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Kiszla: Emmanuel Omogbo played last home game at CSU certain his deceased parents were watching

Denver Post Local News - 20 hours 58 min ago

FORT COLLINS— With a smile that would not quit, Colorado State forward Emmanuel Omogbo tried to explain why love always finds a way to win: “Hey,” he said, “crazy things happen every day.”

There are moments when basketball and faith and family get all tangled together, and you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. So Christiana Omogbo did both, dabbing at misty eyes while laughing so hard it shook her soul, as she hugged her brother amid the happy madness of Moby Arena.

“You can see the love everywhere. And this love cannot die,” Christiana Omogbo told me.

Colorado State students stormed the court, then immediately raised cell phones to record the crazy scene, because without video proof their besties back home would never believe how the Rams found a way to beat Wyoming 78-76 Tuesday on a contested three-point shot by Prentiss Nixon in the game’s final five seconds.

“I just slowed the game down in my head and just took it,” said Nixon, describing his sense of calm while rising up for the jumper that rescued the Rams from defeat against its arch-rival from across the Colorado-Wyoming state line.

Nobody wanted to leave the floor, because everybody wanted to inhale the magic of this improbable seven-game winning streak that has Colorado State in position to grab a piece of the conference championship from Nevada and make a run at the NCAA Tournament. Rams coach Larry Eustachy grabbed a microphone at the scorer’s table, hoping to restore a little order to the victory party, only to have his plea met with deaf ears.

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“Hey, everyone,” said Eustachy, with a shrug of resignation, “you’re not listening to the coach. You’re like my players. But you’ve got to leave the court.”

With a record of 21-9, the Rams are more than the coolest little story of the hoops season in the Mountain West. They are a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit. They are proof that team can sometimes become family. Basketball can’t erase a tragedy, but it can offer a path for a young man to rediscover faith with the power to heal even the deepest emotional wound.

“I just keep doing what I have to do. And hopefully I make it,” said Omogbo, who scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against the Cowboys.

On a terrible winter morning a little more than a year ago, Omogbo received a phone call from his brother. There had been a fire in his family’s home in Maryland. The 55-year-old mother and 63-year-old father of the CSU star perished in the blaze, as well as his young twin niece and nephew.

Omogbo has played all season to honor them. “Our parents always kept us together,” he said. “Now that they’re gone, I feel like our bond just got tighter and tighter.” All the emotion came spilling out at the conclusion of the last home game of his college career.

“This is a night of love and joy and happiness,” said Christiana Omogbo, after her younger brother was saluted by the crowd of 7,883 on senior night, when the 6-foot-8, Nigerian-born power forward was presented with his No. 2 CSU uniform in a frame.

“I believe all this love is from my parents. And I know they’re watching right now.”

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Ask Amy: Jazz man discovers life is not improvisation

Denver Post Local News - 21 hours 31 min ago

Dear Amy: I am a jazz musician. I’m married with a child. My wife has a stressful 9-to-5 job.

I play at a club several nights a week. My wife and I make OK money, and have always split the bills evenly.

Playing jazz has not made me rich, nor is it ever likely to, but I get by.

My wife’s work is really getting to her, and the stress is affecting me and our daughter.

I have always had days free, and take care of our daughter, make dinner, etc., but I am often not home in the evenings.

Now my wife says she is tired of this life. She would like to get a new job, which may pay less.

She wants me home at night, and wants me to have more financial stability.

When we got married, she was fine with our life, but now it seems things have changed.

I can give up the music and get a stable job, but that would be giving up what I love to do the most. Music has been my passion all my life.

I fear that if I did this, I would wind up resenting my wife, but if I stay the course, she will wind up resenting me.

I love my family and want us to stay together, but I don’t see any way out of this.

Any thoughts?

— Torn

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Dear Torn: You and your wife agreed to this challenging lifestyle. But then something changed: You had a child, and realized that life is not all improvisation.

You are fortunate to have the passion, as well as the talent, to make a living as a musician. Your assumption that you would have to drop all of this in order to capitulate to your wife is faulty thinking.

Are there ways for you to transition away from playing at clubs several nights a week and perhaps work as a session musician, teaching, or taking other music-related jobs during the day? If you adjusted your current schedule by even 30 percent, it might have a huge impact on your home life. Surely some of the musicians you work with also have day jobs.

Two parents resigning themselves to make some life and work changes are better than two parents refusing to adjust and resenting one another.

You and your wife both have the right to try to get what you want most in life. And — like every other family with children — you’ll both have to compromise in order to serve your needs and also the needs of the family.

Dear Amy: My cousin and I were very close, but last year I was going through a heartbreaking breakup and felt very alone. My cousin texted me but never called or invited me to stay with her for a weekend.

Eventually, I just invited myself. I wasn’t even there for 24 hours when she made me leave because she had to spend time with her boyfriend.

I told her I was extremely hurt because of her priorities.

This caused a huge rift because it somehow turned into my fault. On a family vacation she was very distant to me. I wrote to her, telling her how I felt. She texted me five months later to say she read the note, and feels we have a lot more to discuss and time will tell how much we are meant to be in each other’s lives. I suggested finding a time to meet up after the holidays. I have not heard from her since. I am torn. Should I (yet again) be the bigger person and reach out again?

— Rejected Cousin

Dear Cousin: No. You’ve invited yourself, inserted yourself and asked for what you want.

You’re not getting it from your cousin.

The good news is that she will always be your cousin. She might not always be your friend, however. Your relationship will probably wax and wane over the years. This is definitely a “wane.” Don’t respond to her neglect by asking for more.

Dear Amy: “Only Child” was asking how to make the relationship with her father “right again.” Maybe it IS right, with him.

He raised her as a single dad and spent plenty of time with his granddaughter. Now he wants to live his life.

Let him live his life! It sounds like he deserves it.

— Supportive Reader

Dear Supportive: This father’s biggest crime was when he decided (after decades of single-dad devotion) to marry. I’m with you.

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CSU Rams defeat Wyoming on dramatic 3-pointer, inch closer to league title

Denver Post Local News - 22 hours 49 min ago

FORT COLLINS — Bring on the Wolf Pack.

If Colorado State is going to win its first regular season conference title in 27 years, the Rams might as well win it outright. The only way to do that was to beat rival Wyoming on Tuesday night, which the Rams did, 78-76, on a 3-pointer by Prentiss Nixon with 3.6 seconds left to hold off a furious comeback by the Cowboys.

The dramatic victory, the second straight the Rams have won on a last-second 3, sets up a huge matchup in their regular season finale Saturday at Nevada. If the Wolf Pack win at San Jose State on Wednesday, the winner of Saturday’s game in Reno would be crowned the outright Mountain West regular season champions.

Colorado State (21-9, 13-5) hasn’t won a conference title since winning the second of two straight WAC championships in 1989-90. The program’s only MW title of any kind came when they won the conference tournament in 2003.

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Nixon finished with a team-high 23 points, preventing a second-half collapse by CSU in which the Rams led by 11 with just less than 10 minutes to go.

The Rams came out hot in front of its largest home crowd of the season, a near-sellout of 7,883, taking a 14-2 lead four minutes in. The fast start was part of stretch in which they made 8 of 9 shots to build a 16-point lead midway through the first half.

BOXSCORE: Colorado State 78, Wyoming 76

Wyoming responded with a 17-4 run to make it a one-possession game on a 3-pointer by Hayden Dalton at the 6:51 mark before a 3 by Nixon in the final seconds of the first half gave the Rams a 48-41 lead at the break.

Read the rest at Loveland Reporter-Herald

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Pitchless intentional walks could start this week

Denver Post Local News - 23 hours 16 min ago

By Chuck King, The Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Pitchless intentional walks could start in spring training games this week.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said the change, which the players’ association has said it will agree to for 2017, is among the rule changes that have been distributed to teams. Planned modifications to video review rules for this season include a 30-second time limit for managers to request a review, and a two-minute limit for the review umpire in New York to make a decision — unless a supervisor in the replay room gives permission for the umpire to take longer.

Under the change to the intentional walk rule, a team can signal for an intentional walk without pitches being thrown. Manfred said Major League Baseball staff has been going over the changes with teams, and the new intentional walk rule probably will go into effect this week.

“As soon as we’re done with the clubs, we’ll start implementing the pitchless intentional walk,” Manfred said Tuesday before the opening game of the new spring training ballpark of Houston and Washington. “We need to give them a chance to at least look at the rules before we move ahead and implement it on the field.”

Wanting to speed the pace of play, management also discussed raising the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level the top of the kneecap, the installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher’s mound.

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The players’ union said it will not agree to changes in those areas this year. Under baseball’s labor contract, management can make unilateral changes to playing rules only with one year advance notice.

“The intentional walk with no pitches was a small change in a much larger package,” Manfred said. “We don’t think that particular change — we know how the math works — is going to have a momentous impact on the game. By the same token, every little change that makes the game faster I personally believe is a good thing for the game over the long haul.”

Manfred said talks will continue with union head Tony Clark and players.

“I think what I’d like to do is have our dialogue with the players privately,” Manfred said. “Over the years it served us best to have those conversations in a room. I talked to Tony last week. We talked about the idea of getting together and looking at information about the game with a group of players.”

Other changes planned for this year include revised language to stop quick pitchers and to keep first- and third-base coaches in the coach’s boxes.

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Gene therapy to fight a blood cancer succeeds in major study

Denver Post Local News - 23 hours 25 min ago

By Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press

An experimental gene therapy that turns a patient’s own blood cells into cancer killers worked in a major study, with more than one-third of very sick lymphoma patients showing no sign of disease six months after a single treatment, its maker said Tuesday.

In all, 82 percent of patients had their cancer shrink at least by half at some point in the study.

Its sponsor, California-based Kite Pharma, is racing Novartis AG to become the first to win approval of the treatment, called CAR-T cell therapy, in the U.S. It could become the nation’s first approved gene therapy.

A hopeful sign: the number in complete remission at six months — 36 percent — is barely changed from partial results released after three months, suggesting this one-time treatment might give lasting benefits for those who do respond well.

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“This seems extraordinary … extremely encouraging,” said one independent expert, Dr. Roy Herbst, cancer medicines chief at the Yale Cancer Center.

The worry has been how long Kite’s treatment would last and its side effects, which he said seem manageable in the study. Follow-up beyond six months is still needed to see if the benefit wanes, Herbst said, but added, “this certainly is something I would want to have available.”

The therapy is not without risk. Three of the 101 patients in the study died of causes unrelated to worsening of their cancer, and two of those deaths were deemed due to the treatment.

It was developed at the government’s National Cancer Institute and then licensed to Kite. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society helped sponsor the study.

Results were released by the company and have not been published or reviewed by other experts. Full results will be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference in April.

The company plans to seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of March and in Europe later this year.

The treatment involves filtering a patient’s blood to remove key immune system soldiers called T-cells, altering them in the lab to contain a gene that targets cancer, and giving them back intravenously. Doctors call it a “living drug” — permanently altered cells that multiply in the body into an army to fight the disease.

Patients in the study had one of three types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer, and had failed all other treatments. Median survival for such patients has been about six months.

Kite study patients seem to be living longer, but median survival isn’t yet known. With nearly nine months of follow-up, more than half are still alive.

Six months after treatment, 41 percent still had a partial response (cancer shrunk at least in half) and 36 percent were in complete remission (no sign of disease).

“The numbers are fantastic,” said Dr. Fred Locke, a blood cancer expert at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa who co-led the study and has been a paid adviser to Kite. “These are heavily treated patients who have no other options.”

One of his patients, 43-year-old Dimas Padilla of Orlando, was driving when he got a call saying his cancer was worsening, chemotherapy was no longer working, and there was no match to enable a second try at a stem cell transplant.

“I actually needed to park … I was thinking how am I going to tell this to my mother, my wife, my children,” he said. But after CAR-T therapy last August, he saw his tumors “shrink like ice cubes” and is now in complete remission.

“They were able to save my life,” Padilla said.

Of the study participants, 13 percent developed a dangerous condition where the immune system overreacts in fighting the cancer, but that rate is lower than in some other tests of CAR-T therapy. The rate fell during the study as doctors got better at detecting and treating it sooner.

Roughly a third of patients developed anemia or other blood-count-related problems, which Locke said were easily treated. And 28 percent had neurological problems such as sleepiness, confusion, tremor or difficulty speaking, but these typically lasted just a few days, Locke said.

“It’s a safe treatment, certainly a lot safer than having progressive lymphoma,” and comparable to combination chemotherapy in terms of side effects, said the cancer institute’s Dr. Steven Rosenberg, who had no role in Kite’s study. The first lymphoma patient Rosenberg treated this way, a Florida man, is still in remission seven years later.

There were no cases of swelling and fluid in the brain in this or any other study testing Kite’s treatment, company officials said. That contrasts with Juno Therapeutics, which has had a CAR-T study put on hold twice after five patient deaths due to this problem.

Company officials would not say what the treatment might cost, but other types of immune system therapies have been very expensive. It’s also being tested for some other types of blood cancer.

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Trump sends mixed signals on immigration reform

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 9:59pm

David Nakamura, Abby Phillip and Philip Rucker, The Washington Post

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump offered mixed signals Tuesday about his plans on immigration, suggesting privately that he is open to an overhaul bill that could provide a pathway to legal status – but not citizenship – for potentially millions of people who are in the United States illegally but have not committed serious crimes.

Yet Trump made no mention of such a proposal during his prime-time address to a joint session of Congress, instead highlighting the dangers posed by illegal immigration.

At a private White House luncheon with television news anchors ahead of his speech, Trump signaled an openness to a compromise that would represent a softening from the crackdown on all undocumented immigrants that he promised during his campaign and that his more hard-line supporters have long advocated.

“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” Trump told the anchors. His comments, reported by several of the journalists present, were confirmed by an attendee of the luncheon.

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Trump said he hopes both sides can come together to draft legislation in his first term that holistically addresses the country’s immigration system, which has been the subject of intense and polarizing debate in Washington for more than a decade. Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush both failed in their attempts to push comprehensive immigration reform bills through Congress that offered a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Trump’s comments to the news anchors were particularly striking given his long history of criticism of U.S. immigration policy and a presidential campaign centered on talk of mass deportations of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidelines that dramatically expand the pool of immigrants that could be targeted for removal.

His remarks came shortly before he met at the White House with family members of Americans killed by illegal immigrants. Trump invited those family members to sit near first lady Melania Trump at his address, part of an emotional appeal by the president and his administration to build support for stronger border-control measures.

At the meeting with television anchors, Trump suggested he is willing to address legal status for those who are in the country illegally but have not committed crimes. But he would not necessarily support a pathway to citizenship, except perhaps for “Dreamers,” a group of nearly 2 million who were brought into the country illegally as children, according to a report by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper, who attended the luncheon.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House principal deputy press secretary, said she could not confirm Trump’s comments in the private event.

“The president has been very clear in his process that the immigration system is broken and needs massive reform, and he’s made clear that he’s open to having conversations about that moving forward,” Sanders said in a Tuesday afternoon briefing with reporters. “Right now his primary focus, as he has made [clear] over and over again, is border control and security at the border.”

Trump on Tuesday reiterated his vow to build a “great, great wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border and increase funding for federal law enforcement efforts in border areas.

“As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens,” Trump said. “Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight.”

It is unclear whether Trump will follow through on pursuing an immigration compromise. The president in the past has made comments, in private or in media interviews, that have not been borne out by his administration’s policies. For example, he has yet to follow through on his pledge to investigate alleged voter fraud in the 2016 election.

In early February, Trump expressed openness to revisiting past immigration overhaul efforts, including the failed 2013 “Gang of Eight” bill, which drew opposition from Republicans. At a meeting with moderate Democratic senators, Trump told them he thought that bill was something he was interested in revisiting, according to the senators.

The White House later denied that Trump was open to the legislation and said that he considered the bill to be “amnesty.”

In his address to Congress, Trump called on lawmakers to pursue reforms to move the nation’s legal immigration program toward a more “merit-based” system.

Trump said curbing the number of “lower-skilled” immigrants who are entering the country would help raise wages for American workers who would be able to “enter the middle class and do it quickly. And they will be very, very happy indeed.”

Though he didn’t spell out details in his speech, Trump’s aides have envisioned proposals to dramatically slash the number immigrants who receive green cards – granting them permanent residence in the United States – which stands at more than 1 million per year. If enacted, such moves could be the first major cuts to legal immigration in more than half a century.

After his meeting with the anchors Tuesday, Trump met in the Oval Office with Jamiel Shaw Sr., whose son was shot by a gang member in Los Angeles in 2008, and Jessica Davis and Susan Oliver, who were married to California police officers killed in the line of duty in 2014.

Trump’s spotlight on the victims’ families has sparked an outcry among those who charge that the president is exaggerating the risks to sow public fear and make his proposals more politically expedient. Studies have shown that immigrants, including the estimated 11 million living in this country illegally, have lower crime rates than the native-born population.

“It is consistent with the campaign and also with the political tone of the executive orders he signed,” said Randy Capps, director of research at the Migration Policy Institute. “They are very clearly trying to highlight a criminal element that does exist in the unauthorized population. But they are implying it’s a broad population, when we believe it’s a narrow population from the statistics we’ve seen.”

Trump was joined several times on the campaign trail by family members of victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants, including “angel moms,” whose children had been killed. As president, Trump has pledged to raise their profiles, and the new DHS guidelines issued last week included a provision to create a new office to support such victims and their families.

“I want you to know – we will never stop fighting for justice,” Trump said Tuesday night, addressing his guests. “Your loved ones will never be forgotten, we will always honor their memory.”

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U.S. approves 3 types of genetically engineered potatoes

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 9:51pm

By Keith Ridler, The Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho — Three types of potatoes genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine are safe for the environment and safe to eat, federal officials announced.

The approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration late last week gives Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co. permission to plant the potatoes this spring and sell them in the fall.

The company said the potatoes contain only potato genes and that the resistance to late blight, the disease that caused the Irish potato famine, comes from an Argentine variety of potato that naturally produced a defense.

There is no evidence that genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs, are unsafe to eat, but changing the genetic code of foods presents an ethical issue for some. McDonald’s declines to use Simplot’s genetically engineered potatoes for its French fries.

The three new varieties of potato — the Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic — have previously been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They “have the same taste and texture and nutritional qualities” as conventional potatoes, Simplot spokesman Doug Cole said.

The company said they will have reduced bruising and black spots, enhanced storage capacity and a lower amount of a chemical that’s a potential carcinogen and is created when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures.

Conventional potatoes can turn a dark color when cooked after they were kept cold for too long, a problem the new varieties reduce, the company said. Simplot also said the enhanced cold storage will likely have significant ramifications for the potato chip industry by reducing trucking costs.

Potatoes are considered the fourth food staple crop in the world behind corn, rice and wheat. Late blight, which rotted entire crops and led to the deaths of about a million Irish in the 1840s, is still a major problem for potato growers, especially in wetter regions.

Fungicides have been used for decades to prevent the blight. Simplot says the genetically engineered potatoes reduce the use of fungicide by half.

The company also notes the potatoes contain no DNA from an unrelated organism.

The Non-GMO Project, which opposes GMOs and verifies non-GMO food and products, said the new potatoes don’t qualify as non-GMO.

“There is a growing attempt on the part of biotechnology companies to distance themselves from the consumer rejection of GMOs by claiming that new types of genetic engineering … are not actually genetic engineering,” the Washington state-based group said in a statement.

The most recent federal approvals apply to Simplot’s second generation of Innate potatoes. The first generation didn’t include protection from late blight or enhanced cold storage.

The first generation has been sold in stores under the White Russet label. Cole said the company hasn’t decided how it will market the new Innate potatoes.

It is also working on a third generation that Cole said will have protections against additional strains of late blight.

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Josh Fortune’s cold shooting dampens his senior season

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 9:43pm

BOULDER— Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. It’s part of both the allure and the disappointment that comes with major college athletics.

Josh Fortune has experienced his share of big moments during his two seasons on the floor with the Colorado Buffaloes. Unfortunately for Fortune and the Buffs, few of them have occurred during what has proved to be a trying senior season for the 3-point specialist.

Fortune, one of the Buffs’ four fifth-year seniors, is set to play his final two regular-season home games with CU, a run that begins Thursday night against Stanford (7 p.m., ESPN2). A former transfer from Providence, Fortune’s struggles throughout the 2016-17 season have not diminished his experience at CU.

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“I think my three years here was a great boost for me,” Fortune said. “I enjoyed it and I’ve met some great people. Great coaches. I’ve learned a lot here. I definitely can look back on it and say I had a great three years here.

“Every game we have is a battle you have to fight through. That’s one of the lessons we go through in games that transfer to real life situations. Life isn’t always easy.”

CU’s third-leading scorer a year ago when the Buffs reached the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons, Fortune was expected to excel in his sharpshooting role for a team that figured to once again reach college basketball’s Big Dance.

Read the rest at Buffzone.com

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AP FACT CHECK: Trump takes credit he hasn’t earned

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 9:34pm

By CALVIN WOODWARD and CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump boasted Tuesday night about corporate job expansion and military cost-savings that actually took root under his predecessor and gave a one-sided account of the costs and benefits to the economy from immigration — ignoring the upside.

A look at some of his claims in his prime-time speech to Congress:

TRUMP: “According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.”

THE FACTS: That’s not exactly what that report says. It says immigrants “contribute to government finances by paying taxes and add expenditures by consuming public services.”

The report found that while first-generation immigrants are more expensive to governments than their native-born counterparts, primarily at the state and local level, immigrants’ children “are among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the population.” This second generation contributed more in taxes on a per capita basis, for example, than did non-immigrants in the period studied, 1994-2013.

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The report found that the “long-run fiscal impact” of immigrants and their children would probably be seen as more positive “if their role in sustaining labor force growth and contributing to innovation and entrepreneurial activity were taken into account.”

___

TRUMP: “We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price” of the F-35 jet fighter.

THE FACTS: The cost savings he persists in bragging about were secured in full or large part before he became president.

The head of the Air Force program announced significant price reductions in the contract for the Lockheed F-35 fighter jet Dec. 19 — after Trump had tweeted about the cost but weeks before he met the company’s CEO about it.

Pentagon managers took action even before the election to save money on the contract. Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the aerospace consulting firm Teal Group, said there is no evidence of any additional cost savings as a result of Trump’s actions.

___

TRUMP: “Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart and many others have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.”

THE FACTS: It’s unlikely Trump is the sole or even primary reason for the expected hiring he cites. Many of the announcements reflect corporate decisions that predate his election.

In the case of Intel, construction of the Chandler, Arizona, factory referred to by Trump actually began during Barack Obama’s presidency. The project was delayed by insufficient demand for Intel’s high-powered computer chips, but the company now expects to finish the factory within four years because it anticipates business growth.

More important, even as some companies create jobs, others are laying off workers. The best measure of whether more jobs are actually being created is the monthly employment report issued by the Labor Department, which nets out those gains and losses. The department will issue its report for February, the first full month of Trump’s term, on March 10.

___

TRUMP: His budget plan will offer “one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.”

THE FACTS: Three times in recent years, Congress raised defense budgets by larger percentages than the $54 billion, or 10 percent, increase that Trump proposes. The base defense budget grew by $41 billion, or 14.3 percent, in 2002; by $37 billion, or 11.3 percent, in 2003, and by $47 billion, or 10.9 percent, in 2008, according to Defense Department figures.

___

TRUMP: “We will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.”

THE FACTS: Trump has provided little detail on how this would happen. Independent analyses of his campaign’s tax proposals found that most of the benefits would flow to the wealthiest families. The richest 1 percent would see an average tax cut of nearly $215,000 a year, while the middle one-fifth of the population would get a cut of just $1,010, according to the Tax Policy Center, a joint project by the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute.

___

TRUMP: “Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.”

THE FACTS: That’s true, but for the vast majority of them, it’s because they choose to be.

That 94 million figure includes everyone aged 16 and older who doesn’t have a job and isn’t looking for one. So it includes retirees, parents who are staying home to raise children, and high school and college students who are studying rather than working.

They are unlikely to work regardless of the state of the economy. With the huge baby-boomer generation reaching retirement age and many of them retiring, the population of those out of the labor force is increasing and will continue to do so, most economists forecast.

It’s true that some of those out of the workforce are of working age and have given up looking for work. But that number is probably a small fraction of the 94 million Trump cited.

___

TRUMP: “According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country. We have seen the attacks at home — from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon and yes, even the World Trade Center.”

THE FACTS: It’s unclear what Justice Department data he’s citing, but the most recent government information that has come out doesn’t back up his claim. Just over half the people Trump talks about were actually born in the United States, according to Homeland Security Department research revealed last week. That report said of 82 people the government determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to attempt or carry out an attack in the U.S., just over half were native-born citizens.

Even the attacks Trump singled out weren’t entirely the work of foreigners. Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his Pakistani wife killed 14 people in the deadly 2015 attack in San Bernardino, California, was born in Chicago.

It’s true that in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, the FBI’s primary concern was with terrorists from overseas feared to be plotting attacks in the United States. But that’s no longer the case.

The FBI and the Justice Department have been preoccupied with violent extremists from inside the U.S. who are inspired by the calls to violence and mayhem of the Islamic State group. The Justice Department has prosecuted scores of IS-related cases since 2014, and many of the defendants are U.S. citizens.

___

TRUMP: “Obamacare is collapsing … imploding Obamacare disaster.”

THE FACTS: There are problems with the 2010 health care law, but whether it’s collapsing is hotly disputed.

One of the two major components of the Affordable Care Act has seen a spike in premiums and a drop in participation from insurers. But the other component, equally important, seems to be working fairly well, even if its costs are a concern.

Trump and congressional Republicans want to repeal the whole thing, which risks leaving millions of people uninsured if the replacement plan has shortcomings. Some critics say GOP rhetoric itself is making things worse by creating uncertainty about the future.

The health law offers subsidized private health insurance along with a state option to expand Medicaid for low-income people. Together, the two arms of the program cover more than 20 million people.

Republican governors whose states have expanded Medicaid are trying to find a way to persuade Congress and the administration to keep the expansion, and maybe even build on it, while imposing limits on the long-term costs of Medicaid.

While the Medicaid expansion seems to be working, the markets for subsidized private health insurance are stressed in many states. Also affected are millions of people who buy individual policies outside the government markets, and face the same high premiums with no financial help from the health law.

Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation says “implosion” is too strong a term. An AP count found that 12.2 million people signed up for this year, despite the Trump administration’s threats to repeal the law.

But a health care blogger and industry consultant, Robert Laszewski, agrees with Trump, saying too few young, healthy people have signed up to guarantee the stability of the insurance markets.

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Find all AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd

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Associated Press writers Alicia A. Caldwell, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Eric Tucker and Jim Drinkard contributed to this report.

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How Colorado’s congressional delegation reacted to Donald Trump’s joint address

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 9:15pm

Donald Trump’s joint address to Congress outlined his priorities for his first year in office, recapping his first month in office and hitting controversial issues such as immigration, refugees and health care.

The president’s prime-time speech to a joint session Tuesday drew sharp reactions from Colorado’s delegation in Washington. Here’s what they said:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, Republican: “Tonight, President Trump outlined his plan to tackle our country’s challenges. I am encouraged that he prioritized strengthening our economy and boosting job creation as well as addressing our broken health care system. Equally as important, the president highlighted the increasingly complex security threats we’re facing around the globe, including Iran and ISIS. After eight years of a failed foreign policy that led to emboldened regimes and instability in the Middle East, it’s critical that the United States stands up to its adversaries and stands by its allies.”

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U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, Democrat: “I am pleased the president condemned the recent hate crimes and attacks on Jewish community centers and cemeteries. Such actions have no place in the United States or anywhere else.

“I have long said I will work with anyone to rebuild our infrastructure, fix our broken immigration system, educate our children, protect our environment, reduce our debt and repair our health care system. In the days ahead, I hope the president will start the hard work of building consensus and leave the campaign behind.”

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Windsor: “I’m eager to work with President Trump to advance conservative policy. Tonight he called for lower taxes for the middle class, a rollback of excessive regulations, a better health care system for Americans and safety and security for our communities. It’s time for America to once again be optimistic.”

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver: “For the past month, President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress have been giving us platitudes and promises, but no real plans on anything from health care to immigration to education and beyond.

“Meanwhile, the president’s actions speak louder than any number of grand pronouncements he made this evening. His draft budget is completely out of line with U.S. values and long-term interests. He talks about things that will be wildly expensive but then offers no way to pay for them but vague assurances of tax cuts. These things sound great in a speech, but the reality has set in: As president, you have to put in place workable policies.”

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez: “The president’s address was a reminder that America is strong when we stand together and work to achieve common goals. We all want a robust economy, affordable and accessible health care, safe communities and a better future for our kids. Tonight, the president laid out what his governing vision is for America — much of which Republicans in Congress have already started working on as part of our Better Way Agenda.”

U.S. Reps Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada: “Since taking office, President Trump and his administration have been focused on everything but the economy. Their initial unrealistic and harmful policies have created confusion and uncertainty. Many questions remain as to the direction the President intends to steer our country. …

“I believe we can find common ground with the White House and Congress on issues like infrastructure, tax reform, aerospace, and job creation. But I will continue to hold the administration accountable when their policies harm Colorado’s economy or infringe on the freedoms and values Coloradans cherish.”

U.S. Reps. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs and Jared Polis, D-Boulder, did not issue public statements immediately after the speech.

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Jets inform Darrelle Revis that he’s being released

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 9:08pm

NEW YORK — The New York Jets are moving on from one of the best players in their franchise’s history.

The team informed star cornerback Darrelle Revis on Tuesday that they are releasing him, ending his second tenure with the Jets — a two-year run that was marked by a stunning slip in play because of injuries and age.

Revis, 31, was scheduled to make $15 million, including a $2 million roster bonus, next season — but that would have been a lofty salary for an aging player who admittedly had a subpar year.

The move, which was expected, makes Revis a free agent while also clearing about $9.3 million on the salary cap.

The Jets still owe him $6 million as part of the $39 million in guarantees in the five-year, $70 million deal he signed with New York in 2015.

“Darrelle Revis is one of the greatest players to ever wear a Jets uniform,” owner Woody Johnson said in a statement . “His combination of talent, preparation and instincts is rare and helped him become one of the most dominant players of his generation.

“I appreciate Darrelle’s contributions to this organization and, wherever his career takes him, his home will always be here with the Jets.”

Revis is facing four felony counts, including aggravated assault and other charges alleging he was in a fight with two men on Feb. 12 in Pittsburgh. A pre-trial hearing will be held on March 15.

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A source with direct knowledge of the decision said Revis’ legal issues didn’t play a factor. Revis’ time with the Jets had long been assumed to be over because of his decline in play and the hefty contract.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not publicly discuss its decision-making process.

The Jets will not, according to the person, try to recoup any of the $6 million in guarantees as a result of Revis’ arrest. The team did its due diligence in reviewing the contract language, but ultimately decided to not go that route.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account , Revis said: “I can’t thank Woody Johnson and the entire Jets organization enough for taking a chance on me back in 2007. I played some of my greatest football in green and white. Jet Nation has always been behind me and teammates. Without all of you, there would be no Revis Island. I love you New York!!!!!!”

Revis established himself as one of the top players in franchise history after being drafted No. 14 overall in 2007, earning the nickname, “Revis Island” for his penchant for routinely shutting down opposing teams’ top receivers from Terrell Owens to Chad Johnson to Andre Johnson.

Opposing offenses would often game plan away from Revis’ side of the field as the cornerback dominated in coverage. He made four straight Pro Bowl appearances after his rookie season and was selected a first-team All-Pro three times in that stretch.

“Darrelle is the consummate professional and one of the greatest to ever play the cornerback position,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said in a statement.

Revis also gained a reputation for being a savvy businessman, who engaged in a handful of tough contract negotiations during his time in New York.

A torn knee ligament early in 2012 ended his season after just three games. It appeared to be the end of Revis’ time with the Jets as he was traded to Tampa Bay in 2013 to cap what had been a messy divorce filled with contract disputes.

He was released by the Buccaneers after that season, and signed by New York’s AFC East rival, New England — and helped the Patriots win the Super Bowl.

But New England declined a $20 million option for the following season, making Revis a free agent. New York jumped at the chance to reunite with Revis, signing him to a huge deal in March 2015 that was met by praise from Jets fans.

Revis played through a wrist injury that affected his ability to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage — a big part of his game — and led to a somewhat subpar performance in 2015, although he still made his seventh Pro Bowl.

He came to camp last summer a bit out of shape, and he then struggled throughout the season while appearing to be only a shell of his shutdown self. He allowed some big plays that once seemed unthinkable against him.

Revis blamed age and injuries on his decline, and even entertained the idea of perhaps switching to safety next season.

Revis was also, for the first time in his career, the target of regular criticism from some fans and media, who pointed out what was perceived to be a lack of effort on tackle attempts, as well as his work ethic and abilities.

“I think people don’t respect me enough, which is fine,” Revis told the AP in November. “I don’t know why, though, because the numbers are there. I’ve proven myself year in and year out for a number of years, and they’re not being respectful to that.”

Revis was largely a victim of his own greatness, setting the bar so high with stellar play for so long that any slip in his performance was noticeable — and surprising.

In an offseason in which the Jets have already parted ways with the likes of center Nick Mangold, kicker Nick Folk and right tackle Breno Giacomini, it was only a matter of time before New York made the inevitable move to release Revis.

“When you’re dealing with a player of Darrelle’s caliber, these decisions are extremely hard to make,” general manager Mike Maccagnan said in a statement. “We all have a great deal of respect for Darrelle and the significance of his time with the Jets cannot be overstated. He provided an example of how a pro should approach his craft and established his place in NFL history as one of the best at his position.”

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DCPA, rest of Denver’s theater community grapple with a lack of diversity

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 8:53pm

Metro Denver is diverse, but you wouldn’t know to look most arts organizations, their stages or their audiences.

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is worried enough about the problem — one faced by arts organizations across the country — that it has hired inclusivity specialist ArtEquity to help tackle a lack of diversity in both its ranks and patrons.

“The main reason behind that is to ensure we remain relevant to our community, which as you know is quickly evolving, ” DCPA spokeswoman Suzanne Yoe said.

For the next year — at least —  ArtEquity will observe DCPA to help it become more inclusive, extending beyond programming to creating a cultural shift within the organization itself.  It’s not the first time DCPA has taken on the diversity issue — it has an endowment for female playwrights, tries to lure new audiences with cheap tickets, and its programming is targeted toward millennials, LGBTQ, Latino, black and religious people.

This time, they’re focused on a lasting cultural shift that ArtEquity founder and director Carmen Morgan said will make recruiting, hiring and retaining employees from underrepresented communities much easier.

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“Once you have those perspectives around the table informing all of your programming through and through, your audience does shift,” she said.

Yoe said the DCPA is trying to retain its current patrons while also attracting more people from diverse communities, growing its core patron base. As of now, only about 15 percent of the center’s active ticketed patrons are nonwhite, compared with about 31 percent of Colorado’s overall population, according to 2015 Census data.

And now is a time when DCPA and other metro cultural institutions could use a broader base. Paid attendance in metro Denver’s cultural scene dropped 9 percent between 2013 and 2015.

The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District also is about to embark on an organization-wide audit as it updates policies and its culture to become more inclusive, executive director Deborah Jordy said. After the tax-collecting district was reauthorized by voters in November, SCFD also created a cultural inclusivity fund that, starting in 2019, will help fund organizations catering primarily to underserved communities, including ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, LGBT people and the elderly.

The Colorado Theater Guild recently created a diversity committee, pushing members to support local theater companies that represent underserved communities, including Su Teatro, The Source, Phamaly Theatre Company, And Toto too Theater Company and Theatre Esprit Asia.

“Denver is a very beautiful, diverse city,” said Deb Flomberg, president of the Colorado Theater Guild and co-executive director of the Equinox Theatre Company. “When you walk into most theaters, you’re not seeing that vast diversity represented.”

Although she attributed most of the recent push for diversity among local groups to the coming SCFD grant, she also said the theater community genuinely wants to better represent the city.

“The important thing is really just acknowledging that maybe we do have a problem,” she said. “But I look around and see so many people working actively to change it.”

But that’s easier said than done. Flomberg recounted a conversation she recently had with someone in the theater scene about how she’s trying to reach more people through her programming, but it’s just not coming together. “It’s great that you’re building the bridge,” he told her, “but we need to trust you before we step onto it.”

Even some minority theater companies struggle, said Arnold King, artistic associate at The Source, a black theater company, and technical director with Su Teatro, a Chicano theater company.

“There’s this sense of theater being this very elite thing that only the elite and mainstream go to,” King said. “People of color generally don’t think of theater as something even that’s made for them.”

While Su Teatro has maintained a diverse audience for years, he said black theater in Denver historically had a white audience. It wasn’t until recent years that more people of color began filling the seats at The Source.

“I attribute that to the communities of color finally catching on that there are stories that are culturally relevant to them out there from a lens that’s familiar to them,” King said. “Not a mainstream lens, but an actual minority lens.”

But for mainstream theater, King said continued barriers for minority groups include costs or a lack of stories that represent them.

If cultural organizations, particularly those in theater, aren’t talking about inclusivity, then they’ve been asleep for a while, ArtEquity’s Morgan said. Many organizations have a desire to be more diverse but simply don’t know where to start, she said.

“This is definitely a moment,” Morgan said. “It is absolutely going to be a point of historical reference without a doubt. It’s not just about Denver, it’s not just about where I’m at in L.A. It’s not just about Oakland. It’s not just about Chicago.”

Morgan listed three reasons for this push: First, the country is the most diverse than it’s ever been and has been pushing toward this since its inception. Second, inclusivity has been proved to be beneficial on the bottom line. And third, for some, it comes down to morality.

“People who are marching in the streets and who are showing up with their voices, for many of them, it is a moral imperative,” she said. “It is about their safety and lives and humanity and the safety and lives and humanity for those they love the most.”

Morgan has been working on inclusivity issues for more than 20 years and specifically with arts organizations for nine. Throughout her time with community organizing, which included knocking on doors, protests, direct action and litigation, she said arts has been the most influential in changing people’s opinions.

“I really feel that some of the challenges we are faced with right now nationally, this discourse of exclusion and this discourse of inclusion and the way many of us are hearing and watching polarizing dynamics of us/them,” she said. “We’ll always need hope and we’ll always need people’s hearts and minds to be pricked. Nothing does that like the arts.”

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Nikola Jokic records third triple-double as Nuggets score key road win over Chicago Bulls

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 8:36pm

CHICAGO — Nikola Jokic had already signed Serbian flags, doled out high-fives and flashed a wide grin to the portion of the United Center crowd that had come to celebrate him.

As he finally trotted to the locker room after the Nuggets’ 125-107 victory over the Chicago Bulls, he was stopped in the tunnel once more.

“Nikola, can I get a picture?” a young fan wearing Jokic’s No. 15 jersey asked.

The Nuggets prized young center obliged, of course. What was one more selfie?

“It was really nice to play in front of that crowd with their Serbian flags,” Jokic said. “It was a really good feeling for me.”

It seemed everyone wanted a piece of Jokic after the third triple-double of his career helped the Nuggets score a much-needed road victory.

“That’s the Nikola Jokic fans back in Denver have been waiting to see,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said.

More importantly, it was the kind of complete effort that Denver had been unable to produce since the all-star break. The Nuggets had dropped two of three since the break and had won just two of their previous 10 road games overall. And in the first half against the Bulls, they were dominated on the offensive glass by a 10-1 margin.

Then, the Nuggets flipped the script. Jokic reached the peak of his tour de force performance of 19 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in the third quarter, helping the Nuggets close on a 20-8 run to take a 91-83 lead.

The offensive rebound total for the Bulls in the third quarter: zero.

“It was a problem in the first half,” Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari said, who scored a game-high 22 points and was one of seven Nuggets players in double figures. “We knew we had to turn it around in order to win the game and we did.”

It helped that the Nuggets caught fire in the fourth quarter. They hit five 3-pointers in the first 4½ minutes of the period to push the lead to 21 points. The Nuggets finished 13-of-30 (43 percent) from 3-point range, extending their franchise record of consecutive games with at least 10 3-pointers to 11.

Chicago couldn’t muster a run in the face of that long-range display, particularly not with star Jimmy Butler being held to just eight points on 3-of-13 shooting.

“When we defend like that we’re a very good team,” Malone said.

Jokic appeared to have more energy from the start. He was encouraged by Malone in recent days to relax and play loose. Jokic responded by making his first four shots, including two 3-pointers, and had 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists by halftime.

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“I played the same way, but I maybe felt a little bit better shooting the ball,” said Jokic, who was 3-of-3 from 3-point range. “Then I started moving. That kind of game happens. I’ll forget about this game the same way I forget if I have four points. It’s the same thing. I’m just trying to win. That’s the only thing that matters.”

It was a night of responses for the Nuggets in a game that featured 17 lead changes through the first three quarters. Trailing 47-38 midway through the second quarter, Jamal Murray (nine first-half points) keyed a 17-4 run that helped Denver cut the lead to a single possession at halftime.

BOXSCORE: Nuggets 125, Bulls 107

The Bulls sprinted to an eight point lead early in the third quarter, sparked by a strong performance from reserve point guard Rajon Rondo. But Jokic kept responding. He had nine points and four assists in the quarter, pushing the Nuggets into the fourth quarter with the eight-point lead.

Then the Nuggets closed harder than Aroldis Chapman, the flame-throwing relief pitcher who helped deliver the Chicago Cubs a World Series title four months ago. Gallinari hit three 3-pointers in the opening four minutes of the fourth period.

The Nuggets kept cruising from there, and a key road trip in the chase of a playoff spot was off on the right, relaxed foot.

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Trump touts his actions since taking office in speech to Congress

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 8:18pm

By Sean Sullivan, Abby Phillip and Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post

In a wide-ranging speech covering his accomplishments since taking office, President Donald Trump delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, laying out the agenda for his presidency and, in broad terms, his vision for the country.

He touted “billions” in new investments by American companies in the weeks since his inauguration, seeking to highlight the actions his administration has taken to keep his campaign promises.

Trump highlighted new lobbying restrictions, and executive orders he put in place to reduce regulations, restart halted oil and gas pipelines, and crack down on illegal immigration.

“Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people,” Trump said, speaking before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night.

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He vowed to usher in “historic” tax reform, as he appeared to nod to a House Republican “border adjustment” plan, but did not explicitly endorse it.

“Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes – but when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them nothing or almost nothing,” said Trump.

The “border adjustment” is shorthand for a House GOP proposal to tax imports, which some Republicans oppose. Trump didn’t use those words in his address. But his remarks could be seen as a hopeful sign for those Republicans hoping he will back it unequivocally.

Trump’s comments were received with some bipartisan applause and some jeers from Democrats, especially during his mention of a lobbying restriction that some feel does not go far enough.

He also pressed his policies on immigration, including his controversial proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We want all Americans to succeed — but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law at our borders,” said Trump. “For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime.”

Trump challenged members of Congress who disagree with him: “I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?”

He did call for Republicans and Democrats to work toward reforming the immigration system into a merit-based program focused on the “well-being of American citizens.”

Trump argued that the country’s current focus on low-skilled immigration hurts American workers and strains the country’s finances.

The comments come hours after Trump said in a meeting with journalists that he would support comprehensive immigration reform efforts with a pathway to legalization for law abiding immigrants.

At his remarks before Congress, Trump did not specify the parameters of a compromise he would be willing to accept. But he outlined a preference for a system that favors immigrants who are able to support themselves financially.

“I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws,” Trump said.

Trump also vowed to take on “radical Islamic terrorism,” a divisive term that many have taken issue, arguing it unfairly singles out the Muslim religion.

He also pledged to announce new steps to bolster national security and “keep out those who would do us harm,” weeks after his executive order barring immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries was halted by a federal judge.

Pointing to statistics on terror convictions by foreigners from the Department of Justice, Trump said that it was “reckless” to allow foreigners into the country who could then perpetrate attacks on Americans.

“We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America – we cannot allow our Nation to become a sanctuary for extremists,” Trump said.

The comments drew mixed reaction from the gathered lawmakers.

Though Trump did not specifically mention the travel ban, he suggested that new efforts to put in place “improved vetting procedures” would be forthcoming.

He began the night by strongly denouncing recent threats to Jewish community centers across the country and condemned a recent attack on Indian immigrants in Kansas.

“We are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms,” Trump said.

His speech quickly turned, however, as he declared that the “earth shifted beneath our feet” in 2016 as he took a victory lap over his election victory and nodded to his signature campaign themes.

“The chorus became an earthquake – and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first,” said Trump.

He then began to list the steps his administration has taken since the Jan. 20 inauguration to fulfill the promises he made on the campaign trail.

The White House signaled to congressional Republicans Tuesday that Trump will not endorse specific policy ideas on at least a pair of issues that have sharply divided his party.

Trump’s team distributed talking points to Capitol Hill Republicans on Tuesday afternoon, sketching out a speech in which the president would emphasize his general positions on the economy, health care, education and foreign policy.

The talking points, however, did not offer any additional clarity on whether the president supports a “border adjustment” tax reform proposal and what his preferred road map to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act looks like – two things many Republican lawmakers are eager to hear.

Additionally, a top White House aide briefed GOP congressional staffers on the address, telling them not to expect specific policy endorsements on those fronts, according to a Republican in attendance who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The briefing was first reported by Politico.

The speech comes at a time when Republicans are looking for leadership through some political and policy thickets. On health care, tax reform and federal spending, GOP lawmakers hold differences of opinion that are obstructing passage of ambitious Republican policies, and so far Trump has shown little desire to referee those disputes openly.

The discord was on display as Trump prepared to deliver his prime-time speech. Many Republican members said this week that they are eager for Trump to provide clear marching orders and engage with them directly on his ambitious pledges.

The talking points, which were shared on condition of anonymity by two Republican recipients, including the person who attended the briefing, state: “Congress must repeal Obamacare and replace it with a system that expands choice, increases access and lowers costs.”

They also say that Americans with preexisting conditions must continue to have coverage; the public should have the freedom to purchase insurance in a national marketplace; and that “we must smooth the transition for Americans currently” in the health-care exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act.”

But there are competing ideas on Capitol Hill about how to repeal and replace the federal health-care law. And Trump is not expected to definitively resolve the disputes Tuesday night, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told the GOP staffers at the briefing, according to the person who attended.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The president intends to deliver “historic tax reform” and “fair trade,” according to the talking points. But they don’t state whether he explicitly supports the “border adjustment,” which is shorthand for a House GOP proposal to tax imports, which other Republicans oppose.

The president, according to the talking points, is also expected to mention education – “every child must have access to a quality education, no matter their Zip code” – and foreign policy – “We support NATO, but our partners must meet their financial obligations,” they say.

Democrats, meanwhile, are using the address as an opportunity to take fresh aim at Trump’s agenda, which has stoked controversy and drawn fierce protests across the country. They are focusing particularly closely on the president’s efforts to undo key parts of the Affordable Care Act and his hard-line policies on immigration and border security.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), who has been on the aisle of the House chamber for every presidential address to Congress for nearly three decades, announced on the House floor Tuesday that he has “decided not to stand on aisle of the House chamber to shake the president’s hand” this time. He said he made his decision because the administration has shown “no interest” in working with Congress to address the country’s problems.

Democratic leaders have selected former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear to deliver the official response to Trump’s speech. Supporters of the ACA have often pointed to Kentucky as a model for successful implementation of the law.

“So far, every Republican idea to ‘replace’ the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of Americans covered, despite promises to the contrary,” Beshear plans to say, according to excerpts of his speech released Tuesday evening.

Astrid Silva, an immigration activist and a “dreamer,” will deliver the Spanish-language response to Trump’s speech.

The lack of direction from the new president – who is defining his own brand of Republicanism – is making it harder for Hill Republicans to coalesce around the specifics of their own priorities.

One big area of dissonance is the health-care system, where House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has outlined a series of potential changes to the ACA that have so far failed to unite the rank and file. Replacing Obamacare has been a signature campaign promise for congressional Republicans over the seven years since it was enacted.

“We’re doing this step by step,” Ryan said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today” show. “This is how the legislative process is supposed to be designed. We’re not hatching some bill in a backroom and plopping it on the American people’s front door.”

Among the possibilities being floated are replacing Obama-era tax subsidies – which phase out for wealthier Americans – with age-adjusted tax credits available to all individuals regardless of income. The Ryan plan also targets the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, ramping it down over a series of years in a plan that could possibly grandfather in low-income individuals who now use the program for coverage.

“The draft proposals are proposals that have been created by a consensus in the Senate and the House,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “We’ve had a bicameral working group for more than a month.”

But that consensus did not include a trio of conservative senators known for bucking party leaders. Nor did it include the heads of influential groups of House conservatives.

“Conservatives are for complete repeal,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). He said the emerging plan in the House is “incomplete repeal,” which he would vote against.

Paul exited a Senate GOP policy lunch alongside Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), who have also called for a sweeping repeal of the law.

“I think rolling out a massive new entitlement program is not the right way to go,” Cruz said when asked about the idea of tax credits. Cruz said he would wait to see the final details of the plan before assessing it.

House conservative leaders said Monday that they were dismayed by aspects of the GOP leadership plan – including the tax credits and a proposal to pay for them by rolling back the existing income tax deduction for employer-provided insurance.

“The way it’s put forth would actually take the number of tax credits from 9.5 million people that get a subsidy today and potentially increase it to 40 million people,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. “We’re going to pay for that by putting a tax on union workers and middle-class workers that happen to have good employer insurance. That dog doesn’t hunt.”

Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the larger Republican Study Committee, said Monday he saw “serious problems” with the current plan and could not recommend that his group’s members support it, saying it “risks continuing major Obamacare entitlement expansions and delays any reforms.”

“We’ve got to have more information,” he said in an interview. “As it stands right now, we have a real problem with the Medicaid expansion” that he believes would be phased out too slowly.

Republicans were equally fractured over the first elements of Trump’s spending plans. Many Republicans cheered a budget skeleton sketched out Monday by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney that would add $54 billion in defense spending while cutting the same amount from nondefense programs.

The general plan was in line with GOP pledges and marks the beginning of a months-long process to hammer out the final numbers. Yet budget and defense hawks, as well as appropriators, all raised concerns about the details.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) dismissed the budget proposal Monday as an insufficient step toward Trump’s pledge to shore up the military.

“With a world on fire, America cannot secure peace through strength with just 3 percent more than President Obama’s budget,” McCain said in a statement. “We can and must do better.”

Some GOP appropriators, meanwhile, questioned whether nondefense cuts of that scale would be feasible.

“There is more to our government than just defense,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development. “What are you going to do, go out and cut half of [National Institutes of Health] funding? That’s pretty popular not only in Congress but around the country.”

The early spending outline also crashed into concerns from conservatives who worried that Trump was focused on cutting spending from the relatively small pool of discretionary spending rather than concentrating on overhauling costly entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Those two mandatory programs made up nearly $1.5 trillion in federal spending last year. The nondefense programs targeted by Trump cost $600 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Ryan has pledged to separately target Medicaid, which cost $588 billion last year. But that program pales in comparison to the long-term cost of administering the programs Trump has vowed to protect.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stoked those concerns Sunday when he said entitlement cuts were off the table in the upcoming spending blueprint.

“We are not touching those now,” Mnuchin said in an interview on Fox News. “We are very focused on other aspects and that’s what’s very important to us. And that’s the president’s priority.”

Republicans in Congress have largely dismissed Trump’s pledge not to touch the programs. Many say Trump actually intends to support their plans for reform. Ryan suggested Tuesday that Trump agreed with his own assessment that Social Security and Medicare would ultimately have to be rolled back for younger Americans. “I believe he does,” he said on NBC.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said Tuesday that he expects that Trump will turn his attention to a long debate on entitlements sometime after this budget is complete.

“You can’t have someone who has just been in office for six weeks deciding on major things,” Enzi said. “It has to be part of a national discussion.”

The Washington Post’s Kelsey Snell contributed to this report.

 

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Littleton middle schoolers learn about challenges of growing old, if just for a few minutes

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 8:10pm

For a few minutes Tuesday, 12-year-old Diego Gordon suffered from cataracts, hearing distortion, painful neuropathy in his feet and arthritis in his hands.

In other words, Diego got old.

“I think it was kind of hard,” Diego said. “I couldn’t see too well, and when I tried to button a shirt, I couldn’t feel the fabric. And when I tried to pour water, I couldn’t see where the water was.”

The Golden Years didn’t treat Kia Kamm, 12, much better.

“The sounds were blasting in my ears and it was hard to concentrate,” Kia said. “It was a lot harder than I thought it would be.”

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostKia Kamm, 12, tries to write a letter as she performs one of 6 tasks during a 6 minute exercise to experience what it is like to live as an elderly patient battling dementia, arthritis, deafness, and other age related ailments on Feb. 28, 2017 in Littleton.

That was the whole point of a unique demonstration at Highline Place, an Anthem Memory Care community in Littleton. Diego and Kia were among a group of students from Options Middle School who experienced the woes of age-related ailments through a program sponsored by SYNERGY HomeCare.

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“What do seniors go through?” Kim Paul asked the eight students, who are starting as volunteers at Highline Place. To become good helpers, they should understand that normal, everyday activities they take for granted become much harder as they get older, said Paul, director of community outreach for SYNERGY.

“What happens when you can’t hear as well, and when you won’t walk as well?” Paul said. “Maybe when you see someone moving more slowly, maybe you will become more sensitive to what they are going through?”

The students were fitted with bulky gloves that modeled neuropathy, arthritis and other movement-related ailments. They put on glasses to mimic blurred eyesight and a limited field of vision caused by cataracts, glaucoma and degeneration. And they put on thick headphones that created hearing impairment and sound distortion.

Then they were told to button a shirt, put pills in a pill dispenser, make a bed, pour water in a glass, write a letter and arrange dishes on a table.

“For a lot of the students, this will give them a little insight into what their grandparents and other older loved ones might be experiencing,” Paul said.

The students went through the same training as new staff members at Highline Place, where residents suffer some form of dementia, said Jodi Cornman, Highline’s community relations director.

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostNico Quintana, 12, tires to put pills into a box as he performs one of 6 tasks during a 6 minute exercise to experience what it is like to live as an elderly patient battling dementia, arthritis, deafness, and other age related ailments at Anthem Memory Care’s Highline Place on Feb. 28, 2017 in Littleton.

Ages of the residents range from 60 to 105, Cornman said.

“I think this will help them understand a little better about some people are going through,” she said. “And they are enthusiastic and ready to learn.”

Volunteering at Highline Place is part of a community service venture the students at Options began late last year, said Options school psychologist Therese Hustis.

“They are very excited about this and committed to helping,” she said.

As far as growing old, it’s not something Diego is looking forward to but not necessarily dreading.

“It’s just something you deal with,” he said.

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Avalanche quiet on all fronts in Philadelphia

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 7:49pm

PHILADELPHIA — On the eve of the NHL trade deadline Tuesday, the last-place Avalanche was quiet — much like the players’ sleep-walking first period at the Wells Fargo Center.

Nobody was moved on the trade front, and nobody played well early in a 4-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, who led 3-0 midway through the first period.

“It wasn’t on my mind,” Avs captain Gabe Landeskog said postgame of Wednesday’s 1 p.m. trade deadline. “This has been talked about for months now, and obviously it’s so close now it could be a distraction. We’re all professional and we know what we have to do out there. We just weren’t sharp enough the first 10 minutes of the game.”

Center Matt Duchene, who like Landeskog might be traded for top young prospects and draft picks, also said the deadline had nothing to do with the team’s start.

“When you’re playing meaningless games, and we’ve been playing meaningless games since December, (being traded) is something that kind of creeps up on you at times,” Duchene said. “But I can say I wasn’t thinking about it during the game, or during my preparation. You have to be a good pro and tune that stuff out. I was doing my best to do that and it had no bearing tonight.”

The downtrodden Avs (17-41-3), who are scheduled to begin practice Wednesday in Kanata, Ontario, at the time the deadline passes, found a way to further stamp themselves as one of the worst teams in recent years by digging themselves a 3-0 hole just 10:35 into the game.

The Flyers scored on journeyman goalie Jeremy Smith while the game’s first two penalties were being served. During a wretched Colorado power play, Philly scored on a 3-on-1 shorthanded rush. Soon after, the Flyers capitalized on their first power play to make it 3-0.

“They got that first one on the PK and it deflated us a little bit, got us on our heels,” Duchene said. “After that, I thought we were pretty good.”

Wayne Simmonds appeared to complete a natural hat trick (three consecutive goals) with that power play. He celebrated, thinking the goal was his. The referees, however, didn’t believe Simmonds successfully swatted the puck into the net after it caromed off Avalanche defenseman Francois Beauchemin, and the official scorer felt the same.

So the hundreds of hats thrown onto the ice were all for naught, and led to the booing of Jakub Voracek when the right winger was announced as the official goal scorer. During the first intermission, Voracek apologized for taking credit for the goal and hoped the crowd would never boo him again.

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The Avs had plenty chances to forge a comeback, particularly when Mikko Rantanen was hooked from behind on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. But Rantanen did not get a shot off on goalie Steve Mason and the Flyers later took a 4-0 lead on Jordan Weal’s first career goal.

Colorado continues its three-game road trip Thursday at Ottawa.

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Amid effort to modernize public records laws, Colorado attorney general pushes for more privacy

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 7:46pm

In behind-the-scenes negotiations on a bill designed to make government more transparent in the digital age, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s office offered a series of amendments that could dramatically expand the types of records that can be hidden from public view.

The draft proposal, obtained by The Denver Post, would add a new exemption to Colorado’s Open Records Act to allow the government to withhold “any personal identifying information” for people who are not public employees — including something as simple as a name, phone number or address.

Open-records advocates and some state officials say that could allow the government to withhold or redact countless records currently considered public, including property or business records, or the names of people who communicate or do business with public officials. Even something as simple as a publicly available building permit often includes the name and phone number of a private citizen.

“I think it raises questions about whether those databases, those public records would still be available,” said Jeff Roberts, the executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, which has been pushing the legislation. “I don’t want to limit the availability of public records. That’s not the point of what we are trying to accomplish.”

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“Could you look up to see if your doctor has a license or your lawyer has a license? I don’t know,” said Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert, whose office has supported the legislative effort.

Coffman’s proposed amendments could make it harder to determine who is communicating with public officials — a standard open-records request made by journalists and others — by requiring the redaction of names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

The changes were suggested in February to a twice-delayed bill that would require government record custodians to provide digital records in a “structured, searchable format” — a spreadsheet, for example, if the original record is a database. It’s scheduled for a hearing Wednesday before the Senate State Affairs committee.

A spokeswoman for the office of Coffman, a Republican, issued a statement defending the amendments as a necessary privacy precaution, citing the possibility of identity theft.

“Our office supports the modernization of CORA, but it is also vitally important that our citizens’ personal and confidential information remain protected,” spokeswoman Annie Skinner said in the statement.

The bill as introduced does not make any new records open to the public — it only addresses the format of the records. And many confidential personal records, such as Social Security numbers, already are barred from disclosure.

Asked for specific examples of records currently considered public that Coffman considers a violation of privacy, Skinner reiterated the initial statement and did not address The Post’s questions.

Today, government agencies in Colorado don’t have to provide public databases in a digital format. The issue gained attention in 2015 because of a records dispute between The Fort Collins Coloradoan and Colorado State University, which refused to provide details on pay raises for 4,800 employees in a digital format. Instead, CSU provided more than 100 pages of paper documents, a format that made it difficult for the paper to analyze for its investigation on pay equity at the public university.

“Providing public records in a paper format is not, to me, government that’s being accountable, transparent and efficient,” said state Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, one of Senate Bill 40‘s two lead sponsors.

Kefalas in 2016 introduced a bill that died in committee. A new version emerged this year after months of meetings that included lawmakers, state officials and open-records advocates.

Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams helped convene the stakeholder group, and he supports the version Kefalas introduced. Staiert said Williams’ office would still support it with the attorney general’s changes, but they “complicate” things.

Staiert said she received the proposed amendments from Coffman’s office on Feb. 15 — two weeks after the bill was first scheduled for a hearing. Members of the bipartisan coalition who thought they had come to a consensus are scrambling to find a new compromise.

Some of the exemptions had come up during the stakeholder meetings, but they weren’t seriously considered, she said. “We weren’t doing a rewrite of CORA,” she said. “We were just doing a method to deliver documents in a more usable format.”

Top Republicans in the GOP-led Senate are raising their own tangential concerns.

Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg is worried about “a terrorist plot” if drawings and details of infrastructure facilities, such as dams, were released. That’s even though the bill does not change what is accessible — only the format of how it is accessed by records requesters.

So far, Sonnenberg said he can’t find a compromise — and as a member of the committee scheduled to hear the bill Wednesday, he’s a no vote.

Meanwhile, Kefalas last week expressed concern that if new exemptions are added to CORA, it would derail the bill, because it would lose the support of open-records advocates. And, he suggested Coffman would play a key role in helping or hindering the bill’s advance.

“Having the attorney general either neutral or on board would go a long way, there’s no question,” Kefalas said. “They’ve been influencing this process. … Some of this is at the last minute, and it makes it harder.”

Kefalas said he did not expect the most controversial provisions to be introduced as a formal amendment in Wednesday’s committee hearing. But, he added, the issue could resurface if the bill advances.

If the bill ultimately fails, citizens groups may take matters into their own hands and run a ballot initiative — and such an effort would probably go further than the Kefalas proposal.

“We are seriously weighing it as an option,” said Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute. “It would probably address several issues, if we’re going to go through all that trouble to do it.”

Staff writer John Frank contributed to this report.

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Range war erupts for northern Colorado home-sale listings

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 7:25pm

As if buying and selling homes in Colorado isn’t tough enough, two northern Front Range real estate listing services will stop sharing data this week.

REcolorado, which provides real estate listings for metro Denver, will stop sharing data on Thursday with IRES MLS, the listing venue for Boulder, Greeley, Longmont, Loveland and Fort Collins.

The fallout comes after Loveland-based IRES rejected what it viewed as an unsolicited and one-sided takeover bid from Denver-based REcolorado. But REcolorado viewed the offer as more than fair and in the best interest of the northern Front Range real estate community.

“Our vision is very simple. It is one Front Range MLS owned by Realtor associations,” said Kirby Slunaker, president and CEO of REcolorado, the state’s largest multiple listing service. (MLS)

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Lauren Hansen, CEO of IRES, said its backers in northern Colorado don’t dispute that consolidation is the way to go. But the structure proposed wasn’t right, she said.

“Without a doubt it was a bold move. But it wasn’t a match for us. Let’s think about this carefully and see where we want to go,” she said of the conversation within the IRES board.

IRES instead has proposed a “Colorado Conversation” to bring the dozen listing services in the state to the table and chart a path forward. It has offered to provide $50,000 in travel stipends so representatives from smaller services can afford to attend.

“We believe that more players need to be at the table. This is bigger than IRES and REcolorado,” she said.

Slunaker said unifying listing services along the northern Front Range first makes the most sense given how interconnected the region is becoming. Also, he said, decades of talks followed by inaction has allowed outside competitors like Zillow.com to win over the consumer home search market.

Hansen called ending data sharing an extreme move. Sharing all listings in a common data bucket that local services could draw from is one of the scenarios that should be explored, she said.

Consumers shouldn’t see any changes when they go online to search for home. But a lack of data sharing will complicate life for the real estate brokers and appraisers who pay for one listing service yet frequently work in communities that cross listing borders, places like Broomfield, Lafayette, Windsor, Dacono and Thornton.

Slunaker argues that sharing data was a stop-gap that wasn’t working. As proof, he cites the more than 1,200 subscribers who spent around $500,000 a year in extra fees to use both systems, which they wouldn’t have to do if sharing offered a real solution.

In the interim, the two systems will compete for subscribers. REcolorado will offer users in northern Colorado who aren’t already on its system access to its listings for six months at no cost. IRES is responding by waiving initiation fees for its service on top of a 14-day trial offer.

Another point of contention was who had the better digital platform.

“Our system is built from the ground up. It is a custom system and Colorado borne. The platform they are on is no match,” said Hansen.

Slunaker countered that the technology REcolorado relies on is used by 18 of the 25 largest listing services in the country. It receives continuous investment and upgrades, unlike the web application that powers the IRES system.

The real issue, however, remains about control, and who will have it. With four times the subscribers, REcolorado has a built-in advantage in calling the shots under any merger.

Hansen said IRES still wants to hold a statewide conference to discuss the best path forward. And Slunaker said REcolorado still wants to join forces with IRES, first and foremost.

“Our offer to IRES is still on the table,” he said.

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Wickstrom: Colorado’s Front Range lakes produce some of the biggest walleye in the world

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 7:21pm

Even the recent cold snap has not diminished the growing “cabin fever” of open water anglers on Colorado’s Front Range. While ice fishing opportunities will exists in the high country for several weeks and fly anglers have been plying the tail waters all winter, the Front Range lakes are ice free and the annual walleye spawn is approaching. Couple this with the imminent opening of the boat ramps on Chatfield, Cherry Creek and Boyd reservoirs, and you have what can be one of the most popular and exciting fishing opportunities in the state.

Guides Dan Swanson from Fishful Thinker and Nate Zelinsky from Tightline Outdoors joined me on my radio show Saturday to talk how they approach fishing Front Range lakes for spring walleyes.

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Both felt that even with the recent cold weather the spawn would start early.  Swanson felt there was an already excellent night time opportunity from shore on many local reservoirs. Zelinsky liked the early slower warm up because it spread the spawning activity across a couple months allowing him to target fish in different stages of the spawn for a longer period of time.

While this period can be an opportunity for the largest walleye of the season or possibly your life, it can also be a frustrating time. Weather, moon phases and other factors have a much greater impact during the spring. One time you might get only three bites but they might all be trophy fish. The next outing or two may result in no action at all, to be followed the next day by a 10-fish day but none over 20 inches.

Both suggested fishing the riprap, gravel and rock areas for the pre-spawn fish. The aggressive males will show up first and be easiest to catch. Swanson compared them to a bunch of teenage boys. The larger females will stage in deep water nearby and typically move up shallow to feed at night. A favorite presentation we agreed upon: cast suspending jerk baits like the Berkley Cutter up shallow. The key is to make subtle movements and let the lure pause and suspend for an excruciatingly long time. Trolling deep, during the day, with a stick bait and lead core line is also effective. Swanson said he would work the riprap across from the marina at Boyd Reservoir and Zelinsky liked Cherry Creek during the day and Chatfield at night during this early period. For more detailed information follow the podcast links below.

No matter how you approach the walleye spawn don’t get frustrated. Fishing for big fish is not easy, but the rewards can be incredible.  Colorado’s Front Range lakes produce some of the biggest walleye in the world during this period. The state record, caught in the spring, was over 18 pounds. Zelinsky’s crew has seen fish pushing 17 pounds and the three of us combined have caught hundreds of trophy-size walleyes during this time of the year.

Note: Nate Zelinsky will be guest hosting my radio show Saturday, March 4th from 8 to 10 a.m. on 104.3 The Fan while I am on assignment.

For information on state park park boat ramp openings go to: http://cpw.state.co.us/ .

To hear my full interview with Dan Swanson click on the link below.

To hear my full interviews with Nate Zelinsky click on the link below

Follow Terry on Facebook at Terry Wickstrom Outdoors.

Join Terry every Saturday at 8 a.m. for all your outdoor information on Terry Wickstrom Outdoors on FM 104.3 The Fan.

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Ian Desmond shows some growing pains at first base for Rockies

Denver Post Local News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 7:03pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Manager Bud Black has a favorite saying: “Every day is a test.”

And Tuesday’s test didn’t go very well for Ian Desmond, the all-star shortstop and outfielder who is making the conversion to first base for the Rockies.

As Black noted, “It’s not even March 1  … I feel really confident that he’s going to be a really good defender.”

Understandably, Desmond is still rough around the edges at his new position. Tuesday, he had a chance to pull off a snazzy double play in the third inning on a grounder by the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Chase Utley. Desmond picked the ball cleanly, made a nice pivot toward second base, but unleashed a high throw and was charged with an error. In the fifth, Desmond failed to make a scoop on an infield throw, extending the Dodgers’ five-run frame.

“He fielded the ball great on the groundball and just rushed the throw,” Black said. “We work day in and day out on balls in the dirt and he just missed that throw. Ian had some plays to make and didn’t make them, but again, he’ll get to make more plays in the field and he’ll get comfortable.”

Dahl update. Outfielder David Dahl will be sidelined for the next few days with back soreness, Black said Tuesday morning.

Dahl, who is competing with Gerardo Parra for the starting job in left field, was scratched from the lineup on Monday and did not suit up Tuesday.

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“It will be fine,” Dahl said before he went into the training room to receive treatment on his back.

Said Black: “I don’t think it’s too big of a deal, but you probably won’t see him for the next few days. It’s been ongoing. I don’t think it was a one-time event. It was a gradual sort of soreness. He’ll be fine.”

Lyles struggles: Former starter Jordan Lyles is trying to secure a place in Colorado’s bullpen, but he struggled Tuesday against the Dodgers. The right-hander was charged with five earned runs in one inning, giving up home runs to Andre Ethier and O’Koyea Dickson.

“The ball to Ethier was intended to go inside and it came back over the plate,” Black said. “He was just up overall today. The fastball was elevated and it didn’t look like it had the crispness it had a couple of days ago.”

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