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Rockies’ struggles continue with loss at San Diego

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 8:50pm

SAN DIEGO — Another night, another offensive star for the Padres and another loss for the Rockies.

Hunter Renfroe doubled twice and hit a solo home run in the first five innings, and then drew a walk ahead of Manuel Margot’s go-ahead, two-run homer off Colorado reliever Jairo Diaz as the Padres defeated Colorado 8-5, dealing the fading Rockies their fifth consecutive loss.

It was the third career game with three extra-base hits for Renfroe, who also blasted three homers in a June 15 win at Coors Field. He scored four of San Diego’s eight runs Saturday night, with Margot driving him in three times in a 3-for-4 effort.

For Colorado, a nightmare road trip continued. The Rockies have dropped the first five contests of this six-game swing through Houston and San Diego. Only Sunday’s matinee at Petco Park stands between the Rockies and a winless jaunt away from Coors Field.

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Down 5-3 entering the seventh, Colorado rallied with catcher Chris Iannetta opening the inning with a double. Pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso followed by sending a 1-2 pitch from Padres reliever Craig Stammen just over the right-field wall to tie the game at 5.

It was Alonso’s second career pinch-hit home run and his second for the Rockies since he joined the team July 23. It was also his 99th career home run.

With Alonso’s longball, Colorado had rallied from a 5-2 hole that was created by San Diego’s three-run, fifth-inning outburst at the expense of Rockies starter Chi Chi Gonzalez.

Tied 2-2 heading into the fifth, Josh Naylor started the San Diego uprising with a one-out double. It marked the fourth consecutive plate appearance in which Naylor reached safely against the Rockies, following a home run Friday night and two walks to open the game Saturday.

Manny Machado followed with an RBI double to give the Padres a 3-2 lead and snap a personal 0-for-19 skid at the plate, which tied the longest hitless string of his career.

After Gonzalez got Eric Hosmer to ground out to second, Renfroe followed with an RBI double and Margot topped off the inning with an RBI single.

Gonzalez allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings. Both represented season highs for the 27-year-old right-hander.

Yonathan Daza and Raimel Tapia flashed their skills at the plate early and gave the Rockies an early advantage. In the second inning, the young duo combined to give Colorado its first lead since the first inning of Thursday’s series opener.

Tapia lined a two-out double to right-center field, and Daza followed with a single to center to plate Tapia and log his first major-league RBI, staking the Rockies to a 1-0 advantage.

But it didn’t take long for San Diego to answer. Renfroe opened the bottom of the second inning with a double, and Margot followed with a single and moved to second on Charlie Blackmon’s overthrow. Luis Urias then grounded out to second to score Renfroe and tie the game.

Nolan Arenado gave the Rockies the 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning with his 26th home run of the season. Colorado’s all-star third baseman turned on a 3-2 changeup from San Diego starter Chris Paddack and blasted it 399 feet into the second deck of the Western Metal Supply warehouse beyond the left-field fence.

But the Padres once again had a quick response to Colorado’s lead. Renfroe led off the bottom of the fourth with his 31st homer of the year. The solo shot was the 300th hit and 200th RBI of his career and knotted the game at 2.

Arenado added an RBI single on a misplayed, two-out flyball in the top of the sixth inning.

Colorado Rockies
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Rubio, Acosta lead Rapids to 2-1 win over Earthquakes

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 8:42pm

COMMERCE CITY — Diego Rubio had a goal and an assist and the Colorado Rapids beat the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 on Saturday night.

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Epstein suicide sparks fresh round of conspiracy theories

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 8:29pm

Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide Saturday morning in a federal jail launched new conspiracy theories online in a saga that has provided fodder for them for years, fueled by Epstein’s ties to princes, politicians and other famous and powerful people.

Online theorists Saturday quickly offered unsubstantiated speculation — including some retweeted by President Donald Trump — that Epstein’s death wasn’t a suicide, or it was faked.

That chatter picked up on the conjecture that resurged after Epstein’s July 6 arrest on allegations that he orchestrated a sex-trafficking ring designed to bring him teenage girls. Some of his accusers have described being sexually abused by the wealthy financier’s friends and acquaintances.

The combination created fertile ground for theories and misinformation to breed on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Epstein, 66, had been denied bail and faced up to 45 years behind bars on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges unsealed last month. He had pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial next year.

His relationships with President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew were at the center of those online rumors and theories, many of which question what politicians knew about Epstein’s alleged sex crimes.

Others theories, however, have been easily debunked.

For example, days after his arrest online memes and Facebook statuses wrongly claimed the Obama administration, in order to protect former President Clinton, forged a once-secret deal in 2008 in Florida that allowed him to plead guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution to avoid more serious charges. The deal was actually executed before President Barack Obama took office , under former President George W. Bush.

Meanwhile, a manipulated photo , shared by thousands on Twitter and Facebook, falsely claimed to show Epstein with Trump and a young Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.

Both Clinton and Trump have denied being privy to Epstein’s alleged scheme.

Clinton spokesman Angel Ureña said the former president “knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York.” He said that, in 2002 and 2003, Clinton took four trips on Epstein’s plane with multiple stops and that staff and his Secret Service detail traveled on every leg.

Trump has acknowledged knowing Epstein but said he “had a falling out with him a long time ago.”

Other Epstein theories floating online have been darker, especially after Epstein was found injured on the floor of his cell last month with bruises on his neck. Some online commentators described it as a “murder attempt.”

“Men in high places want Epstein dead,” one Twitter use wrote.

Hours after Epstein’s death Saturday, as the hashtag #EpsteinMurder was trending worldwide on Twitter, the president joined Twitter speculation around Epstein’s death while under the federal government’s watch.

Trump, who rose to conservative prominence by falsely claiming Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., retweeted unsubstantiated claims about Epstein’s death.

Other politicians also took to social media to question the circumstances.

Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the state where some of Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse crimes took place, suggested the possibility that others might have been involved in Epstein’s death when he called on corrections officials to explain what happened at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

“The Federal Bureau of Prisons must provide answers on what systemic failures of the MCC Manhattan or criminal acts allowed this coward to deny justice to his victims,” he tweeted.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now an attorney for Trump, tweeted out several questions about Epstein’s death.

“Who was watching? What does camera show? … Follow the motives” Giuliani tweeted Saturday afternoon.

The FBI and the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General will investigate the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death, Attorney General William Barr said.

“Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr said in a news release.

Epstein’s suicide was likely recorded by jail cameras, according to Preet Bharara, the former federal prosecutor in Manhattan.

“One hopes it is complete, conclusive, and secured,” he tweeted.

Epstein’s arrest last month launched separate investigations into how authorities handled his case initially when similar charges were first brought against him in Florida more than a decade ago. U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned last month after coming under fire for overseeing that deal when he was U.S. attorney in Miami.

Epstein’s lawyers maintained that the new charges in New York were covered by the 2008 plea deal and that Epstein hadn’t had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his 13-month sentence in Florida.

___

Klepper reported from Albany, New York. Seitz, a member of the AP’s Fact Check team, reported from Chicago.

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Mets minor leaguer Tim Tebow to miss rest of season with cut hand

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 7:13pm

NEW YORK — Mets minor leaguer and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is expected to miss the rest of the season due to a cut on his left hand.

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The 31-year-old Tebow hit .163 in 77 games during his first season with Triple-A Syracuse but hasn’t played since July 21 after injuring himself fielding a ball in the outfield. The laceration required several stitches. Syracuse’s regular season ends Sept. 2.

This is the second straight year Tebow’s season will end prematurely. The outfielder missed the final two months of 2018 because of a broken bone in his right hand.

The 2007 Heisman Trophy-winner is in his third year of professional ball and first in Triple-A after a three-year stint at quarterback in the NFL. He has batted .223 with 18 homers in 287 minor league games.

Newsday first reported that Tebow would miss the rest of 2019.

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Rockies manager Bud Black can still find bright side

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 5:29pm

SAN DIEGO — Since Petco Park opened in 2004, the Padres have had just three games rained out. Saturday night once brought another beautiful Southern California evening for baseball when the Rockies and Padres continued their four-game series.

However, despite the typical sunny weather, it feels like the clouds are just hovering overhead for the Rockies. Statistically and record-wise, Colorado is mired in one of the worst prolonged stretches in team history.

Since June 21, which began a series of three consecutive walk-off losses to the Dodgers in Los Angeles, the Rockies are 12-30. That equates to a .285 winning percentage, which would play out to a 46-116 record over a 162-game schedule.

During that time, Colorado’s pitchers overall have posted a 6.24 ERA, and its relievers have allowed 45 percent of inherited runners to score.

On the offensive side, things have not been much better during that stretch. The Rockies are slashing .257/.310/.435 while averaging 4.4 runs per contest. For the season overall,  Colorado is seventh in Major League Baseball in runs scored with 611 runs. That breaks out to 5.27 per game.

At 52-64 overall, Colorado was a season-low 12 games under .500 entering Saturday night’s game. That’s the most games the Rockies have been below .500 since finishing the season at 75-87 in 2016 under manager Walt Weiss.

Colorado manager Bud Black is well aware of the frustration among his players. He is also aware of what would solve it.

“What diffuses it is guys getting some hits and relaxing, pitchers making pitches and ultimately getting some wins,” Black said. “Through that, however, you can still enjoy this game through the competition. Sometimes it’s hard to win a game. We’re going through that stretch now where it’s hard for us. It’s been a long stretch of hard.”

Black is standing by his players and believes that good things are still to come in a season when a third consecutive postseason berth is virtually impossible.

“Our group is such that we’ve come out of it before,” Black said. “The last couple of years, we’ve had some bad stretches, we’ve come out of it. Earlier in the year, we had a bad stretch and we came out of it. This is a little bit of a longer one.

“I don’t know when we’re going to come out, but we’re going to come out of it.”

Estevez returns. Colorado’s bullpen received reinforcement Saturday when Carlos Estevez returned to the team after the birth of his first daughter. In a corresponding move, reliever Sam Howard was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Estevez was placed on the family medical emergency leave list Sunday when his wife began to have medical issues with her pregnancy. After an emotional day Sunday, Estevez welcomed his daughter, Samantha, into the world Monday. Mother and daughter are doing well, Estevez said.

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The 26-year-old right-hander said the experience of the last few days was more nerve-wracking than any moment he has had on the mound.

“I was more nervous than scared. Doctors were telling what could happen or not happen,” Estevez said. “This is a lot to have in your head. Things are going great, and all of a sudden, things change. They kept talking to me about the bad things that could happen. When I was away, I just tried to calm down.”

Estevez credited Colorado head trainer Keith Dugger and Black for their constant communication and support during the last week.

“Doogie (Dugger) and Buddy told me to take care of my family,” Estevez said. “It’s good to know I’m back and that my family is healthy.”

On Deck
Rockies RHP German Marquez (10-5, 4.82 ERA) vs. Padres RHP Dinelson Lamet (1-2, 3.90)
1:40 p.m. Sunday, Petco Park
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM

Marquez has been brilliant at times but only average most of the season. Case in point, his last start at Houston, where he allowed five runs on eight hits, including two home runs. Marquez has made 13 road starts this season, going 6-3 with a 3.53 ERA. Marquez leads the National League with 86 2/3 innings pitched and ranks sixth with 78 strikeouts. Lamet took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, leading the Padres to a 9-4 win over Seattle on Tuesday night. Lamet struck out 12 and gave up two hits for his first win since 2017. He was poised to be San Diego’s No. 2 starter last year after a promising rookie season, but Lamet hurt his elbow in his final spring training start and then had Tommy John surgery. The 27-year-old right-hander came off the injured list and rejoined the Padres last month.

Trending: Charlie Blackmon’s 27 career home runs against the Padres (entering Saturday) were third in franchise history behind Todd Helton and Larry Walker, who each hit 33.

At issue: Outfielder Ian Desmond has been mostly solid at the plate in the second half of the season, but he entered Saturday’s game stuck in an 0-for-12 slump, with four strikeouts, during the current road trip.

Pitching probables
Monday: Diamondbacks RHP Merrill Kelly (7-12, 4.52 ERA) at Rockies RHP Peter Lambert (2-3, 6.87), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Tuesday: Diamondbacks RHP Zac Gallen (2-3, 2.40) at Rockies RHP Jon Gray (10-8, 4.06), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
— Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post

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Kiszla: With fat kids on every block, should video games be rising star in Colorado prep sports?

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 5:00pm

Listen to the screaming of fuddy duddies, and video games are more addictive than crack, making our children not only fatter but more violent, and feed the suspicion that whenever a teenager wastes another hour playing Fortnite, it contributes to the decline of American civilization.

So why the heck are the same fine Colorado folks who promote wholesome activities like tackling the quarterback and playing the tuba now embracing – gasp! – esports?

“I’m changing the way things are done in this state,” CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green said.

“My vision, based on our mission and our core values, is to increase participation. Staying with the old model as our kids have found new interests doesn’t speak to moving the association forward. We have more than 20,000 high school gamers in our state. Why aren’t we tapping into that group and bringing our educationally based component into something kids already love doing?”

Hey, I get it. In 2019, John Marston is a bigger star than Tom Hanks. During the first half of last year, the U.S. gaming industry sold $19.5 billion worth of product, while nearly 600 domestic films did a little over $8 billion in ticket sales, according to research conducted by the NPD Group.

NFL football is our national pastime. But video games are our national obsession. Rather than fight the trend, CHSAA is grabbing the controller and adding “esports” as an official competition during the upcoming school year.

Long before Blanford-Green became a commish unafraid to shake up the way CHSAA goes about its business, she was a world-class hurdler and sprinter who rose to prominence at Aurora Central High School.

Which prompted me to ask: OK, Ms. Track Superstar, aren’t you contributing to adolescent obesity and promoting teenagers to sit on their rumps in front of a TV monitor, rather than going out and being physically active?

“The misconception is a gamer is that guy with his hand on the doughnuts and Snickers bars. I have had the opportunity to meet these kids, and they are cerebral to the highest level,” Blanford-Green replied, without batting an eye.

“I think we also have overweight football players. Yes, we know obesity in kids is a national crisis. But what we know through our data is (video) gaming creates a social network and a culture to embed in a student that doesn’t already have an athletic piece of his or her life.”

CHSAA is treating gaming as a competitive activity, like speech or music. “It is not a sport,” said Blanford-Green, trying to combat the most obvious pushback. It will be co-ed competition. League of Legends, a team-oriented strategy game, is among three games on the platform (SMITE and Rocket League are the other two). Yes, battles are waged in League of Legends. But it’s not the Wild West, bloody violence of Red Dead Redemption.

“No first-person shooters,” Blanford-Green said. “Too bad, so sad. That is against our educational model.”

Cool by me. Anytime I sit down to try my hand at “Call of Duty” on a big-screen television, the only mission I accomplish is to give myself a bad grab-the-sofa-armrest case of motion sickness.

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Maybe that alone qualifies me as a fuddy duddy. But can I make a confession: esports are cool by me. There’s nothing better than the joy of playing, whether the game is volleyball or Fortnite.

“We’re taking stereotypes and redefining how people look at things,” Blanford-Green said. “In the military today, the No. 1 recruiting tool is to look at gamers for their special ops stuff. They are recruiting out of the gaming community. The gaming community has got critical thinking components to it and some aspects that might not be found on the athletic field.”

Well, I’m not quite prepared to declare video games can make America stronger, safer or greater.

But if you bring the beer, I’ll buy the pizza and we will play hooky from work all day long when EA Sports rolls out FIFA 20. You can be Eden Hazard. I’m sticking with Lionel Messi.

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Mick Jagger eats pasta at Denver Italian restaurant, leaves lucky owner a guitar pick

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 3:54pm

Mick Jagger got some satisfaction in the form of homemade pasta and fish at Denver Italian restaurant Lo Stella Ristorante.

Jagger was checking out the Denver dining scene before Saturday’s Rolling Stones show at Broncos Stadium at Mile High and made Lo Stella’s owner a happy man by picking the place to chow down.

Allesandro Polo, owner of the Golden Triangle restaurant, said he was thrilled to have the rock star feast on his  homemade Italian recipes.

“I guess he wanted to have some good pasta,” Polo said. “He enjoyed it a lot. He was very, very nice, and he left me a gift.” Polo is now the proud keeper of one of Jagger’s guitar picks.

“I’m very honored because of course I’m a big fan,” Polo said. “Who isn’t?”

Polo wasn’t sure how the singer found his restaurant, but he said he’s used to managing famous people in his restaurants: His family also runs a restaurant by the same name in Italy that tends to draw big-name diners. Bodyguards checked the restaurant before Jagger entered through the restaurant’s back door.

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Polo wanted to give Jagger a nod for reserving a big table for his bodyguards, one of whom was celebrating a birthday. “They said Mick Jagger flew the bodyguard’s family out to have dinner with him for his birthday,” Polo said. “I thought that was cool.”

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Why Laviska Shenault’s Heisman Trophy dreams aren’t “behind the 8-ball”

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 3:00pm

BOULDER — Archie Manning pulled him aside for a private chat, and a dozen possibilities danced like cockatoos around Steven Montez’s head. Am I rocking this camp? Am I in trouble? Does Eli have some pointers? Will Peyton write me into in his next commercial?

“Would you get upset if Eli takes Laviska and throws with him — instead of you throwing with him?”  the elder Manning asked the CU Buffs quarterback at the Manning Passing Academy, where Montez and teammate Laviska Shenault served as counselors this past June.

“And I was like, ‘Oh, no, I promise I won’t be upset at all,’” Montez recalled. “’I’ll be more honored than anything.’”

That’s our No. 2, the toy everybody wants to play with. Or ogle. Last Sunday, 2004 Heisman Trophy winner redactee Reggie Bush even went to Twitter to join the chorus of Laviska Hallelujahs, proclaiming:

I could watch Laviska Shenault’s highlights all day! This young man is a work horse and finishes his runs like a running back on top of having great hands!

Heisman hands?

“I think the biggest thing is, you’ve got to win and you’ve got to be decent,” Pac-12 Network analyst Yogi Roth said of Shenault’s candidacy for college football’s most prestigious honor. “You’ve got to be above-average. You’ve got to be on a bowl team.

“If you don’t make a bowl game, I think it’s really, really hard. Especially for a skill guy.”

Of course, skill isn’t the issue here. Never was. The Buffs’ junior wideout is a pro’s pro, a coach’s dream, a cornerback’s nightmare and the scouts’ Holy Grail — a gamebreaker cut like an outside linebacker.

Eli doesn’t demand a private catch with just any schmo off the street.

Be viral, my friend.

Be scary.

“But you can’t be (on a team that’s) 1-5,” Roth countered.

He’s superlative. If the Buffs aren’t, at least through the first week of October, the conversation’s probably moot.

RELATED: Laviska Shenault to CU Buffs doubters: “I know we’ve been cooking up something special”

In a perfect world, the two go hand-in-hand. If CU is to make a national dent, or even a divot, it’ll likely be because No. 2, its best player and lead dog, is pulling the sled. Or pushing the envelope.

Be viral, my friend.

Be flexible.

“He’ll get used and he’s more valuable to his team in more ways,” Roth said. “Laviska will play outside, he’ll play slot, he’ll play inside, he’ll play H-back, he’ll play the wildcat — not because of the Heisman campaign, but because of his skill-set.”

That helps. So does a slate of at least five nationally televised appearances, which includes a showcase game at Broncos Stadium against Colorado State and a Nebraska tilt that’s all about fresh eyeballs and old grudges.

“You’ve got to be the best on the biggest stage in the biggest moments,” Roth said. “I don’t think he’s behind the 8-ball. I don’t see that. I think that people are expecting him to be one of the most dominant players in the country.”

When Pro Football Focus released its top 50 top college players for 2019, the 6-foot-2 Shenault checked in at No. 9. Among Phil Steele’s preseason top 75 NFL wide receiver prospects, the CU star landed at No. 2, behind only Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy.

And yet …

“Can you make everybody around you better?” Roth asked.

It’s the rarest of air, which is why, since Larry Fitzgerald wound up second in the voting to Oklahoma’s Jason White in 2003, only one true receiver — Alabama’s Amari Cooper in 2014 — has finished better than fourth in the Heisman balloting.

And the five receivers to crack the top 6 in votes since 2008 averaged 17.2 touchdowns per campaign. Shenault scored 11 in nine contests last fall, or 1.22 per game.

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Be viral, my friend.

Be everywhere.

“At times, I just shake my head and I’m just like, ‘Wow, I don’t even know if this guy really understands just how talented he is,’” Montez said. “Because he’s the best receiver in the entire United States at the collegiate level.”

Even the best at a position that isn’t quarterback or tailback, realistically, has one beast of a hill to climb. Although if anybody can handle elevation, it’s Shenault.

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Gun-control backers concerned about changing federal courts

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 2:49pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, including a ban on the type of high-capacity ammunition magazines used in some of the nation’s deadliest mass shootings.

How long those types of laws will stand is a growing concern among gun control advocates in California and elsewhere.

A federal judiciary that is becoming increasingly conservative under President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate has gun control advocates on edge. They worry that federal courts, especially if Trump wins a second term next year and Republicans hold the Senate, will take such an expansive view of Second Amendment rights that they might overturn strict gun control laws enacted in Democratic-leaning states.

The U.S. Supreme Court so far has left plenty of room for states to enact their own gun legislation, said Adam Winkler, a gun policy expert at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. But he said the success of the Trump administration in appointing federal judges, including to the high court, could alter that.

“Those judges are likely to be hostile to gun-control measures,” Winkler said. “So I think the courts overall have made a shift to the right on guns. We’ll just have to see how that plays out.”

The legal tug-of-war already is playing out in California.

The state banned the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines nearly two decades ago as one of its numerous responses to deadly mass shootings; a voter initiative passed three years ago expanded on that, banning all ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds even among gun owners who already possessed them.

Earlier this year, a Republican-appointed federal judge overturned the ban, triggering a weeklong bullet buying spree among California gun owners before he put his decision on hold pending appeal. The same judge is overseeing another lawsuit brought by gun-rights groups that seeks to repeal a state law requiring background checks for ammunition buyers.

Legal experts, lawmakers and advocates on both sides said the decision in the case over ammunition limits foreshadows more conflicts between Democratic-leaning states seeking to impose tighter gun laws and an increasingly conservative federal judiciary.

“What you’re looking at in the Southern District of California is happening all over the country,” said Frank Zimring, a University of California, Berkeley law professor who is an expert on gun laws.

Trump has the opportunity to fill a higher percentage of federal court vacancies than any president at this point in his first term since George H.W. Bush nearly three decades ago.

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To date, he has nominated 194 candidates for federal judgeships and has had 146 confirmed, out of 860 total federal district court judicial seats, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation. Of 179 seats on the federal appellate courts, Trump has nominated 46 judges and had 43 confirmed. He is poised to fill 105 vacancies in the district courts and four in the appeals courts, according to the Heritage Foundation.

The changes to the federal judiciary could mean that even gun restrictions that were previously upheld by appointees of former Republican presidents may now be in jeopardy, said Hannah Shearer, litigation director at the San Francisco-based Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

“I think the judiciary is headed into a more extreme place on gun control issues because of President Trump’s appointees,” she said.

Even when gun and ammunition limits are upheld, those cases eventually could make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Trump may already have tipped the balance.

The court is currently poised to take up its first Second Amendment case in about a decade. It’s a challenge to a law New York City passed that prohibited people who have home handgun licenses from taking their guns outside the city for target practice or to a second home.

The city has told the court the case should be dropped, however, because it has relaxed its law.

Among other cases working their way through the courts are challenges to a California ban on certain handguns, other states’ longstanding restrictions on carrying concealed weapons and limitations on interstate handgun sales.

Yet forecasting how the Supreme Court might act, or even whether it will take certain cases, is fraught with uncertainty. The court has steered clear of gun-rights cases since establishing an individual right to possess guns in 2008 2010, and has let stand a number of state gun restrictions.

Still, gun-rights supporters are excited by the changes brought by Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate. The upcoming Supreme Court session “could be a real game-changer” with Trump’s appointments of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, said Chuck Michel, an attorney who represents both the National Rifle Association and the affiliated California Rifle & Pistol Association.

“To the extent that the composition of the court has changed and that it will give the Second Amendment back its teeth, it’s very important,” Michel said. “It looks like there’s enough votes on the court right now to reset the standard.”

His clients are challenging California’s ammunition background check and extended magazine ban before U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, an appointee of former President George W. Bush.

Other states that limit ammunition magazines in some way, typically between 10 and 20 rounds, are Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont, according to the Giffords Law Center.

Democrats said the prospect of four more years of Trump judicial appointments is helping energize their opposition to his re-election.

“This would be one of the lasting legacies of Donald Trump,” said former California state Senate leader Kevin de Leon, a Democrat from Los Angeles who carried or supported many of the state’s firearms restrictions, including limits on military-style assault weapons. “When Trump is gone, they will be there for lifetime appointments.”

Democratic lawmakers said they will continue pushing more firearms restrictions even as some fear they could be thwarted in the federal courts.

State Sen. Anthony Portantino, a Democrat from Southern California, acknowledges the potential for state gun restrictions to be overturned by federal judges, but said the stakes are too high to back down.

He noted that the gunman who recently killed three people and himself in Gilroy, at an annual garlic festival, was 19 and legally bought his assault-style rifle in Nevada before illegally bringing it into California. The gunman also carried a 75-round drum magazine and multiple 40-round magazines, all banned under California law.

“That he could smuggle that across state lines and kill a 6-year-old, to me that’s an example of why we need federal action and why California should continue to lead and tell our story,” Portantino said.

He is proposing a ban on anyone buying more than one gun a month and prohibiting almost all gun sales to people under age 21.

Associated Press writer Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this report.

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50 years on, Woodstock memories still glow for those who were there

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 2:36pm

The old joke goes that if you claim to remember the 1960s, you probably weren’t there. But even for those who plunged into its excesses headfirst, there’s no forgetting the seminal event 50 years ago this month that in one word summons a place, a time and even a new way of looking at life.

Woodstock.

Officially billed as the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair, and staged on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y. — not Woodstock, some 40 miles to the northeast — what started as a music festival evolved into a generation-defining gathering of the tribes that manifested as something vastly more enduring than the sum of its parts.

Yes, there was Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, The Band, Ten Years After, Joan Baez, John Sebastian, Crosby, Stills Nash & Young (Young joined in after CSN’s first six songs), and so many more. There was also unchecked idealism, heavy rain, bad brown acid, virtually no security and insufficient sanitation.

And not only to those whose perceptions were radically adjusted by psychotropic drugs, the alchemy of the factors at play Aug. 15 to the early morning hours of Aug. 18, 1969, forged those ingredients into a cultural benchmark that half a century later is a vivid reminder — much like the first humans walking on the moon one month before — of an America where miracles were still possible.

Or so it seemed.

Bruce Kirschner of Louisville, was there. Living at the time on Long Island in Westbury, N.Y., he was a just-turned-16 fan of what they still called “underground music,” and sold his proud military veteran father on approving his trip upstate with his young friends by pitching it as a camping trip.

“My dad’s unit was the first unit to land on Normandy Beach on D-Day. I said ‘Dad, I’m going camping.’ And I said ‘By the way, there’s going to be music there.’ And he said, ‘Do your friends need any equipment?’ He was like a quartermaster, issuing equipment to my friends.”

Having been a Boy Scout, Kirschner said, “Camping out was no big deal. I think we used our Boy Scout knapsacks, and we had Sterno stoves, and were going to be eating Dinty Moore beef stew out of the can.”

A New York Times article published Aug. 15, headlined “346 Policemen Quit Music Festival,” led with the “latest problem” for the event being the sudden loss of all the off-duty officers who’d been hired as “ushers.” The piece ended with a vignette concerning a troop of 16-year-olds waiting for their bus at the New York City Port Authority terminal. That was Kirschner’s group.

“I know there will be drugs everywhere and I wonder what it will be like,” one 16-year-old is quoted as saying, whom Kirschner said was his friend, Steve Sobel. “I’ve never been away from home before. I wonder what will happen to all of us.”

A perfect moment

For Kenny Weissberg, who would go on to have a career in music, including serving as the Daily Camera’s first rock critic from 1976 to 1980, Woodstock wasn’t even the first massive rock concert of the summer.

Kenny Weissberg in 2019, left, and in 1969.

Weissberg, now 71, had spent the earlier part of the summer in Europe, and was lucky enough to be at the free concert by the Rolling Stones in London’s Hyde Park on July 5 of that year, which drew a crowd estimated to be between 250,000 and half a million.

When he got back home to South Orange, N.J., Weissberg had almost forgotten the two tickets he’d bought through the mail weeks before for Woodstock — $6 in advance — and tossed in a drawer.

Through a friend he knew whose grandmother owned Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel, he and his girlfriend landed sweet digs at a bed and breakfast about 7 miles from the concert site, giving them a dry and comfortable spot to sleep and recoup between the first two days of the extravaganza, as well as a back-roads option for avoiding the infamous bumper-to-bumper scene on the New York State Thruway.

“I didn’t know there were going to be half a million people,” Weissberg said. “I felt like I had a pampered Woodstock experience. We were there for two solid days and saw every act on Friday and Saturday, and we were drenched and caked in mud — but we didn’t have to sleep in mud. We could take showers. I had a pampered Woodstock experience. I realized I was a yuppie before such a term existed.”

Weissberg and his companion, their perceptions enhanced by a mescaline diet, didn’t stick around for Sunday’s program. But he will never forget the Saturday sequence of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone and The Who, documented — along with his many other music adventures at Woodstock and elsewhere — in his 2006 memoir “Off My Rocker.”

“The Who singing ‘Tommy’ as the sun was rising at five on Sunday morning, and right at the part in the rock opera where Tommy regains his vision and the sun was coming up and I was tripping on mescaline, I don’t know that I have ever had as perfect a moment of music in my life,” Weissberg said. “I said to myself after Woodstock, I was going to pursue music as a career — as I did.”

Merri Trotter holds some Woodstock 1969 memorabilia on Thurday at her home in Longmont. A hearse and a goat

Merri Trotter of Longmont would be hard to top for how she arrived at Woodstock, doing so cruising from her family’s summer getaway in Monticello, N.Y., with a male friend and female companion in a 1949 hearse outfitted with burgundy velvet curtains.

A Bronx resident and recent graduate of a two-year art school program at the time, Trotter said one of her friends had bought tickets. But she remembers climbing a fence to get in to what was quickly declared a free concert.

Set up soon on a blanket with her friends in the midst of the ocean of shaggy humanity, Trotter said she steered clear of the brown acid, and just about everything else that was going around.

“We were little goodie two-shoes,” she said. “We didn’t trust anybody else, so we had our own food, et cetera. I am crazy to begin with. So we were pretty straight, aside from, well, there was so much (marijuana) in the air.

“I remember being so exhausted, that we slept a lot, or we dozed off a lot. When Santana came on, we went nuts and I’ve been going nuts, ever since. Every time he comes here (to Colorado) we have to go see him.”

Trotter said Woodstock’s import did not register with her at the time.

“We did not have a clue,” she said. “And no one had a clue about the amount of people that actually showed up… I do remember a guy with a goat.”

Tamara Lester holds a special edition of newspaper from August 1969 with an account of Woodstock, which she attended, on Monday at her home in Boulder. ‘Cream pie’ security

Boulder’s Tamara Lester at the time had just graduated from high school and was working in an art gallery in her hometown of Middletown, N.Y. And being in that neck of the woods, her shop was selling tickets and posters for the event.

Lester recalls that after organizers tried and failed to stage the festival in Woodstock or Saugerties, N.Y., they had settled briefly on nearby Wallkill, N.Y.

“All the original posters, all the original tickets, said Wallkill, but when the town fathers realized what this was going to be, they shut ’em down, about three weeks before the concert,” Lester said.

“They had to scramble and find a place. They enlisted all my friends to come and help with fencing, and building the stage and setting everything up” at Yasgur’s farm.

There was “no question” she and her friends would all be going, and go they did, crammed into a VW bus owned by a friend of her brother, Alan.

“We went up the day before, or a couple of days before, anything was going to happen. We set up on the other side of the hill, where the Hog Farmers were set up, and the Grateful Dead had their buses along with all the Hog Farm people,” she said, referring to the hippie collective hired to provide security. Legendary Hog Farmer Hugh Romney, aka Wavy Gravy, said security would be administered by his “Please Force” using only  “cream pies and seltzer bottles.”

“There was a second stage there, the free stage that had local musicians and other musicians from all the other groups playing nonstop on the other side of the hill near where the pond was,” she said, noting that the Dead — whose Saturday set from the main stage was not among their best, even by the bands’s own admission — played the second stage frequently through the weekend.

“The Hog Farm people provided food to everybody and they cooked the whole time,” she said. “It was next to the free stage. I spent a lot of time over there, because it wasn’t as crowded, and it was more personable, with people that we knew. We spent a lot of time walking back and forth” from the main concert area.

“I lost my really good, handmade leather sandals in the mud,” she said. “They’re part of the ground, now.”

To Lester, for whom Joplin’s characteristic force-of-nature performance is an enduring peak memory, being at Woodstock was a natural. Based so close to her home, geographically, it was just as close to where she lived, spiritually.

“We were the early flower child people, so we were the original hippies in the community,” she recalled. “I was definitely a part of that whole movement, which is why I was working in the art gallery. We had a little coffeehouse, and all of that. So this was just an extension of who we were at that time. Because, it was in my backyard. It was part of life.”

Doug Vandeven and his wife Lou Lyon stand outside of their home on Thursday in Boulder. Both attended Woodstock in August 1969 but did not know each other at the time. ‘A lot of marijuana,’ no frowns

Lou Lyon and Doug Vandeven, a married couple who live in northwest Boulder, were both at Woodstock — unbeknownst to one another at that time. They wouldn’t meet for another 11 years, by which time both were in Colorado.

Lyon, now 69, was a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, but back home in Darien, Conn., for the summer, she headed off to the festival with friends from high school.

“Basically, what I remember was a nightmare on the highway. And we just left our car, and walked in, and it was very wet. It was a very wet time,” said Lyon, who stayed for the duration.

“I was actually only supposed to go for one day, because I had a midnight curfew, but of course it was all over the news,” which she felt was probably sufficient notice to her parents that she was in an unusual situation and wouldn’t be home at the appointed hour — or day.

Lyon’s account is not as detailed as Kirschner’s, Weissberg’s or Lester’s. Now a retired physician’s assistant, she recalls being wowed by Joplin, her idol. Asked whether she was sober for the festivities, she said “no.” Three times.

“There was a lot of marijuana,” she said. “I mean, c’mon. This was ’69. There were drugs. I would say, a lot of marijuana.”

Vandeven headed down from Fayetteville, N.Y., near Syracuse, driving with three friends in the unofficial car of the Woodstock festival, a VW van.

“None of us had tickets, but we picked up a hitchhiker on the thruway, who had an artist’s pass to drive to the stage,” he said.

They parked their van near the top of the festival’s amphitheater, moving down toward the stage at times, then retreating to that spot for food breaks. He did not have many memories to share of the music.

“I remember it raining, and we were under a 48-foot trailer when Ravi Shankar was up there playing the sitar, which was kind of surreal, but I don’t really remember too much more about that,” he said.

As to whether he was sober, he said, echoing his future wife, “No. Nobody was sober.”

Heading to the festival, Vandeven recalled, “When we hit the thruway, it was bumper-to-bumper, 5 miles an hour. We were about the last ones on it, before it was closed. Sitting on top of the sunroof, blowing joints as we went by the state troopers, it was quite invigorating.”

Like Weissberg, Vandeven remembers leaving before the final day — and hitting someone’s Triumph TR 6 on the way to New York City, bashing into the other driver’s bumper. That was not enough to dispel the Woodstock afterglow.

“It was probably the most astounding venue,” said Vandeven, who would go on to have careers in manufacturing and criminal justice. “A quarter of a million kids went to it, without there being a single sign of trouble. I didn’t see so much as a frown.”

The early edition and extra edition of The Times Herald Record from Aug. 16, 1969, with coverage of Woodstock lay on the kitchen table of Tamara Lester at her home in Boulder on Monday. Lester attended the three-day music festival. ‘I had a mind shift’

Kirschner’s buddy’s question about “what will happen to all of us” were of course answered in myriad ways, for the Boulder County folks who were there, the hundreds of thousands who attended and for the generation the event came to symbolize.

In the short-term context of that historic weekend, for Kirschner it was basically a blast, although he and his friends’ hopes of romancing any of the young women at the numerous teens’ summer camps situated nearby the concert grounds went unfulfilled. But he said the seeds for serving a higher purpose took root there.

“By my third night at Woodstock, I had lost my friends. I was alone, and somebody passed me a flyer and the flyer said that New York state Governor (Nelson) Rockefeller had declared the Woodstock concert area a state disaster area,” he said. “I thought somebody had made this up. But this was a real flyer, and it really ticked me off, because for me, this was no disaster, here. This was wonderful.”

It sparked a skepticism, he said, toward the current government, but also inspired a desire to try to be an agent for change.

“I believe it was at that moment I had a mind shift, and I decided I was going to dedicate myself to public service and making government better,” said Kirschner, who would go on to a 34-year federal government career in U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Office of Personnel Management administration, which included the development and management of training for future government leaders.

“I certainly fulfilled my promise to myself, in doing that. I proved to myself that I could make a difference, and leave government better than I found it, and have a positive effect on American citizens,” he said. “That shift really started at Woodstock.”

For Weissberg, too, there was a profound transformation.

“Originally, I was going to go to law school. I was a sociology major, and I was going to get a law degree. That’s what my parents were hoping,” he said. “After I finished college, I bummed around the country for a year, and ended up in Boulder in July 1971, and soon I was doing morning drive at KRNW FM, in Boulder, which in 1977, became KBCO.”

His career also would come to include not just his stint as the Camera’s first rock critic, but the producer/talent buyer for Humphrey’s Concerts by the bay in San Diego from 1984 to 2006. Like other Woodstock veterans, Weissberg believes it was a moment in time that could not be repeated today (efforts to stage a Woodstock 50 anniversary festival crumbled at the end of July).

“I just think there was a sense of optimism back then, even though we were dealing with Vietnam and it was a crazy time, there was more a sense of optimism than we are dealing with, now,” Weissberg said. “I left the music biz because of the greed in ’06. I saw it becoming so greedy, and now you have Live Nation selling tickets to scalpers, and Metallica is selling their own seats to scalpers. … Music is no longer a fan oriented-industry. I don’t feel it could happen again.”

As film director Quentin Tarantino and others have served ample recent reminder, the summer marks the anniversary of a far darker event: 50 years since the infamous murders masterminded by Charles Manson. Although the brutal slayings occurred one week before Woodstock, Manson’s arrest would not follow until Oct. 1. But when it came, it suddenly made many, however unfairly, look more warily on some of the aspects of what was broad-brushed as “the counterculture.” Then came the disaster at the Altamont Speedway in northern California on Dec. 6, 1969, where Hells Angels killed a concertgoer while the Rolling Stones were performing and three others also died in accidents. And while Jimi Hendrix ended Woodstock with his ferociously psychedelic reimagining of “The Star Spangled Banner,” Richard Nixon was still ensconced in the White House, with his landslide reelection, his resignation in disgrace, and the enduring unease about the integrity and fragility of our democratic system still to come. Hendrix and Joplin would both be dead little more than a year later.

In a 2019 when the very notion of community is threatened seemingly daily by mass shootings, racist invective and endless debate over who can remain in America and who must leave, the dream of an Aquarian age feels increasingly like only that — a vaporous vision that quickly dissipated in the sober light of day, with no less a generational authority than John Lennon singing on his first post-Beatles album, “Plastic Ono Band,” that “The dream is over.”

Trotter, who recalls being “exhausted and filthy” by the time she left Woodstock, nevertheless cherishes the memory — and doesn’t believe the magic that washed away such inconveniences could be captured twice.

“I really don’t. Society is so messed up right now,” Trotter said. “I would never even go. It was true, that there was so much peace and love and all that stuff. I don’t even think at this time, I don’t think that’s possible. Or feasible. I think there was only one.”

Lester said her drug of choice at Woodstock was mescaline, and that ingesting it in that heady environment helped unlock her mind “to seeing the bigger picture what could be. And I think that’s one of the things so many people took out of that experience: what we could do as a movement and as a positive force in the world and our country.”

For her, that meant heading into a 45-year career in nursing — she now works at Weight Loss MD Boulder as a hormone and weight loss specialist — which she said “goes along with my path of making the world a better place.

“And I believe we did,” she added. “I believe we raised the consciousness, and at least in our world. And I think we raised the bar at that time. And unfortunately, with what’s going on right now, it just hurts my soul.

“Especially, for what we did to help that awareness, to have it be dead to so many people now… it is just heartbreaking.”

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Biden is still the Democrat to beat, but rivals see weakness

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 2:27pm

DES MOINES, Iowa — In a barn down a gravel road in Iowa, Joe Biden tore into President Donald Trump’s moral character, declaring in one of the fiercest speeches of his campaign that the words of the American president matter.

The next day, Biden’s own words tripped him up. He told an audience in Des Moines that poor children are “just as bright and just as talented as white kids,” before immediately clarifying his remarks.

The back-to-back episodes magnified the promise and the peril of Biden’s candidacy. Three months after announcing his White House bid, he remains atop early polling for Democratic candidates, buoyed by a long history with voters and a belief among many of them that his decades of experience best position him to defeat Trump. Those attributes appear to have helped the former vice president withstand weeks of attacks on his lengthy record in politics.

But Biden’s rivals remain confident that his fumbles, like the one in Iowa this week, eventually will catch up to him, undermining his electability argument.

“He has been durable,” said David Axelrod, a longtime political strategist for President Barack Obama. “The question is whether that durability is because we aren’t fully geared into the race or whether there are inherent strengths there.”

Biden’s team has been heartened by the consistency of his early polling numbers, despite the push from fellow candidates to cast the 76-year-old as out of step with the Democratic Party on women’s health issues and race. Nearly every survey, both nationally and in the early primary states, shows him leading the crowded primary field, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris following behind but so far unable to find a way to surpass him.

“It’s because people know him. And they don’t know just his name,” said Jack Markell, the former Delaware governor and a Biden supporter. “If it were just name recognition, these polls may look different.”

Biden’s standing in the race is the subject of much debate within the Democratic Party. Advisers to other campaigns contend that polling at this stage of the race is often fluid, reflecting little more than name recognition. Biden aides frequently note that Trump led polls throughout the summer of 2015 and never relinquished the top spot.

What is clear is that some of Biden’s rivals see an imperative to begin taking him on aggressively. Sanders has walloped Biden repeatedly over health care, comparing the former vice president’s opposition to a “Medicare for All” system to Trump. Harris, as well as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, has hammered Biden over comments he made about working with segregationists during his early years in the Senate.

Biden initially appeared caught off guard by the ferocity of the attacks on his 40-plus-year record in politics, particularly Harris’ blistering critique in the first debate of his past opposition to federally mandated busing to combat segregated schools. Now advisers view that moment as a much needed jolt for the candidate, making clear to Biden that he would need to draw sharper distinctions with his Democratic rivals during the primary and not just focus his fire on Trump.

Since then, Biden has drawn contrasts with more liberal Democrats, like Warren and Sanders, over their proposals to do away with private health insurance and replace it with a government-run system. He’s also vigorously defended Obama, the most popular Democrat in the nation who nevertheless has faced criticism from liberals who believe he didn’t go far enough on health care and was too aggressive in deporting immigrants living illegally in the United States.

“(Biden’s) done a better job since then trying to hug up to Obama as much as possible,” said Jim Hodges, the former Democratic governor of South Carolina, who is yet to endorse a candidate. “That’s his strength here.”

Indeed, Biden’s campaign is eager to focus more on his eight years as vice president than the decades that preceded his time in the White House. Advisers believe his years serving as No. 2 to the nation’s first black president resonate particularly well with African American voters, one of the most powerful segments of the Democratic electorate. Biden also evolved into a beloved elder statesman for many Democrats during those years, particularly after the 2015 death of his son Beau, who succumbed to brain cancer at age 46.

“It just hurts me to see what some people are saying about him,” said Linda Robinson, a retired health care worker who heard Biden speak in Boone, Iowa. Robinson, who caucused for Biden in 2008 but hasn’t decided who has her support this year, called the former vice president a “decent man.”

The attacks from Harris and others have also prompted Biden advisers to encourage the former vice president to step up his campaign activities, including more question-and-answer sessions with voters and reporters, an approach that has been on display during his four-day Iowa swing. But that comes with risk for a freewheeling politician with a history of verbal fumbles.

At the start of the week, Biden got the locations of two back-to-back mass shootings wrong. And on Thursday night, he told voters in Des Moines that poor kids were as bright and talented as white children. He caught the flub and quickly added: “wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids.”

Biden’s ultimate success in the race will depend in part on whether voters’ warm feelings toward him will help excuse his frequent missteps or see them as a sign that the candidate — who would be the oldest president ever elected — has lost a step.

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“He’s always been prone to gaffes. That was true when he was in his 40s, 50s and 60s,” Axelrod said. “The difference is because people are looking for signs of potential deterioration, gaffes that would be written off as Joe being Joe can become much more damaging to him.”

During his Iowa trip, Biden has projected the confidence of a front-runner, rarely mentioning his primary opponents and even sitting in the front row at a state party dinner Friday night, applauding as his rivals spoke ahead of his concluding spot. Earlier in the day, Biden said that while there would be “ups and downs” in the Democratic primary, he expected to emerge victorious.

“It’s a marathon and I’m going to be in it for the whole race,” he said.

Pace reported from Washington.

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Parker’s Derrick White moves step closer to joining Team USA at FIBA World Cup

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 11:29am

Derrick White is making an impression at USA Basketball training camp in Las Vegas.

The Parker native and former CU Buffs star was named one of 17 finalists for the Team USA FIBA World Cup team Saturday after a week of practices and one exhibition game.

The 6-foot-4 guard was named to the USA Basketball Select Team earlier this summer, and has turned some heads at training camp during the past week.

Could @spurs Derrick White be a breakout player next season?! @usabasketball pic.twitter.com/NnipRxpjGb

— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) August 8, 2019

On Friday night, White put up 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the Blue-White exhibition game to help clinch his spot as one of four Select Team players invited to join the national team roster.

Derrick White lob John Collins slam! #PhantomCam #USABMNT

BLUE vs. WHITE on @NBATV & https://t.co/HbtDcrFgfZ pic.twitter.com/t7XOowhZKL

— NBA (@NBA) August 10, 2019

Nuggets center Mason Plumlee, who previously played with the 2014 World Cup gold medal-winning team, also is part of the 17-man roster that will soon head to Australia for a trio of exhibition games Aug. 22, 24 and 26.

The roster must be pared down to 12 prior to the World Cup in China Aug. 31 to Sept. 15.

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“We’re bringing a couple of young players from the Select Team so we’re going to be patient with the rest of the squad because we have plenty of time, we have two weeks to decide who will be the final 12,” said Jerry Colangelo, USA Men’s National Team managing director, in a news release.

“There’s some things we like about every one of the players but how do we come to 12? We don’t have to make the decision now and we want to give everyone a real shot.”

Among the other players on the roster: Harrison Barnes (Kings), Marvin Bagley III (Kings), Jaylen Brown (Celtics), De’Aaron Fox  (Kings), Joe Harris (Nets); Kyle Kuzma (Lakers); Brook Lopez (Bucks); Kyle Lowry (Raptors),  Khris Middleton  (Bucks); Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Marcus Smart (Celtics), Jayson Tatum (Celtics), P.J. Tucker (Rockets), Myles Turner (Pacers) and Kemba Walker (Celtics).

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Kickin’ It with Kiz: Did we all wax too poetic about late, great Broncos owner Pat Bowlen?

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 11:00am

Let us all endeavor to remember it was the late Pat Bowlen who threatened to move the Broncos from Denver if we didn’t build him a new stadium. Said stadium has brought increased revenues to the Bowlen family. Kiz, please think about that the next time you are inclined to get all misty about Mr. B.

Mike, will never forget

Kiz: And let’s not forget that during the campaign to build a new stadium, I stood apart from most local sports journalists by opposing the corporate welfare of a taxpayer-funded stadium. Several weeks prior to the election, I was told to cease my editorial rants against the project, because The Denver Post had given a hefty donation in support of Mr. B’s campaign. It was a valuable lesson, one I appreciate to this day: For better or worse, the power of the press ultimately resides with the owner of the press, not the journalist who covers a story.

Simply put: A Joe Flacco injury and the Broncos are toast. And Brett Rypien might be the best quarterback in the long run.

Gary, wannabe G.M.

Kiz: The staff here at Kickin’ It Headquarters doesn’t get the appeal of Kevin Hogan. If the Broncos keep three quarterbacks on the roster, they should be Flacco, Drew Lock and Rypien.

The Rockies have little clue how to draft, with the most glaring example being the Los Angeles Dodgers taking pitcher Walker Buehler in 2015, while Colorado picked Brendan Rodgers No. 3 overall. Didn’t the Rockies already have Trevor Story at Rodgers’ projected position? They also took fire-balling pitcher Riley Pint with a first-round pick in 2016, and he isn’t even close to making the big leagues. General manager Jeff Bridich has to go. He paid big bucks to a shortstop/outfielder to play first base, and when the Ian Desmond experiment went south, Bridich signed Daniel Murphy, a longtime second baseman, to play first. Who does that?

Tom, Lakewood

Kiz: Buehler? Buehler? Buehler? You mean to tell me a 24-year-old all-star starting pitcher could help the Rockies? Maybe the first round of 2015 draft was Doc Bridich’s day off.

No, it is not too soon to get rid of Bridich. He paid $149 million for three losers: Bryan Shaw, Wade Davis and Desmond. Please address this issue!

Mary, demands accountability

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Kiz: Well, what’s $149 million among friends? Here’s an idea: On fan appreciation day, Desmond should buy everyone at the ballpark a beer.

And today’s parting shot is reminder the beauty of sports, not to mention journalists who care about Colorado as much as you do, is the meaningful conversation that can be prompted by one line in a single newspaper article.

I wanted to thank you for a wonderfully written column on Brittany Bowlen. In particular, I appreciated Mr. B’s advice to his daughter to not let adolescent fears sidetrack her from bigger goals. I shared that sentence with my 17-year-old son. who is stressing about school, his ACT score, picking a college, football, etc. It was the perfect thing to say to him. It made him smile. Made me smile, too.

Brian, Broomfield

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Saunders: Where have all of baseball’s great nicknames gone?

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 9:00am

Oil Can, Joltin’ Joe,  Spaceman, Pie, Blue Moon, The Yankee Clipper, The Rocket, The Bird, Cool Papa, Scooter, Mudcat, Sparky, Big Train, The Barber, The Big Unit, The Big Hurt …  the list goes on and on.

Baseball history is thick with classic nicknames, but it seems to me that the grand tradition is fading fast, replaced by launch angles, exit velocities, BABIP, wRC+, wOBA and other less-than-romantic descriptions.

I’m not knocking sabermetrics or the other contemporary statistics and measurements that more accurately reflect a player’s value or impact on the game. They just aren’t nearly as much fun.

Still, I’ve got to hand it to Major League Baseball. It does an excellent job spicing up the long season by mixing in throwback uniforms, bobblehead giveaways and other creative events.  One of the best is Players’ Weekend, coming up Aug. 23-25 when players across the majors are allowed to put nicknames on the back of their jerseys.

The Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon, of course, will sport “Chuck Nazty” and New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard will strut his apt nickname, “Thor.” They’ll be plenty of intriguing names displayed that weekend, including Shohei Ohtani’s “Showtime.”

But today’s nicknames, many of them contrived, most of them barely known outside the clubhouse, whiff when matched against baseball’s best. Here are 10 of my all-time favorite nicknames (feel free to disagree, as I’m sure you will):

10. Yogi — A teenage friend thought that Lawrence Peter Berra looked like a Hindu yogi character in a movie. The Hall of Famer became famous for his “Berra-isms,” to which Berra said: “I never said most of the things I said.”

9. Shoeless Joe — The story goes that spikes gave Joe Jackson blisters one day, so he played the next game in stocking feet. “Field of Dreams,” revived the legend.

8. The Wizard of Oz — The Cardinals’ Ozzie Smith created magic at shortstop, and one time, very famously, cursed the Dodgers with his bat. “Go crazy, folks! Go crazy! It’s a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of 3 to 2, on a home run by the Wizard!” announcer Jack Buck said.

7. Catfish Hunter — Jim Hunter didn’t quite do the trick, so A’s owner Charlie Finley, he of the green-and-gold uniforms and dreams of orange baseballs, concocted the nickname — along with a story about Hunter going fishing as a kid — simply to drum up interest in the team.

6. The Splendid Splinter — The early nickname for the gangly Red Sox rookie with a magic bat. Ted Williams later became known as “Teddy Ballgame.”

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5. Charlie Hustle — Yankees ace Whitey Ford used the name sarcastically when rookie Pete Rose played too rambunctious in an exhibition game. Rose, however, lived up to the nickname for his entire career.

4. The Man — Short, simple and perfect for Stan Musial, the Cardinals’ icon.

3. Iron Horse — Perfect imagery for Lou Gehrig, the Yankee legend who played in 2,130 consecutive games before ALS stopped his career and took his life.

2. “Cy” Young — Denton True Young was called “Cyclone” in his early years because his fastball destroyed wooden fences. His nickname grew shorter as his fame grew larger.

1. Sultan of Swat — The moniker captures not only the essence of Babe Ruth but that of an entire era.

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Man shot near Denver Tech Center

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 8:59am

A man was shot in the Hampden South neighborhood near the Denver Tech Center on Saturday morning, according to the Denver Police Department.

Police were at the scene of the shooting, in the 4900 block of South Ulster Street. Law enforcement responded to the shooting at 9:20 a.m., according to police spokesman Tyrone Campbell.

The victim is expected to survive, police confirmed.

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A suspect and “associates” fled the crime scene in a vehicle and crashed in Greenwood Village, police said.

Two people have been detained in connection with the shooting. Police said officers were looking for another suspect who fled on foot.

Four shootings in Denver over a nine-hour period left three people dead and two injured Thursday evening and early Friday morning, each in different neighborhoods.

#DPD Officers are on-scene in the 4900 Blk of S. Ulster Street investigating a shooting involving an adult male victim. There is no suspect Info available at this time. #Denver pic.twitter.com/70DqIQ1cs4

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) August 10, 2019

 

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Denver weather: Stormy weekend brewing in northern Colorado

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 7:29am

Coloradans living up north better belt out “Rain, Rain, Go Away” if they want a shot at a dry summer weekend.

Clouds covering the Denver area Saturday morning have a 50% chance of dropping showers and thunderstorms on weekend warriors recreating below by the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. A high of 88 degrees is expected for the day.

Better chance for thunderstorms this afternoon. A few severe storms possible on the plains. #cowx pic.twitter.com/eVcWExKDxi

— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) August 10, 2019

The weather service posted a hazardous weather outlook for northeast and north central Colorado Saturday, noting that isolated showers and thunderstorms across the far northeast plains into the mountains and foothills in the morning could develop into more severe storms over the mountains and plains this afternoon.

“Expect heavy rainfall along with localized flooding possible with rainfall rates up to two inches in an hour or less,” the National Weather Service’s outlook read. “A few storms could also become severe on the plains with large hail, damaging winds and heavy rain.”

The moisture is expected to stick around Sunday with thunderstorms likely in the afternoon and evening along the Eastern Plains. The weather service warns of potentially large hail, damaging winds, locally heavy rain and isolated tornadoes in the northeast and north central region. A high of 85 degrees is forecast for Sunday.

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The work week ahead looks hotter and drier, the weather service said.

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Jeffrey Epstein taken off suicide watch before death, AP reports

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 7:04am

NEW YORK — Jeffrey Epstein, the well-connected financier accused of orchestrating a sex-trafficking ring, had been taken off suicide watch before he killed himself in a New York jail, a person familiar with the matter said Saturday.

Attorney General William Barr said he was “appalled” to learn of Epstein’s death while in federal custody. The FBI and the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General will investigate, he said.

“Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr said in a statement.

Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell Saturday morning at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Fire officials received a call at 6:39 a.m. Saturday that Epstein was in cardiac arrest, and he was pronounced dead at New York Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital.

Epstein, 66, had been denied bail and faced up to 45 years behind bars on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges unsealed last month. He had pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial on accusations of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.

He had been placed on suicide watch and given daily psychiatric evaluations after an incident a little over two weeks ago in which Epstein was found with bruising on his neck, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly. It hasn’t been confirmed whether the injury was self-inflicted or the result of an assault.

Epstein was taken off suicide watch at the end of July, the person said.

RELATED: Wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein charged with molesting dozens of girls

The Bureau of Prisons confirmed that he had been housed in the jail’s Special Housing Unit, a heavily secured part of the facility that separates high-profile inmates from the general population. Until recently, the same unit had been home to the Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is now serving a life sentence at the so-called Supermax prison in Colorado.

Epstein’s death raises questions about how the Bureau of Prisons ensures the welfare of such high-profile inmates. In October, Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was killed in a federal prison in West Virginia where had just been transferred.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote Saturday in a scathing letter to Barr that “heads must roll” after the incident.

“Every single person in the Justice Department — from your Main Justice headquarters staff all the way to the night-shift jailer — knew that this man was a suicide risk, and that his dark secrets couldn’t be allowed to die with him,” Sasse wrote.

Cameron Lindsay, a former warden who ran three federal lockups, said the death represents “an unfortunate and shocking failure, if proven to be a suicide.”

“Unequivocally, he should have been on active suicide watch and therefore under direct and constant supervision,” Lindsay said.

The federal investigation into the sexual abuse allegations remains ongoing, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who noted in a statement Saturday that the indictment against Epstein include a conspiracy charge, suggesting others could face charges in the case.

Epstein’s arrest last month launched separate investigations into how authorities handled his case initially when similar charges were first brought against him in Florida more than a decade ago. U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned last month after coming under fire for overseeing that deal when he was U.S. attorney in Miami.

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On Friday, more than 2,000 pages of documents were released related to a since-settled lawsuit against Epstein’s ex-girlfriend by Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers. The records contain graphic allegations against Epstein, as well as the transcript of a 2016 deposition of Epstein in which he repeatedly refused to answer questions to avoid incriminating himself.

Sigrid McCawley, Giuffre’s attorney, said Epstein’s suicide less than 24 hours after the documents were unsealed “is no coincidence.” McCawley urged authorities to continue their investigation, focusing on Epstein associates who she said “participated and facilitated Epstein’s horrifying sex trafficking scheme.”

Other accusers and their lawyers reacted to the news with frustration that the financier won’t have to face them in court.

“We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed the pain and trauma he caused so many people,” accuser Jennifer Araoz said in a statement.

Brad Edwards, a Florida lawyer for nearly two dozen other accusers, said that “this is not the ending anyone was looking for.”

“The victims deserved to see Epstein held accountable, and he owed it to everyone he hurt to accept responsibility for all of the pain he caused,” Edwards said in a statement.

Epstein’s arrest drew national attention, particularly focusing on a deal that allowed Epstein to plead guilty in 2008 to soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida and avoid more serious federal charges.

Federal prosecutors in New York reopened the probe after investigative reporting by The Miami Herald stirred outrage over that plea bargain.

His lawyers maintained that the new charges in New York were covered by the 2008 plea deal and that Epstein hadn’t had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his 13-month sentence in Florida.

Before his legal troubles, Epstein led a life of extraordinary luxury that drew powerful people into his orbit. He socialized with princes and presidents and lived on a 100-acre private Caribbean island and one of the biggest mansions in New York.

This story has corrected the name of the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Sisak reported from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Balsamo from Jacksonville, Florida. Associated Press writers Curt Anderson, Jennifer Peltz and David Klepper contributed to this report.

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Nate Landman takes on leadership role with young CU Buffs linebacking corps

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 5:00am

BOULDER — Nate Landman has a heavy weight on his shoulders.

There’s the pressure that comes with being named to the Chuck Bednarik and Butkus Award watch lists, as well as pressure to live up to the standard of a preseason All-Pac-12 player.

But this fall, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound junior inside linebacker is tasked with leading a young Colorado linebacking corps that features 11 freshmen and sophomores on the depth chart. Landman takes over the leadership role for graduated inside linebacker Rick Gamboa.

“It makes me a better football player,” Landman said of assuming a larger leadership role. “I’m not only worried about myself and having that tunnel vision view, but being in leadership and worried about our whole defense and how the team is as a whole broadens my eyes and my perspective.”

He’ll use the lessons he learned from Gamboa along the way.

“The main thing he taught me was when things are going bad, just keep positive and rely on your coaching and your practice at what you’ve been doing,” Landman said.

During Colorado’s upset victory at Nebraska last year. Landman and Gamboa sat on the bench exhausted in the second quarter with the Buffs having already allowed 21 points.

“I’ll never forget he always told me, ‘We’re gonna win this game,’” Landman said. “And that’s one huge thing I learned from Rick was to, no matter what’s going down, to always stay positive and to fall back on your training.”

Now, Landman, who led CU in tackles a season ago, has to apply that education to his new responsibility as the defensive play-caller.

The likely other starter at inside linebacker will be redshirt sophomore Jonathan Van Diest, who looks to play his first full season since tearing his ACL in November 2017. Last season, he got in for only 23 snaps.

“I’ve learned the defense,” Van Diest said. “I know how to play the inside linebacker position. When I first came here, I came from outside linebacker in high school to inside. So, even that first year, I never felt like I was coming from a starting point before my injury. This feels like a whole new thing. Where I’m at now is the best I’ve been at inside linebacker.”

The other two starting linebackers — lining up on the outside — will likely be redshirt sophomore Carson Wells and either redshirt senior Nu’umotu Falo Jr. or senior Alex Tchangam. Senior Davion Taylor should start at STAR, a hybrid safety and outside linebacker position installed by new head coach Mel Tucker.

Van Diest said young players, such as true freshman Marvin Ham II, have stood out this offseason. Those players will be needed to add depth to a thin rotation.

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Still, he said Landman is the glue that holds the group together.

“He’s taken a bigger role, which I know he feels like he should, and he has done really well,” Van Diest said. “It’s really up to the rest of us because we’re all inexperienced. And I know the plays; I just haven’t played a lot.”

While the pressure mounts from all directions for Landman, he’s focused on one thing: Leading a green group of linebackers.

“I do have individual goals, but I’m focused on the team goal,” he said. “And I want to win a Pac-12 championship.”

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Bye bye, El Niño: What does that mean for this winter in Colorado?

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 5:00am

What was perhaps the most widely cited reason for Colorado’s epic winter is now officially in the past.

On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) issued its final El Niño advisory, essentially saying that El Niño — warmer-than-average Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures — is over. We’re now transitioning to a neutral pattern, meaning we’re neither in an El Niño or in a La Niña (cooler-than-average Pacific sea temperatures).

NOAA’s outlook calls for a 50% to 55% chance of continued neutral conditions through the winter months, when El Niño or La Niña’s impacts are typically greatest felt. That said, there’s still about a 30% chance of El Niño conditions to persist through the upcoming winter, and only a 15% shot of a La Niña, according to NOAA.

RELATED: When you see this number, it probably means storms are on the way

So with El Niño now seemingly gone, how might that play into our long-range weather outlook, and specifically, might it play a role in our upcoming winter?

First, let’s go over the basics about what El Niño actually is, and why it’s such a buzz word when talking about any sort of longer-term weather forecast. El Niño, simply, means that sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean are running above average.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostMorning light starts to reveal a snow-covered San Juan Mountain Range on March 29, 2019, in Silverton.

Spurred on by extra warmth — and therefore energy — in the world’s largest ocean, these warm waters create a meteorological domino effect on worldwide weather. For us across the lower 48, it tends to lead to extra moisture for the southern and western United States, and the San Juans and southern Colorado typically — though not always — winding up with the biggest winter jackpots.

Colorado, of course, sits pretty much smack dab between the Northwest and the Southwest United States, so El Niño and La Niña conditions can vary dramatically from one side of the state to the other. For example, during the El Niño winter of 2017-18, Colorado’s northern mountains limped along and had an average to slightly below normal winter season, while the southern mountains were nearly completely shut out. The San Juans and southern Colorado saw arguably their worst winter on record, and certainly their worst in recent memory, helping lead to wildfires and drought in addition to unhappy skiers.

That said, during another El Niño winter, this past season was a winner for virtually all of Colorado’s mountains. Epic snow pack levels and consistent snow pounded the state during the second half of winter and through the spring. From a wider view, this winter behaved like what we’ve come to expect from a fairly typical El Niño for the western United States; dryish for the Pacific Northwest, and unusually wet and snowy for the Southwest.

But now with a transition to a so-called ENSO-neutral state (ENSO stands for El Niño Southern Oscillation, NOAA’s official terminology for this climatological phenomenon), what can Colorado expect this winter?

The climatological outlook is murky for some of the same reasons listed above: no two neutral seasons are exactly the same, and Colorado is often stuck between the two main jet streams of influence (the subtropical and polar). That said, neutral events typically bring the polar jet stream further south, while shifting the subtropical jet stream’s position.

The last five ENSO-neutral winters were in 2013-14, 2005-06, 2004-2005, 2001-02 and 1996-97, according to NOAA. Three of those five winters (2013-14, 2005-06 and 1996-97) finished with above-average Colorado statewide snowpack, according to official figures from the National Resources Conservation Service, and in fact 1996-97 was one of the bigger winters in the last 30 years. However, one of those winters — 2001-02 — finished with one of the lowest statewide snowpack figures on record.

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Temperatures can fluctuate depending on how far south the polar jet stream dips. If that jet stream decides to generally lean more to the south, it may continue our chilly weather that we saw this winter and spring. If the subtropical jet kicks north, it’ll draw up some warmer and potentially wetter weather.

We tend to focus on the winter months for two main reasons: one, so much of Colorado’s winter economy depends on snow, obviously. As we mentioned earlier, though, the second factor playing in is that El Niño’s impacts are usually felt most strongly during the winter. Jet streams are at their strongest during our (the Northern Hemisphere’s) winter, and they’re one of the key driving forces in transporting heat and energy around the globe.

Like virtually everything relating to Colorado weather, be careful with over-extrapolating from these types of signals. Figuring out whether or not it’s going to rain on your backyard this afternoon is hard enough; telling you if it’s going to snow a lot in six months is exponentially more difficult. There are different types of La Niñas, neutral patterns and El Niños, and they can play a role in what ultimately happens to us. In addition, this is just one factor out of many that’ll determine what our fall, winter and spring actually look like here in Colorado.

But in the meantime, we’ve now got at least some sort of signal for what the upcoming winter might hold for Colorado.

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As stars drop out of FIBA World Cup, several Nuggets remain locked in

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 5:00am

USA Basketball opened training camp for the 2019 FIBA World Cup on Monday in Las Vegas with much less star power than originally hoped.

One after another, all-star-caliber players withdrew from the competition in the weeks since Team USA announced its 20-man roster in June.

James Harden, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Kevin Love, Bradley Beal, DeMar Derozan, Paul Millsap — all out. Even guys like Landry Shamet withdrew.

There could be a variety of reasons why the game’s stars aren’t interested in participating — load management and injury concerns among them.

Could NBA teams also be making behind-the-scenes requests to their players to sit out?

The Nuggets certainly don’t appear to be doing so. They have four players on either national or select team rosters — franchise cornerstone Nikola Jokic for Serbia, Juancho Hernangomez for Spain, Mason Plumlee for the U.S. and Torrey Craig for the USA Select Team.

“There’s definitely a concern, because of their health,” Nuggets assistant coach Jordi Fernandez said. “That’s the only concern. But, as an organization, we support them representing their countries, because that means a lot, and that’s also a big part of what they do.”

The risk of injury is legitimate. Denver’s Jamal Murray was supposed to star for Canada, but after he sprained his ankle last week, the guard pulled out of the World Cup as a precautionary measure.

Fernandez said the Nuggets are sending development staff to China to work with the players during the tournament, which runs from Aug. 31 to Sep. 15.

The 36-year-old Fernandez, entering his fourth year as an assistant for Denver, understands the importance of international competition.

Born in Barcelona, Spain, he played collegiately at the University of Barcelona from 2001 to 2006. In 2013, he coached the Spanish U-19 team. He was also an assistant for the Spanish national team in 2014 and 2017.

While some NBA coaches may see the potential negative consequences with players putting extra miles on their bodies, Fernandez recognizes the benefits of international competition.

“Playing minutes, it’s very valuable for those guys,” he said. “Playing real minutes. If you spend the whole summer playing pickup basketball, it’s never gonna be the same. They are forced to execute gameplans, to be in different situations that sometimes they’re not in the NBA. So, that’s super valuable.”

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Jokic is already a superstar, but for Hernangomez and Plumlee, extra minutes could aid their development. Playing under head coach Gregg Popovich and assistant Steve Kerr can’t hurt either.

Fernandez and the Nuggets certainly hope so.

After finishing last season one win away from the Western Conference finals, the organization remained largely quiet in free agency. The Nuggets are optimistic that experiences like the FIBA World Cup will help strengthen their roster and allow them to take the next step.

“We all know that risk, and we obviously want them healthy and want them with us,” Fernandez said. “Our season is the most important thing for us. But that’s how we approach it — it’s to fully support whatever they want to do and just be there for them.”

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