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Super secretive space defense center near Colorado Springs begins 24-hour operations

February 19, 2018 - 8:03am
Christian Murdock, The GazetteVice President Mike Pence, right, enters the National Space Defense Center for a briefing while touring Schriever Air Force Base Friday, June 23, 2017, during his visit to Colorado Springs, Colo.

The National Space Defense Center at Schriever Air Force Base has moved beyond war games, with intelligence agency experts and Space Command airmen joining forces to protect American satellites in orbit.

The center, which last year was operating with borrowed troops, has begun operating 24 hours a day and boasts a staff of 230. Their mission is to ferret out threats to military and spy satellites and take actions to keep American interests safe in orbit.

“It’s that big transition point,” the center’s director, Col. Todd Brost, told The Gazette.

The ultra-secret center operates behind a prison-like double-fence inside Schriever’s secure area. While specifics of the unit haven’t been released, Brost said it includes contractors, representatives of American spy agencies along with troops from Air Force Space Command.

“This is not an Air Force unit,” Brost explained. “It’s not really even a Department of Defense unit.”

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The center, which started as a concept in late 2015, arose out of increasing fear that America’s enemies would make satellites a wartime target.

Read the full story at

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To learn more about whale communication patterns, CU students crafting drone to search for ocean mammals

February 19, 2018 - 7:37am
Casey A. Cass, University of ColoradoFrom left, project manager Severyn Polakiewicz, aircraft design lead Grant Dunbar, electronics lead George Duong, Safety Lead Lauren McIntire and Test Lead Brandon Sundahl are working to build a UAS Whale Scout drone as part of their SHAMU student project at the University of Colorado.

Student researchers at the University of Colorado are planning to add the study of sperm whale communication patterns to the fast-growing list of tasks that can be aided by drone technology.

And they — the students, not the whales — could use the public’s help.

CU’s 12-member Search and Help Aquatic Mammals UAS aerospace engineering student team — the acronym, appropriately, is SHAMU — is trying to raise funds for a project aimed at facilitating scientific research on sperm whale communication patterns.

Partnering with the Cetacean Echolocation Translation Initiative, SHAMU’s goal is to design, build and operate an unmanned aerial system, or drone, that would be used to find pods of whales in the open ocean.

“The most exciting thing to me is, it’s a real application of what I have been learning over the last four years,” project manager Severyn Polakiewicz said.

“And it’s applied to something that is beyond commercial or defense. It’s for the conservation of life on Earth. It improves our environment and improves humanity and also reveals the intelligence of massive mammals. And I think we should be understanding that intelligence on a better level because we do have the capability for it.”

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Mikaela Shiffrin pulls out of downhill at PyeongChang Olympics

February 19, 2018 - 7:34am

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – American skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin, who has one gold medal and one disappointing fourth-place finish at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, dropped Wednesday’s downhill from her schedule, meaning she has only one more chance at a medal.

Late Monday, officials from the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced they would move the women’s combined – which consists of one run of downhill and one of slalom – from Friday to Thursday because of a forecast for high winds. That put the combined a day after the downhill, which meant Shiffrin would have been compromised in an event in which she is favored to win.

“As much as I wanted to compete in the Olympic downhill, with the schedule change it’s important for me to focus my energy on preparing for the combined,” Shiffrin said in a statement released by the U.S. Olympic Committee. “I’m looking forward to cheering on our girls racing in the downhill and to compete myself in Thursday’s combined.”

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Shiffrin trained on the downhill course both Sunday and Monday, but she has not competed in a speed race – either downhill or super-G – since early January. A transcendent slalom skier, she is relatively new to speed races. Though she won a World Cup downhill race in Lake Louise, Canada in December, she has chosen her speed events carefully – and normally with an eye toward World Cup points, which aren’t available at the Olympics.

Shiffrin was 23rd-fastest in Sunday’s training run and 16th Monday, an indication that she likely would not contend for a medal in downhill. By contrast, American Lindsey Vonn, who is strongest in the speed event, was first and third in the two training runs. There is one more training season Tuesday.

“This track is incredible and it has been so fun to ski these last few days,” Shiffrin said in the statement. “As with every downhill I have skied this year I am learning so much with each run. Each time I get to the finish I just want to go back to the top and do it again!”

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Shiffrin, 22, won gold in the giant slalom last week. But the next day, she skied conservatively in her signature event, the slalom, and finished off the podium in an event in which she took gold four years ago in Sochi, Russia.

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Boulder County’s new approach to truancy replaces court with review team, focuses on support

February 19, 2018 - 7:29am
Jeremy Papasso, The Daily CameraA volunteer pours snack packs into a bin at the Sister Carmen Community Center Food Bank in Lafayette in June 2017. Sister Carmen Community Center has served as one point of referral for school officials seeking to keep truant students out of court.

Since she started working with truant students as a Boulder Valley School District attendance advocate 12 years ago, Christina Suarez wanted to see the court mirror the district’s approach of help over punishment.

So she was all for the Truancy Improvement Project, launched in the fall of 2016 by the 20th Judicial District in partnership with local agencies. Instead of regular court appearances before a judge, a truancy review team connects the student and family to services.

“It’s something I always hoped would happen,” Suarez said.

Under the new model, chronic absenteeism is seen as a symptom of other challenges, including mental health issues, substance abuse and trauma. “We need to address the root cause of what’s impacting a child’s ability to go to school,” she said.

This school year, those involved said, the system is hitting its stride, with almost all chronically truant cases in Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley going through the new system.

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Freezing rain and snow means a messy Monday morning commute, and a potentially worse one this evening

February 19, 2018 - 6:56am

It started as freezing drizzle, but some long-overdue snow has finally hit the Front Range corridor and is expected to continue piling up until about midnight, according to Kyle Fredin, meteorologist at the Nation Weather Service in Boulder.

The start to the storm made for a sloppy early commute, but Fredin said the most intense part of the snow day will be from 4 p.m. to midnight. That’s when Denver will accumulate a majority of the 1 to 4 inches it’s expected to get. Fredin said Fort Collins will probably get the most with 3 to 6 inches.

Fredin said, “it’s just started.” As of 6 a.m. the metro Denver area had accumulated less than a half inch, and Denver International Airport was only at about 0.2 of an inch.

The northern and central mountains should receive about 6 to 12 inches.

Fredin said the temperature at DIA — which is where official weather records are collected — was at about 11 degrees early Monday. The temperature is expected to continue in the 10- to 18-degree range throughout the day, and tonight will only get to about 5 to 10 degrees.

The snow is expected to diminish overnight into Tuesday, but there’s a chance that it still might mess with tomorrow’s morning commute.

“Wednesday’s looking good,” Fredin said. “It’s not going to get all that warm, but it’ll be drying out.”

To keep up with the forecast go to

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What to watch from the PyeongChang Olympics on Monday, Feb. 19

February 19, 2018 - 6:30am

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — What better way to mark the last day of a three day weekend than by watching feats of athletic greatness at the Olympics! Here are some highlights to look out for. (All times Mountain.)


Whatever ice dancing lacks in jumps and tricks, this year’s competition makes up for it in heat. All eyes will be on Canadian power pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir whose chemistry can be felt from the other side of the world. The two, who have been dancing together for 20 years, swear they are not a couple. At least not in a romantic way. The first skaters take the ice at 6 p.m.


If you are looking for something with a different kind of thrill, the women’s ski halfpipe final starts at 6:30 p.m., with the last run set for 7:18 p.m. Canada’s Cassie Sharpe is the favorite with tricks like the cork 1080, which is three rotations on her side. (Yeah, we had to look it up, too.) But keep an eye out for Maddie Bowman, who won the first gold medal in this event when it started in 2014 in Sochi. Judging in the halfpipe is subjective, based on level of difficulty and impression.


Drama has hit the staid world of curling! Look out for Canada, whose skip took serious heat for a controversial move against Denmark. She demanded a stone be removed from play after it was “burned” or touched by a player. That is within the rules, but she was slammed for the aggressive move in sport that prides itself on gracious sportsmanship.

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The men’s round-robin session 9 gets underway just after midnight. The women play at 4:05 a.m. and the men come back around for session 10 at 5:05 a.m.


How orange can the podium get? Of all the gold medals at in speedskating at this games, only one has gone to an athlete not born in the Netherlands when Japan’s Nao Kodaira won the women’s 500 meters. The Dutch will seek to maintain their dominance today. Watch for the clap skates, which hinge at the toe, allowing the skate to keep contact with the ice longer. The women’s team pursuit quarterfinals will be at 4 a.m. and the men’s 500-meter final at 4:53 a.m.


The last two runs of the ever-popular men’s final will start at 4:15 a.m. The field is being led by two men with American ties, but neither is racing for the United States. Germany’s Christian Poser is married to an American bobsled star. Justin Kripps, who was born in Hawaii, is racing for Canada. Watch for the spiked shoes the men wear to better grip the ice as they try to build up as much momentum as possible during the push start.

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What could be more fun than a sport that puts skiing and shooting together? Skiing and shooting with friends! In the mixed relay, teams of two men and two women trade off skiing with a rifle on their backs and taking shots at five targets. In the relay, athletes are given three extra bullets, but if they have to use them, they have to load them by hand. No pressure with cold fingers! If after using all eight bullets they still haven’t hit all five targets, the athlete must ski a 150-meter penalty loop. For the handoff, the athletes must make body contact within a 30-meter-long transition zone. The start is at 3:45 a.m.


For the women, the semifinals are a pair of rematches from opening games of this tournament. The defending gold medalists Canada will play the Russians, who will be trying to reclaim some pride after losing to their first match 5-0. The puck drops at 5:10 p.m.

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Russia’s interference in presidential election hit Colorado voters: Analysis shows troves of voters exposed to propaganda

February 19, 2018 - 6:30am

Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election exposed hundreds of thousands of Colorado voters to misinformation and propaganda through media outlets and social networks, a new analysis of Twitter data shows.

The majority of the Colorado-related messages broadcast by Russia-linked Twitter accounts appeared to favor Republican Donald Trump and foster discontent in the nation’s political system, according to a Denver Post review of more than 200,000 tweets sent by the Kremlin-backed operation. And more than a dozen of the posts appeared in news stories published by Colorado media organizations before and after the election, further extending their reach.

The analysis offers a glimpse into how Colorado voters became a target in the Russian effort and echoes an indictment Friday from special counsel Robert Mueller that says Russia tried to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”

Two of the 13 Russian nationals charged in the indictment allegedly visited Colorado in June 2014 as part of an effort to gather intelligence and target so-called purple states that decide presidential elections. Democrat Hillary Clinton won Colorado by a margin of 5 percentage points, despite significant efforts by the Trump campaign to win the state in the final weeks before Election Day.

The Russians conducted what they called “information warfare against the United States of America,” the 37-page indictment states, using “fictitious U.S. personas on social media platforms and other internet-based media.”

The strategy is evident in a database of 202,973 tweets published by NBC News that are linked to thousands of accounts created by Russian operatives that Twitter identified to congressional investigators and labeled as “malicious activity.” The company suspended the accounts and deleted the tweets from public view, but the news organization compiled a list using archived data.

The bogus accounts — part of the propaganda circulated by the Russian government-funded Internet Research Agency — impersonated U.S. political activists and drew 2.1 million retweets and nearly 1.9 million favorites, according to NBC News. The indictment states that the messages reached large audiences by targeting pro-Trump hashtags, such as “MAGA,” “Trump2016” and “Hillary4Prison.”

It’s difficult to tell how many Colorado users interacted with the Russian accounts or amplified their messages on Twitter. But The Post’s review of the database shows the Russian trolls took interest in the state’s political news, sending hundreds of tweets about Colorado and retweeting local conservative activists when the message dovetailed with their propaganda.

The Mueller indictment said the operation “primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

The Colorado-related tweets — sometimes reshared through the state’s political Twitter hub #copolitics — fit the same pattern in an attempt to manipulate the conversation. The Russian accounts promoted tweets from Colorado that showed good poll numbers for Trump and long lines to attend his campaign rallies in Colorado. One troll helped distribute a fake news story about a Trump supporter being attacked outside a Colorado rally and another circulated messages that appeared to demonize Muslims.

Other times, the Russians retweeted Colorado conservatives who attacked Clinton about the FBI investigation into her emails and suggested she helped rig the party primary to defeat Sanders.

Bros….. #copolitics #coleg #cosen #tcot #maga #imwithher #feelthebern #stillsanders

— Tactical Gnome (@TacticalKnome) August 4, 2016

In a moment of irony, one fake account retweeted a message from Rick Turnquist, a Colorado political activist, who wrote on Twitter, “Fear and Loathing on the campaign trail: the invasion of the out of state Hillbots” — a reference to fake, or bot, Twitter accounts promoting the Democratic candidate.

In an interview before the indictment, Turnquist said he was surprised to learn a Russialinked account shared his post. But at the same time, he’s not surprised by the outside intrusion into the presidential race. “I completely believe that the Russians are capable of interfering in our elections and they probably do,” he said.

Turnquist, a libertarian who reluctantly voted for Trump, said Russian attention on Colorado makes sense. “Colorado is a key state in terms of the culture wars and the fight between left and right and how we are going to go,” he said. “I don’t know what the Russians would try to gain in messing with Colorado politics, but I can see why they would be interested.”

The Russia-linked tweets appeared in more than 3,000 stories by media organizations across the globe, including 14 in Colorado in 2016 and 2017, according to data shared by NBC News. The Post was not included in the list.

The news organizations did not appear to know the tweets came from bogus accounts, but still represented the information as reaction to the current events from a real person. The majority of the stories in question were produced by others, such as The Associated Press, but appeared on the websites of Colorado media outlets, including The Gazette in Colorado Springs.

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Three USA Today stories published by the Fort Collins Coloradoan included the counterfeit tweets in the body of text, including one about a Denver-based Secret Service agent who questioned whether she would take a bullet for Trump and another headlined, “The Internet thinks Hillary Clinton has a body double.”

More recently, KDVR Fox News 31 in Denver published a story in February 2017 about reaction to photos of Kellyanne Conway, a Trump adviser, kneeling on an Oval Office couch. The Russia-linked account @Jenn_Abrams was featured twice in the story defending the Trump administration.

The Russians’ ability to use the mainstream media, through Twitter, to spread their messages in Colorado parallels the findings of a new report from social media researcher Jonathan Albright at Columbia University, who studied the broader Twitter data set.

“Trolls are using real news  —  and in particular local news  —  to drive reactionary news coverage, set the daily news agenda and target local journalists and community influencers to follow certain stories,” he wrote in his report.

Staff writer Kevin Hamm contributed to this report.

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Denver’s $937 million bond package: Next on the to-do list is hiring more than a dozen staffers to get projects going

February 19, 2018 - 6:30am

It was one thing to put together a city bond package approaching $1 billion, but the harder task facing Denver city officials in coming years is how to spend that voter-approved money while delivering roughly 460 projects as close to their budgets as possible.

Key decisions Tuesday night will set the stage for the first expected project groundbreakings this summer on the bond program, officially valued at $937 million. After some debate in recent weeks over how to pay for project oversight, the City Council is expected to approve a three-year, $19 million contract with a program management consultant and sign off on additional spending that allows for the filling of 13 new city jobs in coming months.

All told, the marshaling of the bond program will cost $4.5 million this year. The annual cost will rise next year, according to council documents, as the newly hired city staffers work their first full year and the work of the contractor, Atkins North America, reaches full throttle.

The delicate dance will begin immediately, finance spokeswoman Courtney Law said, as Atkins works with the new staffers to figure out the complicated first phases of the project schedule and when to sell batches of bonds. Some projects have only been worked out as conceptual ideas, while others have designs ready to go.

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Ten projects show sweep of Denver’s $937 million bond package, from transit and fresh pavement to botanic arts and new rec center

“They’re going to have to look at a number of different factors when they do that,” Law said.

She said the city is aiming to put out the initial bond offering to investors in June, which would allow for the first projects to get started soon after.

And at some point, city officials have said, they plan to repeat the city’s past wildly successful mini-bond programs, which allowed residents to buy bonds at $500 a pop.

Provided by Denver Parks and RecreationAt Paco Sanchez Park in west Denver, plans for the “Re-imagine Play” project call for new kinds of playground equipment and a walking path spread throughout the park, along with a community plaza and equipment check-out kiosk (shown above). Denver’s bond package will provide $6.6 million to complete the project.

Denver’s citywide bond program, the first since the 2007 Better Denver Bonds, will be far-reaching. Over the next decade, the project list calls for the repaving of hundreds of miles of roads, the addition of new sidewalks and bikeways, and renovations at dozens of city libraries, including the Denver Central Library, as well as recreation centers and public safety buildings.

New construction projects include a recreation center in Westwood, two replacement police district stations and a new fire station. The bond also will chip in for the Denver Health and Hospital Authority’s new Outpatient Medical Center and expansion or renovation projects planned by the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the Denver Zoo and the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Among the city projects receiving funding on the transportation-heavy bond list are a bus rapid-transit plan on Colfax Avenue, an intensive makeover of downtown’s 16th Street Mall and new pedestrian bridges in Elyria-Swansea and Overland. The bond program’s total includes $50 million to cover unexpected costs.

But how to pay for project oversight?

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That question was hotly debated by council members in recent weeks, with some suggesting that the bond proceeds should be tapped to pay for staff support.

The 13 new employees, hired for eight-year limited positions, will include city and parks planners, project managers and supervisors, a public works engineer, a construction attorney, a financial analyst and a contract compliance coordinator.

They will be assisted by Atkins, a Tampa, Fla.-based firm with a local office in the Denver Tech Center that later will track project spending, perform public outreach, assist with workforce development and manage resources, among other duties. The consultant’s involvement replicates the setup of the Better Denver Bonds a decade ago.

Unlike that round of projects, which were started just as the Great Recession took hold, the city this time doesn’t plan to tap into bond proceeds. Mayor Michael Hancock said it doesn’t make sense to pay for staff costs by borrowing and paying interest over two decades or more.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostDenver voters’ passage of a bond package will result in the construction of a bike and pedestrian bridge over these railroad tracks at 47th Avenue and York Street. A women and child walked over the tracks on the way to Swansea Elementary School on Nov. 10, 2017.

“This is coming out of the general fund at my request,” he said at a recent Mayor-Council meeting. “Bond project proceeds should not pay for personnel unless there’s an extreme case. In 2007, when we did the Better Denver Bonds, the city of Denver had no money to pay for this service.”

On Feb. 12, the council voted 9-3 on introduction for this year’s $4.5 million spending proposal, with Rafael Espinoza, Kevin Flynn and Debbie Ortega voting no. The final vote is set for Tuesday.

Flynn and Espinoza, in particular, argued that bond proceeds should be used for oversight, not the budget. But Councilwoman Robin Kniech, who had raised the issue because the city’s new affordable housing fund and some other tax-supported programs pay for at least part of their administration costs, said she saw merit in Hancock’s view.

“I think that’s a compelling argument for why not to put staff in the bond if you have the budget to pay for that,” she said, while urging consistency for other programs. “I hope we continue that conversation. I certainly will be more vigilant about this in the next budget.”

List of major projects in the Denver bond package:

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Office 2007 still works with Windows a decade later, but without support, here are newer (mostly free) alternatives

February 19, 2018 - 5:48am

Q: Can I load my original Office Small Business Edition 2007 software on a new computer running windows 10? ~ Steve Cheresnick

Tech+ Looks like yes!

At least that was the case when Windows 10 launched in 2015. According to Microsoft Q&A at the time, the company confirmed that Office 2007 is compatible with Windows 10,

Now, head over to Microsoft Office’s site — it, too, says that Office 2007 runs on Windows 10. However, there is a caveat: Microsoft no longer offers mainstream support for Office 2007. That means you should not expect any new features, fixes or security updates. And versions older than 2007 are “no longer supported and may not work on Windows 10,” according to the company.

This may have you thinking about upgrading — and it could cost you. Microsoft has moved most of its Office products to a monthly subscription plan — which on the plus side means phone or chat support is included. There is still a home and student version of Office 2016 available for a one-time cost of $149.99, but that extra phone and chat support isn’t included.

There are other options, including some freebies.

  • The most notable is Apache OpenOffice, found at It’s a software suite of programs just like Word, Excel and other Office software tools. It’s free because it’s an open-source project, which means a community of developers are supporting it and learning from it. On the down side, users will need to keep a DIY attitude and hunt down fixes for problems they find. OpenOffice has community forums, a mailing list and other helpful resources online.
  • Another free alternative is LibreOffice, at, another community driven software that is based on Open Office. LibreOffice also has familiar Word-like products, which it calls Writer (documents), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations) and more.
  • Apple fans can now get iWork software (documents, spreadsheet, the usual office-type suite) for free too via download to computer or mobile device. It’s at but it’s only for Mac devices.
  • WPS Office Software offers free and subscription-based plans for its suite of office software. The company, a subsidiary of China’s Kingsoft Corp., offers the complete suite free, if you don’t mind ads. But for $29.99 a year, it removes the ads and tosses in features like PDF signatures and splitting or merging PDFs to Word. Details at
  • For a pricier alternative, there’s Corel’s WordPerfect, which was discounted $50 on Friday and selling for $199.99. It’s compatible with Microsoft Office and has features like PDF form creation, publishing to eBook formats and tons more. Details at

If you don’t have much storage space on your computer or tablet, use web-based options like Google Docs. Microsoft has an online version of some Office tools for free.

Miss a week? Then subscribe to the Tech+ newsletter and get this week’s question and more delivered to your inbox. Sign up, see past Tech+ answers or ask your own tech question at If you’re emailing your question, please add “Mailbag” to the subject line.


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Ask Amy: Grieving parent wonders how to respond

February 19, 2018 - 4:30am

Dear Amy: I’m wondering how to respond to people inquiring about your children when one of them died in the not-too-distant past.

My 35-year-old daughter died last summer, after a hellish battle with cancer. We are all, of course, still struggling with grief, though we’ve had great support and the impacts are diminishing over time.

My struggle is with questions like, “Do you have children?” “How many children do you have?” “How’s your family?” and similar questions that arise in casual conversation, or with people you’ve not seen for several years.

I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t believe my daughter is still around, and using the present tense implies existence, so it feels wrong to me. And this is even worse when her 7-year-old daughter is with me: She knows that her mom is gone.

I never had to think about this before, and find it disturbingly confusing. Any advice?

— Grievin’ Grandpa

Dear Grandpa: My sincere condolences to all of you. It can be excruciating to try to describe your life in a casual way when you are so very sad.

You don’t say how many children you had, so I’m going to say that (for instance) you had three. If people ask, “How many children do you have?” and you don’t want to discuss things deeply, you can say, “My wife and I raised three kids.” If you want to dip in a little more, you can say, “Our oldest, Gwyneth, passed away last year from cancer” (supplying the cause might spare you from more intrusive questions). If her daughter is with you, simply say, “And this is her awesome daughter and my granddaughter, ‘Cammy’!”

Without question, this is extremely challenging, but I hope that through time you may realize that for every awkward or even heartbreaking plunge into grief you might experience through spontaneous reminders, there will be many, many examples of kinship, kindness and comfort from people who have walked a similar path.

Dear Amy: I am a guy in my late 30s. I have a “good friend” of the same age who lives in a different city four hours away.

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Our friendship appears completely one-sided, and doesn’t seem to move past texting. I only see this friend if I travel to see him.

He doesn’t get in touch, with the built-in excuse of being “busy.” Whenever I try to plan something other than me going to his city, I usually don’t get a response … not even a, “Sorry, I can’t.” Just crickets.

He travels to see other friends and makes plans with other people often (I see his social media posts).

I am wondering if this is a real friend? Should I keep trying, or give up?

— Annoyed in Ohio

Dear Annoyed: No, this is not a real friend.

This is a guy you happen to know.

Your contact with this person doesn’t lift you up and make you feel good. It makes you feel inadequate and insecure.

So stop. Stop while you still have your dignity. If his social media posts about his awesome life and other more active friendships trigger self-esteem hits for you, you should hide his posts from view. Do your best to turn your attention and energy toward other people who reciprocate in a more balanced way.

Dear Amy: “Caregiver” recently wrote to you regarding an elderly man with dementia and his granddaughter who moved in and “snuggles” with him in his bed every night.

Your advice was that she “must report this” to her supervisor and/or adult protective services and to “do the right thing.”

I was so appalled reading that advice. You, nor the caregiver, know what their relationship was like in the past, especially before the dementia. From the granddaughter’s perspective, she is losing a part of her grandfather. It may just be her way of showing love toward him and she’s obviously not trying to hide her behavior.

It sounds as though the caregiver feels threatened by the granddaughter’s presence and a loss of control. If the caregiver is truly concerned about this behavior, she should contact the son or daughter of this man who probably hired her.

This does not sound like elder abuse to me.

— Concerned RN

Dear Concerned: Others agree with you. However, I felt the tone of the question from “Caregiver” was reasonable, rational and based on professional experience. When a professional (who understands dementia) expresses concern, then yes, I believe she is compelled to do something about it, but I value your take.

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Team USA skiers Sigourney, Drew, Bowman advance to halfpipe finals, Logan out with injured knee

February 19, 2018 - 3:20am

BONGPYEONG, South Korea — Devin Logan asked her physical therapist to take a look at her knee before her third run in slopestyle finals on Saturday. She had slammed it landing a jump in her first run. Vermont’s Devin Logan was unable to advance into the women’s halfpipe finals, after competing with in injured knee in the women’s ski halfpipe qualification on Monday, Feb. 19 at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

“I was like by the way, you might want to look at this. And she was like, ‘Oh my. How long has it been like that?” said the 25-year-old silver medalist from the 2014 Olympic debut of slopestyle.

Her right knee was swollen like a melon. She couldn’t bend her leg.

She fell on that final run. She hustled back to the athlete village and iced her knee. She practiced in the halfpipe on Sunday, but was only able to make two run before her leg started swelling again. As the only female freeskier in the Olympics competing in both slopestyle and  halfpipe, Logan had one more shot to land her second Olympic medal.

She loosened the compression wrap and gritted her teeth. She still couldn’t bend her knee.

“I couldn’t really get any of my grabs. I just had to switch things up and grab differently to make up for it. It’s a bummer but it happens,” said the Vermont skier, the youngest of five kids whose mom and dad, Nancy and Jerry, flew out to South Korea to watch her compete.

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Logan is bummed she did not advance to Tuesday’s finals, but she’s proud of her push through a grueling qualification process that won her two Olympic berths on one of the world’s best ski teams.

“The U.S. team is definitely the hardest team to make there are so many people who are capable and there are only four spots. When there are five qualifying events in a year, I was doing ten. No one really sees that. I’d do qualifying one day, qualifying the next day, then finals and then finals again. It’s go, go, go,” she said. “I’m proud to have done something no one else has done on the female side or even the U.S. side. It’s unfortunate that I worked this hard to have it come to a halt quicker than I wanted to because I’m a pretty competitive person and I have high expectations for myself.”

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Logan will not join her American teammates Brita Signourney, Annalisa Drew and defending gold medalist Maddie Bowman in Tuesday’s finals. Sigourney qualified third, followed by Drew in fourth and Bowman in 8th. All three said they had more tricks to throw. They will need them. Canadian Cassie Sharpe punctuated her final qualifying run with a last-hit 1080, the only one in the competition. With the two highest scores in qualifying, Sharp is the skier to beat in Tuesday’s finals.  Sharp said she threw that rare 1080 because she wanted to qualify first so she could drop last in the best-of-three final.

“If you do well, then you drop last in your victory lap,” Sharp said “Which is the best feeling in the world.”

Drew said she had been struggling with her big right side 900 on her first hit but stuck it twice in a row in qualifying, giving her confidence rolling into the final. It wasn’t that long that she and Sigourney were the only women capable of spinning 1080s and now more than six of pipe skiing’s top women have the trick.

“That means a lot of people are stepping up,” said Drew, who was the first women to land a 1260 in the pipe during a practice run at the 2013 Aspen X Games. “I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.”

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Funeral after funeral, an emotional marathon for survivors of the Parkland school shooting

February 18, 2018 - 10:40pm

PARKLAND, Fla. — Under vacation-blue Florida skies, the young mourners have emerged from family SUVs and minivans at funeral after funeral, high school girls in black dresses and heels and teen boys in black shirts and pants.

“This is physically and emotionally the kind of marathon I never want anyone else to have to run,” said Ken Cutler, a city commissioner, following one of the funerals Sunday for victims of last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Seventeen people died, mainly teens.

“These are children who have never had death touch their lives,” said Cutler, 58, whose wife is a teacher who survived the shooting.

“Facing your own mortality as an adult is hard enough. I can’t imagine what it is like for a teenager.”

Since Friday, they’ve attended a succession of funerals for teachers and fellow classmates. On Sunday, they memorialized geography teacher Scott Beigel and two 14-year-old students: Jaime Guttenberg, a freshman girl who loved dancing, and Alex Schachter, a freshman boy who played trombone in the school band. Both students had older siblings who survived the shooting, relatives said.

This affluent city of gated communities, private golf courses and top-notch schools is struggling to cope with the American tragedy of mass shootings. As in small communities before them, including Newtown, Connecticut, and Sutherland Springs, Texas, virtually everyone here knows someone who was killed. They are mourning together like family, with processions that clog streets and services that overflow hotel event rooms.

They are also fighting back with a focused fury: Parkland’s teenagers, some in braces, have emerged since the shootings as a fearless and powerful political voice calling for stricter gun laws. On Sunday, in a round of appearances on national television, teenage survivors of the shooting, propelled by their haunting experience, announced the creation of “March For Our Lives” and what they hope will be a huge demonstration in Washington on March 24.

On its new website, the group’s mission statement says: “Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students.”

On ABC’s “This Week,” 11th-grader Cameron Kasky said the movement, whose hashtaginstantly went viral, aims to get beyond party politics and give a rising generation the chance to “create a new normal” out of entrenched gun politics.

“We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around,” Kasky said.

But their raging activism is also mixed with quiet personal pain. At the same time that Parkland teens are trying to create a political force to challenge the National Rifle Association, they also are juggling funeral and burial schedules day after day.

Mental health specialists and others said funerals help bring closure and peace for grieving adolescents. But the sheer number has many worried about the long-term emotional damage of America’s increasingly common schoolhouse slaughters.

“These funerals can be very empowering,” said Priti Kothari, a child and adolescent psychiatrist based in nearby Boca Raton who knows many of the families involved, including a neighbor who lost a child in the shooting.

“There is a lot of noise in the media and so many unanswered questions,” she said. “But in the intimacy of a funeral, you hear all the beautiful stories of these children, their vision of life and how you can carry it on.”

She said it’s notable how powerful and eloquent the Douglas students have been, spurred on by their grief.

“The adolescent brain is searching for meaning, and these funerals offer a way for them to ask, ‘How can I be of service?’ ” Kothari said. “How does this anger turn into something that’s productive?”

David Schonfeld, a pediatrician and director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at the University of Southern California, said rituals marking the end of a friend’s life can be of great value to survivors, but the scale of this tragedy makes it particularly hard.

“Just a single death often makes us feel vulnerable,” he said. “It shakes your assumptions about the world. It violates assumptions, for example, that when your parents send you to school, you will come back home alive. When you have multiple losses, it’s even more difficult to feel safe.”

Schonfeld and his center have helped coordinate mental health responses for many mass shootings, including in Newtown, Sutherland Springs, Aurora, Colorado, and Las Vegas.

Relatively little research exists on the psychological effects of mass shootings on adolescents, but one study often cited is on the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack for New York schoolchildren.

It found that of 8,000 middle school and high school students who were affected by the attacks, more than a quarter suffered from psychiatric disorders that impaired them in their daily lives. Symptoms included PTSD, major depression, separation anxiety and panic attacks, and especially widespread was agoraphobia.

The symptoms persisted even six months after the attack.

George Bonanno, a clinical psychologist at Columbia University who studies grief and trauma, said his research shows that the vast majority of survivors of mass shootings don’t develop long-term mental health disorders.

“Humans are resilient; they may be sad and upset afterward, but psychologically, they’re okay,” he said.

Here in Parkland, the funerals kept coming. So many people want to attend that many of the services have been moved to a large function room at a Marriott resort, a lemon-yellow complex with 30-foot palm trees and a lush golf course.

Twice on Sunday, hundreds of mourners, many of them parents and children holding hands, walked to funerals through overflowing parking lots, past hearses, black funeral limos and golfers unloading clubs. Many of them attended both services.

Cutler, the city commissioner, said the half-dozen or so funerals so far have helped this tightknit city cope — including his wife.

“The impact of this is going to be on her heart forever,” he said after Alex’s service. “But being with her friends from school, being with her community at these funerals, this is a big part of what’s going to help her heal. Help us all heal.”

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It wasn’t in the way he expected, but Jon Lillis took his brother to the Olympics

February 18, 2018 - 10:25pm

BONGPYEONG, South Korea — The jumpsuit belonged to Jon Lillis once, before he handed it down to his youngest brother, Mikey. Lillis had become one of the best ski jumpers in America by then, on his way to being one of the best in the world. But he believed Mikey would be even better. He believed, one day, they would compete together at the Olympics.

Weeks ago, the suit arrived at Lillis’ home. His parents had pulled it out of storage and sent it by mail. It was smallish — they both had gymnasts’ bodies, about 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds — and a shade of aquamarine Columbia Sportswear called Hyper Blue. It still had Mikey Lillis’ initials written inside the collar. The trip was going to be different than he expected, different in an unfair and incomprehensible way. Lillis was taking his brother to the Olympics.

In late October, Lillis and his other younger brother Chris, who is also a world-class aerials skier, were in Switzerland competing. They received an unfathomable call from home. Mikey had died in his sleep, in his bed at the Lillis home in Rochester, New York. He was 17. Doctors suspected heart arrhythmia but have yet to reach a conclusive cause of death.

On Sunday night at Phoenix Snow Park, Lillis pulled on the jumpsuit and competed at the Olympics in the men’s aerials finals. His mother and father and Chris watched from the base of the hill, in front of the grandstand. They wore glass pendants infused with Mikey’s ashes, same as the emblem Lillis had worn around his neck at the Opening Ceremonies.

Lillis entered the finals with a chance to win a medal. He had qualified Saturday with the highest score in the competition. He knew, three months ago, some people wondered whether he would be able to summon strength to continue. His jumping actually started to improve. He learned “sometimes life really sucks,” he said, and that when it does, you need something you love to lift you out of the darkness. For Lillis, that was aerials skiing.

On Sunday night, on his second jump, he came into the ramp a little too slow, missed his takeoff just a little bit, didn’t start flipping soon enough. His knees, meant to stay straight, bent. His skis, meant to stay close and parallel, spread apart and skewed. He stuck the landing — he is proud, most of all, of his landings.

It was not the jump Lillis knew he had inside him. Sunday night happened to be one of the greatest shows in aerials history — “insane,” Lillis would say. His score — 95.47, more than 30 points less than his spectacular qualifying jump the day before — placed him eighth, when only six advanced to the final.

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“If you asked anyone at the end of October what they thought my year was going to be like, they might say I would have a downward spiral and I wouldn’t be here, and I would have been too sad to go out and do this,” Lillis said. “I think that the fact I just came out here and I gave it my all is something I can go home and be really proud of.”

He had come to the Olympics. That did not make everything fine or heal any wounds. His kid brother was gone, and that part of life would never make sense and always suck. Mikey would have been in the crowd, cheering like the mad Buffalo Bills fan he was.

“He would have thought it was the coolest thing ever,” Lillis said. “He would have been a proud little brother, and then hopefully I would have been a proud big brother when I stuck around four more years and tried to go with him. This is the chance that we got, and this is the cards we got. As much as possible, I felt like he was there with me.”

Lillis moved to the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York, when he was 14. Aerials skiing bonded him and Mikey, but traveling to competitions kept them apart. Now he wants to keep him close. He wears Mikey’s shoes. He thinks about him every day.

Since Mikey died, Lillis has learned how short life can be and the necessity to make the most of every day. The point is not to eliminate the bad parts — you can’t. The point is to find a way through them.

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“Even when you’re down at the lowest you can get, there’s always things that you’re passionate about that you can use as a ladder to kind of pull yourself out of those dark moments,” Lillis said. “And that’s what’s really important. That’s what I’d say to anybody in any situation if you’re in the bottom of yourself and the worst time in your life. Just find that thing. And aerials is that for me.”

Chris would have competed here if he had not torn his anterior cruciate ligament weeks ago. His knee is healing well. On Sunday night, he stood without crutches for the entire competition. Lillis plans to give himself a break here and there, to keep his body — old for such a taxing sport — fresh. But he wants to keep jumping another four another years. He envisions competing next to Chris at the Olympics.

“He’s a real good jumper,” Lillis said. “So I think that Team Lillis will keep going, and four years from now, it’ll be a whole different story, and we’ll be out here trying to kick some a–.”

Lillis is going to keep going. Late Sunday, as floodlights illuminated trodden snow, Lillis walked toward his family. They had their glass pendants. He wore the Hyper Blue suit with Mikey’s initials written in the collar. All of the Lillises were at the Olympics together.

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LeBron James, Team LeBron tops Team Stephen at NBA All-Star Game

February 18, 2018 - 9:31pm

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James picked a winner in the NBA All-Star Game.

James scored 29 points and hit the go-ahead layup with 34.5 seconds to play, winning his third All-Star Game MVP award while his hand-picked team rallied to win an uncommonly entertaining showcase, beating Team Stephen 148-145 Sunday night.

For the first time in the 67 editions of the All-Star Game, the league abandoned the traditional East-West format used since 1951 and allowed team captains James and Stephen Curry to choose their own rosters.

That twist turned a sometimes staid event into the world’s richest pickup game, and the intrigue was reflected on the Staples Center court, where a real basketball game broke out.

LeBron’s team even won an All-Star game with defense: On the final possession, James and Kevin Durant blanketed Curry, preventing the 3-point-shooting superstar from getting off a potential tying shot.

“I think myself and Stephen took it upon ourselves when we took on this format that we had to change the way this game was played,” said James, who also had 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Both teams played defense for long stretches and contested many shots, with LeBron’s group even picking up full-court late in the first half. Team LeBron also rallied from a double-digit deficit in the final minutes, tying it at 144-144 on James’ 3-pointer with 1:31 to play.

LA native DeMar DeRozan hit one free throw to put Team Steph ahead, but LeBron claimed the lead with his layup after some sharp passing by his teammates. DeRozan then made a turnover on an attempted pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Russell Westbrook broke out for a layup with 10.7 seconds left.

Team Steph had one last chance, but even the usually unguardable Curry couldn’t find enough space to launch a 3 between his fellow captain and Durant, his Golden State teammate. Curry finished with 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting.

“We got stops when we needed to,” Westbrook said.


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The All-Stars’ shooting percentages and final scores were way down from recent seasons, reflecting the effort on the floor. The relaxed All-Star vibe was still at Staples, however: Curry chowed down on a box of popcorn on the bench during the third quarter, and the stars made time and room for plenty of good-looking dunks and alley-oops.

Each member of the winning team made a cool $100,000, a distinct raise from previous seasons in another attempt to make things more interesting.

The All-Star draft led to interesting dynamics on court.

Curry chose his Golden State teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, but the trio had to play against Durant. James also chose Oklahoma City duo Westbrook and Paul George to play along with Kyrie Irving, who forced a trade away from James in Cleveland just last summer.

Irving and James had no obvious friction, even laughing and joking on the bench. Neither did Durant and Westbrook, who broke up in 2016 when Durant left Oklahoma City for Golden State.


TEAM STEPHEN: DeRozan and Damian Lillard led with 21 points apiece. … Jimmy Butler didn’t play after being selected for the fourth time. … First-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns was outstanding. The Minnesota forward with 17 points and 10 reobunds.

TEAM LEBRON: Durant scored 19 points and George added 16. … Three first-time All-Stars suited up. Washington’s Bradley Beal scored 14 points, Miami’s Goran Dragic had two and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo got seven.


The All-Star Game featured no Lakers or Clippers, who share Staples Center during the regular season. But several All-Stars have Los Angeles roots, including area natives Paul George, Russell Westbrook, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden and Klay Thompson. George and James are coveted as offseason signings by Lakers fans, but there was no reprise of the “We want Paul!” chants for the Palmdale native after Saturday’s All-Star practice.


LeBron lost four of his original selections to injuries, including Cleveland teammate Kevin Love, Kristaps Porzingis and John Wall. Anthony Davis represented his fellow New Orleans All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins, by wearing Cousins’ No. 0 jersey to start the game.


The All-Star weekend was held in Hollywood for a record sixth time. A partial list of celebrities attending the game: Jack Nicholson, Beyonce, Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, Chadwick Boseman, Chance the Rapper, Jimmy Kimmel, Michael B. Jordan, Chris Rock, Ludacris, Common, Spike Lee, Andy Garcia, Dave Chappelle, DJ Khaled, Tracy Morgan, Sean Combs, Odell Beckham Jr. and pregame host Kevin Hart, who lobbed roast-style jokes at the All-Stars with mostly blah results. After a much-criticized pregame national anthem from Fergie, N.E.R.D and Migos performed an energizing halftime show.


The All-Stars’ 3-point accuracy was hardly world-class, with Artesia High School’s Harden going 2 for 13 and Leuzinger High’s Westbrook going 1 for 6. Team Steph was a combined 17 for 65 beyond the arc, including 3-for-11 for Curry.


The 68th NBA All-Star Game will be in Charlotte on Feb. 17, 2019. North Carolina was scheduled to host the 2017 All-Star Game, but lost it in July 2016 because of the state legislature’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which is considered by many to be discriminatory. Hornets owner Michael Jordan got a standing ovation when he appeared at center court alongside Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer to reveal the logo for next year’s game.

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PHOTOS: 2018 Colorado high school state wrestling tournament

February 18, 2018 - 9:23pm

Highlights of the 2018 Colorado high school state wrestling tournament.

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WATCH: Maia and Alex Shibutani’s short dance routine at the Winter Olympics

February 18, 2018 - 8:52pm

FO’ TWIZZLE. @MaiaShibutani and @AlexShibutani brought their best in the short dance. #WinterOlympics

— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 19, 2018

The ShibSibs brought their best to PyeongChang.

American ice dancing duo and siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani tallied a score of 77.73 to move into first place in the short dance portion of the Olympic ice dancing competition on Monday.

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PHOTOS: The day in pictures February 18, 2018

February 18, 2018 - 8:43pm

The day in pictures, photographs from all around the world on February 18, 2018.

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“Shy kid” Karen Chen has a plan for fighting off nerves at Winter Olympics

February 18, 2018 - 8:30pm

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Karen Chen found herself in a room full of athletes, and she froze.

The 18-year-old American figure skater describes herself as a “shy kid,” and her nerves were getting the best of her again. She was there hoping to trade collectable pins, a longstanding Olympic tradition that helps break the ice between people from different sports or countries.

She just couldn’t do it.

“I was nervous,” she said. “Like, ‘What if this person doesn’t want to trade pins with me? What if they already had my pin?’ All these random thoughts raced (through) my head.”

Worries like that have dictated much of Chen’s young career, something she readily acknowledges. She managed to control her nerves while becoming the 2017 national champion, and while finishing fourth at worlds last year — a feat that earned the U.S. three women’s spots in Pyeongchang. But she has also drowned at times in her anxiety, like when she finished 12th at Four Continents at Gangneung Ice Arena last February.

The shy kid from Fremont, California, knows she can’t be fearful Wednesday when the women’s individual competition opens in Gangneung. She’s worked too hard to waste this chance, and so her mental health has become a focused, team effort.

Chen has been working with a sports psychologist “to really open up on my thoughts and talk things out.” She’s mentally catalogued how she’s felt before each major competition, reflecting on her mindset and what might be influencing it.

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“Just talking about my feelings and kind of my worries,” she said. “Like, why I would worry about this jump, or why I’m worried about this program, why I get nervous. Just talking about that and working with my sports psychologist really helped me.”

Many athletes try to block out the atmosphere around them, but Chen discovered recently that she needs just the opposite. At nationals this year, her mind raced before taking the ice — about defending her title, about being the hometown favorite in San Jose, about getting so close to the Olympics and possibly missing out.

And then she heard the crowd, and she let that energy sink right in.

“To hear the audience cheer for me and scream actually made me feel so much better,” she said.

Suddenly, Chen was back at ease, and she skated well en route to a bronze medal. It was enough to earn her a spot in her first Olympics, and now she’s ready to test her nerves on skating’s biggest stage.

She’s returning to a rink where she skated poorly last year, and she acknowledged that the anxiety from that performance hit her when she practiced in Gangneung on Sunday.

“Being back on the ice this morning, it was a little overwhelming, I’m not going to lie,” she said. “But I feel like it’s just what I needed. I kind of need to figure out mentally how I’m going to deal with this, how I’m going to compete.”

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Chen isn’t all grown up yet, but she is making strides. She has some proof, too.

Back in her room, there’s a whole treasure trove of Olympic pins, a reward for overcoming her bashfulness in the Olympic village.

“I felt like if I don’t man-up and trade some pins, I’m going to regret it in the future,” she said.

“This is the Olympics. I want to really enjoy this experience.”

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PHOTOS: The Colorado Kennel Club dog show

February 18, 2018 - 8:14pm

The Colorado Kennel Club has presented dog shows for over 115 years in Denver. Their two dog shows are among the oldest dog show competitions in the United States. The show includes all breed dog shows, agility and obedience trails, AKC Rally, and dock diving and barn hunt competitions. The show runs through Monday at the National Western Complex in Denver.

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Oil spill at Anadarko well site in Erie rankles locals

February 18, 2018 - 8:08pm

ERIE — A hydrocarbons spill near tanks at an Anadarko Petroleum well site at the north edge of Erie over the weekend spurred excavation of soil and a company promise to inform state regulators, just as a local protectors group distributes a map of myriad wells and underground pipelines.

The spill of a “reportable” amount of liquid — more than 200 gallons — contaminated an undetermined volume of soil in a farm field near housing, a quarter of a mile from a separate industrial hydraulic fracturing operation in progress to stimulate fossil fuels production, south of Colorado 52 and west of Weld County Road 7. Residents learned of the spill from a notice on their town website. Heavy machinery positioned by a storage tank was idle Sunday afternoon, but heaps of soil around the well site suggested a crew had been working.

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“Another day, another spill. This is the cost of the industry,” said Erie Protectors member Christiaan van Woudenberg at the scene, where he checked the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission website and saw evidence of 73 spills this year but no report of this incident.

It adds to an oil and gas industry impact that is felt in “cumulative effects — of volatile organic compounds released into the air and of soil contamination,” van Woudenberg said.

The Erie Protectors oppose fossil fuels development inside town boundaries, where companies have drilled more than 400 wells. On Saturday, a couple dozen residents gathered in the town library to share information derived from data points that COGCC regulators have made available. The residents are working with a map by van Woudenberg, a software engineer, that shows thousands of existing oil and gas wells and underground pipelines near homes.

“This well is part of Colorado’s aging oil and gas infrastructure that is at risk,” he said at the scene of the spill. “We’re trying to show the oil and gas infrastructure burden on this state. There’s heaps and heaps of it. It is everywhere.”

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