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  • What Republican Senators Say in Private
    Updated on September 19, 2020, at 6:08 p.m. ET.Nearly every reporter in Washington has experienced it: A Republican member of Congress says “off the record,” shifts into a quieter voice, and expresses how much he or she doesn’t like President Donald Trump. Soon after, you watch this same elected official speak up in favor of the president—or, more often, avoid saying anything meaningful at all. Sometimes about the same issue that they were complaining about to you in private. Sometimes within the same day. Sometimes within the same hour.The battle to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is a pivotal moment for these whispering Republicans in the Senate.The prospect of a conservative-heavy Court persuaded many Trump-wary conservatives to support him in 2016. This election, Ginsburg’s death will likely energize Biden-wary Democrats—millions of dollars have been raised online since news of her death broke last night—but Trump will also hope for an enthusiasm boost. He’ll aim to shift the conversation away from his mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic toward an ideological battle for the future of abortion rights and other contentious issues in American culture.The secretly apostate Republican senators have two choices: They can support a president they think is a threat to American democracy while also violating Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s invented 2016 rule about not confirming justices in an election year, or they can oppose Trump, enraging both him and their progressively cultish base while giving up what might be their last chance to secure a conservative majority for a generation.For McConnell, this is principle versus power, and the golden rule is “Whoever has the gold makes the rules.” And it’s happening as the next generation of ambitious Republicans looks to a future in which Trumpism remains a dominant force within the party no matter what happens in November.[Read: What Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death means for America]Don’t expect many Republicans—even those who want to stick it to Trump—to be direct with their commitments. “If they try to shove something through, I think you’re going to see some of these Republicans who hate Trump fall on the horrible sword of ‘This country is dangerously divided right now; the hypocrisy is horrible; if we do something like this, it will tear the country apart,’” says Joe Walsh, the former Republican representative from Illinois, who briefly ran a primary campaign against Trump that went nowhere earlier this year. Based on conversations he’s had, Walsh estimates that, of the current Republican senators, “if you put a gun to their head privately, I would say more than 40 of the 53 would like to see him lose.”Walsh insists that Republicans didn’t want this vacancy—not now. “This is political death for the Republicans,” he told me.This is not the time for Republicans to insist that they haven’t “seen the latest tweet.” This is where they either will or will not give Trump the boost that he needs weeks before the election. Now, more than ever, they are either with him or against him. “This,” Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a Democrat, said on CNN last night, “is my colleagues’ moment of reckoning.”Just hours before Ginsburg’s death, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said, “I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50-some days away from an election.” (We’re actually 45 days out.) That left the decision in the hands of just three Republican senators.Susan Collins, the senator from Maine who is famous for prevaricating statements about Trump but who voted for both of his Supreme Court picks, wouldn’t even say last week whether she will be voting for Trump this fall. She had to more explicitly back away from Trump today, announcing that she doesn’t think there should be a nominee before the election. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado is facing a tough reelection race, but given the composition of his state, he will almost certainly need voters who will be going with Biden. Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, in a similar position in the polls, already said yesterday that she wants to push ahead with a confirmation.Senator Joni Ernst, in a tight reelection race in Iowa, said in July that she would support a nomination process if an opening occurred. But that puts her at odds with her fellow Iowa senator, Chuck Grassley, who said in August that he couldn’t support a confirmation in an election year if he was going to be consistent with the position he took in 2016. He stood then with McConnell’s adamant refusal to give Merrick Garland a hearing after Antonin Scalia’s sudden death in 2016, though Garland was nominated nine months before Election Day. Of course, the question becomes whether Grassley will hold to his position now that the question is no longer theoretical.The bind is even more acute for Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who said in 2016, “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said, ‘Let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.’” In case this wasn’t clear, he reiterated the point in an interview with The Atlantic in 2018: “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term and the primary process is started, we’ll wait for the next election.” But now Graham is up against newcomer Jaime Harrison, with polls surprisingly tight and his opponent outraising him by millions of dollars. Graham is also the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the senator who has shape-shifted the most, from Trump critic to Trump golf buddy and ally in the Senate. In a tweet this morning, he said he understood Trump’s argument that the GOP has “an obligation” to fill the seat “without delay.”[Read: Can Lindsey Graham be beat?]Late yesterday, I asked a former Republican House member what an anti-Trump Republican senator would do when facing a choice that sounds more out of a novel than anything Goethe might have come up with if he’d ever wandered around Capitol Hill.“The Republican senator,” said the person, who requested anonymity to speak directly about old colleagues, “will do what they must in the name of self-preservation.”“Guess what?” the former House member said of Graham. “He’s going to do it. You know he is. He’s up for reelection in South Carolina. He needs his base. He’ll flip on this.”McConnell, in his Rube Goldberg–machine statement explaining why Trump’s nominee will get a vote on the floor of the Senate but Obama’s didn’t, left the door open to having a vote in a potential lame-duck session after the election.Maybe it’ll all come down to Senator Mitt Romney, who is publicly offended by pretty much everything Trump stands for but whose spokesperson shot down rumors last night that he would oppose a confirmation before the election. Or maybe, if Mark Kelly wins his Senate race in Arizona, it will all hinge on a legal dispute over whether he would get to immediately be sworn into the seat because his opponent was appointed to it. Or maybe by then we’ll be in a country where the November 3 votes are taking weeks to count, rioters and militias are out on the streets, and, as in 2000, the election will head to the Supreme Court, which now is without a tiebreaker vote.  In 2016, from the minute he learned of Scalia’s death, Obama knew that Republicans would try to prevent him from appointing a justice and flipping the balance to a 5–4 liberal majority. He nominated Garland anyway and threw himself into the fight, daring the GOP senators to oppose a middle-of-the-road, accomplished judge whom so many had voted for in his confirmation to a lower court. Working the phones for a few senators he dreamed might buck McConnell, he pleaded with them: Don’t do this.I remember speaking with one of the Republican senators struggling with breaking the process then. The senator, though torn, ultimately did not say anything publicly, and didn’t invite Garland in for a meeting.Last night, Obama closed his statement mourning Ginsburg with, “As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican senators are now called to apply that standard.” Don’t hold a confirmation hearing, he said. Always an institutionalist with his eye toward history, Obama was admitting that the process breakers had won.Now the question is, what else will Trump, the ultimate process breaker, win?
  • RBG’s Life, in Her Own Words
    Just days ago, on Thursday evening, the National Constitution Center awarded the 2020 Liberty Medal to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. At the justice’s request, we recorded her favorite opera singers and special friends offering personal tributes in words and music. The tribute video is a moving, inspiring, and now heartbreaking celebration of her achievements as one of the most influential figures for constitutional change in American history.In her acceptance statement, Justice Ginsburg said the following: It was my great good fortune to have the opportunity to participate in the long effort to place equal citizenship stature for women on the basic human-rights agenda. In that regard I was scarcely an innovator. For generations, brave women and enlightened men in diverse nations pursued that goal, but they did so when society was not yet prepared to listen. I was alive and a lawyer in the late 1960s, and the decade commencing in 1970. Conditions of life had so changed that audiences responded positively to pleas that society—men, women, and children—would be well served by removing artificial barriers blocking women’s engagement in many fields of human endeavor, from bar membership to bartending, policing, firefighting, piloting planes, even serving on juries. Helping to explain what was wrong about the “closed-door era” was enormously satisfying. I first met Justice Ginsburg nearly 30 years ago, when I was a young law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit, working for another judge. She and I met in an elevator, bonded over opera, and developed a friendship that was one of the greatest honors of my life. With the justice’s permission, a selection of our conversations over the years was published as a book, Conversations With RBG, last November. But perhaps the most personal conversation we ever shared has not yet been published, although the justice copyedited and approved it for publication in preparation for the forthcoming paperback edition.[Read: What Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death means for America]The conversation took place in December, when Justice Ginsburg and I met at the National Museum of Women in the Arts for a performance of The Notorious RBG in Song, a song cycle written by her daughter-in-law, Patrice Michaels. After the performance, the justice joined me onstage, and I asked her about each of the nine texts that Patrice had set to music to illustrate different aspects of her life. In the conversation, the justice reflected on her own experiences with grief, which allowed her to empathize with the grief and struggles of others. Above all, in her words we see her astonishing courage and conviction. In battling illness, sexism, and discrimination, she never allowed herself to be distracted from her path of creating what she called a more “embracive” Constitution—one that embraced previously excluded groups, including women, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community—not just grudgingly, as she put it it, but with open arms.An edited transcript of our conversation follows.Jeffrey Rosen: It was so inspiring to hear Patrice’s spectacular songs. And I’m so excited just to go through them with you, because she set to music such significant words from your life. Let’s start with Justice William O. Douglas’s letter from 1943: “When you say you have no available graduates whom you could recommend for appointment as my clerk, do you include women? It is possible I may decide to take one, if I can find one who is absolutely first-rate.” Was Douglas unusual in this attitude? Did he actually take some women? And tell us about the other women who were pathbreakers in that era on the Supreme Court.Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Justice Douglas’s clerks were chosen for him by West Coast law-school deans. In the year 1943, we were at war. Most of the men were in service, so when Justice Douglas was told, “We have no one this year to recommend to you,” he asked, “Have you considered women?” He engaged a clerk that year named Lucille Lomen. She was an excellent clerk, but no other woman clerked at the Court until 1968, when Justice Black engaged Margaret Corcoran.She was a special case. Her father was a prominent Democratic politician, known around town as “Tommy the Cork.” The clerkship didn’t work out altogether well. The justice told Margaret, “I want you to go over X number of petitions for review during the weekend, and summarize them for me.” She replied, “This weekend my father is appearing at a number of fundraisers. He’s a widower, as you know, and needs a woman to accompany him.” Justice Black didn’t take kindly Margaret’s failure to complete her assigned work on the petitions for review. Then, in 1972, the West Coast deans picked two women to clerk for Justice Douglas. Nowadays, we have four clerks; in those days, they had two. Douglas’s reaction? “That’s women’s lib with a vengeance.” It wasn’t until the ’70s that women began to show up in numbers at the Court, and that was typical of the way things were.Rosen: Now we come to “Celia, an Imagined Letter From Friday, August 12, 1949.” The advice that your mother gives you in this letter is advice that you often repeat. In our conversations, I asked you how you were actually able to follow it. Your mother told you, in Patrice’s imagined letter, “Don’t give into emotions—stay strong! Be independent; prepare for difficulty; stand on your own two feet, like Eleanor Roosevelt.” What was the context for when she gave you that advice?Ginsburg: My mother’s advice was, don’t lose time on useless emotions like anger, resentment, remorse, envy. Those, she said, will just sap time; they don’t get you where you want to be. One way I coped with times I was angry: I would sit down and practice the piano. I wasn’t very good at it, but it did distract me from whatever useless emotion I was feeling at the moment. Later, I did the same with the cello. I would be absorbed in the music, and the useless emotion faded away.[Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the perspective that comes with motherhood]Rosen: When we talked in an earlier conversation about that advice, I said, “This is the advice of the great wisdom traditions, but it’s so hard to achieve in practice.” You said, “Yes.” “How do you actually do it?” I asked. And you said, “I realize if I don’t do it, I’ll lose precious time from productive work.”Ginsburg: Yes.Rosen: Every day, when I feel that I might lose my temper, or feel anger or jealousy or envy, I think, What would Justice Ginsburg do? WWRBG do? I try to restrain myself and find serenity. So, I want you to say more about how you actually do it. Famously, you go to the gym to work out. How do you practice serenity in your mind? Do you meditate?Ginsburg: No, but I do follow advice I’ve often repeated, my mother-in-law’s advice on the day I was wed. We were married in my mother-in-law’s home. She took me aside just before the ceremony to tell me the secret of a happy marriage. The secret was, “It helps sometimes to be a little deaf.” I have followed that advice assiduously in every workplace, even in my current job. If an unkind word is said, I just tune out.Rosen: I’ve practiced that advice, as well. But I have to ask you more about this life lesson, because everyone who has heard you describe it wants to know how to practice it. So let me ask you more about the context when your mother was talking about this. You had just lost your sister, Marilyn, only 6, gone. And your mother told you always to move on, don’t be trapped by grief, and always to focus on doing your work and on your path.Ginsburg: I don’t have any memories of my sister; I was not yet 2 when she died. But she was a presence in my growing-up years. For my parents, having a 6-year-old who died of meningitis was a tragedy they could not overcome. There was no penicillin for her, not even the sulfur drug. To watch a child suffer and die is something that stays with parents forever.Rosen: You also lost your mother when you were in high school. How did her advice, given to you in high school, to be independent—be a lady, be like Eleanor Roosevelt, master your emotions—carry you forward as you faced those challenges for which she could not have prepared you?Ginsburg: Her advice was to be independent. It would be very nice if you met Prince Charming, married, and lived happily ever after. My mother said, “Always be prepared to be self-standing, to fend for yourself.” Her advice came at a time when most wives were considered properly dependent on their husbands. If a man’s wife worked, that reflected adversely on him. There is a line in [Patrice’s] song cycle: “Be nice to Jane; her mommy works.” Jane was regularly invited for playdates and weekends by her classmates. There was an enormous change from the birth of my daughter to the birth of my son, 10 years later. In the ’50s—Jane was born in 1955—there were very few working moms. Ten years later, when my son was born, a two-earner family was not at all unusual. There was a sea change in the way people were ordering their lives in that 10-year span.Ruth Bader Ginsburg; her husband, Marty; and their daughter, Jane, in 1958 (Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via AP)Rosen: And some of that change took place after you went to law school and cared for Jane. The third song, “Advice From Morris,” is so powerful. Your father-in-law, Morris Ginsburg, told you, “If you really want to go to law school, you will stop feeling sorry for yourself, and you will find a way to do it. Your attitude should be, ‘I will somehow surmount this. I will find a way to do what I want to do.’” Your astonishing self-discipline and focus and determination are awe-inspiring. Did he help you cultivate that?Ginsburg: Yes, that advice has aided me enormously. In 1954, I was overjoyed that I was going to have a child the next year. But I also worried about managing the first year of law school with an infant to care for. Father’s advice was, “If you don’t want to go to law school, no one will think the less of you. But if you really want to become a lawyer, you will stop feeling sorry for yourself; you will find a way.” Following that advice at important turns in my life, I ask myself, Do I really want this? And if I do, I try to find a way. When pregnant with Jane, I asked everyone I knew, wherever I was, “Do you know a nanny in the Boston area?” As luck would have it, there was a young couple in Cambridge in the process of divorce. They were moving from the Boston area, and had to give up their wonderful New England nanny, who took good care of baby Jane for the next two years.Rosen: Before we leave this period, you were so astonishingly self-possessed early on. Did you feel as if all of these life lessons were instilled by your mother? Or were there important ones that came after, for which your mother did not and could not have prepared you?Ginsburg: Perhaps it began when my mother was dying. She wanted me to do well in school. So I would sit in her bedroom and do my homework, concentrating on that work. At Cornell, there could be a dorm room full of young women talking or playing bridge or whatever. I could sit there with my notes and wasn’t distracted.Rosen: She had that, too, as we learned from her reading while walking on the streets of the Lower East Side, falling down, and breaking her nose!Ginsburg: Yes.Rosen: And your clerks told me last year that you were celebrating a birthday in chambers, and you were working, and after 10 or 15 people gathered in the room to celebrate, you looked up in surprise, because you hadn’t even noticed that anyone had come into the room.Ginsburg: [Laughs.]Rosen: That focus is very important for being productive and achieving your goals.Ginsburg: Yes. Take my day in law school. Our nanny came in at 8 o’clock and left at 4 o’clock. I used the time in between classes to study, to read the next day’s assignment, but 4 o’clock was Jane’s time. We went to the park, played games, sang silly songs.When she went to sleep, I went back to the books. I had to make the most of the time I had. I couldn’t waste time. It got even harder when my husband, Marty, had cancer, in his third year of law school, my second year. He needed me to help him get through that trying time. That’s when I began to stay up all night. It’s not a good habit. It’s not a habit I would urge anyone else to have.His routine was he’d have radiation, come home, become very sick, go to sleep, get up about midnight. Whatever food he could eat for the day, he ate between midnight and 1 o’clock. Then he would dictate his senior paper, and after he went back to sleep around 2 o’clock, that’s when I would begin to do my own work. Working at night, there are no distractions. The telephone doesn’t ring. And I also noticed what law-firm life was like. Marty worked for a large law firm. It was known as a sweatshop, as many of them were, but in the tax department, which he headed, everyone was out by 7 o’clock. I observed what was going on, people staying around all day, taking time out to read the newspaper, having lunch off premises. They were not totally focused on their work. It turned out well for me that I had the ability to concentrate and not waste time.[Read: What Ruth Bader Ginsburg taught me about being a stay-at-home dad]Rosen: The next song is “On Working Together,” and it’s the story of the Moritz case, which is now immortalized in the wonderful movie On the Basis of Sex.Ginsburg: Yes, the script was written by my nephew.Rosen: And it’s great that you’ve got your daughter-in-law doing the song cycle. It’s very good to keep artistic endeavors in the family.Ginsburg: When my nephew, Dan, visited me and said he would like to do a script on the Moritz case for a movie, I said, “Why did you choose that case? The Supreme Court didn’t take it.” He replied that he wanted his script to be as much the story of a marriage as the story of the development of a legal strategy.Rosen: There’s one factual question I have to ask from the song. Marty sings in the song, “Her room was bigger.” Was it?Ginsburg: Not true.Rosen: Not true. I’m sorry.Ginsburg: No, Marty worked in the dining room. It was a large room, lined with tax books. I worked in our bedroom. He occupied the bigger room.Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband, Marty, together in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, when Martin was serving in the Army (Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via AP)Rosen: What’s so extraordinary, hearing you talk about these cases, is that they’re real to you. You’ve kept in touch with the people involved, and you display such an extraordinary empathy and concern for them.Ginsburg: May I say something about what was happening in the ’70s?Rosen: Yes, you may.Ginsburg: None of the cases in which I participated in the ’70s were test cases. They weren’t staged cases. We weren’t searching for plaintiffs. There was a revived feminist movement. People were alert to the unfairness of drawing lines on the basis of gender, and they began to complain. One group of complainants comprised school teachers forced out of the classroom as soon as their pregnancies began to show. As one school superintendent put it, “We can’t have the children thinking that their teachers swallowed a watermelon.”The women were put on what was euphemistically called “maternity leave.” It was unpaid leave. There was no guaranteed right to return. Women once accepted forced leave, but in the ’70s, they stopped accepting. They said, “This isn’t right. We should not be forced out of the classroom at four or five months when we’re ready, willing, and able to work until the ninth month.”Eventually, the Supreme Court addressed the question: Is pregnancy discrimination discrimination on the basis of sex? The Court answered no. The world is divided into nonpregnant people—and they include most women—and pregnant people. All of them are women. How can that be sex discrimination? People from across the political spectrum agreed that the Supreme Court got it wrong. The result of their lobbying effort: the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, passed at the end of the ’70s. It was the soul of simplicity. The law said discrimination on the basis of pregnancy is discrimination on the basis of sex.Changes were occurring in the university world. When I attended law school, I was one of nine women in an entering class of over 500. In the early ’70s, women started enrolling in law school in numbers. And when women were there in numbers, no longer as one-at-a-time curiosities, other women were encouraged to enroll. Their attitude: So many women are doing it, we can do it, too. Today, at least 50 percent of law-school entrants are women.Rosen: This is a hard question, because it’s hard to know the sources of one’s own character, but the extraordinary empathy that you have demonstrated for the plaintiffs that you have represented, and for your law clerks, and for your family, and for your friends, is one of the many striking features about you. Where did that empathy and concern for others come from?Ginsburg: It may have begun when I appreciated how much my parents were affected by the death of my sister. So I knew what it was like to grieve. If I had to point to any one thing, I’d say it was growing up with an understanding of what it means to have a devastating loss in one’s life.Rosen: And you can feel other people’s pain, is that right? You’re alert to the real challenges the people that you work with and represented face.Ginsburg: Yes, if I can do something to make someone feel a little better, of course I should do it. Or at least, to feel they are not alone, that other people have encountered the same terribly trying situation and have made it through. I know it certainly helped me in my cancer bouts. I had the support and advice of another empathetic person, Sandra Day O’Connor, who had had a mastectomy. She was on the bench nine days after her surgery. When I had colorectal cancer, she gave me some very good advice about how to handle it, including “Schedule the chemotherapy for a Friday, that way you’ll get over it during the weekend and be back in court on Monday.” And she said, “Now, I know you like to acknowledge any gift that you get. There are going to be hundreds of people writing to you. Don’t try to answer any of the correspondence. Just put it aside, and do the Court’s work.”Rosen: You love music so much, and you relate to it in such a powerful, intimate way. You told me that it takes you outside of yourself, and when you listen to music, then you can’t think about the briefs and writing that you have to do, but you just focus totally on the music. So I want to ask, how did you feel when you heard your great dissents set to music, in the song we just heard, “Dissenter of de Universe”?Ginsburg: I think it’s a wonderful, wonderful piece. I should say that “Notorious R.B.G.” was started by a second-year student at NYU School of Law, who followed my mother’s advice. She started it when the Shelby County case took the heart out of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. She was angry. And then she recognized that anger is not a productive emotion; she was going to do something positive. She took not my lengthy dissent, but the bench announcement I read. Normally, dissents are not read from the bench. The author of the majority opinion will say, “And so-and-so dissented.” If you think the Court not only got it wrong, but egregiously so, then you will want to call attention to the dissent by summarizing it from the bench. That’s what I did in the Shelby County case. The NYU student put my bench announcement on a Tumblr. And then it took off into the wild blue yonder.[Read: The Ruth Bader Ginsburg fandom was never frivolous]Rosen: [Laughs.] It certainly did.Ginsburg: She decided on Notorious R.B.G. after the well-known rapper, The Notorious B.I.G. We had something important in common. We were both born and bred in Brooklyn, New York. I think “Notorious R.B.G.” took off because young people were yearning for something hopeful. Something positive. In my long life, I have seen many changes. Changes for the better. The most important is that we are now using the talent of all of the people, not just half of them.Rosen: And that’s largely thanks to you.Ginsburg: No. I was just fortunate to be around at the right time. Women, and some men, forever, have been saying the same thing. But society wasn’t ready to listen until the ’70s. Many things were working in favor of change. For one thing, people were living a lot longer. A woman would spend most of her life with no child-care responsibilities. For another, in the ’70s, there was inflation. So, if you wanted your family to prosper, you would need two earners. And then, taking care of a home was easier than it was before we had labor-saving devices. So many things were working in favor of change. I was there, and a lawyer, and able to take part in the movement for recognition of women’s equal citizenship stature.Even in the ’60s, the separate-spheres mentality held sway. Think of Hoyt v. Florida, when the “liberal” Warren Court said it’s okay to keep women off juries, because they are the center of home and family life. The Court didn’t appreciate that citizens have obligations as well as rights. One obligation is to participate in the administration of justice by serving on juries. Men have no automatic exemption, because they are needed, but the women are expendable. They’re not really necessary. That attitude persisted into the ’60s.But in the ’70s, as I said earlier, there was a sea change. The turning-point gender-discrimination cases were decided when Warren Burger was the chief justice. He presided over a Court labeled “conservative.” In the ’70s, I was speaking to an audience more prepared to listen than those in earlier periods.The notion until the ’70s was that the differentials based on gender riddling the law books operated benignly in women’s favor. So women were excused from jury duty, well, that was a favor. Who would want to serve if they didn’t have to? Michigan’s law saying women couldn’t be bartenders‚ that was a favor, because bars could be pretty raunchy places. Laws like that were rationalized as operating to favor or protect women. The challenge for me was to get the judges to see that, far from operating benignly in women’s favor, these laws, as Justice Brennan said so well in Frontiero, put women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.Rosen: But it wasn’t only that things changed in the ’70s. It is remarkable that when you were nominated in 1993, soon after you and I met, in ’91, the magnitude of your achievements as the Thurgood Marshall of the women’s movement—as President Clinton was able to say when he nominated you, quoting the dean of Harvard Law School—wasn’t appreciated even by some women’s groups. Some fundamental changes have taken place in our society between 1993 and today that have made people appreciate the magnitude of your achievements on behalf of gender equality. They include the #MeToo movement, the increased presence of women in the workplace, the mobilization of young women who look to you as a hero. How do you account for the fact that society now recognizes the magnitude of the importance of the work you did in gender equality today, in a way that it didn’t even 20 years ago?Ginsburg: There is heightened recognition today, but my efforts were noticed in ’93 by the president who nominated me.Rosen: [Laughs.] They were, indeed. He did notice them. But the Tumblr, the pop-culture celebrity, the fact that you’re rightly viewed as one of the greatest figures of constitutional change of the 20th century—this has happened more recently, in the past 10 or 15 years. What social changes do you think are most important in sensitizing America to the crucial importance of gender equality?Ginsburg: As I said, “Notorious R.B.G.” was created by a second-year law student determined to use her energy in a productive way. My story is hopeful. It leads one to be optimistic about the future. I have often repeated this question and response, “What’s the difference between a bookkeeper in the garment district and a Supreme Court justice? One generation.” My own life bears witness, comparing the opportunities open to my mother and those open to me. The change is exhilarating, and it’s permanent. We are never going to go back to the days when women were not seen in decision-making arenas.Rosen: Your optimism is so inspiring, and when we talked last July, for the last interview in the book, I asked you whether you were optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the Supreme Court, and whether the 5–4 decisions where you were in the majority would be overturned, and you said you were skeptically hopeful.Ginsburg: Yes.Rosen: Are you still skeptically hopeful?Ginsburg: Yes. Recall that when I was growing up, lynchings were still going on in the United States. My childhood was in the World War II years. We were fighting a war against odious racism, and yet our troops going into that war were rigidly separated by race. Yes, we have a long way to go, but how far we have come.Rosen: This is a time when many people say that things have not been worse for a long time. And not only in the United States, but around the world we’re seeing waves of populism and nationalism that are threatening the constitutional values that you have defended so eloquently. Why are you optimistic, and why do you believe that we will emerge from these anxious times with those constitutional values intact?Ginsburg: Because we have in the past. And we will again. Our country has gone through some very bumpy periods. But, I’ll tell you the principal reason why I’m optimistic: It’s the young people I see. My lawyer granddaughter, my law clerks, are determined to contribute to the good of society. And to work together. So the young people make me hopeful. They want to take part in creating a better world. Think of Malala. Think of Greta Thunberg in Sweden. What is she, 15, 16? Yes, I’m putting my faith in the coming generations.Rosen: And what will you say to them? What must young people do to preserve the values of justice and freedom and democracy?Ginsburg: They must work together. Many of them are. I’ve talked to young people about the importance of getting out the vote. For democracy to flourish, the society must not be one in which people say, “Why bother voting? It doesn’t make any difference.” One of my former law clerks, along with like-minded people, is endeavoring to get every 18-year-old registered to vote.Rosen: You were not a great fan of Learned Hand, who unwisely turned you down for a clerkship because you were a woman, but he did say something meaningful.Ginsburg: He was one of the greatest federal judges of all time despite his blind spot. He said, when liberty is lost in the hearts of men and women, no court can restore it.Rosen: Exactly right. Do you believe that?Ginsburg: Yes. He said it in a speech to a group of new citizens sworn in at Central Park in New York. He talked of liberty residing in the hearts of a society’s men and women.Rosen: Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women.Ginsburg: Yes, courts are not leaders in social change. They follow after movement in the larger society. That was true with respect to racial justice. It’s true, now, with the women’s movement. It’s true with the LGBTQ movement. How long that discrimination lingered when people were hiding in closets. Change occurred only when they came out and said, “This is who we are, and we’re proud of it.” Once they did that, changes occurred rapidly.
  • 4 Reasons to Doubt Mitch McConnell’s Power
    To use power, you must have it.On the night of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that a Trump nominee to replace Ginsburg would receive a vote on the floor of the Senate.That announcement promised a use of power without hesitation or compunction, an abrupt reversal of the supposed rule that blocked an Obama nomination nine months before the 2016 election. This supposed rule would seem much better justified in 2020 than 2016. This time, the vacancy has occurred only 46 days before an election. This time, the party of the president making the nomination seems likely to lose, not win. This time, the Senate majority to approve the nomination may lose too.But of course, the real rule in 2016 was "the good old rule ... the simple plan, that they should take who have the power, and they should keep who can." What McConnell did in 2016 was an assertion of brute power, and what he proposes in 2020 is another assertion of brute power. And so the question arises: Does McConnell in fact have the power he asserts?The answer may be no, for four reasons.Does McConnell really command a Senate majority?The polls do not favor Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, or Thom Tillis—senators from Maine, Colorado, and North Carolina up for reelection this cycle. Yet these competitors may not be ready to attend their own funerals. They may regard voting against McConnell's Court grab as a heaven-sent chance to prove their independence from an unpopular president—and to thereby save their own seats.Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has also made skeptical noises, and even Lindsey Graham of South Carolina may flinch. He faces an unexpectedly tough race this year, and he is extra-emphatically on the record vowing not to support a Supreme Court confirmation vote in the later part of a presidential year.[Read: What Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death means for America](Martha McSally of Arizona, however, is likely a safe vote for McConnell. The deadest of the Senate's dead ducks surely must be focused on retaining national Republican support for her post-Senate career. Mitt Romney of Utah is a more open question: His strong sense of fairness will push him against confirmation; his consistent support for conservative judges will pull him in favor.)McConnell cannot afford more than three defections in the face of what will certainly be united Democratic opposition to any last-minute Trump nominee.Does McConnell really have a nominee to advance?Any last-minute Trump nominee will face a gantlet of opposition in the Senate, a firestorm of opposition in the country, and probably a lifetime of suspicion from the majority of the country.Can McConnell and Trump find an appointee willing to risk all that for the chance—but not the guarantee—of a Supreme Court seat? Specifically, can they find a woman willing to do it? The optics of replacing Ginsburg with a man may be too ugly even for the Trump administration. And if they can find a woman, can they find a woman sufficiently moderate-seeming to provide cover to anxious senators? The task may prove harder than immediately assumed.Will Trump balk?  Until now, judicial-nomination fights have mobilized Republicans and conservatives more than Democrats and liberals. The fight McConnell proposes may upset that pattern. Trump's hopes for reelection depend on suppressing votes and discouraging participation. The last thing he needs is a highly dramatic battle that could mobilize Democrats in states including Arizona and North Carolina—even Georgia and Texas.The smart play for Trump is to postpone the nomination to reduce the risk of Democratic mobilization, and to warn Republicans of the risks should he lose. Trump’s people do not usually execute the smart play. They are often the victims of the hyper-ideological media they consume, which deceive them about what actually is the smart play. This time, though, they may just be desperate enough to break long-standing pattern and try something different.Will the conservative legal establishment play ball?The judicial status quo enormously favors conservatives. Even should Democrats win big in November, it will take many years for them to catch up to the huge Republican lead in judicial appointments. By then, who knows, the GOP may have retaken the Senate, and of course it may well find a way to hold on in 2020.[Read: Mitch McConnell’s grand plan was obvious all along]But a last-minute overreach by McConnell could seem so illegitimate to Democrats as to justify radical countermoves should they win in November: increasing the number of appellate judges and Supreme Court justices; conceivably even opening impeachment hearings against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.McConnell may want the win badly enough to dismiss those risks. But many conservative-leaning lawyers in the country may be more cautious. And their voices will get a hearing in a contentious nomination fight—not only by the national media, but by some of the less Trump-y Republican senators. This could be enough to slow down a process that has no time to spare.Mitch McConnell has gotten his way so often that it’s hard to imagine he might ever lose. But the political balance of power is shifting this fall, and for once, McConnell may be on the wrong side of a power dynamic.
  • Howie Hawkins Is No Kanye West
    Howie Hawkins may be the Green Party’s presidential nominee, but he isn’t Jill Stein—or at least, he can’t be, because he’s not on the ballot in as many swing states as Stein was in 2016. Courts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania decided this week to keep his party’s ticket off of the 2020 ballots. But Hawkins told me he’s not Kanye West either, even though Republican operatives have been helping both the Green Party and West’s “Birthday Party.” People who believe that West’s effort and his are the same, Hawkins said, “are gullible.”Hawkins is running not to win, he told me, but to get his party better ballot access for local races in the future. If his candidacy ends up being the reason Donald Trump is reelected, “I won’t like it,” Hawkins said. But, he added, he thinks that’s unlikely. Speaking with me for the latest episode of The Ticket, he insisted he’s not a spoiler, and said he’s been abandoned and vilified by progressives who he believes should support him.Listen to our conversation here:Subscribe to The Ticket on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or another podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they’re published.Here’s a sample of our conversation, edited for length and clarity.Edward-Isaac Dovere: You were involved with the starting of the Green Party in America. And here you are as the presidential nominee. How does that happen?Howie Hawkins: Bad luck. I never wanted to run for president. In fact, my message to that first Green organizing meeting back in August 1984 was that we can’t build the party out of a presidential campaign. I’ve been through that with the Peace and Freedom Party in 1968, the two People’s Party campaigns in ’72 and ’76, and the Citizens Party campaign in 1980. People put a lot of effort into the presidential campaigns, but there was nothing left afterwards. So I said we’ve got to organize local groups and start getting involved in local politics. And I still believe that. And ironically, as I later learned, to be able to run local candidates, you got to have ballot lines. And in 40 of the 50 states, the presidential vote is a factor that determines whether you have a ballot line going forward, which makes it a lot easier to run local candidates. I’ve been involved in the Greens for a long time, and I was minding my own business—and a bunch of people drafted me to run at the beginning of 2019 and took a few months to convince me. But I was finally persuaded. So here I am.  Dovere: Do you think that the Green Party would have been in better shape if you had started out as a party running for president?Hawkins: No, I think what we did in 1984 is go out and organize those local groups. So by the time Ralph Nader was ready to let us use his name in ’96— he didn’t run an active campaign, but he let us use his name to get ballot lines—we got on over 30 ballots because we had an organization on the ground. And that led to the 2000 campaign where Nader ran all-out.Dovere: You told The Washington Post that of the Republican lawyers helping you out in Wisconsin, “you get help where you can find it.” So were you being supported by Republicans in your efforts there?Hawkins: Apparently, the lawyers are Republicans. We sought out progressive lawyers that were recommended to us. They didn’t get back to us. So, you know, you go to court, you need a lawyer. And these are the lawyers we could get.Dovere: Are Republicans helping out anywhere else beyond Wisconsin?Hawkins: Our campaign has had no contact with Republican officials. Republicans, like Democrats, play games behind the scenes. We’ve seen that for years. Here in New York, they will seed some people into the Green Party so they can collect petitions and put in a phony Green candidate who is really a Republican who thinks they’re going to split the Democratic vote—which I don’t think actually works that well, but that’s what they try to do. These games go on. It’s one of the reasons people are disgusted with both major parties and they want something else.Dovere: Does it concern you, though, that that might be part of what the motivation here is, from folks who—even though you don’t want to be a spoiler—are trying to make you one?Hawkins: They’re looking at one little weed in the whole forest and they’re not dealing with the whole forest, which is what has really impacted, say, the presidential elections? Black-voter suppression going back to what Kathleen Harris did in Florida [as the state’s secretary of state during the contested 2000 presidential election], even before you get to the vote count and the hanging chads and all that. If the Black vote hadn’t been suppressed like it was in Florida, [Al] Gore would have easily won. In 2016, those 75,000 votes were never counted in Detroit. It was the Greens in court trying to get them counted, and we didn’t have standing because, the judge ruled, we couldn’t win the election even if all those votes went to us. But the Clinton lawyers were there, and the judge asked them if they wanted to get involved. They said, “Oh, no, we’re just observing.” And then they turn around and blame us.Dovere: Kanye West is also running, saying he’s the candidate of the Birthday Party—though he doesn’t seem to have a clear platform for why he’s running or a clear rationale for it. Should he be on the ballot?Hawkins: I think Kanye West is a Republican dirty trick. If Roger Stone didn’t think of it, he wished he had. The Birthday Party? I mean, come on. There has to be some criteria for getting on the ballot. Anybody with money can hire petitioners and get on the ballot. There should be some threshold for recognizing parties—a level of organization, so there’s really a base there, and they should be allowed to make their nominations by convention.Dovere: With Republicans helping the Green Party out, some Democrats would say there’s not much difference between what you’re doing and what West is doing.Hawkins: Well, I think some people are gullible. I heard Rachel Maddow call us a Republican op the other night. But that doesn’t mean that’s the reality. We are a serious movement. We’ve been around for 35 years. There is a difference. And if people don’t see that, they’re not stopping to think.  Dovere: Many progressives, including Bernie Sanders, have taken the approach that they have to support Biden even if they don’t agree with him, for the sake of stopping Trump. What do you make of that?Hawkins: The Green Party is a second front against Trump, and the question for progressives like Bernie Sanders is, how are you going to vote against Trump? You’re going to vote for the guy who’s against your signature issue, Medicare for All, or are you going to vote for the Greens, who are for Medicare for All? … You vote for Biden, he’s not for those things. And your support for those things gets lost in the sauce. You’re just another Biden voter. Don’t waste your vote. Make your vote count. Vote for the kind of things you want, and make the politicians come to you.Dovere: In 2016, the Green Party won more votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin than Donald Trump’s margins for victory. If something like that happens again, people might say Howie Hawkins is the reason why Donald Trump is reelected. Would you be comfortable being in that situation?Hawkins: Well, I won’t like it. I think it’s unlikely. The polls have been pretty steady. Biden’s set up to win in an Electoral College landslide, and the voting is starting. I want Trump out of there more than the damn Democrats do. They could have impeached his sorry behind, you know, early on for all kinds of lawlessness and self-serving and violations of things like the emoluments clause, telling Border Patrol people to break the law. There’s just a whole long rap sheet that could have mobilized public opinion around an impeachment based on how he was hurting workers and consumers and the environment. They had a chance. I don’t think they fight the fight so hard. And the other assumption in that, you know, accusation that no doubt would be thrown at me is that our people would have voted for Biden if I wasn’t on the ballot. And we know from 2016 exit polls that 61 percent of Jill Stein’s voters would have stayed home.Dovere: Would the issues you care about be better off if Trump were president or if Biden were president?Hawkins: “Better off” is too positive a word. They’d be maybe less bad.  Dovere: Do you ever have any moment where you think, This might work out, and I’ll be the president of the United States? Hawkins: No, I really haven’t thought that. We’re building a movement. We’re trying to get ballot lines so we can elect thousands of Greens to go into the 2020s.  Dovere: Are you in touch with Jill Stein at all?Hawkins: I talk to her occasionally and give her advice, and sometimes she asks for my advice.  Dovere: What kind of advice has she offered?Hawkins: The latest thing was the Federal Elections Commission wants her to give back a whole lot of money in matching funds she got. And we have a matching funds application in.Dovere: In 2016, she raised a lot of money for a recount effort in Wisconsin. But then she used some of that money to pay her own legal bills around some of the inquiries that were going on with her. Have you discussed that with her?Hawkins: I was not in the details on that. I do know they separated their recount money from the party money.
  • Antebellum Isn’t Just Bad—It’s Vile
    This story contains spoilers for the film Antebellum.Antebellum is the kind of film that requires true storytelling daring to pull off. A horror movie that blurs history, fantasy, and darkest nightmare, it would only work with the cleverest calibration, striking a balance between thrills and social commentary that recalls the films of Jordan Peele or the best episodes of Black Mirror. But Antebellum, the feature-length directorial debut of Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, is a cinematic perversion of the genre.The film’s arresting premise was laid out in its stark, effective advertising: What if a modern-day Black American woke up one morning to find herself on a Civil War–era slave plantation? That’s what happens to Eden (played by Janelle Monáe), though the movie opens on her life in captivity and takes a while to reveal its contemporary twist. Antebellum evokes Octavia Butler’s chilling 1979 masterpiece, Kindred, in which an African American woman is mysteriously transported back in time and experiences the deep suffering of her enslaved ancestors. But that novel didn't relish the brutality that its protagonist experienced, and it offered profound insights into power, memory, and the psychology of enslavement. Antebellum isn’t worthy of the comparison. It loads up on visceral scares and disturbing imagery in service of a shallow film that feels like a gory theme-park ride showcasing the horrors of slavery.The first act is set on the cotton plantation where Eden is trapped. Everyone is correctly costumed for the time period (hoop skirts, gray military uniforms), and the movie’s production design is largely on point, but small anachronisms hint at the story’s eventual M. Night Shyamalan–style twist. Strangely, the whole estate seems to function only as a place for sadistic punishment. The first 40 or so minutes of Antebellum are a ceaseless torrent of violence and abuse: One woman is killed for trying to run away; Eden is forcibly branded by her captors; and, in an especially distressing scene, a Confederate soldier sexually assaults an enslaved woman. The terrifying realities of slavery are reduced to horror-movie tropes. This cycle of violence and rape exists only to gin up the viewers’ fury and prepare them for the climactic sequence of revenge.The plantation where Eden lives is fake, a present-day re-creation designed by rich racists so that they can act out vile power fantasies. (Lionsgate)The middle part of the film snaps the audience back to the present, crucially revealing that “Eden” is a popular lecturer and writer named Veronica, who has a gorgeously appointed home and a loving family. She’s great at yoga, a skilled horse-jumper, and loves to hit the town with her two best pals (Lily Cowles and Gabourey Sidibe). After the harrowing opening, this second act feels both excessively drawn out and curiously frivolous, as though Antebellum is merely killing time until, one night, Veronica is kidnapped and wakes up in the “past.” Here’s where I spoil the big reveal, in case you haven’t already figured it out: The plantation is fake, a present-day re-creation designed by rich racists so that they can act out vile power fantasies.Veronica, the viewer is meant to understand, is the sort of independent and liberated Black person who might draw ire from racists. That’s why she’s been targeted and pulled into their absurd experiment at restoring the hierarchies of the past. If Antebellum has a point to make—and I’m being charitable here—it’s that insidious prejudice still exists today, and that some white Americans would all too happily participate in the institution of slavery if given the chance. But not only do the antagonists rob the Black characters of any agency and humanity—the story itself does too.The most upsetting thing about Antebellum is its inability to explain why Eden is able to escape, whereas the dozens of other Black people who have been kidnapped are not. This isn’t a small plot point. The troubling implication is that Eden being well-off and successful somehow makes her more inspired to escape, and gives her the necessary skills to do so—in multiple scenes that I could scarcely believe, she uses her horseback-riding and yoga skills to evade danger. In contrast, the other captives, largely nameless characters with barely any dialogue, appear to accept their fate. They behave as though they’re indeed living in the 19th century, and as though this newly enforced system they’re subjected to is natural.The entire situation raises basic questions that Antebellum has no interest in answering. Metaphorical horror fables depend on careful world-building by their authors, which can be difficult to accomplish in a limited running time—it’s what makes creators such as Peele and Charlie Brooker stand out. The simple, stark imagery of Bush and Renz’s film will shock audiences but collapse under scrutiny, lazily reminding us of the cruelty of America’s past while unintentionally embodying the ignorance of the present.
  • No, We Weren’t ‘Suckers’ or ‘Losers’
    If Donald Trump had been on the battlefield with me in Iraq back in November 2004, I doubt I ever would’ve made it home.In the Army, part of our soldier’s creed involves never leaving a fallen comrade behind. The only reason I am alive today is that, after a rocket-propelled grenade exploded in the Black Hawk helicopter I was co-piloting, my buddies embodied that creed. They thought I was dead but still risked their own safety to bring my body back home to my family. Only when they got me to a rescue aircraft did they realize that I was still breathing. Then they ignored their own injuries, refusing care until the medic tended to me first.[Read: ‘The military has seen the writing on the wall’]My crewmates were heroes that afternoon. Yet apparently, in Trump’s eyes, each of us in that aircraft must have been a “loser” because our helicopter got shot down by the enemy. Had we been killed, he very well might call us “suckers,” too. After all, those are the terms that, according to The Atlantic’s reporting, the commander in chief has used to describe members of the armed forces who have been killed, captured, or shot down in battle. He also told his staff that “nobody wants to see” wounded warriors like me who lost limbs fighting to keep other Americans safe.Trump might not like seeing visible proof of my injuries, but I couldn’t care less. To me, the wounds and wheelchairs of those who have worn our nation’s uniform should be considered badges of honor. I’m able to serve in the Senate today because the ethos of the United States military is the exact opposite of the craven, me-first mentality that he has shown every hour of every day of his gold-plated, privileged life.Senator Tammy Duckworth speaking with Senator Sherrod Brown in August, 2020 (Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty)From all he’s said, from all he’s done, it’s impossible for me to believe that, like my crewmates, Trump would have risked his own life to save mine or that of any other American in that dusty field in 2004. But Trump never would have been in Iraq with us that day, because he fundamentally cannot fathom the notion of sacrificing for your nation. He can’t comprehend the true meaning of courage or the idea of fighting for something greater than himself, his bank account, or his poll numbers. The Atlantic’s story is only more evidence that he isn’t able to grasp what the military is all about. He doesn’t understand service, so he doesn’t understand America’s service members: the heroes who have allowed him to sleep soundly high up in that gilded Fifth Avenue tower.When he deploys military personnel and uses tear gas to clear his way for a crude photo op, when he talks loosely about “my generals” and “my military,” when he treats weapons of war as political props in a July Fourth parade, he’s using our nation’s armed services to boost his own ego. When Trump embraces a convicted war criminal rejected by those who served alongside him, he is undermining both the military justice system and the good order and discipline that undergird our military’s strength.A commander in chief who cares nothing about fundamental decency damages troop morale and, with it, troop readiness. When service members go into combat, they need to know that those to their left and their right will never leave them behind. That no matter what, their buddies will get them out, if only to bring their body home to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. If the nation’s so-called leader regards these heroes as “suckers” or “losers,” he endangers every man and woman in uniform—and our nation’s safety right along with them.The U.S. military is the mightiest in the world because American service members uphold its values, which, in the Army, are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, integrity, and personal courage. Trump has shown active disdain for each. If the person who is supposed to be commanding our military is unable—or unwilling—to understand the importance of that military’s values, those values will begin to break down. If the person charged with leading our troops questions the value of their service, the very few Americans who might be willing to defend the nation might begin to hesitate before enlisting, unsure whether their own crew would risk their lives, as mine did, to carry their limp body back to safety. Yet in matters of both common decency and national security, Trump does not understand the damage that his attitudes can cause.Last week, I introduced a resolution honoring our troops, veterans, and Gold Star families and condemning Trump’s egregious comments. Republicans blocked it within moments, somehow deciding they’d rather protect Trump than affirm that the Senate will always respect the service members and military families who place the mission first time after time.In 1976, then-Army Chief of Staff General Frederick C. Weyand wrote that “the American Army really is a people’s Army in the sense that it belongs to the American people. … When the Army is committed the American people are committed … [The] Army is not so much an arm of the Executive Branch as it is an arm of the American people.” The same sentiment holds true for every military branch. Each one belongs to the American people and is made up of their mothers and fathers, siblings and spouses, all of whom have dedicated their lives to serving the nation they love on behalf of the people they love. It is my sincere hope—and my sincere belief—that other Americans understand the nature of troops’ sacrifice far better than the president does.[Timothy Kudo: Our complacent commander in chief ]The latest revelations have only strengthened my own resolve to keep honoring the heroes who saved me. I will take advantage of my second chance—using every extra moment I have, every extra breath I get to breathe—to look out for our current and former troops.When Trump mocks our service members, he’s also mocking every American in every part of this country. When he derides wounded warriors, he’s letting his own personal insecurities endanger our national security. When he makes fun of those who have fallen in battle, he’s just showing that the word sacrifice is so foreign to him, it might as well be in another language—and that service will never mean anything to him other than someone else serving him. This man is not fit to be commander in chief for another four minutes, let alone another four years.
  • My New York City Kids Are Getting an Education in Failed Leadership
    For weeks now, I’ve been the unpopular parent on the playground predicting with certainty for anyone who cared to listen that our children would not enter a public-school building in New York City this year. And sadly, I may be proved right. For the second time this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio has delayed the start of in-person school, largely because of a staffing shortage.New York City has done what seemed impossible in April: It flattened the coronavirus curve and now boasts a positive-test rate of about 1 percent. In theory, the low case-positivity rate might have meant that public-school principals and teachers would feel comfortable opening up this fall. Many do not, however, and the mayor has utterly failed to overcome the problem.[Katie Moylan and David Schepard: Teachers know schools aren’t safe to reopen]He could have spent the summer months convincing the stakeholders that staggered schedules—with some kids learning at home each day—smaller classes, and improvements to air-circulation systems, along with commonsense precautions such as masks and frequent hand-washing, would be sufficient for an on-time start. He could then have worked with the Department of Education to make sure that these precautions were in place and that teachers knew what to expect.Alternatively, he could have decided weeks, if not months, ago to start the school year completely remote and announced that the city would gradually move toward in-person learning if conditions allowed for it.But the mayor chose neither of those paths. He set deadlines that he refused to put in the work to meet, sowing chaos and ongoing frustration for families and teachers alike. How on Earth did he not foresee a staffing shortage? De Blasio has failed our kids and is teaching them a lesson about political leadership that I hope they never forget.Our children have endured six months of hardship and fear and Zoom calls and canceled plans, and far too many have lost loved ones to this virus. The start of school, though, was a bright spot on the horizon for my family and so many others.But even as I told my children that September 10 (the first first day of school) was right around the corner, I tried to manage expectations. As many New Yorkers have discovered since the start of the pandemic, our mayor has not demonstrated the ability to manage large-scale operations or the energy to get things done. To put it bluntly, de Blasio doesn’t know how to lead New York City. Even worse, he doesn’t seem to care. At his news conference on Thursday, he did not apologize for the delay and asserted, oddly and insensitively, that because most public-school parents are low-income and live outside of Manhattan, they “understand the realities of life” and are “not shocked when something this difficult has to be adjusted from time to time.”Until last year, I was a political reporter at NY1, a local TV news station. I’ve known de Blasio since I first moved to New York in 2007 and he was a Brooklyn city councilman. I covered his long-shot campaign for City Hall in 2013 when he shocked the political establishment, coming from far behind in a crowded Democratic primary to win the general election easily.[Alexander Nazaryan: The mayor who can’t rise to the occasion]It didn’t seem obvious to me in the early years of his administration that we’d end up where we are today. In fact, the mayor’s initial focus was on helping parents and children, as he came into office with one big ambitious idea that he immediately executed: creating universal public prekindergarten across the city. The program was widely considered a great achievement; for my family and so many others, it meant children could get an early start on their education and parents could save money they would have otherwise spent on child care. It was one of the few local programs that I felt very tangibly made my life easier as a working parent raising children in the city.Yet de Blasio largely lost steam after he got pre-K done. And then he got distracted. He’d get driven most mornings from Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side to his old gym in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where he’d have a leisurely workout before heading into City Hall at 10:30 or later. He decided he wanted to run for president last year and set off for South Carolina and New Hampshire and Nevada, often drawing only a handful of curious Democrats to his events, giving them his time and full attention—a striking contrast to how he dealt with constituents back home. At one point, two public-housing residents flew to Iowa to confront the mayor outside a campaign stop in Sioux City. They knew the best way to reach the mayor of New York was to go to Iowa.In the early days of the pandemic, he dithered over tough but critical decisions such as whether to shut down the school system. He gave terrible and potentially fatal advice, encouraging New Yorkers in mid-March to get one last drink at their neighborhood bar before they closed their doors. He even squeezed in a farewell trip to his gym hours before it was forced to shutter to comply with a state order.During the Black Lives Matter protests in the city this summer, de Blasio, who ran for office as a police reformer, tried to look away, claiming not to have seen the viral videos of police violently clashing with protesters. When an NYPD police vehicle drove into a crowd of demonstrators—a terrifying scene that was caught on camera—he initially defended the police. Former aides and allies of the mayor denounced him. Past and present members of his own administration staged a protest outside City Hall.For now, though, New Yorkers are stuck with the guy. We have another 15-plus months with de Blasio, who isn’t term-limited out of office until the end of 2021.There could not be a more important moment for capable and inspiring leadership from City Hall. Our city has been through hell. Yet he’s proven time and again that he’s not up to the task required. As some New Yorkers pack their bags for the suburbs or upstate, he says he’s not going to “beg anyone to live” here. His refrain throughout all of this has been that “New Yorkers are resilient.” We are. But we expect our leaders to do the work that allows us to pick ourselves up and help the city recover. We can’t do it on our own.[Kevin Baker: Affluence killed New York City, not the pandemic]City Hall has had since March to prepare for the start of the school year. For weeks, the unions have been sounding alarm bells about safety concerns and staffing shortages. The mayor says that’s what compelled him to push the start of in-person learning back yet again. But the fact that there aren’t enough teachers isn’t something that happened overnight. It’s been a clear and obvious problem on the horizon for some time. The city’s independent budget office estimates the public school system will need nearly 12,000 extra teachers to adequately staff in-person and remote learning.For some reason, I’m not optimistic that’s going to happen by September 29, the third attempt at a first day of in-person school for my children. I unfortunately predict more chaos for students and teachers and principals.As I told my children, they are going to get a real education this fall. It just won’t be the usual school curriculum. Instead, they are being taught a powerful lesson about the crucial importance of voting and having a strong, effective leader at City Hall.
  • The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Fandom Was Never Frivolous
    In 2014, Kate Livingston created a quirky Halloween costume for her 12-week-old son. It featured a black, sleeved onesie. And a white silken collar. And a pair of large, plastic-rimmed glasses. Livingston snapped a picture of the cosplaying infant—he provided the cool scowl—and then added a caption, in blunt all-caps, to the photo she took: “I DISSENT.” Ruth Baby Ginsburg was born.Justices of the Supreme Court have traditionally existed above the fray. They wear body-obscuring black robes, stay stoic at the State of the Union address, and prioritize a long-view approach to human events. But Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died today at age 87, changed that model, because Ruth Bader Ginsburg lived within the fray: Particularly in her later years, she was a justice who was also a celebrity. There was Notorious RBG, the meme and the Tumblr and the book. There was On the Basis of Sex, the 2018 biopic telling the story of Ginsburg’s early years as a professor and a litigator. There was RBG, the documentary. There were Kate McKinnon’s swaggering impressions on Saturday Night Live (“You’ve been Ginsburned!”). And there was the array of RBG-themed goods: the prayer candles, the dolls, the coloring books, the jewelry. There are the collections of RBG-inspired collars. Hers is a visible fandom.Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on SNL during the "Courtroom Rap" sketch on November 17, 2018 (Steve Molina Contreras / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal via Getty Images)The celebrations, as outgrowths of an internet culture that has turned irony into an aesthetic, often amount to a form of kitsch. They revel in their own playful collisions, the Bubbie and Biggie. But they are not frivolous. And, following Ginsburg’s death, they have an epigraphic feel. Ginsburg’s celebrity was an adjunct to her legal career that recognized something essential about that career. One way you can read Ginsburg’s work, after all, is as a long-running assertion—conducted over decades, within lower courts and the highest in the land—that the law itself is much more personal than the staid traditions of the Court might imply. SCOTUS makes decisions on behalf of people’s bodies. It arbitrates on behalf of people’s minds. Civic participation, privacy, personhood, parenthood, family, love—these are not arguments; they are the warm facts of people’s lives. The RBG fandom, in its way, recognized that intimacy. In an era when too many American leaders treat human lives as abstractions, the fandom, even at its cheekiest, insisted on the Court’s humanity. The personal is political; the memes, like the person they celebrate, insisted that the personal is also judicial.[Read: The irony of modern feminism’s obsession with Ruth Bader Ginsburg]One of the themes of On the Basis of Sex, the Ginsburg biopic, is the question of cultural evolution. Is progress best made patiently, incrementally? Or is patience a form of complacency? An early scene finds Ginsburg, played by Felicity Jones, and her husband, Marty (played by Armie Hammer), at law school: He’s in his second year; she’s in her first. A professor quotes the legal scholar Paul Freund’s observation about the Supreme Court: Its justices, Freund once said, “should never be influenced by the weather of the day but inevitably they will be influenced by the climate of the era.”That insight informs the film, which focuses on the work Ginsburg did—long before President Bill Clinton, in 1993, appointed her to the Court—to end gender-based discrimination in American case law. Weather versus climate: Ginsburg, as a jurist, is typically associated with the style of change that is slow and systemic and therefore, the argument goes, sustainable. The film makes a notably different claim. It celebrates Ginsburg, in the end, as a revolutionary. It finds her working with Marty—who was a brilliant tax attorney—to challenge one of the gendered assumptions embedded in the American tax code. The effort was at once pragmatic and radical. It was a means of taking on a widespread system that discriminated on, yes, the basis of sex.Felicity Jones as Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex. (Jonathan Wenk / Focus Features / courtesy Everett Collection)“The film is part fact, part imaginative,” Ginsburg said. “But what’s wonderful about it is that the imaginative parts fit in with the story so well.” Its screenplay was written by Ginsburg’s nephew, Daniel Stiepleman. And it focuses on Ginsburg as a wife and mother as well as a jurist. It tells the story of Marty’s diagnosis of testicular cancer, when both he and his wife were in law school. It details how Ruth cared for him through radiation therapy and helped him graduate. It emphasizes Ruth’s relationship with her daughter, Jane, who admired Gloria Steinem and didn’t realize that she was living with another feminist icon. Like many biopics, the film has the glossy veneer of hagiography—down to one of its final scenes, which finds Jones’s version of Ginsburg walking up the steps of the Supreme Court Building, only to morph into the real Ginsburg doing the same. But On the Basis of Sex earns its accolades, in part because it echoes Ginsburg’s own legal argument: It insists that you can’t understand Ginsburg as a jurist if you don’t understand her as a person. It challenges the notion that legal wisdom can somehow be separated from justices’ humanity.Ginsburg herself saw her life experience—the discrimination she faced, as a woman and a mother—as essential to her interpretation of the Constitution. She knew in her bones what it is to be seen, by other people and by the law, as less than. (“If you want to understand how an underestimated woman changed the world and is still out there doing the work,” the introduction to the book Notorious RBG reads, “we got you.”) She took for granted that wisdom is not a matter of separation from the facts of everyday life; wisdom comes from a deep acquaintance with those facts. “As we live, we can learn,” she noted. She added: “It’s important to listen.”But wisdom can stem from anger and indignation. “Notorious RBG,” the meme—and, soon enough, the brand—sprang up as a result of one particular dissent: Ginsburg’s reaction to the Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The decision split 5–4, along partisan lines. The majority argued, essentially, that American cultural conditions had changed enough that the kind of federal scrutiny mandated by the provisions in question was no longer necessary; squint just a bit, and you might have seen the high court engaging in the rhetoric of post-racism that was so common during the Obama presidency. Ginsburg, however, took the longer view. In her scathing dissent, she accused the majority of punishing the Voting Rights Act for doing what it had been intended to do. And she accused those five justices of lacking the foresight—or, indeed, the historical awareness—to recognize how quickly tides, and winds, can change. Dismantling the VRA provisions, she argued, was like “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”[Read: How Shelby County v. Holder broke America]The Notorious RBG Tumblr emerged from that, as young progressives found their own reactions to the decision encapsulated in that objection. Then came the array of commercial goods that made an appreciation of RBG something people wore and gifted and shared. Celebrity, even as it idealizes people, relishes their idiosyncrasies. The fandom cared deeply about Ginsburg’s long and loving relationship with Marty. It cared that Ginsburg’s nickname was Kiki. It cared about her Brooklyn accent—which became more pronounced in her speech, Felicity Jones observed, the more impassioned she became. The fandom found catharsis in Ginsburg’s righteous indignation. It understood that the Court is a profoundly human institution. And it is making sense of Ginsburg’s loss in notably human terms. When news of her death broke tonight, many people took to social media to offer tributes, and to reshare the familiar memes. They talked about Ginsburg as a trailblazer for women’s rights and minority rights. They talked about her legacy—and the acute fragility of progress. They talked about what she’d meant to them, personally. Many of their messages were soaring and searing and eloquent. But what trended on Twitter, as people learned of the loss, was something much more plaintive, and much more visceral: “No. No. No.”
  • What Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Means for America
    Updated on September 18, 2020, at 8:47 p.m. ET.A furious battle over a Supreme Court vacancy is arguably the last thing the United States needs right now.The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today represents a devastating loss for feminists who held up the 87-year-old as an icon of women’s rights, and as a bulwark protecting abortion rights and a wide range of other progressive ideals on a conservative Supreme Court. The Brooklyn-born jurist became one of the nation’s foremost advocates against gender discrimination as a lawyer for the ACLU, decades before President Bill Clinton appointed her to be the second woman to sit on the high court.But her passing less than two months before the presidential election also tosses one more lit match into the tinderbox of national politics in 2020: It will surely inflame a deeply polarized country already riven by a deadly pandemic, a steep economic downturn, and civil unrest in its major cities.In Washington, the vacancy fight could ratchet up tensions to a level unseen even in the tumultuous Trump era. President Donald Trump will be eager to fill Ginsburg’s seat immediately, seizing an opportunity to rally his base before the election and to cement his legacy in the event that he is defeated in November. He could also become the first president since Richard Nixon to install three justices on the high court in a single four-year term. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated that he’s ready for another confirmation battle, either before or immediately after the election. Republicans might be hard-pressed to consider and approve a Trump nominee in the eight weeks before November, but even a victory by Vice President Joe Biden and a Democratic takeover of the Senate might not prevent Trump from successfully appointing another justice. Republicans would still control both the White House and the Senate until a new Congress takes office in early January.Ginsburg made her own desire clear in the days before her death, NPR’s Nina Totenberg reported today. She dictated a statement to her granddaughter that read: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”Whether that final wish will be granted is unclear. McConnell has insisted that the precedent he created in denying former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland in the final year of Obama’s term—to fill a vacancy that occurred nearly nine months before the 2016 election—no longer applies, because the same party controls both the White House and the Senate majority. “Oh, we’d fill it,” the Kentucky Republican promised in May 2019, more than a year before Ginsburg announced the cancer recurrence that would take her life. He reiterated that position in the hours after Ginsburg’s death was announced, saying American voters had given Republicans a mandate to fill judicial vacancies by expanding the party’s Senate majority in 2018. “We will keep our promise,” McConnell said in a statement. “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.” Never mind that the rationale McConnell gave in 2016—that voters should have the chance to weigh in on their next Supreme Court justice—would seem to apply even more strongly during an election in which the first ballots have already been cast.[Read: Mitch McConnell’s grand plan was obvious all along]The more salient question is not whether McConnell would try to confirm Trump’s nominee but whether his GOP majority would go along with it—either before the election ends in November or in a lame-duck session of Congress afterward. A number of Republican senators have already said they’d want to fill a Supreme Court vacancy while Trump is still in office. But McConnell would need the votes of 50 out of his 53 members to allow Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie (assuming all Democrats voted against Trump’s nominee), and the numbers may not be on his side. One Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against the president’s last Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who won confirmation by a single vote in 2018. Another, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, supported Kavanaugh but is now in danger of losing her bid for a sixth term this fall. And a third Republican, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, voted to convict Trump during the president’s impeachment trial earlier this year; having already tried to remove Trump from office, Romney might be disinclined to give him another lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.The Supreme Court has now seen three vacancies in the past five years. Because of her age and ill health, Ginsburg’s is the least surprising. But it may be the most consequential. Justice Antonin Scalia’s 2016 death did not change the balance of power on the court (he was replaced not by Garland but by the conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch), and Kavanaugh is only somewhat more conservative than the justice he succeeded, Anthony Kennedy, who was an appointee of President Ronald Reagan. Should Trump pick Ginsburg’s replacement, however, the ideological shift rightward it represents would likely be the largest for a single Supreme Court seat since the conservative Clarence Thomas succeeded the liberal Thurgood Marshall nearly three decades ago. And that opportunity could be too enticing for Republicans to pass up.McConnell, backed by the Senate Republicans who have ratified his decisions, has shown above all a willingness to wield power to its fullest extent when it comes to the federal judiciary, to interpret as widely as possible the Constitution’s delegation to the Senate of the authority to “advise and consent” on presidential nominations. He cares more about the confirmation of conservative judges than anything else the Senate does, and historically, conservative leaders and voters have seemed to care more about the judiciary, and the Supreme Court, than their progressive counterparts. Republicans saw the vacancies on the high court during both the 2016 and 2018 elections as boosting their base’s turnout, including in key Senate races, while Democrats were unable to parlay the anger over McConnell’s handling of Garland into sufficient turnout to elect Hillary Clinton or a Democratic Senate majority four years ago.Republicans may hope the vacancy caused by Ginsburg’s death will have the same mobilizing effect this year, especially in states such as Arizona, North Carolina, Iowa, Maine, and Colorado, where both Trump and GOP Senate candidates are at risk of losing. But the Ginsburg seat holds even more significance for Democrats, who have panicked about her health scares and advancing age for years. They fear not only the rollback of progressive gains—including restrictions on abortion rights and the possible invalidation of the Affordable Care Act—but also the potential that a 6–3 conservative majority could hand Trump virtually unchecked power or overturn any major achievement a President Biden could hope to accomplish. The vacancy thus might provoke the turnout boost for Democrats that previous court battles did not, as well as a push for retribution if Republicans are seen as ignoring the will of the voters. A successful GOP effort to replace Ginsburg with a conservative before or immediately after a Democratic victory will almost certainly lead to more progressive calls for Biden—along with a willing Democratic Senate—to simply pack the Supreme Court with more seats to offset the conservative advantage.The stakes of the next two months—with hundreds dying daily from the coronavirus, with an incumbent president fanning violence and undermining the integrity of a national election—could hardly have been higher before Ruth Bader Ginsburg succumbed to cancer. Into that cauldron now goes a Supreme Court fight, with an outcome that could alter American society not only for the next four years, but for a generation to come.
  • The Atlantic Daily: Start Preparing for Winter
    Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.Moises Saman / MagnumThe coronavirus isn’t going away this winter. In fact, the U.S. outbreak is poised to get worse.Don’t pin your hopes on a vaccine, either. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells The Atlantic that a vaccine will not likely be in widespread distribution “until well into 2021.”What can be done in the meantime?Our staff writer James Hamblin spoke with dozens of experts over the past few months, distilling their recommendations into five actionable steps (excerpted below):1. Accept reality. Do not waste your time and emotional energy planning around an imminent game-changing injection or pill in the coming months. 2. Plan for more shutdowns.   Everyone will be better prepared if we plan for schools to close and for cities and businesses to shut back down, even while we hope they won’t have to. 3. Live like you’re contagious. This primarily means paying attention to where you are and what’s coming out of your mouth. … During the holidays, don’t plan gatherings in places where you can’t be outdoors and widely spaced. This may mean postponing or canceling long-standing traditions. 4. Build for the pandemic. This is an overdue opportunity to create and upgrade to permanently pandemic-resistant cities, businesses, schools, and homes. … Poor indoor air quality, for example, has long been a source of disease. 5. Hunt the virus. Developing fast and reliable ways to detect the coronavirus will become only more crucial during the winter cold- and- flu season. Read James’s full piece on how we can survive the winter. AMAZONWatch. It’s Emmy weekend. Do your homework before Sunday’s broadcast: Stream one of the most talked-about television shows of the year (and read what our writers had to say about it). Try: Watchmen (“the strangest show to come to TV in a minute”); Succession (“a bitter, schadenfreude-flavored tonic to help digest the oily excesses of the 0.001 percent”); The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (“vacantly uplifting”); Unbelievable (a remarkable study of how sexual-assault investigations should be conducted); or Schitt’s Creek (which aired its final season this year). If you favor the big screen to the small, read David Sims on the four movies you need to watch this fall.Get creative. Try to write a novel in three sentences. Or make your first zine. Our staff laid out eight suggestions for keeping your artistic flame lit earlier this year.Explore the ties that bind. Meet the four men named Paul O’Sullivan who decided to start a Paul O’Sullivan band. The empty nesters who run a bookstore together. Or the eighth graders who stay connected by throwing a weekly PowerPoint party.Find their stories and more in “The Friendship Files,” a project by Julie Beck. If you know of a unique friendship story—yours or someone else’s—that should be featured, get in touch.Aaron Eakin / GettyTour America from your couch.Our “Fifty” project, from photo editor Alan Taylor, highlights extraordinary photography of each U.S. state. This week’s selection, pictured above, is known as the Evergreen State. Can you guess which state that is?Thanks for reading. This email was written by Caroline Mimbs Nyce, who can’t stop thinking about this story about the American bunker business—and how a company designed one with “space for a client’s racehorses.” It was edited by Shan Wang.Did someone forward you this newsletter? Sign up here.
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  • Bassett, Lewis goals lift Colorado Rapids past LA Galaxy 2-0
    CARSON, Calif. — Cole Bassett and Jonathan Lewis scored and the Colorado Rapids beat the LA Galaxy 2-0 on Saturday night. Colorado (4-4-4) rebounded from a 4-1 loss to FC Dallas on Wednesday night. The Galaxy (4-4-3) had their six-match unbeaten streak snapped. Sam Vines lofted the ball from distance to Bassett, who fired his shot from the center of the 6-yard box in the 40th minute for his third goal of the season. Lewis scored on a right-footed shot at close range from the center of the goal in the 78th. Sebastian Lletget’s header attempt sailed over the crossbar in the 71st minute for the Galaxy. William Yarbrough made four saves for the Rapids. David Bingham had two for the Galaxy. The Galaxy entered having won 24 of 38 all-time meetings at home, outscoring Colorado by more than 2-1.
  • Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw stumps Rockies in 6-1 Colorado loss at Coors Field
    Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw put a cold Rockies lineup on ice Saturday night and Colorado’s late-season slide continued in a 6-1 defeat at Coors Field. Kershaw lasted seven innings with six strikeouts, stumping Nolan Arenado (0-3) and Charlie Blackmon (0-3), while the Rockies’ bullpen was unable to protect an otherwise solid start for Chi Chi Gonzalez. The Rockies slipped to 22-29 on the season and have lost nine of their last 11 games. It will take an improbable winning streak over Colorado’s final nine games to even sniff playoff contention in a crowded wild-card race. “Tonight, more than anything, Kershaw had a good slider — and a lot of them,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “It’s high-80s, tough to pick up, and out of his hand it looks like his fastball. … It’s a really, really good pitch.” On Saturday night, leadoff man Raimel Tapia did his best to jumpstart Colorado’s slumbering offense after the Dodgers took an early 2-0 lead. Tapia roped a first-inning double and stole second base — his sixth on the year — and an Arenado groundout brought Tapia home to trail 2-1. Gonzalez managed to rebound on Saturday from his worst, and most bizarre, start of the year for Colorado. His previous outing was a 1/3-inning debacle on Sept. 8 at the Padres with three walks, one strikeout, and a hit batsman before getting pulled from the game. Gonzalez showcased newfound poise against the Dodgers. A first-inning triple from LA utilityman Chis Taylor scored two runs, but Gonzalez retired 10 of the next 12 Dodgers he faced. Taylor got the best of Gonzalez again in the fifth, with a solo homer to center, but the Rockies’ 28-year-old right-hander proved mostly effective on the mound. “It looked as though (Gonzalez) was locating the ball better each and every pitch from about the third inning on,” Black said. “Last outing, he was missing with his pitches against the Padres. … Today, there was an ill-advised walk in the first with two outs to (Cody) Bellinger, but overall, I thought he threw the ball fine.” The Rockies, trailing 3-1, turned to the bullpen with Tyler Kinley and Mychal Givens. Kinley kept LA off the scoreboard in the sixth. Givens imploded in the seventh. Related Articles Rockies designate veteran reliever Wade Davis for assignment Saunders: DJ LeMahieu rocks; expanded playoffs beyond 2020 a mistake; 4 good things about Rockies Dodgers clobber Rockies, 15-6, smack three home runs Rockies’ struggling Nolan Arenado staying in heart of order despite sore shoulder Rockies’ bullpen fails, offense a no-show in another loss to Dodgers His second pitch of the night was blasted by AJ Pollock for a home run to put the Dodgers up 4-1. A wild pitch scored LA’s Austin Barnes and a Givens throwing error on a pickoff attempt allowed Mookie Betts to sprint home from second. The Dodgers’ lead ballooned to 6-1. Rockies’ reliever AJ Ramos, in his first MLB game since 2018 with the Mets, entered in the eighth kept LA off the scoreboard. Colorado’s Daniel Bard closed the game in the ninth. The Rockies’ mathematical odds for reaching the postseason continue to shrink with each loss. They must go 8-1 over their final nine games to finish the year at .500 — the winning-percentage where the eighth and final NL playoff berth will likely land. Colorado closes out its homestand against LA on Sunday, the Rockies’ final regular season home game of 2020, before splitting eight road games between the Giants and Diamondbacks to close out the year. “My mindset is still this season,” said Gonzalez, who earned the pitching loss (0-2). “To win as many games as we can to hopefully clinch a playoff spot.”
  • President Trump pledges woman for court, pushes Senate to move on pick
    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday promised to put forth a female nominee in the coming week to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, pushing the Republican-controlled Senate to consider the pick without delay. Taking the stage at a North Carolina rally to chants of “Fill that seat,” the president said he would nominate his selection despite Democrats’ objections. And, after conducting what he joked was a “very scientific poll” of the Fayetteville crowd as to whether supporters wanted a man or a woman, he declared the choice would be “a very talented, very brilliant woman.” He added that he did not yet know whom he would choose. “We win an election and those are the consequences,” said the president, who then seemed to signal that he’d be willing to accept a vote on his nominee during the lame duck period after the election. “We have a lot of time. We have plenty of time. We’re talking about January 20th.” But one Republican senator already broke ranks. Maine’s Susan Collins, who is in a tough reelection battle, said Saturday that she believed replacing Ginsburg should be the decision of the president who is elected Nov. 3. Three more defections from the GOP ranks would be needed to stop Trump’s nominee from joining the court. At stake is a seat held by a justice who was a champion of women’s rights and spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. vowed to call a vote for Trump’s nominee, but Democrats countered that Republicans should follow the precedent that GOP legislators set in 2016 by refusing to consider a Supreme Court choice in the run-up to an election. The impending clash over the vacant seat — when to fill it and with whom — scrambles the stretch run of a presidential race for a nation already reeling from the pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 people, left millions unemployed and heightened partisan tensions and anger. McConnell pledged to Trump in a phone call Friday night to bring the choice to a vote though he has not said if it would be before the election. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said any selection should come after Nov. 3. “Voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice to consider,” he said. The president this month added 20 more names to his roster of potential court nominees, and aides in recent days have focused on a short list heavy on female candidates, according to four White House aides and officials close to the process. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations. Those under close consideration for the high court include three women who are federal appeals court judges: Amy Coney Barrett, beloved among conservatives and an early favorite; Barbara Lagoa, who is Hispanic and comes from the battleground state of Florida; and Allison Jones Rushing, who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas and for Neil Gorsuch, when the current Trump-appointed justice was an appeals court judge. At least one man, appeals court Judge Amul Thapar, has also been under consideration. A McConnell ally from Kentucky, he has been screened by Trump’s team for past openings and he would be the first Asian-American on the high court. McConnell, who sets the calendar in the Senate and has made judicial appointments his priority, declared unequivocally in a statement that Trump’s nominee would receive a confirmation vote. In 2016, McConnell refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee months before the election, eventually preventing a vote on Judge Merrick Garland. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York convened a conference call with Democratic senators at midday Saturday, according to a person on the private call who was not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. He told senators the “number one goal” must be to communicate the stakes of the confirmation vote. Schumer also warned that if Republicans push through the nominee, “nothing is off the table” for Senate rules changes to come, the person said. Ginsburg’s death seemed certain to stoke enthusiasm in both political parties as the election could now be viewed as referendum on the high court’s decisions, including the future of abortion rights. Hundreds of mourners gathered for a second night outside the Supreme Court building, holding candles in honor of Ginsburg and listening to a succession of testimonies and rallying speeches. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., eulogized Ginsberg as “an icon, a trailblazer and a friend” and accused McConnell of seeking to cynically hijack the confirmation process. “Today Mitch McConnell and his henchmen think they can ram through a Supreme Court justice only 45 days before the election,” she said. “What Mitch McConnell doesn’t understand is that the fight has just begun.” Democrats raised more than $71 million in the hours after Ginsburg’s death, indicating her passing has already galvanized the party’s base. A confirmation vote in the Senate is not guaranteed, even with a Republican majority. McConnell has launched a risky, unprecedented strategy. It could motivate conservative voters to rally behind Trump and GOP senators or it could push away moderates who prefer to see the Senate stick to norms or are fearful of a right-leaning court stripping away women’s right to choose an abortion. Typically, it takes several months to vet and hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee, and time is short before November. Key senators may be reluctant to cast votes so close to the election. With a slim GOP majority, 53 seats in the 100-member chamber, Trump’s choice could afford to lose only a few. McConnell did not specify the timing. But trying for confirmation in a lame-duck session after the Nov. 3 election, if Trump had lost to Biden or Republicans had lost the Senate, would carry further political complications. Democrats immediately denounced McConnell’s move as hypocritical, pointing out that he refused to call hearings for Garland 237 days before the 2016 election. The 2020 election is 46 days away. The average number of days to confirm a justice, according to the Congressional Research Service, is 69, which would be after the election. But some Republicans quickly noted that Ginsburg was confirmed in just 42 days. Obama waited more than a month to nominate Garland after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016. John Fischetti, who waited in line more than two hours to enter Trump’s Fayetteville rally, said replacing Ginsburg would inflame tensions but was within the president’s rights. “I would assume it would make everyone more energized,” Fischetti said of the political repercussions. “Trump’s people want him to always press forward.” Four GOP defections could defeat a nomination, while a tie vote could be broken by Vice President Mike Pence. After Collins’ decision, focus grew on Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, who have been critical of Trump and protective of the institution of the Senate. And because the Arizona Senate race is a special election, that seat could be filled as early as Nov. 30 — which would narrow the window for McConnell if the Democratic candidate, Mark Kelly, wins. The next pick could shape important decisions beyond abortion rights, including any legal challenges that may stem from the 2020 election. In the interim, if the court were to take cases with eight justices, 4-4 ties would revert the decision to a lower court; for instance, the Affordable Care Act could then be struck down by a lower Texas court. Biden has promised to nominate a Black woman to the high court if given the chance. His campaign reiterated Saturday that it would release names before the election. ___ Lemire reported from New York. Peoples reported from Montclair, New Jersey. Additional reporting by Darlene Superville, Alexandra Jaffe and Ashraf Khalil in Washington and Kevin Freking and Bryan Anderson in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
  • Kiszla: How should cute, little Nuggets fight back against big, haughty Lakers? One sharp elbow at a time.
    We are sensimilla mellow and soft as jello here in Colorado, so I would never suggest the Nuggets begin an NBA playoff game with a hockey fight. But if Nuggets forward Paul Millsap, whose most notable athletic ability at age 35 is raw man strength, doesn’t knock Lakers star Anthony Davis or L.A. knucklehead Dwight Howard to the floor with a hard foul before halftime of Game 2 in this playoff series, what are the Nuggets paying Millsap $30 million for? The Lakers regard our cute, little team from the Rocky Mountains as so weak of body and timid of spirit that they can fluster center Nikola Jokic by applying muscle and sweep Denver out of the Western Conference Finals. “As soon as I step on the floor, I’m going to let (Jokic) know I’m there,” Lakers center Dwight Howard vowed after thoroughly flustering Joker in Game 1, which left Denver begging for mercy from the referees during a 126-114 loss not nearly as close as the score might indicate. Soft? Yeah, that story’s getting old for those of us in Colorado. But from the cheap seats, you can hear NBA graybeards such as Charles Barkley and Chris Webber chortle that the Nuggets arms aren’t long enough to box with Lakers superstar LeBron James. Know what? Sir Charles just might prove to be correct. “The first game of a series, you always try to feel out and see what the other team comes with,” Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. said Saturday. The Lakers swung a hammer. How does Denver respond? OK, I fully acknowledge this is not your father’s rough-and-tumble NBA. Bill Laimbeer isn’t walking through that door with elbows sharpened to a stiletto point. But there’s nothing subtle about the Lakers’ strategy here. They think it’s possible to bully Jokic and the Nuggets. And that’s not all. Howard, whose career has been defined by being a goofball a little thick between the ears, wants to do more than bruise Jokic’s body. Howard wants to mess with Big Honey’s head. When asked directly about his obvious intent to push around Jokic by Kyle Goon, a fine Lakers reporter working inside the NBA bubble for the same media company that employs me, Howard suggested his idea of fun and games had only just begun. “Since we’re staying at the same hotel, I might meet (Jokic) right outside his room and let him know: ‘For the rest of the series, I’m going to be right there, locked on you,'” said Howard, who clowned the Nuggets by trying to interrupt a Denver team huddle on the floor during the series opener. The backup Lakers center also expressed sincere appreciation for Jokic’s skillset, so I’m pretty sure he was joking about that stalking part. But I’m dead serious about the Nuggets standing up for themselves or packing for home. Millsap’s most meaningful contribution during a postseason in which he’s averaged a meager 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds was when he stood up to Marcus Morris and told the Clippers that Denver was no longer going to take any more guff from them during Round 2 of the playoffs. I hope Nuggets coach Michael Malone saved a video of Howard’s comments and forwarded it to our buddy Kiki Vandeweghe in the league office. Maybe the smartest way to protest the 37-28 free-throw disparity, built largely in the second quarter of Game 1, would be to point out the Lakers aren’t even trying to hide their intent to knock Joker off his game with physical play. “We allowed that second quarter free-throw discrepancy to really take root and get us to lose our focus. We can’t let that happen,” Malone said. “We’re going to have enough of a hard time beating the five (L.A.) guys on the floor. We can’t worry about playing five against eight, and the referees are part of it.” If Millsap can’t throw his weight around, Malone should seriously consider removing the veteran forward from the starting lineup in favor of Torrey Craig, whose length and defensive tenacity at least give Denver somebody on the floor with a chance to slow down a runaway King James during his outta-my-way forays into the lane. I’m not advocating basketbrawl. But if James gets to lower his shoulder with impunity on drives to the cup, then how can anyone complain if Millsap or Mason Plumlee employ a little rough stuff of their own? With great optimism and near certainty, I’ll offer a Barkley guar-an-tee the refs give a more favorable whistle to Denver in Game 2. But that being said, the more aggressive team usually makes more trips to the free-throw line. Related Articles Kickin’ It with Kiz: Drew Lock is not Patrick Mahomes. But if Lock is Jake Plummer, would Broncos be happy? Grading the Week: Broncos fans don’t have Garett Bolles to kick around anymore (or at least until Sunday) Kiszla: Yes, the Nuggets got punked by the Lakers and NBA refs. But whining won’t win the Western Conference finals. Kiszla: With Broncos already teetering on brink, here’s how Coach Fangio can save his job. Less Uncle Vic. More cowbell. Kiszla: The Nuggets did what? How Joker and his little buddy Jamal shocked the Clippers and the NBA world (again). The Nuggets aren’t soft, but every NBA roster has its flaws. Denver could use a little more meat and mean on its bones. Wouldn’t somebody like tough Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell look good protecting Jokic’s back right about now (or next season, for that matter)? Rather than beg the refs for respect, how should Nuggets battle back against the Lakers? One, sharp elbow at the time. Let’s rock it old school.
  • How Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. gained Michael Malone’s trust
    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. didn’t expect the backlash that came from his postgame comments after Denver fell behind the Clippers 3-1 in the Western Conference semifinals. He didn’t anticipate how his words would be spliced and his intentions deciphered. Frustrated after a Game 4 loss that he felt he could’ve contributed more to, he wasn’t trying to bury anybody, let alone Nuggets coach Michael Malone or his teammates. His point — well-intentioned but not artfully delivered — was that everybody needed to touch the ball to beat a defense as suffocating as the Clippers’. In the aftermath, before a film session, the team briefly addressed his comments. Both Malone and Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly spoke, according to a league source. The message was that on this stage, with a platform as large as the NBA playoffs, players needed to be even more careful about what they said in front of a camera. The point was clear: In the future, when issues come up, address them internally and not in the emotion of a postgame news conference. After it was addressed, the meeting shifted to a film session that got at the core of Porter’s comments. The coaching staff knew there was truth to what he’d said. So rather than belabor the manner in which it was delivered, the session focused on what Porter could do to get himself more involved. “I stand by what I say,” Porter said after Game 5 when a second-half rally kept the Nuggets’ season alive. “I didn’t mean it in any type of disrespectful way or anything like that.” There are any number of turning points the Nuggets could cite when looking for the moment the Clippers series flipped and paved the Nuggets’ path to the Western Conference finals. It could be that team meeting, the Paul Millsap-Marcus Morris flare-up in Game 5, or even Game 3, which left the Nuggets smarting over a potential win they let get away. But when Porter connected on a clutch 3-pointer late in Game 5, and the bench erupted in celebration, it was clear there were no hard feelings. The Nuggets would win Game 6 with another elimination-defying rally and take Game 7 convincingly to reach their first conference finals since 2009. And throughout the three fourth quarters in Games 5, 6, and 7, only Jamal Murray averaged more minutes (10.8) than Porter (9.9). “I think our coach has done a great job challenging him and also empowering him,” Connelly told The Denver Post. “It’s been fun to watch his development.” To think that Malone would trust Porter to that extent, a round after he’d benched him for his defense, was stunning. “In those games, the games that you talk about when he’s on the floor when so much is hanging in the balance, that’s invaluable for a young player,” Malone said Saturday, one day ahead of Game 2 of the conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. “I think what’s earned him those minutes is that he’s really bought in, grown and committed to the defensive end of the floor. “The offensive end comes easy for Michael. He’s so talented, he’s so skilled, and he can go on a scoring run all by himself. His rebounding has always been there. But for him to get those minutes to close games, he has to be able to defend. And I think from Game 1 in Utah, round one, all the way through now starting the Western Conference Finals, his defensive improvement’s been remarkable.” Despite not shooting it as high a clip as he’s capable of, Porter has still rebounded at a tremendous rate and his defensive awareness has improved drastically. “The biggest part that I’ve seen improvement in is his rotations,” his dad, Michael Porter Sr., said. “I think he’s come a long way in understanding, ‘Ok, yeah, for a minute this is my guy, but once we start rotating, it’s a scramble, and I might be guarding a guy in this corner, but then I gotta show on the roller, tag the roller, and then I might have to get out to the opposite corner to get the shooter.’” Porter’s dad has been inside the “bubble” here for nearly a month. Depending on if it’s a game day or not, father and son will alternate between breakfast and dinner together. “It has meant everything to me to be here to see it in person,” Porter Sr. said. “Win, lose or draw, being here and seeing these guys play and specifically my son progress the way he has is just blessings on top of blessings. … He’s never lacked confidence as to whether or not he could play at this level, but I think this bubble experience has even reinforced to him that, ‘OK, man, I take care of my business, I can play and be really effective at this level.’” Related Articles Kiszla: How should cute, little Nuggets fight back against big, haughty Lakers? One sharp elbow at a time. Dwight Howard sets energetic tone in Lakers’ Game 1 win Nuggets journal: Lakers’ vast postseason experience paid off in spades. Can Denver respond? Whicker: Lakers, unlike the Clippers, don’t ask you to wait until next year Nuggets-Lakers Game 2 Preview: Can Denver humble LeBron James and AD the way it did Kawhi Leonard? For months, Murray has been an active participant in MPJ’s improvement. In practice or games, Murray is always chirping at Denver’s budding rookie. And it’s because he recognizes his talent and knows he’s only begun to scratch the surface. Murray has never publicly commented on what Porter had to say that night, but his answer Saturday suggested he’d seen a change in Porter’s approach. “I just think his patience right now,” Murray said. “He might not touch it every single time on the court, but when he gets a good look, we know he’s gonna put it up and most likely make it. His rebounding is incredible. He’s got a really good nose for the ball. Shot blocking’s there. So, all his instincts are there. … I think he’s going to be a big factor in this series against the Lakers.” It would’ve been a stretch to say that a month ago during the Utah series. But his dedication to staying on the floor — acknowledging and addressing his defense — is a giant development in Denver’s quest for a championship.
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds rally at the Colorado Capitol demanding prosecutors drop charges for arrests of six local activists
    Hundreds gather for a rally in response to the arrests of six local activists at The Colorado State Capital on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. The rally began at the Colorado State Capital and they marched through the streets of downtown Denver. RELATED: Crowd demands “drop the charges” against Colorado police protest leaders
  • Smoky Hill’s Jalen Weaver commits to play basketball for Nevada
    One of the state’s top Class of 2021 boys basketball recruits is leaving Colorado. Related Articles Cherry Creek two-sport star Julian Hammond III commits to CU Buffs basketball Smoky Hill senior Jalen Weaver, the No. 1-rated recruit in the state by 247Sports.com, announced his intention to play for the Nevada Wolf Pack in a tweet Saturday. The 6-foot-4 wing played a significant role on the Buffs’ varsity the last two seasons, including a junior year that saw him average 18.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for a team that finished one win shy of the Class 5A Final Four. Weaver had scholarship offers from a number of Division-I schools, including Loyola Marymount, Tulsa, UMass and Montana State. The three-star recruit did not, however, receive offers from in-state schools CU and CSU, according to his 247Sports profile. “He gives us athleticism, shooting and a high basketball I.Q.,” Smoky Hill head coach Anthony Hardin said of Weaver last year. “He’s one of the best scorers in the state and he’s probably the best player in the Class of 2021.” Weaver’s commitment comes a week after Cherry Creek’s Julian Hammond pledged to play for the CU men’s basketball program.
  • Denver sets weather record with 74 days at 90 degrees
    Denver’s last weekend of summer is going out with record-setting summer temperatures. The city hit 90 degrees Saturday for the 74th time this year, setting a record for the most ays at 90 or above, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder. The previous record was set in 2012, when Denver experienced 73 days with temperatures in the 90s. This year, Denver also recorded its latest 100-degree day on the calendar ever, on Sept. 5. Denver reached 90° this afternoon for the 74th time in 2020 which breaks the record for most 90° days in a year. #COwx pic.twitter.com/WO1XoyAmtP — NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) September 19, 2020 Meteorologist David Barjenbruch attributed the record-setting year to an “unfortunately dry summer with what seemed like unrelenting heat.” “The dryness, outside of that one quick glimpse of winter in early September, has quickly built back over the area,” Barjenbruch said. “We just had a dominating ridge of high pressure over the whole Western United States this summer.” This may not be the last time the mercury surpasses 90 degrees, he said. Monday will be very warm with highs in the upper 80s. And toward the end of the week, Denver may have another shot at breaking into the 90s. Related Articles Denver weather: Record for most 90-degree-plus days may fall Denver weather: Smoke sticks around while temps may reach 90 Denver weather: With little wind, expect smoky skies for rest of week At least 1 dead, hundreds rescued after Hurricane Sally Hurricane Sally unleashes flooding along the Gulf Coast, hitting Florida-Alabama line “It’s not out the question, and that’s pretty late in September to be hitting 90 on a routine basis,” Barjenbruch said. Tuesday marks the first day of fall, but the metro area may not get autumnal weather for a while. Forecasts predict that Denver will see above-average temperatures going into early October, Barjenbruch said. That’s concerning because October usually brings downslope winds that increase the risk of fire danger, he said. But there is a silver lining: “The fortunate thing about the heat, if you’re sick and tired of it, is the days are getting shorter, nights are getting cooler and it’s only getting hot for a shorter period of time during the day,” Barjenbruch said.
  • Rockies designate veteran reliever Wade Davis for assignment
    The last member of the Rockies’ overpriced and underperforming relief pitching triumvirate signed before the 2018 season is out the door. Veteran right-hander Wade Davis was designated for assignment Saturday, the team announced, in a move that signals the end of his time in Colorado. Davis began the season with a pair of saves at the Texas Rangers, but a strained right shoulder derailed his year and comeback attempt with the Rockies. “He was a great presence on our team and a great mentor for a lot of our younger pitchers. He was one of our leaders,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “The shoulder woes started happening and he just really couldn’t recover totally.” Davis, 35, was reinstated from the injured list in mid-September, but he never found consistency, going 0-1 with a dismal 20.77 ERA and two saves over five outings this season. Since signing a three-year, $52 million contract prior to the 2018 season, Davis went 4-13 with 60 saves in 70 opportunities and 122 appearances and posted a 6.49 ERA. He had an 8.01 ERA at Coors Field and a 4.22 ERA on the road. It marked a steep drop from 2018 when Davis led the National League in saves (43) with a 4.13 ERA as the Rockies reached the playoffs. He simply couldn’t recapture that magic, and much like the other high-paid relievers Colorado signed before that season — Jake McGee ($27M) and Bryan Shaw ($27M) — Davis is no longer on the roster. “(Davis) expressed today his desire to continue on to play,” Black said. “It was a very professional meeting. I don’t think any of us envisioned this happening at this juncture. But it did.” Blackmon struggles. Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon has come back down to earth after his strong offensive start to the season. In the month of September, Blackmon has a .216 batting average with 11 hits and 14 strikeouts. Related Articles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw stumps Rockies in 6-1 Colorado loss at Coors Field Saunders: DJ LeMahieu rocks; expanded playoffs beyond 2020 a mistake; 4 good things about Rockies Dodgers clobber Rockies, 15-6, smack three home runs Rockies’ struggling Nolan Arenado staying in heart of order despite sore shoulder Rockies’ bullpen fails, offense a no-show in another loss to Dodgers “I feel like I’ve been pretty inconsistent,” Blackmon said. “I’m preparing well and I’m competing well. I think I haven’t been as good, as of late, then when I was really hot earlier. That happens. But I still think I’m putting myself in a position to succeed.” Added Black: “We’ve seen Charlie try to get a little bit too big with his swing and expand the zone a little too much to get a base hit — which is not Charlie-like. But that could change at any moment. Chuck could get two or three hits tonight and start to get that feeling again.” Footnotes. Additional moves for the Rockies on Saturday included selecting the contract of pitcher AJ Ramos from the training site at Metro State. … The club has also recalled right-hander Antonio Santos. … To make room on the roster for the pitchers, Colorado optioned right-hander Jesus Tinoco back to the alternate training site in Denver. Dodgers RHP Tony Gonsolin (1-1, 1.51 ERA) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (4-2, 3.30 ERA) 1:10 p.m. Sunday, Coors Field TV: AT&T SportsNet Radio: 630 AM/94.1 FM Senzatela enters Sunday following his best start of the year: one earned run on six hits through nine innings pitched in a 3-1 home win Tuesday against the Athletics. It was Senzatela’s first MLB complete game and the Rockies’ first at home since 2016. Senzatela threw a season-high 109 pitches. The 25-year-old right-hander will make his third start of the year against the Dodgers on Sunday. Senzatela did not factor into a 10-6 loss in LA with two runs allowed on seven hits over 5-1/3 innings on Sept. 4. He also lost 11-3 at the Dodgers with six runs allowed on seven hits on Aug. 23. Gonsolin, 26, is in his second season pitching for the Dodgers. He has three quality starts this season and earned his first win last week at the Padres — allowing only one earned run over seven innings. Gonsolin pitched six innings against Colorado on Sept. 5 and he gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits in a no-decision. Trending: Entering Saturday, shortstop Trevor Story led the National League and ranked second in the MLB with 14 stolen bases. As a team, the Rockies rank fourth in the NL and eighth in the majors with 32 stolen bases. At issue: The Rockies have not won any games by more than five runs this season as the only team in the MLB without a six-run victory. Colorado’s current stretch of 89 consecutive games without winning a game by at least six runs is the longest such a drought in franchise history. Pitching Probables: Monday: Rockies RHP German Marquez (2-6, 4.33) at Giants LHP Drew Smyly (0-0, 3.94), 7:45 p.m., ATTRM Tuesday: Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (2-2, 3.75) at Giants LHP Tyler Anderson (2-3, 5.06), 7:45 p.m., ATTRM Wednesday: Rockies RHP Ryan Castellani (1-3, 5.59) at Giants RHP Logan Webb (2-4, 5.73), 7:45 p.m., ATTRM
  • Trump backs proposed TikTok deal with Oracle, Walmart
    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday he’s given his “blessing” to a proposed deal between Oracle and Walmart for the U.S. operations of TikTok, the Chinese-owned app he’s targeted for national security and data privacy concerns. Related Articles Step away from TikTok: Here’s how to declutter your digital world Robinhood has lured young traders, sometimes with devastating results First round of $300 Lost Wages Assistance payments headed to Coloradans U.S. banning use of WeChat, TikTok for national security starting Sunday Petalo, not Charmin: COVID-19 pandemic brings Mexican toilet paper to U.S. Trump said the proposed deal will result in a new company likely to be based in Texas and under the control of U.S.-based Oracle and Walmart. “I have given the deal my blessing,” he said. “If they get it done, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s OK too.” Trump has been targeting TikTok, a video app popular with younger people, as well as WeChat, another Chinese-owned app. The dispute over the two apps is the latest flashpoint in the rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
Editors' Picks and Don't Miss stories | The Denver Post
  • Coronavirus stay-at-home orders in Colorado
    On March 18, San Miguel County on Colorado’s Western Slope became the first in the state to impose a shelter-in-place order for its residents, a move intended to counter the novel coronavirus’s spread. It comes as one in four Americans now fall under strict movement orders — though Gov. Jared Polis has not mandated such a “stay at home” measure statewide. On March 23, Denver followed suit — and other municipalities soon adopted similar orders. Authorities in the city of Boulder and Piktin County, plus the Southern Ute Tribe in the southwest corner of the state, have all adopted stay-at-home orders. These orders include closing non-essential businesses, and mandating that people stay home unless they are buying groceries, going to the doctor or providing other critical services for family members. Group gatherings have been banned, while outdoor exercise (in non-group settings) will still be allowed. Related Articles Colorado employers added nearly 37,000 jobs in August Not safe to send CU Boulder students home, Polis says as campus clears dorm for COVID-19 quarantine space New model projects manageable increase in Colorado’s COVID-19 cases — so long as people keep up precautions Opening of N-Line to Denver’s north suburbs a rare “bright spot” for COVID-battered transit sector COVID-19 outbreaks tied to Colorado colleges more than double as campuses ramp up efforts to stop virus For more information, go to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Join our Facebook group for the latest updates on coronavirus in Colorado.
  • T.J. Ward’s home is for sale. And the former Broncos safety’s “swag and style” are everywhere.
    T.J. Ward is selling his custom home in Lone Tree. The 6,745-square-foot interior was designed by the former Broncos safety and is listed at $2.24 million. Ward was a veteran of the Broncos secondary for three seasons and a driving force in the team’s Super Bowl 50 run. But what led him to construct a home from scratch came from an aspect of his life outside the white lines. “I was inspired by my sense of fashion,” Ward said. “It was my first home and I wanted my home decor to represent me and my personality as much as possible. I have a lot of space so I could create different aspects of my life into each room.” The interior features vaulted ceilings, a gourmet kitchen and automation throughout that controls the lights and audio/video. Two places, in particular, hit home most for Ward. “I was most adamant about my bedroom and the finished basement,” he said. “I spend most of my time in those places.” Ward’s master suite pairs with a luxury bathroom housing a steam shower. The space also has a custom sitting room and wet bar. There are five bedrooms, three full bathrooms and a half bath in all. The basement has a bar, and media and exercise rooms, and walks out to an enclosed fireplace courtyard that’s surrounded by a large backyard. “He wanted to make (the house) unique and modern and picking things that other people didn’t pick,” said Gwenivere Snyder, a luxury property specialist with Christie’s International Real Estate and Ward’s realtor. Snyder worked with Ward from the home’s inception to its completion in early 2017. Snyder said Ward’s home at 9697 Vista Hill Drive is on one of the biggest lots in a gated community that also houses Ward’s former Broncos teammate, defensive lineman Derek Wolfe. “This location was perfect for me because I could get to Dove Valley, where we practice, quickly and also be near lots of retail,” Ward said. Although Ward was the only resident of the home, he certainly had space for some familiar faces. “Family first is everything to T.J.,” Ward’s mother, LaNeita Ward, said. “Throughout the process of building this home he had his family in mind. Every family member has their own bedroom. T.J.’s style and swag is present everywhere in the home. He brought me in at every phase of the process, from selecting the tile in the kitchen to choosing custom pieces of furniture. I truly loved and appreciate sharing his experience with him and was pleasantly surprised that we had the same taste and style.”
  • This Colorado log home has a 750-foot zipline and its own stocked fishing lake
    Imagine zipping down a 750-foot zipline over your private lake, then taking in the beautiful Colorado views from the comfort of the expansive front porch of your log home. It doesn’t get much more “Colorado” than this. This idyllic Rocky Mountain dream could become a reality for a homebuyer with $2.5 million to plop down on 568 Woodside Drive in Pine, a picturesque 4-bedroom, 5-bath log home situated on seven acres of land in the mountains of Colorado. The 5,703-square-foot home, which was built in 2003 by Roger and Lorna Nichols, is constructed of kiln-dried, hand-hued Colorado-grown logs and 400 tons of moss rock. Roger Nichols, who is an excavating contractor by trade, said the logs are 16 inches to 24 inches in diameter and were all brought in from Steamboat Springs. “A log home is the most expensive home you can build per square foot,” Roger Nichols told The Denver Post. He said many people dream of building a log home but often they will scale back and use other materials when they find out how expensive they can be to construct. “It’s just special,” Nichols said of the home. “It’s just homey. Everybody who sees it wants it.” When the Nichols family first set out to build the log home at 568 Woodside Drive, the lot looked a lot different. “I thought, if I could put a lake in here, I’d like it,” Nichols said. So he went about getting permits and excavating the land to put in a lake that covers about an acre of the property, is about 4 feet to 9 feet deep and is now stocked with trout. At the edge of the lake is a log archway from which hangs an old chairlift from the Breckenridge ski area. Nichols said the archway originally was erected for his daughter’s wedding and was later converted to have the chairlift bench added. Inside the home, buyers will find 10-foot-tall ceilings throughout, with some areas where the ceilings soar to 28 feet. “One of the things that’s great about this property is it can come fully furnished if the buyer would like,” said Jackie Garcia, the listing agent with RE/MAX Luxury Homes. The home’s furnishings currently include several taxidermied animals that give it the feel of a Colorado lodge — and Nichols said they don’t really fit with their new home in the Florida Keys. The kitchen has a large island, Brazilian marble countertops, double refrigerators, double freezers, a restaurant-quality cooktop and custom stainless steel hood. “My wife’s like Martha Stewart,” Nichols said. The home also has a workshop with plenty of space for parking ATVs or a recreational vehicle. And there’s more for the kids, too, with a playground and a playhouse. “The playhouse has electricity so the kids can play their video games in it,” Nichols said. The home is located about 35 minutes from Denver and 45 minutes to Breckenridge, depending on traffic, and has access to nearby trails and amazing views, especially from the front porch and the balconies, Nichols said. “We just loved it up there,” Nichols said. “You see deer and elk in your yard every day. It’s just nice.”
  • This is Denver’s most expensive home listing. And it has a gym, yoga studio and koi pond.
    If you’re a fitness junkie with a cool $14 million to spend on a home in Denver, it’s hard to beat 460 Saint Paul Street. The 5-bed, 8-bath mansion in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood has a two-floor gym with a weight room, fitness machines, a yoga studio, massage room and a juice bar lounge. “The location is super strong,” listing agent Gina Lorenzen said. “It’s steps away from the best boutiques in Denver.” Priced at $13,995,000, the home is currently the most expensive listing on the market inside Denver city limits. When you first walk in, you are sure to be impressed. “It’s just the elegance of the design, the openness, and all the natural sunlight,” Lorenzen said. She added that the home, which was constructed by Paul Kobey in 2000, was built with the highest caliber materials. The gym was added six years later. The 11,832-square-foot home sits on a 13,300-square-foot lot and was designed by architect Michael Knorr. Related Articles NFL betting, return of table games offers glimmer of hope in Colorado’s COVID-impacted casino towns Sponsored: Independence combines modern homes with views for miles outside of Denver Used high-end bike dealer the Pro’s Closet moving from Boulder to Louisville with growth in mind Increase in home prices wipes out savings from lower mortgage rates for Denver metro Former Kmart lot now a drive-through coronavirus testing site in south Denver “He’s a very well-known, well-respected architect who specializes in a contemporary style,” Lorenzen said, adding that the design of this home is very unique. The home has mountain views from the master bedroom and also a private upper deck, Lorenzen said. The home also features a koi pond. The high-end Poggenpohl kitchen was recently upgraded and has limestone countertops and a glass backsplash. It also has plenty of parking. In addition to a five-car garage, the home also have five additional parking spots deeded to it.
  • Buyers can “name their price” for this multimillion-dollar Telluride home
    There’s a home in Telluride that would make Flo from Progressive proud. Potential buyers can name their price on this 5,400-square-foot house at 220 Cortina Drive, which hit the market Aug. 12. But don’t expect to toss a “Price is Right” bid — the window for offers is $3.75 to $4.195 million. “220 Cortina Drive was originally listed for $4.995 million and wasn’t receiving any offers, so we decided to take a different approach,” said Mike Russo, founder and developer of SparkOffer, a transaction platform that aims at a more transparent way to connect sellers with buyers. “Based on my 20 years of industry experience in the global luxury residential sector, I know that every property has a low end of the range which will motivate buyers on an accelerated time frame. “I’ve also noticed that when buyers see a set asking price that isn’t within their budget, they won’t even bother to make an offer. From that understanding, we developed our methodology of listing homes with a range vs. one price, to spark offers. Our goal is to increase sales activity within a 45-60 day time frame for 220 Cortina Drive.” The property’s clean lines and symmetrical design mirror mid-20th-century architecture constructed of steel, stone and glass. Inside features include a custom-built staircase with a 16-foot chandelier. All three levels house a bar and kitchenette and the master bedroom, fittingly, has a master balcony. Sean Hakes, managing member of Monroe Cardinal, an advisory and asset management platform, highlighted his favorite aspects of the interior: “We built two living rooms on top of each other, both with tremendous entertainment systems. You could have an extended family in both rooms and simultaneously have different experiences. Additionally, the tongue-and-groove cedar ceiling on the main floor and in the master suite lends great context and warmth to the home.” A hallmark is the house’s “green energy” ventless fireplaces found in multiple living spaces. “I’m also very proud of our energy rating. If the new owner wanted to have the house LEED certified it would qualify. San Miguel County was very complimentary about our energy efficiency, and our ongoing utility bills are almost nonexistent.” This ski-in, ski-out residence occupies 0.21 acres within Cortina Mountain Village along Sundance Trail, dotted with tall Aspen trees. “I love the overwhelming feeling of how nature surrounds you and how the home belongs among the Aspen trees,” Hakes said. “It makes me feel like I am living in a luxury treehouse.” Information provided by a news release from Quinn PR.
  • In-N-Out Burger planning to open near Lone Tree’s Park Meadows mall next year
    Colorado Springs is the beachhead. But it’s always been clear In-N-Out Burger planned to feed its fanatical following along the Front Range by building more than just the one restaurant coming to that city in 2020. Company officials have been tight-lipped about their plans for the state, but based on a site plan document available through the city of Lone Tree’s website, it appears location No. 2 is headed for the Park Meadows mall area. The document, dated Aug. 1, lists 9171 E. Westview Road as the address for the proposed new restaurant. The one-and-a-half acre patch of land is located just to the northeast of the mall along East County Line Road. It is occupied today by the Suds Factory Car Wash & Auto Detailing Center. RELATED: Double-Double wait: In-N-Out Burger still 2 years away from opening first Colorado location The site plan outlines a six-month construction process expected to wrap up in time for a late 2020 opening. The red-and-white-tiled restaurant would employ between 45 and 90 people. Its parking lot would have room for 47 cars as well as a drive-through lane with room for 26 cars. The place will be open late, from 10 a.m through 1 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, per the site plan. The document also gets into one of the key details of In-N-Out’s approach that has helped turn the California-based chain into a phenomenon with a devoted following: freshness. “In-N-Out cooks all of its burgers and fries to order — nothing is pre-cooked and there are no cooked food holding bins. This restaurant will be equipped with three burger grills. Two grills will operate at all times, and activation of the third grill will be done in response to high dine-in or, more typically, high drive-through demand … ” it reads. The site plan was first unearthed by the Lone Tree Voice newspaper on Thursday. According to the Voice’s reporting, the plan must first be approved by city staff before going on to the planning commission. The Lone Tree City Council will have the final say on whether or not the 3,867-square-foot restaurant gets built. The city of Lone Tree issued a statement on the plans Friday afternoon. The growing north Douglas County community is “excited about the potential of being one of the first In-N-Out Burger locations in Colorado.” “We pride ourselves in being a business-friendly municipality and always look forward to welcoming new businesses into our community,” the statement says. “Plus, we know that In-N-Out Burger will be one that many people in our community, and beyond, will be thrilled to see.” Related Articles Colorado’s first In-N-Out Burger moves closer to 2020 opening with land purchases Double-Double wait: In-N-Out Burger still 2 years away from opening first Colorado restaurant In-N-Out watch: It could be three years before Colorado’s first location opens Colorado will get In-N-Out and already has Trader Joe’s and Ikea. What more could we possibly want? In-N-Out laid out plans in December for its first Colorado restaurant, set to open in the middle of next year in northeast Colorado Springs. A large In-N-Out office building and a 100,000-square-foot distribution facility are also coming to that city’s Victory Ridge development. Those projects will feed the company’s operations across the state. The distribution facility is expected to have the capacity to support up to 50 restaurants. In-N-Out was founded in 1948 and now operates more than 340 locations spread across California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Utah. The sought-after fast-food brand has a dedicated real estate website, innoutrealestate.com. It is represented in Colorado by the Denver office of international brokerage SRS Real Estate Partners, according to that site. A voicemail seeking comment on the Lone Tree location left for a broker in that office was not returned Friday. The real estate site offers some clues as to where In-N-Out’s iconic red and yellow arrow sign might pop up next in the Centennial State. It lists “minimum standards” for all sites where the company would put a store. Sites must be near a roadway that carries at least 50,000 cars trips daily and must be in a “trade area” of at least 60,000 people. The area median income has to be north of $45,000 per household. The company also prefers to buy its sites. If it’s going to sign a lease it wants an option to buy, according to its standards. Updated 11:10 a.m. Aug. 16, 2019 This story has been updated to correctly identify the news organization that first reported In-N-Out’s Lone Tree plans.
  • What parts of Colorado see the most lightning?
    A recent study outlined Colorado’s most lightning-struck corridors, and it highlights much of the Denver metropolitan area as the most vulnerable part of Colorado to lightning. The April study, conducted by scientists from the National Weather Service in Pueblo and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, outlines Denver’s southern and western suburbs as part of the lightning capital of Colorado. The San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado typically see the most lightning in the western half of the state, while Colorado’s plains are also fairly active, particularly during the spring months. Here’s a detailed look at the areas of highest lightning in Colorado, with red indicating the areas of highest average annual lightning, and blue indicating the least. The data is based on lightning strikes between 1996 and 2016. You may have heard about the unfortunate incident last weekend, where lightning killed a hiker near Boulder. Colorado receives a lot of lightning strikes, and this fascinating map from a study led by @NWSPueblo shows where they happen. (1/2) #cowx pic.twitter.com/pf5LLCq7jg — ColoClimateCenter (@ColoradoClimate) July 16, 2019 The most susceptible parts of the Denver metro area to lightning are the foothills west of the city, and the Palmer Divide to the south of it. In detail, the most lightning-hit areas include: Douglas, western Jefferson and parts of Arapahoe Counties in the Denver metro area. Additionally, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Teller, western and central El Paso, western Elbert and eastern Park Counties are all in the corridor of most lightning-prone areas in the Centennial State. RELATED: Why lightning is one of the top weather-related killers in Colorado One of the main reasons parts of the Denver area are particularly susceptible to lightning is because of the so-called Denver Convergence Vorticity Zone (DCVZ). The DCVZ is a term frequently used by local meteorologists to explain a natural area of spin that often takes place in and around Denver due to eastern Colorado’s topography. That can lead to increased stormy weather for parts of the Front Range. Provided by National Weather ServiceThe animated image shows lightning strikes by time of day in Colorado from 1996-2016. The DCVZ creates a mini area of low pressure in the Denver area as air is sandwiched between the Divide to the south, the Rockies to the west and the Cheyenne Ridge to the north. In essence, the immediate Denver area becomes a funnel for converging winds, leading to some of Denver’s hyper-local and crazy weather — that often can be difficult to predict. On the contrary, that same rising motion along the Divide can create a sinking motion further north, and you can probably note a lack of lightning from Longmont up to around Fort Collins and Greeley. This area also is known for having lower snow amounts during winter storms. “(The DCVZ) enhances the activity over the southern Front Range Mountains/Pikes Peak/Palmer Divide region,” the study hypothesizes. “While decreasing lightning activity over the northern Front Range Mountains/Cheyenne Ridge region and over the area of the plains just east of the Front Range Mountains, generally north of Denver.” Related Articles Colorado’s historic Pine Gulch fire darkens immediate future for Western Slope ranchers Wildfires again threaten business in California wine country Colorado wildfires update: Latest on Pine Gulch, Grizzly Creek, Cameron Peak, Williams Fork, Lewstone and Thorpe fires Colorado wildfires update: Latest on Pine Gulch, Grizzly Creek, Cameron Peak, Williams Fork, Lewstone and Thorpe fires Colorado wildfires update: Latest on Pine Gulch, Grizzly Creek, Cameron Peak, Williams Fork, Lewstone and Thorpe fires In light of the July 14 lightning fatality in Boulder County, it’s worth noting that the foothills west of Denver and the Palmer Divide are both especially vulnerable to lightning. Hikers, bikers and anybody enjoying the outdoors in these areas should try and get activities done earlier in the day, particularly in the lightning-heavy months of July and August. Based on analysis from the study, other parts of Colorado that are prone to lightning include the San Juans (mainly due to monsoonal moisture in July and August), the state’s eastern plains (storms that roll off the mountains and run into more low-level moisture as they move east), and far southern Colorado (monsoon). The study appeared in the June edition of the National Weather Association Journal of Operational Meteorology. Chris Bianchi is a meteorologist for WeatherNation TV.
  • Golfer Greg Norman’s Colorado ranch — featuring seven lakes, a dance hall and 11,600 acres — can be yours for $50 million
    Golfer Greg Norman’s Colorado ranch has just about everything a sportsman could want. There’s seven lakes, the pristine fly-fishing waters of the White River, miles of horseback riding and hiking trails, a sporting clays course, a long range rifle course, and 8,350 acres of private elk and deer hunting. And all you need is $50 million to call it home. Surrounded by the White River National Forest, the 11,600-acre Seven Lakes Ranch located in the Meeker Valley is on the market three years after his wife, Kirsten, an interior designer, helped update the main lodge in 2016. RELATED: Rocky Mountain High-priced home: John Denver’s 7,735-square-foot Aspen mansion going for $11 million First constructed in 1993, the nine-bedroom lodge was originally used as a rental for company retreats prior to Norman’s purchase, according to Tatiana Ceresa of Compass. In addition to the newly renovated main lodge, the property features six “Nippe” guest cabins (smaller and without heating) as well as an executive cabin (three bedrooms), a four-bedroom hunting house, four staff housing cabins (one to three bedrooms) and a sportsmen’s lodge with a half bath. There’s also a maintenance barn, fitness center, horse barn and ranch office, and water treatment plant. The property is remote. But don’t worry, it’s no more than a half-hour helicopter ride to Vail, Aspen and Steamboat. (No, there is no helipad on site, but when you’ve got 11,600 acres to play with, who needs one?) Find out more about Seven Lakes Ranch at sevenlakesranch.com.
  • This iconic Cherry Hills Village home listed at $7.75 million after major renovations
    An exquisite estate in Cherry Hills Village that finished as a finalist for the 2019 Home of the Year in Colorado Homes & Lifestyles Magazine was recently listed for sale at $7.75 million. The immaculate single-family house was originally designed in 1952 for actress and singer Ethel Merman, according to local fable. The grounds span just over two acres wrapped by formal gardens and punctuated with a vast circle drive. The Taylors have owned the five-bedroom, nine-bathroom home at 3900 S. Colorado Blvd. for over three years. Jim Taylor, his wife and two young children relocated from the Highlands area and have been enjoying the home for the past year and a half after completing a comprehensive remodel. “We were living downtown and wanted more space for the kids,” Taylor said. RELATED: In Denver housing market, what was hot is now cold. See where your ZIP code ranks in home prices. In all, Taylor’s renovations expanded the property from 7,000 square feet to 15,000 – that includes a 160-square-foot wine cellar in the basement – while gutting the house to the studs in the process.  Taylor converted the existing tennis court into a pickleball court for his children and added a 1,200-square-foot master suite as well as a 1,200-square-foot cabana and an 800-square-foot greenhouse. The Taylors now have their sights set on another iconic Cherry Hills house, a mid-century modern this time. Related Articles Why would someone tear down a $2.1 million home in Boulder? To build this $7.5 million house, of course. In Denver housing market, what was hot is now cold. See where your ZIP code ranks in home prices. Property values take another leap higher across metro Denver Denver is the most expensive city to rent an apartment in the metro area. Find out what cities are the cheapest. Denver-area real estate agents face challenges from DIY buyers and sellers and low-cost competitors “I’m a process person so I don’t mind starting a new project,” Taylor said.  “Modernizing this legacy home was the opportunity of a lifetime. Selling it is a little bittersweet.” Like this story? Help support more local journalism. Become a subscriber for only 99 cents for the first month.
  • Why would someone tear down a $2.1 million home in Boulder? To build this $7.5 million house, of course.
    A luxurious estate in Boulder’s Knollwood neighborhood is on the market for $7.5 million. The home sits on a 0.45-acre lot at 2135 Knollwood Drive and faces south so that its floor-to-ceiling windows can flood the main rooms with natural sunlight and take in Boulder Canyon and Flatirons, which are visible from nearly every window of the 5,075-square-foot home. “It’s on the western edge of Boulder right above downtown,” said Tim Goodacre, owner of Goodacre & Company. “It’s private and quiet in the Knollwood subdivision with walking trails right above it.” Annette Martin, a Boulder architect, designed this home that replaced one which was bought for $2.1 million in 2015. The single-family property houses three bedrooms and five bathrooms and was built last year. Inside features oak floors and its hallmark centers around the living room. “The living room expands to the deck, so it’s a true indoor-outdoor living space,” Goodacre said. Journalism doesn’t grow on trees. Please support The Denver Post. Become a subscriber for only 99 cents for the first month.
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  • Trump backs proposed TikTok deal with Oracle, Walmart
    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday he’s given his “blessing” to a proposed deal between Oracle and Walmart for the U.S. operations of TikTok, the Chinese-owned app he’s targeted for national security and data privacy concerns. Related Articles Step away from TikTok: Here’s how to declutter your digital world Robinhood has lured young traders, sometimes with devastating results First round of $300 Lost Wages Assistance payments headed to Coloradans U.S. banning use of WeChat, TikTok for national security starting Sunday Petalo, not Charmin: COVID-19 pandemic brings Mexican toilet paper to U.S. Trump said the proposed deal will result in a new company likely to be based in Texas and under the control of U.S.-based Oracle and Walmart. “I have given the deal my blessing,” he said. “If they get it done, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s OK too.” Trump has been targeting TikTok, a video app popular with younger people, as well as WeChat, another Chinese-owned app. The dispute over the two apps is the latest flashpoint in the rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
  • Step away from TikTok: Here’s how to declutter your digital world
    Working remotely may have eliminated your commute and allowed you to spend the day in your pajamas, but it also means you’re most likely bombarded with digital communication every second of the day — from personal and professional emails crowding your inboxes to push notifications reminding you of every news development to the nonstop viral allure of Twitter and Instagram. If you are suffering from tech fatigue, or simply trying to become more productive online, here are steps you can take to organize your digital landscape. Create separation Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University who writes about the intersection of technology and culture, said many people succumb to what he calls the list/reactive method: They instantly react to communication — texts, emails, Slack messages — while occasionally trying to make progress on their work. One moment they’re responding to an email from their child’s teacher, the next they’re jumping on a conference call — blurring the line between the professional and personal. “It blends together the lives completely,” Newport said. “You’re never not working. You always feel behind.” To avoid that cycle, set a fixed digital schedule that clearly dictates when you are working, when you are attending to your family and when you are unwinding. Deal with communications concerning the different parts of your life only during those times. Put aside blocks of time to check personal text messages. And only go over the day’s headlines in the morning so you don’t casually check the news during work hours. “In our current moment, to not look at any news seems like it would be a betrayal of your civic responsibility,” Newport said. “But on the other hand, to look at news all the time is a betrayal of your sanity.” Set expectations Talk to your colleagues — or, if you’re a teacher, your students — about when you are available to answer them. “Set expectations for everyone involved,” said Lynette O’Keefe, the director of research and innovation at the Online Learning Consortium, a nonprofit that offers digital teaching guidance to educators. That can help reduce the volume of messages you receive and make clear to people that your schedule may not align with theirs. Educators, for instance, should let their students know whether they respond to emails after hours or not. “We’re expected to be available a lot more, which is perhaps ironic,” said Ioana Literat, a communication professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. “We have so many more responsibilities and our lives are so chaotic now.” Related Articles Trump backs proposed TikTok deal with Oracle, Walmart Robinhood has lured young traders, sometimes with devastating results First round of $300 Lost Wages Assistance payments headed to Coloradans U.S. banning use of WeChat, TikTok for national security starting Sunday Petalo, not Charmin: COVID-19 pandemic brings Mexican toilet paper to U.S. Assume control of your inbox One of the simplest ways to clear out your inbox is to unsubscribe from mailing lists. Both Gmail and Apple’s Mail app notify users if an email is from a mailing list with the option to unsubscribe with a single click. Use it. You can also sort — and limit — emails by filtering them by the sender, recipient or subject line. Say you receive a weekly progress report that is good to have in your back pocket but doesn’t need to be read as soon as it arrives. You can create a filter that will automatically mark it as read, send it to your archives or give it a certain label. For your personal inbox, consider creating labels for bills or appointment reminders, so they don’t get lost in the mix. Then, consider whether you would be more productive if you consolidated your personal and professional emails in one inbox. If you worry about missing important notes from either and constantly toggle between the two, import them under a single address. You can do this on Gmail using the mail fetcher option, or on Outlook by creating aliases that send and receive emails from different accounts. Both systems also have features that can automatically forward all your emails from one account to another. If you collaborate with a large team and feel that long email threads often get in the way of the task at hand, brainstorm an efficient work flow. Maybe that means dropping ideas into a shared Google doc or holding weekly meetings to go over specific goals. Having a structured process “substantially reduces the number of simultaneous, asynchronous back-and-forth conversations happening,” Newport said. To avoid wasting time emailing back and forth to schedule meetings, use a shared calendar — like YouCanBookMe, Calendly or x.ia — where colleagues can see your availability and book slots accordingly. If you frequently set up meetings with people outside your organization, those tools can be integrated with Google and Outlook calendars, so you don’t have to switch between different platforms. Another timesaver: Rather than type up the same response to common questions or requests, save a template so you can quickly fire it off when needed. That, O’Keefe said, tells recipients, “I see you, I hear you, I’m interested in responding to you — but here’s when it will happen.” Finally, you will never become an inbox zero person if you treat your email like a to-do list. It’s common to leave messages unread and use them as reminders to get to certain tasks. The thinking goes: “If I need to do it, it’s in my inbox. And if I want to take something off my plate, I’ll just send an email about it to someone else,” Newport said. “That is a task management system. It’s just a terrible one.” Instead, he suggests creating a separate “space of obligations.” Use online tools like Trello, Flow-e or Asana to create task boards that organize your responsibilities according to urgency and progress. If those aren’t for you, Gmail has a task feature embedded in the calendar app that lets you create digital to-do lists, while Outlook has a similar feature called To Do. (Its classic task tool is being phased out.) Or, simply use a pen and paper to outline your day’s priorities. Remember, you’re in charge There are small lifestyle changes you can make to tune out when needed. O’Keefe recommends taking time to examine each of your digital tools and ask, “How does this fit in my life?” If you don’t absolutely have to be on call 24/7, snooze professional email and chat notifications once you sign off for the day. If you have a smartwatch that syncs to your inbox and phone, take it off after you’re done working. Smartphones are so versatile — we use them to work, connect and even buy cars — but remember that you’re in control of how you use them. Literat decided to stop reading and watching shows on her phone, so she bought a Kindle and started turning on the television more. If you’re guilty of endlessly scrolling on Instagram, Twitter or TikTok, make it a habit of unfollowing accounts that don’t add much value to your life. Apply the same thinking to your apps — if you don’t use them at least once a month, get rid of them. With the iPhone’s screen time feature, you can see how much time you spend on your phone every week and create a schedule to limit your app and call usage. The bottom line is that you have agency over how often you check your emails and feeds. It’s probably best not to ignore messages from your boss or students. But with social media, Bailey said it boils down to, “Who will get mad if we’re not looking when they want us to be looking?”
  • U.S. banning use of WeChat, TikTok for national security starting Sunday
    WASHINGTON — The U.S. will ban the downloads of the Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat on Sunday, with a total ban on the use of the latter, citing national security and data privacy concerns. A total ban on the use of TikTok will follow on Nov. 12, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said early Friday on Fox Business Network that access to that app may be possible if certain safeguards are put into place. “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” Ross said in a prepared statement. The government said its order, previously announced by President Donald Trump in August, will “combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data.” The government order also raises questions about California tech giant Oracle’s recent deal to take over U.S. operations of TikTok, a requirement by the Trump administration for the app to continue operating in the U.S. Details of the Oracle-TikTok deal were sketchy at best. Oracle was among the pool of bidders, including Microsoft and Walmart, to buy TikTok’s American operations. Oracle, in confirming it was the winning bidder Monday, didn’t refer to the deal as a sale or acquisition, instead saying it was chosen as TikTok’s “trusted technology provider.” It’s unclear at this point what assets, if any, Oracle would actually acquire. Some security experts have raised concerns that ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese company that owns TikTok, would maintain access to information on the 100 million TikTok users in the United States, creating a security risk. Like most social networks, TikTok collects user data and moderates users’ posts. It grabs users’ locations and messages and tracks what they watch to figure out how best to target ads to them. Similar concerns apply to U.S.-based social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, but Chinese ownership adds an extra wrinkle because the Chinese government could order companies to help it gather intelligence. TikTok says it does not store U.S. user data in China and that it would not give user data to the government. But experts say the Chinese government can get any information it wants from companies there. Related Articles Trump backs proposed TikTok deal with Oracle, Walmart Step away from TikTok: Here’s how to declutter your digital world Robinhood has lured young traders, sometimes with devastating results An expanding Amazon looks to fill 1,900 new positions in Colorado CenturyLink rebrands itself as Lumen Technologies The action is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to weaken influence from China, a rising economic superpower. Since taking office in 2017, Trump has waged a trade war with China, blocked mergers involving Chinese companies and stifled the business of Chinese firms like Huawei, a maker of phones and telecom equipment. China-backed hackers, meanwhile, have been blamed for data breaches of U.S. federal databases and the credit agency Equifax, and the Chinese government strictly limits what U.S. tech companies can do in China. Republican and Democratic lawmaker concerns about TikTok include its vulnerability to censorship and misinformation campaigns, and the safety of user data and children’s privacy. But the administration has provided no specific evidence that TikTok has made U.S. users’ data available to the Chinese government. Officials point to the hypothetical threat that lies in the Chinese government’s ability to demand cooperation from Chinese companies.
  • Oracle wins TikTok over Microsoft in Trump-urged bid, source says
    The owner of TikTok has chosen Oracle over Microsoft as the American tech partner that could help keep the popular video-sharing app running in the U.S., according to a source familiar with the deal who was not authorized to speak publicly about it. Microsoft announced Sunday that its bid to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations was rejected, removing the tech giant from the running a week before President Donald Trump promises to follow through with a plan to ban the Chinese-owned app in the U.S. over spying concerns. TikTok and the White House declined to comment Sunday. Oracle didn’t return a request for comment but has previously declined comment. Walmart, which had planned to partner with Microsoft on the acquisition, said Sunday it “continues to have an interest in a TikTok investment” and is talking about it with ByteDance and other parties. The Trump administration has threatened to ban TikTok by Sept. 20 and ordered ByteDance to sell its U.S. business, claiming national-security risks due to its Chinese ownership. The government worries about user data being funneled to Chinese authorities. TikTok denies it is a national-security risk and is suing to stop the administration from the threatened ban. It’s not clear if the proposed deal will only cover TikTok’s U.S. business, and, if so, how it will be split from the rest of TikTok’s social media platform, which is popular worldwide. ByteDance also owns a similar video app, Douyin, for the Chinese market. Any deal must still be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, known as CFIUS, a U.S. government group chaired by the Treasury Secretary that studies mergers for national-security reasons. The president can approve or deny a transaction recommended by the panel, though Trump has already voiced support for Oracle as a “great company” that could handle the acquisition. Microsoft said in a Sunday statement that ByteDance “let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft.” Microsoft added it was “confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests.” The company said it “would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combating disinformation.” TikTok, which says it has 100 million U.S. users and about 700 million globally, is known for its fun, goofy videos of dancing, lip-syncing, pranks and jokes. It’s recently become home to more political content such as the comedian Sarah Cooper, who drew a large audience by lip-syncing Trump’s own often-disjointed statements from public appearances. But the app has also raised concerns because of its Chinese ownership. The White House has cracked down on a range of Chinese businesses, including telecom equipment makers Huawei and ZTE and messaging app WeChat, over worries that they would enable Chinese authorities to get U.S. user data. Republican and Democratic lawmakers have raised concerns about censorship and children’s privacy. TikTok denies that it has shared user data with the Chinese government or that it would do so if asked. The company says it has not censored videos at the request of Chinese authorities and insists it is not a national-security threat. TikTok has sued to stop the ban, but not the sale order. The negotiations have been complicated by several factors, including Trump’s repeated demands that the U.S. government should get a “cut” of any deal, a stipulation and role for the president that experts say is unprecedented. In addition, the Chinese government in late August unveiled new regulations that restrict exports of technology, likely including the artificial intelligence system TikTok uses to choose which videos to spool up to its users. That means ByteDance would have to obtain a license from China to export such technology to a foreign company. The deal had come together rapidly after the administration ramped up its threats against TikTok this summer, despite TikTok’s efforts to put distance between its app and its Chinese ownership. It installed former Disney executive Kevin Mayer as its American CEO, but he resigned in August after just a few months on the job, saying the “political environment has sharply changed.” Both Microsoft and Oracle are known more for their business software offerings than for those intended for consumers. Oracle primarily makes database software. It competes with tech giants such as Microsoft and Amazon that provide cloud services as well as business-software specialists like Salesforce. Related Articles Trump backs proposed TikTok deal with Oracle, Walmart Step away from TikTok: Here’s how to declutter your digital world Forget TikTok. China’s powerhouse app is WeChat, and its power is sweeping A Boulder filmmaker’s new Netflix documentary will make you want to delete social media forever A third of TikTok’s U.S. users may be 14 or under, raising safety questions Some analysts see Oracle’s interest in a consumer business as misguided. Oracle should focus on enterprise-market acquisitions and not invest in a consumer app like TikTok that doesn’t fit with the rest of its business, said Jefferies analyst Brent Thill, who compares the idea to Delta Airlines buying a motorcycle company. “It doesn’t make any sense,” he said. Thill suggested that TikTok competitors like Facebook and Snapchat should be “cheering on Oracle” as a buyer, because Oracle wouldn’t “add a lot of value to the app.” Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison is unusual among tech executives for his public support of President Donald Trump, hosting a fundraiser for him in February at his Rancho Mirage, California, estate. The company also hired a former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence; its CEO, Safra Catz, also served on Trump’s transition team. The president said on Aug. 18 that Oracle was “a great company” that “could handle” buying TikTok. He declined to state his preference between Oracle and Microsoft as buyers.
  • Fad or future? Telehealth expansion eyed beyond COVID-19 pandemic
    WASHINGTON — Telehealth is a bit of American ingenuity that seems to have paid off in the coronavirus pandemic. Medicare temporarily waived restrictions predating the smartphone era and now there’s a push to make telemedicine widely available in the future. Consultations via tablets, laptops and phones linked patients and doctors when society shut down in early spring. Telehealth visits dropped with the reopening, but they’re still far more common than before. Permanently expanding access will involve striking a balance between costs and quality, dealing with privacy concerns and potential fraud, and figuring out how telehealth can reach marginalized patients, including people with mental health problems. “I don’t think it is ever going to replace in-person visits, because sometimes a doctor needs to put hands on a patient,” said Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and the Trump administration’s leading advocate for telehealth. Caveats aside, “it’s almost a modern-day house call,” she added. “It’s fair to say that telemedicine was in its infancy prior to the pandemic, but it’s come of age this year,” said Murray Aitken of the data firm IQVIA, which tracks the impact. In the depths of the coronavirus shutdown, telehealth accounted for more than 40% of primary care visits for patients with traditional Medicare, up from a tiny 0.1% sliver before the public health emergency. As the government’s flagship health care program, Medicare covers more than 60 million people, including those age 65 and older, and younger disabled people. A recent poll of older adults by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation found that more than 7 in 10 are interested in using telehealth for follow-ups with their doctor, and nearly 2 out of 3 feel comfortable with video conferences. But privacy was an issue, especially for those who hadn’t tried telehealth. The poll found 27% of older adults who had not had a telemedicine visit were concerned about privacy, compared with 17% of those who tried it. Those who tried telehealth weren’t completely sold. About 4 in 5 were concerned the doctor couldn’t physically examine them, and 64% worried the quality wasn’t as good. “After the initial excitement, in the afterglow, patients realize ‘I can’t get my vaccine,’ or ‘You can’t see this thing in the back of my throat over the computer,’” said Dr. Gary LeRoy of Dayton, Ohio, a primary care doctor and president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. For Medicare beneficiary Jean Grady of Westford, Vt., telemedicine was a relief. She needed a checkup required by Medicare to continue receiving supplies for her wearable insulin pump. Being in a high risk group for COVID-19, Grady worried about potential exposure in a doctor’s waiting room, and even more about losing her diabetes supplies if she missed Medicare’s checkup deadline. “I would have had to go back to taking insulin by syringe,” she said. Grady prepared for the virtual visit by calling her clinician’s tech department and downloading teleconference software. She says she would do some future visits by video, but not all. For example, people with diabetes need periodic blood tests, and their feet must be checked for signs of circulatory problems. Still, quite a few follow-ups “could be done very efficiently and be just as useful to the physician and myself as going in and seeing them in person,” Grady said. Many private insurance plans, including those in Medicare Advantage, offer some level of telemedicine coverage. Related Articles Not safe to send CU Boulder students home, Polis says as campus clears dorm for COVID-19 quarantine space Wildfires’ toxic air leaves damage long after the smoke clears New model projects manageable increase in Colorado’s COVID-19 cases — so long as people keep up precautions Opening of N-Line to Denver’s north suburbs a rare “bright spot” for COVID-battered transit sector Head of Jeffco health department Mark Johnson to step down after 30 years But traditional Medicare has restricted it to rural residents, who generally had to travel to specially designated sites to connect. Under the coronavirus public health emergency, the administration temporarily waived Medicare’s restrictions so enrollees anywhere could use telemedicine. Patients could connect from home. Making such changes permanent would require legislation from Congress, but there’s bipartisan interest. Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, says he’d like to see broader access, without breaking the bank. “Our job should be to ensure that change is done with the goals of better outcomes and better patient experiences, at a lower cost,” said Alexander, R-Tenn. That’s a tall order. Payment will be a sticky obstacle. For now, Medicare is paying clinicians on par for virtual and in-person visits. “Policymakers seems to be in a rush to pass legislation, but I think it is worth taking a little more time,” said Juliette Cubanski, a Medicare expert with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “Fraud is one big area that policymakers need to be cognizant of.” Fraud-busters agree. Telehealth is so new that “we don’t have at this point a real sense of where the huge risks lie,” said Andrew VanLandingham, a senior lawyer with the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office. “We are sort of in an experimental phase.” Despite the risks, advocates see opportunities. Expanded Medicare telehealth could: • Help move the nation closer to a long-sought goal of treating mental health the same as physical conditions. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wants to use telemedicine as a springboard to improve mental health care. IQVIA data shows 60% of psychiatric consults took place by telehealth during the shutdown. • Increase access for people living in remote communities, in low-income urban areas and even nursing homes. Medicare’s research shows low-income beneficiaries have had similar patterns of using telehealth for primary care as program enrollees overall. • Improve coordination of care for people with chronic health conditions, a goal that requires patient and persistent monitoring. Chronic care accounts for most program spending. University of Michigan health policy expert Mark Fendrick says Medicare should figure out what services add value for patients’ health and taxpayers’ wallets, and pay just for those. Telehealth “was an overnight sensation,” Fendrick said. “Hopefully it’s not a one-hit wonder.”
  • Forget TikTok. China’s powerhouse app is WeChat, and its power is sweeping
    Just after the 2016 presidential election in the United States, Joanne Li realized the app that connected her to fellow Chinese immigrants had disconnected her from reality. Everything she saw on the Chinese app, WeChat, indicated Donald Trump was an admired leader and impressive businessman. She believed it was the unquestioned consensus on the newly elected U.S. president. “But then I started talking to some foreigners about him, non-Chinese,” she said. “I was totally confused.” She began to read more widely, and Li, who lived in Toronto at the time, increasingly found WeChat filled with gossip, conspiracy theories and outright lies. One article claimed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada planned to legalize hard drugs. Another rumor purported that Canada had begun selling marijuana in grocery stores. A post from a news account in Shanghai warned Chinese people to take care lest they accidentally bring the drug back from Canada and get arrested. She also questioned what was being said about China. When a top Huawei executive was arrested in Canada in 2018, articles from foreign news media were quickly censored on WeChat. Her Chinese friends both inside and outside China began to say that Canada had no justice, which contradicted her own experience. “All of a sudden I discovered talking to others about the issue didn’t make sense,” Li said. “It felt like if I only watched Chinese media, all of my thoughts would be different.” Li had little choice but to take the bad with the good. Built to be everything for everyone, WeChat is indispensable. For most Chinese people in China, WeChat is a sort of all-in-one app: a way to swap stories, talk to old classmates, pay bills, coordinate with co-workers, post envy-inducing vacation photos, buy stuff and [contact-form] get news. For the millions of members of China’s diaspora, it is the bridge that links them to the trappings of home, from family chatter to food photos. Woven through it all is the ever more muscular surveillance and propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party. As WeChat has become ubiquitous, it has become a powerful tool of social control, a way for Chinese authorities to guide and police what people say, who they talk to and what they read. It has even extended Beijing’s reach beyond its borders. When secret police issue threats abroad, they often do so on WeChat. When military researchers working undercover in the U.S. needed to talk to China’s embassies, they used WeChat, according to court documents. The party coordinates via WeChat with members studying overseas. As a cornerstone of China’s surveillance state, WeChat is now considered a national security threat in the U.S. The Trump administration has proposed banning WeChat outright, along with the Chinese short video app TikTok. Overnight, two of China’s biggest internet innovations became a new front in the sprawling tech standoff between China and the U.S. While the two apps are lumped in the same category by the Trump administration, they represent two distinct approaches to the Great Firewall that blocks Chinese access to foreign websites. The hipper, better-known TikTok was designed for the wild world outside of China’s cloistering censorship; it exists only beyond China’s borders. By hiving off an independent app to win over global users, TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, created the best bet any Chinese startup has had to compete with the internet giants in the West. The separation of TikTok from its cousin apps in China, along with deep popularity, has fed corporate campaigns in the U.S. to save it, even as Beijing potentially upended any deals by labeling its core technology a national security priority. Related Articles A third of TikTok’s U.S. users may be 14 or under, raising safety questions Trump signs executive orders banning deals with Chinese owners of TikTok, WeChat Colorado Republicans target China for everything from TikTok to COVID Though WeChat has different rules for users inside and outside of China, it remains a single, unified social network spanning China’s Great Firewall. In that sense, it has helped bring Chinese censorship to the world. A ban would cut dead millions of conversations between family and friends, a reason one group has filed a lawsuit to block the Trump administration’s efforts. It would also be an easy victory for U.S. policymakers seeking to push back against China’s techno-authoritarian overreach. Li felt the whipcrack of China’s internet controls firsthand when she returned to China in 2018 to take a real estate job. After her experience overseas, she sought to balance her news diet with groups that shared articles on world events. As the coronavirus spread in early 2020 and China’s relations with countries around the world strained, she posted an article on WeChat from the U.S. government-run Radio Free Asia about the deterioration of Chinese-Canadian diplomacy, a piece that would have been censored. The next day, four police officers showed up at her family’s apartment. They carried guns and riot shields. “My mother was terrified,” she said. “She turned white when she saw them.” The police officers took Li, along with her phone and computer, to the local police station. She said they manacled her legs to a restraining device known as a tiger chair for questioning. They asked repeatedly about the article and her WeChat contacts overseas before locking her in a barred cell for the night. Twice she was released, only to be dragged back to the station for fresh interrogation sessions. Li said an officer even insisted China had freedom of speech protections as he questioned her over what she had said online. “I didn’t say anything,” she said. “I just thought, what is your freedom of speech? Is it the freedom to drag me down to the police station and keep me night after sleepless night interrogating me?” Finally, the police forced her to write out a confession and vow of support for China, then let her go. “The walls are getting higher” WeChat started out as a simple copycat. Its parent, Chinese internet giant Tencent, had built an enormous user base on a chat app designed for personal computers. But a new generation of mobile chat apps threatened to upset its hold over the way young Chinese talked to one another. Visionary Tencent engineer Allen Zhang fired off a message to the company founder, Pony Ma, concerned that they weren’t keeping up. The missive led to a new mandate, and Zhang fashioned a digital Swiss Army knife that became a necessity for daily life in China. WeChat piggybacked on the popularity of the other online platforms run by Tencent, combining payments, e-commerce and social media into a single service. It became a hit, eventually eclipsing the apps that inspired WeChat. And Tencent, which made billions in profits from the online games piped into its disparate platforms, now had a way to make money off nearly every aspect of a person’s digital identity — by serving ads, selling stuff, processing payments and facilitating services like food delivery. The tech world inside and outside of China marveled. Tencent rival Alibaba scrambled to come up with its own product to compete. Silicon Valley studied the ways it mixed services and followed its cues. Built for China’s closed world of internet services, WeChat’s only failure came outside the Great Firewall. Tencent made a big marketing push overseas, even hiring soccer player Lionel Messi as a spokesman in some markets. For non-China users, it created a separate set of rules. International accounts would not face direct censorship and data would be stored on servers overseas. But WeChat didn’t have the same appeal without the many services available only in China. It looked more prosaic outside the country, like any other chat app. The main overseas users, in the end, would be the Chinese diaspora. Tencent did not respond to a request for comment. Over time, the distinctions between the Chinese and international app have mattered less. Chinese people who create accounts within China, but then leave, carry with them a censored and monitored account. If international users chat with users inside China, their posts can be censored. For news and gossip, most comes from WeChat users inside China and spreads out to the world. Whereas most social networks have myriad filter bubbles that reinforce different biases, WeChat is dominated by one super-filter bubble, and it hews closely to the official propaganda narratives. “The filter bubbles on WeChat have nothing to do with algorithms — they come from China’s closed internet ecosystem and censorship. That makes them worse than other social media,” said Fang Kecheng, a professor in the School of Journalism and Communications at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Fang first noticed the limitations of WeChat in 2018 as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, teaching an online course in media literacy to younger Chinese. Soft-spoken and steeped in the media echo chambers of the U.S. and China, Fang expected to reach mostly curious Chinese inside China. An unexpected group dialed into the classes: Chinese immigrants and expatriates living in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere. “It seemed obvious. Because they were all outside China, it should be easy for them to gain an understanding of foreign media. In their day-to-day life they would see it and read it,” Fang said. “I realized it wasn’t the case. They were outside of China, but their media environment was still entirely inside China, their channel for information was all from public accounts on WeChat.” Fang’s six-week online courses were inspired by a WeChat account he ran called News Lab that sought to teach readers about journalism. With his courses, he assigned articles from media like Reuters along with worksheets that taught students to analyze the pieces — pushing them to draw distinctions between pundit commentary and primary sourcing. During one course in 2019, he focused on the fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, which inspired many conspiracy theories on WeChat. One professor at the prestigious Tsinghua University reposted an article alleging that Muslims were behind the fire, which was untrue. The classes were a big draw. In 2018, Fang attracted 500 students. The next year he got 1,300. In 2020, a year of coronavirus rumors and censorship, Tencent took down his News Lab account. He decided it was not safe to teach the class on another platform given the more “hostile” climate toward foreign media. Still, he said that blocking WeChat would be unlikely to help much, as users could easily switch to other Chinese apps filled with propaganda and rumors. A better idea would be to create rules that force social media companies like Tencent to be more transparent, he said. Creating such internet blocks, he said, rarely improved the quality of information. “Information is like water. Water quality can be improved, but without any flow, water easily grows fetid,” he said. In a class in 2019, he warned broadly about barriers to information flow. “Now, the walls are getting higher and higher. The ability to see the outside has become ever harder,” he said. “Not just in China, but in much of the world.” ‘What it’s like to lose contact’ When Ferkat Jawdat’s mother disappeared into China’s sprawling system of reeducation camps to indoctrinate Uighurs, his WeChat became a kind of memorial. The app might have been used as evidence against her. But he, like many Uighurs, found himself opening WeChat again and again. It contained years of photos and conversations with his mother. It also held a remote hope he clung to, that one day she would again reach out. When against all odds she did, the secret police followed. Jawdat’s mother, sick and worn, was released from the camps in the summer of 2019. Chinese police gave her a phone and signed her into WeChat. At the sound of his mother’s voice Jawdat fought back a flood of emotions. He hadn’t been sure if she was even alive. Despite the relief, he noticed something was off. She offered stilted words of praise for the Chinese Communist Party. Then the police reached out to him. They approached him with an anonymous friend request over WeChat. When he accepted, a man introduced himself as a high-ranking officer in China’s security forces in the Xinjiang region, the epicenter of reeducation camps. The man had a proposal. If Jawdat, a U.S. citizen and Uighur activist, would quiet his attempts to raise awareness about the camps, then his mother might be given a passport and allowed to join her family in the U.S. “It was a kind of threat,” he said. “I stayed quiet for two or three weeks, just to see what he did.” It all came to nothing. After turning down a media interview and skipping a speaking event, Jawdat grew impatient and confronted the man. “He started threatening me, saying, ‘You’re only one person going against the superpower. Compared to China, you are nothing.’” The experience gave Jawdat little tolerance for the app that made the threats possible, even if it had been his only line to his mother. He said he knew two other Uighur Americans who had similar experiences. Accounts from others point to similar occurrences around the world. “I don’t know if it’s karma or justice served, for the Chinese people to also feel the pain of what it’s like to lose contact with your family members,” Jawdat said of the proposed ban by the Trump administration. “There are many Chinese officials who have their kids in the U.S. WeChat must be one of the tools they use to keep in contact. If they feel this pain, maybe they can relate better to the Uighurs.
  • A third of TikTok’s U.S. users may be 14 or under, raising safety questions
    If Microsoft or another company buys TikTok before President Donald Trump bans the Chinese-owned video app on national security grounds, it will acquire a giant community of devoted fans and a lucrative platform for selling ads. It might be buying something else, too: a big population of users ages 14 and under. The minimum age for using TikTok is 13. In July, TikTok classified more than a third of its 49 million daily users in the United States as being 14 years old or younger, according to internal company data and documents that were reviewed by The New York Times. While some of those users are likely to be 13 or 14, one former employee said TikTok workers had previously pointed out videos from children who appeared to be even younger that were allowed to remain online for weeks. The number of users who TikTok believes might be younger than 13 raises questions about whether the company is doing enough to protect them. In the United States, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act requires internet platforms to obtain parental permission before collecting personal information on children under 13. The operators of Musical.ly, an app that was merged into TikTok in 2018, paid a $5.7 million fine last year to settle accusations from the Federal Trade Commission that it had broken those rules. TikTok declined to comment on the user numbers. In response to questions about the safety of younger users, a company representative referred to measures such as allowing parents to control what their teenagers see on the app and how much time they can spend on it. TikTok and its owner, the Chinese social media giant ByteDance, have been in the cross hairs of the Trump administration, which is concerned that the app could help the Chinese Communist Party obtain Americans’ private information. Trump this month indicated his support for Microsoft or another U.S. company to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations as a way to allay the security fears. But any deal for TikTok would require buyers to contend not just with political pressures, but also with issues that can become thorny at all social media platforms, including content guidelines, data collection practices and safety protections for children. The app’s large audience of young fans makes it a big draw for advertisers, but also invites extra scrutiny of its privacy safeguards. TikTok asks for a birth date when users register an account. In the United States, those who say they are under 13 are allowed to use only a walled-off mode within the app in which they cannot share personal information or videos. Yet the concerns are that some under-13 users may lie to get around the age restrictions, and that the platform is not obtaining the required consent from those users’ guardians. Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder, recently told Wired magazine that TikTok was a “poison chalice” for any buyer, referring to its complexity. “Being big in the social media business is no simple game,” he said. The TikTok data seen by The Times shows that the number of daily U.S. users in July whom the company estimated to be 14 or younger — 18 million — was almost as large as the number of over-14 users, around 20 million. The rest of TikTok’s U.S. users were classified as being of unknown age. TikTok does not rely only on users’ self-reported dates of birth to categorize them into age groups. It also estimates their ages using other methods, including facial recognition algorithms that scrutinize profile pictures and videos, said two former TikTok employees and one current employee, who declined to be identified because details of the company’s practices are confidential. Another way TikTok estimates users’ ages, these people said, is by comparing their activity and social connections in the app against those of users whose ages have already been estimated. The company might also draw upon information about users that is bought from other sources. In a statement, TikTok said: “As is standard practice across our industry,” the company conducts “high-level age-modeling to better understand our users and allow our safety team to better protect the safety of our younger teens in particular.” TikTok primarily uses the classification system to inform corporate strategy, according to the people with knowledge of the matter. TikTok’s policy teams use the numbers to create rules for moderators to follow, deciding, for instance, what should be done if an underage user is communicating with an adult on the app. One of the former employees, who left TikTok this year, said the app did not use the classifications to automatically restrict or take down videos that might be from users under 13, or to secure permission from those users’ parents or guardians. This raises the question of whether TikTok is responsible for acting upon what it knows about those who are under 13, particularly in light of last year’s FTC fine for violating the federal children’s online privacy law. The law stipulates that if internet services have “actual knowledge” that a visitor is under 13, they have to obtain parental consent or else delete the user’s personal information. The FTC said on its website that such knowledge might come, for instance, from a child’s posting information online that reveals his or her age, or from concerned parents’ notifying the platform that their young one is using it. Critics have argued, however, that this standard creates an incentive for online platforms to willfully ignore the issue of whether their visitors are underage. Josh Golin, the executive director of the advocacy group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said TikTok had a duty to investigate if its own systems were indicating that so many users might be under 13. “I would argue, once their systems have indicated to them that a user is likely under 13, that they are past the point where they can bury their head in the sand, that their legal obligation has kicked in,” he said. Related Articles Trump backs proposed TikTok deal with Oracle, Walmart Step away from TikTok: Here’s how to declutter your digital world Robinhood has lured young traders, sometimes with devastating results First round of $300 Lost Wages Assistance payments headed to Coloradans U.S. banning use of WeChat, TikTok for national security starting Sunday Angela J. Campbell, a law professor at Georgetown University who is on the advocacy group’s board, said, “You could argue: Well, they’re not 100% sure” that those users are under 13. “But you’re never going to be 100% sure. Given that there’s that many under 14, it seems inconceivable to me that they could claim at all that they don’t know this.” In May, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood was one of 20 groups that complained to the FTC, saying that TikTok was flouting its agreement with the agency. According to the data seen by The Times, TikTok’s youthful demographics in the United States are echoed in Western Europe, where the app is also popular. In Britain, the share of daily users who were classified as 14 or younger was around 43% this spring, the data shows. In Germany, the share was more than 35%, and in France in February, it was 45%. These proportions may have fallen as TikTok has grown in popularity. In June 2019, nearly half of the daily users in the United States were estimated to be 14 or younger, internal data shows. The share in Germany that month was around 40%. Like the United States, the European Union requires online services to obtain parental consent for processing children’s data. The body that coordinates enforcement of the EU’s data protection rules announced in June that it was conducting a review of TikTok’s practices. The French and British privacy watchdogs have also said they are investigating the app.
  • Tech’s love affair with Colorado expected to continue despite global pandemic
    Despite a global pandemic, Colorado will continue to be attractive to tech companies. “We can attract talent at levels that other states just can’t,” says Michelle Hadwiger, director of Global Business Development at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and Trade. “That means companies can find the educated and diversified talent they need here.” Colorado also is the most similar culturally to the Bay Area, where many tech companies have headquarters. “We share the same fit and active lifestyle and love of the outdoors,” Hadwiger says. Competing with the big boys Troy Lerner, chief executive officer of Booyah Advertising, The Denver Post’s No. 1 Top Workplace in the small-size category, could have located his digital advertising firm anywhere, says Aubree Cross, head of marketing. But he liked the idea of building a premier agency that could compete with the best of the best in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles in a former cow town, Cross says. RELATED: Check out the winners of Top Workplaces 2020 “The big agency Troy worked at before Booyah had an office in Denver. He recalls that his boss there used to laugh off this Denver office, sure there was no business in Denver and baffled as to why the agency would maintain a presence in this city.” But Lerner had the last laugh. The city continues to be a draw for people who want to leave New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. “Denver continues to lend itself as the perfect home for our agency and the things we value: the friendly, Western attitude; the proximity to nature and recreation; and the relative freedom from the high-octane and (we’d maintain) unnecessary stressors of some of the largest U.S. cities make Denver an ideal location for our relationship- and people-focused agency. We’re able to attract employees who are eager to roll up their sleeves and work incredibly hard, but who also value collaborating, delivering top-tier service, and not taking themselves too seriously.” Adding a Denver office Gary Nafus, senior vice president for enterprise sales at Salesforce, a global leader in customer relationship management software and No. 1 Top Workplace in the large-size category, says Denver’s home to a diverse slate of industries, including aviation, bioscience, financial services, and more. The city also is an emerging tech hub and was named the No. 10 U.S. city for tech growth and a leading growth market by CBRE in 2019. “We first set up shop in the region starting in 2013, supporting leading customers including the State of Colorado, the City and County of Denver, Ball Corporation, amongst other top organizations,” Nafus says. “Last year, we announced our new home in the heart of the city would serve as a world-class hub for our local metro Denver employees, where we can welcome our customers, partners, and the community. Our expansion in Denver reflects the excitement here, and we’re looking forward to continuing to grow in the Mile-High City.” In addition to Booyah and Salesforce, other tech businesses on this year’s Top Workplaces list include: Gusto processes tens of billions of dollars of payroll and enables thousands of businesses to provide employee benefits like health insurance and 401(k) retirement plans and 529 college savings plans. Keysight delivers breakthrough solutions in electronic design, test, manufacturing, and optimization. RingCentral is a leading provider of global enterprise cloud communications, collaboration and contact center solutions. It provides unified voice, video meetings, team messaging, digital customer engagement, and integrated contact center solutions. More tech companies coming to Colorado Tech companies continue to announce plans to locate in Colorado despite the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Among the recent developments: Related Articles Top Workplaces 2020: The 150 winners Top Workplaces 2020: Employees choose Top Workplaces through survey Top Workplaces 2020: The best large companies to work for in Colorado Top Workplaces 2020: Encore Electric exhibits commitment to safety, quality Top Workplaces 2020: Edward Jones provides expertise to build financial plans Two Denver tech businesses won federal grants to develop new products. Greetly, which provides systems for companies to check-in and track visitors, received $50,000 through the Small Business Innovation Research program to work with the Air Force. Cipher Skin won a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Defense through the SBIR program. The company will match the grant and work with the Air Force to explore how the military can use and further develop its technology for civilian use. Denver-based York Space Systems, a satellite manufacturer and operator, and Metropolitan State University of Denver received a federal contract to more efficiently process and analyze data collected from space. Marqeta, a global card-issuing platform, picked metro Denver for its second headquarters. The company plans to employ more than 500 people in Colorado over the next eight years. Started in 2010, Marqeta provides payment card program clients such as Uber, Square, Instacart and DoorDash. Global website creation company Wix.com picked Denver for its newest location. The company will start with 200 employees and plans to open its new office this fall. Wix.com has more than 170 million users and employs about 3,200 people across 15 locations worldwide, including its headquarters in Israel and U.S. offices in Miami, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Phoenix.
  • Denver could have a new area code in just a few years as metro region runs out of phone numbers
    All those new residents in metro Denver have done more than create a housing shortage. The region is expected to run out of available phone numbers by the first half of 2023, which will require a fifth area code in Colorado. The North American Numbering Plan Administrator, a third-party group that assigns area codes on behalf of the telecommunications industry, has petitioned the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to “overlay” a new area code for the metro Denver area, which currently has the 303 and 720 prefixes assigned to it. “Absent NPA (number planning area) relief, the supply of central office codes in the 303/720 NPA complex is currently projected to exhaust during the second quarter of 2023,” Heidi Wayman, relief planner with NANPA, wrote the PUC in May. She requested that the PUC issue an order by the end of next year and have a new area code in place by the first quarter of 2023. “It’s still fairly early in the process. Industry response on implementation issues is due Sept. 21,” said Terry Bote, a spokesman for the PUC, which has started work on adding a new area code. Unlike when the 719 and 970 codes were added in Colorado, everyone can keep their current phone numbers. And the new code, still to be determined, won’t start showing up until the last of the 303 and 720 numbers are gone, probably by the end of 2023. That said, the future area code will definitely shout “newbie” once it rolls out. The disappearance of fax machines and residential cord-cutting have eased the pressure for new numbers, but the proliferation of cell phones has increased demand, although many people keep their original cell phone numbers when relocating from another area. NANPA assigns area codes in the U.S., Canada and Carribean countries and keeps a close eye on when numbers are about to run out. Earlier this year, it added metro Denver to its list of 15 locations at risk of exhausting assignable phone numbers within the next three years. The 303 area code launched in 1947, with the zero in the second digit reflecting Colorado’s low spot in the pecking order. Big and important cities were assigned a 1 as the second digit. Colorado had only the 303 area code until 1988, when the 719 area code was added for the southeastern and south-central part of the state, including Colorado Springs. Related Articles Trump backs proposed TikTok deal with Oracle, Walmart Step away from TikTok: Here’s how to declutter your digital world U.S. banning use of WeChat, TikTok for national security starting Sunday Oracle wins TikTok over Microsoft in Trump-urged bid, source says Fad or future? Telehealth expansion eyed beyond COVID-19 pandemic In 1995, the 970 area code was added to cover the western part of the state and northern Colorado, including Fort Collins. That left metro Denver with 303, until it gained the 720 overlay in 1998. The 720 numbers were expected to last 25 years, and they are expiring right on schedule. Likewise, the new area code is expected to hold up for another 25 years. The 303 and 720 area codes primarily cover Denver, Aurora, Boulder and nearby suburbs, reaching up to Lyons in the northeast, Georgetown to the west, Deckers to the southwest, Deer Trail to the east and Fort Lupton to the northeast. The new code assignment highlights the degree to which population gains the past two decades have concentrated in the metro Denver area. Since 2000, the state has added about 1.43 million residents, with the Denver and Boulder region accounting for 815,000 of that gain, according to estimates from the State Demography Office. Areas outside the Front Range have added only 132,158 residents, with the Eastern Plains adding a  minimal 2,512 residents over the past two decades. The 970 area code is expected to run out of numbers by the end of 2027 and the 719 area code is expected to hit its limit by 2038, according to the PUC.
  • Apple, Google make it easier to opt in to coronavirus tracing
    Several state governments may soon send residents an alert asking them to turn on “exposure notifications.” On Tuesday, Apple and Google said they would make it easier for states to use their new technology that detects phones that come close to one another and can notify people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. States that sign on will be able to send a notice directly to smartphones asking people to opt in to the technology. Previous versions of the technology had required people to seek out a state health agency’s app. The new approach could spur the popularity of such virus alert technology in the United States by significantly lowering the hurdles for its use. Maryland, Virginia, Nevada and Washington, D.C., already plan to use the new system, Apple and Google said, and about 25 other states were exploring using the earlier app version. In a statement, Apple and Google called the changes a “next step in our work with public health authorities.” They said the shifts would help “public health authorities to supplement their existing contact tracing operations with technology without compromising on the project’s core tenets of user privacy and security.” In April, Apple and Google announced they were developing the technology, which uses Bluetooth signals to enable iPhones and Android devices to detect nearby phones. If someone using the technology tests positive for the virus, that person can enter the positive result into the system using a unique authentication code. An automatic notification would then go to other phones that had opted in and had been in close contact. As the pandemic took hold this spring, countries around the world raced to deploy virus apps to help track and quarantine people. But some of the apps were mandatory and invasive, sending users’ locations and health details to their governments. Many apps were also rife with security flaws. The Apple-Google technology, by contrast, does not collect personal health details or track users’ locations. That has made the system attractive in Europe and elsewhere. Germany, Denmark and Ireland have already released apps using the technology, and millions of people in Europe have downloaded them. In the United States, public health agencies in Virginia, Arizona, Nevada, Alabama, North Dakota and Wyoming have also created such apps, although the uptake has been slower. The Alabama app, released in mid-August, has had about 44,000 downloads. To make the virus alert apps from different U.S. states interoperable, the Association of Public Health Laboratories announced in July that it would host a national server for the data. That means users of Alabama’s app may someday be able to detect nearby phones when they travel to Virginia and vice versa. Related Articles Trump backs proposed TikTok deal with Oracle, Walmart Step away from TikTok: Here’s how to declutter your digital world U.S. banning use of WeChat, TikTok for national security starting Sunday Oracle wins TikTok over Microsoft in Trump-urged bid, source says Fad or future? Telehealth expansion eyed beyond COVID-19 pandemic Now, to use Apple and Google’s technology, state public-health authorities simply need to provide certain parameters to the companies, such as how close people need to be to trigger an exposure notification and recommendations for those with possible exposures. Google would then create an app for the state, while Apple would enable the technology on the iPhone software. The system would then use approximate location data to send an alert to residents’ phones in that state, asking if they would like to enroll. (On iPhones, enrolling requires tapping a button, while Android users are prompted to download the state’s app.) Apple and Google have said they designed their technology to protect people’s privacy. The system does not share people’s identities with Apple, Google or other users, the companies said, and it does not share location data with health authorities or the companies. Google initially required Android users of the virus alert apps to turn on location services, which could have allowed Google to collect their location data. After health officials in Europe complained, Google said it would stop requiring location services to be on to enable the apps. Still, security researchers have warned that the technology could also be misused to send false alerts, spreading unnecessary alarm. While they acknowledged the companies’ desire to help stem the pandemic, a few said they were troubled by Apple and Google’s power to set global standards for public health agencies. Ashkan Soltani, an independent security researcher, also warned that the companies could at some point turn on virus notifications by default. “I continue to worry about rapidly deploying a new technology to nearly everyone’s device,” he said, “especially when the decision to do so isn’t done by policymakers but unilaterally by these platforms.”
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