emerging contours of the 2018 midterm elections. Trump’s relationship with McConnell has grown sour since an earlier failure to repeal the law over the summer and the current push represents a chance to repair that relationship. If it fails, Trump could turn on congressional Republicans more forcefully and be tempted to work with Democrats, whom he has courted on a series of narrower issues.

Many Republicans fear defeat could also depress the GOP political base headed into the midterms, potentially reducing turnout next fall and creating an environment in which GOP incumbents are ripe for primary challenges from angry conservatives.

One overriding obstacle for Republicans, however, is that their efforts to roll back the ACA are deeply unpopular among the broader public. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Friday showed that more than half of Americans (56 percent) prefer the ACA to the latest GOP plan. Only 33 percent prefer the bill that Senate Republicans abruptly put on the table this month.

In a lengthy written statement Friday, McCain said he “cannot in good conscience” vote for the bill authored by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., which GOP leaders have been aiming to bring to the Senate floor next week. As he had done repeatedly in recent days, he railed against the hurried process leaders have used to move the measure ahead.

“I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case,” McCain said. He blamed a looming Sept. 30 deadline to take advantage of a procedural rule allowing Republicans to pass the bill with as few as 50 Senate votes, plus Vice President Mike Pence as a tiebreaker.

Senate Republicans hold a narrow 52-48 majority and Democratic senators are united against repealing or gutting President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.

McCain also said he could not vote for a bill without a complete snapshot of its effects from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which said earlier this week it could only provide a partial picture by next week. The office said it could not determine the bill’s impact on insurance premiums or project the change in insurance coverage levels it would trigger until a later date.

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“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said. He added that he took “no pleasure” in his announcement. McCain and Graham are close friends.

In her home state on Friday, Collins also signaled that she is edging close to becoming a definite “no.” Like McCain, Collins voted against a different GOP repeal bill in July that was rejected by the Senate.

“I’m leaning against the bill,” she said at an event in Portland, Maine. “I’m just trying to do what I believe is the right thing for the people of Maine.”

Collins has said she is particularly worried that by giving states wide latitude to change the ACA’s current requirements, it could prompt insurers to hike up rates for consumers with costly medical conditions.

“I’m reading the fine print,” she said, adding that for those with preexisting conditions, “The premiums would be so high they would be unaffordable.”

Paul spokesman Sergio Gor reiterated his boss’s opposition to Cassidy-Graham on Friday, after Trump threatened Paul and other senators on Twitter.

“Rand Paul, or whoever votes against Hcare Bill, will forever (future political campaigns) be known as ‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare,” Trump tweeted. Paul – who objects to the legislation on the grounds that it does not fully repeal the ACA – responded in a series of tweets saying he “won’t be bribed or bullied” into changing his mind.

Graham said Friday that he planned to continue trying to bring the plan to a vote. McConnell’s office, which said earlier that he intended to bring the plan to the Senate floor next week, did not respond to an inquiry about what he plans to do next.

But some were skeptical the rebooted effort could continue.

At a town hall in liberal Iowa City, which began an hour after McCain announced his opposition to the bill, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, told a cheering crowd stacked with ACA supporters that the GOP’s repeal push was likely over for the year.

“I’ll be honest,” Ernst said. “It seems unlikely that we’ll be voting on this.”

Cassidy-Graham would turn funding for the ACA into block grants for states and sharply cut Medicaid spending over time. Three independent analysis and an internal one from the Trump administration have all predicted that more than 30 states would lose federal funding between 2020 and 2026 under the measure.

Broadly speaking, states with low health-care costs that provide fewer Medicaid benefits and failed to expand the program under the ACA stand to gain under Cassidy-Graham, while others stand to lose. As a result, states such as Texas, Georgia and Mississippi would gain funding, while California, New York and Maryland would get hit.

While it is difficult to calculate how the Graham-Cassidy bill would affect the number of Americans with health insurance, an analysis published Friday by the Brookings Institution and the University of California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics projected that roughly 15 million Americans would lose coverage over the next two years if the bill was enacted.

Powerful groups representing insurers and physicians have come out forcefully against the bill this week. Patient advocacy groups have been mobilizing in force to try to sway members who have yet to say how they will vote. On Monday a coalition of 20 groups are planning holding a rally at the U.S. Capitol, where the featured speakers will include a lung cancer patient and a mother and her 14 year-old son who was born with congenital heart disease.

Senate Republican leaders and Trump administration officials have continued to lobby for the measure.Pence, who hosted Maine Gov. Paul LePage, R, at his ceremonial office Friday, said the Cassidy-Graham bill “is an idea whose time has come.”

“President Trump and I are absolutely determined to carry this case all across the country and to call on members of the Senate – most especially Senator Susan Collins from the great state of Maine – to join us in giving the people of Maine and the people of America a fresh start on health care reform,” Pence said.

Another wild card, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was still undecided late Friday, according to her communications director, Karina Petersen. “Right now she is still focused on how the bill will impact Alaska, specifically. She’s continuing to gather data and is looking at the details of the bill to determine what’s best for her state,” Petersen said.

Graham said on Twitter that his “friendship with McCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is,” adding that he was “excited about solutions” in the bill.

“We press on,” he concluded.

Senate Democrats praised McCain’s surprise announcement and called for Republicans to resume stalled negotiations between Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on legislation to strengthen existing health insurance market places.

Murray and Alexander appeared to be nearing an agreement earlier in the week on a deal to ensure continued payment of federal subsidies to help reduce out-of-pocket costs and premiums for low income people. But Alexander abruptly ended the talks as GOP leaders intensified their efforts to win votes for Cassidy-Graham.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who flew to California to speak at the annual conference of National Nurses United, asked activists to join him in thanking McCain. But Sanders also said the “struggle over this legislation is not over,” urging activists to “do everything you can, get the word out all over this country, to tell them that no Republican should vote for this.”

The Washington Post’s David Weigel in Iowa City, Iowa and Amber Phillips and Amy Goldstein in Washington contributed to this report.

Categories: All Denver News.

70,000 in Puerto Rico urged to evacuate immediately as dam is in “imminent” danger of failure

September 22, 2017 - 9:21pm

By Samantha Schmidt, Katie Zezima, Sandhya Somashekhar and Daniel Cassady, The Washington Post

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – Tens of thousands of residents in northwestern Puerto Rico were ordered to evacuate Friday amid fears that a dam holding back a large inland lake was in imminent danger of failing because of damage from Hurricane Maria’s floodwaters.

Officials worried that as many as 70,000 people could be in the path of a massive amount of rushing water in the event the Guajataca Dam releases into the Guajataca River, which flows north through low-lying coastal communities and empties into the ocean.

The dam suffered a “fissure,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said in a news conference Friday afternoon. Residents in the municipalities of Quebradillas, Isabela and part of San Sebastian could be affected if the dam collapses, he said, and it could be a catastrophic event.

“To those citizens . . . who are listening: Please evacuate,” Rosselló said as buses were dispatched to ferry residents out of harm’s way. “We want your life to be protected. . . . Please, if you’re listening, the time to evacuate is now.”

Abner Gomez, executive director of Puerto Rico’s emergency management agency, said in an interview late Friday that the dam’s gates suffered mechanical damage during the storm, making it impossible for them to open and let out normal water currents. Officials worry that could cause the dam to spill over.

Gomez said that under current conditions, with water rising after the hurricane, “there is no way to fix it” right now. Additional water flowing into the lake could create sudden dangers, so emergency evacuation was the only option, he said. If the dam spills over or fails structurally, he said, “thousands of people could die.”

The urgent situation Friday came more than 48 hours after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico’s southeastern coast as the most powerful storm to strike the island in more than 80 years. It was a reminder that Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico is far from over; officials still have little sense of the scope of the damage as a communications and power blackout continued to affect nearly everyone in the U.S. territory.

Gomez characterized Maria as “one of the greatest natural disasters” in recent U.S. history, comparing it to Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. The destruction in some parts of the island “looked more like a tornado than a hurricane,” he said. Rescue and recovery could take months, he said, and a “return to normalcy” could take at least a year.

  • Ricardo Arduengo, AFP/Getty Images

    A man gestures as he walks through a debris covered road as Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico in Fajardo, on Sept. 20, 2017. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of "large and destructive waves" as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast.

  • Hector Retamal, AFP/Getty Images

    Residents of San Juan, Puerto Rico, deal with damages to their homes on Sept. 20, 2017, as Hurricane Maria batters the island. Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on Wednesday, cutting power on most of the US territory as terrified residents hunkered down in the face of the island's worst storm in living memory. After leaving a deadly trail of destruction on a string of smaller Caribbean islands, Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico's southeast coast around daybreak, packing winds of around 150mph (240kph).

  • Hector Retamal, AFP/Getty Images

    Rain and wind hit a parking lot at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017, during the passage of the Hurricane Maria. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of "large and destructive waves" as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast.

  • Ricardo Arduengo, AFP/Getty Images

    People taking shelter at Fajardo's City Hall watch as Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of "large and destructive waves" as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast.

  • NOAA via AFP/Getty Images

    This satellite image obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows Hurricane Maria at 1200UTC on Sept. 20, 2017. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of "large and destructive waves" as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast.

  • Tatiana Fernandez, The Associated Press

    A woman covers herself with a plastic bag as she makes her way to work as Hurricane Maria approaches the coast of Bavaro, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.

  • Tatiana Fernandez, The Associated Press

    Men wade through a flooded Alemania Avenue as Hurricane Maria reaches the coast of Bavaro, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.

  • Ricardo Arduengo, AFP/Getty Images

    A search and rescue crew member removes a tree branch from a flooded road as Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico in Fajardo, on Sept. 20, 2017. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of "large and destructive waves" as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast.

  • Hector Retamal, AFP/Getty Images

    Residents of San Juan, Puerto Rico, deal with damages to their homes on Sept. 20, 2017, as Hurricane Maria batters the island. Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on Wednesday, cutting power on most of the US territory as terrified residents hunkered down in the face of the island's worst storm in living memory. After leaving a deadly trail of destruction on a string of smaller Caribbean islands, Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico's southeast coast around daybreak, packing winds of around 150mph (240kph).

  • Carlos Giusti, The Associated Press

    Rescue personnel from the Emergency Management Agency make preparations to rescue about 19 municipal police officers that were stranded at their flooded station during the impact of Maria, a Category 5 hurricane that hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.

  • Ricardo Arduengo, AFP/Getty Images

    A woman is transported to a shelter by search and rescue crew members after being rescued from her flooded home as Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico in Fajardo, on Sept. 20, 2017. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of "large and destructive waves" as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast.

  • Hector Retamal, AFP/Getty Images

    Residents of San Juan, Puerto Rico, deal with damages to their homes on Sept. 20, 2017, as Hurricane Maria batters the island. Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on Wednesday, cutting power on most of the US territory as terrified residents hunkered down in the face of the island's worst storm in living memory. After leaving a deadly trail of destruction on a string of smaller Caribbean islands, Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico's southeast coast around daybreak, packing winds of around 150mph (240kph).

  • Jose Romero And Hector Retamaljose Romero,hector Retamal, AFP/Getty Images

    Destruction caused by Hurricane Maria close to Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 20, 2017. Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on Wednesday, cutting power on most of the US territory as terrified residents hunkered down in the face of the island's worst storm in living memory. After leaving a deadly trail of destruction on a string of smaller Caribbean islands, Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico's southeast coast around daybreak, packing winds of around 150mph (240kph).

  • Hector Retamal, AFP/Getty Images

    Librada is seen at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum refuge in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 19, 2017, prior the arrival of Hurricane Maria. She left voluntarily of her house to take refuge. Maria headed towards the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico after battering the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, with the US National Hurricane Center warning of a "potentially catastrophic" impact.

  • Lionel Chamoiseau, AFP/Getty Images

    A man clears debris from a street in Saint-Pierre, on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, after it was hit by Hurricane Maria, on Sept. 19, 2017. Martinique suffered power outages but avoided major damage.

  • Alex Wroblewski, Getty Images

    Felled trees cover the roads in the Miramar neighborhood after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thousands of people have sought refuge in shelters, and electricity and phone lines have been severely effected.

  • Tatiana Fernandez, The Associated Press

    Workers pick up tables and board up windows at a restaurant, before the arrival of Hurricane Maria in Bavaro, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.

  • Alex Wroblewski, Getty Images

    Residents cover windows as they prepare for a direct hit from Hurricane Maria on September 19, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello is saying Maria could be the "most catastrophic hurricane to hit" the U.S. territory in a century.

  • Alex Wroblewski, Getty Images

    The La Perla neighborhood in Old San Juan as residents prepare for a direct hit from Hurricane Maria on Sept. 19, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello is saying Maria could be the "most catastrophic hurricane to hit" the U.S. territory in a century.

  • Lionel Chamoiseau, AFP/Getty Images

    A resident stands at her doorstep as she looks at strong waves in Saint-Pierre, on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, after it was hit by Hurricane Maria, on Sept. 19, 2017. Martinique suffered power outages but avoided major damage.

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Authorities on Friday reported six deaths across the island. Three of the fatalities occurred in the municipality of Utuado as a result of mudslides, Puerto Rico’s public safety department said in a statement. Two others died in flooding in Toa Baja, and one other person died in Bayamón when a panel struck him in the head. More deaths are likely to be reported in coming days as search-and-rescue crews reach previously inaccessible areas, officials said.

“We are aware of other reports of fatalities that have transpired by unofficial means, but we cannot confirm them,” said Héctor Pesquera, secretary of the public safety department.

Though damage assessments have been nearly impossible, early reports reveal an island ravaged by Maria’s high winds and torrential rains, with roofs peeled open like tin cans, neighborhoods waterlogged, and trees that were lush just days ago now completely stripped bare of leaves. The hurricane plowed through the entire 100-mile island, with the eye tracking diagonally from the southeast to the northwest.

“Every vulnerable house here made out of wood was completely or partially destroyed during the path of the eye of the hurricane,” Rosselló said of an island where many homes are constructed with wood foundations and zinc roofs. “Puerto Rico has endured an horrific ordeal.”

The lack of communications has isolated rural areas of the island. Just 15 percent of Puerto Rico’s communication towers are working, and some transmission towers have collapsed. Up to 85 percent of the island’s fiber cables are damaged.

Power remains completely out across the island, and just 25 percent of it has water service.

Shock has given way to frayed nerves as officials warned that it could be months before power is restored to some areas, and there is no indication of when communications infrastructure will be fixed. In San Juan, the capital, streets were choked with traffic as people tried to find loved ones and spent hours waiting in line for gas.

The De La Cruz family could not find fuel Thursday. On Friday morning they waited in line for six hours at one of the open stations here, and there were still 20 cars in front of them. Gabriel De La Cruz and his wife, Luisa, took turns fanning their 1-year-old son, Ismael, who sat sweating in the hot car, wearing only a diaper.

“This is all we have,” De La Cruz, 30, said of the car. They lost their home and all their belongings.

Residents searching for loved ones in remote areas met downed trees, power lines and other debris. News was particularly scarce from the southern and central parts of the island, as well the tiny island of Vieques to the east.

“Even worse than not having power or water, which we’ve unfortunately become accustomed to, a communications blackout was the real anxiety-inducing feature . . . we haven’t really dealt with it before,” said Miguel Soto-Class, president of the Center for a New Economy, a San Juan-based think tank, who stood on the roof his home to get a cell signal. “Are people dead and suffering or are people like we are, bruised but fine? The not-knowing part is just terrible.”

Puerto Rico, with 3.5 million U.S. citizens, also is facing a crisis due to geography: It is an island dependent on air and sea for supplies and help. The immediate response that occurred after Hurricane Harvey in Houston, where volunteers from Louisiana headed in during the storm, or after Hurricane Irma in Florida, where utility trucks were pre-positioned to assist, is impossible here.

“It’s not like you can just drive a tractor-trailer,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Puerto Rican-born president of the New York City Council. “That adds a whole other layer of logistical challenge to it.”

Photos taken from a helicopter surveying the damage in the southeastern part of the island, encompassing an area that on a good day would be a two-hour drive from San Juan, show entire neighborhoods engulfed in murky water. Tops of buildings were sliced open, their rooms visible as if in a dollhouse.

A building in a coastal luxury resort, once with enviable ocean views, was now partially floating over open air as rocks and mud crumbled under one corner and fell into the sea. Windmills broke and shattered, and solar panels shone like mirrors.

The enormity of what the country had just been through – and what was yet to come – appeared to be sinking in for many people, including those who considered themselves hurricane-hardened.

“This storm was something,” said Geraldo Ramirez, 36, a resident of San Juan’s La Perla neighborhood. “I was here for Hurricane Georges back in ’98, and that was hard to believe, how badly it affected the island. But this, Maria, was something altogether different.”

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Ramirez lives in a small three-story house near the waterfront on Calle San Miguel. His house, a sturdy cinder-block structure, was built 17 years ago and did not suffer much structural damage. But rain and ocean water found its way into every room. He expects not to have power for months.

“But it’s OK, we will make do,” he said. “We are used to it and it’s always the same. Georges, Hugo, we lose power and we lose water. But we know how to survive.”

Leaning against the wall of his carport in coastal Loiza, Jorge Diaz, 72, was waiting for the airport to open, so he can escape to relatives in Florida because he can’t imagine going months without electricity and water.

“That’s unreasonable. You can’t live like this,” Diaz said. “It’s a dark time now. A dark time for Puerto Rico.”

One block down and across the street, Lizmarie Bultron, 39, trudged through calf-high water to exit her home, about a block from the beach.

“Everything I had is gone. I lost my whole house; the only thing left is the floor,” Bultron said, looking at her feet, still ankle-deep in water. “And this, this water won’t be gone for at least a month. All we can do is wait. Wait for help to come. That’s the only choice. But no one has come yet. Not FEMA, not anyone.”

Cassady reported from Loiza, Puerto Rico; Somashekhar and Zezima reported from Washington. Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo in San Juan and Jesse Mesner-Hage in Washington contributed to this report.

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Armed robbery suspect out of Illinois arrested in Centennial

September 22, 2017 - 9:14pm
U.S. MarshalsAn armed robbery and burglary suspect out of Illinois was arrested Friday in Centennial.

An armed robbery and burglary suspect out of Illinois was arrested Friday in Centennial.

James Burnett, 28, was wanted for a Sept. 14 robbery in Lake County, according to a U.S. Marshals news release.

As part of an ongoing investigation, the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force learned that Burnett was hiding in Colorado and passed the information on to Marshals here, who arrested the suspect.

Burnett is being held at the Arapahoe County Jail awaiting extradition to Illinois.

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Forest Service, Idaho work to boost logging on federal land

September 22, 2017 - 8:57pm

BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. Forest Service and Idaho have forged 10 agreements for logging and restoration projects on federal land in what officials say could become a template for other Western states to create jobs and reduce the severity of wildfires.

Under the deals, Idaho foresters will administer timber sales on about 10,000 acres (40 square kilometers) the federal agency has on its to-do list but can’t complete because the money for the work is instead going to fight wildfires.

So far this year, the cost of that fight has surpassed $2 billion — more than half the federal agency’s annual budget — during one of the worst fire seasons on record in the West.

The state work involves managing timber sales to a lumber company after determining how much is available and sometimes even marking what can and can’t be cut.

Money generated from the sales goes into accounts in the national forest where the timber was harvested, less expenses incurred by the Idaho Department of Lands for administering the sales.

The federal money is held in accounts to be used for additional work, which can include thinning projects to reduce wildfire threats and projects to improve habitat for fish and wildlife.

The federal-state partnership is possible under the Good Neighbor Authority passed by Congress more than a decade ago that initially involved Colorado and Utah. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the measure to include other states.

Michigan, Wyoming, Oregon, Nevada and in particular Wisconsin have moved ahead with the partnership. But officials say Idaho — where 38 percent of the land is managed by the U.S. Forest Service — has made rapid progress.

“Idaho has really stepped up to fully embrace that ability for us to work with our state partners to get more work done,” said Intermountain Region Forester Nora Rasure, whose area includes 53,000 square miles (137,000 square kilometers) of forest lands in Utah, Nevada and portions of Wyoming, Idaho and California.

Government, industry and environmentalists have developed a collaborative approach in Idaho following years of stalemated litigation over forests that were sometimes consumed by flames as decisions were delayed.

“They’re building agreements on being able to manage the forest in such a way that you can get timber off of them but you don’t compromise environmental values,” said John Freemuth, a Boise State University environmental policy professor and public lands expert. “It’s not a panacea, but it’s better than forest wars. That exhausted a lot of people.”

Watchdog groups say they’re concerned the policy might have more to do with avoiding environmental regulations than enhancing forest health. But for now, they are cautiously supportive.

The Idaho Department of Lands manages 2.4 million acres (9,700 square kilometers) of state endowment land it received at statehood to primarily benefit public schools. About a million of those acres are forested.

Tom Schultz, director of the Idaho Department of Lands, said the work with the Forest Service helps Idaho by reducing the threat of giant wildfires spilling onto state and private forest land, and removing stands weakened by insects or disease to help prevent the spread of those problems to state and private lands.

Another major benefit is jobs. Shultz said an analysis suggests 12 to 15 direct and indirect jobs will be created for every million board feet of lumber harvested.

The watchdog groups wonder how well Idaho can mesh its forestry program, which is geared to maximize revenue over the long term, with the Forest Service’s multiple-use mandate that includes timber sales, recreation and wildlife habitat.

“We’d like to see them recognize that you can still have a profitable timber sale while protecting some of those sensitive resources,” said Jonathan Oppenheimer of the Idaho Conservation League.

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The Idaho Department of Lands has received a three-year grant for $900,000 from the Forest Service for the program and Idaho lawmakers have authorized $250,000 from the state general fund. State officials say the goal is to have the program paying for itself with profitable timber sales in three to five years.

“We want to significantly increase the number of acres being treated,” Idaho State Forester David Groeschl told Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and other elected officials during a Tuesday meeting of the Idaho Land Board, which previously approved entering into the agreements with the Forest Service.

The 10 projects in Idaho are in various stages, with two currently being logged and a lot of curiosity about how state-managed timber sales on federal land will turn out.

“There’s probably a natural tension between agencies, but I think that we’re making real progress in getting beyond some of that,” said Jane Darnell, a deputy regional forester with the Forest Service whose area includes northern Idaho. “We’ll get there.”

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Walmart wants to send people into your house to stock the fridge — even when you’re not home

September 22, 2017 - 8:44pm

Delivery workers who drop off Walmart groceries may soon also bring them into your kitchen and unload them into your refrigerator, even if you’re not home.

The world’s largest retailer announced Friday that it is testing a delivery program in Silicon Valley that would allow customers to use smart-home technology to remotely open the door for delivery workers and watch a live stream of the delivery by linking their phones with home security cameras.

“Think about that – someone else does the shopping for you AND puts it all away,” Sloan Eddleston, vice president of Walmart eCommerce Strategy & Business Operations, wrote in a blog post Friday.

“As the homeowner, I’m in control of the experience the entire time,” he added. “I’m watching the entire process from start to finish from my home security cameras. As I watch the associate exit my front door, I even receive confirmation that my door has automatically been locked.”

Walmart executives touted the program as a way to make grocery shopping even more convenient for customers who are becoming accustomed to ordering food online. After all, they said, the rise of ride-sharing and home-sharing services means many people are already used to getting into strangers’ cars and sleeping in their bedrooms.

But security and privacy experts said Walmart’s new service raised a number of unique questions for homeowners, insurance companies and others.

“There are always unintended consequences that arise with these newfangled ideas,” said Albert Gidari, director of privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. “It might be creepy and intrusive, but there are also a lot of security risks and liability questions down the road: What happens if there’s a theft, or damage, or a dog bite? Will your homeowners’ policy cover that? How will insurance companies react to this?”

The move comes as Walmart and Amazon.com accelerate the race to win over customers by offering ever-more-convenient technology. Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that Amazon is working on a home security camera system that would allow customers to remotely access video feeds to see, for instance, when packages are delivered to their homes. (Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)

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The $600 billion grocery market has been a particular point of competition following Amazon’s $13.7 billion takeover of Whole Foods Market last month. Walmart, currently the country’s largest grocer, announced this week that it would become the first retailer to allow customers to use food stamps to pay for online grocery orders. The company also recently announced that it was teaming up with Google to allow shoppers to buy its products by speaking to Google Home devices.

Walmart’s latest partnership, with smart-technology company August Home and same-day delivery service Deliv, is still in the early stages, according to Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala. He added that it was not clear how long the current test would last or how the program might evolve.

“We want to start small so we can test and learn,” Jariwala said. “This may not necessarily become the norm. And it may not be for everyone, certainly not right away, but we see a lot of potential here.”

Gidardi, of Stanford, said the program was likely to appeal to urban dwellers who work long hours and are already accustomed to having cleaning crews, nannies and other service workers come into their homes while they’re away.

“This is a group of people who are already used to a certain level of intrusiveness,” he said. “But God help the teenager playing hooky or the family dog who’s not expecting the delivery man.”

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