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Rockies catchers Tony Wolters, Tom Murphy and Chris Iannetta battling for 2 spots

March 17, 2019 - 6:24pm

MESA, Ariz. — Manager Bud Black and the Rockies’ front office have some difficult decisions on the near horizon.

With opening day 11 days away, roster verdicts have to be made regarding catcher, bullpen and the bench. Perhaps the most difficult decision will be behind the plate, where three players — Chris Iannetta, Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy — are competing for two spots.

Wolters, who continues to shine defensively, started Sunday’s game vs. the Cubs and made two strong throws to second. Murphy, though not as skilled behind the plate as Wolters, has big-time power. He blasted a solo shot to right field, his third home run of the Cactus League. Wolters still has a minor-league option. Murphy does not.

Iannetta, who turns 36 next month, did not play Sunday. He has had a tepid spring at the plate, batting just .083 (2-for-24 with eight strikeouts), but he has earned the trust of many of Colorado’s pitchers. Plus, he’s making $4 million this season.

“That was another good swing by ‘Murph,’ and I like the way he’s catching,” manager Bud Black said the Rockies beat the Cubs 7-2. “These are tough (decisions), but I like when players do well.”

Bullpen matters. Black said Sunday it’s very unlikely that lefty Chris Rusin (upper-back pain) and right-hander Antonio Senzatela (infected blister on his right heel) will be ready for the regular season. That means that two spots are open for the eight-man bullpen, with probably three pitchers competing: lefty Harrison Musgrave and righties Carlos Estévez and DJ Johnson. All three are on the 40-man roster and can be optioned to the minors. All three have had solid camps, so a lot will be riding on the final eight exhibition games.

Slip-slider away. Right-handed starter Chad Bettis came into camp hoping to master the slider he began working on over the winter. Now, however, he’s decided to scrap the pitch, leaving him with a fastball, a changeup, a curve and a cutter.

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“In my bullpens, I (was throwing) 76-78 (mph), some maybe at 80,” Bettis explained. “I was like. ‘OK, this is nice,’ because (with) natural progression — get that hitter in the box — it should be 82, 84-ish. But it just wasn’t getting there.

“We went back to my cutter, because I have a good feel for it and I don’t have to work to manipulate it. I know how to make it big or small and the right way to use it. The slider, I was working too hard for it.”

Footnotes. With no realistic chance of earning a job as a backup outfielder, nonroster invitee Michael Saunders and the club parted ways Sunday. … Speedy Garrett Hampson has recovered from the sore right hamstring that benched him for a week. He started in left field on Saturday and played shortstop Sunday, dropping a nice bunt single down the third-base line and later legging out a double to left.

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New Zealand mosque attack: The stories of the victims

March 17, 2019 - 6:14pm

An attack on a New Zealand mosque took the lives of 50 worshippers Friday and left dozens more wounded when a white supremacist opened fire and live-streamed the shootings. Here are the stories of some of those killed and wounded.

THE DEAD HUSNA AHMED

Farid Ahmed refuses to turn his back on his adopted home, despite losing his 45-year-old wife, Husna Ahmed, in the Al Noor mosque attack. They had split up to go to the bathroom when it happened.

The gunman livestreamed the massacre on the internet, and Ahmed later saw a video of his wife being shot. A police officer confirmed she died.

Despite the horror, Ahmed — originally from Bangladesh — still considers New Zealand a great country.

“I believe that some people, purposely, they are trying to break down the harmony we have in New Zealand with the diversity,” he said. “But they are not going to win. They are not going to win. We will be harmonious.”

SYED AREEB AHMED, 26

Ahmed had recently moved from his house in Karachi, Pakistan, for a job in New Zealand to help support his family back home. On Saturday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry informed his family that Ahmed was among those killed during the mosque attack.

One of his uncles, Muhammad Muzaffar Khan, described him as deeply religious, praying five times a day. But education was always his first priority, Khan said.

Ahmed was an only son who had immigrated to New Zealand for work, his uncle said.

“Education had always remained his first priority,” Khan said. “He had gone to New Zealand recently where he got his job. He had only started his career, but the enemies took his life”

Family members, relatives, and friends have gathered at Ahmed’s house to express their condolences. His body is expected to arrive there in the coming days.

FARHAJ AHSAN, 30

The software engineer moved to New Zealand six years ago from the city of Hyderabad in India, where his parents still live, according to the Mumbai Mirror.

“We received the disturbing news,” Ahsan’s father, Mohammed Sayeeduddin told the newspaper Saturday. Friends and family had been trying to reach Ahsan since the attack.

Ahsan was married and had a 3-year-old daughter and infant son.

ABDULLAHI DIRIE, 4

Four of Adan Ibrahin Dirie’s five children managed to escape Friday’s attacks, but the youngest, Abdullahi, was killed, his uncle, Abdulrahman Hashi, 60, a preacher at Dar Al Hijrah Mosque in Minneapolis, told the New Zealand Herald.

Dirie also suffered gunshot wounds and was hospitalized. The family fled Somalia in the mid-1990s as refugees and resettled in New Zealand.

“You cannot imagine how I feel,” Hashi said.

He added: “He was the youngest in the family. This is a problem of extremism. Some people think the Muslims in their country are part of that, but these are innocent people.”

ALI ELMADANI

Elmadani and his wife immigrated from the United Arab Emirates in 1998. The retired Christchurch engineer always told his children to be strong and patient, so that’s what they are trying to do after the tragedy, his daughter, Maha Elmadani, told Stuff.

“He considered New Zealand home and never thought something like this would happen here,” she said.

She said her mother “is staying as strong as possible. My younger brother isn’t doing too well with the news.”

ATTA ELYAN

Atta Elyan, who was in his 30s, died of his wounds from the shooting, Muath Elyan, his uncle, told The Associated Press.

His father, Mohammed Elyan, a Jordanian in his 60s who co-founded one of the mosques in 1993, was among those wounded, said Muath Elyan, Mohammed’s brother, who said he spoke to Mohammed’s wife after the shooting.

Muath said his brother helped establish the mosque a year after arriving in New Zealand, where he teaches engineering at a university and runs a consultancy. He said his brother last visited Jordan two years ago.

“He used to tell us life was good in New Zealand and its people are good and welcoming. He enjoyed freedom there and never complained about anything,” Muath told the AP. “I’m sure this bloody crime doesn’t represent the New Zealanders.”

LILIK ABDUL HAMID

The longtime aircraft maintenance engineer at Air New Zealand was killed in the Al Noor mosque when he was killed, his employer said in a statement.

“Lilik has been a valued part of our engineering team in Christchurch for 16 years, but he first got to know the team even earlier when he worked with our aircraft engineers in a previous role overseas,” Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon said. “The friendships he made at that time led him to apply for a role in Air New Zealand and make the move to Christchurch. His loss will be deeply felt by the team.

Hamid was married and had two children, Luxon said.

“Lilik, his wife Nina and their children Zhania and Gerin are well known and loved by our close-knit team of engineers and their families, who are now doing all they can to support the family alongside our leadership team and the airline’s special assistance team,” he said.

MUCAAD IBRAHIM, 3

At just 3 years old, Mucaad Ibrahim is the youngest known victim of the attacks. He was separated from his older brother Abdi and their father when the shooting began at the Al Noor mosque.

After an agonizing search by the family, Abdi said police finally confirmed that the toddler had been killed.

Mucaad was born and raised in Christchurch. He was beloved by the community, known for his energetic demeanor and easy laugh. He was bright and bubbly, and loved playing with an iPad.

Ahmed Osman, a close family friend, said Mucaad used to cheer from the sidelines as Osman and Abdi played soccer on Friday evenings at a park near the mosque. The little boy had planned to watch them play soccer as usual on Friday. He never made it.

Osman said the support of the community has helped the family pull through.

“New Zealand is always behind us,” he said. “Even when we walk down the street, people stop us and say, ‘Are you guys OK?’ That’s what New Zealand is about. It’s all about coming together. One person cannot stop us.”

MOHAMMAD IMRAN KHAN

A handwritten cardboard sign outside Mohammad Imran Khan’s restaurant, the Indian Grill in Christchurch, on Sunday said simply CLOSED. A handful of pink flowers laid nearby.

The owner of the convenience store next door, JB’s Discounter, Jaiman Patel, 31, said he helped the staff with the keys after the terrorist attack that claimed Khan’s life.

“He’s a really good guy. I tried to help him out with the setup and everything,” Patel said. “We also put the key out for them when the terrorists come, and sorted it out for him.”

Khan had a son who was 10 or 11, Patel said.

The two were business neighbors who helped each other out when needed, he said.

“We are helping each other. It’s so sad.”

SAYYAD MILNE, 14

Milne was described as a good-natured, kind teenager. The high school student was at the Al Noor mosque for Friday prayers when the attack started, his half-sister, Brydie Henry, told the Stuff media outlet.

Sayyad was last seen “lying on the floor of the bloody mosque, bleeding from his lower body,” she said her father told her.

Sayyad’s mother, Noraini, was also in the mosque and managed to escape, Henry said. The teenager has two other siblings, 15-year-old twins Shuayb and Cahaya.

“They’re all at home just waiting. They’re just waiting and they don’t know what to do,” Henry told the news site.

JUNAID MORTARA, 35

Javed Dadabhai is mourning for his gentle cousin, 35-year-old Junaid Mortara, believed to have died in the first mosque attack.

His cousin was the breadwinner of the family, supporting his mother, his wife and their three children, ages 1 to 5. Mortara had inherited his father’s convenience store, which was covered in flowers on Saturday.

Mortara was an avid cricket fan, and would always send a sparring text with relatives over cricket matches when Canterbury faced Auckland.

HAJI DAOUD NABI, 71

Nabi moved his family to New Zealand in 1979 to escape the Soviet-Afghan war. Days before the shootings, his son, Omar, recalled his father speaking about the importance of unity.

“My father said how important it is to spread love and unity among each other and protect every member of the society we live in,” Omar told Al-Jazeera.

Omar told the news network his father ran an Afghan Association and helped refugees settle in to a new country.

“He used to make them feel at home,” Omar said.

HUSNE ARA PARVIN, 42

Parvin died being struck by bullets while trying to shield her wheelchair-bound husband, Farid Uddin Ahmed, her nephew Mahfuz Chowdhury told The Daily Star , a Bangladesh newspaper.

Chowdhury said Uddin had been ill for years and Parvin took him to the mosque every other Friday. She had taken him to the mosque for men while she went to the one for women. Mahfuz said relatives in New Zealand told him when the shootings began, Parvin rushed to her husband’s mosque to protect him. He survived.

The Bangladeshi couple had moved to New Zealand sometime after 1994, Chowdhury said.

NAEEM RASHID, 50, and TALHA RASHID, 21

As the shootings unfolded, Naeem Rashid is seen on video trying to tackle the gunman, according to Rashid’s brother, Khurshid Alam.

“He was a brave person, and I’ve heard from a few people there, there were few witnesses . they’ve said he saved a few lives there by trying to stop that guy,” Alam told the BBC .

Rashid’s son, Talha Rashid, is also among the dead. Pakistan’s Ministry of Public Affairs confirmed their deaths in a tweet.

The elder Rashid was a teacher in Christchurch and was from Abbottabad, Pakistan. His son was 11 when his family moved to New Zealand. He had a new job and planned to get married.

HUSSEIN AL-UMARI

When Aya Al-Umari thinks of her big brother, she pictures him with his arms wide open, ready to wrap her in an embrace. Hussein Al-Umari was a hugger, she says, a kind man, and the quintessential big brother who delighted in teasing his little sister.

Hussein, 35, was killed while attending Friday prayers at Al Noor mosque.

Aya had spent the previous evening having dinner with him, and she recalled how excited he was that their parents had just bought a new car.

She and her brother were born in Abu Dhabi and moved with their parents to New Zealand in 1997. Hussein worked in the tourism industry, and he loved traveling. He had recently traveled to the seaside South Island city of Nelson and had created a video blog of his adventures. Aya had been impressed by how polished it was.

Their mother, an Iraqi calligraphy artist named Janna Ezzat, wrote on Facebook that her son had become a martyr.

Ezzat wrote: “Our son was full of life and always put the needs of others in front of his own.”

INDIAN CITIZENS KILLED

India’s ambassador to New Zealand issued the following names of Indian citizens who were killed in the mosque attacks:

— Maheboob Khokhar

— Ramiz Vora

— Asif Vora

— Ansi Alibava

— Ozair Kadir

Indian news reports said Alibava, 25, had moved to New Zealand last year after marrying Abdul Nazar.

The Indian Express newspaper said she was studying agriculture technology at Lincoln University and her husband worked at a supermarket in Christchurch. They got married in 2017.

The Manorama Online news site said her mother, Rasia, had prayed for the safety of the two when the news broke of the attacks.

Alibava used to call her family back in India every day, but they were worried when there was no call after the shootings. They later found out from the husband what had happened.

The report said she was hoping to find a job in New Zealand to support her family back home.

MORE PAKISTANI VICTIMS IDENTIFIED

Pakistan’s foreign ministry confirmed nine Pakistanis were killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks. They have been identified as follow:

Zeeshan Raza, his father Ghulam Hussain and mother Karam Bibi, Sohail Shahid, Syed Jahandad Ali, Syed Areeb Ahmed, Mahboob Haroon, Naeem Rashid and his son Talha Naeem.

The foreign ministry provided more information about other citizens who died in the attacks:

— Sohail Shahid, age 40.

— Syed Jahanand Ali, age 34.

— Mahboob Haroon, resident of Rawalpindi, age 40.

THE WOUNDED ELIN DARAGHMEH

A Palestinian woman says her 4-year-old daughter is fighting for her life while her husband is in serious but stable condition after being wounded in the mosque shooting.

Asmaa Daraghmeh, 27, said the family moved to New Zealand from Jordan four years ago when her husband received a permit to work as a hair dresser.

“It was a great opportunity,” she said, crying on the phone. “The country is safe, beautiful and hospitable.”

She spoke from the Auckland hospital where their daughter, Elin, remained in intensive care. Her husband, 33, was being transported to the same hospital.

Asmaa said she is a devout Muslim who was active in the mosque.

“Our life was great in this great country until this devil appeared and turned it to hell,” she said.

SHIHADEH NASASRAH

Shihadeh Nasasrah, 63, who was wounded in the New Zealand mosque shooting, said he spent terrifying minutes lying underneath two dying men as the gunman kept firing.

The assailant “would go out and bring more ammunition and resume shooting,” said Nasasrah, speaking by phone from a Christchurch hospital where he was recovering from two shots to the leg. “Every time he stopped, I thought he was gone. But he returned over and over again. I was afraid to leave because I didn’t know the safest way out. I died several times, not one time.”

Nasasrah had attended Friday prayers at the Al Noor Mosque with his friend, Abdel Fattah Qasim, 60, who was killed in the shooting. Both were originally from the West Bank — Nasasrah from the town of Beit Furik and Qasim from the town of Arabeh.

Nasasrah said about 200 to 300 worshippers were in the mosque for Friday prayers, and that he and his friend were sitting in the front, near the imam, or prayer leader. The imam was delivering the sermon when the gunman burst into the mosque, he said.

“Panic spread all over the place,” Nasasrah said. “Some started saying Allahu Akbar (God is great). We scrambled to leave toward a second door that leads to a hall and then to the street, but the bullets brought us down.”

“Two people came on top of me, and he (the gunman) approached us and opened fire. Both were killed and I felt them dying,” Nasasrah said. “I felt their blood. I myself was shoot and I thought ‘I’m dying’.”

He said he uttered the words that devout Muslims speak before their death — “there is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger.”

Nasasrah, a car dealer, said most of the worshippers were from Asia, including Indonesia, India, Singapore and Malaysia, and that Arabs made up a smaller part of the congregation.

The attack left him and other Muslims in the area worried and puzzled.

“I never heard a racist word in this country,” he said. “I don’t know what happened and why. I will not leave this country. Our lives are well established here, our homes, works, family is here and we will not leave.”

As a young man, Nasasrah studied English in the Syrian capital of Damascus, and then worked as a translator at the New Zealand embassy in Saudi Arabia for 14 years. The father of three moved to New Zealand in 1990. His three children graduated from universities in New Zealand and have established their lives in the country.

MUHAMMAD AMIN NASIR, 67

Nasir and his son were just 200 meters (219 yards) from the Al Noor mosque on Friday when everything went wrong. They had no idea that a white supremacist had just slaughtered at least 41 people inside the mosque. A car that had been driving by suddenly stopped, and a man leaned out the window pointing a gun at them.

They ran as the bullets began to fly. But at 67, Nasir could not keep up with his 35-year-old son. He fell behind by two or three fateful steps.

The gunman drove away. A pool of blood poured from Nasir’s body.

Nasir, who lived in Pakistan, had been regularly visiting his son in New Zealand.

He was on the third week of his visit when he was shot. He remains in an induced coma with critical injuries, though his condition has stabilized.

ADEEB SAMI, 52

As the rampage inside the mosque began, Sami was shot in the back as he dove to protect his two sons, Abdullah, 29, and Ali, 23, the Gulf News reported.

“My dad is a real hero. He got shot in the back near his spine in an attempt to shield my brothers but he didn’t let anything happen to them,” Adeeb’s daughter, Heba, 30, told the Gulf News.

Sami, described by the Gulf News as a Dubai-based New Zealander of Iraqi origin, underwent surgery to remove the bullet and his daughter said he’s recovering.

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Dick Dale dies: King of Surf Guitar, “Miserlou” composer was 83

March 17, 2019 - 5:54pm

LOS ANGELES — Dick Dale, whose pounding, blaringly loud power-chord instrumentals on songs like “Miserlou” and “Let’s Go Trippin'” earned him the title King of the Surf Guitar, has died at age 83.

His former bassist Sam Bolle says Dick Dale passed away Saturday night. No other details were available.

Dale liked to say it was he and not the Beach Boys who invented surf music — and some critics have said he was right.

An avid surfer, Dale started building a devoted Los Angeles fan base in the late 1950s with repeated appearances at Newport Beach’s old Rendezvous Ballroom. He played “Miserlou,” ”The Wedge,” ”Night Rider” and other compositions at wall-rattling volume on a custom-made Fender Stratocaster guitar.

“Miserlou,” which would become his signature song, had been adapted from a Middle Eastern folk tune Dale heard as a child and later transformed into a thundering surf-rock instrumental.

His fingering style was so frenetic that he shredded guitar picks during songs, a technique that forced him to stash spares on his guitar’s body. “Better shred than dead,” he liked to joke, an expression that eventually became the title of a 1997 anthology released by Rhino Records.

Dale said he developed his musical style when he sought to merge the sounds of the crashing ocean waves he heard while surfing with melodies inspired by the rockabilly music he loved.

He pounded rather than plucked the strings of his guitar in a style he said he borrowed from an early musical hero, the great jazz drummer Gene Krupa.

“Dale pioneered a musical genre that Beach Boy Brian Wilson and others would later bring to fruition,” Rolling Stone magazine said in its “Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll” adding “Let’s Go Trippin'” was released in 1961, two months ahead of the Beach Boys’ first hit, “Surfin.'”

The magazine called Dale’s song “the harbinger of the ’60s surf music craze.”

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Although popular around Southern California, Dale might have remained just a cult figure if surfing had not exploded in worldwide popularity during his peak creative years.

When the first of a series of “Beach Party” movies made to cash in on the phenomenon was released in 1963, it included Dick Dale and the Del-Tones performing “Secret Surfing Spot” as teen heartthrob Annette Funicello danced on the beach.

Dale had released his first album, “Surfer’s Choice,” a year earlier. He followed it with four more over the next two years while appearing in several “Beach Party” sequels and other surfer movies.

Other popular Dale songs included “Jungle Fever,” ”Shake-N-Stomp” and “Swingin’ and Surfin’.”

His star dimmed after the Beatles led music’s British invasion onto the pop charts in 1964 and his record label dropped him. His career also was sidelined by a battle with cancer in the 1960s and a serious foot infection in the 1970s that was the result of a surfing injury.

His musical influence was profound and included guitar virtuosos Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan and movie director Quentin Tarantino, who selected Dale’s “Miserlou,” as the theme song of his 1994 film “Pulp Fiction.” That helped pull the guitarist back into the pop-culture spotlight.

Dale himself had begun to launch a comeback with the 1987 film “Back to the Beach,” which reunited Funicello and her co-star Frankie Avalon as a middle-aged couple returning to their old surfing haunts. He teamed up with Vaughan to record the classic surf instrumental “Pipeline” for that film, earning the pair a Grammy nomination.

In 1993 he released “Tribal Thunder,” his first album of all new material in nearly 30 years. He followed it with “Unknown Territory” the following year.

Dale continued to tour into his 80s, in part he said to pay the medical bills that advancing age was saddling him with. Having beaten cancer in the 1960s, he suffered a serious recurrence in 2015.

Born Richard Anthony Monsour in Boston on May 4, 1937, Dale moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1954, where he immediately fell in love with surfing and the electric guitar.

As a child, he listened to Lebanese and Polish folk tunes played by his parents. Eventually he graduated to big band, swing, country and rockabilly.

Self-taught on guitar, the left-handed Dale couldn’t afford a custom-made model, so early on he played a standard right-hand guitar upside down and backward. That ended after a meeting with legendary guitar builder Leo Fender, who offered to make Dale his own left-handed model if he’d test a line of guitars and amplifiers Fender was developing.

“I became Leo’s personal guinea pig,” Dale told The Associated Press in 1997. “Anything that came out of the Fender company, I played.”

He played so loudly that he blew up one amplifier after another until a frustrated Fender built him a “Dick Dale Dual Showman” doubled-sized amp. It was a model that would become popular with aspiring Los Angeles guitarists.

As he began to become well known, he began calling himself Dick Dale, explaining years later that a radio disc jockey had suggested it was a better name for a rock star than Richard Monsour.

His surfer buddies had already nicknamed him King of the Surf Guitar, a title he said he initially resisted, fearing it would limit his audience. When the spirit of surfing caught on everywhere, however, he came to embrace the crown.

Dale is survived by his wife, Lana, and a son, James, a drummer who sometimes toured with his father.

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Rockies Recap: Chad Bettis sharp again; Murphys homer on St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2019 - 5:21pm

Rockies 7, Cubs 2
Sunday at Sloan Park, Mesa, Ariz.

On the mound: Veteran right-hander Chad Bettis solidified his spot in the rotation with another impressive start. Bettis, using his smarts and array of pitches, was able to escape trouble in both the first and second innings, finishing with a solid line: 4 ⅓ innings, one run allowed on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts …  Lefty Mike Dunn plunked a batter but tossed another scoreless inning and struck out one. This spring, Dunn has pitched seven innings, allowing two hits, no runs and no walks while fanning 10. … Right-hander Carlos Estevez, bidding to make the big-league bullpen, struck out one in his two-thirds of an inning, reducing his ERA to 1.29. … Right-hander Scott Oberg, who has earned the main set-up reliever job, pitched his eighth scoreless inning of spring.

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At the plate: The Murphy boys lit up Sloan Park on St. Patrick’s Day. First baseman Daniel Murphy hit his first home run of spring, a solo shot to right to lead off the first. Catcher Tom Murphy hit a solo shot in the eight, this third of spring. Murphy is battling Tony Wolters for a spot on the roster.

Worth noting: Rookie Garrett Hampson continues to change games with his speed. He started at shortstop and led off, legging out a double and laying down a bunt single down the third-base line.

Up next: Reds at Rockies, 2:10 p.m. Monday, MDT, Salt River Fields

Starting pitchers: Reds RHP Tyler Mahle vs. Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland

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March Madness 2019: Zion Williamson sets doubts aside, gets ready for NCAA’s biggest party

March 17, 2019 - 5:14pm

The clock is ticking. The rest of college basketball has three weeks to figure out how to stop Duke’s freshman force of nature, Zion Williamson.

Williamson and the Blue Devils got the overall top seed in the tournament, while Gonzaga and two more Atlantic Coast Conference teams — North Carolina and Virginia — also received No. 1 seeds. Three teams in one conference on the top line matches a record, and offers the selection committee’s guess as to who has the best chance to slow down Duke.

The Blue Devils opened as a 9-4 favorite to win it all.

Williamson, the 6-foot-7 man-child averaging 22 points and nine rebounds and a near-certain top pick in the upcoming NBA draft, is putting his future on the line — along with hundreds of millions in potential earnings — all in hopes of adding his own chapter to the history of America’s most dream-indulged hoops extravaganza. He’s doing it only four weeks after wrenching his knee when his Nike sneaker blew out and sent him crashing to the floor. He missed five games. He wouldn’t dare miss this.

RELATED: March Madness 2019: Printable bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament

“Everybody has their right to their own opinion, but I knew I was coming back the whole time,” Williamson said in his return last week, when he led Duke to its 21st ACC tournament title.

Speaking of shoes … the companies that make them are intrinsically, financially and, yes, toxically intertwined with the players who fill out Division I rosters. The tournament will once again be played against the backdrop of a long list of problems — most of them related to money — that plague the NCAA and college hoops.

LSU is the latest to have its name dragged through the mud, yet neither the NCAA nor the school appeared to think twice about placing the Tigers in a starring role the drama, which begins Tuesday with a pair of play-in games, then gets going in full force on Thursday.

The Tigers were given the No. 3 seed in the East, a mere two weeks after details emerged about their coach, on a wiretap , talking to a recruiting middleman about a “strong ass offer” he made to a high schooler. If true, coach Will Wade clearly violated NCAA rules — in fact, The NCAA Rule: Thou Shalt Not Pay Players.

But while Wade has been banished to the sideline for the time being, the Tigers will be at the party.

“That’s an institutional decision,” Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir, the chair of the selection committee, said last week.

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(Muir has other issues: Stanford’s sailing coach was among those charged last week in the giant pay-for-admissions scandal involving small sports at a handful of universities.)

And yet, despite the sordid headlines and the requisite amount of pre-tournament nose-holding, the next three weeks are certain to inspire and amaze us.

Will this year’s magic come from 14th-seeded Old Dominion, whose coach, Jeff Jones, buried his face in a towel as the Monarchs were wrapping up their title in the Conference USA tournament Saturday, then revealed he’s battling prostate cancer?

Or from the UC Irvine Anteaters, the 13th seed in the South who are as good as any team in California this season and have as much pedigree: guard Max Hazzard is UCLA legend Walt Hazzard’s grandson, and guard Spencer Rivers is coach Doc Rivers’ son?

Or maybe even from Gonzaga, whose very smallness — enrollment 5,200 — seems to, in some corners, eternally mask the reality that this is a big-time program with one potential lottery pick on the roster (Rui Hachimura), another in the NBA (Zach Collins), a 21-year string of trips to the tournament and, now, its third No. 1 seeding in seven years?

The confetti will fall the evening of Monday, April 8 inside U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Then, on April 9, the focus shifts from courtside back to the courtroom, the negotiating table and, in some cases, the jail cell.

More investigations, the likes of which exposed LSU’s troubles, along with more corruption trials involving more assistant coaches and other players in the college recruiting game, will come later this spring.

The NBA and its union will try to inch closer to ending the one and done rule (A player must be at least 19 and a year removed from college before entering the NBA) that receives more than its (fair?) share of blame for the NCAA’s troubles.

Less promising are hopes for real reform out of the NCAA’s recently suggested package of fixes, or from the aftermath of a ruling in U.S. District Court that essentially told the association to continue with business as usual when it came to compensating players with pennies compared to the billions they bring in.

But forget all that for now.

One and done is what gave us Zion and his freshman teammates, RJ Barrett and Cameron Reddish, for a single, precious season at Duke.

It gave us Kentucky, a 2 seed in the Midwest, and its freshman-enabling coach, John Calipari.

It also gave us the dozens of programs that don’t, or can’t, consistently attract that kind of talent. Those teams are, in many cases, cheered as underdogs for that very reason.

Their goal this March appears straightforward, though anything but simple: Assuming his shoes hold up, someone’s got to stop Williamson before he exits stage right, never to look back, on his way to the NBA.

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Rory McIlroy emerges from wild day to win Players Championship

March 17, 2019 - 5:06pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — His best swing was followed by his biggest drive, both setting up birdies, and from there Rory McIlroy knew how to finish.

Suddenly staked to a one-shot lead, McIlroy had a 125-yard walk along the water to the 17th hole to face an island that never looks smaller than on Sunday at The Players Championship, followed by the toughest hole on the TPC Sawgrass with water down the entire left side.

“Just make three more good swings … and this thing is yours,” McIlroy kept telling himself.

He delivered in a major way to win the next best thing to major.

McIlroy made two late birdies to regain the lead, was at his best when the pressure was the highest, and he closed with a 2-under 70 for a one-shot victory over Jim Furyk in his 10th appearance at The Players Championship.

“To step up and make those three good swings, it’s very satisfying knowing that it’s in there when it needs to be,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy could not afford a mistake over the final hour because of Furyk, the 48-year-old former Ryder Cup captain who nearly pulled off a stunner. Furyk, one of the last players to qualify for the strongest field in golf, capped off a 67 with a 7-iron into the 18th so good that he started walking when he hit it. The ball plopped down 3 feet from the hole for a birdie to take the lead.

But not for long.

Coming off a careless bogey on the 14th, McIlroy thought he was in trouble when his tee shot went well to the right toward a clump of native grass. He was lucky it came down into the bunker, and from there he drilled a 6-iron from 180 yards.

“Some golf shot there,” Harry Diamond, his caddie and best friend, said as the ball was in the air.

McIlroy called it “the best shot of the day, by far,” and it settled 15 feet behind the hole for a birdie to tie. Then, he blasted a 347-yard drive — the longest of the day on the par-5 16th — into a good lie in the rough that left him a 9-iron to 20 feet for a two-putt birdie and the lead.

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Most important, he found dry land on the 17th with a 9-iron, and relied on a memory from 10 years ago in Hong Kong — pick a target and swing hard — to hammer a tee shot down the 18th fairway to set up the win.

He finished at 16-under 272 and earned $2.25 million, to date the biggest winner’s check in golf.

The timing was ideal. McIlroy had not finished worse than a tie for sixth in his five previous starts this year — three of them playing in the final group — with no trophy to show for it. And one month away is the Masters, the final piece for McIlroy to get the career Grand Slam.

It wasn’t easy. Eight players had at least a share of the lead at some point, and a dozen players were separated by two shots at various times.

“I think the toughest part is seeing yourself up there, whatever score you’re on, and seeing 10 or 11 guys with a chance,” McIlroy said. “I guess that was the hardest thing was just getting yourself to the point mentally where you say, ‘Well, why not me? This is my tournament. I’m going to finish it off.'”

Furyk didn’t know he was in The Players until one week ago, and he was on the verge of winning until McIlroy came through in the end. Furyk started the back nine with two birdies to get in the mix and finished strong. His only regret was a 3-foot par putt on the 15th.

Even so, it showed he has plenty of game left after devoting two years as Ryder Cup captain. The runner-up finish moves him high enough in the world ranking (No. 57) to qualify for the Match Play in two weeks.

“A shot here, a shot there, maybe could have been a little different,” Furyk said. “But ultimately, left it all out there. It was also nice to get in contention, to get under the heat, to have to hit shots under a lot of pressure, and then to respond well to that and hit some good golf shots. It’ll be a confidence boost going forward.

Some of the most entertaining moments came from everyone else.

Eddie Pepperell of England, in his Sawgrass debut, ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch to briefly share the lead, none bigger than a putt from just inside 50 feet on the 17th. One group later, Jhonattan Vegas holed a putt from the bottom left to the top right pin position, just under 70 feet, the longest putt made on the island green since the PGA Tour had lasers to measure them. That gave him a share of the lead, too.

“Magic,” Vegas said. “If I tried it a thousand times I wouldn’t even come close to making it.”

Both shot 66 and tied for third.

Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood lost their way early, and then late.

Rahm, who had a one-shot lead, started with three bogeys in four holes and recovered until a curious decision. Tied for the lead, he was 220 yards away in a bunker, partially blocked by trees on the par-5 11, when he went for the green and hit into the water, making bogey. He was still in the game until failing to birdie the 16th and hitting into the water on the 17th. Rahm shot 76.

Fleetwood opened with a three-putt bogey and made all pars until hitting into the water on the 11th for bogey. He made eagle on the 16th to have a fleeting chance until coming up short of the island. He shot 73 and tied for fifth with Brandt Snedeker (69) and Dustin Johnson (69).

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“Iconic” Rocky Flats Lounge looking for new home

March 17, 2019 - 4:52pm

The Rocky Flats Lounge, an iconic Wisconsin-type roadhouse bar that was a celebrated gathering place for Green Bay Packers fans before a 2015 fire forced its closure, will not reopen in its old spot despite rebuilding efforts going back for more than a year.

That’s the word according to a post on its Facebook page that was posted Sunday.

“We regret to inform everyone that we will no longer be located on hwy (sic) 93,” the unsigned post read. “After decades of being at that location, Rocky Flats Lounge has no choice but to move. We’ve had a lot of people contacting us for a current update, and we know we’ve been M.I.A. lately. We apologize, it’s difficult to put into words what has occurred. We appreciate everyone’s support and concern for our business.”

The post cited lease negotiations with the landlord as the reason for the decision.

“This situation has been extremely heartbreaking to say the least,” the post continued. “We hope you all stick with us as we continue our search for another location in the Denver area. If any of you have suggestions on locations for Rocky Flats Lounge, please feel free to send us a message.”

Last May, Wisconsin native Steve Glennon, who was involved in efforts to rebuild the bar, said he thought the bar was close to reopening and had hoped it would be open in time for the last football season. Since then, there has been very little news and few updates on the project.

“This place is iconic,” Glennon said then in May. “It’s got to survive — it’s a roadhouse, it’s a dive bar, it’s been the Packers bar. I grew up in central Wisconsin. I grew up eating fish fries. I’ve loved the Green Bay Packers almost as much as I love my dog.”

His dog is named Lambeau, after the name of the Packers’ home stadium in Green Bay. Whether there is ever a new home for the former denizens of the Rocky Flats Lounge is now in doubt.

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Analysis: In NFL free agency, the biggest moves rarely prove to be worth the price

March 17, 2019 - 4:30pm

NFL fans love free agency. You can hear it on sports talk radio all the time. Whenever a big-name player becomes available, fans imagine how they would fit with their favorite teams. They applaud the aggressiveness of major signings, and feel as though they are adding Pro Bowl players who will take their team closer to the Super Bowl.

But as exciting as things may be right now for fans of big spenders such as the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders, there often is a big price to becoming the “winners” of NFL free agency. And it’s rare that the cost actually pays off.

To be clear, sometimes the high-priced approach has worked. After the Denver Broncos lost the Super Bowl to the Seattle Seahawks following the 2013 season, John Elway hit free agency hard and two years later delivered a Super Bowl victory. Just last season, the Chicago Bears got to 12-4 after spending nearly $125 million in free agency.

But in most cases, free agency turns out to be a costly fling. Consider the following:

— Of the 49 highest-paid players in 2016 free agency, only 14 remain on the teams that signed them.

— Of the 60 highest-paid players in 2017 free agency, only 22 remain.

— Of players from the 2018 free agent class who received $5 million per year or more, 14 are -already no longer with the teams that signed them.

In fact, the entire 2018 unrestricted free agent class produced just two Pro Bowlers last season, and neither was a starter — special teamers Andre Roberts (Jets, now with the Bills) and Michael Thomas (Giants). Colts tight end Eric Ebron and Los Angeles Chargers center Mike Pouncey also made it, but they were street free agents, not unrestricted.

As the first wave of free agency heated up this year, so did the casualty list of past free agent classes. The Carolina Panthers cut left tackle Matt Kalil, who signed a five-year, $55 million contract in 2017. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who signed a three-year, $35 million contract in 2017. Running back Isaiah Crowell (New York Jets) and defensive end Adrian Clayborn (New England Patriots) were 2018 free agent signings who were released late this week. The Giants and Browns — before agreeing on the Odell Beckham Jr. mega-trade — swapped the second-highest paid free agent of 2016 (Olivier Vernon) for the sixth-highest paid free agent of 2017 (Kevin Zeitler).

What’s behind the lack of success for most big-name signings? For starters, the pool of young players becoming eligible for free agency has shrunk over the past several years. With teams more likely than in the past to either cut or trade a player who is still on his rookie deal, fewer are making it to free agency at the end of their first contracts. The 2016 free agency class had 66 draft choices whose four-year deals have expired. That number was 61 in 2017, 62 in 2018 and dropped to 51 this year.

That, combined with teams being far more reluctant to give players other than quarterbacks or offensive linemen third contracts, due to the injury risk, led to a free agency class this year that most considered to be below-average.

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A smaller supply of quality free agents drives up the price on the best available options, which is why within the last week we’ve seen record-setting deals, such as the Raiders making Trent Brown the biggest offensive line contract in history at $16.5 million per year, and the Jets making C.J. Mosley the highest-paid inside linebacker at $17.5 million per year.

Deals of that size raise both stakes and expectations, and make it more likely teams will move on if things don’t go well. General managers have also gotten better about limiting guarantees to the first two years, allowing teams an out before Year 3 if a player doesn’t meet expectations.

But perhaps the most fascinating thing about these megadeals is that they’re all done over the phone. This year, the majority of agreements took place before free agency officially opened at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Think about it: There are no player visits. There are no physicals until the player signs the contract. In many cases, teams are dishing out $10-million-plus per year for players they’ve never met with before.

There are still some very good players among this year’s free agents, and it wouldn’t surprise at all for guys such as Jets running back Le’Veon Bell and Ravens safety Earl Thomas to become Pro Bowlers this season. Certainly, at least some teams will see a boost from their high-priced acquisitions.

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Boulder City Council to hold special meeting Monday in response to police incident

March 17, 2019 - 3:45pm

Boulder City Council is scheduled to hold a special meeting on Monday to discuss racism, community values and racial equity in response to a March 1 incident in which police officers confronted a black man who was picking up trash outside his house.

In the wake of the incident, which made national headlines, community members demanded the city do more to combat racism. They attended the March 5 City Council meeting and organized a silent protest March 8 outside the Boulder police station.

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On March 10, more than 600 converged at the March for Boulder Police Oversight to walk from Naropa University to the police station and to call for a civilian oversight board, as well as the removal of rifles from all police cars and the allowance for people to submit anonymous complaints to the department. Zayd Atkinson, who was involved in the incident and who is a sophomore at Naropa University, spoke publicly about the incident for the first time there.

“It’s not just about me, and it’s not just about racial profiling,” Atkinson said Sunday. “This should not be happening anywhere, and it’s happening every day in our community.”

The City Council meeting will open with invited speakers, including the Rev. Mary Kate Rejoius of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church and poet Norma Johnson, according to a city news release Friday.

Read more at dailycamera.com.

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Longmont police say woman held knife to child’s chest

March 17, 2019 - 3:42pm

A Longmont woman faces domestic violence, child abuse, felony assault and other charges stemming from a Friday night incident during which police say she held her 3-year-old child at knifepoint.

A police report indicates Elizabeth G. Cruz, 38, was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, two counts of felony assault, one count of felony menacing and misdemeanor reckless endangerment, child abuse and violation of a protection order.

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Deputy Chief Jeff Satur said police responded to a the 500 block of Elliot Street on a report of a woman violating a protective order. When they arrived, a man told them his wife, later identified as Cruz, had come to the house, armed herself with a knife and locked herself in a bedroom with her 3-year-old and 8-year-old children.

Officers Robert Goodard, Sara Kennedy and Seth Roberts tried speaking with Cruz through the door, but only heard her murmur something, Satur said. He added that when they heard one of the children crying, they kicked down the door and found Cruz, who is pregnant, holding a knife to the 3-year-old’s chest.

Satur said the officers ordered the older child out of the room, and ordered Cruz to drop the knife. One of the officers saw Cruz begin to move the knife and grabbed at it. A second officer grabbed the 3-year-old while the other two officers and Cruz’s husband wrestled her to the ground and disarmed her.

Read more at timescall.com.

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March Madness 2019: Printable bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament

March 17, 2019 - 3:41pm

College basketball fan rejoice! March Madness is upon us.

The 2019 NCAA Tournament is here, which means it’s bracket season. And we’re here to help. Download the bracket here:

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Man who broke into Longmont home sentenced in Boulder District Court

March 17, 2019 - 3:40pm

A Colorado Springs man who broke into a Longmont home in Mayand fought with police officers after his arrest was sentenced in Boulder District Court on Friday to two years and two months in state prison.

Ryan Lockwood, 32, appeared in custody and pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault and one count of felony trespassing. Prosecutors dropped first-degree burglary, felony menacing, two counts of second-degree assault on a peace officer, obstructing a peace officer, resisting arrest, attempting to disarm a peace officer and trespassing charges.

Lockwood also pleaded guilty to a single count of felony menacing in an unrelated case during which he pulled a gun on a motorist who refused to give him a ride.

Boulder District Judge Andrew Hartman sentenced Lockwood to two years and two months with the Colorado Department of Corrections. Lockwood was given nearly 300 days of credit for time he has already spent in jail.

According to an affidavit, Longmont police on May 23 found Lockwood fleeing a home in the 1300 block of Parker Drive. The resident told police she woke up to Lockwood standing in her hallway with a handgun in his waistband. While she and her daughters hid in the basement, her husband confronted Lockwood until he ran out of the house.

Read more at timescall.com.

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Man pleads guilty to attempted sexual assault of coworker in Longmont

March 17, 2019 - 3:38pm

A man accused of raping a coworker in a Longmont motel room in April pleaded guilty on Friday in Boulder District Court to attempted sexual assault and assault charges.

Online court records indicate Rafael Vargas Jr., 36, who appeared in court on Friday free on bond, pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault, overcoming a victim’s will and misdemeanor assault. Prosecutors dropped a more serious sexual assault by force or threat charge.

An arrest warrant affidavit indicates that Vargas and the alleged victim were coworkers and went out for drinks in April. They agreed to rent a hotel room and had a brief, consensual sexual encounter once they arrived.

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At some point during the encounter, the woman told Vargas she didn’t want to continue, and the two went to sleep in the hotel room. She told police, according to the affidavit, that she woke to Vargas forcibly having sex with her.

Once Vargas had gone to sleep, the woman left the hotel room. She told police she didn’t go to the hospital because she doesn’t have health insurance, according to the affidavit.

Read more at timescall.com.

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Should media avoid naming the gunmen in mass shootings?

March 17, 2019 - 3:27pm

A few months after teen shooters killed 12 classmates and her father at Columbine High School, Coni Sanders was standing in line at a grocery store with her young daughter when they came face to face with the magazine cover.

It showed the two gunmen who had carried out one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Sanders realized that few people knew much about her father, who saved countless lives. But virtually everyone knew the names and the tiniest of details about the attackers who carried out the carnage.

In the decades since Columbine, a growing movement has urged news organizations to refrain from naming the shooters in mass slayings and to cease the steady drumbeat of biographical information about them. Critics say giving the assailants notoriety offers little to help understand the attacks and instead fuels celebrity-style coverage that only encourages future attacks.

The 1999 Colorado attack continues to motivate mass shooters, including the two men who this week stormed their former school in Brazil, killing seven people.

The gunman who attacked two mosques in New Zealand on Friday, killing at least 49 people, was said to have been inspired by the man who in 2015 killed nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Adam Lankford, a criminologist at the University of Alabama, who has studied the influence of media coverage on future shooters, said it’s vitally important to avoid excessive coverage of gunmen.

“A lot of these shooters want to be treated like celebrities. They want to be famous. So the key is to not give them that treatment,” he said.

The notion hit close to home for Sanders. Seemingly everywhere she turned — the grocery store, a restaurant, a newspaper or magazine — she would see the faces of the Columbine attackers and hear or read about them. Even in her own home, she was bombarded with their deeds on TV.

Everyone knew their names. “And if you said the two together, they automatically knew it was Columbine,” Sanders said. “The media was so fascinated — and so was our country and the world — that they really grasped onto this every detail. Time and time again, we couldn’t escape it.”

Criminologists who study mass shootings say the vast majority of shooters are seeking infamy and soak up the coverage as a guide.

Just four days after the 2017 Las Vegas concert shooting, which stands as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Lankford published a paper urging journalists to refrain from using shooters’ names or going into exhaustive detail about their crimes.

These attackers, he argued, are trying to outdo previous shooters with higher death tolls. Media coverage serves only to encourage copycats.

Late last year, the Trump administration’s federal Commission on School Safety called on the media to refrain from reporting the names and photos of mass shooters. It was one of the rare moments when gun-rights advocates and gun-control activists agreed.

“To suggest that the media alone is to blame or is primarily at fault for this epidemic of mass shootings would vastly oversimply this issue,” said Adam Skaggs, chief counsel for the Giffords Law Center, which works to curb gun violence.

Skaggs said he is “somewhat sympathetic to journalists’ impulse to cover clearly important and newsworthy events and to get at the truth. … But there’s a balance that can be struck between ensuring the public has enough information … and not giving undue attention to perpetrators of heinous acts.”

Studies show a contagion effect from coverage of both homicides and suicides.

The Columbine shooters, in particular, have an almost cult-like status, with some followers seeking to emulate their trench-coat attire and expressing admiration for their crime, which some have attributed to bullying. The gunman in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting kept a detailed journal of decades’ worth of mass shootings.

James Alan Fox, a professor at Northeastern University who has studied mass shootings, said naming shooters is not the problem. Instead, he blamed over-the-top coverage that includes irrelevant details about the killers, such as their writings and their backgrounds, that “unnecessarily humanizes them.”

“We sometimes come to know more about them — their interests and their disappointments — than we do about our next-door neighbors,” Fox said.

Law enforcement agencies have taken a lead, most recently with the Aurora, Illinois, police chief, who uttered just once the name of the gunman who killed five co-workers and wounded five officers last month.

“I said his name one time for the media, and I will never let it cross my lips again,” Chief Kristen Ziman said in a Facebook post.

Some media, most notably CNN’s Anderson Cooper, have made a point of avoiding using the name of these gunmen.

The Associated Press names suspects identified by law enforcement in major crimes. However, in cases in which the crime is carried out seeking publicity, the AP strives to restrict the mention of the name to the minimum needed to inform the public, while avoiding descriptions that might serve a criminal’s desire for publicity or self-glorification, said John Daniszewski, the AP’s vice president and editor-at-large for standards.

For Caren and Tom Teves, the cause is personal. Their son Alex was among those killed in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in 2012.

They were both traveling out of state when the shooting happened, and it took 15 hours for them to learn the fate of their son. During those hours, they heard repeatedly about the shooter but virtually nothing about the victims.

Not long after, they created the No Notoriety movement, encouraging media to stick to reporting relevant facts rather than the smallest of biographical details. They also recommend publishing images of the shooter in places that are not prominent, steering clear of “hero” poses or images showing them holding weapons, and not publishing any manifestos.

“We never say don’t use the name. What we say is use the name responsibly and don’t turn them into anti-heroes,” Tom Teves said. “Let’s portray them for what they are: They’re horrible human beings that are completely skewed in their perception of reality, and their one claim to fortune is sneaking up behind you and shooting you.”

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Tyson Barrie and Philipp Grubauer steer Avalanche to victory on St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2019 - 2:53pm

The Avalanche had good fortune Sunday — and perhaps some luck from the Irish.

Defenseman Tyson Barrie scored twice and goalie Philipp Grubauer delivered a 22-shot shutout on St. Patrick’s Day as the Avalanche defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-0 at the Pepsi Center.

“We need wins, and that was a good step in the right direction,” Grubauer said.

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In snapping a two-game losing streak, Colorado climbed to 74 points, now four behind the Arizona Coyotes for the last Western Conference wild-card playoff spot. The Avs, who also trail Minnesota (76 points) — their next opponent — have 10 games remaining.

“Obviously, we have our work cut out for us, but we needed those two points (today) and we got them,” Barrie said. “We’re still in the position to hunt a playoff spot down, and that’s exactly our intention. We have 10 games left, and we have to win a bunch of them.”

Star center Nathan MacKinnon assisted on Barrie’s first goal for his 90th point of the season, becoming just the second player in club history to produce consecutive 90-point seasons. Peter Forsberg reached 90 points in 1997-98 and 1998-99. MacKinnon, who added an empty-net goal Saturday, had a career-high 97 points last season and is now at 91 — tied for fifth-most in the league.

MacKinnon also produced six of Colorado’s 34 shots to extend his NHL lead to 317 shots, which is third-most by an Avalanche player in club history. Joe Sakic had 339 in 1995-96 and 332 in 2000-01 — both Stanley Cup-winning seasons.

MacKinnon, who previously became Colorado’s first consecutive-season 30-goal scorer since Sakic in 2007, wasn’t available for comment Sunday.

Barrie struck at 2:22 and 11:05 of the second period, the latter on a pinball play — with Barrie shooting the puck towards the net before it caromed off two defenders and sneaked behind goalie Cory Schneider.

“Just how we drew it up,” Barrie said with a smirk. “I think I threw a little muffin in there, and it bounced off a couple guys. But it’s nice to get a bounce once in a while.”

Barrie opened the scoring with a wrist shot through traffic. His two-point game brings his season total to 50, tied for eighth among NHL defensemen.

The Avs limited injury-riddled New Jersey to just five third-period shots.

“We were able to help (Grubauer) out and make sure some of his saves were easier as the game went on,” defenseman Ian Cole said. “That’s how things are — there’s give-and-take all over the ice. There’s making up for mistakes, guys picking each other up. I think we’re still figuring that out, but I think we’re getting better.”

Footnotes. The Avs were 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and 0-for-3 on the power play. … Forward Andrew Agozzino was scratched to get rookie defenseman Ryan Graves in the lineup as Colorado went with an 11-forward, seven-defensemen look. Because of that, no Avs defenseman logged more 20 minutes of ice time. Graves, 23, has now played in 22 NHL games this season and is expected to become a regular with the Avs next season. … The Avs will practice Monday before embarking on a two-game Central Division trip that begins Tuesday at Minnesota and continues Thursday at Dallas.

#Avs coach Jared Bednar after 3-0 win over NJD https://t.co/04GKFo0U1M

— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) March 17, 2019

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Tiger Woods says game “right on track” as Masters approaches

March 17, 2019 - 2:48pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tiger Woods hit 12 of 14 fairways, made a 30-foot putt for birdie and holed out for par from a greenside bunker in the final round at The Players Championship.

Even though he finished in the middle of the pack, Woods liked the state of his game in preparation for the Masters.

“It’s right on track,” Woods said after shooting a 3-under 69 on Sunday. “I’m able to shape the golf ball both ways, which I’m going to need there. Just need a few more putts to go in, but that’s about it.”

Woods made four birdies in wet conditions and had decent looks at a few more, but failed to make many mid-length putts. Still, his 26 putts in the final round marked the first time he needed fewer than 30 this week on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

“I felt like I was playing well,” he said. “My score didn’t really indicate that going into the final day, but I was hitting the golf ball well. I’m frustrated at lipping more putts out than I think I have in a very long time. Just one of those weeks where just nothing really got rolling enough to get me going.”

Woods’ lone blunder — his only score worse than bogey all week — was a quadruple-bogey 7 at the famed par-3 17th in the second round. Woods put two balls in the water en route to matching his worst score on any par 3 in 24 years on the PGA Tour.

Had he not dropped four shots at the island green Friday, Woods could have been in the mix Sunday.

Regardless, he found more good than bad in his final stroke-play event before Augusta National (April 11-14). His last tuneup for the Masters will be the Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas, in two weeks, where he is guaranteed at least three rounds.

“I’m excited the way I drove it,” he said. “I drove the ball well this week. I drove it not quite as long on the weekend with a little bit cooler temperatures, but I was driving it pretty straight and I was able to shape the golf ball both ways with all three of my woods, which was good to see.”

Woods said he had no issues with his neck. He withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week with what he described as a strain. It was the first time the 43-year-old Woods withdrew from a tournament in two years, shortly before his fourth back surgery to fuse his lower spine.

He used the week off to get his body right.

“I needed that,” he said. “I needed to get that organized. If my back gets tight, it’s going to go up the chain and so I got to start at ground zero and get my lower back moving properly and get everything, the firing sequence good, and then after that the rest of the chain will take care of itself.

“I think that it was the right decision to make considering that I have April right around the corner.”

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Woods was at his best on the front nine. His bunker shot at the par-3 third was perfect and trickled in to save par. His approach shot in a stiff wind at No. 4 left him with a 4-footer for birdie. His long-range putt at the seventh riled up the morning crowd.

His round would have been better had he not barely missed a 15-footer at No. 14. He also missed an opportunity by hitting into the water at the par-5 16th and then needing a 15-footer to save par.

“I was close,” Woods said. “I know the score doesn’t really indicate that, but this is one of the golf courses that — there’s some weird spots here. It was fun to play but … this is probably the most stressful golf course you ever play when there’s wind out here.

“The wind swirls and you have fairways that are tough to hit and then you have the greens that are tough to hit and put it in the right sections. And if you don’t, you’re going to be standing on your head hitting some shots. So only had a few of those this week, so all in all it was a solid week.”

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Denver School of the Arts student takes home back-to-back championship titles at Colorado State Spelling Bee

March 17, 2019 - 2:06pm

For the second year in a row, Angelina Holm won the Colorado State Spelling Bee championship title Saturday at the University of Denver’s Sturm Hall.

Angelina Holm in a March 2018 file photo.

The now seventh-grader at the Denver School of the Arts spelled heliacal — “relating to or near the sun,” according to Merriam-Webster’s definition — correctly, taking home the championship title at the 79th annual event, announced Stacy Schafer, marketing, development and communication manager of The Denver Post Community Foundation. Holm was competing against 282 other second- to eight-grade students.

The community foundation and its partners raise money and provide funding and in-kind services to nonprofits throughout the state. The nonprofit also hosts events throughout the year, including the Colorado State Spelling Bee.

Holm spelled heliacal correctly in round 25 of this year’s competition. To win last year, she spelled sphalerite  — the chief ore of zinc  — and helminthiasis  — an infestation of parasitic worms  — for the state title.

Seventh-grader Ben Holland from Hamilton Middle School came in second place, followed by fifth-grader Lachlan Flanigan from Cory Elementary School. Holland similarly competed against Holm last year and repeated as the runner-up.

Holm will now represent Colorado for a second year at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May near Washington, D.C., for a $40,000 cash prize. She did not advance to the national finals last year, but organizers correctly predicted they would see her again.

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She will join other students from Colorado at the national competition, including Cameron Keith of Serendipity Home School in Boulder, the spelling bee champion for a third time in Boulder. Last year, for the first time, the National Spelling Bee allowed local school spelling bee champions or past National Spelling Bee participants to pay an entry fee and participate in the competition. Three of the participants were from Colorado, according to the Colorado State Spelling Bee.

According to a news release from the foundation, a student from Colorado won the national spelling bee in 1957, 1959, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1989 and 2002.

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What Facebook’s “privacy vision” really means

March 17, 2019 - 11:00am

NEW YORK — Mark Zuckerberg’s abrupt declaration of a new “privacy vision”  for social networking earlier this month was for many people a sort of Rorschach test.

Looked at one way, the manifesto read as an apology of sorts for Facebook’s history of privacy transgressions, and suggested that the social network would de-emphasize its huge public social network in favor of private messaging between individuals and among small groups.

Looked at it in one way, it turned Facebook into a kind of privacy champion by embracing encrypted messaging that’s shielded from prying eyes — including those of Facebook itself.

Yet another reading suggested the whole thing was a public-relations exercise designed to lull its users while Facebook entrenches its competitive position in messaging and uses it to develop new sources of user data to feed its voracious advertising machine.

As with many things Facebook, the truth lies somewhere in between. Facebook so far isn’t elaborating much on Zuckerberg’s manifesto. Here’s a guide to what we know at the moment about its plans:

What’s happening to Facebook

In one sense, nothing. Its existing social network, with its newsfeeds and pages and 2.3 billion global users and $22 billion in 2018 profit, won’t change and will likely continue to grow. Although user growth has been stagnant in North America, Facebook’s global user base expanded 9 percent in the last quarter of 2018.

But Zuckerberg suggested that Facebook’s future growth will depend more on private messaging such as what it offers with its WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct services. The Facebook CEO said private messaging between individuals and small groups is “by far” the fastest growing part of online communications.

Naturally, Facebook wants to be there in a big way.

What’s changing in messaging

Its first step will be to make its three messaging services communicate better with each other. That would let you message a friend on WhatsApp from Facebook Messenger, which isn’t currently possible. It would also link your messaging accounts to your Facebook ID, so people can find you more easily.

Zuckerberg also promised to greatly increase the security of these messages. It will implement so-called end-to-end encryption for messaging, which would scramble them so that no one but the sender and recipients could read them. That would bar access by governments and Facebook. WhatsApp is already encrypted this way, but Messenger and Instagram Direct are not.

The first change users might notice is their address book, said Siva Vaidhyanathan, director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. While your Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp contacts might be quite different now, if the services combine to some degree, your contact lists will, too.

“As these services merge, we might end up basically having these huge combined address books from three messaging services,” he said.

When this will happen

You’re not likely to see any of these changes anytime soon. In his blog post, Zuckerberg said the plan will be rolled out “over the next few years. … A lot of this work is in the early stages.”

And it’s subject to change. EMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson points out that previous Facebook visions of the future haven’t quite panned out. A few years ago, for instance, Zuckerberg predicted that video and augmented and virtual reality would be a much bigger part of Facebook than what materialized, for example.

But it shows that Facebook is trying to adapt as people shift toward services such Instagram and WhatsApp over Facebook — which today has 15 million fewer U.S. users than in since 2017, according to Edison Research. In his post, Zuckerberg said he expects Messenger and WhatsApp will eventually become the main ways people communicate on Facebook’s network.

“There’s not a sense that things will fundamentally change overnight, or even probably this year,” Williamson said, “But it signals Facebook is thinking more seriously about embracing the way people communicate today.”

What it means for privacy

Encrypted messaging is in many ways a big plus for privacy. But the way Facebook collects information about you on its main service site isn’t changing, said Jen King, director of consumer privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society.

“This is limited to a very specific part of the platform and it doesn’t really address all the ways Facebook is still collecting data about you,” she said. So users should still be alert about privacy settings and careful about what they choose to share on Facebook.

Facebook is likely to collect data about your messaging — so-called metadata that, according to security experts, will let it know who you communicate with, when and how often you text them, where you are when you do it and for how long. That can tell Facebook a lot about you even if it can’t read the contents of your messages.

Vanishing posts

Although the timeline is hazy, Zuckerberg did outline other changes users will eventually see. He said the company is looking at ways to make messages less permanent, a la Snapchat or Instagram “Stories,” which disappear after 24 hours.

“Messages could be deleted after a month or a year by default,” Zuckerberg wrote. “This would reduce the risk of your messages resurfacing and embarrassing you later.” Zuckerberg said users will have the ability to change the time frame or turn off auto-deletion. “And we could also provide an option for you to set individual messages to expire after a few seconds or minutes if you wanted.”

Payments

Facebook will likely also expand the way users can use its platform to pay for things, said Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy and technology policy for Consumer Reports. Zuckerberg didn’t mention any new payment plans specifically but did bring up payments four times in his post.

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Currently Facebook lets its users pay friends or businesses digitally by linking a credit card or PayPal account and that’s method is not likely to change anytime soon. But as Facebook looks to emulate Chinese behemoth WeChat, it could let you reserve a table through Facebook instead of going through an outside app, or order an Uber.

“Ideally, Facebook will try to get a cut of all transactions,” Brookman said. A digital currency of Facebook’s own is also rumored to be in the works.

“Like many other companies Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology,” Facebook said in a statement. “This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share.”

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Most multiple World Cup titles

March 17, 2019 - 9:59am

By winning the World Cup season giant slalom title on Sunday, Mikaela Shiffrin joined some very exclusive company by winning her fourth World Cup title of 2018-19. Here is a list of racers who have won four or more titles in the same season:

5 – Pirmin Zurbriggen, Switzerland, 1987: Overall, downhill, giant slalom, super-G, combined

4 – Jean Claude Killy, France, 1967: Overall, downhill, giant slalom, slalom

4 – Lindsey Vonn, Vail, 2010 and 2012: overall, downhill, super-G, combined

4 – Phil Mahre, Yakima, Wash., 1982: overall, giant slalom, slalom, combined

4 – Hermann Maier, Austria, 2000 and 2001: overall, downhill, super-G, giant slalom

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4 – Tina Maze, Slovenia, 2013: overall, giant slalom, super-G, combined

4 – Mikaela Shiffrin, EagleVail, 2019: overall, slalom, giant slalom, super-G

Source: International Ski Federation

Note: The five major titles are overall, downhill, super-G, giant slalom and slalom. The combined title has less luster because there tend to be only a couple of combined races every season. In fact, there was only one women’s combined this season. Also worth noting, the super-G didn’t become an event until 1986.

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Mikaela Shiffrin wins World Cup giant slalom title with style

March 17, 2019 - 9:56am

EagleVail’s Mikaela Shiffrin completed one of the most dominant seasons in the history of World Cup ski racing Sunday, claiming her fourth World Cup title of the season and becoming just the third racer to score more than 2,000 points in one season.

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Shiffrin claimed the season giant slalom title by virtue of winning Sunday’s GS at the World Cup Finals in the Pyrenees mountains of Andorra. She previously clinched the slalom and super-G titles, along with the most important one of all, the World Cup overall crown. It was her third straight overall title, which comes with a massive crystal globe trophy.

“I’m not here just for records or race wins or just to win a globe,” Shiffrin said at the post-race news conference. “I still have passion, I still have motivation. As long as I feel those things, if I have the fire, then I’m going to keep going because I really love this sport, and I hope that when I’m leaving the sport, I have helped improve the level and bring fans and bring attention to it and do something good for the sport as well because it’s brought a lot of joy to my life.”

RELATED: Skiers with the most multiple World Cup titles

But there figures to be many more years of domination for Shiffrin, who turned 24 only last week and is continuing to improve. She is on a pace to shatter records set by the greatest legends in the history of the sport. Most great ski racers compete into their 30s, and she already stands fifth on the all-time wins list with 60 and is third on the women’s list.

Shiffrin only needed to finish in the top 15 Sunday to claim the GS title, but she won the race by 0.3 of a second over Alice Robinson of New Zealand. Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, the only racer with a mathematical chance to deprive Shiffrin the GS title when the day began, finished third, 0.41 behind.

Shiffrin finished the season with 2,204 points across all disciplines. Only Slovenia’s Tina Maze (2,414 in 2013) and Austria’s Hermann Maier (2,000 in 2000) have scored more in the 52-year history of the tour. Lindsey Vonn came close in 2012 with 1,980 points.

From the archives: Mikaela Shiffrin won her first World Cup overall title two years ago in Aspen.

Shiffrin is now one of six racers to claim four season titles in the same year, exceeded only by the five Switzerland’s Pirmin Zurbriggen captured in 1987. She also broke the record for wins in a season with 17, three more than the previous record held by Vreni Schneider of Switzerland. She won three medals at the world championships last month: gold in slalom and super-G and bronze in GS, the only races she entered.

Shiffrin sought to use the forum Sunday gave her to inspire young girls who dream the way she did when she was growing up.

“I’m still a girl with a dream,” Shiffrin said “That hasn’t changed. For anybody who’s watching, yeah, it takes work, but the work is so worth it when you’re able to say, ‘Yeah, I’m really living my dream that I had when I was 5 years old, when I was 6 years old, when I was starting to ski, when I was starting to race.’ I was thinking, ‘Maybe it’s impossible,’ and then you realize that it is possible and that you are starting to push the limits of what everybody in the world thinks is possible. That’s a really cool feeling.

“But the feeling doesn’t change. I’m still just a girl with a dream.”

Updated March 17, 2019 at 12:31 p.m. Due to a reporting error, this story was updated to show the true number of wins Mikaela Shiffrin has had this season.

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