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German police retrieve 100 stolen John Lennon items

November 21, 2017 - 10:32pm

BERLIN — German police recovered around 100 items that belonged to late Beatles star John Lennon that were stolen from his widow in New York, including three diaries, two pairs of his signature metal-rimmed glasses, a cigarette case and a handwritten music score.

The retrieved possessions were displayed Tuesday at Berlin police headquarters.

“This was a spectacular, unusual criminal case,” police spokesman Winfrid Wenzel told reporters.

German authorities first became aware of the items, stolen from Yoko Ono at her New York home in 2006, when a bankruptcy administrator for the Berlin auction house Auctionata contacted them in July. The administrator had found the memorabilia in the company’s storage.

Police confiscated the items from the auctioneers two weeks later, and on Monday arrested a suspect and raided his Berlin home and cars. They said another suspect, who is living in Turkey, is currently “not available,” but they would try to get him extradited to Germany.

During their investigation, police officers and prosecutors also flew to New York, where they met Ono to have her verify the stolen goods’ authenticity.

“She was very emotional and we noticed clearly how much these things mean to her and how happy she would be to have them back,” prosecutor Susann Wettley said of the moment they showed Ono some of the recovered items and pictures of some others.

Wettley said that Ono’s former driver, who is now living in Turkey, is one of the suspects. He has a previous conviction in New York related to the stolen items, she said.

The other suspect, who was arrested in Berlin on Monday, was identified as a 58-year-old German businessman of Turkish origin. During the search of his car, police said they found additional belongings of Lennon in a briefcase hidden under the spare tire in the trunk. Neither suspect’s name was released because of German privacy rules.

Police are still checking confiscated computer files and business contracts to better understand how exactly the stolen goods ended up at the auction house in Berlin and if the auctioneers were aware that they bought stolen goods from the two suspects. They said the items have been in possession of Auctionata since 2014, but were never available for sale online.

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The trove of Lennon memorabilia also includes a recording of a Beatles concert from 1965, a school exercise book from 1952, contract documents for the copyright of Lennon’s “I’m the Greatest” song and handwritten scores for “Woman” and “Just like starting over.”

There are also three of Lennon’s leather-bound diaries, from 1975, 1979 and 1980. The last entry was made by Lennon on the morning of Dec. 8, 1980, a few hours before he was killed, Wettley said.

It included a note on the famous photo shoot by Annie Leibovitz that same day showing a naked Lennon embracing his wife.

It wasn’t immediately clear when Ono will get all the items back.

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Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski announces support for repealing individual mandate, a potential boost to tax overhaul

November 21, 2017 - 10:24pm

WASHINGTON – Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she would support repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate, giving a potential boost to the Republican effort to pass a massive tax cut package next week.

“I believe that the federal government should not force anyone to buy something they do not wish to buy, in order to avoid being taxed,” Murkowski wrote in an opinion piece published Tuesday by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Senate Republicans’ plan to rewrite the tax code includes a provision to repeal the individual mandate, a part of the 2010 health care law that requires almost all Americans to have some form of health insurance or pay a fine.

Murkowski was careful, however, to stop short of saying she would vote for the Senate GOP tax plan. She instead focused the entire op-ed on her views about the Affordable Care Act, emphasizing how Alaskans had paid $21 million in penalties under the law in 2014 and 2015 for failing to purchase health insurance. She wrote that “eliminating this tax would allow Alaskans to have greater control over their money and health care decisions.”

The Alaska moderate is a key swing vote as Republican leaders attempt to assemble support for their tax plan. They need 50 votes to move the measure through the Senate, and they control 52 seats. The bill would likely fail in the Senate if three Republicans oppose it, as Democrats are expected to unanimously oppose the plan.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said last week he planned to oppose the bill because he felt tax cuts for certain businesses weren’t generous enough, but he has recently signaled his opposition was softening.

By stating her support for repealing the individual mandate in a homestate newspaper, Murkowski could be paving the way to carefully articulate to Alaskans how she is moving closer to Republican leaders on the tax plan, which has become President Trump’s top economic priority.

The House of Representatives has already passed a version of the tax cut plan, but in one of many critical differences from the Senate measure, the House legislation would not make changes to the health care law.

Senate Republicans included a repeal of the measure in their version, which was introduced earlier this month. The provision was added suddenly and some White House officials feared it could repel party moderates.

As recently as Sunday, White House officials were unsure whether the effort to repeal the individual mandate would remain in the Senate bill. White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the White House would prefer that the tax bill repealed the individual mandate but they would support removing the language if it was politically necessary.

Murkowski was one of three Senators this summer who joined with Democrats to block a GOP effort to repeal the large parts of the Affordable Care Act.

She wrote in her op-ed that the Affordable Care Act has helped some people in Alaska by making it easier to purchase insurance, expanding access to mental health and substance abuse programs, and making it harder for insurers to deny coverage. But she said other parts of the 2010 law went too far and should be changed, particularly the individual mandate.

“It is important to emphasize that eliminating this tax penalty does not take care away from anyone. Instead, it provides important relief to those who have been penalized for choosing not to buy unaffordable insurance.”

Repealing the mandate would result in 13 million fewer people having health insurance and drive up insurance premiums for many Americans by roughly 10 percent, according to projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

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The mandate repeal would also save the government more than $300 billion over the next decade, according to CBO as fewer people buying insurance would mean the government would pay out less in subsidies.

Republicans plan to use that revenue to their proposed tax cuts, part of an effort to keep their bill in line with Senate procedures limiting how much the measure can add to the deficit but still pass with only a simple majority.

Trump and Republican leaders in Congress are aiming to pass legislation by year’s end that would simplify the code and deliver $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over a decade. Both the House and Senate bills deliver the majority of the cuts to corporations and wealthy Americans, while also offering temporary tax cuts for the middle class and working class that Republicans hope would be extended in at a later date.

Murkwoski’s op-ed comes at a crucial time. Senate Republicans passed their version of the tax bill through the Senate Finance Committee last week, and they hope to hold a vote on it on the Senate floor next week.

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Pacific gets out of the blocks quick to beat Air Force 83-71

November 21, 2017 - 10:20pm

COLORADO SPRINGS — Robert Gallinat scored 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting and Pacific used a strong first half to beat Air Force 83-71 Tuesday night to give the Tigers their first win of the season.

Miles Reynolds scored 11 of his 16 points from the free-throw line, Jack Williams scored 13, Anthony Townes 11 and Jahlil Tripp had 10 rebounds for Pacific (1-3).

Townes scored Pacific’s first three baskets, Gallinat made 1 of 2 free throws and Williams buried a 3-pointer off his steal and Pacific led 10-1. The Falcons called timeout, but Pacific continued its run and led 24-8 after Tripp’s layup. The Tigers led 47-29 at halftime.

Sid Tomes’ 3-pointer with 6:37 to play brought the Falcons within 69-63, but they couldn’t get closer.

Lavelle Scottie scored 15 points, Dane Norman 14 and Trevor Lyons 12 for Air Force (3-1).

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U.S. slaps new sanctions on North Korean, Chinese companies

November 21, 2017 - 10:18pm

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration imposed new sanctions Tuesday on a slew of North Korean shipping firms and Chinese trading companies in its latest push to isolate the rogue nation over its nuclear weapons development and deprive it of revenue.

The Treasury Department also designated a North Korean corporation involved in exporting workers overseas. The action came a day after the United States returned North Korea to its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

“These designations include companies that have engaged in trade with North Korea cumulatively worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “We are also sanctioning the shipping and transportation companies, and their vessels, that facilitate North Korea’s trade and its deceptive maneuvers.”

Among the companies targeted were four Chinese-based companies and one Chinese individual said to have deep commercial ties with North Korea. The sanctions were imposed under a September executive order that opened the way for the U.S. to punish foreign companies dealing with the North. It bars those sanctioned from holding U.S. assets or doing business with Americans.

The Dandong Kehua Economy & Trade Co. Ltd., Dandong Xianghe Trading Co. Ltd., and Dandong Hongda Trade Co. Ltd. are alleged to have exported about $650 million worth of goods to North Korea and imported more than $100 million from North Korea since 2013.–The goods included notebook computers, anthracite coal, iron and other commodities and ferrous products.

Also sanctioned were Chinese national Sun Sidong and his company, Dandong Dongyuan Industrial Co., said to have exported more than $28 million worth of goods to the North.

The targeting of Chinese companies is a sore point with Beijing, whose help Trump is counting on to put an economic squeeze on Pyongyang. China recently sent its highest-level envoy to North Korea in two years to discuss the tense state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula.

“China firmly opposes unilateral sanctions out of the U.N. Security Council framework,” the Chinese Embassy in Washington said Tuesday, “especially the imposition of the so-called ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ by other countries in accordance with their domestic laws.”

As part of its effort to stymie North Korean transportation networks, the Treasury Department sanctioned North Korea’s Maritime Administration and its transport ministry, six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their vessels, which are all North Korean-flagged.

It accused North Korea of deceptive shipping practices, including ship-to-ship transfers, which is prohibited under U.N. sanctions that have been imposed in response to Pyongyang’s rapid tempo of nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The Treasury statement included aerial photos of what it said was Korea Kumbyol Trading Company’s vessel Rye Song Gang 1 possibly transferring oil to evade sanctions that have restricted fuel exports to the North.

Also sanctioned was the Korea South-South Cooperation Corporation, said to have exported North Korean workers to China, Russia, Cambodia and Poland to generate revenue for the government.

When President Donald Trump announced the terror designation of North Korea on Monday, he promised to intensify the “maximum pressure” campaign against Pyongyang with the “highest level” of sanctions yet — part of a rolling effort to compel it to negotiate over its nuclear program, which poses an emerged threat to the U.S. mainland.

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An editorial Tuesday in North Korea’s ruling party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, called Trump a “heinous criminal” who had insulted the dignity of the country’s supreme leadership and its socialist system during his recent visit to South Korea. The editorial, carried by the state-run news agency, threatened “merciless punishment.” It did not mention the terror designation or the threat of new sanctions.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged Monday a two-month pause in the North’s nuclear and missile tests and said there was still hope for diplomacy. With tougher sanctions in the offing, he warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: “This is only going to get worse until you’re ready to come and talk.”

The terror designation, however, is likely to exacerbate sour relations between Washington and Pyongyang that have turned uglier with name-calling between Trump and Kim. North Korea shows no interest in talks aimed at getting it to give up its nukes.

North Korea has joined Iran, Sudan and Syria on America’s terror blacklist, a position it has occupied on and off the terror list over the years. It was designated for two decades because of its involvement in international terror attacks in the 1980s, then taken off in 2008 to smooth the way for nuclear talks that soon failed.

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Big Tobacco’s anti-smoking ads begin after decade of delay

November 21, 2017 - 10:13pm

WASHINGTON — Decades after they were banned from the airwaves, Big Tobacco companies return to prime-time television this weekend — but not by choice.

Under court order, the tobacco industry for the first time will be forced to advertise the deadly, addictive effects of smoking, more than 11 years after a judge ruled that the companies had misled the public about the dangers of cigarettes.

But years of legal pushback by the industry over every detail means the ads will be less hard-hitting than what was proposed. Tobacco control experts say the campaign — built around network TV and newspapers — will not reach people when they are young and most likely to start smoking.

“Their legal strategy is always obstruct, delay, create confusion and buy more time,” said Ruth Malone, of the University of California, San Francisco, who has studied the industry for 20 years. “So by the time this was finally settled, newspapers have a much smaller readership, and nowadays, who watches network TV?”

The new spots, which begin Sunday, lay out the toll of smoking in blunt text and voiceover statements: “More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes and alcohol, combined.”

Companies will also acknowledge their role in making cigarettes addictive: “Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction.”

Smoking remains the nation’s leading preventable cause of death and illness, causing more than 480,000 deaths each year, even though smoking rates have been declining for decades. Last year, the adult smoking rate hit a new low of 15 percent, according to government figures. That’s down from the 42 percent of adults who smoked in the mid-1960s.

Experts attribute the decline to smoking bans, cigarette taxes and anti-smoking campaigns by both nonprofit groups like the American Cancer Society and the federal government.

The new ads are the result of a 1999 lawsuit filed by the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton which sought to recover some of the billions the federal government spent caring for people with smoking-related illnesses.

A federal judge ultimately sided with the government in 2006, ruling that Big Tobacco had “lied, misrepresented and deceived the American public” about the effects of smoking for more than 50 years. The decision came nearly a decade after U.S. states reached legal settlements with the industry worth $246 billion.

But under the racketeering laws used to prosecute the federal case, the judge said she could not make the companies pay, instead ordering them to publish “corrective statements” in advertisements, as well as on their websites, cigarette packs and store displays.

The campaign will be paid for by Altria Group, owner of Philip Morris USA, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., a division of British American Tobacco.

Altria, maker of Marlboros, referred inquiries to a statement it issued last month: “We remain committed to aligning our business practices with society’s expectations of a responsible company. This includes communicating openly about the health effects of our products.”

Reynolds, which sells Camel cigarettes, did not respond to a request for comment.

Originally the U.S. government wanted companies to state that they had lied about smoking risks. But the companies successfully challenged that proposal, arguing that it was “designed solely to shame and humiliate.” An appeals court ruled the ads could only be factual and forward-looking.

Even the phrase “here’s the truth,” was disputed and blocked. “Here’s the truth: Smoking is very addictive. And it’s not easy to quit,” read one proposed message.

“This was a classic case of a very wealthy set of defendants willing to appeal every conceivable issue time and time again,” said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, one of several anti-tobacco groups who intervened in the court case.

More than half a century ago, American media was saturated with tobacco advertising. Cigarettes were the most advertised product on TV and tobacco companies sponsored hundreds of shows, including “I Love Lucy,” ”The Flintstones” and “Perry Mason.” People smoked almost everywhere, in restaurants, airplanes and doctor’s offices.

Congress banned cigarette advertising from radio and TV in 1970 and subsequent restrictions have barred the industry from billboards and public transportation. Yet companies still spend more than $8 billion annually on marketing, including print advertising, mailed coupons and store displays.

Anti-tobacco advocates estimate the upcoming TV advertisements will cost companies a tiny fraction of that, about $30 million. The broadcast ads will air five times per week for one year and the newspaper ads will run five times over several months in about 50 national daily papers.

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Robin Koval, president of Truth Initiative, has seen mock-ups of the TV ads in court and says they are not very engaging.

“It’s black type scrolling on a white screen with the most uninteresting voice in the background,” said Koval, whose group runs educational anti-tobacco ads targeting youngsters.

Nine of 10 smokers begin smoking before age 18, which is why most prevention efforts focus on teenagers. Yet less than 5 percent of today’s network TV viewers are under 25, according to Nielsen TV data cited by Koval’s group. While lawyers were hammering out the details of the TV advertisements, consumers increasingly switched to online social media sites and streaming services like Facebook, YouTube and Netflix.

A former smoker who was shown the mock-up ads called them terrible.

“They weren’t very compelling ads, “said Ellie Mixter-Keller, 62, of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, who smoked a pack a day for 30 years before quitting 12 years ago. “I just don’t know if I would have cared about any of that.”

Associated Press writer Carrie Antlfinger contributed to this report.

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HBO data theft traced to Iranian military hacker

November 21, 2017 - 10:10pm

Federal prosecutors announced charges Tuesday against a hacker “mercenary” affiliated with the Iranian military, saying he broke into HBO’s computer network in the summer looking to extort millions of dollars from the pay cable channel.

An indictment unsealed in New York on Tuesday said the suspect, Behzad Mesri, “had worked on behalf of the Iranian military to conduct computer network attacks that targeted military systems, nuclear software systems and Israeli infrastructure,” but the document does not allege he attacked HBO on behalf of the Iranian government.

Mesri is not in custody, and officials issued a “wanted” poster seeking help arresting him.

Using a popular line from HBO’s hit show “Game of Thrones,” acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim said: “Today, winter has come for Behzad Mesri.”

Because of the new indictment, Kim said, the suspect will not be able to leave his home country without risking arrest and extradition to the United States.

“For the rest of his life – and he’s a relatively young man in his late 20s – he will never be able to travel outside Iran,” he said.

And Kim hinted at more hacking charges to come against other Iranian hacking suspects.

“Unfortunately I suspect this will not be the last time that we charge cyber offenses against hackers with ties to the Iranian government,” he said.

According to the indictment, Mesri “was a member of an Iran-based hacking group called the Turk Black Hat security team. As a member of that group, Mesri conducted hundreds of website defacements using the online hacker pseudonym ‘Skote Vahshat’ against websites in the United States and elsewhere around the world.”

But in the HBO hack, authorities say his motives may have been simpler: greed.

The indictment said Mesri threatened to embarrass HBO by publicly releasing unaired episodes of some of their shows, such as “Ballers” and “The Deuce,” as well as full scripts for the seventh season of “Game of Thrones,” unless HBO paid “a ‘non-negotiable’ ransom of approximately $5.5 million worth of Bitcoin.”

When that demand wasn’t met, he raised his asking price to $6 million and threatened to destroy massive volumes of data on HBO’s hard drives, the indictment said.

The HBO hack roiled the entertainment industry in August, raising new concerns that studios’ hit shows could lose financial value when episodes leak out early.

But the case has also revealed disagreements inside the Justice Department, where senior officials have been pushing in recent weeks to make public a number of ongoing investigations involving Iranian suspects.

As The Washington Post reported Sunday, the HBO case is one of several that senior officials would like to unseal in coming weeks. The push to announce Iran-related cases has caused internal alarm, according to people familiar with the discussions, with some law enforcement officials fearing that senior Justice Department officials want to reveal the cases because the Trump administration wants Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran.

A series of criminal cases could increase pressure on lawmakers to act, these people said.

Asked about that report, Kim did not give a direct answer, saying he decided to unseal the charges in the HBO hacking case before the story published. He did acknowledge the short amount of time it took to unseal the charges was unusual for such a case but said that was because of the FBI’s exemplary investigative work.

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Kim spent much of the news conference saying the indictment posed dire potential consequences for the suspect, Mesri, but he also admitted that they have little chance of arresting him anytime soon.

“We made that determination that we were not likely to be able to get him and we should go public with it,” Kim said.

Some federal officials have raised concerns that unsealing cases now could imperil ongoing investigative work or make it harder to catch suspects who might travel out of Iran, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss active investigations.

Several people familiar with the HBO hack case pointed out that the Justice Department will often wait a year – sometimes several years – before unsealing charges in an international computer hacking probe, while this case was unsealed after three months.

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Officials ask contractors to resolve Hot Springs pool issues

November 21, 2017 - 9:56pm

OURAY — Managers of the newly renovated Ouray Hot Springs pool are working to keep the water temperatures hot.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports swimmers expecting to soak in the hottest pool at 104 to 106 degrees have found temperatures fluctuating from the mid-80s to the upper-90s. Even the lap lanes are registering about 10 degrees cooler than the goal.

Ouray Resource Director Rick Noll says the city now has to wait for two different contractors to figure out the issue.

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The city hired Cloward H20, of Salt Lake City, to design the facility, while FCI Constructors Inc., of Grand Junction, handled the construction.

Noll says there’s no threat of a lawsuit against the two entities and everyone is cooperating to get the situation resolved.

Information from: The Daily Sentinel

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A Godfather’s Pizza sequel and more Denver restaurants opening this week

November 21, 2017 - 9:21pm

You probably need a drink

Just in time for those all-important holiday beer breaks, Growler USA opened last week in Sloan’s Lake. It’s got more than 100 American-made drafts on tap and exactly the kind of menu you’d expect from a spot with 100 American-made drafts on tap (Skillet Mac and Beer Cheese; Nitro BBQ Cheddar Burger). 4433 W. 29th Ave., Denver, 720-387-7965; Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11-12 a.m.‘–

The Godfather Part II

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When Godfather’s Pizza opened last summer in Thornton, the pizza nostalgic (pizza nostalgia is the best kind of nostalgia) were thrilled. But what about the pie shop’s faithful down south? Don’t you worry — the franchise is opening a Godfather’s sequel on Iliff Ave. in Denver on Saturday, Nov 25, so even more of us can relive our childhood pizza memories. 9567 E. Iliff Ave., Denver,–

Something to talk about

Here’s a crazy concept: Ambli DTC was made for you to have a conversation. And not, like, a Facebook conversation but (gasp!) real-life, face-to-face interaction. The novel restaurant serves an eclectic global menu that covers Africa, India, Spain and more. 6799 E. Belleview Ave., 720-749-4703; Mon.-Thurs. 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sat. 5-9:30 p.m.


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Illegal Pete’s to open 10th location by the end of the year

November 21, 2017 - 9:13pm

From hot chicken to hot burritos — Illegal Pete’s will be taking over the vacant Lou’s Food Bar space on 38th and Shoshone.

Pete’s 10th spot will be called the Northside Location in homage to the neighborhood’s history. (The area was called Northside before the Highland moniker took off.)

The crew isn’t doing a whole lot to the restaurant, but they will expand the patio so the bar is accessible from both the inside and outside. (Is it too early to start thinking about patio weather? Yeah, moving on…)

The Northside Pete’s will seat 140 people, including the patio, which means a whole lot of giant burritos and margaritas. Mark your calendars — assuming you mark your calendars for things like this — for Dec. 28 when the newest Illegal Pete’s will open.

Illegal Pete’s: 1851 W. 38th Ave., Denver;; opening Dec. 28

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Teen idol David Cassidy, “Partridge Family” star, dies at 67

November 21, 2017 - 8:37pm

By Hillel Italie, The Associated Press

NEW YORK — David Cassidy, the teen and pre-teen idol who starred in the 1970s sitcom “The Partridge Family” and sold millions of records as the musical group’s lead singer, died Tuesday at age 67.

Cassidy, who announced earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with dementia, died surrounded by his family, a family statement released by publicist JoAnn Geffen said. No further details were immediately available, but Geffen said on Saturday that Cassidy was in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, hospital suffering from organ failure.

“David died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long,” the statement said. Thank you for the abundance and support you have shown him these many years.”

“The Partridge Family” aired from 1970-74 and was a fictional variation of the ’60s performers the Cowsills, intended at first as a vehicle for Shirley Jones, the Oscar winning actress and Cassidy’s stepmother. Jones played Shirley Partridge, a widow with five children with whom she forms a popular act that travels on a psychedelic bus. The cast also featured Cassidy as eldest son and family heartthrob Keith Partridge; Susan Dey, later of “L.A. Law” fame, as sibling Laurie Partridge and Danny Bonaduce as sibling Danny Partridge.

It was an era for singing families — the Osmonds, the Jacksons. “The Partridge Family” never cracked the top 10 in TV ratings, but the recordings under their name, mostly featuring Cassidy, Jones and session players, produced real-life musical hits and made Cassidy a real-life musical superstar. The Partridges’ best known song, “I Think I Love You,” spent three weeks on top of the Billboard chart at a time when other hit singles included James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “The Tears of a Clown.” The group also reached the top 10 with “I’ll Meet You Halfway” and “Doesn’t Somebody Want to be Wanted” and Cassidy had a solo hit with “Cherish.”

“In two years, David Cassidy has swept hurricane-like into the pre-pubescent lives of millions of American girls,” Rolling Stone magazine noted in 1972. “Leaving: six and a half million long-playing albums and singles; 44 television programs; David Cassidy lunch boxes; David Cassidy bubble gum; David Cassidy coloring books and David Cassidy pens; not to mention several millions of teen magazines, wall stickers, love beads, posters and photo albums.”

Cassidy’s appeal faded after the show went off the air, although he continued to tour, record and act over the next 40 years, his albums including “Romance” and the awkwardly titled “Didn’t You Used To Be?” He had a hit with “I Write the Songs” before Barry Manilow’s chart-topping version and success overseas with “The Last Kiss,” featuring backing vocals from Cassidy admirer George Michael. He made occasional stage and television appearances, including an Emmy-nominated performance on “Police Story.”

Meanwhile, “The Partridge Family” remained popular in re-runs and Cassidy, who kept his dark bangs and boyish appearance well into middle age, frequently turned up for reunions and spoke often about his early success.

“So many people come up to me and talk to me about the impact it (the show) had,” he told Arsenio Hall in 1990.

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A California man is about to launch himself in his homemade rocket to prove the earth is flat

November 21, 2017 - 8:23pm

Seeking to prove that a conspiracy of astronauts fabricated the shape of the Earth, a California man intends to launch himself 1,800 feet high on Saturday in a rocket he built from scrap metal.

Assuming the 500-mph, mile-long flight through the Mojave Desert does not kill him, Mike Hughes told the Associated Press, his journey into the atmosflat will mark the first phase of his ambitious flat-Earth space program.

Hughes’s ultimate goal is a subsequent launch that puts him miles above the Earth, where the 61-year-old limousine driver hopes to photograph proof of the disc we all live on.

Mad Mike Hughes via APIn this Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 photograph, the homemade, steam-powered rocket built by daredevil/limosuine drive Mad Mike Hughes is shown on the property the man leases in Apple Valley, Cal. Hughes plans to launch the rocket Saturday over the ghost town of Amboy, Ca., at a speed of roughly 500 miles-per-hour.

“It’ll shut the door on this ball earth,” Hughes said in a fundraising interview with a flat-Earth group for Saturday’s flight, which ranged across theories that NASA is controlled by round-Earth Freemasons, and Elon Musk makes fake rockets from blimps.

Hughes promised the flat Earth community to expose the conspiracy with his steam-powered rocket, which will launch from a heavily modified mobile home – though he acknowledged that he still had much to learn about rocket science.

“This whole tech thing,” he said in the June interview. “I’m really behind the eight ball.”

That said, Hughes isn’t a totally unproven engineer. He set a Guinness World Record in 2002 for a limousine jump, according to Ars Technica, and has been building rockets for years, albeit with mixed results.

“Okay, Waldo. 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .!” someone yells in a test fire video from 2012.

There’s a brief hiss of boiling water, then . . . nothing. So Hughes walks up to the engine and pokes it with a stick, at which point a thick cloud of steam belches out toward the camera.

He built his first manned rocket in 2014, the AP reported, and managed to fly a quarter mile over Winkelman, Arizona.

As seen in a YouTube video, the flight ended with Hughes being dragged, moaning from the remains of the rocket. The injuries he suffered put him in a walker for two weeks, he said.

And the 2014 flight was only a quarter of the distance of Saturday’s mile-long attempt.

And it was based on round-earth technology.

Hughes only recently converted to flat-Eartherism, after struggling for months to raise funds for his follow-up flight over the Mojave.

Mad Mike Hughes via APIn this Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, photograph, the flight suit of self-taught rocket scientist and limousine driver Mad Mike Hughes is shown at the rental property on which the man has constructed a steam-powered rocket in Apple Valley, Cal. Hughes plans to launch the rocket Saturday as a test of the conraption over the ghost town of Amboy, Cal.

It was originally scheduled for early 2016 in a Kickstarter campaign – “From Garage to Outer Space!” – that mentioned nothing about illuminati astronauts, and was themed after a NASCAR event.

“We want to do this and basically thumb our noses at all these billionaires trying to do this,” Hughes said, standing in his Apple Valley, California, living room, which he had plastered with drawings of his rockets.

“They have not put a man in space yet,” Hughes said. “There are 20 different space agencies here in America, and I’m the last person that’s put a man in a rocket and launched it.”

He compared himself to Evel Knievel, as he promised to launch himself from a California racetrack – the first step on his steam-powered leap toward space.

The Kickstarter raised $310 of its $150,000 goal.

Hughes made other pitches, including a plan to fly over Texas in a “SkyLimo.” But he complained to Ars Technica last year about the difficulty of funding his dreams on a chauffeur’s meager salary.

A year later, he called into a flat-earth community web show to announce he had become a recent convert.

“We were kind of looking for a new sponsors for this. And I’m a believer in the flat Earth,” Hughes said. “I researched it for several months.”

The host sounded impressed. Hughes had actually flown in a rocket, he noted, whereas astronauts were merely paid actors performing in front of a CGI globe.

“John Glenn and Neil Armstrong are Freemasons,” Hughes agreed. “Once you understand that, you understand the roots of the deception.”

The host talked of “Elon Musk’s fake reality,” and Hughes talked of “anti-Christ, Illuminati stuff.” After half an hour of this, the host told his 300-some listeners to back Hughes’s exploration of space.

While there is not single hypothesis for what the flat Earth is supposed to look like, many believers envision a flat disc ringed by sea ice, which naturally holds the oceans in.

What’s beyond the sea ice, if anything, remains to be discovered.

“We need an individual who’s not compromised by the government,” the host told Hughes. “And you could be that man.”

A flat-Earth GoFundMe subsequently raised nearly $8,000 for Hughes.

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By November, the AP reported, his $20,000 rocket had a fancy coat of Rust-Oleum paint and “RESEARCH FLAT EARTH” inscribed on the side.

While his flat-Earth friends helped him finally get the thing built, the AP reported, Hughes will be making adjustments right up to Saturday’s launch.

He won’t be able to test the rocket before he climbs inside and attempts to steam himself at 500 mph across a mile of desert air. And even if it’s a success, he’s promised his backers an even riskier launch within the next year, into the space above the disc.

“It’s scary as hell,” Hughes told the AP. “But none of us are getting out of this world alive.”

This is true. Yet some may dare to fly beyond its edge.

Categories: All Denver News.

Olympic champion gymnast Gabby Douglas says team doctor abused her

November 21, 2017 - 7:58pm

Olympic champion gymnast Gabby Douglas says she is among the group of athletes sexually abused by a former team doctor.

Douglas, the 2012 Olympic all-around champion and a three-time gold medalist, wrote in an Instagram postTuesday night that she waited so long to reveal the abuse by Larry Nassar because she was part of a group “conditioned to stay silent.”

The 21-year-old Douglas is the latest high-profile gymnast to come forward against Nassar, who spent nearly two decades as the national team doctor for USA Gymnastics before being fired in 2015. Two-time Olympic teammate Aly Raisman detailed her abuse by Nassar in her autobiography “Fierce” released earlier this month. Two-time Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney disclosed abuse by Nassar in October.

Nassar, 54, is accused of molesting several girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. He’s facing similar charges in a neighboring county and lawsuits filed by more than 125 women and girls.

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Categories: All Denver News.

Thousands of strangers gave a sick 9-year-old in Maine an early Christmas. He died days after celebrating.

November 21, 2017 - 7:53pm

Jacob Thompson spent nearly half of his short life battling cancer.

The 9-year-old boy, who loved penguins, died Sunday, four years after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that affects mostly young children.

As his family had expected, Thompson didn’t live long enough to celebrate Christmas, a holiday he loves. But before his death, thousands of complete strangers inspired by the terminally ill Maine boy’s story brought an early Christmas to him.

They decorated his hospital room with a tree, requested a special visit from Santa Claus, and sent him gifts and scores of homemade holiday cards.

Jacob and his family celebrated Christmas on Nov. 12.

He died a week later.

“Each and every person who sent Jacob a Christmas card, a gift, a Facebook message or video, or a prayer made a difference in the final days of his life,” his family wrote on a Facebook page they used to chronicle his journey. “You brought Jacob joy, and you brought us all optimism for the future. Thank you for taking the time, and taking an interest in our sweet boy’s journey. Sadly, there are many others like him that we hope you will continue to help.”

Jacob was admitted to the hospital “for the last time” Oct. 11, his mother, Michelle Thompson Simard, wrote on a GoFundMe page. The cancer had spread to his skull and to several bones in his inner ear.

His hip was so covered with tumors that it looked like lace, Thompson Simard wrote. Chemotherapy and radiation had offered little signs of hope.

The boy’s family was “told that we should be spending as much time as possible with him and we should start making arrangements for his passing,” Thompson Simard wrote, adding later, “No one thinks about having to do this type of planning for their child and because of that we did not nor do not have life insurance on him.”

The GoFundMe campaign had raised nearly $165,000 as of Tuesday morning to pay for Jacob’s funeral.

Thompson Simard documented the response from people who sent Christmas cards and toys to make the early holiday memorable for Jacob.

On Nov. 1, she posted a picture of Jacob with the first card he received. It featured a penguin, which his family, from Saco, Maine, said was his favorite animal.

For days, Jacob was showered with presents.

Pictures his mother shared on social media showed boxes of toys, games, books, cards and, of course, more penguins – including penguin socks.

He even received a video greeting from actor Rob Lowe and the cast of “Code Black.”

Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, Maine, where Jacob was being treated, said the response was “wonderfully overwhelming” but asked people to not personally deliver cards to the hospital because of safety concerns.

On Thursday, three days before Jacob died, his family shared a picture of him in his hospital bed wearing a blue Superman T-shirt. His dog, Piper, was lying near his feet.

Jacob had just gone through a round of radiation to help him with some pain in his leg, his family wrote.

“Jacob spends most of his time resting, but has had a few good hours to play and open all your cards and gifts,” his family wrote.

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In the post announcing Jacob’s death, his mother said she hoped his case would help raise awareness about neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancerous tumor that affects mostly infants and young children, according to the American Cancer Society. There are about 700 new cases every year in the United States. The majority are diagnosed by age 5.

“We hope that Jacob’s story and the enormous outpouring of support from around the world will have a lasting impact on raising awareness for this disease,” she wrote. “We hope that donations will be made, and a cure will be discovered as a result.”

She requested that any donations in Jacob’s honor be made to Operation Gratitude or a penguin rescue group. “Or, pay it forward in your community,” she wrote. “Do something for others, donate blood and platelets, or use your talents to bring shelter, nourishment or joy to those in need in honor of Jacob’s memory. And most importantly, remember to #LiveLikeAPenguin for Jacob.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Ikea furniture has killed 8 children; millions of recalled dressers may still be out there

November 21, 2017 - 7:37pm

The Swedish furniture giant Ikea has refunded just a fraction of the millions of pieces of furniture recalled after toddlers were killed, it announced on Tuesday.

More than a year after its initial recall announcement, the company disclosed that it had refunded or provided service to secure about a million of the estimated 17 million pieces of furniture that it said were at risk of tipping over. Ikea again offered to refund or provide wall-anchoring kits for the dressers or chests covered by the recall. It cautioned that it did not know how many customers had secured the dressers on their own, or how many exactly were still in use.

The recall, which applies to customers in the United States and Canada, includes the company’s Malm dressers and chests, as well as other furniture lines that were not compliant with the voluntary industry safety standard in the United States before the recall was announced in 2016. Ikea has since brought its furniture up to the level of the standards.

Customers can contact Ikea for a free wall-mounting kit. The company is also offering to send crews to help attach them in homes.

But the disclosure last month that an eighth child, 2-year-old Jozef Dudek, died from one of the recalled furniture pieces in May – nearly a year after the recall was announced – has raised questions about how effective the campaign has been.

Alan Feldman, a lawyer who is representing Jozef’s family, said that they never knew about the recall.

“The recall is not only not effective, I don’t think Ikea is even doing the minimum necessary to do an effective recall,” he said in a phone interview. “This is too little, too late. They put an unsafe product in American homes.”

Feldman said the family was part of a buyer’s programand had received mailers about sales and promotions from the company, but they had never received notice of the recall. The family is planning to sue.

Jozef’s death mirrors those of three other boys, all about 2 years old, who died after being crushed by toppled Malm dressers. The families of the three boys, who were also represented by Feldman, won a $50 million settlement from the company in late 2016.

Jackie Collas, the mother of one of the children included in the lawsuit, recounted the horror of finding her son, Curren, under an Ikea chest in February 2014.

“The only way that I can explain it was that my heart was being ripped out of my body,” she described in a blog entry afterward.

At least eight children under the age of 3 have been killed when an Ikea dresser fell on them, according to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Besides the first death, which occurred 28 years ago, the rest all occurred after 2002.

Ikea said it was spurred to get out word of the recall offer again on Tuesday because of the latest death.

“The most recent incident has indicated to us that there is more work to be done in spreading the message,” the company said in an emailed statement, noting that its outreach to customers has included advertisements aired in television, on social and digital media and in print, as well as emails to more than 13 million consumers.

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“However, there is still more work to be done, which is why we are re-announcing the recall,” it said. The company continues to offer refunds for customers with the recalled dressers and furniture, all produced before 2016, or free wall-anchoring kits and help securing the dressers to the wall.

The company revised the total number of furniture pieces in the recall to 17 million from 29 million on Tuesday, saying some of those were not meant to be recalled. It does not have an exact figure for the amount of those dressers are still in use today, a spokeswoman said.

Patty Davis, the press secretary of the CPSC, said in an interview that it was still important to get the word out about the recall.

“We are concerned that these recalled Ikea chests and dressers remain in homes across the United states,” she said.

Categories: All Denver News.

Disney animation guru, Pixar chief John Lasseter takes leave after sexual misconduct allegations

November 21, 2017 - 7:28pm
Dan Steinberg, Invision/AP, FileIn this Feb. 28, 2016 file photo, Pixar co-founder and Walt Disney Animation chief John Lasseter arrives at the Oscars in Los Angeles. Lasseter is taking a six-month leave of absence citing “missteps” with employees.

By Steven Zeitchik, The Washington Post

In a new sexual misconduct scandal that could shake the economics of Hollywood in unprecedented ways, Disney said Tuesday that animation chief John Lasseter would be taking a six-month leave of absence starting immediately.

The company acknowledged unspecified “missteps” via a statement from the executive. But the Hollywood Reporter, which broke the story, cited allegations that Lasseter had made unwanted contact with numerous female colleagues and collaborators over a period of years.

Lasseter is one of the most important figures in modern entertainment, and a scandal that sidelines him could have a more far-reaching implications for the industry than many of the other revelations of sexual misconduct that have shaken Hollywood over the past six weeks.

“It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent,” Lasseter wrote in a memo to his staff Tuesday. Saying that “it’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them,” he added that he “especially want[ed] to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.”

Citing a six-month “sabbatical,” Lassiter closed the letter to employees saying he “look[s] forward to working together again in the new year.”

It remains unclear whether Disney could extend the leave or make it permanent. A Disney spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.

The Lasseter scandal comes at a critical time for the studio, as it prepares to release “Coco,” its Día de Muertos-themed tale from the director of “Toy Story 3,” in theaters Wednesday. The movie is already the highest-grossing in the history of Mexico and is expected to take in at least $60 million over the holiday weekend and potentially far more beyond that. It is also considered a prohibitive frontrunner to win this year’s animation Oscar.

Officially the chief creative officer at Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, Lasseter’s title only hints at his true influence. The 60-year-old is regarded as almost singlehandledly ushering in the era of computer-generated animation. Some of the highest-grossing animated movies of all time- “Frozen,” “Finding Dory” and installments in the “Toy Story” franchise – were made directly under him.

He has long steered Pixar – and, for the past decade, its sister company Walt Disney Animation – to numerous blockbusters. Lasseter has served as a producer and all-around creative guiding force on nearly every one of the several dozen Pixar and Disney animated films. He has also directed nearly a half-dozen movies, including several in the “Toy Story” and “Cars” franchises.

Last year Lasseter’s teams were responsible for three of the 11 highest-grossing movies of the year domestically – nearly $1.1 billion in ticket sales – with “Dory,” “Zootopia” and “Moana.” Globally the three movies took in $2.7 billion at the box office.

Though Pixar has had a few film blunders of late, including “Cars 3” earlier this year, Disney animation efforts remain one of the company’s big revenue drivers. Last year its studio division reported $9.4 billion in revenue, a chunk of that from two areas: the “Star Wars” franchise and its animation efforts.

While there are other figures, such as Disney animation president Ed Catmull, involved in Disney’s animation divisions, the company’s movies are considered the reflection of one man in a way almost unheard of at a modern Hollywood studio.

Along the way Lasseter has created a cult of personality with his signature Hawaiian shirts and a big personality. At the “Wreck-It Ralph” premiere several years ago, he waited in line at a candy booth greeting fans as powerful agents and the electronic-music artist Skrillex mingled less conspicuously nearby.

But that personality, the accusers said, also came with unwanted contact and advances.

The Hollywood Reporter piece cited one woman as saying Lasseter was prone to “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.” Another woman said that Lassiter’s statement Tuesday that centered on hugs minimized the alleged offenses. Many of the accusers were anonymous.

The story said that the writer-actor Rashida Jones had left “Toy Story 4” because of Lasseter’s behavior. A message to the actress’ representative was not immediately returned.

Whether “Coco” suffers any commercial or awards consequences as a result of the allegations remains to be seen. The news, which began spreading after the market closed, did not immediately affect Disney’s stock price, which was slightly up.

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Animation is also key to Disney because of its planned streaming service. In a conference call with analysts last summer, Disney chairman Robert Iger sold the service as “the exclusive home in the U.S. for subscription video-on-demand viewing of the newest live action and animated movies from Disney and Pixar, beginning with the 2019 slate, which includes ‘Toy Story 4,’ the sequel to ‘Frozen’ and ‘The Lion King’ from Disney live-action, along with other highly-anticipated movies.”

The Lasseter scandal will be a window into whether the industry can self-police its sexual misconduct, a subject of fierce debate in social media and victim rights’ circles over the past month. Many of the other scandals have involved either radically diminished outfits like the Weinstein Co. or free-agent types like comedian Louis C.K. and actor Kevin Spacey – people who run small production companies and were quickly and relatively easily shunned by outside partners.

But Lasseter is one of Hollywood’s top executives, in charge of hundreds of people, making discipline a more fraught affair. The scandal, which appears to have been brewing for years, also comes just several weeks after Disney came under fire for suppressing news coverage when it imposed a short-lived coverage ban on the Los Angeles Times in the wake of the paper’s investigative series on the company’s business dealings.

Disney seemed inclined to give the embattled executive latitude in overseeing his own temporary departure. It did not send out its own statement and allowed Lasseter to dictate the language. Lasseter wrote in the memo that the leave “will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Rosa Linda’s fabled Thanksgiving feast for the needy lives on at Warren Tech

November 21, 2017 - 7:17pm

The doors at Rosa Linda’s Mexican Cafe closed in 2015, but the huge Thanksgiving feast that the LoHi restaurant put on for Denver’s hungry lives on at a Lakewood vocational high school, where the tradition has been updated with organic ingredients and logistical help from UPS.

Volunteers and students led by Joshua Olsen, who teaches an urban agricultural program at Warren Occupation Technical Center, have been working for days in the school kitchen to ready pans of green-bean casserole, root-vegetable studded stuffing, turkey and gravy.

Olsen was a chef and partner at The Squeaky Bean when the farm-to-table restaurant, which got its start next door to Rosa Linda’s, began hosting the holiday feast after the Mexican cafe shuttered. When The Squeaky Bean closed in June, Olsen decided to continue feeding the hungry on Thanksgiving.

It is no small feat following in the footsteps of the Aguirre family, which served an estimated 30,000 Thanksgiving meals to poor people over 30 years.

“It is just ingrained in my heart to feed people,” Olsen says of taking on the daunting logistical task of preparing and distributing thousands of meals in one day. “Everybody is hungry, and that is one of the main things we are fighting in the world.”

On Monday, about 20 culinary students from Warren Tech and other volunteers sliced and diced piles of butternut squash, sweet potatoes and other vegetables and pulled cooked turkey from bones in the spacious kitchen, where culinary arts are taught.

Plastic tubs filled with sliced vegetables were turned into casseroles, and shreds of meat were piled into aluminum pans.

“It is nice to be invited to help people in need,” said Warren Tech chef instructor Joachim Schaaf, 54, as he strained turkey stock for the gravy.

Olsen opened the door of a walk-in refrigerator to reveal more food. Two walk-ins, each measuring 8 feet by 12 feet, “will be full of prepared product by Tuesday,” he said

Olsen, 35, grew up in North Dakota in a family that has close ties to the land and a tradition of volunteerism. His grandfather worked with farmers baling hay, threshing grain and doing other jobs, and his grandmother was a cook on a train that traveled through the state feeding farm workers during harvest.

The Squeaky Bean grew its own vegetables and herbs, and in 2014, Olsen reached an agreement with Warren Tech to develop a 3-acre farm on school property. He put in place a program to educate students in agriculture and culinary arts, and the farm provided The Squeaky Bean and other Denver restaurants with organically grown produce.

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The Squeaky Bean’s 2015 Thanksgiving dinner, called “The Feed,” was prepared in Warren Tech’s kitchen and then shipped to the restaurant in Lower Downtown. Last year, “The Feed” distributed meals carried by a well-organized fleet of vans, cars and pickup trucks to 6,000 elderly shut-ins, needy families and homeless people across the Denver area.

This year, Olsen and his volunteers are preparing all 5,400 meals at the school.

The logistics are daunting, but the use of Warren Tech’s kitchen will make the task easier, Olsen said. “This year, we will really be able to set the tone for the future in that we found a solid home.”

About 240 volunteers, including Olsen’s parents, are involved in the effort.

Sixty drivers will deliver meals to Denver Housing Authority residents and other homes where residents have signed up for the meals, as well as to motels and hotels along Colfax Avenue.

For the first time, drivers will have routes developed by United Parcel Service routing engineers. Olsen’s father, Jerry, who worked for the company for 35 years, asked UPS to help out.

“They will break it down, so every driver has routes that will be as efficient as UPS delivery routes,” Olsen said. “We are thankful for our volunteers and want them to be able to get back home and spend the rest of the day with their families.”

Project Angel Heart, which raises money for meals delivered to ailing Coloradans through its annual Pie in the Sky pie sale, contributed pies for this year’s meal.

Aspen Moon Farm provided hundreds of pounds of organic squash and carrots, Generator Real Estate gave 100 turkeys, Hinman’s Bakery gave marbled rye bread for stuffing and Burnt Barrel Colorado Spirits & Sports kicked in $1,000 for more turkeys. Other suppliers also donated.

In late September, Olsen began contacting the companies to contribute food and other products. He used social media to solicit donations and recruit volunteers.

Each meal costs about $5 to make. Suppliers contribute ingredients worth about $4 per plate, and the $1 balance is covered by cash donations. Last year, the feast needed $8,000 in cash.

“This year, it is down to about $5,000 because we have developed so many more relationships with local vendors,” Olsen said. “Next year, we are hoping it will be zero, or near that.”

Prep work in the massive production kitchen started Saturday. Food was cooked then cooled and stored.

On Thanksgiving, it will be reheated in the kitchen — on hot tables and in 10 ovens. Three hundred meals will be sent to Work & Class, a Larimer Street eatery near the Denver Rescue Mission, where they will be served to a group of mostly homeless people.

On Tuesday, Kara Urland, 42, was joined by her two sons working in the kitchen.

“My mom told us we are volunteering to do this, and I said all right,” said Jaxon Urland, 16. “I did it last year, and it was really fun. The reward is helping people.”

“It makes me feel happy because people are in need and I’m helping them,” said his 14-year-old brother, Jagger.

Kara Urland said she told the boys the effort is not only for the homeless — it is for those who are hungry.

“It could be a schoolmate,” she said.

Categories: All Denver News.

Best time to hit the road and other tips for flying and driving in and out of Denver over the Thanksgiving weekend

November 21, 2017 - 7:08pm

Denver International Airport is expecting 1.15 million passengers at its terminals between today and Monday.

And yes, that’s more people than last year. Approximately 3 percent more, says the airport. Sunday, Nov. 26, is expected to be the busiest of the week, with an estimated 192,634 passengers.

But that’s nothing if you frequented the airport this past summer. While Sunday will be the airport’s 36th busiest day in airport history, the other 35 busiest days all occurred this summer, said Heath Montgomery, a DIA spokesman.

“Yes that’s a common misconception that comes up every year,” Montgomery said. “The summer is far, far busier.”

Airport travel this week may be less hectic this week than the summer, but Thanksgiving car travel is expected to be worse than last year. AAA Colorado projects this week will the busiest since 2005 with 865,000 Coloradans traveling more than 50 miles from home.

The organization attributes the need to hit the road to Colorado’s “rising incomes and higher consumer confidence,” AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley said. “That’s led to a record travel year, and the Thanksgiving holiday travel period will be the busiest of the year to date.”

Allow for extra time is the agency’s advice.

Along with heavier traffic, AAA says this will also be the costliest travel since 2014, with gas prices averaging $2.54 a gallon, or 47-cents more than last year.

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Of course, if you expect to spend a wad on gas and plan on interstate travel, the GasBuddy smartphone app says to check how gas prices can change dramatically when crossing to state lines. For example, buying gas in Needles, Calif., can set a driver back $25 a tank after paying $1.70 more per gallon instead of much less in nearby Mohave Valley, Ariz., according to the company.  On Tuesday, the cheapest gas in Needles was $3.79 while Mohave Valley came in at $2.28.

According to Google, which analyzed user data from past holiday travel, the best day to leave for a Thanksgiving road trip is 3 a.m. on Wednesday. But the best time to leave for an event on Thanksgiving is 6 a.m. on that day.

The worst time to leave for a road trip? The day before Thanksgiving at 3 p.m.

And if you’re planning on driving back to Denver, aim for Friday at 4 a.m. And try to avoid the worst congestion that is expected at 3 p.m. on Saturday, says Google.

Flying out of DIA over the Thanksgiving weekend won’t be crowd free. DIA offered these tips for a more expeditious experience:

  • Confirm your flight online at home — or confirm a friend’s before heading out to the airport.
  • If you’re parking your car, check the available space by calling 303-DIA-PARK, option 1.
  • For a guaranteed and close spot, reserve a space for an additional $4 a day at
  • If your car gets stuck, DIA offers free jump starts, tire inflation and car key retrieval. Just call 303-342-4545
  • If arriving by the RTD A Line, check your bag and print a boarding pass at the DEN station train platform.
  • At the cell phone waiting lot at  7684 N. Wenatchee St., there’s free Wi-Fi
  • Leave gifts unwrapped — TSA may need to open them.
  • DIA updates travel alerts at its Twitter account, @DENAirport, and Facebook page at
  • There’s a special customer-service line for out-of-town travelers at 1-800-AIR-2-DEN.
  • And if you have hours to waste, check out the free ice-skating rink, which opens Friday at the DEN plaza on level 5 between the Jeppesen Terminal and Westin Denver International Airport.

Categories: All Denver News.

Where to shop local in Aurora and Centennial for Small Business Saturday

November 21, 2017 - 7:03pm

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

Two22 Brew’s Pop-Up Market
Address: 4550 S. Reservoir Road, Centennial
Time: Noon-3 p.m.
Contact: 720-328-9038,
The scoop: What’s a more Colorado way to celebrate Small Business Saturday than stopping by a local brewery? Sip on one of Two22 Brew‘s dozen or so microbrews while perusing goods from 13 vendors at a special pop-up market. If you like the blend of beer and boosterism, pay Two22 Brew a visit year round: The brewery donates $2.22 from every $10 of profit to 11 local charities.

Small Business Saturday Holiday Market at aMUSEd Woman Studios
Address: 15452 E. Orchard Road, Centennial
Time: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The scoop: Get a head start on the holidays without braving Black Friday crowds by visiting this Small Business Saturday market at aMUSEd Woman Studios, featuring 10 local enterprises. Look for selections of custom jewelry, cosmetics, home organizers, safe-to-eat cookie dough and more.

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Small Business Saturday at Stanley
Address: 2501 Dallas St., Aurora
Time: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Contact: 720-990-6743,
The scoop: All of Stanley Marketplace‘s 50-plus businesses will celebrate Small Business Saturday with special offers and events. Whether you’re a long-time Stanley fan or a novice paying your first visit to the converted airplane hangar, this is an ideal day to scope out Stanley’s wares. Keep an eye out for local celebrities: Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and other officials will be touring the market in the morning.

Small Business Saturday at Cherry Creek North
Address: Bordered by Steele Street, University Boulevard, Third and First avenues in Denver
Shop hours vary
The scoop: Shopping the 32 participating, local businesses in the Cherry Creek North business improvement district Nov. 25 won’t just benefit the shop owners. Show your receipts to the area’s Small Business Saturday headquarters at 2nd Avenue and Fillmore Street and you’ll be entered to win a Cherry Creek North gift card worth $250 or $500.

Categories: All Denver News.

Enjoy these three fun pop-up ice skating rinks in metro Denver

November 21, 2017 - 6:59pm

Colorado is a haven for winter fun and is known around the world for its great skiing and snowboarding. It also offers a plethora of places to ice skate, from year-round rinks to seasonal iced-over lakes and pop-up rinks in town. So sharpen your blades, lace up your skates and try these three pop-up rinks near Denver. For other ice skating options visit The Know.

The Rink at Belmar
Where: 464 S. Teller St., Lakewood
When: Open daily through Jan. 7: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday–Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Open Thursdays-Sundays Jan. 11-28: 4-9 p.m. Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Special hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Christmas Eve, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. New Year’s Eve and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Jan. 15
Cost: $5-$9.50 (includes skates), free for ages 2 and younger and ages 65 and older
Contact: 303-742-1520,
The scoop: If you find yourself shopping at Belmar, take a break and get on the ice at The Rink at Belmar. It’s a cozy place to hang out with family or friends for a day of fun and holiday cheer. Children can skate with Santa 1-3 p.m. Dec. 2. You can rent the entire ice skating rink for $500 an hour ($300 for nonprofits).

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Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park
Where: Near the D&F Tower at 16th and Arapahoe streets
When: Open daily through Dec. 24: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Dec. 25-Jan. 7: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Jan. 8-Feb. 14: noon-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Special hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Christmas Eve, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Christmas Day, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. New Year’s Eve, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 4) and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Valentine’s Day
Cost: Free; skate rental $8 for adults, $6 for ages 12 and younger and free every Sunday; $35-$50 for season passes
Contact:  303-825-6787,
The scoop: There is no cost to use the Skyline Rink if you have your own skates. Drop by Saturdays from 9 to 10 a.m. to learn how to skate and Friday nights to skate while accompanied by a live DJ. Also, watch for special skate sessions with Santa and Snowga yoga hours. This downtown rink is a great place to glide freely and experience the city in a new way.

Denver International Airport
Where: 8500 Pena Blvd. at Denver International Airport Plaza
When: Daily 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 24-Jan. 7
Cost: Free admission and skate rental
The scoop: Yes, airports are meant for catching flights, but Denver International Airport’s ice skating rink is still a fun place to skate. Watch and listen to carolers spread holiday cheer as you skate. There is no cost to lace up a pair of skates and cruise around this small rink.

Categories: All Denver News.

Have an opinion on the big national parks fee hike? You have time to weigh in

November 21, 2017 - 6:53pm

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz.  — The National Park Service is giving people more time to weigh in on a proposed fee increase at 17 of its most popular parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park.

Visitors would be charged $70 per vehicle, up from the current $30 fee, during the five busiest months of the year. At others, the hike is from $25 to $70.

The comment period had been scheduled to end Thursday. The new deadline is Dec. 22. Comments can be submitted on the National Park Service website.

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The Park Service said it wanted to accommodate interest from Congress and the public. More than 65,000 comments already have been submitted.

Most of the 17 sites are in the West, including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion and Mount Rainier.

The Park Service says it would raise $70 million annually under the proposal. The revenue would fund maintenance and infrastructure projects.

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