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Lyons “deeply concerned” about steep Rocky Mountain National Park fee hike

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 9:43pm

Lyons Mayor Connie Sullivan has asked the National Park Service to reconsider a proposed fee hike at Rocky Mountain National Park because, she argues, it will negatively impact the town’s economy, which depends on park visitors.

“The economic health of our community depends on a healthy, functioning public lands system that is accessible to all Americans of varying income levels,” Sullivan wrote in a letter to the park service dated Thursday. “We are deeply concerned about the proposal to raise the entrance fee at RMNP.”

Currently, it costs $20 for a day pass into the park for a passenger vehicle. If the price change is approved, that cost would jump to $70 per car during the peak season at the park, which begins on June 18 and runs five months. An annual pass for a specific park could be purchased for $75 under the proposed changes.

Reached by phone on Friday evening, Sullivan said the town’s Board of Trustees discussed the issue at its most recent meeting and is calling upon residents to submit comments to the National Park Service regarding the proposed price hike.

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“It’s a very large increase, and it has the potential to divert a lot of money away from Rocky Mountain National Park,” Sullivan said. “People might see the value of just getting the annual pass. … That money doesn’t necessarily stay in the park or stay local.”

She added that the letter has been sent to Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet and Rep. Jared Polis.


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Here is a list of men accused of sexual misconduct since allegations were made against Harvey Weinstein

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 9:31pm

NEW YORK — Since The New York Times published allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in October, multiple men in entertainment, media and politics in the U.S. and beyond have faced allegations ranging from inappropriate behavior to forced sexual misconduct to rape.

To be sure, prominent men have faced sexual misconduct claims before. But the accusations against Weinstein have opened a floodgate, sparked an international conversation and put new pressure on companies, industries, and political leaders to respond. President Donald Trump has condemned some of the accused, been more muted about others, and found himself again being asked about sexual harassment and misconduct allegations leveled against him during last year’s presidential campaign. The Republican says they’re fake.

The #Metoo moment is also prompting re-examination of past sexual misconduct claims against powerful men, including Democratic former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. He was impeached and then acquitted of perjury and obstruction of lawmakers’ investigation into his sexual encounters with a White House intern, and he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit stemming from his time as Arkansas governor.

A look at some of the men accused since the Weinstein accusations emerged:


— Producer Harvey Weinstein’ Accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment or sexual assaults, including rape. Fired by The Weinstein Co. and expelled from various professional guilds. Under investigation by police departments in New York, London, Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. Weinstein denies all allegations of non-consensual sex, but he has apologized for causing “a lot of pain” with “the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past.”

— Celebrity chef John Besh — Accused by 25 women of sexual harassment. He has stepped down from the company he founded.

— Comedian Louis C.K. — Accused by five women of sexual misconduct. Planned release of film “I Love You, Daddy” halted. Netflix special canceled. He says the allegations are true and has apologized.

— Cinefamily executives Hadrian Belove and Shadie Elnashai — Accused of sexual misconduct. Movie theater shut down in the wake of allegations due to crippling debt.

— Actor Richard Dreyfuss — One woman alleges sexual harassment. He denies the allegation.

— Director-producer Gary Goddard — Accused by one man of sexually molesting him when the man was 12. He denies the allegation.

–Casting employee Andy Henry — Admitted to urging women to take off their clothes during coaching sessions in 2008 while working on the “CSI” series. He was fired by his current employer.

— Actor Dustin Hoffman — Accused by woman of sexual harassing when she was 17. He has apologized for his behavior.

— Actor Robert Knepper — Accused by one woman of sexual assault. He denies the allegations.

— Showrunner Andrew Kreisberg — Accused by 19 women of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching. The “Supergirl” and “Arrow” showrunner has been suspended by Warner Bros. Television Group. He told Variety he has made comments on women’s appearances and clothes “but they were not sexualized.”

— Actor Jeremy Piven — Accused by three women of sexual misconduct. He denies all allegations.

— Filmmaker Brett Ratner — Accused by at least six women of sexual harassment. Playboy shelved projects with Ratner and Ratner stepped away from Warner Bros. related activities. He denies the allegations.

— Comedy festival organizer Gilbert Rozon — Accused by at least nine women of sexually harassing or sexually assaulting them. Rozon stepped down as president of Montreal’s renowned “Just for Laughs” festival and apologized “to all those I have offended during my life.”

— Producer Chris Savino — Accused of harassing up to 12 women. Fired from Nickelodeon. He has apologized for his behavior.

— Actor Steven Seagal — Accused by two women of rape. He denies the allegations.

— Actor Tom Sizemore — Accused of groping an 11-year-old actress in 2003. Utah prosecutors declined to file charges, citing witness and evidence problems. He denies the allegation.

— Actor Kevin Spacey — Accused by at least 24 men of sexual misconduct or assault. London police reportedly investigating a sexual assault. Fired from “House of Cards” and replaced in Ridley Scott’s completed film “All the Money in the World.” Massachusetts prosecutors are investigating one allegation. His former publicist has said he is seeking unspecified treatment.

— Actor Jeffrey Tambor — Two women — an actress on his show “Transparent” and his assistant — allege sexual misconduct. He denies the allegation, saying in a statement that he has “never been a predator — ever.”

— Actor George Takei — One man alleges sexual assault. He denies the allegation.

— Writer-director James Toback — Accused by hundreds of women of sexual harassment. Beverly Hills police investigating complaints. He has denied the allegations to the Los Angeles Times.

— “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner — Accused by one woman of sexual harassment. He denies the allegation.

— Actor Ed Westwick — Accused by two women of sexual assault. The BBC pulled an Agatha Christie adaptation from its television schedule and halted production on a second sitcom starring the former “Gossip Girl’ actor. Los Angeles police are investigating. He denies the allegations.

Media, publishing and business:

— Billboard magazine executive Stephen Blackwell — Accused of sexual harassment by one woman. He has resigned from the magazine.

— Penguin Random House art director Giuseppe Castellano — Accused by one woman of sexual harassment. Penguin Random House is investigating. Castellano has not commented.

— New Republic publisher Hamilton Fish’ Multiple sexual harassment allegations. He has resigned from the magazine.

— Journalist Mark Halperin — Accused of harassing about 12 women while at ABC News. Book contract terminated. Fired from job at NBC News. He has denied some of the allegations.

— Artforum publisher Knight Landesman — Accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and sued by one woman. He has resigned from the magazine.

— NPR news chief Michael Oreskes — Accused of inappropriate behavior or sexual harassment by at least four women while at The New York Times, NPR and The Associated Press. He has been ousted from NPR.

— Amazon executive Roy Price — Accused by one woman of sexual harassment. He resigned from Amazon.

— Webster Public Relations CEO Kirt Webster — Accused of sexual assault by one woman. Firm renamed and Webster is “taking time away.”

— Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner — Accused by one man of sexual harassment. He says he did not intend to make the accuser uncomfortable.

— New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier — Accused of sexually harassing numerous women. Removed from the masthead of The Atlantic magazine. He has apologized for his behavior.

— NBC News booker Matt Zimmerman — Accused of inappropriate conduct by multiple women at the network. He was fired from NBC.


— U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) — Accused of forcibly kissing a woman while rehearsing for a 2006 USO tour; Franken also was photographed with his hands over her breasts as she slept. Franken has apologized, while maintaining that he remembered the rehearsal differently. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for an ethics investigation of Franken.

— U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore (R.-Ala.) ‘Accused of sexually assaulting two women decades ago when they were teenagers; about a half-dozen other women have accused Moore of inappropriate conduct. The former state Supreme Court chief justice denies the allegations. He has rebuffed pressure from national Republican leaders to step aside; the state GOP is standing by him.

— Former President George H.W. Bush — Accused of patting seven women below the waist while posing for photos with them in recent years, well after he left office. The 93-year-old Republican has issued repeated apologies through a spokesman “to anyone he has offended,” with the spokesman noting that the former president uses a wheelchair and that his arm sinks below people’s waists when they take photos with him.

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— Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel — Accused of sexually inappropriate comments and behavior toward a number of women, Bittel resigned. Meanwhile, Democratic state Sen. Jeff Clemens resigned after a report that he had an extramarital affair with a lobbyist, and Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala is being investigated by the Senate over allegations of harassment and groping. Latvala has denied the allegations.

— Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover — Stepped down as speaker this month after news surfaced that the Republican had settled a sexual harassment claim from a GOP caucus staffer. Hoover denied the harassment allegation but said he sent consensual yet inappropriate text messages. He remains in the Legislature.

— British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon — Accused of inappropriate advances on two women, the Conservative resigned. Sexual harassment and assault allegations have also emerged against a number of other U.K. political figures. Labour Party legislator Carl Sargeant is believed to have taken his own life after harassment allegations cost him his post as the Welsh government’s Cabinet secretary for communities and children. He had asked for an independent inquiry to clear his name.


— International Olympic Committee member Alex Gilady — Accused by two women of rape and by two others of inappropriate conduct. Gilady denied the rape accusations, said he didn’t recall one of the other allegations, but acknowledged a claim he’d propositioned a woman during a job interview 25 years ago was “mainly correct.” He stepped down as president of an Israeli broadcasting company he founded. The IOC has said it is looking into the allegations.

— Former South African soccer association president Danny Jordaan — Accused by former member of parliament Jennifer Ferguson of raping her in 1993. Jordaan denies the accusation.

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Surgeons remove worms, parasites from North Korean soldier

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 9:21pm

SEOUL, South Korea — Surgeons treating a North Korean soldier who was severely wounded by gunfire while escaping to South Korea have removed dozens of parasites from his body, including presumed roundworms as long as 27 centimeters (11 inches), hospital officials said.

The soldier, whose name and rank have not been disclosed, defected to South Korea last Monday by driving a military jeep near a line that divides the Koreas and then rushing across it under a barrage of bullets. Hospital officials said Saturday that it was too early to tell whether he will make a recovery.

While treating the wounds, surgeons found the large parasites, which may be reflective of poor nutrition and health in North Korea’s military, the hospital said. Doctors measured the soldier as being 1.7 meters (5.6 feet) tall, but weighing just 60 kilograms (132 pounds).

“I spent more than 20 years of experience as a surgeon, but I have not found parasites this big in the intestines of South Koreans,” Lee Cook-jong, who leads the soldier’s medical team, told reporters last week.

Lee is a famous trauma specialist who was hailed as a hero in 2011 after conducting life-saving surgeries on the captain of a South Korean freighter ship who was shot during a rescue mission after being held by Somali pirates.

While the North Korean soldier’s vital signs were stabilizing on Saturday, he continued to remain unconscious and relying on a breathing machine. After consecutive surgeries to repair internal organ damage and other injuries, no further surgeries are planned as of yet, said Shin Mi-jeong, an official at the Ajou University Medical Center near Seoul.

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South Korea’s military said four North Korean soldiers used handguns and AK rifles to fire about 40 rounds at their former comrade, who was hit at least five times. He was found beneath a pile of leaves on the southern side of the Joint Security Area, and South Korean troops crawled there to recover him. A United Nations Command helicopter later transported him to the Ajou hospital.

It remains unclear whether the North Koreans chasing the soldier fired at him even after he crossed into the southern side of the border, which would be a violation of an armistice agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. The U.N. Command, which is investigating the incident, postponed a plan to release video footage of the soldier’s escape on Thursday.

The Joint Security Area is jointly overseen by the American-led U.N. Command and by North Korea, with South Korean and North Korean border guards facing each other only meters (feet) apart. It is located inside the 4-kilometer (2 1/2-mile) -wide Demilitarized Zone, which forms the de facto border between the Koreas since the Korean War.

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Denver police respond to shooting in 2900 block of North Downing Street

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 9:16pm

Denver police Saturday night responded to a shooting of an individual in the Whittier neighborhood.

The shooting happened about 9 p.m. in the 2900 block of North Downing Street. No details were immediately available from police. A person was transported to Denver Health Medical Center for medical attention. The shooting appeared to be at a convenience store in the area.

#DPD officers are on-scene in the 2900 Blk of Downing Street in regard to a shooting. One party has been transported for treatment related to a GSW. No available suspect info at present. #Denver

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) November 19, 2017

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Lebanon’s PM Hariri says he will be in Beirut within days

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 9:13pm

PARIS — Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Saturday he will return home in the coming days from where he will declare a political stance for the first time since making a strange resignation announcement from Saudi Arabia that unleashed fears of a crisis in Lebanon.

Hariri and his family met Saturday with French President Emmanuel Macron, who invited the Lebanese leader to Paris to dispel fears that he was being held in Saudi Arabia against his will. Macron is seeking to calm tensions and avert a proxy conflict between Saudi-backed and Iranian-backed camps in Lebanon.

Hariri’s appearance in Paris — looking relaxed and posing with his wife and older son on the steps of the Elysee Palace with the French presidential couple in front of a large crowd of journalists — contrasted with his limited-access, carefully choreographed appearances from Saudi Arabia.

Hariri told Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Saturday that he will take part in Independence Day celebrations in Beirut on Wednesday, according to Macron’s office.

After his meeting with Macron, Hariri told reporters: “God willing, I will attend Independence Day in Lebanon and will declare my political stance from Lebanon and after meeting President Michel Aoun.”

“As you know I have resigned and we will talk about this matter in Lebanon,” Hariri said after thanking Macron, who he added “expressed pure friendship toward me that I will never forget.”

The independence day ceremony is usually headed by the president, prime minister and parliament speaker, and Hariri’s presence could help calm uncertainties that have escalated since his strange and surprising resignation announcement on Nov. 4 from Saudi Arabia.

However, Hariri’s political status is murky. Lebanon’s president refused to accept Hariri’s resignation, accusing the Saudis of holding him against his will.

A high official in Macron’s office said Hariri’s place is first in Beirut, “which is the only place where he can hand his resignation to the Lebanese head of state.”

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with French presidential policy, found it normal that Hariri would keep any announcement about his political stance for his fellow citizens.

Before leaving Riyadh, Hariri dismissed as “rumors” reports about his alleged detention in the kingdom.

In his Nov. 4 televised resignation announcement, Hariri had cited Iran and Hezbollah for meddling in Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. He also said he was afraid for his life.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday asked its citizens for the second time in less than two weeks to leave Lebanon “as soon as possible” given the “circumstances” there. That raised fears of more punitive actions to come.

The French presidential official said it is essential that Lebanon be protected from “negative” foreign influences because the country needs stability and a strong state. The official didn’t name any specific nations but said Lebanon should be protected from the “dangers that regional crises can pose to it.”

The Arab League is due to hold a meeting on Sunday in Cairo at Saudi Arabia’s urging where the Lebanon crisis and Iran’s role in the region are expected to be discussed.

Just before leaving Saudi Arabia, Hariri met with the Saudi Crown Prince and other senior officials, according to a member of Hariri’s political party and two Lebanese television stations.

Hariri landed before dawn Saturday at an airport used for private jets in Le Bourget north of Paris, and came in a convoy to his Paris residence in a high-end neighborhood, where police stood guard. Hariri frequently stays in France thanks to decades-old family ties here.

Hariri held private talks with Macron and then they were joined by Hariri’s wife Lara al-Azm and elder son Hussam and Macron’s wife Brigitte for lunch.

Hariri’s two younger son and daughter, Abdul-Aziz and Loulwa, remained in Saudi Arabia because they have school on Sunday, said Okab Saqr, a member of Hariri’s parliamentary bloc.

The official with the French presidency said France is not worried that Hariri left two of his children in Saudi Arabia.

“We have no reason to be concerned about this,” the French official said, answering questions about whether, as some have suggested, Saudi Arabia could use the children’s whereabouts to maintain pressure on Hariri.

Hariri’s exact next steps after his planned visit to Lebanon are unclear. A French official said Saturday that France is offering Hariri the necessary support during this time of political turmoil in his country. The official was not authorized to be publicly named.

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Macron said he received Hariri “with the honors due a prime minister,” even though he has announced his resignation, since Lebanon hasn’t yet recognized it.

While Macron insists that he’s not offering “exile,” Hariri’s return could be complicated by Lebanon’s internal tensions.

During a phone call on Saturday morning, Macron and Aoun spoke about a return of Hariri to Lebanon that could help make Lebanese institutions “function normally again,” the French presidential official said.

It’s part of a broader Macron strategy to reassert French influence in the region, while the United States under President Donald Trump is increasingly seen as unpredictable or disengaged. Macron’s office says France’s strategy is to talk to all powers in the region and not to appear as choosing a camp.

Mroue reported from Beirut. Associated Press writers Angela Charlton and Patrick Hermansen in Paris and Sarah El Deeb in Beirut contributed to this report.

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Colorado basketball tops Drake in Paradise Jam semifinals

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 9:08pm

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Lost in the celebration of Colorado’s improbable comeback victory Friday night was an alarming statistic that won’t typically lead to many wins.

Even after McKinley Wright’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer against Quinnipiac, Buffaloes men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle expressed frustration at an assists-to-turnover ratio that saw his team record just seven assists against 17 turnovers.

Despite a quick turnaround, Wright and his teammates made quick work in vastly improving that ratio against Drake Saturday night. Sharing the ball better than they have so far in the young season, the Buffs weathered several Drake comeback attempts in the second half to post a 86-81 victory in the semifinals of the Paradise Jam.

CU will play Mercer for the championship Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. MST.

Full story via BuffZone

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Climate talks wrap up with progress on Paris rulebook

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 9:06pm

BONN, Germany — Global talks on curbing climate change wrapped up Friday, with delegates and observers claiming progress on several key details of the 2015 Paris accord.

The two-week negotiations focused on a range of issues including transparency, financial assistance for poor nations and how to keep raising countries’ targets for cutting carbon emissions.

“We are making good progress on the Paris agreement work program, and we are on track to complete that work by the deadline,” Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told diplomats hours before the meeting in Bonn, Germany, was due to conclude.

Bainimarama, who presided over the talks, faced the challenging task of reconciling the often conflicting positions of rich and poor countries, especially when it comes to what each side needs to do to curb climate change.

By late Friday, two main issues remained unresolved: the question of how far in advance rich countries need to commit billions in funding to help developing nations, and a dispute over whether Turkey should have access to financial aid meant for poor countries.

Signatories of the Paris agreement want to keep global warming significantly below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. That goal won’t be achieved unless countries make further efforts to sharply reduce carbon emissions caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels.

Observers say the U.S. delegation played a largely constructive role during the talks, despite the Trump administration’s threat to pull out of the Paris accord.

While one group of American officials led by White House adviser George David Banks raised eyebrows by hosting a pro-coal event during the talks, a second group consisting of seasoned U.S. negotiators quietly got on with the painstaking job of refining the international climate rulebook, said Elliot Diringer, a veteran of such U.N. meetings.

“It’s a smaller team but a strong team,” said Diringer, who is the executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a Washington think tank. “From all accounts they have been playing a constructive role in the room advancing largely the same positions as before.”

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Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, cautioned that while the Bonn talks might be considered a diplomatic success, little concrete progress has been made on tackling what he called the “coal trap.”

“We are being pressured by the mass of available coal: it’s very cheap on the market but it’s very expensive for society because of air pollution and climate change,” he said, noting that Japan, Turkey, Egypt and Indonesia plan to keep investing in coal-fired power plants — a major source of carbon emissions.

Environmental groups voiced disappointment at German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s failure to announce a deadline for her country to stop using coal, even as other nations such as Canada, Britain and France committed to a phase-out during the talks.

Leadership hopes are now being pinned on President Emmanuel Macron of France, who is hosting a climate summit in Paris next month to mark the second anniversary of the landmark accord.

Further low-level talks will take place over the next year in order to present leaders with final drafts for approval at the next climate meeting in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018.


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Parents sue after boy’s skull is fatally crushed in rotating Atlanta restaurant

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 8:59pm

The family of a 5-year-old boy whose skull was crushed in the rotating wall of a hotel restaurant has sued the Atlanta hotel, accusing it of negligence in his death.

Attorney Joseph Fried filed suit Wednesday for Rebecca and Michael Holt of Charlotte, North Carolina, whose son Charlie died April 14.

“What started out as the best family trip, turned into the worst nightmare,” Rebecca Holt said in a statement emailed by Fried.

They had chosen the Sun Dial restaurant “because it was recommended as a fun place for families with kids to see the Atlanta skyline and enjoy a meal,” Charlie’s father, Michael Holt, said in the statement.

Marriott International, the hotel’s owner, didn’t immediately respond to an email and phone call requesting comment.

Police had said the boy wandered away from his family’s window table at the restaurant atop the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel and got his head stuck between tables. They also said the rotating floor shut off automatically when he was struck.

The lawsuit disagrees with police statements.

It said the family left along a path that various members had used without problems to go to and from the bathroom. But this time, it said, a booth rotating near a stationary wall blocked their path.

Charlie, a few steps ahead of his parents, “was too short to see past the booth and did not appreciate the danger until it was too late,” and was trapped in the “pinch point” between booth and wall, according to the lawsuit.

“To Michael’s and Rebecca’s horror, the rotation did not automatically stop when Charlie got trapped,” the lawsuit states, and there was no emergency button to stop it.

Rebecca Holt tried to pull her son free and Michael Holt “threw his body against the booth,” but both actions were futile, it said.

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It said Michael Holt heard his son’s skull crack before someone finally stopped the rotation.

“The family has filed this law suit to set the record straight about what happened and to make sure, to the best of their abilities, that no other family ever has to suffer the same fate,” Fried’s statement said.

Defendants include Marriott, as well as the chain that previously owned the Peachtree before Marriott bought the chain. Also named are other former owners and operators, and the architects, interior designer and contractor in charge of renovations to the restaurant in 2012 and 2013.

The hotel reopened the restaurant in June.

“After Charlie’s death, Marriott has said that it won’t allow the restaurant to revolve again until it has addressed the dangerous pinch points,” Fried’s statement said. “Marriott should not have waited for this tragedy before acting to correct this hazard, especially while it held itself out as a safe place for kids.”


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Zimbabweans say Mugabe must quit now, but more talks planned

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 8:51pm

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Giddy with joy and finally free to speak out, vast throngs of demonstrators turned Zimbabwe’s capital into a carnival ground on Saturday in a peaceful outpouring of disdain for President Robert Mugabe and calls for him to quit immediately. Still clinging to his now-powerless post, the longtime leader was scheduled on Sunday to discuss his expected exit with the military command that put him under house arrest.

People in Harare clambered onto tanks and other military vehicles moving slowly through the crowds, danced around soldiers walking in city streets and surged in the thousands toward the building where Mugabe held official functions, a symbol of the rule of the 93-year-old man who took power after independence from white minority rule in 1980. There, in a situation that could have become tense, the protesters instead showed deference to the small number of soldiers blocking their way and eventually dispersed.

It was a historic day when the old Zimbabwe, a once-promising African nation with a disintegrating economy and a mood of fear about the consequences of challenging Mugabe, became something new, with a population united, at least temporarily, in its fervor for change and a joyful openness that would have seemed fanciful even a few days ago.

The euphoria, however, will eventually subside, and much depends on the behind-the-scenes maneuvering to get Mugabe to officially resign, jumpstart a new leadership that could seek to be inclusive and reduce perceptions that the military staged a coup against Mugabe. The president was to meet military commanders on Sunday in a second round of talks, state broadcaster ZBC reported.

“The common enemy is Robert Mugabe. That’s for starters,” said 37-year-old Talent Mudzamiri, an opposition supporter who was born soon after Zimbabwe’s independence.

He had a warning for whoever takes over Zimbabwe: “If the next leader does the same, we are going to come out again.”

Many Zimbabweans believe the most likely candidate will be Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former vice president with close military ties whose dismissal by Mugabe triggered the intervention of the armed forces, which sent troops and tanks into the streets this week, effectively taking over the country. The increasing presidential ambitions of Mugabe’s wife Grace, a polarizing figure who denounced Mnangagwa amid a factional battle within the ruling ZANU-PF party, alarmed those who feared a dynastic succession.

“Leadership is not sexually transmitted,” read a poster at the Harare rallies. Other signs denounced “Gucci Grace,” a reference to the first lady’s record of high-end shopping expeditions outside Zimbabwe, which suffered hyperinflation in the past and is currently struggling with a cash shortage and massive unemployment.

The discussions over Mugabe’s fate come ahead of a key ruling party congress next month, as well as scheduled elections next year.

The president, who is believed to be staying at his private home in Harare, a well-guarded compound known as the Blue Roof, is reported to have asked for more time in office. He has been deserted by most of his allies, with others arrested. The ruling party has turned on him, asking for a Central Committee meeting this weekend to recall both him and his wife, who heads the women’s league of the party. Impeachment is also a possibility when Parliament resumes Tuesday.

Even as concerns remained about who next would be in charge and what freedoms might be available if the military lingers in power — or if Mugabe’s recently fired deputy leads a new government — people reveled Saturday in the rare chance to express themselves freely.

In Harare, people ran through intersections, raising their arms in triumph. Young men shouted, laughed and embraced. Others danced on top of moving buses. One man stripped to his underwear and danced on a car roof.

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Some marchers had posters with an image of the military commander who swept in to take control, with the slogan: “Go, go, our general!!!” Demonstrators handed flags to soldiers, who accepted and waved.

“It’s like Christmas,” said one marcher, Fred Mubay, who said Zimbabweans have been suffering for a long time.

Veterans of the long war against white minority rule, once close allies of Mugabe, took part in the demonstration, along with opposition activists who long have faced police crackdowns by the Mugabe government. Thousands gathered for speeches at the Zimbabwe Grounds, where Zimbabweans assembled to cheer Mugabe’s return from exile in 1980 after the liberation war.

Elizabeth Sithole, 60, said her husband died in 2004, she lives with her children in a 2-room apartment and her business selling vegetables has collapsed. On Saturday, though, she had a big smile while standing near soldiers in downtown Harare.

“I’m very happy,” she said.


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Blown opportunity defines the Avalanche’s ugly loss at Nashville

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 8:44pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Against the NHL’s most penalized team Saturday night, play developed favorably for the Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville couldn’t stay out of the penalty box in the first period, and the Avs — coming off a sensational offensive performance against Washington on Thursday — were in excellent position to take the crowd out of the equation by capitalizing on the Predators’ numerous miscues.

Instead, Nashville’s continuous success on the penalty kill riled up the Predators and their sellout crowd, and after killing off 11 minutes worth of Colorado’s power-play time, Nashville cashed in on the Avs’ first penalty for the game’s first goal and went on to defeat Colorado for the eighth consecutive time.

It was a night of blown opportunities for the Avalanche, which lost 5-2 in falling to 3-7 on the road. Colorado was 0-for-7 on the power play and its penalty kill was just 2-of-4. Nashville (11-6-2), the defending Western Conference champion, has outscored the Avs 34-15 in its eight-game winning streak.

“There’s a reason why they went to the Stanley Cup Final last year,” Avalanche left wing and team captain Gabe Landeskog said of the Preds. “If we score on the power play in the first period to take the lead I think it would have been a different game. Unfortunately we didn’t. Just a missed an opportunity there — basically the whole first period we had a man-advantage and just didn’t capitalize. We created scoring chances and whatnot but (goalie Pekka) Rinne made the saves when they needed them. And our PK wasn’t good enough.”

Colorado (9-8-1), ranked No. 4 in NHL scoring at 3.47 goals-per game, had 14:58 worth of power-play time through two periods, including 11:00 in the first period. It failed to capitalize on a brief 5-on-3 advantage and Austin Watson’s five-minute-major penalty for boarding.

The Predators’ Craig Smith scored a power-play goal at 19:25 of the first period and teammates Colton Sissons and Anthony Bitetto struck for goals within 1:27 of each other midway through the second period in taking a 3-0 lead.

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Mattias Ekholm beat goalie Semyon Varlamov for a power-play goal at 7:53 of the third period and Viktor Arvidsson scored in a 6-on-5 delayed penalty situation to make it 5-0 at 11:51 and further embarrass the Avs.

With 4:37 remaining, Avalanche rookie defenseman Andrei Mironov beat goalie Pekka Rinne for his first career NHL goal. J.T. Compher added his second goal of the season with 1:45 left.

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar wasn’t overly down on his team, which entered the game with the NHL’s ninth-ranked power play at 21.7 percent.

“Early in the game, the first couple power plays, we had some decent looks at the net,” Bednar said. “One thing we didn’t do is get in front of Rinne for the screens. He was seeing them. We had a couple dangerous chances. He made some good saves but the entries and breakouts, we were a little stubborn on that five-minute power play. We just didn’t execute.”

He added: “I liked our guys’ pregame skate and our mind-set coming into this one. I liked the way we stuck with it but special teams — the power play — frustrated some of our top guys. The turning point was the penalty kill at the end of the first period. They get that one. So we end up going 0-for-3 in (11) minutes of power-play time and the frustration is setting in a little bit, and then they score on their first chance at the power play.”

The Avs continue their two-game trip Sunday in Detroit, in their first visit to the new Little Caesars Arena.

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Palestinians vow to suspend talks if U.S. closes PLO mission

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 8:31pm

WASHINGTON — The Palestinians threatened on Saturday to suspend all communication with the United States if the Trump administration follows through with plans to close their diplomatic office in Washington. The potential rupture in relations threatens to undermine President Donald Trump’s bid for Mideast peace — a mission he has handed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the U.S. decision was “very unfortunate and unacceptable,” and accused Washington of bowing to pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “at a time when we are trying to cooperate to achieve the ultimate deal.”

In a video statement on social media, Erekat said: “We will put on hold all our communications with this American administration.”

There was no immediate reaction from the Trump administration. Netanyahu’s office said the closure was “a matter of U.S. law.”

U.S. officials had insisted before Erekat’s statement that the move wasn’t aimed at increasing leverage over the Palestinians, but merely the unavoidable consequence of U.S. law.

Cutting off ties would carry great risks for the Palestinians. It could antagonize an administration they already suspect is biased toward Israel and cut put millions of dollars of critical U.S. aid in jeopardy.

However, unresponsive Palestinians would deal an embarrassing blow to the Trump administration ahead of an expected peace initiative and potentially prevent it from getting off the ground. Their stance could also complicate U.S. efforts to promote a regionwide approach by bringing together Israel with Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab allies in a joint effort against Iran. Arab countries might be reluctant to get too close to Israel in the absence of serious progress on the Palestinian issue.

The administration announced late Friday that the Palestinians had run afoul of a legal provision that says the Palestine Liberation Organization cannot operate a Washington office if the Palestinians try to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson determined that the Palestinians crossed that line in September, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the court to investigate and prosecute Israelis, according to State Department officials. They weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the situation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

It wasn’t clear when the office would close or whether the Palestinians would have to clear out of the building entirely or just close it to the public. Riad Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, said he was told by the Americans that U.S. and State Department legal teams would meet Monday to decide how the new situation would affect the office, the functioning of diplomats and contacts with the Palestinians.

“We will wait to hear back from them,” Malki said. After that, the Palestinians will decide how to react.

Under the law, Trump now has 90 days to consider whether the Palestinians are in “direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” If Trump determines they are, then the mission can reopen, officials said.

PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said the U.S. was “disqualifying itself as a peace broker in the region” by refusing to extend a waiver from the law.

“Conditioning the renewal of the waiver on the Palestinians’ sticking to ‘direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel’ is actually superfluous since negotiations are nonexistent, and the current U.S. administration has yet to present any kind of peace initiative,” she said in a statement.

The U.S. said it wasn’t cutting off relations with the Palestinians and remained focused on a comprehensive peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. One of the U.S. officials said in an email that “this measure should in no way be seen as a signal that the U.S. is backing off those efforts.”

The Palestinians quickly dismissed that argument, with Malki telling Palestine Radio that the Palestinian leadership “will not accept any extortion or pressure.” Erekat contended the move was the result of “the pressure being exerted on this administration by the Netanyahu government.”

In response, the Israeli prime minister’s office said, “We respect the decision and look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. to advance peace and security in the region.”

The Israelis and Palestinians are not engaged in active, direct negotiations. But Trump’s team, led by Kushner in his role as senior White House adviser, is working to broker a deal aimed at settling the intractable conflict.

The Palestinians, publicly supportive of the U.S. effort, are nonetheless skeptical because Trump’s close ties to Israel suggest whatever deal he proposes might be unfavorable to them. The threat of losing their office in the American capital could become one more pressure point as the Trump administration tries to persuade the Palestinians to come to the table.

The PLO is the group that formally represents all Palestinians. Although the U.S. does not recognize Palestinian statehood, the PLO maintains a “general delegation” office in Washington that facilitates Palestinian officials’ interactions with the U.S. government.

The United States allowed the PLO to open a mission in Washington in 1994. That required President Bill Clinton to waive a law that said the Palestinians couldn’t have an office. In 2011, under the Obama administration, the U.S. started letting the Palestinians fly their flag over the office, an upgrade to the status of their mission that the Palestinians hailed as historic.

Israel opposes any Palestinian membership in U.N.-related organizations until a peace deal has been reached.

The Trump administration has not disclosed details about its effort to achieve an agreement that ostensibly would grant the Palestinians an independent state in exchange for an end to its conflict with the Israelis. Kushner and other top Trump aides have been shuttling to the region to meet with Palestinians, Israelis and officials from Arab nations.

The requirement about the mission closing stems from a little-noticed provision in U.S. law that says the U.S. cannot allow the Palestinians to have a Washington office if they back the international court’s move to investigate or prosecute Israeli nationals for alleged crimes against Palestinians.

Abbas said at the United Nations in September that the Palestinians had “called on the International Criminal Court to open an investigation and to prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people.”

The U.S. president can let the Palestinians keep the office despite the violation, only if certifying to Congress “that the Palestinians have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” The provision doesn’t explicitly define what would constitute direct or meaningful negotiations.

Associated Press writers Josef Federman and Aron Heller in Jerusalem contributed to this report.


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Schools adept at shoring up security at any hint of danger

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 8:23pm

By Carolyn Thompson, The Associated Press

It’s a familiar scenario: A school official, hearing about a potential danger that’s too close for comfort, locks down the building. A nearby bank may have been robbed. Officers might be serving a warrant in the neighborhood. There are reports of shots fired in the area.

For a northern California elementary school, the quick action is credited with thwarting greater disaster Tuesday when a gunman on a deadly rampage was kept from walking through the school’s doors.

Schools have become adept at rapidly shoring up security, measuring responses against the toll it could take on students’ learning and sense of safety.

On the same day as the California rampage, across the country in upstate New York, a heavily armed gunman fired shots while pacing the parking lot of a dollar store. As police rushed to the scene, two nearby schools issued a “lockout,” with students and teachers going about their regular day while under instructions not to let anyone in the building.

“You want to take appropriate measures but you also don’t want to alarm people unnecessarily, too,” said Matthew Bystrak, acting superintendent of the West Seneca School District outside Buffalo, where the lockouts were issued.

Since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, active shooter and lockdown drills have become as common as fire drills, with students and staff practicing throughout the year, said Don Bridges, president of the National Association of School Resource Officers.

It’s unknown how frequently the plans are actually implemented in schools in response to perceived dangers in or outside the building.

“Any time schools start to hear about something going on that could possibly pose a threat to their school, there’s got to be some sort of action that the school takes. Even if they don’t go into a full lockdown, there’s a hyper level of awareness,” said Bridges, a school resource officer in Baltimore County, Maryland.

It could mean locking the doors or halting class changes to let paramedics reach an injured student, or a full-blown lockdown in which exterior and interior doors are locked and perhaps barricaded, blinds are drawn, lights turned off and students and teachers crouched out of view.

While students in West Seneca may not have noticed a disruption, it was a different scene in another Buffalo suburb, Alden, two days later when a device with a battery and wires was found in the locker of a student who had talked about making bombs.

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The district issued a lockdown, leaping to its highest level of security until sheriff’s deputies with K-9s determined there was no threat, administrators said.

“The disruption is secondary. The safety is primary,” Superintendent Adam Stoltman said Friday. He declined to detail the actions taken inside the high school, saying the district’s safety plan is confidential.

“The end result was it was nothing to be concerned about, but at that time it was very real for people,” said Stoltman, whose district dedicates two weeks of the school year to practice its safety plans.

“If we have a fire emergency, we’ve got that covered,” said Michele Gay, who co-founded Safe and Sound Schools after losing her daughter in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. “But we’re living in a new age and it’s time to acknowledge that there are other different types of crises and emergencies that we need to be prepared for.”

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Anti-gay supporters rally for Moore, worrying LGBT community

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 8:15pm

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A smiling Roy Moore stood shoulder to shoulder with his fiercest religious allies.

Flanked by a huge sign for Moore’s Senate campaign, one supporter railed against the “LGBT mafia” and “homosexualist gay terrorism.” Another warned that “homosexual sodomy” destroys those who participate in it and the nations that allow it. And still another described same-sex marriage as “a mirage” because “it’s phony and fake.”

Thursday’s news conference was designed to send a powerful message to the political world that religious conservatives across America remain committed to Moore, a Christian conservative and former judge whose Alabama Senate campaign has been rocked by mounting allegations of sexual misconduct. The event also revealed an aggressive strain of homophobia rarely seen in mainstream politics — in recent years, at least.

In the days since, religious liberals have stepped forward to express their opposition to Moore. More than 50 Alabama pastors signed a letter saying Moore has demonstrated “extremist values” incompatible with traditional Christianity and is unfit to serve in the Senate. And an anti-Moore rally at a Birmingham church on Saturday drew more than 100 people, some of whom carried signs decrying his opposition to gay rights.

But in a Senate campaign suddenly hyper focused on Moore’s relationships with teenage girls decades ago, Moore’s hardline stance on gay rights and other LGBT issues has become little more than an afterthought for many voters as Election Day approaches.

Moore first caught the attention of many in the LGBT community after describing homosexual conduct as “an inherent evil against which children must be protected” in a 2002 child custody case involving a lesbian mother. In a 2005 television interview, Moore said “homosexual conduct should be illegal.” He also said there’s no difference between gay sex and sex with a cow, horse or dog.

Moore’s stand — combined with the fiery comments from his supporters — unnerved some in Birmingham’s relatively small LGBT community.

“It made me extremely angry,” said Mackenzie Gray, a 37-year-old who came out as transgender in 2010. She says most people in her life don’t know she was born a man.

“My fear with the religious leaders and the hateful rhetoric we’re hearing is that it’s going to start escalating into something even larger,” Gray said. “It’s dangerous.”

Indeed, other LGBT activists suggested this week that open acceptance of Moore’s anti-gay rhetoric harkens to a dark and violent time in Alabama history.

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Moore’s Democratic challenger, Doug Jones, is known best, perhaps, for prosecuting the men who bombed Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church — a prosecution that came nearly 40 years after the 1963 crime that killed four black girls. Racial tensions have lingered in the state, even as the violence lessened. In 2000, Alabama became the last state in the country to overturn its ban on interracial marriage.

The state has been slow to embrace gay rights as well: 81 percent of voters supported a ban on same-sex marriage in 2006. Only neighboring Mississippi, with 86 percent, scored higher.

Patricia Todd, the state’s first openly gay state representative, says she has faced at least four death threats in recent years. One woman called Todd’s cell phone and vowed to kill her and her family, she said, noting that local LGBT leaders meet quarterly at the FBI office in Birmingham to help identify potential hate crimes.

“It’s been brutal, but it’s gotten to the point where I just laugh at them,” Todd said Friday.

She’s not laughing at Moore.

“It’s awful because he says the most hateful things,” she said.

In contrast to many conservative politicians with national ambitions, Moore has made little attempt to change his tone on LGBT issues as equal rights for the gay community has earned increasing acceptance among mainstream America.

Moore’s hero status among many Christian conservatives was cemented in 2016 when, as the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, he refused to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. He was later suspended, the second time he was forcibly removed from the state Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, Moore said, “The transgenders don’t have rights,” during a news conference, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

Moore’s unapologetic positions — and his repeated promises to take them to the U.S. Senate if elected on Dec. 12 — were celebrated at Thursday’s news conference by the religious leaders who traveled from as far as Colorado, Ohio and Texas to stand at his side.

Rabbi Noson Leiter, who once called Hurricane Sandy’s destruction “divine justice” for same-sex marriage, lashed out at “homosexualist gay terrorism.”

“We need Judge Moore to stand up to the LGBT transgender mafia,” Leiter said. He added, “We need someone with a proven record of facing off against the gay terrorists.”

Another Moore supporter, Texas Christian activist Steven Hotze, warned in 2015 that children would be “encouraged to practice sodomy in kindergarten” as a result of same-sex marriage. On Thursday, Hotze refused to describe the union of two gay people as marriage: “It’s ‘mirage’ because it’s just like a mirage — it’s phony and it’s fake.”

North Carolina-based Christian activist Flip Benham last year warned in a Charlotte City Council meeting that the policies that protect the civil rights of transgender people would trigger “bloodshed coursing down the corners of our streets.”

“We’re praising everything that God says is wrong and will destroy you,” he said Thursday. “Homosexual sodomy destroys those who participate in that behavior and nations that approve of it.”

He offered a pointed message to Moore’s critics: God “doesn’t send anyone to hell. It’s a place you choose to go.”

Benham then turned to Moore, who was sitting a few feet away with his wife. “You got the applause of heaven.”


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Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens cements legacy as Rams’ Iron Man on Senior Day

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 8:02pm

FORT COLLINS — The family stood together as one Saturday near the west sideline at Colorado State’s on-campus football stadium — a mother, a father, a sister, a wife and others — during pregame festivities against San Jose State. Some wore No. 7 jerseys. Others donned green-and-gold knit hats. They all carried full hearts for the final home game of one Rams player in particular: Nick Stevens.

Haley Stevens swears her quarterback husband treated this game week like any of his previous 31 career starts, but as the Rams’ marching band returned to their seats and the families of 23 CSU football seniors made their way to midfield, she leaned into her family circle.

“Don’t cry,” Haley Stevens said, “here they come.”

CSU defeated San Jose State 42-14, improved to 7-5 (5-3 Mountain West), and the weight of Senior Day filled the on-campus stadium for its final 2017 fall showcase. But there would be no water works from Nick Stevens, a fifth-year Ram and team captain who handed a single red rose to Haley and his mother, Stacy, during a ceremony honoring one last go-round in Fort Collins.

“It never really hit me until we were kind of lined up in the tunnel,” Stevens said. “It went by so quick that it still hasn’t had the chance to settle in.”

And yet, the ability to compartmentalize emotions brought on by physical and mental strain has come to define much of Stevens’ green-and-gold legacy, or as he puts it: “You can’t ride too high or ride too low.” Stevens proved it first with his response to a 2016 early-season benching after dismal Rocky Mountain Showdown. And Saturday was little different. The Rams entered with three-straight losses, their Mountain West championship hopes dashed, but with Stevens was the calming force.

SJSU (1-11, 0-6) sprinted out to 7-0 lead five minutes into the first quarter after a 14-yard rushing score from tailback DeJon Packer. But Stevens then led the Rams to four scores on their next five drives before halftime, including a pair of deep touchdown tosses to tight end Cameron Butler (50 yards) and receiver Olabisi Johnson (24 yards). CSU led 28-7 after the break and Stevens added another passing touchdown — 9 yards to tight end Dalton Fackrell — in the third quarter to seal a victory.

With just one yet-to-be-determined bowl game left in Stevens’ collegiate football career, his mark on the CSU record books is undeniable. He is the all-time leader in career touchdown passes (68) and passing efficiency (149.2 entering Saturday), and second in career passing yards (8,234) and completions (602).

What’s more? Stevens has appeared in 40 games, including 32 starts, all while taking a combined 28 career sacks. Not once has Stevens missed a game to injury.

“(Stevens) has got some size, but he’s a little bit fragile, he doesn’t have the greatest strength in the world and he’s not the best athlete in the world,” CSU coach Mike Bobo said. “He’ll stand in there and deliver balls. He’s got mental and physical toughness. And the thing I’m so proud about him is he’s grown as a leader.”

Mike Bobo on how far Nick Stevens has come in three years, as well as his durability, despite being “fragile.”

— Matt L. Stephens (@MattStephens) November 19, 2017

Said CSU center Jake Bennett, who joined Stevens as part of the Rams’ 2013 signing class: “Mentally, (Stevens) is one of the toughest guys to ever come through here, and his numbers speak for themselves. One of the top-three or top-two quarterbacks to ever play here, I think. That speaks volumes to the guy, because obviously last year he had to sit down (on the bench) and go through some adversity.”

The truth is, Stevens doesn’t have much of an explanation for what’s made him the Rams’ Iron Man.

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“I guess God is on my side and luck is on my side,” he said.

Stevens admits he hasn’t done much reminiscing on his legacy, even after he sought out his mother for a postgame kiss on the turf soon after Saturday’s final horn. But there will come a time soon, likely back home on the couch beside his wife, when Stevens can appreciate all he’s accomplished.

Cue the water works.

“I’ll let you know when I start crying later tonight.” Stevens said.

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U.S. general says illegal nuclear launch order can be refused

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 7:43pm

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — The top officer at U.S. Strategic Command said Saturday an order from President Donald Trump or any of his successors to launch nuclear weapons can be refused if that order is determined to be illegal.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of Strategic Command, told a panel at the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday that he and Trump have had conversations about such a scenario and that he would tell Trump he couldn’t carry out an illegal strike.

“If it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen. I’m going to say, ‘Mr President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?'” Hyten said.

“And we’ll come up with options with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works.”

In the event that Trump decided to launch a nuclear attack, Hyten would provide him with strike options that are legal.

The command would control nuclear forces in a war.

The comments come as the threat of nuclear attack from North Korea remains a serious concern and Trump’s critics question his temperament. Trump’s taunting tweets aimed at Pyongyang have sparked concerns primarily among congressional Democrats that he may be inciting a war with North Korea.

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During testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month, retired Gen. Robert Kehler who served as the head of Strategic Command from January 2011 to November 2013, also said the U.S. armed forces are obligated to follow legal orders, not illegal ones.

Hyten said he’s talked it over with Trump.

“I think some people think we’re stupid. We’re not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility how do you not think about it?” he said.

He said he would not obey an illegal order.

“You could go to jail for the rest of your life,” he said.

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Rape in the storage room. Groping at the bar. Why is the restaurant industry so terrible for women?

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 7:22pm

If you’re a woman, what makes a restaurant dangerous isn’t the sharp knives or the hot griddle: It’s an isolated area of the kitchen, like the dry storage pantry.

That’s where Miranda Rosenfelt, 31, then a cook at Jackie’s restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland was headed one day seven years ago to help out with inventory, at the request of one of her direct supervisors, who she says had been harassing her for months. When she walked into the narrow basement room, far from the bustle of the kitchen, she turned around to find him “standing there with his pants on the floor, and his penis in his hands,” blocking her exit from the basement, she said.

“I felt cornered, and trapped, and scared, and what ended up happening was that he got me to perform oral sex, and it was horrible. And the whole time he was saying things like, ‘Oh, I’ve always wanted to do this.’ ” Her instinct was “not to do anything, and wait for it to be over. Because that’s what will make me the safest.”

Or maybe the dangerous place is the walk-in cooler. That’s where chef Maya Rotman-Zaid, 36, says she was cornered once about 12 years ago, by a co-worker who tried to grope her. But after years of working in kitchens with handsy, misbehaving men, she had remembered an anecdote from Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential,” in which the famous chef struck back after being grabbed repeatedly by a colleague.

“The guy tried to feel me up, and I stuck a fork in his leg,” she said. A friend she had confided in confirmed details of this story to The Washington Post. Although she doesn’t think she broke his skin, he “screamed and ran out of there like it never happened. I mean, talk about embarrassing. But he never tried to touch me again.”

Women are vulnerable in just about every inch of a restaurant. Behind the bar. The hostess stands where patrons are greeted. Behind stoves and in front of dishwashers. From lewd comments to rape, sexual misconduct is, for many, simply part of the job.

After the public toppling of Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein, it seems every industry is looking to identify its bad actors. In New Orleans, a blockbuster report by the Times-Picayune felled uber-restaurateur John Besh, who resigned after two dozen women said they had been subjected to sexual harassment within his empire – some of it by Besh himself.

But the culture of widespread sexual harassment and abuse in kitchens and dining rooms from Washington, D.C., to Portland, Oregon., can’t be pinned solely on a few celebrity chefs or the rare, singularly powerful gatekeeper. It takes place in suburban chains and in dazzling three-star Michelin restaurants, and its perpetrators might just as easily be owners as lowly barbacks. The reasons are many, and they’re complicated: Many kitchens are boys’ clubs, dominated by machismo and flashing knives; many women rely on pleasing their male customers and managers for tips or good shifts; human resources departments might be nonexistent or toothless; and restaurant staffs are often hard-partying posses that blur professional lines.

The Post interviewed more than 60 people around the country who either claimed they experienced such treatment while working in restaurants or witnessed it. Men are not immune from abuse, but the vast majority of victims we spoke to are women. Their stories show that how women experience sexual harassment depends on their place in the restaurant ecosystem. Cooks are harassed by other cooks, servers are harassed by everyone. And immigrants and young people – who make up a large percentage of the workforce – are particularly vulnerable.9

– – –

Maria Vazquez, 52, is a monolingual Spanish-speaking Mexican immigrant mother of six, so her job as a cook and dishwasher at Art’s Wings and Things in South Los Angeles was a lifeline. But one day in 2005, she alleges, restaurant owner Arthur Boone cornered her in the back of the warehouse where she was doing inventory and raped her.

“He came downstairs and attacked me. I remember I was defending myself as much as I could,” Vazquez said through a translator, as she cried. “I couldn’t do anything else.”

Afterward, she said, he took her to a store for supplies, and everyone treated him like a king. Vazquez said she confided in her priest, but he “told me that I was to blame, and that I shouldn’t be talking about that.” Because she couldn’t afford to be out of work, she kept the job – and, she alleges, Boone kept taking her into the warehouse. She alleges that when she transferred to a different location of the restaurant – one that did not have a warehouse – Boone assaulted her in the bathroom there, and that the rapes continued over a period of eight years. Vazquez sued Boone in June 2014 seeking damages based on 10 allegations detailed in her lawsuit. Boone, who denied the allegations in a court-filed response, could not be reached for comment.

“Because of the excess of work that I had, I didn’t have time to talk to anybody. It was only work, watch over my kids, go back to work,” she said. “I didn’t have anyone to give me a hand. I couldn’t find who to tell about what was happening to me.” She left the job, she says, when Boone threatened to cut her pay.

Nearly a quarter of restaurant employees are foreign-born vs. 19 percent for the overall economy, according to the National Restaurant Association. And many are undocumented: Ten percent of the workforce in “eating and drinking places” in 2014 lacked U.S. work authorization, according the Pew Research Center. Fear of deportation may make undocumented immigrant restaurant workers who are abused less likely to report that abuse to authorities.

Vazquez is one of the rare immigrants who were able to sue their employers, and win. In her lawsuit against Boone and his restaurant corporation, a court awarded her a judgment of more than $1 million. But she hasn’t received a cent from Boone.

His restaurant business has closed, and Vazquez has not been able to collect.16

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Jennifer S. Altman for The Washington Post.Stefanie Williams, shown in Garden City, N.Y., says that when she was a cocktail waitress at a New York City steakhouse, a customer grabbed her under her skirt.

In 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 5,431 complaints of sexual harassment from women. Of the 2,036 claims that listed an industry, 12.5 percent came from the hotel and food industry, more than any other category, according to the National Women’s Law Center. The Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which advocates for higher wages, found in a 2014 study that two-thirds of female restaurant workers were sexually harassed by restaurant management, 80 percent by their co-workers and 78 percent by customers. A third of women reported that unwanted touching was routine, the survey found.

But those numbers may not provide the full picture. Harassment is so routine that many restaurant employees say they do not consider sexual comments or touching to be worth reporting.

“I have spoken in a number of industry settings where people say, ‘Why are you talking about this as if it’s so outrageous? This is just our industry,'” said Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of ROC United.

When workers do speak up, it does not always end well.

“This one particular busser . . . had asked me out a couple of times, and I had always said no,” said one former server from Seattle, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she still works in the industry. “He came up behind me, and I had really long hair, and he held a lighter underneath my hair like he was going to set my hair on fire.” The general manager saw him do it, made him stop and reprimanded him, but afterward, “We were all supposed to go back to work like everything was normal.” The busser was not fired, she said. The incident took place about 15 years ago, and she didn’t tell anyone else at the time.

When employees are punished for their misconduct, it often does end with firing – but no other consequences. Rosenfelt, the cook who says she was coerced into oral sex in the restaurant basement, told a co-worker what happened, and that colleague went to her boss, Jackie Greenbaum, who says she “was brought to my knees” by the allegations. “I cried.” She fired the supervisor swiftly. “We encouraged her to go to the police and report it,” Greenbaum said.

That is where Rosenfelt hit a roadblock.

“What I was told was that because there was no physical evidence, I wasn’t bruised or injured in any sort of way, that it would be a ‘he said, she said,’ and that it would be long and drawn out and it could be costly for me and that it could take months, possibly years for anything to happen,” Rosenfelt said. She dropped it.

– – –

Jennifer S. Altman for The Washington Post.Marisa Licandro, at her home in Brooklyn, alleges that a fellow student who worked with her at a campus-run restaurant attempted to rape her.

In some of Vaiva Labukaite’s early jobs as a Las Vegas cocktail waitress and bartender, “You had to wear something really sexy. The shorts had to be super short, and your breasts had to be out,” she said. “It was more like sex work than the restaurant business.”

When Labukaite, now 38, got a bartending job at celebrity chef Rick Moonen’s restaurant, RM Seafood, seven years ago, she thought it was a step up. But soon enough, she alleged in a lawsuit, her manager, Paul Fisichella, started to harass her verbally. She brushed it off and reminded him that he was married. One time, he grabbed her hand and put it on his crotch to make her feel his penis, she alleged in the lawsuit. She told The Post that the incident took place while they were in the restaurant having a glass of wine after her shift. “I was kind of in shock for a little bit. I told him that this cannot happen again.” Fisichella “adamantly disputed the claims,” according to one of his attorneys.

Labukaite said Fisichella kept dangling the possibility of a promotion for her.

One night, she alleged, Fisichella told her she needed to go with him and Moonen to dinner to “talk about my advancement in the company.” She got in the car with Fisichella, “and that’s when he started groping me and putting his hands up my skirt. And again I was in shock.”

She later complained about the sexual harassment to the restaurant’s management, and “the next thing you know, my shifts were going down from five days a week to two days a week.” She filed suit against Fisichella and RM Seafood, and eventually the parties settled, with the restaurant settling on Fisichella’s behalf, according to his attorney. Both Moonen and RM Seafood declined to comment.

Servers and bartenders worry about harassment not only from colleagues, but also from their customers. And because of a “customer is always right” mentality and the pressure of working for tips, they often feel compelled to accept it. The “front of the house” is mostly made up of women: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, 56 percent of bartenders, 70 percent of servers and 80 percent of hosts are female.

When Sola Pyne, 33, was a waitress at a Washington sports bar from 2006 to 2009, she once served a table of half-drunk off-duty police officers, whom she identified by the T-shirts and hats they sported for the city’s annual National Police Week. “They kept asking what kind of underwear I had on: Was it a thong? A bikini?’ I told my manager, and at first he giggled, but he said if they took it any further to let him know,” she said. “I just let it slide. I didn’t need any drama.”

Stefanie Williams, 31, said that four years ago, when she worked at an upscale New York steakhouse as a cocktail waitress, she was groped by one of her regulars, an investment banker who spent lots of money entertaining clients there. At a Christmas party, he “put his hand up my dress, and he put his hand under my underwear and asked if I was wearing any underwear,” she said. She said she told the story to two colleagues at the time, and they confirmed that account to The Post. Later, he “put his groin against my butt and pushed really hard,” she said. ” I said, ‘Don’t f—ing touch me.’ He was like, ‘Oh, I’m the bad guy now?’ ” She told her manager that either the customer had to leave or she would, and he was escorted out. But before long, he was back.

“One of the managers was very into what the guys with money were into. He knew that I was upset that night, but he let him come back in, and I remember looking at him and thinking, ‘Are you f—ing kidding me?’ ”

– – –

Restaurant kitchens are a man’s world. The Brigade de Cuisine, the division of kitchen labor famously developed by chef Auguste Escoffier in the late 19th century, was based on the French military structure he observed while in the army. Home cooking has historically come from women, while high-status restaurant work was until a few decades ago the domain of men.

As French chefs began to rise in stature in the late 1800s, “a lot of work was done to sort of denigrate women’s cooking and uphold and elevate men’s cooking,” said Deborah Harris, co-author of “Taking the Heat: Women Chefs and Gender Inequality in the Professional Kitchen.” “The women were kept out, and over the years that kind of crystallized in these very hypermasculine work cultures.”

Some women view sexual harassment as an outgrowth of Escoffier’s system. When Liz Vaknin graduated from culinary school and went to work in a fine-dining restaurant in Manhattan in 2012, she came to see the kitchen as a place where higher-ups bullied underlings, no matter their gender, and sexual harassment was an expedient form of abuse. “It’s easier to make a woman feel bad about herself by touching her than just yelling that you’re not cutting your parsley right,” Vaknin, now 28, said.

The rough talk so common in kitchens is a result of those jobs being historically blue-collar. But that does not mean elite restaurants are immune.

Two women who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they still work in the industry said a male manager at the Alinea restaurant group, which includes the Michelin three-star restaurant of the same name in Chicago, harassed them in 2013 and 2016. “He would kiss me on the face, or hold my arm back,” one of the women said. He would frequently touch her when no one was looking, “around the waist, hips, that sort of thing.” The other woman said the manager falsely told other employees that he had sex with her. Two other former female employees of the restaurant group confirmed that the women spoke of harassment at the time.

The first woman says that she complained to management and that “they, over and over, asked if I had anyone that witnessed it, and I didn’t,” she said. “So they wanted me to get other girls to come forward to talk about their experiences with him, which I didn’t feel like should have been my job.”

Nick Kokonas, one of the owners of Alinea, says that accusations of verbal improprieties but not physical contact were brought to him – the female employee disputes this – and that he spoke with the male employee, who denied wrongdoing. He put the man on paid administrative leave while he investigated. Eventually, the man was fired when another employee provided some inappropriate text messages. But the woman who says she reported the abuse had already decided to leave. The investigation had left her with the impression that the company was more concerned with a wrongful-termination lawsuit than with the sexual harassment.

“I can’t fire somebody unless I know it’s real. You can’t fire someone legally with no basis,” said Kokonas, who said he was “really proud of the way that we handled it.”

– – –

Essdras M. Suarez for The Washington PostMiranda Rosenfelt says that after being assaulted, she transferred to a sister restaurant, where one of her new colleagues exposed himself to her.

Women in the kitchen say they feel pressure to just take harassment in stride.

Ulzii Hoyle, 20, a recent culinary school graduate, says the “masculine ideology” she was taught in school meant not complaining about the way she was treated so that others wouldn’t perceive her as weak. She knew she had to look after herself. So one day two years ago, at her off-campus job at a pizza restaurant in Boulder, “a male colleague came up, and he grabbed my butt” and aggressively poked her in her genitals, “and I elbowed him.”

A manager heard the man cry out in surprise. Later, Hoyle says, the manager pulled her aside and asked her whether she planned to report the incident, and Hoyle said no. At the time, she confided in her sister, who confirmed to The Post that Hoyle told her the details of this story.

“And [the manager] was like, ‘I think it would be best for everybody if you just left,’ ” allegedly explaining that Hoyle was fired for being “too big of a liability.”

Rotman-Zaid, the chef who jabbed a groper with a fork, said female chefs have learned to “just go with it” when men harass them, to fit in and gain the trust of male colleagues. If you are a “prude and don’t want to be in that situation, you won’t last very long in the restaurant world in general.”

It quickly hardens women who just want to cook.

“In the beginning, you try to ignore it, or you try to deflect it, to be both funny and defensive, and know how to put them in their place,” said Heather Carlucci, 50, who describes herself as “a kitchen rat” now working as a restaurant consultant. “It’s an enormous amount of energy to do it.”

Harris, the “Taking the Heat” co-author, said that in her book research, she noticed a contradiction among the female chefs she interviewed. They often expressed hope that the industry would change but pushed back at the notion that kitchens needed more oversight, which they told her would interfere with the unique culture of the job.

“I think about women in the military, any sort of hazing or group like that, where if you make it through, you take on the identity of the survivor,” Harris said. “And ‘I’m tough and I was able to do this and other people should too.’ . . . If you take a step back, you realize that you’re also perpetuating this system that’s really unfair.”

The just-deal-with it mentality that female chefs talk about is inculcated at the industry’s earliest levels.

Marisa Licandro, 22, was a student at the Culinary Institute of America, with a full course load and a server job at a campus-run teaching restaurant. At an on-campus party last fall, she alleges, a fellow student who worked with her at the restaurant locked her in a room, pinned her down and tried to rape her. She escaped. The next morning, she filed a report with the campus safety department, and a few days later, she tearfully told her manager at the restaurant that she could not be scheduled to work with the other student, because he had traumatized her. Nevertheless, she showed up to work on a subsequent Saturday and found herself staring down her alleged attacker.

“It made me very nervous, obviously, to be placed in a situation where I unwillingly was face to face with this guy that tried to hurt me,” Licandro said. She said her boss told her, ” ‘We’ll keep you on different sides of the restaurant,’ which is a Band-Aid on an amputated leg.”

When her manager scheduled her with him yet again, Licandro quit. Meanwhile, she was growing disheartened by the school’s response: In emails Licandro provided to The Post, one dean told her that the school had dismissed her complaint because the student about whom she complained did not violate the school’s harassment, sexual misconduct and discrimination policy. Licandro said she asked for an explanation and said the school’s response indicated that because she had escaped, a violation did not take place. The school gave her the opportunity to put a “no contact” rule in place with the student, but she declined out of fear that it would provoke him.

The school confirmed that Licandro filed a campus safety report last September but declined to disclose its contents or provide a copy to The Post or to Licandro. Joseph Morano, the school’s Title IX officer, declined to speak about Licandro’s case, citing student privacy. “The [Culinary Institute of America] is committed to providing a safe campus environment for all of its students and prohibits any form of harassment or discrimination based upon sex, including sexual violence,” Morano said in an email. “All reported incidents are thoroughly reviewed.”

– – –

Unlike traditional offices, with their coffee-pod machines, booze is a part of restaurant life, even for employees. Drinking during shifts is common, if not explicitly condoned by management. There’s often partying after the dining room empties, and hookups among staff members are frequent. And alcohol and drug abuse is a big problem in the industry: According to a survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 17 percent of employees in the “accommodations and food services” category, more than any other category of worker, report having a substance use disorder.

One woman who worked for a restaurant in New Orleans said her boss knew she struggled with alcohol abuse. But three years ago, she said, he befriended her, telling her he would help her move up in the company. He began to offer her rides home and, knowing she had trouble saying no, would persuade her to stop at a bar for one drink, which would turn into several.

“He started taking me home to his apartment when I was blackout drunk, barely conscious,” said the woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she still fears the man. “I would wake up at his apartment on a semiregular basis and have no memory of the previous night whatsoever.”

At work, she said, he would send her inappropriate text messages, including a video of himself masturbating, despite her protestations. Eventually, she told one of her co-workers, who told the owner of the restaurant, who fired the man. The owner of the restaurant independently confirmed the details of the woman’s account to The Post.

“I’ve thought about the fact that he’s a predator,” she said. “He put himself in this position to leverage power over me, and coerce me using his position and alcohol.”

Bosses sometimes foster a boozy atmosphere during work hours. Arielle Mullen, now a 32-year-old marketing consultant in Sacramento, worked in restaurants for 15 years, including at a college-town bar when she was in her early 20s. Her manager, she said, encouraged the young female servers and bartenders to drink shots with customers who wanted to buy them drinks. “I still remember it verbatim. He said, ‘As long as you can still hold a tray, I don’t f—ing care. Just do it.’ ” For her boss, it meant more liquor sales, and for Mullen it meant finding a workaround. She found a friendly bartender who would pour water in place of vodka into her shot glass.

– – –

Since the Weinstein and Besh scandals broke, the restaurant community has been in an unusually introspective mode. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who personified the swaggering alpha dog of kitchen lore, in recent interviews has publicly copped to perpetuating the “meathead bro culture” that allows sexual harassment to go unchecked. And “Top Chef” host Tom Colicchio posted an open letter to male chefs on Medium noting that Besh was hardly one of a few “bad eggs” and that men needed to “acknowledge the larger culture that hatched all these crummy eggs, and have some hard conversations among ourselves that are long overdue.”

While industry leaders talk about their culpability, some women are taking small steps.

Caroline Richter, a New Orleans waitress who described being assaulted by a customer, founded a group called Medusa – named after the mythical maiden turned into a Gorgon as punishment by Athena for being raped by the god Poseidon in Athena’s temple – with a goal of creating best practices for bars and restaurants regarding sexual harassment.

Many of the women who spoke to The Post for this story said they were hopeful the Weinstein and Besh sagas would trigger a change in the industry. But many noted that the roots of the problem run deep and will not be easily dug up.

One factor is the relative dearth of women at the top of the food chain, as chef-owners, award winners – or even as general managers. While the ratio of male to female culinary students is close to even at many schools, only 21 percent of chefs and head cooks are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many women are discouraged by the constant harassment as well as by the lack of health-care and regular hours, which can make it difficult to have a family.

And while some say more women in management could be a solution, the harsh kitchen culture is so pervasive that even high-profile female chefs are among those accused of harassment. Celebrity chef Anne Burrell was sued in 2008 for allegedly harassing several employees at Centro Vinoteca, the restaurant where she worked at the time. According to the complaint, Burrell commented on employees’ cleavages and the shape of their breasts, and called female employees “sluts” and one employee “a whore.” The suit was settled. “The case was resolved,” said Burrell’s publicist, who declined to comment on the substance of the allegations.

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Training and strong HR departments are not a panacea, either: Even big chain restaurants that have both have been the subject of sexual harassment lawsuits.

Advocates including ROC say the tipped minimum wage – which is several dollars lower than the standard minimum wage – is a primary driver of harassment.

But few of the suggested solutions seem that they would have helped Rosenfelt, the woman who alleges she was coerced into performing oral sex in the storage pantry at Jackie’s.

Rosenfelt knew she would never again be able to set foot in the restaurant where it happened. She was offered a new job at a sister restaurant. And for a while, things seemed to be going well – she worked with friends, she let her guard down. She felt safe.

But she said that her colleagues there, too, began to exhibit alarming behavior. One man repeatedly tricked her into looking at pictures of his genitals on his phone, she said, and talked constantly about sex workers. And she said that one day, when staffers were drinking together after hours in a small back hallway, another man – whom Rosenfelt had trusted enough to confide in about her assault – exposed himself to her and told her he wanted to have sex with her. She got away. And she couldn’t believe that the same thing had nearly happened to her twice.

This time, she said nothing.

“I was worried about them thinking that I was being dramatic,” Rosenfelt said. “Because how could these two awful things happen so quickly, back to back?”

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NHL to hold 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 7:12pm

CHICAGO — The Boston Bruins will meet the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame.

The NHL announced the details for its signature outdoor event Saturday.

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It’s the fourth Winter Classic for Chicago. The Blackhawks dropped each of their first three appearances, losing 6-4 to Detroit in the 2009 game at Wrigley Field, 3-2 to Washington in 2015 at Nationals Park and 4-1 to St. Louis this year at Busch Stadium.

Boston split its first two appearances in the Winter Classic. The Bruins beat Philadelphia 2-1 in overtime at Fenway Park in 2010, but lost 5-1 to Montreal at Gillette Stadium in 2016.

The 2019 game will be held at Notre Dame Stadium, home of the school’s football team.

The Buffalo Sabres will take on the New York Rangers on Jan. 1 in the Winter Classic at Citi Field.

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Colorado State center Jake Bennett proposed to his girlfriend after the Rams beat SJSU

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 7:00pm

FORT COLLINS — Colorado State football coach Mike Bobo and his players were a bit late to the postgame news conference Saturday following a 42-14 victory against San Jose State on Senior Day. And for good reason.

Senior CSU center Jake Bennett bent down on one knee asked to marry his longtime girlfriend, Jenny Evans, on the turf at Sonny Lubick Field following the Rams’ win. She said yes. Bennett told reporters he purchased the ring this past summer and planned the proposal with the help of former CSU offensive lineman Fred Zerblis (2012-16).

“It was a good win,” Bennett said. “That is the cherry on top.”

But what if the Rams had lost? Would he still have popped the question?

“I don’t think so,” Bennett joked, adding he considered doing it last Saturday against Boise State, but knew it would be a tightly contested game.

Senior Day win ✅

Then she said yes.

Congrats, @JDBennett78!!

— CSU Rams Football (@CSUFootball) November 19, 2017

Should Bennett be in need of marital help moving forward, he doesn’t need to look far. CSU senior quarterback Nick Stevens married his longtime girlfriend, Haley Stevens, in May 2016. Stevens’ best advice for Bennett and his bride-to-be?

“I think communication is a big thing,” Stevens said. “Know when to fight your battles and when not to — which is always the case. Just love her, and I know he does … they’re going to have a great marriage.”

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams offensive lineman Jake Bennett #77 gets on one knee and proposes to his girlfriend Jenny Evans after the game against San Jose State at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams tight end Cameron Butler #16 stretches out and scores a touchdown against San Jose State Spartans cornerback Dakari Monroe #19 and San Jose State Spartans safety Maurice McKnight #10 in the second quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams running back Rashaad Boddie #28 crosses the goal line against San Jose State Spartans defensive tackle Bryson Bridges #9 for a touchdown in the first quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams quarterback Nick Stevens #7 finds room against on a keeper against San Jose State Spartans linebacker Frank Ginda #5 for a first down in the first quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017. Colorado State Rams offensive lineman Jeff Taylor #71 and Colorado State Rams fullback Adam Prentice #46 look for a block on the play.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams tight end Cameron Butler #16 makes a move on San Jose State Spartans safety Maurice McKnight #10 and heads to the end zone on a 50-yard touchdown reception from Colorado State Rams quarterback Nick Stevens #7 in the second quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    San Jose State Spartans quarterback Montel Aaron #7 tries to ditch the ball as he gets sacked by Colorado State Rams linebacker Josh Watson #55 in the second quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams quarterback Nick Stevens #7 scrambles out of the pocket against San Jose State in the third quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams quarterback Nick Stevens #7 gets tackled by San Jose State Spartans safety Ethan Aguayo #31 on a keeper in the third quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams quarterback Nick Stevens #7 throws against the San Jose Spartans in the first quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams running back Rashaad Boddie #28 heads down field on a long gain against San Jose State Spartans linebacker William Ossai #11 in the first quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams running back Rashaad Boddie #28 brushes off San Jose State Spartans defensive tackle Bryson Bridges #9 for a long gain in the first quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams quarterback Nick Stevens #7 sets as Colorado State Rams offensive lineman Trae Moxley #60 and Jake Bennett #77 protect him in the first quarter against San Jose Spartans at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams running back Dalyn Dawkins #1 finds room against San Jose State Spartans linebacker William Ossai #11 in the second quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State sidelines send in plays to the offense during the game against San Jose State at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams wide receiver Olabisi Johnson #81 celebrates Colorado State Rams tight end Cameron Butler's touchdown against San Jose State in the second quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    San Jose State Spartans quarterback Montel Aaron #7 faces Colorado State Rams safety Jordan Fogal #11 in the third quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams linebacker Josh Watson #55 intercepts a pass intended for San Jose State Spartans wide receiver JaQuan Blackwell #11 in the end zone in the third quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    San Jose State Spartans quarterback Montel Aaron #7 throws under pressure against Colorado State in the third quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams running back Dalyn Dawkins #1 heads down escaping from San Jose State Spartans defensive tackle Bryson Bridges #9 in the third quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams OL Trae Moxley fends off San Jose State Spartans guard Dominic Fredrickson #66 while QB nick Stevens scrambles out of the pocket in the third quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Colorado State Rams quarterback Nick Stevens #7 has a laugh with San Jose State Spartans linebacker Frank Ginda #5 on the field after defeating San Jose 42-14 at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo, left, and Colorado State Rams linebacker Evan Colorito #43 celebrate on the field after defeating the San Jose Spartans 42-14 at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams offensive lineman Jake Bennett #77 gets on one knee and proposes to his girlfriend Jenny Evans after the game against San Jose State at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Colorado State Rams offensive lineman Jake Bennett #77 gets on one knee and proposes to his girlfriend Jenny Evans after the game against San Jose State at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    in the quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium Nov. 18, 2017.

Show Caption of


Record attendance. The crowd at CSU’s on-campus football stadium lacked its typical roar in the Rams’ home finale against San Jose State. With fall break in session, the 25,743 fans in the seats marked the lowest turnout of the year. But in a final tally of season-long home attendance numbers, the 2017 Rams and their new digs drew record-breaking crowds.

Through the course of six home games, CSU set two top marks: Most overall attendance (192,369) and largest average crowd (32,062). The Rams also twice cracked the top 10 all-time single-game attendance list: 37,583 vs. Oregon State (third) and 36,765 vs. Nevada (fourth).

“For us, six games into the new facility, we’re really pleased,” CSU athletic director Joe Parker said. “I think we would have obviously had disappointment if we did not set an attendance record this year. We had some chances even early in the season to probably sell more tickets, particularly for Oregon State, but we made a decision as a first game to make sure we could operate the building.

“I think we’ve got a fairly aggressive schedule ahead of us in future years. We’ve got a chance to swing for the fences in attendance.”

The previous program record for total season attendance was 192,369 (1994), and the prior high average attendance mark was 31,292 (1998).

2017 attendance for CSU home football games

1. Aug. 21 vs. Oregon State: 37,583

2. Oct. 14 vs. Nevada: 36,765

3. Oct. 28 vs. Air Force: 33,074

4. Nov. 11 vs. Boise State: 32,166

5. Sept. 9 vs. Abilene Christian: 27,038

6. Nov. 18 vs. San Jose State: 25,743

Watson ejected. CSU linebacker Josh Watson was flagged for a targeting penalty late in the fourth quarter Saturday when he launched into a San Jose State receiver with helmet-to-helmet contact near the goal line.

A video review of the penalty was upheld and Watson was ejected for the remainder of the game. Per NCAA rules, he will not be available until the second half of CSU’s bowl game. Watson, a senior, still tied for the team lead in tackles Saturday(eight), in addition to a sack and one interception against SJSU.

Bobo said: “I told (Watson) after the game, ‘You’re going to be our secret weapon that we’ll unleash in the second half in the bowl game.'”

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Missing: Four cats in the Detroit area. Reward: $100,000

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 6:58pm

Cygnus and Arcturus are two Detroit-area cats with some very big claims to fame. Arcturus, a spotted Savannah who measures 19.05 inches high, in the fall won the Guinness World Record for tallest domestic cat. At the same time, his housemate Cygnus, a fluffy Maine coon with a 17.5-inch feather-duster hanging from his rear, snagged the world record for longest tail.

Now they’re missing following a fire that destroyed their home, and their owners are offering a very big reward to whoever finds them and two other cats: $25,000 each – or $100,000 for all four – to be paid in bitcoin.

No one tracks missin-pet reward offers, but this one surely ranks among the heftiest ever. In March, a Californian made headlines after posting signs offering $20,000 for the return of a missing cat. Four years ago, when a woman in England remortgaged her home to be able to offer 10,000 British pounds – more than $13,000 today – for her stolen show dog, the Telegraph deemed it the biggest known reward for a pet. (Bitcoin and physical currencies are not apples and apples, of course, but some merchants, including, do accept the virtual currency.)

The sum is a reflection of just how important Arcturus and Cygnus, as well as their brother Sirius and a temporary feline houseguest named Yuki, are to Will and Lauren Powers, according to Will Powers’ sister, Brittney Powers. When he woke Sunday morning to find their Farmington Hills home ablaze, Will Powers, 32, frantically searched for the cats but could not locate them before firefighters pulled him out, she said. He left several doors open in hopes the cats would escape, but search parties and live traps placed in the nearby woods have turned up no sign of them, she said.

“They treated their cats like children. They were members of their family. And them having notoriety for their sizes has nothing to do with how they feel about them,” said Brittney Powers, who spoke on behalf of the couple because, she said, they were too distraught to be interviewed. “They’re really devastated.”

Lauren and Will Powers met while pursuing degrees in osteopathic medicine, and they bonded over the two cats Will had then, one of whom was Sirius. They married last summer, Brittney Powers said, and they “love to come home and have their cats be there and snuggle up to them.”

The couple didn’t aim to land their pets in the record books, Will Powers said earlier this month on the television talk show “Pickler and Ben.” They got the cats about two years ago, and he concocted what he deemed to be a nutritionally superior feline diet that involved slow-cooked chicken, he said. When he noticed a year later that Cygnus’ tail seemed unusually long, Will Powers posted a photo of it on a Reddit veterinary forum. The epic tail went viral – and soon Guinness got in touch “and said hey, we saw that tail,” he said.

A Guinness team came out to Farmington Hills to measure, he said, and when they noticed Arcturus – who’s a hybrid between a serval, a kind of African wildcat, and a domestic cat – they decided to measure his height. He, too, was a record-breaker, Will Powers told the show hosts, before launching into a demonstration of the cat’s surprising affection.

“Give Daddy a kiss,” he said, cradling the cat. Arcturus complied, licking his owner’s nose. But Cygnus is typically the cuddlier one, said Lauren Powers, 30, while adding that he “definitely uses [his tail] to knock things over, especially when he’s hungry.”

Will Powers was treated for smoke inhalation and minor injuries after the fire, and a friend who was staying there with her corgi managed to jump out a second-floor window, Brittney Powers said. Lauren Powers was not home at the time.

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Some pet trackers and organizations eschew rewards, arguing that they encourage searchers who might chase and frighten off missing animals. But Brittney Powers said her brother, who’s expressed his enthusiasm for bitcoin on Facebook, did not hesitate to offer his cache for the return of his cats.

“I’ve been saving it for years and would gladly give it all up for one of my boys back,” Will Powers wrote this week on Facebook.

Cygnus and Arcturus had helped raise money for the local Ferndale Cat Shelter, posing for photos with donors. Though they have lost all their possessions, Brittney Powers said, the couple is now asking that anyone offering financial help instead donate to the shelter or the American Red Cross.

“If you want to do anything to help us, do that,” Will Powers wrote on Facebook. “If the death of Cygnus, Arcturus, and Sirius isn’t meaningless and can help another family love their cats like we loved ours then this tragedy can have something good come from it.”

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Virginia sheriff’s deputy is reassigned after attending Halloween party in blackface

Denver Post Local News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 6:48pm

By Tom Jackman, The Washington Post

A white Virginia sheriff’s deputy has been reassigned out of her job in the local school system after attending a Halloween party in blackface as part of a costume portraying Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.

Deputy Jean Browning is a 20-year veteran of the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office in southeast Virginia, just north of Newport News, covering both York County and the city of Poquoson. Sheriff J.D. Diggs said in a lengthy news release that Browning was an anti-drug officer teaching the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in local schools for 10 years and was “known as a kind and caring person who would do anything for anyone.”

A photograph of Browning dressed as Wilson, wearing blackface, large glasses and a red hat similar to Wilson’s signature hat, began circulating on the internet soon after Halloween. She was accompanied by her boyfriend dressed as President Donald Trump, wearing a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap in the photo.

The local branch of the NAACP brought the photo to the sheriff’s attention, and Diggs said he met with members of the group on Nov. 6, then spoke by phone with the branch president the next day, asking for suggestions on how to handle the situation.

Diggs said he was still waiting for suggestions when the York-James City-Williamsburg branch of the NAACP issued a statement on Nov. 15, noting that, “For decades, blackface has been synonymous with hate, degradation, and bigotry.”

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The NAACP called for Browning to be reassigned out of the DARE program and out of the schools completely. “It is inappropriate and disheartening when anyone mocks someone’s race,” the branch statement said, “but it is inexcusable when someone connected with our law enforcement finds it acceptable to paint their face to impersonate African-Americans.”

Diggs said he was surprised to receive the NAACP statement and disappointed that the group didn’t meet with him again to discuss corrective actions. He said that the idea for the Halloween costumes “was to convey the message of how funny it would be for two political figures that were at odds with each other to go to a party together. There was no intent to either mock or degrade either Congresswoman Wilson or President Trump, or for that matter to even make any kind of political statement.

“Based on all of the circumstances,” Diggs said, “and the need for the community to realize that the Sheriff’s Office takes race relations seriously, I have decided that it would be in the best interest for all concerned to reassign this deputy to another position within the Sheriff’s Office.”

Officials with the NAACP branch did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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