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Texas men charged with stealing 650 guns in Springfield

Denver Post Local News - 2 hours 4 min ago

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Five Texas men are charged with stealing about 650 handguns and shotguns from a UPS lot in Missouri.

Federal prosecutors say the men were each indicted on two federal guns charges Wednesday. They’re being held in Texas awaiting extradition to Missouri.

An affidavit from the case alleges the guns were to be delivered to Bass Pro Shops when they were stolen in October. Investigators say the thieves moved trailers around the UPS lot in Springfield, which provided access to about 600 Beretta .380-caliber handguns and 54 Baretta 12-gauge shotguns, and other merchandise.

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The guns have not been recovered.

Investigators say cellphone tower records and other evidence was used to trace the theft to the Texas men.

Those indicted were 33-year-old Frank McChriston; 28-year-old Keith Lowe; 26-year-old Quinton Haywood; 26-year-old Eric White and 32-year-old Derrick White.

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Fire at hospital kills 37, injures scores in South Korea

Denver Post Local News - 2 hours 8 min ago

By Ahn Young-joon and Hyung-jin Kim, The Associated Press

MIRYANG, South Korea — A fire raced through a small South Korean hospital with no sprinkler system on Friday, killing 37 people, many of them elderly, and injuring more than 140 others in the country’s deadliest blaze in about a decade.

Sejong Hospital in the southeastern city of Miryang has a separate nursing ward where 94 elderly patients were being treated, but all of them were safely evacuated, fire officials said.

Most of the victims were on the first and second floors of the hospital’s six-story general ward, where its emergency room and intensive-care unit were located. Officials believe the fire started in the emergency room.

Mirayng police official Kim Han-su said 34 of the dead were women and 26 were in their 80s or older. He said police may be able to announce the cause of the fire on Saturday.

Police and forensic investigators dressed in white clothes, masks and helmets examined burned equipment in the blackened emergency room.

Dark smoke and flames were pouring from the emergency room when firefighters arrived, so they used ladders to enter second-floor windows. Some carried patients on their backs to other rescuers below, who moved them on stretchers to ambulances.

Several fabric escape chutes were hanging from the building’s sixth floor windows after being used to evacuate patients and hospital staff.

Dozens of fire trucks and two helicopters were sent to the hospital as thick smoke blanketed nearby streets. The blaze was extinguished in about three hours.

Three of the dead worked at the hospital — an emergency room doctor and a nurse and nurse assistant on the second floor — said Son Kyung-cheol, head of the foundation that operates the facility. The National Fire Agency said officials were trying to identify other victims.

Most of the deaths appeared to be due to suffocation, with only one victim suffering burns, a National Fire Agency official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

Authorities said 143 people were injured, including seven who were in serious condition.

Son said the hospital did not have sprinklers because they were not required by law. Fire officials said the hospital wasn’t big enough to require them.

Fire official Choi Man-wu said authorities were investigating whether the hospital had missed any mandatory safety inspections, although Son said it had not.

If safety issues were involved in the fire, hospital and local authorities are likely to receive harsh public criticism. In 2014, South Korea grappled with the aftermath of a ferry sinking that killed more than 300 people and exposed serious shortcomings in public safety. Officials blamed crew members’ negligence, overloaded cargo, improper storage, unprofessional rescue work and corruption by the ship’s owners.

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President Moon Jae-in held an emergency meeting with senior advisers and ordered officials to provide necessary medical treatment to those rescued, find the exact cause of the fire and work out measures to prevent future fires, spokesman Park Su-hyun said.

South Korea is one of the fastest-aging countries in the world and has many nursing hospitals, which are preferred for elderly people who need long-term doctors’ care.

In 2014, a fire set by an 81-year-old dementia patient killed 21 people at a hospital for the elderly.

In other recent fires, 29 people were killed in late December in a building in central South Korea, which was the country’s deadliest blaze in the past decade before the hospital fire. Last weekend, a fire at a Seoul motel killed six people. Police arrested a man suspected of setting it in anger because he had been denied a room for being heavily drunk.

Kim reported from Seoul, South Korea. Associated Press writer Youkyung Lee and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul contributed to this report.

 

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Relations between Trump, global elites seem to thaw at Davos

Denver Post Local News - 4 hours 9 min ago

DAVOS, Switzerland — Snow was piled high outside, but inside the Davos summit, relations between President Donald Trump and the assembled global elites seemed to thaw.

Before Trump’s debut appearance at the World Economic Forum, critics speculated that the president would function as a protectionist bull in the free-trade-loving china shop. After all, this was a former reality television star who rode a wave of nationalist angst to the White House, blew up international trade deals and inflamed allies with his coarse rhetoric.

That uncertainty was clear as Trump arrived at the modern conference center Thursday for his two-day stay in the Swiss Alps. A hush fell on the crowd of people snapping photos and then someone asked the president how he would be treated.

“You tell me,” Trump shot back.

Overall, not that bad.

While there were scattered protests, some critiques and many panel discussions with Trump-wary titles — “Democracy in a Post-Truth Era” and “The Global Impact of America First” — the president’s visit also brought him praise from allies, a reception in his honor and a fawning dinner with European business executives.

“I think I have 15 new friends,” Trump enthused about his business dinner.

Before Trump’s centerpiece speech on Friday, attendees crowded around an international buffet in an open hall, dining on curry and empanadas, before filing into the brightly lit hall.

“Now is the perfect time to bring your business, your jobs and your investments to the United States,” the cheerleading president told the crowd, which seemed to regard him with a skeptical eye.

Applause was light, but the reception was generally polite.

Forum Chairman Klaus Schwab did draw some hisses in his introduction of the president when he said Trump’s presidency could be subject to “misconceptions and biased interpretations.”

And Trump himself got a mixed reaction during a brief question-and-answer session. When Schwab threatened to ask a personal question, Trump drew laughs by quipping: “I didn’t know about that.”

He also got a laugh about how he’s always been the recipient of good press coverage — but that quickly turned into boos when he made a crack about the “fake” media.

Showing up for the last two days of the summit, Trump flew over spectacular mountain scenery before landing in Davos via helicopter. Aides held Trump’s arms as he walked across the snowy landing zone to his waiting car — a wintry metaphor, perhaps, for entering the conference with caution.

It was not clear if he’d noticed a protest banner reading “Trump not welcome!” that hung on the side of a Swiss mountain.

As he moved through the conference center, political and business elites in dark suits and snow boots angled to snap his photo. Trump stopped to chat with a delegate waving a copy of “God and Donald Trump” by Stephen E. Strang. The president also waved aloft a Swiss newspaper headline declaring, “Dear Mister President Welcome to Switzerland!”

Taking time for some diplomacy along the way, Trump exuded affection in a Thursday meeting with close ally Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and earlier played nice with British Prime Minister Theresa May, batting away the idea of a strained relationship. On Friday, he worked to mend relations with a key African leader following his use of a vulgar term when referring to African nations. Rwandan President Paul Kagame said they had “good discussions” on economic and trade issues.

Trump emanated confidence as he strode from room to room in the conference center, flanked by aides. “Today has been a very exciting day,” he declared to questions about how it was going.

After a reception in his honor, Trump used his dinner with business leaders to boast about the booming U.S. economy, showcasing his recent tax overhaul and deregulation efforts before soliciting comments from the group.

As he has before, Trump went around the table of CEOs, bantering with the president of Volvo about Mack Trucks, noting to a Nestle executive that he’d read candy was not their primary product and telling a Bayer executive he takes a daily aspirin.

“I should say, I only take Bayer,” Trump said. “One aspirin a day. So far, it’s been working. But it’s a great company. So are you going to be investing in the U.S.?”

Werner Baumann responded: “Yes, we are.”

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Many executives praised Trump’s administration and promised, like Bayer, to do more.

Still, Trump did take a few hits.

Denmark’s finance minister, Kristian Jensen, tweeted that Trump’s address was “rather ordinary” and added that the crowd “didn’t need a sales speech” about the United States.

George Soros, the billionaire liberal philanthropist, predicted that Trump would be a “temporary phenomenon” and lose in the 2020 election if he got that far.

Of course, not that long ago in Davos, everyone predicted Trump would never win in the first place.

This week, to hear Trump tell it, not only did he come to Davos, but he also made Davos better.

Said Trump: “We have a tremendous crowd and a crowd like they’ve never had before.”

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Report: Dutch spies caught Russian hackers on tape

Denver Post Local News - 4 hours 18 min ago

AMSTERDAM — The Netherlands’ spy service broke into the computers used by a powerful Russian hacking group and may be sitting on evidence relating to the breach of the U.S. Democratic National Committee, a Dutch newspaper and television show jointly reported Friday.

Reports carried in the respected daily Volkskrant and by the current affairs show Nieuwsuur said hackers working for the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service penetrated the computers used by the group, often nicknamed Cozy Bear, in mid-2014 and watched them for at least a year, even managing to catch the hackers on camera.

Dutch Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren, interviewed by reporters in The Hague before the government’s weekly Cabinet meeting, declined to address the report, saying only that she was “very happy that we have good security services in the Netherlands that do their work well.”

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said he had yet to see any official comment from the Dutch intelligence services on the matter.

“If the Dutch media want to fuel anti-Russian hysteria in the U.S., it’s an activity that can’t be called honorable,” he added.

Volkskrant and Nieuwsuur said that the Dutch spies used their access to help oust Cozy Bear from U.S. State Department computers in late 2014. Volkskrant said American spies were so grateful they sent the Dutch cake and flowers.

Ko Colijn, a researcher at Clingendael, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, said the report may indicate a leveling trend in which small but tech-savvy countries like the Netherlands “can compensate their military inferiority with cyber quality surpluses.”

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The news drew particular attention in Washington, where Cozy Bear has been identified as one of two Russian government-linked hacking groups that broke in to the DNC ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The other group is usually called Fancy Bear.

Unmasking the Cozy Bear hackers would provide key evidence for investigators trying to unravel the DNC breach, but it may not dispel the mystery surrounding the leaks that followed.

A recent AP investigation found that all but one of the two dozen or so officials whose emails were published in the run-up to the 2016 election were targeted by Fancy Bear, which cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike said operated independently from Cozy Bear.

The Kremlin has denied meddling in the U.S. presidential vote.

Satter reported from London. Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

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Denver police officer shoots, wounds suspect in northeast Denver

Denver Post Local News - 4 hours 18 min ago

Two people were shot, one fatally, in separate incidents Friday night in Denver.

In the second shooting, in northeast Denver, an officer shot and wounded a suspect about 9 p.m. No officers were injured.

Alert: DPD officer-involved shooting in the 4500 block of N Paris St. Suspect transported to hospital; condition unknown. No officers transported. Updates as available. pic.twitter.com/WCOKbI8mRq

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) January 27, 2018

The officer involved shooting started as an armed robbery in the 1400 block of East Maxwell Place, said Doug Schepman, a police spokesman

Two suspects had fled that scene and were spotted in the area of the 4500 block of Paris Street, Schepman said. A foot pursuit was involved and one suspect was taken into custody. As officers pursued the second suspect at least one officer fired, hitting the suspect in the hand. His injuries are not life threatening.

Police did recovery a hand gun at the scene. Both suspects were in custody late Friday night.

About an hour earlier at 8 p.m., a man was shot and killed in the 300 block of South Federal Boulevard. The victim died at the scene. A homicide investigation is underway.

ALERT: Officers are conducting a homicide investigation in the 300 block of S. Federal Blvd. following a shooting. Adult male victim pronounced deceased on scene. No suspect info at this time. pic.twitter.com/K0CyCqATWv

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) January 27, 2018

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Traveling while black: Why some Americans are afraid to explore their own country

Denver Post Local News - 4 hours 26 min ago

By Rhonda Colvin, The Washington Post

Her mom always smiled – except when the family made its annual summer drive to visit the grandparents in Magnolia, Arkansas. “The smiles were gone while we were traveling,” said Gloria Gardner, 77.

It was the 1940s, and traveling to her parents’ home town was not approached lightly after the family moved to Muskegon, Michigan, during the Great Migration. Stopping for food or bathroom breaks was mostly out of the question. For black families, preparing for a road trip required a well-tested battle plan in which nothing could be left to chance.

There were meals to cook and pack in ice. Sheets were folded and stacked in the car to use as partitions if they were left with no choice but to take bathroom breaks roadside.

And there was another item that Gardner recalls her parents never forgot to pack: the Negro Motorist Green Book. While her dad drove, her mother leafed through the pages to see whether there were any restaurants, gas stations or restrooms on their route where they wouldn’t be hassled or in danger.

“When it was time to stop, you had to know where to stop,” said Gardner, who now lives in Rockville, Maryland. “If you stopped at the wrong place, you might not leave.”

As she looked through a copy of her father’s 1940 edition of the guide, she recalled its importance: “Our Green Book was our survival tool.”

The Negro Motorist Green Book was created in 1936 by Victor Hugo Green, a postal worker in the Harlem neighborhood in New York, to direct black travelers to restaurants, gas stations, hotels, pharmacies and other establishments that were known havens. It was updated and republished annually for more than 30 years, with the last edition printed in 1967.

Candacy Taylor, a writer who has catalogued sites in the Green Book that still exist, said Green distributed the guide through postal workers and traveling salesmen. Copies were also sold at Esso gas stations and, starting in the 1940s, through subscriptions.

Jim Crow segregation laws varied by county and state, so black motorists didn’t have the freedom to play anything by ear – food, gas and lodging would probably be off limits during stretches of their journeys. Black travelers risked more than the humiliation of being turned away at restaurants or service stations; they often encountered harassment or physical danger if they inadvertently stopped in the wrong town.

James Loewen, author of “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism,” said he has been astounded by his research on the prevalence of sundown towns, all-white communities where unofficial rules forbade black Americans after dark. In some cases, signs posted at the cities’ entrances warned black out-of-towners, “N–, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On You.”

“I don’t think this is a case of black paranoia for a minute,” he said.

Loewen estimates that the nation had no fewer than 10,000 locales with these rules.

In particular, black drivers in the North had to be on high alert. Sundown towns were a Northern phenomenon, said Loewen, who continues to locate municipalities with such histories.

“In Illinois, I’m up to 507. In Mississippi, I’m at three,” he said.

Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended many discriminatory practices allowed under Jim Crow laws, similar risks and concerns have lingered. Motorists still fear encountering racist police officers or wandering into towns where they’re not welcome. In recent years, travelers of color have been rejected by Airbnb hosts and booted from a Napa Valley wine tour in a case that led to a racial discrimination lawsuit that was settled.

In response to The Washington Post’s call in November for stories about racial discrimination while traveling, readers recounted experiences across the country, from New York to East Texas.

Ray Jones of Aurora, Colorado, who identifies as African American, said he exercises caution whenever he rides his motorcycle outside of the metropolitan Denver area. He said “White lives matter” billboards and bumper stickers send a message that he’s not totally welcome.

He’s even stopped traveling to North Carolina to visit relatives with his wife, who is white.

“Based on recent events in [Charlottesville] and the climate in America, I will not feel comfortable traveling south of D.C. for a few [years] when we visit the East Coast annually together,” he said.

Evita Robinson, founder of an online community for travelers called Nomadnesstv.com, points to the political climate and a resurfacing of outspoken racism as causes for concern. She said some of her 17,000 members, most of whom are people of color, say they sometimes feel more comfortable traveling abroad than within their own country.

“Now more than ever, we need each other,” said Robinson, who is black. “We need each other for insights, we need each other for advice on the ground in a community like mine.”

Social media also gives a sense of what domestic travel looks like through the eyes of a person of color, chronicling stories of discriminatory encounters with such hashtags as #AirbnbWhileBlack and #TravelingWhileBlack. These concerns are not exclusive to black people. Last April, a Korean American woman’s tearful account of being rejected by an Airbnb host because of her race went viral.

In a message explaining her decision, the Airbnb host cited the president: “It’s why we have trump,” her message read. “And I will not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners.”

President Donald Trump’s election in November 2016 coincided with a surge in reported hate crimes that month, according to federal data. Though reported hate crimes have steadily declined since at least the 1990s – with 2015 having the fewest on record – reports of vocal white supremacists, high-profile fatal police encounters and caught-on-camera public racism are influencing where motorists of color are willing to drive.

Dallas resident Jeannette Abrahamson, who identifies as African American, mentioned the case of a 28-year-old black woman who was found dead in a Texas jail cell three days after she was arrested during a traffic stop.

“What happened to Sandra Bland could have easily happened to me as I’ve made that drive to Houston several times and pass a lot of those small country towns,” said Abrahamson, 48.

During the Green Book era, black drivers were acutely aware that they could be targets of unwarranted traffic stops that could go wrong. Many black men would keep a chauffeur’s hat in the car and tell officers that the vehicle belonged to their white employer, which would often defuse a bad situation.

The chauffeur hat strategy carries hints of the “slave pass,” a note of permission that enslaved people had to carry any time they were traveling alone – evidence that journeys have long been perilous for black Americans.

Traffic stops remain an issue. In a multiyear study of more than 60 million traffic stops across 20 states, Stanford University’s Open Policing Project found that black drivers are not only more likely to be stopped than white drivers, but that black and Hispanic motorists are also more likely to be ticketed and have their cars searched for less cause than whites.

There have been reports of local authorities freely discussing and making light of violence against black people, even advising recruits to shoot young marijuana users if they’re black.

In August, Trump pardoned and offered vigorous support to a former Arizona sheriff who was convicted of criminal contempt related to his racial profiling tactics against Latinos.

Although the NAACP has existed for more than a century – through segregation and the turbulence of the civil rights movement – the organization released its first travel advisories last year.

In August, it issued an alert to people of color traveling in Missouri after a state law was passed making it harder for women and minorities to sue based on discrimination in the workplace. In October, when the organization advised caution when traveling on American Airlines because of “a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers,” NAACP spokesman Malik Russell said there was an unexpected flood of calls and emails from people sharing stories of discrimination they faced as passengers.

He wondered whether the organization struck a nerve, revealing how much discrimination while traveling remains an under-discussed topic.

“It was a moment where we saw the need for these types of actions, where it seemed people were waiting for an opportunity to tell their story,” Russell said.

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When Taylor speaks about her Green Book research, people often tell her they are relieved that the need for such a guide is over. But she is quick to caution: “It’s so important, I think, that we don’t relegate that as just something that happened in the past, because there are variations of it that we’re still living out in different ways, and it’s just evolved. It’s not gone, in terms of being safe on the road.”

While recalling his own family’s stories of travel during the Green Book-era, Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, said that for a person of color, there’s always going to be an awareness that hangs overhead.

While travel has gotten easier, he said, “there is always that sense that, ‘Am I going to have the experience that I want, which is to be free of race and to enjoy this moment? Or will race tap me on the shoulder?’ And it usually does.”

The Washington Post’s Aaron Williams contributed to this report.

 

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This flu season is on track to be one of the worst in 15 years

Denver Post Local News - 4 hours 31 min ago

With tens of thousands of patients flocking to hospitals and at least 37 children dead, this year’s flu season is shaping up to be the worst in nearly a decade – and it’s not over yet.

At a time when experts hoped new cases would start tapering off, federal health officials said Friday that the number of patients seeking care for flulike symptoms continues to rise sharply.

Nearly 12,000 people have been hospitalized with confirmed cases of flu, an increase of 3,000 in just one week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest report, for the week ending Jan. 20, shows the rate of people seeking care now rivals that of the swine-flu pandemic of 2009.

In Florida, West Boca Medical Center in Boca Raton has seen a surge of patients. “We think it may be peaking,” said Adam Leisy, head of the emergency room, “but who knows what the next few weeks will bring.”

Leisy said his hospital has been flooded with elderly snowbirds – often already dealing with chronic conditions and now wheezing from coughs and struggling with fever.

In California, some hospitals have pitched tents outside their ERs to cope with the crush of patients; some facilities there have flown in nurses from out of state. Doctors have worked double and triple shifts. In Chicago, a shortage of patient beds has left ambulances idling outside hospitals.

In New York, state leaders this week issued an emergency order allowing pharmacists to give vaccines to children.

The toll on children has been especially severe. CDC officials said the pediatric death count is likely to approach, if not exceed, the 148 deaths reported during the especially severe flu season of 2014 and 2015. That season ended with 56,000 flu-related deaths, 710,000 people hospitalized and 16 million who sought care from a clinician or hospital.

This year’s intensity has been driven by a particularly nasty strain of the virus known as H3N2. Another strain has also begun showing up, hitting baby boomers especially hard, CDC officials said Friday, although experts have not figured out exactly why.

CDC says the number of pediatric deaths is probably more than the 37 reported, because if often takes longer for deaths outside hospitals to be reported to authorities. The real number may be twice as high, officials said.

“You hear people talking about how serious it can get, but you never think it’s going to happen to you,” Anne LaMontagne, 41, said by phone as she sat by her son in Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis.

In the space of five days, 9-year-old Grant went from having a sore throat to being rushed to the hospital, with doctors struggling to force more oxygen into his lungs to keep him alive.

The flu led to pneumonia. Her son’s lungs filled with mucus, preventing him from breathing. Doctors put the boy on a ventilator and stuck a probe down his throat to suction out vinelike threads of mucus from his lungs.

But his condition got worse. Last week, LaMontagne and her husband looked on with horror as doctors inserted a large tube into an unconscious Grant’s neck and connected him to a lung-bypass machine to give his body the oxygen his lungs could not.

The sight sent the couple fleeing to the hospital cafeteria. “We just cried and tried to breathe and talk each other through what was happening,” she said.

The treatment worked. Last Friday her son had recovered to the point that doctors woke him from sedation. “It all happened so fast,” his mother said Friday. “He’s a healthy boy. He swims. He’s never had any major illnesses.”

Two differences with this year’s flu is that it hit almost all states at the same time and has stayed at that high level nationally for three consecutive weeks, said Daniel Jernigan, who heads the CDC’s influenza division. In past years, the flu more commonly appeared in different parts of the country at different times.

The current season began in October, but there was a rapid ramp-up in January right after the holidays, probably triggered by children returning to school and spreading the virus, Jernigan said. In Florida and Texas, entire school districts have closed to stop further spread.

The burden of so many cases on hospitals, experts say, underscores the fragility of the country’s health-care system. Some hospitals are already strained to capacity on a normal day and could be overrun if a pandemic hits.

“The concern is that with an emergency, we could get to a tipping point, where the demands of community exceeds our capacity as a country,” said James Blumenstock, chief program officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

The length and severity of a flu season is always notoriously hard to predict. Experts often look for clues in past seasons when the same strains of flu have dominated. In previous H3N2 seasons, flu activity remained active for an average of about 16 weeks but in some cases continued as long as 20 weeks.

“By that measure, we are about halfway there,” Jernigan said. “But it means we have several more weeks of flu to go.”

Already, this season has offered its share of surprises.

People over 65 are usually the ones with the highest hospitalization rates, with the second most affected group being children under 4. But officials have been taken aback in recent weeks to see that individuals with the second-highest hospitalization rate are between 50 to 64 years old.

“Baby boomers have higher rates of hospitalization than their grandchildren right now,” Jernigan noted with surprise.

It’s not clear why this is happening. Officials say one possibility may be the mix of viruses circulating this season and the different levels of immunity that people have developed to those viruses over time.

In addition, vaccination rates for adults under 65 are lower than those for seniors.

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“These are folks who would really benefit from higher vaccination rates,” Jernigan said. “They’re usually at the peak of their careers, or managing a lot of business, and them missing work because of flu would have a huge impact.”

It is not too late to get a flu shot, experts continue to stress. The current vaccine protects against all three of the most prevalent strains. It is least effective against the H3N2 strain, but its effectiveness against the other two strains that are now appearing – H1N1 and an influenza B strain – is much higher.

The CDC recommends an injectable flu vaccine for everyone 6 months or older as soon as possible because the body takes about two weeks to produce a full immune response.

The one upside to the severity of this year’s season is that suddenly everyone wants to know how to avoid getting sick.

“I have friends calling me, family asking me, ‘Is it too late to get a shot?’ ” said Blumenstock, a health official in Arlington, Va. “I tell them: ‘Hurry up. Go! Get your shot.’ Hopefully, this year is a chance for people to learn.”

The Washington Post’s Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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Trump turns again on immigration; allies bash “Amnesty Don”

Denver Post Local News - 4 hours 38 min ago

NEW YORK — Fearing betrayal on a signature campaign issue, President Donald Trump’s loyalists are lashing out against his proposal to create a path to citizenship for nearly 2 million “Dreamer” immigrants.

Trump-aligned candidates from Nevada and Virginia rejected the notion outright. A loyal media ally, Breitbart News, attacked him as “Amnesty Don.” And outside groups that cheered the hardline rhetoric that dominated Trump’s campaign warned of fierce backlash against the president’s party in November’s midterm elections.

“There’s a real potential for disaster,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the far-right Center for Immigration Studies. “The president hasn’t sold out his voters yet. But I think it’s important that his supporters are making clear to him that they’re keeping an eye on him.”

The public scolding is aimed at a president who has changed course under pressure before. It presents Trump with a significant test on an issue that dominated his outsider candidacy and inspired working-class voters who propelled his rise. Now, barely a year into his presidency, Trump can bend either to the will of his fiery base or to the pressure to govern and compromise.

His leadership may determine the fate of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants and whether his party can improve its standing among surging numbers of Hispanic voters.

“There’s a Trump movement. And It’s not necessarily about Donald Trump,” said Corey Stewart, a Republican Senate candidate in Virginia and a vocal Trump ally. “It’s about the things that Donald Trump campaigned and stood for during his campaign. Ultimately, every elected leader needs to stay true to the message that they ran on, otherwise people will leave them.”

The passionate response underscores the Republican Party’s dilemma on immigration under Trump.

Much of the country, including independents and moderate Republicans, favor protections for thousands of young people brought to the country as children illegally and raised here through no fault of their own. But a vocal conservative faction emboldened by Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric will never accept anything viewed as “amnesty.” And many view legal protection for these young immigrants as just that.

Trump’s proposal includes billions for border security and significant changes to legal immigration long sought by hard-liners. Several Democrats and immigration activists rejected it outright. But his supporters’ focus on “amnesty” for Dreamers highlights how dug in the base is and how little room Trump has to maneuver.

The president told journalists this week he favors a pathway to citizenship for those immigrants, embracing a notion he once specifically rejected. Legal protection for roughly 700,000 immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, has emerged as a driving priority for Democrats, who forced a government shutdown over this issue last week. The businessman president appears to have set out to cut a deal.

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“It is concerning why anyone would attempt to repeat history by granting amnesty,” said Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is mulling a primary challenge against Republican Sen. Roger Wicker. McDaniel likened the Trump proposal to the “amnesty” granted in 1986 immigration overhaul backed by President Ronald Reagan.

Such a policy, McDaniel said, would harm American workers and “invite more illegals,” while emboldening liberals in future debates. Making a deal now would ensure that a future Congress will be “held hostage by open border advocates.”

In Virginia, Stewart agreed with McDaniel that “any amnesty, including an extension of DACA,” would lead draw millions of new immigrants into the country illegally. “I’m not happy about it,” he said.

Brian Kemp, a leading Republican candidate for Georgia governor, said Republicans must use their Washington monopoly to end DACA, which he characterized as an “open the borders” philosophy.

Kemp, whose “Georgia First” campaign slogan echoes Trump’s “America First” rhetoric, declined to criticize the president, calling him a “master negotiator.” But, Kemp added, “No matter what deal is brokered, my opposition to amnesty remains firm.”

In Nevada, where Trump loyalty is the centerpiece of Republican Danny Tarkanian’s primary challenge against Sen. Dean Heller, Tarkanian also broke from the president.

“It’s his decision,” Tarkanian said of Trump. “But I don’t believe we should grant citizenship to people who have come to the country illegally.”

He would, however, support permanent legal status for children who entered the country illegally, but said he draws the line at citizenship.

The consequences could be severe for the GOP as it struggles to energize voters heading into the 2018 midterm elections, when Republican majorities in the House and Senate are at stake. Recent Democratic victories in Alabama and Virginia suggest that the GOP has cause for concern, especially as Trump’s job approval hovers in the mid-30s.

Protections for more immigration of these young immigrants could trigger wholesale revolt by Trump’s base in November, said Bob Dane, executive director of the conservative Federation for American Immigration Reform.

“There’s widespread fear that if Trump capitulates to the Democrats and fails to deliver on his campaign promises on immigration, there’s not going to be any more campaign promises for the GOP to make in the future, because the base will inflict a scorched-earth policy in midterms,” Dane said.

Some allies hoped Trump comments and the proposal were an early step in negotiations that could change. Trump has zigzagged on the issue before. With Congress pushing Trump to clearly state his position, the White House plans to formally unveil a legislative framework next week.

But Trump on Wednesday left little wiggle room in his support for citizenship. “It’s going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years,” he said.

Associated Press writers Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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Trump administration cancels detailed review of Obama-era mining ban near Minnesota wilderness

Denver Post Local News - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 9:47pm

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration on Friday curtailed a detailed review of how cordoning off more than 234,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in Minnesota from mining development would affect a neighboring wilderness area.

The decision to convert the study launched in the final days of the Obama administration into a less-stringent environmental assessment could have major policy implications. Last January, the Interior Department blocked mineral extraction for two years in the swath of forest near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a glacially carved region west of Lake Superior that is speckled with lakes and popular with canoers.

At the same time last year, the federal government announced it would review whether to bar mining in the U.S. Forest Service-managed land for a longer stretch, the next 20 years. Interior officials decided not to renew existing leases for a copper and nickel mining operation there.

The action launched bureaucrats into completing hundreds of pages of environmental analysis – ultimately meant to produce a comprehensive document called an environmental-impact statement. The study aimed to assess whether a sulfide-ore mine, which can leach toxic metals, could potentially pollute more than 1,200 miles of neighboring streams in an area where the water flows south to north.

Forest Service officials said Friday that they will now conduct an abbreviated review of the Obama-era proposal to withdraw the land from possible mining.

“While the science indicates significant environmental impacts are unlikely to result from the proposed withdrawal, I am deeply aware of the controversy regarding socio-economic implications,” said Superior National Forest Supervisor Connie Cummins in a statement, adding that agency specialists “are working hard to ensure the [new study] accurately describes all the facts of the proposal, to aid the Secretary of the Interior in his decision.”

The decision reflected the input received in more than 90,000 comments, and would still constitute a “thorough environmental analysis” of the watershed, said Kathleen Atkinson, regional forester for the Eastern Region.

The switch to a less stringent review, called an environmental assessment, comes a month after Interior chose to renew the expired mining leases held by a Chilean mining giant next to the wilderness area. The Forest Service decision constitutes another small example of the Trump administration easing the way for more mining across the country – not just for coal, which Trump often mentions in speeches, but for ores of copper, nickel and other metals as well.

Reversing the Obama-era decision has been the subject of intense lobbying over the past year. Shortly after entering office, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke meet with proponents of Twin Metals Minnesota, a subsidiary of the Chilean firm, which belongs to the family of billionaire Andrónico Luksic, who rents a Washington home to Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.

While Republicans in Minnesota cheered the reversal, saying it will be a boon to the economy of a state Trump only narrowly lost in the 2016 election, environmentalists and some Minnesota Democrats, including Rep. Betty McCollum, have pressed the Trump administration keep the withdrawal in place. They are concerned more mining could taint the waters that draw campers and drive much of the region’s economy.

Boundary Waters, which abuts the federal forest where mining would take place, contains lakes and streams that annually host 100 species of migratory birds, along with an active fishery.

“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke cares more about helping mining conglomerates than about protecting the BWCA,” McCollum, who is also the top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing Interior and the Forest Service, said in a statement Thursday. “This decision is yet another part of the Trump agenda to turn our public lands and natural treasures into industrial wastelands for private profit.”

While the Forest Service, a division of the Agriculture Department, is tasked with completing the environmental review, the final say on whether mining should be banned rests with Zinke.

In a fact sheet prepared by the Forest Service, obtained by The Washington Post, the agency said that its decision would not affect Twin Metals Minnesota’s leases – which lie within the area eyed for a withdrawal – because they “are valid existing rights. The Twin Metals lease renewals are a separate issue and the re-issuance of the leases is unaffected by the proposed withdrawal.”

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, D, questioned this interpretation of the law: The Bureau of Land Management typically needs to prove an existing right, even if a lease has been renewed.

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“Incredibly, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management now says that Antofagasta’s leases of federal land are to be automatically renewed, which would mean that the company would control the public’s land in perpetuity,” Dayton said in a statement. “I urge the administration to disclose who persuaded it to steamroll responsible review and protection of this priceless natural resource in favor of copper-nickel mining profits.”

Twin Metals Minnesota could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.

Nada Culver, a senior counsel at the Wilderness Society, emphasized that there should be “no shortcuts for the Boundary Waters,” arguing the switch will give the public a diminished voice on mining in Minnesota.

“Our concern is that the Forest Service committed to completing an environmental-impact statement,” she said. “While we certainly agree that closing this area to mining does not have much environmental harm, we think it’s important that they follow though, that all voices are heard.”

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Family of woman killed in I-70 crash caused by wrong-way driver on Christmas night speaks

Denver Post Local News - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 9:39pm

AURORA — It was Christmas night when Katie Paul and her boyfriend, Kyle Parker, left a family party and headed home on eastbound I-70. Just before the E-470 exit, a caravan going the wrong way on the highway struck Katie and Parker’s truck head on, according to investigators. Katie was killed. The 86-year-old driver of the caravan and his wife also died.

Denver7Katie Paul

Katie was just 24-years-old and leaves behind her two sisters, a brother and both parents. For the first time since the deadly crash, the family is speaking out in hopes their words can prevent another crash like the one Katie was involved in from ever happening again.

Her parents tell Denver7 they were behind Katie and Kyle’s truck on the highway when the accident happened. Kyle was behind the wheel of the truck.

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“There was a white SUV in front of Kyle and it all the sudden swerved, and all of a sudden we saw Kyle swerving and locking up his truck,” said Katie’s father, Mike Paul. “Next thing you know his whole front end went rear down and the back end went almost up to a 45 degree angle.”

Mike had to slam on his brakes to avoid it all. He immediately got out to try and help.

Read the full story on thedenverchannel.com.

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Denver Pioneers earn tie versus North Dakota hockey

Denver Post Local News - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 9:29pm

After giving up two early goals, the fourth-ranked University of Denver hockey team rallied for a 3-3 tie Friday night against No. 11 North Dakota at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.

DU (14-6-5, 8-4-3-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) got the extra conference point in the 3-on-3 overtime, on a goal by Troy Terry.

North Dakota (12-8-7, 6-6-3-2) wasted little time jumping out on top on a goal by Cole Smith just 1:02 into the game. It was the first goal allowed in three games by DU goalie Tanner Jaillet, who was the NCHC’s goalie of the week and the NCAA’s second star last week after posting back-to-back shutouts versus Nebraska Omaha.

The Fighting Hawks made it 2-0 at 5:18 of the first on a power-play goal by Shane Gersich.

Denver scored the lone goal in the second period, cutting UND’s lead to 2-1 at 7:04 on a goal by Dylan Gambrell, increasing his streak of games with at least one point to five.

The Pioneers tied it at 2:11 of the third period on Rudy Junda’s goal, then took the lead on Terry’s power-play goal at 5:56. But North Dakota pulled its goalie and tied it with 1:32 remaining on Hayden Shaw’s goal.

The teams split the series in Denver in November.



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Prep basketball rundown: Notable 5A, 4A performances for the week of Jan. 27

Denver Post Local News - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 9:27pm

Here’s a list of notable performances in Class 5A and Class 4A boys/girls basketball for the week culminating on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Class 5A Boys

Fairview 57, Boulder 44 on Thursday at the Coors Event Center: The classic city rivalry on Boulder’s biggest basketball stage did not disappoint, as senior Mark O’Neill’s 19 points paced the Knights (11-6) to a Front Range League victory over the Panthers (10-7). Fairview was also led by double-digit scoring efforts by sophomore Jalen Page and junior Ashton Nichols.

No. 6 Overland 71, No. 10 Eaglecrest 58 on Friday: Seniors Goy Wang and Laolu Oke dominated play above the rim for the Blazers (10-7), who have now rattled off nine straight victories. Overland played with a sense of urgency from the opening tip in front of an energized crowd, while senior Branden Bunn dropped 19 points in the second half as the Raptors fought back.

Class 4A Boys

D’Evelyn 56, Green Mountain 44 on Wednesday: The Jaguars owned the first and final quarters by a combined score of 39-12, with senior Charles Dinegar pouring in 31 points to secure the Jeffco League win for D’Evelyn (9-7). The Rams (6-10) were led by two players scoring in double figures, as senior Alex Telles had 15 points and senior Nate Davis added 12.

Mead 59, Roosevelt 56 on Friday: In a rematch of the Mavericks’ high-powered 79-71 win over the Roughriders on Dec. 19, coach Darin Reese and Mead (11-6) got another Tri-Valley League victory over Roosevelt (11-5). The victory also keeps Mead on track for a showdown at Windsor on Feb. 9 that will likely determine the conference crown.

Class 5A Girls

No. 1 Regis Jesuit 37, No. 6 Highlands Ranch 34 on Thursday: Coach Carl Mattei and the Raiders (14-3) earned a pivotal Continental League win despite early foul trouble by leading scorer Fran Belibi. Senior Kasey Neubert led the Falcons (14-4) with a dozen points in a low-scoring affair that proved even some of the state’s brightest prep stars can be corralled by solid team defense.

No. 8 Lakewood 50, No. 3 Ralston Valley 44 on Friday: The Tigers (14-3) avenged their Jeffco League loss to the Mustangs (14-2) earlier in the season, as senior Delaynie Byrne’s 22 points weren’t enough for the Mustangs to overcome Lakewood. Senior Camilla Emsbo led the Tigers with 19 points, while senior Hannah Renstrom chipped in a dozen more.

Class 4A Girls

No. 2 Evergreen 50, No. 3 Golden 40 on Wednesday: Once again, the Demons’ top scoring trio — senior Abby Garnett, senior Makena Prey and sophomore Elli Garnett — were all in double digits, but 13 points from senior Baylee Galan-Browne and a dozen more from senior Meriel Hahn enabled the Cougars (14-1) to take control of their Jeffco League destiny.

Air Academy 43, Discovery Canyon 37 on Friday: The Kadets (17-1) remained undefeated in league play in a game in which the Thunder went on several runs but were unable to erase an early deficit. Senior Katlyn Blacksten, junior Kayla Nocon and junior Zoe Sims all turned in clutch performances for Air Academy to defeat the scrappy Thunder (10-7).

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Chaos spreads in France as Nutella-loving customers battle to get 70 percent off

Denver Post Local News - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 9:20pm

By James Mcauley, The Washington Post

PARIS – In the French Revolution, the people fought over bread. In the France of Emmanuel Macron, they are now fighting over Nutella.

As part of a promotion, Intermarché – a French supermarket chain – slashed the price of a 35-ounce jar of everyone’s favorite hazelnut cocoa spread by 70 percent. What transpired was a series of scenes that would warm the heart of any die-hard “Black Friday” bargain-hunter.

Giuseppe Aresu, BloombergThe hazelnut spread Nutella.

In the words of one Intermarché employee, from the northeastern French town of Forbach, who spoke anonymously to Agence France-Presse: “People just rushed in, shoving everyone, breaking things. It was like an orgy. We were on the verge of calling the police.”

The dogged pursuit of a discounted confection now heavily based on sugar and palm oil was hardly limited to Forbach. All over the country, similar Nutella outbursts – some of which were even described as “riots” – erupted on Thursday. In some cases, the authorities even had to be called in to restore order.

Video footage posted by customers on social media shows a hubbub of commotion around the coveted spread, a spectacle that likely seems perfectly common to any seasoned American shopper after Thanksgiving but that is nothing short of a scandal in France.

“This is not normal,” said one woman, captured in the background of one video posted on Twitter.

“We were trying to get between the customers, but they were pushing us,” said another employee at a location in central France, speaking to the local newspaper Le Progrès.

“They are like animals,” a customer said in the French press, describing the spectacle in one store. “A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, another had a bloody hand.”

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The hazelnut spread – for many, an ambrosial accompaniment to toast, baguettes or even bananas – has existed since since the 1940s, when Pietro Ferrero, a confectioner from the Piedmont region in the north of Italy, made a sweet spread out of a type of nut in local abundance. At the time, chocolate was still in short supply immediately after World War II, thanks to wartime rations on cocoa.

The rest, as they say, is history. The sweet spread has held a vaunted place in many a kitchen ever since the mid-1960s, when a revamped version – formally christened “Nutella” – hit shelves for the first time.

In any case, Nutella’s manufacturer was none too pleased about the brawls that erupted in France. In a statement on Twitter posted on Thursday, Ferrero blasted the supermarket chain.

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KFC taps Reba McEntire as next colonel, breaking gender barrier

Denver Post Local News - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 9:10pm
Courtesy of KFC via APThis photo provided by KFC shows singer Reba McEntire as KFC’s Colonel Sanders. A rotating cast of famous names have portrayed the Colonel since 2015, but McEntire is the first female celebrity to do it, and the first musician.

By Craig Giammona, Bloomberg

The new colonel is a woman.

KFC, the fried-chicken chain run by Yum Brands Inc., has picked country singer Reba McEntire to appear as Colonel Sanders in its latest marketing campaign — the first time a woman is portraying the mascot, who honors restaurant founder Harland Sanders.

The colonel was absent from the chain’s marketing for decades before being revived in 2015. Since the comeback, KFC has tapped various male actors, including Ray Liotta and Rob Lowe, for the role. Now, with a debate about gender diversity touching industries from Wall Street to Hollywood, Yum has shifted course.

McEntire, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, will appear in ads touting KFC’s new smoky mountain barbecue chicken.

The company said it picked McEntire because she “embodies the brand.”

“We’ve been publicly talking for a while about the fact that anyone who embodies the spirit of the colonel is qualified to play this role,” said Andrea Zahumensky, the chain’s chief marketing officer. “Her Southern roots are a perfect fit.”

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Outdoor gear sales slip as millennials drive shift in habits

Denver Post Local News - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 9:02pm

DENVER — Sales of outdoor equipment are slipping as millennials drive changes in U.S. consumer habits by favoring clothes and sporting goods that are less specialized and more versatile, analysts say.

Industry retail sales totaled $18.9 billion from December 2016 through November 2017, down 6 percent from the previous 12 months, according to NPD Group, a market research company that tracks trends in two dozen industries.

The company announced the numbers this week as manufacturers and buyers gathered in Denver for the Outdoor Retailer and Snow Show, the industry’s biggest winter marketplace.

Millennials — sometimes defined as people born between 1982 and 2004 — are less likely than the previous generation to demand outdoor gear that stands up to extreme conditions, said Matt Powell, NPD’s senior adviser for the sports industry. He used boots as an example.

“The hardest, the most extreme condition some of these boots are going to have is walking from the Prius to the craft brewery,” he said.

Powell also cited mountain bikes, which riders can use on streets or trails without special clothing and usually cost less than specialized road bikes.

“I describe it as good-enough products. A product that will get me through most of what I want to do, and a product that is versatile,” he said.

Millennials are outdoorsy and support environmental preservation and sustainability, Powell said, but they have a different take on health and fitness than their predecessors. They have a more lighthearted approach that involves their friends, he said.

Some individual retailers and manufacturers have adapted, but the overall industry has not, Powell said.

“I think the outdoor industry has not responded enough to this shift in the mindset of consumers,” he said.

Greg Thomsen, U.S. managing director for Adidas Outdoors, said his company is focusing on consumers in their 20s and younger.

“This industry has been aging for a long time, and it’s nice to bring in some new people,” he said.

Thomsen said millennials like Adidas’ Flyloft jacket, which isn’t suitable for severely cold weather but still works for outdoor recreation. It’s less expensive, easier to care for and more versatile than more a hard-core outdoor jacket, he said, and it’s suitable for a day in the mountains or a night on the town.

The Outdoor Retailer and Snow Show gives retail buyers a look at goods they can sell starting next fall. About 1,000 manufacturers are showing new products to 11,000 retail buyers at the show, which opened Thursday and runs through Sunday.

The 500,000-square-foot (46,000-square-meter) expo is packed with nearly everything outdoors people might need, and a few things they might not: Ski parkas and bikinis, snow boots and sandals, axes and accounting software, snowboards and sleds, bicycles and camper vans, packaged food and Colorado whiskey.

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Displays range from a humble table to elaborate, two-story exhibits with changing rooms or conference tables. Some exhibitors wore clingy ski pants; another wore a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform complete with scarlet tunic.

This is the first Outdoor Retailer Show since it left its longtime home in Salt Lake City. Some big players in the outdoor industry argued that Utah’s political leaders were too hostile toward preserving public lands, so the show moved to Colorado, whose environmental politics are more in tune with the industry’s.

This week’s show is also the first since its producer, Emerald Expositions, acquired the SnowSports Industries America Snow Show, which had been held each January in Denver. Organizers say it’s the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries have a combined show.

Snow industry sales, which include skis, snowboards, boots, bindings and other equipment, are faring better than the larger outdoor industry. For the first four months of the current winter season, sales totaled $2 billion, up 7.8 percent

Associated Press writer James Anderson contributed to this report.

 

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Colorado AG plans to fight $2 million compensation lawsuit from Clarence Moses-EL, acquitted after spending 28 years in prison

Denver Post Local News - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 8:56pm

The office of the Colorado Attorney General announced Friday that it will fight a lawsuit seeking $2 million in compensation filed by Clarence Moses-EL, a Denver man who spent 28 years in prison for rape and assault before being acquitted in 2016.

In the suit, filed in December in U.S. District Court in Denver, Moses-Ell accuses defendants of malicious prosecution, destruction of evidence, manufacturing false evidence, mishandling evidence, conspiracy to violate his civil rights and fundamental unfairness of prosecution.

As part of the suit, Moses-EL is requesting nearly $2 million dollars in compensation under Colorado’s Exoneration Act.

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“The Attorney General’s Office met with the Denver District Attorney’s Office, Moses-EL’s legal team, and the victim in the case,” according to the release. “With the information that has been provided to our office at this time, the State does not agree that Moses-EL can meet the required burden of proof to obtain compensation under the Act.”

Moses-EL was convicted in 1988 of raping and beating a neighbor. A jury determined in 2016 that he was not guilty of first-degree sexual assault, second-degree assault and second-degree burglary.

DNA evidence in the original case was destroyed by the Denver Police Department. “As a result, there is no way to know what DNA testing would have showed, including whether or not it would have corroborated the victim’s identification of Moses-EL,” the attorney general’s news release said. “Although the jury at the second trial ultimately found that Moses-EL’s guilt had not been established beyond a reasonable doubt, acquittal is not equivalent to a finding of actual innocence.”

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Two suspects held on first-degree murder warrants in Denver fatal shooting

Denver Post Local News - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 7:46pm
  • Denver Police

    Joseph Lovato

  • Denver Police

    Lorenzo Lesperance

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Two men have been arrested as suspects in a fatal shooting earlier this month in Denver.

Lorenzo Lesperance, 26, and Joseph Lovato, 29, are being held on suspicion of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

Jeramy Montano, 29, was shot just before 6 p.m. on Jan. 14  in the 3000 block of West Center Avenue, according to an arrest affidavit. Montano had been riding in a silver sedan, with two other men, when he was shot.

A woman, who knew Montano and was with him earlier, had been following the silver sedan. The woman told investigators she heard a gunshot. She saw Montano get out of the back seat of the silver car while the driver of that car was shooting at him.

Montano staggered back to the black BMW the woman was driving and fell into the back seat. The driver of the silver sedan walked toward the front of the BMW, firing multiple rounds.

The woman driving the BMW ducked below the dashboard. She threw the car in gear and drove to a nearby 7-Eleven store, in the 800 block of South Federal Boulevard, where she called 911 for help. The name of the woman, a witness and victim in the case, was redacted in the affidavit.

Montano, who was shot multiple times, was taken to Denver Health medical center where he was pronounced dead.

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Twenty-one bullet strikes hit the BMW, according to the court document. Ten .45 caliber shell casings and two 9mm shell casings were recovered at the scene. Police found a Springfield XD .45 caliber handgun, two empty magazines and two fully loaded Glock 9mm magazines in two white bags in alley just north of the shooting scene.

Crime lab analysis of the .45 caliber handgun and magazines found fingerprints, which were run through a data base and came back positive as Lovato’s prints. Investigators determined Lovato owns a 2012 silver four-door Chevrolet Cruze.

Lesperance came to the attention of investigators through a crime stoppers tip. Investigators, through warrants, traced mobile phone records, keying in on cell tower locations, placing both suspects in the area of the shooting scene at the time of the shooting, according to the affidavit.

Both suspects were arrested Thursday. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office and Westminster police assisted Denver police with the arrests.

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First-ever rally of state recreation chiefs at convention in Denver propels ideas into political movement

Denver Post Local News - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 6:52pm

A first-ever rally of directors of newly formed state outdoor recreation offices at the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show last week hopes to champion recreation as the next economic engine for rural and urban communities from coast to coast.

“The first step yesterday is just the beginning of a great, great march and it takes all the stuff everyone here is working for and it takes it from being just an idea into a movement and it’s a movement that is not Republican and Democrat, it is American and it’s global,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, kicking off the largest-ever gathering at the Colorado Convention Center last Thursday.

Hickenlooper’s outdoor recreation boss, Luis Benitez, corralled his colleagues from across the country. The like-minded leaders from a diverse array of eight states — Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Vermont and North Carolina — are the country’s first state recreation chieftains, highlighting outdoor experiences as a step toward economic vitality and sustainability.

Last week, the recreation industry’s inaugural G8 Summit forged the Colorado Accords, a first-step platform of shared principles that outlines how outdoor recreation can anchor economic development and foster conservation and stewardship of public lands. The group also established a framework for training workers and promoting outdoor recreation as a path toward improving public health and wellness.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Amy Kraft, left, and Kristin Anderson, both of Vasque Outdoor Footwear, look at jackets in the Mammut booth at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Mike Bickelhaupt, left and Mike Kowalski, right, with Colorado Ice Works, put the finishing touches on an ice exhibit outside of the Colorado Convention Center in preparation for the opening of the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 24, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Vendors carry in large amounts of boxes to set up their booths inside the Colorado Convention Center in preparation for the opening of the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 24, 2018 in Denver.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Mark Ortiz, with Sego Ski Company, picks up a large aluminum composite sign to set up for his company's booth inside the Colorado Convention Center in preparation for the opening of the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 24, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    People walk the aisles where incredible photos of athletes doing incredible feats are hanging in a variety of booths through out the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Monica Krutz, a sales rep with Skhoop, a Scandinavian skirt company, shows some of the company's upcoming Fall 2018 merchandise to a buyer, not shown, at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    A man looks at a large variety of gloves on display at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    The Recon Stretch Ski Shell by Black Diamond is encased inside a block of ice at the Black Diamond booth at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    People walk by the North Face booth at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Caroline Bennett looks over Fall 2018 merchandise from Skhoop, a Scandinavian skirt company, at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Surrounded by amazing photos of athletes doing amazing things, people take a break in the North Face booth at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Janet Reichl, left in back and Will Rietveld, middle with hat, both with Ultralight Insights, check out new OR gloves at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25-28. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Pinecone, a Jack Russell mix, sits patiently while her owner Katrin Bell, of Slackline U.S., right, talks with friends and co-workers Sonya Iverson, left, and Bradley Duling, middle, at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on January 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    People take a break in the Mountain Hardwear booth at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Fall 2018 gloves by OR are on display at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    RuffWear displays their popular dog harness on stuffed dogs in their booth at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Cass Estes, middle, with Pistil, a head wear and accessories company out of Hood River, Oregon, arranges shelves in her booth at the Colorado Convention Center during the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver. The show is the nation's largest outdoor sports expo and conference. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show is the first time in nearly 30 years that the outdoor and snow industries will be together. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show say that their show is about community and having one place where the industry can gather. The show runs January 25th-28th. Hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Days 1-3, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Day 4.

  • Jeremy Papasso, Daily Camera

    Retail Buyer James Howarth, with L.L. Bean, looks at an assortment of key chains made by Longmont's Bison Designs during the Outdoor Retailer and Snow Show on Thursday at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso, Daily Camera

    Slackline Industries employee Frankie Najera looks at his phone while sitting in a TreePod during the Outdoor Retailer and Snow Show on Thursday at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

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“I’m a little in awe how nimbly we moved toward saying, ‘Yep, we are going to continue to ratify this by spring. We are going to have a working common platform that we can all say out loud,” said Benitez, who assigned each state recreation chief with a mission of identifying their state’s best practices, which became a springboard for developing the coalition’s emerging platform.

Utah, hardly a bastion of liberalism, was the first state in the union to create an outdoor recreation office. Utah lawmakers last year implemented a new Outdoor Recreation Fund that delivers $5 million a year over the next five years to support the state’s Outdoor Recreation Grant program, which invests in trails, campgrounds and other recreation projects to bolster the state’s $2.8 billion outdoor recreation industry. A big part of that effort was the state’s outdoor recreation office showing legislators how other states were growing their outdoor recreation scene.

“It’s a friendly arms race,” said Jon Snyder, the outdoor recreation and economic development policy adviser to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, joking that he was spotlighting his neighbor Oregon’s “awesome tourism promotion to try to leverage more” funding for Washington’s recreation-boosting efforts.

The recreation bosses have a shared history of playing outside. More than a few once lived out of their cars so they could be closer to mountains, rivers and oceans. Today, they are captaining a national movement that shifts economic reliance away from extractive use of natural resources and toward a less consumptive use, where experiences in wild lands count as much as mining, drilling and logging.

The group is quick to dismiss any notion that they are looking to supplant traditional economies.

“It’s not a replacement. It’s a diversification for rural economies,” said Michael Snyder, a former lift operator turned forester who now heads the Commission of Vermont Forests, Parks and Recreation. “We are utterly dependent on what we call our working landscape — our farms and forests — and the rich tradition there. Recreation is utterly consistent with that. It’s win-win.”

Washington’s Snyder said recreation is an addition to economic portfolios that can entice new businesses and new residents.

“And it doesn’t have to be at this cost to any of the other industries. It can enhance all those other industries,” said Washington’s Snyder, noting how rural Republican districts in his state are starting to consider and install taxing districts to support new trails and parks. “Even in very anti-tax areas, there’s a consensus that this is really necessary for the future.”

No more is the effort of diversification more evidenced than in Wyoming, a conservative stronghold where extractive industry rules. The Republican governor there last fall created the state’s first office of recreation with hopes of adding more economic fire to the state as it weathers yet another downturn in its energy sector. The Outdoor Industry Association last year found outdoor recreation generated $5.6 billion for Wyoming and supported 50,000 jobs.

“I don’t care what it is, I don’t think anything will ever get to the level of what our extraction industry is in Wyoming, but at the same time if we are not thoughtful in the way we diversify, we can really lessen the troughs to help us weather some of these downturns,” said Dominic Bravo, head of the state’s new recreation office who has enlisted energy industry titans such as Anadarko as partners in growing his state’s recreation-based economy.

Broadening partnerships like that is key, say the recreation champions. And that means getting energy, timber and mining companies on board the recreation movement. After all, most of those extractive industry workers also play outside.

“The recreation community in Montana works beautiful with the timber industry on issues. In Montana there is a ton collaboration between user groups,” said Rachel VandeVoort, who built a career in the firearms industry before taking the reins at Montana’s nascent office of outdoor recreation.

In many ways, the nascent group’s push to create a state-brewed political recreation movement is a matter of messaging. Don’t think the eight are proposing low-paying hourly jobs when they talk about sparking rural economies with recreation. This is about highlighting amenities that lure doctors, professionals and families to small communities. Each of the state recreation chiefs have examples of former mining or logging towns — such as Utah’s Orangeville and Montana’s Philipsburg — that have transformed into thriving communities as they embrace recreation.

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The eight leaders acknowledge they are challenged by traditional businesses that might see the emergence of recreation as threat that could limit energy or commercial development.

“There are lot of entities out there who do not want gatherings like this to continue. They don’t want to see states align from different political stripes on a common platform and agenda because that synergy is a threat to keeping us siloed,” said Benitez, who hopes to hold biannual gathering of state recreation bosses as more states form recreation offices. “We are beyond a great start. We are there. The train has left the station.”

The hope is that states can bring change as the federal government wallows in partisan politics. By highlighting how recreation can foster economic growth, the protection of public lands and public health, the outdoor industry can deliver more than a spark to revive rural communities across the country.

“When you apply this culture to these policy principles, that’s what makes this truly transformational,” said Vermont’s Snyder.

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Victorian house in West Colfax transformed into immersive art project meant to tell a tale about gentrification

Denver Post Local News - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 6:33pm

The faded purple Victorian at 1240 Newton St. appears perfectly normal from the street.

A short metal fence gives way to a snow-covered front lawn. White-painted lumber, the skeleton of a former porch, frames the front door. The first sign of something out of the ordinary peeks from the windows, lines of paint swirling and folding around each other on wooden Venetian blinds.

But step through the front door and you have entered the mind of artist Markus Puskar, mapped in flowing lines of color pulling on each other as they race across every surface of the home, which will soon be demolished to make way for new development.

You can’t look away from “The Funkhouse,” in the same way neighbors can’t not notice the rapid change rolling through their West Colfax neighborhood.

“Something’s getting bulldozed and it’s something else remarkable you didn’t know about on the inside,” Puskar said. In this case, that something is art. But many times, it is people’s actual homes and the lives they lead there, he said.

But Puskar didn’t start this installation to make a statement.

His friend Zach Scanlon moved to Denver in September. Scanlon, a musician and artist, rents the century-old home in the West Colfax neighborhood, where the streets are lined with houses similar to his. The duplex next door is an odd juxtaposition, though, an ultra-modern, three-story home clad in wood, black brick and metal. The people who live there are nice, he said, but wealthier than most of the people in the surrounding neighborhood.

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver PostThe exterior of Zach Scanlon’s home next to a new construction on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by artist Markus Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

In 2015, about 51 percent of West Colfax was Latino and roughly 10 percent was African-American, according to Community Facts. Nearly two-fifths of the neighborhood lived in poverty. The average income was a little more than $43,800, which is less than half the greater metro’s average that neared $89,200. More than half the neighborhood worked public jobs.

But here, much as the rest of Denver, signs of gentrification are popping up. Developers are grabbing lots. Luxury apartments are going up. New attractions, such as the Alamo Drafthouse, are moving in. The West Colfax neighborhood is changing and rapidly — too rapidly, Scanlon and Puskar say.

An abandoned house was torn down to make way for the ultra-modern duplex next to Scanlon’s house. Developer Hasan Almabuk said there are similar plans for that home and the house next door, with eight units in four duplex buildings on the drawing board.

With a move-out date set for Feb. 1, Scanlon reached out to his longtime friend Puskar, asking if he wanted to paint his house.

“A little bit of it is this childish sense of I get to paint on the walls — and the ceiling,” Puskar said. “That’s where it all started.”

Puskar is an artist, cartoonist and muralist, but he has never done something this big. With four gallons of the cheapest paint from Home Depot — the primary colors plus white — he’s spent two months in the house, listening to Fleetwood Mac, Kevin Parker and Bob Marley along the way.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Markus Puskar (left) and Zach Scanlon chat on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Ted the house dog peers over a table used to keep him out of the workspace as artist Markus Puskar plans out his approach to painting his friend Zach Scanlon's home on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home, which is located at 12th Avenue and Newton Street in west Denver, is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    The exterior of Zach Scanlon's home next to a new construction on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by artist Markus Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Zach Scanlon looks up at his ceiling on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by artist Markus Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar looks through the blinds, while taking a break from painting his friend Zach Scanlon's home on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home, which is located at 12th Avenue and Newton Street in west Denver, is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    DENVER, CO - JANUARY 24: Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, January 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Ted the house dog is petted by Zach Scanlon as artist Markus Puskar paints Scanlon's home on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home, which is located at 12th Avenue and Newton Street in west Denver, is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Zach Scanlon peers out the front window as artist Markus Puskar paints the walls on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar paints his friend Zach Scanlon's living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Markus Puskar Zach Scanlon on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Artist Markus Puskar (left) stands outside as he takes a break from painting his friend Zach Scanlon's (right) living room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The interior of the home is being painted by Puskar before it is demolished by developers to make room for a new construction.

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He quickly pointed out parts of the piece that escaped a first glance at the purposefully overwhelming piece. A jellyfish — an animal Puskar talks animatedly about — is on one wall while a mushroom adorns another. He’s fascinated by disparate objects with the same shape. He abandoned structure for fluidity.

“The Funkhouse” is more powerful than a mural, he said. He loves murals, but the room holds the viewer’s attention for longer, forcing them to look at nothing else. It’s a stream of consciousness, each section representing his headspace at the time yet still flowing together cohesively.

“You start thinking about the implications that are beyond just how we enjoy the house,” he said. “There are bigger things at stake than just a fun painting project. And when that set in, we were like, ‘All right, wow. We can use this as a way to show how development can tear apart neighborhoods.’ ”

Scanlon and Puskar have lived in several cities. Scanlon most recently arrived from Nashville, Tenn., while Puskar came from Washington, D.C. They say the type of development happening in West Colfax is happening everywhere.

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They say they aren’t against redevelopment, per se. It’s how rapidly it’s happening, and the way that young professionals with money replace low-income families that bothers them. And a big issue, especially for Puskar, is the aesthetics a large luxury apartment complex brings to a neighborhood.

“I don’t think anyone is a fan of it,” Puskar said. “You can’t knock down everything.”

As newcomers to Denver, Zach Scanlon and  Markus Puskar aren’t 100 percent plugged into the local art scene. Puskar said he hates the process of putting himself out there. He’d much rather do something like paint an entire living room. But the two told a couple of galleries, friends and neighbors about “The Funkhouse.” And now they’re opening it to the public.

Starting Saturday at 7 p.m., when a DJ is expected to play, people can drop by 1240 Newton St. and view the work whenever — that is, until they lose the keys to the house Feb. 1.

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Denver-based Liberty Oilfield Services kept workers on during downturn, and it’s paying off now

Denver Post Local News - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 6:13pm

When Chris Wright launched what would become Denver-based Liberty Oilfield Services in 2012, he wanted to create a petroleum services company with a different kind of culture, one that kept employees around for the long haul.

Turnover on hydraulic fracturing crews can run 40 percent or more, with the average tenure for workers in the field running two years, Wright said.

“Who would have the best ideas? It is the guys in the field,” said Wright, who has a background in mechanical and electrical engineering.

His previous firm, Pinnacle Technologies, was a leader in hydraulic fracturing technology, which applies fluids under high pressure to break up shale formations to release the oil and gas they hold.

But Wright saw a business opportunity not just in the technology, but in its application, and in using the expertise field workers were gaining.

Wright’s commitment to his then-600 workers was severely tested during the oil and gas downturn, which took oil prices from above $100 in mid-2014 to the mid-$20s in early 2016.

Drilling activity cratered and giant competitors such as Halliburton and Schlumberger laid off employees in large numbers. But in town hall meetings, Wright promised his workers that they would keep their jobs.

The company found a way to not just survive but to grow revenues 80 percent through the downturn. When oil prices and drilling activity rebounded last year, Liberty Oilfield had the workers and the reputation in place to take advantage.

Liberty Oilfield went public Jan. 12, raising nearly $250 million, far above the $170 million initially expected. The offering, which gave the company a $2.7 billion market value, allowed early investors to make a return, while also providing a currency that will make it easier for employees to own a share.

The stock started trading at $17 and rose to $21.75 on its first day. On Friday, it closed at $22.65.

The company relies on the cash flow it generates to fund new fracking crews and isn’t weighed down with borrowed money, Wright said. And it has more work than it can handle in the basins from Montana to Colorado to Texas where it operates.

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A missing paycheck is what set Wright, whose initial interests were in fusion energy research, to go down a career path that would result in Liberty Oilfield.

Wright, who is 53 and grew up in metro Denver, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at age 20 and enrolled at the University of California Berkeley for graduate school.

He went to pick up his first check as a grad student, and it wasn’t there. He called a friend, got on with a geology firm and went back to MIT, where he teamed with a professor there to develop a model for fracking called FracPro.

Innovation remains another way the company sets itself apart, Wright said. Using heavy engines to pump fluids at high pressure can be noisy. But Liberty has developed quiet fleets, which lowers noise to background levels at 500 feet, the buffer Colorado requires between new wells and households.

Speeding up the fracturing work is another way to reduce impacts and save customers money. The company can complete fracks in 20 days versus competitors running at 50 days, Wright said.

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