Latest US and World News - Capture Club
kmcowan 19 May, 2018 0

Latest US and World News

Latest News from the US and around the world.

Reuters: Top News
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The Atlantic
  • Bursting the Aquarium Bubble
    The United States is experiencing a new wave of aquarium enthusiasm. Over the past few years, groups in Detroit; St. Louis; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Memphis; Cape Canaveral, Florida; and New York City have proposed or started construction on large aquariums. Springfield, Missouri, and Shreveport, Louisiana, have recently opened aquariums. Boosters for these spaces are selling them as conservation initiatives that will create jobs and bring in revenue—alternatives to sports stadiums and shopping districts meant to revitalize downtrodden downtowns.But the history of aquariums tells a different story. In the earliest public aquariums, tanks were sparsely populated with somewhat mundane species. These institutions started as traveling fishery exhibits: The 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair contained some of the first tank displays. The state of Pennsylvania fashioned a grotto with glass jewel boxes lining a dark hallway that was illuminated from above. The residents—trout, catfish, and others—had been sent via specialty train.Enthusiasm for Pennsylvania’s exhibit was high, with many visitors returning several days in a row to walk through the grotto. Even after the fish started dropping dead because of excess lime, aluminum, and heat, the vacant tanks attracted crowds that came to marvel at the new technology.These early exhibitions were successful enough that seven years later, the city of Philadelphia converted the traveling tanks into a stationary aquarium at Fairmount Park. One of the stars was a giant snapping turtle.Philadelphia’s aquarium was part of a small but rapidly growing community of large public aquariums in the United States, including the Woods Hole Science Aquarium in Massachusetts (opened in 1885), the New York Aquarium (1896), and Detroit’s Belle Isle Aquarium (1904). Visitors were more concerned with wonder than education, and tanks usually contained local species, the occasional rescued family goldfish or donated lobster, and tropical fish. The aquarium keepers themselves had little interest in conservation. As aquarists developed the craft of holding aquatic organisms captive, many of the fish under their care died. In 1917, the Philadelphia aquarium received 663 fish for exhibition; by the end of the year, 454 had died.Library of CongressUnlike zoos, which relied on specialty species such as tigers and elephants, early aquariums showed relatively common species—it was the very act of seeing underwater that drew visitors. By 1920, the earliest American aquariums had banded together to collect tropical fish for exhibition. Starting around 1915, a representative from the New York Aquarium traveled twice a year to Key West, Florida, where he collected a wide array of species. That same year, the assistant director and tropical-exhibits collector Louis Mowbray brought 148 animals from Key West to Detroit, including squirrelfish, spiny lobster, stone crab, a hawksbill turtle, two species of moray eel, and three of grouper.The earliest aquariums had little concern for the impact their collecting might have on the health of a species or ecosystem. Charles Townsend, who became the second director of the New York Aquarium in 1902, knew firsthand through his work with the U.S. Fish Commission that the number of marine mammals was depleted in the wild. This did not stop him from seeking out porpoises, seals, and sea lions along the Atlantic Coast for exhibition. One of the last known Caribbean monk seals, declared extinct in 1952, spent the end of its life on display at the New York Aquarium.Townsend never thought to use the aquarium as a space for mammal conservation, but he was not entirely inured to the decline in marine populations. In 1929, he imported some of the last Galápagos tortoises to aquariums and botanical parks around the United States and the Caribbean in an effort to save the lumbering giants from extinction. Until his death, Townsend kept close records of the tortoises, moving them to locations that he felt would have luck maintaining and growing captive populations. The year after he died, the first Galápagos tortoises bred in captivity hatched at the Bermuda Aquarium, and in the past decade, the surviving Townsend tortoises were returned to the Galápagos as part of the ongoing conservation initiative.Through the years, aquariums have done more of this work, becoming integral to conservation initiatives by studying specimens in captivity and funding field research to help maintain endangered species. Established public aquariums are conscious of their past role in marine degradation, and their captive-breeding initiatives, especially for popular species such as seahorses and clownfish, seek to decrease the impact of exhibit collecting on wild populations.[Read: How a landlocked aquarium gets its seawater]But these initiatives account for only a small number of the exhibits in large aquariums, and have not stopped debate about the impact of collecting on wild populations. Earlier this year, Moody Gardens, a Texas aquarium, collected a variety of fish from a popular snorkeling area in Palm Beach County, Florida, prompting public outcry. A legal battle in Hawaii has resulted in the closure of some reefs for collectors, but has shifted the impact of collecting to foreign reefs, which are not as well managed.Creating an artificial underwater environment is still a technological and scientific challenge, with limited initial conservation value. Current aquariums took years to develop the resources required to perform effective conservation; new aquariums will not have the ability to develop these initiatives for years, if ever. If they fail, the extraction of marine riches, required for setup, goes to waste. While many of aquariums’ earliest problems have been solved—we no longer see empty tanks—many new builds are doomed to failure, squandering monetary and natural resources in the process.Library of CongressArchitects and construction groups design aquariums, but aquarists must make the spaces functional. Often, aquariums’ most popular exhibits, such as mammals or sharks, prove the trickiest to maintain. Keeping sharks in captivity sounds great, but doing so takes specialized knowledge. The Dubai Aquarium, one of the largest tanks in the world, experienced several shark casualties before opening in 2008. The aquarists eventually worked out the optimum number of species for the tank, but other aquariums struggled longer with these issues. The Jerusalem aquarium, a 30-tank, $28.5 million building originally set to open in May 2017, delayed its opening after the loss of many exotic fish and two sharks. Some aquariums continue to try to keep great whites in captivity, with limited success and an almost 100 percent mortality rate.The stress of acquisition and maintenance often leads to financial struggle. Originally operated by the City of New York, the New York Aquarium has been managed and funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society (formerly the New York Zoological Society) since 1902 due to financial strain; the City continues to provide electricity and water, while the Wildlife Conservation Society pays for upkeep and exhibition acquisition. Other early aquariums had to develop similar cost-sharing measures between private organizations and taxpayers. In this century, the Denver aquarium, which opened to much fanfare in 1999, declared bankruptcy in 2002 because of defaults on building loans. (It was purchased by Landry’s, a hospitality company, and reopened in 2003.) More recently, the newly opened Shreveport Aquarium has struggled with almost $500,000 in unpaid construction debt. Many of these spaces are subsidized by tax breaks and bonds, to be paid back when an aquarium becomes profitable. But too often, this goal is not realized. As economic-development projects, aquariums are risky.[Read: Do we need zoos?]In the 21st century, entering an aquarium can still conjure a sense of amazement, but for different reasons. I recently walked around the harbor near a public aquarium and saw not fish, but an enormous amount of plastic garbage. Entering the exhibit space, I was struck by the intense beauty of these model environments. There is wonder in seeing so many fish in one place—a protected place—when a reef dive today is more likely to reveal a world in distress. The sense of awe that aquariums can evoke should be mixed with an acknowledgment that the environments we see need saving—sometimes from our desire to see and touch them.The Fairmount Aquarium in Philadelphia didn’t survive. The cost of maintenance was too much for a financially struggling city; when the call came to update the aquarium to more modern standards, it folded in 1962. The rash of aquariums currently being contemplated or built will eventually face these same concerns, and many will fail. But these spaces will have taken their toll, seizing resources from struggling ecosystems, both human and marine, without the ability to fully give back. And when they close, they will leave even larger holes in those fragile environments.
  • The Tragic Consequences of the NHL’s Science Denial
    Todd Ewen, a former professional hockey player, took his own life in September 2015 in the basement of his St. Louis home. Ewen had been suffering from depression and memory loss since his retirement from the NHL, in 1998. Before his death, he confided in his wife, Kelli, that he feared he may have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE—a neurodegenerative disease that most experts agree is linked to repetitive head trauma. After a grueling decade-plus career in the NHL, Ewen exhibited all the tell-tale symptoms. Kelli sent his brain to the neuropathologist Lili-Naz Hazrati to be analyzed for signs of CTE. Six months later, Hazrati called with shocking results: Ewen did not have CTE. The NHL seized on these results in its defense against a class-action suit brought by former players for the league’s negligence regarding head injuries. Hazrati went on to act as an expert witness for the NHL and pointed to Ewen’s case as an example of the inconsistency in CTE pathology. In her expert report and a subsequent deposition, she claimed that there was no link between CTE and head trauma and that CTE was not a disease at all. Despite Hazrati’s diagnosis, Kelli was convinced that her husband had had CTE. She had sections of Ewen’s brain sent from the Canadian Concussion Centre to Boston, so a world-leading expert on CTE, Ann McKee, could retest them. In late 2018, McKee announced her own conclusions from the tests: Todd had, in fact, had CTE. In this short documentary from The Atlantic, Kelli Ewen recounts the role her late husband played in the sport of hockey before and after his death.
  • The 2020 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet
    The gang’s all here—finally.With Joe Biden’s announcement Thursday that he will, in fact, run for president, the 2020 field is essentially set.Sure, some other candidates might jump in. President Donald Trump hasn’t drawn a GOP challenger other than the long-shot William Weld, and several Democrats still haven’t made a call, including Stacey Abrams, Michael Bennet, and Steve Bullock. Each of these candidates has real strengths and experience, but none of them is likely to upend the race. That means Biden is the last of the major candidates to decide.The former vice president was engaged in a very public indecision play as he debated whether to get into the race. There were clear signs he planned to run. Biden talked to fundraisers, hoping to ensure a splashy launch. He began hiring staff. And in a speech on March 16, he referred to himself as one of the candidates running, then quickly corrected himself. It’s understandable why anyone might hesitate about running, given the rigors of the race, but his waffling had come to irritate some observers.Which is funny, since candidates have announced their 2020 plans preposterously early this year. Both Biden and Beto O’Rourke have been accused of drawing out their decision. Yet in one infamous example, Mario Cuomo’s hemming and hawing about entering the 1992 race came in December 1991—seven months later in the cycle than we are now.So Biden is the last big fish in the race. But how big of a fish is he? The cases for and against are fairly straightforward. For: Biden is the most experienced pol in the race, and was vice president for a two-term president who remains wildly popular with Democrats. He’s got national name recognition, and he’s leading every poll of the Democratic field. Against: Biden is yesterday’s candidate—not just in age (he’s 76), but in politics. He represents a generation of the Democratic Party that held rather different positions from today’s on a range of issues. Besides that, he’s run before. Biden has never been a very effective campaigner under his own name, and he is prone to gaffes—as his early pseudo-announcement demonstrated.For some time, the second view has prevailed among savvy observers. Surely Biden’s advantage was just a factor of his fame and the inchoate Democratic field. More recently, however, his enduring strength has caused some analysts to wonder whether Biden is actually a fairly formidable candidate.Biden is one of roughly 25 announced or possible Democratic candidates. On the GOP side, Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, is running against Donald Trump. Republican Representative Justin Amash of Michigan is reportedly considering a Libertarian Party bid, and there will be other third-party hopefuls, too.As the presidential primaries progress, this cheat sheet will be updated regularly.The Democrats(Jeff Roberson / AP)JOE BIDENWho is he? Don’t play coy. You know the former vice president, senator from Delaware, and recurring Onion character.Is he running? Yes. After a long series of hesitations, Biden announced his campaign on April 25.Why does he want to run? Biden has wanted to be president since roughly forever, and he thinks he might be the best bet to win back blue-collar voters and defeat President Trump in 2020. (Trump reportedly agrees.) But Biden seems reluctant to end his career with a primary loss, knows he’s old (he’ll turn 78 right after Election Day 2020), and is possibly out of step with the new Democratic Party.Who wants him to run? If you believe the polls, he’s ahead of the rest of the Democratic pack. It’s not clear how durable that support is, though.Can he win the nomination? It’s possible. Being Barack Obama’s vice president gave Biden a fresh glow, but his past policy stands and his tendency toward handsiness threaten to stop him in his tracks. We’ve also seen him run for president twice before, and not very effectively.(Brian Snyder / Reuters)SETH MOULTONWho is he? A third-term congressman from Massachusetts, Moulton graduated from Harvard, then served in the Marines in Iraq.Is he running? Yes. He announced his campaign on April 22.Why does he want to run? In an interview with BuzzFeed, he said he felt the Democratic Party needs younger leaders and, alluding to his military career, “someone … for whom standing up to a bully like Donald Trump isn’t the biggest challenge he or she has ever faced in life.”Who wants him to run? That’s not clear. With his sparkling résumé and movie-star looks, Moulton has grabbed a lot of attention, but he doesn’t have an obviously strong constituency, and a rebellion against Nancy Pelosi’s leadership after the 2018 election fizzled.Can he win? It’s hard to say, but his campaign is off to an inauspicious start. Moulton is an untested campaigner outside the House and doesn’t have much of a national profile.(J. Scott Applewhite / AP)ERIC SWALWELLWho is he? Swalwell, who is 38, is a U.S. representative from California’s Bay Area.Is he running? Yes. Swalwell announced his candidacy on April 8 on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.Why does he want to run? Swalwell is running on a gun-control platform. He also says the Democratic Party needs fresh blood. “We can’t count on the same old leaders to solve the same old problems,” he told The Mercury News. “It’s going to take new energy and new ideas and a new confidence to do that.”Who wants him to run? Swalwell’s seat on the House Intelligence Committee has made him a prominent Trump persecutor, but it’s still a bit of a mystery.Can he win the nomination? No? Let’s go with no.(Alex Wong / Getty)MIKE GRAVELWho is he? Gravel, 88, represented Alaska for two terms in the Senate, during which he read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record and fought against the Vietnam War. These days he’s probably better known for his 2008 presidential campaign.Is he running? Yes. His campaign launched on April 8.Why does he want to run? Gravel is running to bring attention to his pet issues: direct democracy, nuclear proliferation, and a noninterventionist foreign policy.Who wants him to run? This is where it gets weird. The committee is the brainchild of three students in college and high school who have basically created a Draft Gravel movement. But Gravel decided he liked the idea and went along with it.Can he win the nomination? He doesn’t even want to.What else do we know? Gravel produced the greatest presidential spot this side of the “Daisy” ad—and then he remade it this cycle.(Jonathan Bachman / Reuters)TIM RYANWho is he? The Ohioan is a member of the House, representing Youngstown and America’s greatest city, Akron.Is he running? Yes. Ryan announced his plan to run on The View on April 4.Why does he want to run? Ryan is a classic Rust Belt Democrat and friend of labor, and he’s concerned about the fate of manufacturing. He is also an outspoken critic of Democratic leadership, mounting a quixotic challenge to Nancy Pelosi in 2017.Who wants him to run? Ryan comes from a part of Ohio that traditionally votes Democratic but swung to Trump, and he’d have supporters there.Can he win the nomination? Probably not. Members of the House seldom win the nomination; he’s got a small national profile.What else do we know?He’s big on meditation.(mary Altaffer / AP)KIRSTEN GILLIBRANDWho is she? Gillibrand has been a senator from New York since 2009, replacing Hillary Clinton. Before that, she served in the U.S. House.Is she running? Yes. She launched her campaign officially on March 17.Why does she want to run? Gillibrand has emphasized women’s issues, ranging from sexual harassment in the military and more recent #MeToo stories to equal pay, and her role as a mom is central in her announcement video. Once a fairly conservative Democrat, she has moved left in recent years.Who wants her to run? Gillibrand could have fairly broad appeal among mainstream Democratic voters, and she hopes that her time representing upstate New York gives her an advantage with nonurban voters. She has, however, earned the enmity of the Clinton world for her criticisms of Bill.Can she win the nomination? Perhaps. Her campaign hasn’t managed to gain much traction thus far.What else do we know? Sometimes people say she’s a little boring, but do they realize she went on Desus & Mero?(Kathy Willens / AP)BETO O’ROURKEWho is he? The man, the myth, the legend, the former U.S. representative from El Paso and Democratic candidate for Senate in Texas.Is he running? Yes. O’Rourke announced his run on March 14.Why does he want to run? O’Rourke has been trying to figure that out. He’s young, hip, and inspirational, like Obama; like Obama, his reputation is perhaps more liberal than his voting record.Who wants him to run? A lot of live-stream watchers and thirsty tweeters, a coterie of ex–Obama aides, and a bunch of operatives running the Draft Beto campaign.Can he win the nomination? Maybe, but don’t bet the farm on it.What else do we know? This video is very important.(Department of Labor)JOHN HICKENLOOPERWho is he? Hickenlooper was the governor of Colorado until January, and previously held the most Colorado trifecta of jobs imaginable: mayor of Denver, geologist, and brewery owner.Is he running? Yes. Hickenlooper launched his campaign on March 4.Why does he want to run? Hickenlooper brands himself as an effective manager and deal maker who has governed effectively in a purple state while still staying progressive. He’s said he thinks the Democratic field could be too focused on grievance and not enough on policy.Who wants him to run? Hard to say. Hickenlooper’s aw-shucks pragmatism plays well with pundits, but he doesn’t have much of a national profile at this point.Can he win the nomination? Maybe, but Hickenlooper might be too business-friendly (and just plain friendly) to succeed in this primary.(Mary Schwalm / AP)JAY INSLEEWho is he? Inslee is a second-term governor of Washington, and was previously in the U.S. House.Is he running? Yes. Inslee kicked off his campaign on March 1.Why does he want to run? Climate change. That’s been Inslee’s big issue as governor, and it will be at the center of his campaign for president, too.Who wants him to run? His campaign will presumably attract environmentalist support, and he hopes that his time as chair of the Democratic Governors Association will help, though he’s already hit some turbulence in New Hampshire.Can he win the nomination? It’s a very long shot.(Yuri Gripas / Reuters)BERNIE SANDERSWho is he? If you didn’t know the Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist before his runner-up finish in the 2016 Democratic primary, you do now.Is he running? Yes. Sanders announced plans to run on February 19.Why does he want to run? For the same reasons he wanted to run in 2016, and the same reasons he’s always run for office: Sanders is passionate about redistributing wealth, fighting inequality, and creating a bigger social-safety net.Who wants him to run? Many of the same people who supported him last time, plus a few converts, minus those who are supporting Sanders-adjacent candidates like Elizabeth Warren or Tulsi Gabbard.Can he win the nomination? Possibly. He didn’t last time around, and while this time he has more experience and renown, he also has more competition from candidates inspired by his success.(Aaron P. Bernstein / REUTERS)AMY KLOBUCHARWho is she? She has been a senator from Minnesota since 2007.Is she running? She announced plans to run in Minneapolis on February 9.Why does she want to run? Klobuchar represents a kind of heartland Democrat—progressive, but not aggressively so—who might have widespread appeal both in the Midwest and elsewhere. She’s tended to talk vaguely about middle-class issues.Who wants her to run? She’d probably build a constituency among mainstream Democrats. Her exchange with Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing won her a lot of fans.Can she win the nomination? Maybe! CNN’s Harry Enten rates her one of the most “electable” potential candidates, a trait that Democratic voters are especially fixated on this cycle. Her launch has been tarnished by a series of stories about harsh treatment of staff, though.What else do we know? Sadly, she is not using this fly logo.(Jonathan Bachman / Reuters)ELIZABETH WARRENWho is she? A senator from Massachusetts since 2013, Warren was previously a professor at Harvard Law School, helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and wrote a book on middle-class incomes.Is she running? Yes. She kicked off her campaign on February 9.Why does she want to run? Warren’s campaign is tightly focused on inequality, her signature issue since before entering politics. She has proposed an “ultra-millionaire tax” on people worth more than $50 million and a major overhaul of housing policies.Who wants her to run? People who backed Senator Bernie Sanders in 2016; people who were Bernie-curious but worried he was too irascible; people who didn’t like Bernie but are left-curious; Donald Trump.Can she win the nomination? Who knows? Warren’s platform is in step with the current Democratic Party’s, and her initial Iowa events went well. But she has also underperformed Democratic presidential nominees even in her super-liberal home state, and her handling of a DNA-test reveal to show her claimed Native American heritage was widely seen as a botch.What else do we know? She’s got a good doggo.(Dimitrios Kambouris)KAMALA HARRISWho is she? Harris, a first-term senator from California, was elected in 2016. She was previously the state’s attorney general.Is she running? Yes. She declared her candidacy on January 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.Why does she want to run? Harris seems to think that a woman of color who is an ex-prosecutor will check a range of boxes for Democratic voters. She has so far staked out a broad platform, trying to appeal to a wide swath of the party.Who wants her to run? Mainstream Democrats. She put up immediately impressive fundraising numbers, and she’s enlisted a number of former Hillary Clinton aides.Can she win the nomination? Sure, maybe. Harris has impressed in her short time in Washington, but it’s been a short time. Most of the country hasn’t seen her campaign yet.(City of South Bend, IN)PETE BUTTIGIEGWho is he? The 37-year-old openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Afghan War veteran has gone from near-anonymity to buzzy-candidate status in his first couple of months in the race.Is he running? Yes. He announced an exploratory committee on January 23.Why does he want to run? Buttigieg’s sell is all about generation. He’s a Millennial and thinks his cohort faces new and unusual pressures and dilemmas that he is singularly equipped to resolve. Plus, it’s a useful way to differentiate himself from the blue-haired bigwigs in the blue party.Who wants him to run? Buttigieg has slowly climbed in the polls, grabbing attention for crisp answers and an almost Obamaesque demeanor; he has the support of some Obama alumni. He hopes to reach midwestern voters who deserted the Democrats in 2016.Can he win the nomination? It’s still a long shot. No mayor has been nominated since New York’s DeWitt Clinton in 1812. Buttigieg also fell short in a 2017 campaign for Democratic National Committee chair.What else do we know? It’s “BOOT-edge-edge,” and it’s Maltese for “lord of the poultry.”(DEPartment of Housing & Urban Development)JULIÁN CASTROWho is he? Castro was the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, before serving as secretary of housing and urban development under Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017.Is he running? Yes. He announced his bid on January 12 in San Antonio.Why does he want to run? Castro has long been saddled with the dreaded “rising star” tag, and with Texas still red, he’s got few options below the national stage. He’s emphasized his Hispanic-immigrant roots in early campaign rhetoric.Who wants him to run? It’s not yet clear. He’d like to take the Obama mantle and coalition, but that doesn’t mean he can.Can he win the nomination? He’s got a tough battle. Four years ago, he seemed like the future of the party; now the stage is crowded with rivals, including fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke. "I am not a front-runner in this race, but I have not been a front-runner at any time in my life," Castro said during his announcement.What else do we know? Castro’s twin brother, Joaquin, who serves in the U.S. House, once subbed in for his brother in a parade during Julián’s mayoral campaign, so if you go to a campaign event, ask for proof that it’s really him.(KC McGinnis / Reuters)JOHN DELANEYWho is he? A former four-term congressman from Maryland, he might be even less known than Pete Buttigieg, who at least has a memorable name.Is he running? Is he ever! Delaney announced way back in June 2017, hoping that a head start could make up for his lack of name recognition.Why does he want to run? Delaney, a successful businessman, is pitching himself as a centrist problem-solver.Who wants him to run? Unclear. He’s all but moved to Iowa in hopes of locking up the first caucus state, but even there his name ID isn’t great.Can he win the nomination? Nah.(Marco Garcia / AP)TULSI GABBARDWho is she? Gabbard, 37, has represented Hawaii in the U.S. House since 2013. She previously served in Iraq.Is she running? Yes. She officially announced on February 2 in Honolulu.Why does she want to run? Gabbard says her central issue is “war and peace,” which basically means a noninterventionist foreign policy.Who wants her to run? Gabbard is likely to draw support from Sanders backers. She supported Bernie in 2016, resigning from a post as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee to do so, and she’s modeled herself largely on him.Can she win the nomination? Unlikely. Not only did she have to apologize for past anti-gay comments, but she’s perhaps best known for her unusually friendly stance toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Also, her campaign sounds like a bit of a mess so far.What else do we know? If elected, she would be the first Hindu president.(JOSHUA LOTT / AFP / Getty)ANDREW YANGWho is he? Yang is <checks Google> a tech entrepreneur who created the test-preparation company Manhattan Prep and then Venture for America, which tries to incubate start-ups outside New York and the Bay Area, and which is based in New York.Is he running? Apparently, yes! He filed to run on November 6, 2017.Why does he want to run? Yang’s big idea is a $1,000 per month universal basic income for every American adult.Who wants him to run? A motley internet movement, including many fans of Joe Rogan’s podcast.Can he win the nomination? No.(Amy Harris / Invision / AP)MARIANNE WILLIAMSONWho is she? If you don’t know the inspirational author and speaker, you know her aphorisms (e.g., “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”).Is she running? Yes. She announced her candidacy on January 28.Why does she want to run? It’s a little tough to say. She writes on her website, “My campaign for the presidency is dedicated to this search for higher wisdom.” She criticized Hillary Clinton for coziness with corporate interests in 2016, and she ran for the U.S. House in 2014.Who wants her to run? Williamson has a lot of fans, but whether they really want her as president is another question.Can she win the nomination? Stranger things have happened, but no.(Joshua Roberts / Reuters)CORY BOOKERWho is he? A senator from New Jersey, he was previously the social-media-savvy mayor of Newark.Is he running? Yes. He launched his campaign on February 1.Why does he want to run? In the Senate, Booker has been big on criminal-justice reform, including marijuana liberalization. He has recently embraced progressive ideas including Medicare for All and some sort of universal nest egg for children.Who wants him to run? He’ll aim for Obama-style uplift and inspiration to attract voters. Booker has previously been close to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and to Wall Street, both of which could be a liability in a Democratic primary.Can he win the nomination? Possibly.(Matthew Brown / AP)STEVE BULLOCKWho is he? Bullock is the governor of Montana, where he won reelection in 2016 even as Donald Trump won the state.Is he running? Maybe. In August, he said in Iowa, “I do have a story of how I’ve been able to bring people together, and I think that’s in part what our country desperately needs.”Why does he want to run? Bullock would portray himself as a candidate who can win in Trump country and get things done across the aisle. He’s also been an outspoken advocate of campaign-finance reform.Who wants him to run? Unclear. The Great Plains and Mountain West aren’t a traditional base for national Democrats.Can he win the nomination? Maybe, but it’s an outside chance.(Samantha Sais / Reuters)MICHAEL BENNETWho is he? The Coloradan was appointed to the Senate in 2009 and has since won reelection twice.Is he running? Not yet, but he sounds like he might. “I’m very inclined to do it,” he said on Morning Joe on March 28.Why does he want to run? Like his fellow Rocky Mountain State Democrat John Hickenlooper, Bennet presents himself as someone with experience in business and management who knows how to work with Republicans.Who wants him to run? Probably some of the same people who want Hickenlooper to run. Bennet gained new fans with a viral video of his impassioned rant about Ted Cruz during the January 2019 government shutdown.Can he win? Perhaps, but he has a crowded lane and only a small national profile.(City of Miramar, FLorida)WAYNE MESSAMWho is he? Look, many people thought a young black mayor from Florida would run in 2020. They just thought it would be Tallahassee’s Andrew Gillum, not Miramar’s Wayne Messam, who was elected in 2015.Is he running? Yes. Messam announced his candidacy on March 28.Why does he want to run? He’s got a lot of standard rhetoric about the fading American dream. “The promise of America belongs to all of us,” Messam says in his announcement video. “That’s why I’m going to be running for president. To be your champion.”Who wants him to run? People who know him seem to like him, but Miramar has barely more than 100,000 residents.Can he win? Sure, Messam won a national championship as a wide receiver for the 1993 Florida State Seminoles. Can he win the presidency? Um, no.(Lawrence Bryant / REuters)STACEY ABRAMSWho is she? Abrams ran unsuccessfully for governor of Georgia in 2018 and was previously the Democratic leader in the state House.Is she running? Not at the moment, but she has not ruled it out. On The View on March 27, she dismissed suggestions that she would be a strong addition to a Joe Biden ticket, saying, “You don’t run for second place … If I’m going to enter a primary, then I’m going to enter a primary.”Why does she want to run? Throughout her career, Abrams has focused on bread-and-butter issues such as criminal-justice reform and education, and since losing a 2018 election stained by problems with ballot access, she’s made voting rights a special focus.Who wants her to run? Abrams has drawn excitement from young Democrats, the liberal wing of the party, and African Americans. Her rebuttal to President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address won her new fans, and the former Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer says she should run.Can she win? Maybe.(Mike Segar / Reuters)BILL DE BLASIOWho is he? The mayor of New York City.Is he running? No, but he hasn’t ruled it out, either, and he visited Iowa in February.Why does he want to run? De Blasio was the harbinger of the Democratic Party’s leftward shift on economic issues, and they’d be at the center of his campaign, though the movement seems to have left him behind a bit.Who wants him to run? That’s precisely the problem. De Blasio’s term as mayor has been a little bumpy, and his attempts to build a national profile haven’t gotten far.Can he win the nomination? Doubtful.What else do we know? De Blasio would probably be the tallest candidate since Bill Bradley, in 2000. Both men are 6 foot 5.(Phil Long / Reuters)SHERROD BROWNWho is he? By statute, I am required to mention the senator from Ohio’s tousled hair, rumpled appearance, and gravelly voice.Is he running? No. Brown told the Youngstown Vindicator on March 7 that he will not run.Why did he want to run? Brown’s campaign would have focused on workers and inequality. He’s somewhat akin to Bernie Sanders, but his progressivism is of the midwestern, organized-labor variety.Who wanted him to run? Leftist Democrats who though Sanders is too old and Elizabeth Warren too weak a candidate; lots of dudes in union halls in Northeast Ohio.Could he have won the nomination? Possibly.What else do we know? Like Warren, Brown has a very good dog.(Mark Tenally / AP)TERRY MCAULIFFEWho is he? Once known primarily as a close friend of Bill Clinton’s and a Democratic fundraising prodigy, McAuliffe reinvented himself as the governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018.Is he running? No. McAuliffe said April 17 he wouldn’t compete.Why did he want to run? McAuliffe holds up his governorship as proof that he can be a problem solver and deal maker across the aisle, and his Clintonesque politics would have contrasted him with many of the candidates in the field.Who wanted him to run? McAuliffe himself concluded he just didn’t have a big enough constituency in the wide Democratic field.Could he have won the nomination? Probably not.(Simon Dawson / Reuters)MIKE BLOOMBERGWho is he? The billionaire former mayor of New York, Bloomberg is a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat-again.Is he running? No. Bloomberg announced on March 5 (in Bloomberg, natch) that he would not run.Why did he want to run? For starters, he was convinced that he’d be better and more competent at the job than anyone else. A Bloomberg bid would likely have centered on his pet issues of gun control, climate change, and fighting the more fiscally liberal wing of the Democratic Party tooth and silver-plated nail.Who wanted him to run? What, was his considerable ego not enough? Though his tenure as mayor is generally well regarded, it’s unclear what Bloomberg’s Democratic constituency was beyond other wealthy, socially liberal and fiscally conservative types, and it’s not as if he needed their money to run.Could he have won the nomination? Probably not. Bloomberg has also previously toyed with an independent run, but says that would only help Trump in 2020.(Yuri Gripas / Reuters)ERIC HOLDERWho is he? Holder was the U.S. attorney general from 2009 to 2015, and he’s currently leading a Democratic redistricting initiative with help from some retiree named Barack Obama.Is he running? No. After toying with the idea, he wrote in The Washington Post on March 7 that he would not run.Why did he want to run? Holder has three big areas of interest: redistricting, civil rights, and beating Donald Trump by all means necessary.Who wanted him to run? Tough to say. Obamaworld isn’t really lining up behind him, and he’s never held elected office, despite a successful Washington career.Could he have won the nomination? Probably not.(Faith Ninivaggi / Reuters)MITCH LANDRIEUWho is he? Landrieu served as the mayor of New Orleans from 2010 to 2018. He was previously Louisiana’s lieutenant governor.Is he running? It seems unlikely. “Probably not, but if I change my mind, you’re going to be the first to know,” he told the New York Times editor Dean Baquet in December.Why does he want to run? Like the other mayors contemplating a run, Landrieu considers himself a problem-solver. He’s also become a campaigner for racial reconciliation, taking down Confederate monuments in New Orleans, and staking a claim for progressivism in the Deep South.Who wants him to run? Not clear.Can he win the nomination? Probably not, especially if he doesn’t run.(Jeenah Moon / Reuters)ANDREW CUOMOWho is he? Cuomo is the governor of New York. He was formerly the secretary of housing and urban development under Bill Clinton.Is he running? No. Though he's long toyed with the idea, Cuomo said in November 2018, "I am ruling it out." Then again, his father was indecisive about running for president, too.Why does he want to run? One can adopt a Freudian analysis related to his father's unfinished business, or one can note that Cuomo thinks he's got more management experience and success, including working with Republicans, than any Democratic candidate.Who wants him to run? Practically no one. Cuomo's defenders bristle that he doesn't get enough credit, but his work with Republicans has infuriated Empire State Democrats without winning any real GOP friends.(Yuri Gripas / Reuters)ERIC GARCETTIWho is he? Garcetti is the mayor of Los Angeles.Is he running? No. Garcetti flirted with the idea, visiting South Carolina and naming a hypothetical Cabinet full of mayors, but said on January 29 that he would not run.Why did he want to run? Garcetti’s pitch was that mayors actually get things done and that his lack of experience in Washington was a positive.Who wanted him to run? Garcetti was reelected in a landslide in 2017, but he had no apparent national constituency.(Andrew Harnik / AP)HILLARY CLINTONWho is she? Come on.Is she running? No, she announced on March 4 that she won’t. But until she issues a Shermanesque denial signed in blood—or the filing deadline passes—the rumors probably won’t die.Why does she want to run? She doesn’t.Who wants her to run? Pundits, mostly.Can she win the nomination? See above.(Mike Blake / Reuters)MICHAEL AVENATTIWho is he? Stormy Daniels’s lawyerIs he running?Nope nope nope nope.Why did he want to run? Attention, power, self-aggrandizementWho wanted him to run? Some very loud, very devoted fans.Could he have won the nomination? No, and his comment to Time that the nominee “better be a white male” was the final straw.(Matthew Putney / Reuters)TOM STEYERWho is he? A retired California hedge-funder, Steyer has poured his fortune into political advocacy on climate change and flirted with running for office.Is he running? No. He announced on January 9 that he would sit the race out.Why did he want to run?Impeachment, baby.Who wanted him to run? There must be some #Resistance faction out there that did.Could he have won the nomination? Nope.REPUBLICANS(Leah Millis / Reuters)DONALD TRUMPWho is he? Really?Fine. Is he running? Yes. He filed for reelection the day of his inauguration, though some speculate that he might decide not to follow through.Why does he want to run? Build the wall, Keep America Great, etc.Who wants him to run? Consistently about 35 to 40 percent of the country; a small majority consistently says he should not.Can he win the nomination? Yes. While his low approval ratings overall have stoked talk of a primary challenge, Trump remains very popular among Republican voters, and as president has broad power to muscle the GOP process to protect himself.What else do we know? There is nothing else new and interesting to know about Trump. You’ve made your mind up already, one way or another.(Stephan Savoia / AP)WILLIAM WELDWho is he? Weld, a former Justice Department official, was the governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997 and was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential nominee in 2016.Is he running? Yes. Weld officially launched his campaign April 15.Why is he running? Calling President Trump “unstable,” Weld has said, “I think our country is in grave peril and I cannot sit any longer quietly on the sidelines.”Who wants him to run? Weld always inspired respect from certain quarters, and the 2016 Libertarian ticket did well by the party’s standards, but Weld’s unorthodox politics and hot-and-cold relationship with the GOP probably don’t help his support.Can he win the nomination? No.What else do we know?This logo is so cool.(Elizabeth Frantz / Reuters)JOHN KASICHWho is he? Kasich recently finished up two terms as governor of Ohio, previously served in the U.S. House, and ran in the 2016 GOP primary.Is he running? Not at the moment. On December 23, he told Fox News’s Chris Wallace, “I’m not trying to be coy. We are seriously looking at it.” Then, on January 15, he signed on as a CNN contributor, which is either a sign he’s decided against or a clever way to get airtime.Why does he want to run? Kasich has long wanted to be president—he ran, quixotically, in 2000. But Kasich has styled himself as a vocal Trump critic, and sees himself as an alternative to the president who is both truer to conservative principles and more reliable and moral.Who wants him to run? Maybe some dead-end never-Trump conservatives. It’s tough to say.Can he win the nomination?He doesn’t think so. Kasich previously ruled out an independent or third-party run, but has since reopened that door.What else do we know? John Kasich bought a Roots CD and hated it so much, he threw it out his car window. John Kasich hated the Coen brothers’ classic Fargo so much, he tried to get his local Blockbuster to quit renting it. George Will laughed at him. John Kasich is the Bill Brasky of philistinism, but John Kasich probably hated that skit, too.(Patrick Semansky / AP)LARRY HOGANWho is he? In November, Hogan became the first Republican to be reelected as governor of Maryland since 1954.Is he running? No, and people close to him doubt he will, but he has pointedly not ruled it out.Why does he want to run? Hogan is a pragmatic, moderate Republican who has won widespread acclaim in a solidly Democratic state—in other words, everything Trump is not.Who wants him to run? Never-Trump conservatives; whatever the Republican equivalent of a “good government” type is.Can he win the nomination? As long as Trump is running, no.(Official Senate PhotO)JEFF FLAKEWho is he? The Arizonan, a former U.S. House member, decided not to run for reelection to the Senate in 2019.Is he running? No. When he took a contributor role with CBS on January 23, he said he was not running.Why did he want to run? Starting in 2016, Flake was perhaps Trump’s most outspoken critic among elected Republicans, lambasting the president as immoral, unserious, and unconservative.Who wanted him to run? Liberal pundits.Could he have won the nomination? No. Flake retired because he didn’t even think he could win the Republican Senate nomination.THIRD PARTIES AND INDEPENDENTS(OFFICE OF JUSTIN AMASH)JUSTIN AMASHWho is he? Amash has represented a Grand Rapids, Michigan-area seat in the U.S. House since 2011.Is he running? Not right now, but Libertarian Party members are lobbying him to get in, and he says he’s thinking about it.Why does he want to run? Amash has cut a path as a strong libertarian in the House, sticking to his views on issues from government spending to U.S. military deployments overseas, even when it infuriates Republican leaders. A presidential campaign would presumably hit the same notes.Who wants him to run? Libertarians, duh. “There’s a lot of people who consider Amash to be the best congressman from the perspective of a Libertarian," Libertarian Party Chairman Nicholas Sarwark told MLive. “They think he’s the best congressman for our goals since Ron Paul.”Can he win the nomination? Yes.(JASON REDMOND / Reuters)HOWARD SCHULTZWho is he? That guy who used to sell you over-roasted coffee. Schultz stepped down as CEO of Starbucks in 2018.Is he running? Maybe. Schultz says he’s exploring it, but after a wave of backlash to his candidacy, his adviser Bill Burton said on January 29 that he wouldn’t decide until at least mid-2019.Why does he want to run? Personal pique over Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s support for a 70 percent marginal tax rate. No, seriously. Schultz has offered some vague platitudes about centrist ideas and bringing the country together, but most of it aligns with standard Democratic positions.Who wants him to run?Donald Trump.Can he win the nomination? The great thing about being a billionaire self-funder as an independent is that you don’t have to win a nomination. The downside is that you still have to win votes eventually.(Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters)JOHN MCAFEEWho is he? He's the guy who made your antivirus program-turned-international fugitive-turned-unsuccessful 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate. A typical politician, basically.Is he running? He says he's going to either vie for the Libertarian nomination again or run as an independent, though it's probably worth regarding what he says with some skepticism.Why does he want to run? To promote cryptocurrency, brah. “See, I don’t want to be president,” he told a crypto trade publication in November 2018. “I couldn’t be ... no one’s going to elect me president, please God. However, I’ve got the right to run.”Who wants him to run? Rubberneckers, disaster enthusiasts.Can he win the nomination? “No one’s going to elect me president, please God.”What else do we know? You want to see what it's like as the opposite sex for three hours? What being kissed by God feels like? You want the infinite experience of freedom? Knowledge of yourself? Eroticism that incinerates you? A simple good time? Forgetfulness? He's your man.
  • The Atlantic Announces the Expansion of “Our Towns,” James and Deborah Fallows’s 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America
    April 25, 2019 (Washington, D.C.)—Since 2013, The Atlantic’s national correspondent James Fallows and linguist and writer Deborah Fallows have been crisscrossing the country, in a plane piloted by James, to report on how small cities and towns across America are faring and thriving. Today begins the next phase of their journey with the launch of “Our Towns,” a reporting project that will see the couple continue their 100,000 mile journalistic feat into the heart of America, underwritten by Grow with Google.The Fallowses will document their travels at theatlantic.com/our-towns with weekly reporting dispatches continuing through the end of the year. The first stop is Indiana, with visits to Angola, Muncie, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne, and throughout the year they will touch down their single-engine prop plane in dozens of other towns and cities. Reporting will appear across all platforms at The Atlantic.“The guiding principle of this reporting will be the one we developed—city by city, story by story, surprise by surprise—through our preceding years of travel,” James Fallows writes in a letter to readers introducing the project. “The central premise is that the most positive and practical developments in this stage of American life are happening at the local and regional level—but that most Americans have barely heard of those developments except in the communities where they themselves live.”A 40-plus year veteran of The Atlantic, Mr. Fallows has lived and worked in Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Washington, Austin, Berkeley, and Seattle. He wrote his first piece for the magazine in December 1974, joined its staff in 1979, and has authored nearly 100 cover stories in the decades since. In 2013, James and Deborah, who is a fellow at New America, took to the skies. Their immersive reporting project for The Atlantic, American Futures, became the best-selling book Our Towns in 2018, and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.Through their work, the Fallowses have spoken with countless community leaders and local residents on the importance of community investment, and how to retain talent and foster economic growth. With the launch of “Our Towns,” their reporting will continue to provide a fresh perspective on local progress and innovation. Since 2016, Grow with Google has helped people across the U.S. get the skills they need to grow their careers and businesses. In 2019, the program is bringing digital literacy workshops to towns across the country, amplifying learning opportunities for local citizens.In addition to the editorial elements, the project will also encompass every business at The Atlantic, spanning custom, syndicated, and branded content, including work from Re:think, The Atlantic’s award-winning creative studio.###Media ContactHelen Tobinpress@theatlantic.com646.539.6706
  • The Tragic Post-Hockey Life of an NHL ‘Enforcer’
    On January 24, 1987, Todd Ewen, a young right-winger for the St. Louis Blues, knocked the Detroit Red Wings’ notorious tough guy, Bob Probert, unconscious with one bare-knuckled punch to the head. Ewen was a new recruit, just 21 years old, and the punch immediately solidified his place in the Blues’ lineup—as well as his role in the National Hockey League as one of the many players who regularly fought members of the opposing team.Later that same game, Ewen and Probert fought again, despite Probert having been out cold on the ice less than an hour before. This frequency of violence was typical. Ewen would go on to play 11 seasons, a soldier in the vast army of so-called “enforcers” in that era of the NHL. He would fight almost every game, mashing his fists into a pulp that doctors were forced to reconstruct with wire and screws.Ewen and Probert’s destinies intertwined after they first met on the ice. Probert was just a year older than Ewen, and he had a similarly grueling decade-plus career. After the two men retired from hockey—in 1998 and 2002, respectively—both started to forget things. They angered quickly. Each would be dead before his 50th birthday.Their deaths were among the earliest to fan the flames of a national debate about the lasting effects of hockey's brutality on its players' brains. But through a twist, Ewen would become a key figure in the NHL's controversial defense of the sport.[Read: Does the NHL take concussions seriously?]During his playing days, Ewen was a gentle renaissance man when he wasn’t on the ice. He wrote children’s books and crafted models out of hockey tape for his young fans. In 1998, Ewen retired from professional hockey and returned to the St. Louis suburbs to live with his wife, Kelli Ewen. After retiring, Kelli noticed changes in Todd. “We just saw some aggression that we hadn't previously seen,” she says. “Mood swings, irritability, and not sleeping. Just a pattern of things that was alarming to me.”Todd’s behavior only became more erratic. During one episode, he choked Kelli and the police had to intervene. In time, depression and reclusiveness replaced Todd’s anger. He routinely became lost and disoriented in the streets around his own home.Todd confided in Kelli that he feared he may have Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE—a neurodegenerative disease that most experts agree is linked to repetitive head trauma. Research on the disease has largely focused on former professional football players, but it has also been discovered in former NHL players. In 2010, Probert, the Red Wings’ bruiser, became the second NHL player to be diagnosed with CTE. His death was followed in quick succession by the deaths of four other former players’, all under the age of 40, all diagnosed with CTE.In 2013, 10 former players launched a class-action suit against the NHL for their negligence regarding head injuries. Todd was aware of the suit but declined to participate. He ended his life in the basement of his home on the afternoon of September 19, 2015.Damage to the brain caused by hits to the head has been observed for nearly a century. CTE was originally studied in boxers in the 1920s as dementia pugilistica. In the early 2000s, the Nigerian-American neuropathologist Bennet Omalu described the pathology of CTE following research on former pro football players. Since then, CTE has been found in the brains of hundreds of athletes across a wide range of sports. It manifests as small lesions of a protein called tau, which kill the surrounding neurons. The consequences are devastating. Anger, personality changes, and memory loss are common.After Todd’s death, Kelli and many others were convinced he had CTE. Kelli had Todd’s brain sent to the Canadian Concussion Centre to be analyzed. Six months later, the center’s neuropathologist, Lili-Naz Hazrati, called with shocking results: Todd did not have the disease.The NHL seized on Hazrati’s negative diagnosis in its defense of the player’s ongoing head-injury class-action suit and in public statements by the league’s commissioner. The NHL’s attorneys argued that Todd Ewen died by suicide because he believed he had CTE, therefore it would be dangerous for the league to warn players about the disease because they might kill themselves in fear. The NHL contracted 19 expert witnesses, including Hazrati, who in their testimonies injected doubt into the science of CTE. (The NHL did not respond to multiple requests for interviews.)In April 2017, Hazrati invoiced the NHL $25,000 for her work on the trial. In her expert report and in a subsequent deposition on March 2, 2018, she claimed there was no link between CTE and head trauma and that CTE was not a disease at all. In an email response to my repeated requests for an interview, however, a representative provided a statement that appeared to conflict with this claim, saying that “Dr. Hazrati does not deny that concussions can cause damage to the brain, potentially resulting in a progressive neurodegenerative disease.” (Hazrati declined multiple interview requests.)[Read: How athletic culture still suppresses concussion research]The science of CTE in inherently contentious. Currently the disease can only be diagnosed posthumously, and since it appears to present itself most commonly in professional athletes, researchers are forced to navigate a complicated web of relationships with athletes, sports leagues, and fellow scientists. The very existence of the disease poses an existential threat to certain sports leagues. While most researchers agree on the basic premise that CTE is a neurodegenerative disease linked to head injury, a cottage industry of CTE deniers has nevertheless sprung up. Hazrati’s research features heavily in the former pro-footballer turned commentator Merril Hoge’s 2018 book, Brainwashed: The Bad Science of CTE and The Plot to Destroy Football.Image courtesy of Kelli EwenIn 2014, Arland Bruce III, a retired Canadian Football League player accused The Canadian Concussion Centre, citing Hazrati’s research, of obfuscating the science of CTE in a lawsuit against the CFL and the Concussion Centre’s parent company. The case went to the Supreme Court of Canada, who declined to hear it. Kelli, too, held onto her doubts. She says she repeatedly asked Hazrati to retest Todd’s brain but Hazrati declined. Eventually Kelli had sections of Todd’s brain sent from the Canadian Centre to Boston, where a world-leading expert on CTE, Ann McKee, could retest them. In late 2018, McKee announced her own conclusions from the tests: Todd did in fact have CTE.By 2018, over 140 former players had joined the class-action suit against the NHL. In July of that year, they were denied class-action status due to conflicts between applicable state laws. The NHL offered a settlement to players in the suit which amounted to roughly $22,000 per player with up to $75,000 in medical treatment. According to a lawyer representing players in the case, most involved are expected to take the settlement.In November, Hazrati told the Canadian sports network TSN that she does not dispute McKee’s findings, but noted that she was “surprised to see that Todd had so very little [of the] disease for an enforcer.”Meanwhile, McKee’s positive diagnosis relieved any doubts Kelli had about her husband’s condition. But the results were only partial vindication. The NHL so far has not acknowledged any link between head injuries sustained during the game and CTE. Hockey players still slam into each other day after day. The NHL has taken incremental steps to limit fighting and hits to the head, but as CTE is being found in growing number of hockey players, there’s arguably far more the league could do to save future players from Todd’s path.
  • The Oscars Won’t Take Any Action on Netflix—For Now
    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced a series of rule changes on Tuesday. The move came after months of sound and fury over the growing domination of Netflix in the world of movie awards, as well as reports that the industry titan Steven Spielberg was amassing forces to take on the streaming company. The biggest of the Oscar changes? The category for Best Makeup and Hairstyling will now have five nominees instead of three. Rumblings about a proposed rule that would keep streaming films out of awards contention unless they committed to a theatrical-release “window” ended up amounting to nothing.Spielberg had become the poster boy for a proposal that would have required Netflix to release its films exclusively in cinemas for 28 days before putting them online. In March, trade publications such as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter claimed that Spielberg was seeking support from the Academy’s Board of Governors for such a rule. Though the director had in the past aired his concerns about the overwhelming strength of Netflix and the company’s disinterest in promoting a theater experience, he didn’t comment publicly as the newer reports began to spread. He also wasn’t present at the Academy’s recent meeting, petitioned for nothing, and, at least according to The New York Times, never really had major beef with Netflix in the first place.Instead, Spielberg is “frustrated that exhibitors have been unwilling to compromise,” the Times reported. “I want people to find their entertainment in any form or fashion that suits them … I want to see the survival of movie theaters. I want the theatrical experience to remain relevant in our culture,” the director said in an email to the Times. When I wrote about the concept of a 28-day theatrical window in March, I noted that it seemed like a last-ditch effort at negotiation between the streaming site (which prefers to release films in theaters and online simultaneously) and major theater chains (which still insist on a 90-day window of exclusivity).Netflix clearly cares about the Oscars—it spent tens of millions on its campaign for Roma, which this year netted a Best Director trophy, among others. An AMPAS rule change demanding proper theatrical runs for eligible movies might have been enough to force Netflix to the bargaining table, though theater chains would also have to make concessions. But the reality is that the movie business has already transformed too much for the Oscars to singlehandedly make Netflix change its entire strategy. The mere suggestion of this kind of rule change prompted the Department of Justice to send a very odd letter to AMPAS warning of potential antitrust violations. No matter what major exhibitors might think, Netflix is a prominent studio that works with well-liked artists, churns out a lot of well-reviewed films, and is a new member of the Motion Picture Association of America.Essentially, Netflix is part of the Hollywood firmament. AMPAS President John Bailey still stressed in a statement on the Academy’s meeting that the theatrical experience matters to the Board of Governors, though he didn’t mention the streaming service by name. “We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions,” he said. “Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration. We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues.”Current Oscar rules require only a one-week theatrical run in a commercial Los Angeles theater, with three screenings a day, for a movie to qualify for awards. That’s no issue for Netflix, which simply pays theaters to exhibit its releases, renting the room and paying up front for the screenings, a practice known as “four-walling.” For now, the Academy appears happy to keep things the way they are, though Bailey’s statement did have enough caveats about “further study” to keep the streaming company on its toes. Spielberg, meanwhile, will get to work on his latest film, a remake of West Side Story; according to the Times, he’s an avid Netflix user who binge-watches just like everyone else.The new rules actually taken up by the Academy are mostly cosmetic changes to the annual ceremony. The expansion of the Best Makeup and Hairstyling category, which has always been limited to three nominees, seemed only fair, given that practically every other category honors at least five films. The category of Best Foreign Language Film has been retitled to Best International Feature Film because AMPAS “noted that the reference to ‘Foreign’ is outdated within the global filmmaking community,” said Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann, who are co-chairs of the category’s committee.Additionally, the Oscars will air earlier in 2020, on February 9, moving up three weeks from the ceremony’s traditional spot in an attempt to shorten the grueling length of campaign season. The Academy also announced that the ceremony would begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, an hour earlier than usual, which may help address ABC’s concerns about the length of the broadcast, which led to controversy this year. These small, logical steps should help the Oscars remain popular in the future. But the Academy’s governors clearly recognized that the best way to stay relevant is to keep Netflix as an ally, rather than creating further conflict.
  • A Community Finding a Path Forward
    Last month we traveled by car through several cities in Indiana, in a project organized jointly by New America Indianapolis, where our main partner was Molly Martin, and Indiana Humanities, as part of their new two-year-long INseparable program intended to foster conversations across the usual partisan divides. There we worked mainly with the IH director Keira Amstutz and the community-engagement director Leah Nahmias.New America–Indy’s work is largely related to the economic and civic effects of rapid technological change—and how the state’s communities and economy can best prepare themselves for the next, inevitable disruptions. (Why do that in Indiana? As pointed out in the previous installment, it’s because the state is consistently at or near the top of rankings of manufacturing as a share of employment. Thus it’s very heavily exposed to trends good and bad in automation, offshoring, and other industrial shifts.)Indiana Humanities’ programs include efforts to rebuild the structures of discussion, civility, and citizenship within the state. (And why do that in Indiana? Few states illustrate more clearly the coexistence of city-by-city progressive trends, notably in Indianapolis, Gary, Fort Wayne, South Bend, and elsewhere, and a statewide politics more and more closely aligned with conservative national movements. In contemporary shorthand: This is the state of Mayors Pete Buttigieg and Karen Freeman-Wilson, and of former Governor Mike Pence.)Together these two groups suggested a series of stops along Indiana’s I-69 corridor—the “vein of gold,” as one local enthusiast put it, because of the manufacturing centers along this route. These first few installments of our new Our Towns series will involve brief overview sketches of three of these cities, highlighting three of the trends we’ve seen more generally in smaller communities that are discovering new paths forward.Those three places along I-69 are Angola, Fort Wayne, and Muncie. Let’s start with the picturesque small town of Angola.Downtown Angola, Indiana, during a summertime festival (Courtesy of Steuben County Tourism Bureau)Angola is in the far northeastern corner of Indiana. If you keep going a few miles farther north along I-69, you’ll be in southern Michigan. If you head a few miles east, on U.S. Highway 20, you’ll be in northern Ohio. It’s the county seat of Steuben County; it was founded a generation before the Civil War, in 1838; and although it’s not close to any of the Great Lakes, it has long had a Midwest resort-town identity, because of a nearby state park and numerous local small lakes.It has a population of about 8,500 people and a classic-look American downtown, whose central feature is a tall, slender column, topped by a large statue of Columbia and honoring those from Steuben County who fought in the Civil War. Some 1,300 local people served in the Union forces; nearly 300 of them died.Why the name, Angola? The city’s histories say it was named after the city of Angola, New York, in the Buffalo area—which in turn was reportedly named to honor missionaries working in the Angola on the west coast of Africa, then a Portuguese colony. (The most frequently mentioned Angola, site of the state prison in Louisiana, has no direct connection to this Angola in Indiana. Prison histories say it was named for a nearby pre–Civil War plantation, which in turn was known as Angola because that is where some of the enslaved people in the area had been taken from.)For us, the familiar parts of Angola were ingredient in the civic-renewal mix we’d seen in other towns of this size that were trying to maintain a viable economic and civic life. These included:The downtown itself, as the object of deliberate revitalization and beautification efforts. The downtown square features the Brokaw Movie House, built in the 1930s and now modernized with two screens and the contemporary luxury moviegoing experience. For instance, in addition to food, beers from two local craft breweries are on tap, along with spirits from the only local distillery in this part of the state. “Ten years ago, when we started this downtown-renewal push, there were eight or 10 vacant buildings downtown,” Angola’s mayor, Richard Hickman, told us. “Now there are only three.” Hickman, who came to town for a job with an insurance firm in the 1970s and has been mayor since 2001, said that in the past few years, the number of people choosing to live downtown had gone from just a handful to “about 30 apartments on the second or third floor of downtown buildings, with more going in.” As we’ve seen in many other places, the tipping point in downtown revitalization often occurs when people choose to rent or buy living spaces downtown. Who’s making this move in Angola, we asked Hickman? “A lot are younger people, some are older people”; others, he said, are people originally from the area who have relatives nearby and want to keep a local base.    An arts-related strategy, to make the city attractive both to first-time visitors (who might decide to return) and to people who grew up in the region, moved away, but still consider coming back someday. Both elements of this equation—finding some way to place a small town on the mental map of people who had never previously known of it, and increasing its allure to those already familiar but wondering whether they could actually return—are parts of the small-town tool kit we’ve seen applied from Maine to Oregon to Mississippi. Festivals, sporting and recreational facilities, arts projects, and anything else that makes a place distinctive are important parts of this mix. Angola tries to keep up a busy calendar of events. One example: Last year Indiana Humanities sponsored Frankfenfest, a statewide one-state, one-story to have people in Indiana all read and discuss Frankenstein on the 200th anniversary of the book. Angola went all out for the project, as a professor at a local university described.    A diversified advanced-manufacturing economy, of smaller and medium-scale firms (rather than the giant factories of yore). In keeping with the manufacturing-centrism of the state as a whole, the region is dotted with factories that employ tens or dozens of workers. They’re mainly in the broader supply chain of the auto industry, machine tools, specialty metals, and health and medical supplies. Vestil Manufacturing employs several hundred people in its factory not far from downtown. (Elkhart, Indiana, the longtime center of RV manufacturing, is 50 miles to the west. Warsaw, Indiana, the historic center of prosthetic and orthopedic-gear production, is just a little farther away, to the southwest.) Cahoots coffee shop, downtown Angola (Courtesy of Cahoots)A realistic awareness of local problems, exemplified by the nonprofit downtown coffee shop Cahoots, designed both as a site for ordinary diners and visitors and as an activity site and haven for young people who are homeless or otherwise troubled. “Our mission is to provide a safe place, and mentoring, and just food for the young of our community, and beyond,” Richard “Rock” Campbell, of Cahoots, told me. “We have lots of kids who are passing through, out on their own. We make sure at least they get something to eat.”      This past bitter winter meant an unusually high number of snow-closure days for the public schools. “We decided to offer lunch for kids on those days, when they weren’t getting fed at school,” Campbell told me. Several dozen students would show up. (Cahoots was originally sponsored by local churches and now operates as a 501(c)(3) charity.) Those are traits we might have anticipated in Angola. The surprise was the scale and importance of the local university, Trine, a school known for engineering that is its own institutional-renewal story and plays a significant role in the future of the town.For more than 120 years, Trine was known as Tri-State. At its founding in the 1880s it was Tri-State Normal College, the name reflecting its placement on Indiana’s border with Michigan and Ohio. By the 1970s it had become Tri-State University, and then in 2008 it took on its current name, Trine University. The new name is not some linguistic play on Tri-State but refers to an alumnus and local industrialist named Ralph Trine and his wife, Sherri (the Trine family runs Vestil Manufacturing), and it was part of an ambitious recasting of the school.Under Earl Brooks, originally from Tennessee, who has been president since he came to what was then Tri-State in 2000, the school has quadrupled its enrollment from about 1,300 to more than 5,000, has expanded its course offerings, and has invested more than $150 million in its facilities and programs. Trine is the single largest employer in Angola, with higher-than-average wages. It attracts students from around the United States and about 20 other countries (mainly India, China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia)—and in so doing gives these outsiders a reason to consider this corner of Indiana in their long-term plans. “This has an effect on the town,” Mayor Hickman told me. “It’s a little place in Indiana, but people are used to seeing new faces. They don’t give you funny looks or stop and ask why you’re here.” Steuben County’s role as a summer resort site has a similar opening-up effect, as visitors arrive mainly from other parts of the Midwest.The former Angola Christian Church, now reopened as Trine University’s Furth Center for Performing Arts (Courtesy of Trine University)Trine has opened satellite campuses around the region. It refurbished a historic Angola church and turned it into an arts center. (The reincarnation of houses of worship that have lost their congregations into new roles as civic or even commercial spaces is a trend we’ve seen in many other cities, and to which we’ll return.) Trine has opened an ice-hockey arena, which is now also a home for community teams. It’s working in partnership with the city on a new innovation zone and has already fostered a number of start-up tech and manufacturing companies in the region.And meanwhile the school contends that, over the past five years, 99 percent of its graduates have been either employed or in a graduate program of their choosing, within six months of getting their degree from Trine. (I can’t verify any of this myself, but year by year the school’s alumni office makes such an announcement—for instance here in 2018. The school also claims that the average student debt at graduation is under $30,000.)How can this be?? I asked Earl Brooks several times, in more and less polite forms, when talking with him in Angola and later by phone. It’s an era when most small, private, remotely located colleges and universities are struggling. Why Trine? Why now? How? The answers from him and others involved 20 years’ worth of systematic and successful engagement of alumni, local business leaders, foundations, and other donors—plus Trine’s heightened identity as mainly an engineering school that can equip graduates with marketplace skills. “There are good things and bad things about a reputation as an engineering school,” Brooks told me, when we talked at Cahoots. “The good thing is the job-placement rate. The bad thing is people thinking you’re only about engineering.” Obviously Trine and Angola consider that for now the goods outweigh the bads.Trine University main campus (Courtesy of Trine University)As mentioned earlier, Deb and I believe in showing our homework. We don’t know either Trine or Angola in any depth. We’ll learn more; we’ll come across contradictions and complications; and we’ll do our best to render them honestly in connection with trends elsewhere.But as a start to this new journey, the point for the moment is: More was going on in a small part of Steuben County, and a small but fast-growing university there, than the national discourse about small towns, the Midwest, and interior America would normally recognize.Next up: another stop along I-69.
  • A Tremor on Mars Confirms a Lasting Suspicion
    Because we’ve been sitting on the same rock for thousands of years, sometimes our language can tend to be a little Earth-centric. The word earthquake, for example, feels universal, as if it can be applied to any shaking ground. But zoom out beyond our tectonic plates, and the vocabulary shifts.Mars, for instance, has marsquakes.They sound too silly to be real, as if a Netflix show about future Mars settlements made up a scary natural disaster. But tremors on Mars are a thing, and right now scientists believe they have detected a quake on Mars for the first time.Scientists know this because they sent a seismometer to our planetary neighbor. The instrument arrived last year, on board a NASA lander called InSight. The seismometer, small and dome-shaped, has sat on the brick-colored surface since, waiting for hints of movement below the surface. On April 6, it caught something, a “quiet but distinct” signal, scientists said. A rumble from the depths.“We’ve been waiting months for our first marsquake,” Philippe Lognonné, a geophysicist at the Institute of Earth Physics of Paris who leads the seismometer team, said in a statement this week.Scientists have suspected for decades that they’d find this phenomenon if they had the right tools to look. Unlike Earth, Mars lacks tectonic plates that glide over its mantle, jostling the ground when they touch. But like Earth, Mars has three distinct layers—a rocky crust, a mantle, and a metal core—and it’s still cooling from its fiery formation out of a primordial cloud of cosmic dust. Even now, billions of years later, heat radiates from its center and can be strong enough to crack the surface and escape. The fracturing sends seismic waves streaming in all directions.Marsquakes can help scientists study the interior of the planet. Seismic waves move like beams of light in a hall of mirrors; as they propagate throughout the planet, they bounce around. Different materials redirect the waves in different ways. Data from seismometers allow scientists to track the zigzagging of the waves and determine the composition of the stuff they strike.While scientists are thrilled about the detection, they wish the rumble were stronger. The quake measured about 2.5 on the Richter scale, too weak to draw a path within the depths. If a tremor like that happened on Earth, you wouldn’t feel it. If you were standing next to the InSight lander at the moment of detection, you wouldn’t know either. “We are waiting for the big, big one,” says David Mimoun, a scientist at France’s Higher Institute of Aeronautics and Space and a member of the seismometer team. Researchers expect to detect dozens more, some as powerful as 5.5 magnitude.Read: [A new glimpse into the Martian past]The marsquake provided some information about the lander’s surroundings, though. It lasted 15 minutes, a relatively long time for such a weak rumble. This suggests that the ground beneath the InSight lander doesn’t have much water, which is known to exist on Mars mostly as ice. “When there is water, it dampens the quake,” Mimoun says.Some of the earliest missions to Mars sought to find evidence of marsquakes. A pair of Viking landers touched down on the surface in the 1970s with seismometers in tow. But the instruments were mounted on the spacecraft rather than set on the ground, and only one actually worked. Under these circumstances, it was difficult to tell whether rumblings originated from the depths or from the hardware shuddering against a strong wind. In 1976, a seismometer on one of the landers felt some shaking on a not-too-windy day. But the spacecraft recorded measurements of the wind speed only 20 minutes before the mysterious rumbling and 45 minutes after. Scientists couldn’t rule out a wind gust in that missing window.This time, they’re more certain. With the seismometer firmly on the ground, it’s easier to pick out the gusts from the tremors. “We’ve seen a lot of wind previously, and we know that this is something different,” says Ingrid Daubar, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a member of the InSight team.While scientists have ruled out wind as a potential cause, they haven’t fully investigated the possibility of a meteor impact, which can cause the surface to rumble. Daubar says the team will compare images of the InSight lander’s surroundings from before and after the detection and look for evidence of any fresh craters.Read: [NASA declares a beloved Mars mission over]Earth and Mars share their shaky properties with another celestial body: the moon. During the 1970s, seismometers placed on the lunar surface by Apollo astronauts detected hundreds of moonquakes. Some reached a magnitude of 5.5. Scientists suspect several sources, including churning in the moon’s interior caused by Earth’s gravitational tug.Back on Earth, NASA has converted the latest Mars crackling into audio, slowed down so much that it sounds like it’s happening underwater.First, there’s a low, steady hum, the voice of the wind sweeping across the surface. Then, something higher pitched and urgent—the quake. At the end, the whirring of the lander’s robotic arm, maneuvering to take pictures of the scene.The sound of the quake is the big draw here. But it’s the noise of the robotic arm, a hollow cooing, that is my favorite. To hear the vibrations of a quake on another planet is a beguiling experience. But the sound of the delicate movements of the machine that captured them, that humankind somehow managed to dream up and deliver to Mars in one piece, is somehow a little sweeter.
  • Our Towns: On the Road, in the Air
    In the summer of 2013, nearly six years ago, my wife—Deb Fallows—and I announced in this space the beginning of a project to visit smaller towns around the country. These were places that usually show up in the news only as backdrops for national-politics coverage, or when some human or natural disaster has struck. Our goal was to report on how schools, businesses, families, and civic life were faring “out there.”Our means of travel, from one small airport to the next, would be our little four-seat, single-engine, Cirrus SR22 propeller airplane—a model that has become the best-selling small plane of its type around the world, because of its built-in parachute for the entire plane.Our Towns (Penguin Random House)Early in 2017, after spending most of four years on the road, Deb and I announced in this space that this first stage of the journey was over. We would be flying from our home in Washington, D.C.; down along the Atlantic coast to Georgia; and then across the south and west of the country to my original home in inland California, the small city of Redlands, to write a book about what we had seen. We did so; that book, Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, was published in 2018. It drew on what we had found, learned, and described in hundreds of web posts and several articles for The Atlantic through the preceding years.Now we’re beginning the next stage of the journey. In this space over the coming months, we’ll be posting a new set of reports, from an additional set of towns, about a new set of developments and a new range of possibilities for locally based renewal efforts around the country.Four days later, at the other end of the same journey, the Cirrus parked at its West Coast destination, the Luxivair terminal at San Bernardino airport in southern California. (James Fallows / The Atlantic)The guiding principle of this reporting will be the one we developed—city by city, story by story, question by question, surprise by surprise—through our preceding years of travel. The central premise is that the most positive and practical developments in this stage of American life are happening at the local and regional level—but that most Americans have barely heard of those developments except in the communities where they themselves live.This past February, an extensive nationwide survey from the American Enterprise Institute provided data that matched what we’d heard in interviews. By nearly a 2-to-1 ratio, the survey’s directors (Sam Abrams, Karlyn Bowman, and Ryan Streeter) found, Americans were very pessimistic when asked about the prospects for the country as a whole. But by nearly a 3-to-1 ratio, people in different parts of the country, and of different races and economic groups, said they felt that their own communities were moving in the right direction. It was like the radio host Garrison Keillor’s ancient joke about Lake Wobegon, where “the children were all above average,” but with a real-world edge. People recognized the possibility of progress, despite obstacles and injustices, in their own part of America, but assumed the rest of the country must be doing much worse.Of course the paralysis and division of national politics matter. Of course every community has its entrenched problems, of which the opioid and addiction crisis is the most acute, economic dislocation is the most widespread, and racial injustice is the most intractable. My view of American history is: From the start, it’s been a struggle, between society’s worse impulses and the better ones. Any clear-eyed view of this nation, at any point, will include the tragic and the inspiring.But the underappreciated and potentially inspiring news of this moment, as Deb and I have come to believe through travel in every corner of the country, is the extent of locally based renewal and experimentation, and the evolution of formal and informal networks connecting those far-flung efforts, all directed at many of the same challenges that seem hopeless from a national perspective.The glamorous life of the traveling reporter, luncheon edition (James Fallows / The Atlantic)Over the past year, we’ve been visiting communities that we’ll soon write about in this space—from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to Kenosha and Eau Claire, Wisconsin; from Bellingham, Washington, to Pensacola, Florida, and Danville, Virginia; and points in between and beyond.Starting with the next few installments in this space, the focus will be on the state that has long had the most manufacturing-intensive economy in the entire country: Indiana. (At a public forum last month in Fort Wayne, we talked with the podcaster Ashley C. Ford, who is now based in Brooklyn but grew up in and considers herself a proud citizen-in-exile of Fort Wayne. “When people hear Indiana, they think it’s all a bunch of cornfields,” she said at that session. “They can hardly imagine how many factories we have.”)  With the podcaster Ashley C. Ford, in her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. (Courtesy of Indiana Humanities)The nature of Indiana’s economy has long exposed its citizens and communities to both the good and the bad of rapid shifts in technology, business structure, and world trading trends. We’ll explain how this looks on the ground in places up and down the state. We’ll follow with reports from other parts of the Midwest, the South, and inland California. This summer we’ll begin a new round of travel, to additional cities, by small propeller plane.Some of the themes we’ll explore in coming months will include:Economic dislocation and opportunity. The saga of this era is the disappearance of old lines of work, the appearance of new ones, and the unequal opportunities and rewards that may result. Some of the response we’ve seen involve innovative kinds of schooling, as we’ll describe from San Bernardino, California; different kinds of manufacturing and start-up cultures, which we’ve seen around the country; and different technical, civic, and social tools to match candidates with possibilities and make this era’s growth more inclusive and broadly shared than the past generation’s. The prospects of the rural and the regional. We are continuing to report on the smaller towns that are finding a future, on their own or in regional alliances, often through the arts or through technology-based programs—and how they differ from the others that are losing ground. The tensions between the local and the national, and what it means for America as a nation, in good ways and bad, if its center of initiative is again shifting (as it has several times in the past) away from the federal government and toward 50 states and hundreds of cities. The role of the arts. On this we have become believers. Which leads to … The modern civic role of faith, and the power of religious organizations, in building and sometimes straining civic fabric. The role of technology, from barriers to internet access in non-coastal America, to new tools that can help remote areas recover and thrive. The role of libraries, which are the new public square, and where people don’t just consume but also create knowledge. The role of local media—indispensable, imperiled, and the object of widespread experimentation to establish viable business models. The role of the local, from food to language to festivals to craft breweries. The prospects for sustainability, at a time when the main point of leverage may be local. The reconstruction of downtowns, and their fights against big-box stores and urban sprawl. The “reverse migration,” of people who are deciding that the best prospects for their families, careers, and souls lie not in New York or L.A. but in some other place they feel they are “from” or are “at home.” The lived reality of immigration at the local level, which is in such contrast to national-level rhetoric. The lived reality of inclusive growth and opportunity, where it happens and where it does not, including modern dynamics of racial barriers. The return of “civics,” and the willed reconstruction of the public sphere. This is something we’ve actually seen in a few places, and will be looking for in more.      The illuminating roles of music and literature. Are we living in a world that Theodore Dreiser and Willa Cather, plus Woody Guthrie and Billie Holiday and Loretta Lynn, have already mapped out? And a list of others, which no doubt I’m forgetting now but we’ll get to in the months ahead.America from above (Deborah Fallows)Our plan is deliberately slow-building, incremental, learning as we go. I believe in “showing your homework” as a reporter: laying out what you’ve seen, what you might have missed, what you’ve changed your mind about, where you need to learn more.Our approach is also deliberately inclusive and “big tent.” Part of our goal is to connect people in disparate groups around the country who are working toward similar ends, but may not be aware of one another’s efforts. Our allies include New America, where Deb is now based; HBO, with whom we are making a documentary for airing next year; and many other groups we’ll link to and publicize as the year goes on.We’ll lead off this week with reports from our recent trip through Indiana, and then through the months ahead we’ll cover as much of the country as we possibly can.We’re excited to begin this process, to share stories we’ve heard in recent months, and to learn in the months ahead. Deb and I look forward to hearing from you with tips, stories, and even dissents. Please join us here as the journey unfolds.
  • Some Immigrants Choose Between Food Stamps and a Green Card
    Lourdes Juarez has lived in North Carolina since 2000, working part-time to help children with disabilities improve their motor skills. Originally from Mexico, she is now a lawful permanent resident of the United States with plans to apply for citizenship.After bouts of pancreatic and liver cancer left her struggling with medical debt, she learned that she qualified for Medicaid, the government health program for low-income people. But she had a nagging concern that accepting government benefits would affect her chances of gaining citizenship. She had heard rumors to that effect among her friends and in the news.Juarez’s fear reflects the growing sense among immigrants that they should avoid public programs, which also include food stamps and certain housing programs, in case they count against their ability to stay in the country permanently. In December, Juarez called the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, which reassured her that her citizenship would not be affected if she enrolled in Medicaid. Only then did Jaurez relax and sign up. “I’m now more at ease, but there are other people who are confused and need true information,” she told me through an interpreter.In October, Donald Trump’s administration released a proposed rule that, if finalized, would affect a part of immigration policy known as “public charge.” From the founding of the country, several American states expelled immigrants deemed too poor or otherwise “undesirable.” The U.S. government formally codified the practice in the form of the Immigration Act of 1882. The term public charge has, in past decades, been applied loosely, as Public Radio International has reported. In 1911, for example, a 15-year-old Italian immigrant was turned back at Ellis Island because his genitals were too small. “Persons so affected are liable, owing to inability to satisfactorily perform sexual congress, to become addicted to unnatural practices,” a public-health officer wrote at the time.More recently, the provision has applied to foreigners who hope to immigrate and noncitizens already in the United States who are likely to need long-term institutional care or government cash assistance. The government might consider those factors when it comes time to decide who should be allowed to obtain visas or green cards. With the Trump administration’s new proposed rule, though, the U.S. government would broaden the definition of a public charge, examining whether immigrants have used public-health programs such as food stamps or Medicaid during their time in the United States. Immigration officials could then look less favorably on legal immigrants who used those benefits when they seek to obtain green cards or extend their immigration status.[Read: Trump’s cynical approach to immigration and health care]Though the number of immigrants whom the new public-charge determination would apply to is much smaller, the consulting firm Manatt estimates that as many as 41.1 million noncitizens and their families, or 12.7 percent of the U.S. population, could be deterred from using public benefits because of a chilling effect resulting from the proposed change.The proposal is just one in a slew of policies backing up the president’s assertion that America is “full” and should admit fewer immigrants. This month, the Trump administration announced that it wants to close a loophole and evict undocumented immigrants from public housing.In addition to the proposed public-charge rule change, in January 2018, the State Department gave embassies and consulates wider leeway to consider the likelihood that a visa applicant would become a public charge when determining whom to let in to the country. Consular officers are now allowed to take into account the past or current use of government programs by a visa applicant’s family when deciding whether to grant an applicant entry. Subsequently, State Department data revealed that visa denials on public-charge grounds rose threefold from 2017 to 2018.“What the State Department data show is that anyone sponsoring an immigrant is having a tougher time already,” says Stuart Anderson, a former Immigration and Naturalization Service official under George W. Bush who is now the executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, an organization that analyzed the visa data.Immigrants became nervous about using public benefits almost immediately after Trump’s election, perhaps due to the president’s inflammatory rhetoric about foreigners. But emerging data from around the country suggest that these and other recent proposals have heightened this fear. Though some of the rules haven’t been implemented yet, the mere discussion of these changes has been enough to scare many immigrant families away from health services for which they or their children are legally eligible. “They’re hearing all about all sorts of changes,” says Sonya Schwartz, a senior policy attorney from the National Immigration Law Center. “It all fits together like, I have to keep a low profile. My life is very risky.”Social-services providers, doctors, and attorneys describe immigrant communities that are rife with misinformation and fear. Their immigrant patients and clients steer clear of even those government programs that won’t count against them, in some cases hurting their health as a result.“I don’t think I’m exaggerating by saying this affects nearly every single immigrant family that I see,” says Lanre Falusi, a pediatrician at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. “I’ll see a mom with a newborn, and sometimes … the mom is having trouble affording formula. I talk about programs that they might be eligible for. More and more, I’m having new parents decline, saying, ‘I’m not gonna sign up.’”According to the National Immigration Law Center, which summarized the impacts of the public-charge proposal in a recent fact sheet, health-care providers and insurers in some states have noticed sizable decreases in enrollment in food stamps and Medicaid. After a decade of increases, participation in the food-stamp program among immigrants fell by eight percentage points from 2017 to the first half of 2018, even though the employment rates among this group remained the same. Politico cited the National WIC Association, the advocacy arm of the government program that provides food to low-income children and mothers, in saying that “nearly two-thirds of WIC providers, from 18 different states, reported they have noticed a difference in immigrant WIC access in the wake of the news about potential changes in the public-charge rules.”“When the office reaches out to [immigrants] to inform them that proposed changes to the public charge policy have not taken effect, they respond that it is too risky and their attorneys are advising them against receiving benefits,” said Kurt Larrick, the assistant director of the Arlington County Department of Human Services in Virginia, via email. About 200 families stopped receiving WIC benefits in the county from 2017 to 2018.WIC is not included in the public-charge proposal, but advocates told me that this drop is an indication that immigrant families are afraid to use any benefits at all, out of an overabundance of caution. Rodrigo Aguirre, a case manager with Catholic Charities, has seen the same effect with free and reduced-price school lunches, which are similarly not part of the current proposal.Many immigrants live in mixed-status families, and some reportedly avoid enrolling even authorized family members in programs, fearing that doing so might alert authorities to the presence of an unauthorized parent or spouse. “We have seen clients afraid to have their U.S.-citizen children continue to receive Medicaid, even though for most people that should be fine,” says Laurie Ball Cooper, the legal director of Ayuda, an immigrant-aid organization in the Washington, D.C., area.When the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a focus group with 20 immigrant families in 2018, it found that though some of the families were struggling to afford food, they felt signing up for nutrition programs might put them or their family members at risk of deportation. What’s more, a 2019 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the California Health Care Foundation found that 40 percent of uninsured Californians said they are “worried that if they signed up for health insurance, they would draw attention to their own or a family member’s immigration status.”Advocates told me that word of these changes spread through word of mouth or through scraps of information on Spanish- or English-language news. Because the immigration rules are so complex, the message tends to get distilled down. “If you’re an immigrant and you’re using federal programs, you’re at risk,” says Falusi, the pediatrician, summarizing the sentiment among her patients. Even for those who likely wouldn’t be affected, she says, “it’s difficult for them to rest assured, given that what we know now might change on a whim.”Occasionally, the game of telephone yields wild theories about immigrant children being forced to serve in the military or being made to pay back their food-stamp benefits later.Doctors and immigrant-aid attorneys told me they are conflicted about how to counsel immigrant families about using government programs. They emphasize that the rule has only been proposed. Technically, nothing has changed yet. But many nevertheless feel uneasy assuring immigrants that they won’t be affected. Sometimes, advocates said, it comes down to the individual family’s tolerance for risk.Lisa David, the CEO of Public Health Solutions, the largest WIC provider in New York State, says she sees spikes in the number of people leaving the WIC program any time there’s news about a Trump-administration crackdown on immigrants. “We’ve had families walk in and say, ‘I don’t want these checks anymore; please take me out of your database,’” she says. “I can’t actually tell them ‘Don’t worry about it,’ because I can’t say that truthfully.”The Trump administration, for its part, has denied that the public-charge change is meant to frighten immigrants into not using benefits. An official from the Department of Homeland Security told Politico that the agency is trying to “better align U.S. immigration policy with federal law.” In an email, a State Department official told me that “public charge determinations are based on a consular officer’s assessment of the totality of the applicant’s circumstances … age; health; family status; assets, resources and financial status; education and skills; and an affidavit of support from a sponsor if one is required by law.” The White House did not return a request for comment.[Read: The new rule that could keep millions of immigrants out of the U.S.]Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, argues that the public-charge rule is valuable because it keeps out low-skill immigrants, who, he says, are likely to take in more government services than they pay for. But, he adds, “the proper way to implement this rule in the future would be to place it on people before they come into the country rather than after. Trying to apply it to people after they come into the country isn’t going to save very much money.”Regardless of whether the goal of these measures is to get legal immigrants to stop using government benefits, that appears to be happening. Many are looking to less-tracked means of getting help. Schwartz, from the National Immigration Law Center, says some food banks are seeing an increase in demand. However, many immigrant families work and therefore don’t have time to wait in line at soup kitchens and food pantries.With this proposal, many immigrants feel they must choose between protecting their chances of staying in the United States and protecting their health. Some, advocates say, are choosing America. The families that are declining to participate in WIC are turning to less-healthy food options, David says, such as starches and fast food that will fill up a hungry child on just a few dollars.Beyond the nutritional deficits, Falusi says she sees families that are ground down by stress, and kids who report vague symptoms of stomachaches and headaches. She and others paint a picture of an immigrant community that has added hunger to an already long list of worries.“One time a family came in, and the kid was unmotivated. He had his head down the entire time,” Aguirre, of Catholic Charities, says. “The mom said, ‘We don’t have food stamps … so they didn’t have breakfast today.’”Ena Alvarado-Esteller contributed reporting.
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  • Broncos released a digital “Avengers”-themed wallpaper. Chris Harris Jr. wasn’t on it.
    In commemoration of the release “Avengers: Endgame,” the Broncos on Wednesday released wallpapers in the style of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ movie posters, featuring Denver players with the title “Broncos Country.” However, there was one glaring omission: Chris Harris Jr. The Broncos star cornerback — who recently asked the team for a trade if he’s not given a new contract — noticed his absence and responded “this real cold” on Twitter. this real cold https://t.co/dCAAgHy3va — Chris Harris (@ChrisHarrisJr) April 25, 2019 In response, the Broncos re-released the image, this time with Harris added to the left of Von Miller and Derek Wolfe, and above Isaac Yiadom and Casey Kreiter. Hope this thaws things out. Our bad, we got you pic.twitter.com/sdMs4KhjIp — Denver Broncos (@Broncos) April 25, 2019 Related Articles Broncos’ first-round NFL draft picks: Ranking the top 6 best (and worst) of all-time Denver Post’s final NFL mock draft: How will the first round play out? NFL draft should answer which direction the Broncos are going Quarterback Dwayne Haskins has his eyes on Broncos and three other teams heading into Day 1 of NFL draft Broncos Draft: Who should John Elway take at No. 10 and who he will take
  • Trump to address Air Force Academy graduates in Colorado Springs
    President Donald Trump will speak at an Air Force Academy commencement next month, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday. RELATED: Oprah Winfrey to give Colorado College’s commencement address During a “Take Your Child to Work Day” briefing to children at the White House, Sanders said the president will speak at the Colorado Springs ceremony. Related Articles Air Force Academy captain arrested for suspicion of internet luring of a child Military academies begin to follow Trump administration’s military transgender ban Air Force agrees to 3-year extension with basketball coach Dave Pilipovich Former Air Force receiver hoping NFL is a dream delayed Colorado Avalanche playoff tickets to sell out “very quickly.” There’s only one way to guarantee a seat Trump visited Colorado Springs during the 2016 presidential campaign. Tens of thousands of spectators could attend the ceremony, which is a popular stop for presidents. The last to speak at the academy’s commencement was Barack Obama in 2016. “Take care of each other,” the president told cadets then. “Take care of those under your command. And as long as you keep strong that long blue line, stay true to the values you’ve learned here — integrity, service before self, excellence — do this and I’m confident that we will always remain one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Announcement of Trump’s address comes at a time when Colorado Springs is competing to be the headquarters of U.S. Space Command. Three of the six bases under considerations are in the Colorado Springs area, with another in Aurora. The other two are in Alabama and California.
  • “Miracle on Ice” scoreboard will be displayed in Colorado Springs
    COLORADO SPRINGS — A scoreboard that marked the U.S. men’s ice hockey team’s victory against the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics has found a new home in Colorado Springs. The Gazette reported last week that the panel that kept score of the game that became known as the “Miracle on Ice” will be permanently displayed in the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, which is expected to open next year. The scoreboard was decommissioned in 2017 after nearly four decades of service at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York. The museum’s interim chief operating officer, Peter Maiurro, says the 850-pound (385-kilogram) panel will be mounted and powered in the museum’s special events space.
  • Suspected varmint tripped up Denver Xcel substation, left 13,000 customers without power
    A squirrel or a gopher likely climbed inside an Aurora substation Wednesday night and sparked 30 outages affecting 13,395 electrical customers across the metro area Wednesday night, authorities say. “A critter got into a substation in Aurora and caused the outage around 8:11 p.m.,” said Mark Stutz, spokesman for Xcel Energy. “I don’t know what kind of critter.” Related Articles Scattered power outages hit metro area including parts of Denver, Arvada, Wheat Ridge Xcel worked fast to restore power to customers in Arvada, Denver, Lakeside, Mountain View and Wheat Ridge by 9:14 p.m., Stutz said. Bull snakes, birds, squirrels, prairie dogs and various other varmints have been blamed for substation outages in the past, he said.
  • Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill won’t face child abuse charges, DA says, but officials believe crime occurred
    Prosecutors have decided not to file criminal charges against Kansas City Chiefs star wide receiver Tyreek Hill over allegations of battery involving his 3-year-old son, a district attorney announced Wednesday, because authorities couldn’t determine who committed the alleged act under investigation. “We are deeply troubled by this situation and are concerned about the health and welfare of the child in question,” said Steve Howe, district attorney in Johnson County, Kansas. “We believe that a crime has occurred. However, the evidence in this case does not conclusively establish who committed this crime.” Howe declined to detail the specifics of the case, he said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon, because of an ongoing investigation by state child welfare authorities. “It bothers us when we see something like this happen to a child … and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Howe. The investigation stemmed from two separate occasions in March in which police in the Kansas City suburb of Overland were called to the home Hill shares with his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, 24. Police reports released in connection with those calls, on March 5 and March 14, don’t detail the specifics of the alleged act, and characterize Hill and Espinal, 24, as “others involved.” Hill, one of the league’s most electrifying talents who was poised to sign a record-setting contract extension just a few weeks ago, still faces the possibility of punishment if the NFL concludes he violated the league’s personal conduct policy. Related Articles Broncos’ first-round NFL draft picks: Ranking the top 6 best (and worst) of all-time NFL draft should answer which direction the Broncos are going Quarterback Dwayne Haskins has his eyes on Broncos and three other teams heading into Day 1 of NFL draft Broncos Draft: Who should John Elway take at No. 10 and who he will take Denver Broncos NFL mock draft: Final 7-round projection Neither the league nor the Chiefs immediately responded to requests for comment. But the NFL has been monitoring the situation, according to the Kansas City Star, and last month sent police a letter seeking all records relating to the investigation. Police responded to the NFL with the same two reports sent to the media regarding the investigation, which offered little in the way of details. Howe, the district attorney, said the NFL would receive no special treatment, and have access to only the same sparse records available to the news media. In college, Hill was kicked off Oklahoma State’s football team in 2014 after he was arrested on charges of punching and choking Espinal, who was eight weeks pregnant with their son at the time. He later pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery, drawing a sentence of three years’ probation, and the conviction was a major factor in causing his stock with NFL teams to plummet. The Chiefs selected him in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft. Since entering the NFL, however, Hill had stayed out of trouble off the field while establishing himself was one the league’s best wide receivers and kick returners. He completed his probation requirements — taking anger management classes and participating in a batterers’ intervention program — and reconciled with Espinal. Last September, they got engaged, and in January, Hill said his fiancee was pregnant with twins. In early March, just days before police were called to Hill’s home, reports circulated the Chiefs had begun negotiations with Hill’s agent, and were discussing a potential record-setting deal for the wide receiver, in the range of $100 million over five years. But those negotiations likely hit a standstill when the news emerged about the most recent investigation.
  • Nuggets-Spurs: Three keys to Game 6
    Win the first. For the first time all series, Denver won the first quarter in Game 5 and wasn’t playing uphill the rest of the game. Instead of Nikola Jokic setting the early tone, it was Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Paul Millsap connecting on five first-quarter 3-pointers and putting the Spurs on their heels. The combination of their early scoring, coupled with imposing defense from Harris and Torrey Craig, sent a convincing message about the Nuggets’ intentions. After the first quarter, the Nuggets never trailed again. “We wanted to take the fight to them,” said Harris. “We felt like they were trying to be physical with us and out-tough us, and that’s one thing we can control.” Related Articles Is Gregg Popovich being out-coached by Michael Malone? “All in on Game 6”: Nuggets’ Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic eager to end Spurs’ season Kiszla: Can’t ignore big, white elephant in the room. Nikola Jokic among NBA’s five best players in 2019. Nuggets throttle Spurs in pivotal Game 5, take 3-2 series lead Nuggets at Spurs Game 5 live blog: Real time updates from the NBA playoffs Jokic and Murray. It sounds simple enough, but when those two are in lockstep, the Nuggets are nearly impossible to beat. Jokic has been the steady heartbeat of the Nuggets all season, and to the surprise of no one in the organization, the playoffs haven’t tempered his production. Whether it was dribble handoffs, high pick-and-rolls or momentum-swinging 3-pointers, Jokic was in his bag Tuesday night. Denver has won three of the last four in this series, and they all happen to coincide with Murray’s groove. “The best part is we really don’t know what’s going to happen,” Murray said of the tandem. “We play off each other. We read each other really well. He’s such a good passer, can shoot. There’s really nothing he can’t do … other than jump.” Barton and the bench:  A difficult situation has become a huge plus for the Nuggets. Will Barton handled his benching with poise and professionalism. He never pouted, and that turned into 17 points off the bench in Game 5. The Nuggets are legitimately playing a nine-man rotation, and it’s taking a toll on San Antonio’s depth. Most of the Spurs’ bench is in a funk, while Denver’s reserves — Barton, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley and Mason Plumlee — have all offered valuable minutes. “All I care about right now is winning,” Barton said.
  • Broncos’ first-round NFL draft picks: Ranking the top 6 best (and worst) of all-time
    The Broncos NFL draft board is set with the No. 10 pick in hand tonight. How will John Elway use it? The decision could help propel the franchise to new heights or send it swirling toward mediocrity. Here’s a look back at the Broncos’ Top 6 best (and worst) first-round NFL draft selections in history, explained and ordered by year picked. Call it a quick history lesson before Elway makes his choice. There’s a fine line between boom and bust, John. Good Luck. TOP 6 Floyd Little, RB, Syracuse: No. 6 overall (1967) — A Pro Football Hall-of-Famer who totaled more than 12,000 all-purpose yards and 54 touchdowns over nine seasons in Denver. Randy Gradishar, LB, Ohio State: No. 14 overall (1974) — A pioneer of the Orange Crush named 1978 AP Defensive Player of the Year in addition to seven Pro Bowl selections. Louis Wright, CB, San Jose State: No. 17 overall (1975) — Spent 12 years in Denver and member of the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade team with 26 career interceptions. Dennis Smith, CB, USC: No. 15 overall (1981) — Played on three Super Bowl teams and inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame in 2001. Steve Atwater, S, Arkansas: No. 20 overall (1989) — Among the most feared hard-hitting safeties in NFL history and finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M: No. 2 overall (2011) — Franchise career sacks leader (98) entering his ninth season with the Broncos. BOTTOM 6 Ted Gregory, DT, Syracuse: No. 26 overall (1988) — Traded to New Orleans before his rookie season and appeared in three career NFL games. Tommy Maddox, QB, UCLA: No. 25 overall (1992) — Went 0-4 as a Year 1 starter with nine interceptions and later traded to the Rams. Marcus Nash, WR, Tennessee: No. 30 overall (1998) — Caught four passes over eight games as a rookie and traded to Miami. Willie Middlebrooks, CB, Minnesota: No. 24 overall (2001) — Played almost exclusively on special teams through four years and traded to the 49ers. Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida: No. 17 overall (2007) — Made two starts over five seasons in Denver before getting traded to Oakland. Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis: No. 26 overall (2016) — Attempted only 128 passes between two years and cut last preseason. — Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post NEW  If you enjoy The Denver Post’s sports coverage, we have a new subscription offer for you! Try the first month for just 99¢ What’s on tap? TV/RADIO: Here’s what sports are airing today Must-Read Andy Cross, The Denver PostChris Harris (25) of the Denver Broncos with the ball after an interception during the third quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Denver Broncos hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers at Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver, Colorado on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. Analysis: Chris Harris’ request takes over as Broncos’ main Draft Week storyline Taking over as the major talking point is cornerback Chris Harris’ demand for a trade if not given a new contract. A league source confirmed that Harris’ camp informed the Broncos of the ultimatum on Tuesday night. Read more… RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostPresident of football operations and general manager John Elway, of the Denver Broncos, speaks to media after he relieved head coach Vance Joseph of his duties on Dec. 31, 2018 at Dove Valley. Denver Broncos NFL mock draft: Final 7-round projection With the draft tomorrow, here’s a view of how things could unfold — from Rounds 1-7. And in this scenario, Denver would check off a lot from its to-do list and come out with a very respectable haul in our view. Read more… + Who should John Elway take at No. 10 and who he will take? The Denver Post staff takes a look. + Ryan O’Halloran takes one final look with his first-round mock draft. Matthew Holst, Getty ImagesTight end T.J. Hockenson of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates a touchdown during the third quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Nov. 04, 2017 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. Broncos Draft: Why — and why not — four prospects make sense with 10th pick Ryan O’Halloran breaks down four possibilities the Broncos can pick up with the No. 10 pick. Read more… Quick Hits + NFL Draft Preview: Wanted by Broncos — three-down inside linebacker. + NFL Draft Preview: Broncos’ question — take prospect to play guard or center? + The Broncos need to find offensive linemen in the NFL draft. Here’s the scouting report on Denver’s 5 best options. + NFL Draft Preview: A look at five potential punt/kickoff returners. + NFL Draft Preview: A look at the top five cornerbacks. + Broncos GM John Elway not tipping his hand at NFL draft strategy. + Broncos Mailbag: Is John Elway looking at draft to replace Chris Harris? + Broncos Journal: Evaluating draft-eligible quarterbacks “not the same” as 15 years ago. + Broncos’ Von Miller won’t face charges for catching hammerhead shark off coast of Miami. + If Broncos wait until round 2 to add a linebacker, Alabama’s Mack Wilson is intriguing. + Broncos Mailbag: Have a question about the team? Tap here to ask Ryan O’Halloran here. + Want to chat about the Broncos? Ask to join our closed discussion group on Facebook. By The Numbers 454 How many tackles former Ralston Valley and Wyoming defensive back Andrew Wingard had in his collegiate career. ESPN analyst Todd McShay has Wingard as a fourth- or fifth-round grade in the draft. Read more… Parting Shot Provided by Winter Park ResortFormer Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer delivers a Broncos draft pick announcement at Mary Jane ski area in 2016. The Broncos are holding a similar party this Saturday. Denver Broncos are throwing a draft party at a ski area this Saturday — and the lift tickets are cheap You could watch the third day of the NFL draft on Saturday while sprawled on your sofa, but wouldn’t you rather be part of the draft at a ski area party? Read more… Get in Touch If you see something that’s cause for question or have a comment, thought or suggestion, email me at dboniface@denverpost.com or tweet me @danielboniface.
  • Joe Biden launches 2020 presidential bid
    WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden formally joined the crowded Democratic presidential contest on Thursday, declaring the “soul of this nation” at stake if President Donald Trump wins re-election. In a video posted on Twitter, Biden focused on the 2017 deadly clash between white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Biden noted Trump’s comments that there were some “very fine people” on both sides of the violent encounter, which left one woman dead. “We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said. “If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation — who we are. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.” The 76-year-old Biden becomes an instant front-runner alongside Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is leading many polls and has proved to be a successful fundraiser. Biden has legislative and international experience that is unmatched in the Democratic field, and he is among the best-known faces in U.S. politics. He quickly racked up endorsements on Thursday morning, becoming the first Democrat running for president with the backing of more than one U.S. senator. Still, Biden must compete in a field that now spans at least 20 Democrats and has been celebrated for its racial and gender diversity. As an older white man with occasionally centrist views, Biden has to prove he’s not out of step with his party. He’s yet to outline his positions on the issues defining the 2020 Democratic primary, most notably “Medicare for All,” the universal health care plan authored by Sanders that has been adopted by virtually the entire Democratic field. But the native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, is betting that his working-class appeal and ties to Barack Obama’s presidency will help him win over progressive skeptics. Obama hasn’t explicitly endorsed Biden’s bid, but the former president took the unusual step of weighing in on Thursday’s announcement. “President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill said. “He relied on the vice president’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.” Trump welcomed Biden to the campaign in a tweet calling him “Sleepy Joe.” “I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign,” Trump said. “It will be nasty – you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate.” Privately, Trump allies have warned that Biden might be the biggest re-election threat given the former vice president’s potential appeal among the white working class in the Midwest, the region that gave Trump a path to the presidency. Biden is paying special attention to his native Pennsylvania, a state that swung to Trump in 2016 after voting for Democratic presidential candidates for decades. While Biden represented Delaware in the Senate for 36 years, he was often referred to as Pennsylvania’s third senator. The former vice president will be in the state three times within the opening weeks of his campaign. He’ll be in Philadelphia on Thursday evening headlining a fundraiser at the home of David L. Cohen, executive senior vice president of Comcast. Biden is aiming to raise $500,000 at the event. He will hold his first public event as a 2020 presidential candidate in Pittsburgh on Monday. Then it’s off to Iowa, home of the leadoff nominating caucuses on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by two days in South Carolina. He’ll visit the other two early-voting states, Nevada and New Hampshire, in early May, before holding a major rally in Philadelphia. Biden’s first media appearance is set for Friday morning on ABC’s “The View,” a move that may help him make an appeal to women whose support will be crucial to winning the primary. As he neared his campaign launch, Biden’s challenges have come into greater focus. He struggled last month to respond to claims that he touched 2014 Nevada lieutenant governor nominee Lucy Flores’ shoulders and kissed the back of her head before a fall campaign event. A handful of other women have made similar claims, though none has alleged sexual misconduct. Biden, a former U.S. senator from Delaware, pledged in an online video to be “much more mindful” of respecting personal space but joked two days later that he “had permission” to hug a male union leader before addressing the group’s national conference. Biden also has been repeatedly forced to explain his 1991 decision, as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, to allow Anita Hill to face difficult questions from an all-male panel about allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, who later was confirmed to the high court. He has since apologized for his role in the hearing. But in the #MeToo era, particularly after the contentious confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the episode remains a significant political liability. Related Articles Cory Gardner lets loose with tweetstorm over idea of letting prisoners vote White presidential candidates face “woke litmus test” in Democratic primary race Joe Biden expected to announce presidential bid Thursday Tension emerges between Congress, 2020 Dems on impeachment Sen. Kamala Harris joins Trump impeachment call during Democratic town hall Likewise, Biden once played a key role in anti-crime legislation that had a disproportionately negative impact on African Americans. And while several 2020 Democratic contenders have embraced the possibility of reparations to African Americans for slavery in recent weeks, Biden last month struggled to explain comments he made as a freshman senator in 1975 about the school busing debate. His first White House bid in 1988 ended after a plagiarism scandal. He dropped out of the 2008 race after earning less than 1% of the vote in the Iowa caucuses. Later that year, Obama named Biden as his running mate. Boyd Brown, a prominent South Carolina Democrat backing Beto O’Rourke, said Biden’s opening salvo stands out. “This is very strong out of the chute. Well done. Biden just sucked the wind out of the sails for much of the field,” he said. But he noted that announcement bumps fade and said Biden still has “to campaign the same aggressive way for the next nine months.”
  • Denver weather: Sun, rain and thunderstorms on the way for the weekend
    Cloudy skies over Denver will give way to sunny skies and high temperatures in the mid-60s on Thursday, forecasters say. The high temperature will be about 65 degrees in the Denver metro area, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder. It will be much warmer on Friday when temperatures are expected to reach 76 degrees, the NWS says. RELATED: Colorado tornadoes: Everything you need to know about the severe weather season There’s a 20 percent chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms on Friday. Isolated rain showers are expected through midnight, forecasters say. Cloudy skies on the plains this morning will give way to mostly sunny conditions by this afternoon as temperatures rise to the lower and mid 60s. The higher mountains may see a few showers or storms this afternoon with locally gusty winds, brief rain & small hail possible. #cowx pic.twitter.com/fYy9DcXILn — NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) April 25, 2019 A mostly sunny weekend is ahead for the Front Range. The high temperature on Saturday will be around 70 degrees. The high on Sunday could reach 74 degrees. There’s a 10 percent chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms on Sunday, the NWS says. Related Articles Denver weather: Thunderstorms and rain in the city, snow possible in near future Denver weather: “Bring on the sun!” forecasters proclaim Denver weather: Rain showers and fog Monday before week-long warm up Denver weather: Easter Sunday expected to bring mild temperatures, wind Denver weather: Temps inch toward 80 degrees on Saturday Rain showers and thunderstorms are possible Monday through Wednesday in the Mile High City. Temperatures will take a big drop on Monday, when the high will be around 54 degrees, the NWS says.
  • Denver police arrest suspect in shooting that triggered Highland Park neighborhood warnings
    Denver police have arrested a shooting suspect whose actions triggered neighborhood warnings early Thursday morning. Police notified residents in the 2700 block of West 28th Avenue to shelter in place before they arrested the suspect. The advisory has now been lifted. Witnesses called police about the shooting early Thursday morning, according to a 4:10 a.m. Denver police tweet. Police have not reported whether anyone was injured during the shooting. The name of the shooting suspect has not been released. Check back for updates on this breaking news story. Related Articles Is Gregg Popovich being out-coached by Michael Malone? “Like shooting fish in a barrel,” prosecutor said of Aurora man killing teen in road rage incident Editorial: 20 years after Columbine, Colorado gripped by fear and sorrow Three men shot in Aurora barbershop; police looking for shooter Kafer: Columbine and the unsolvable problem of evil #DPD Officers are on-scene in the 2700 Blk of West 28th in regard to a reported shooting. Officers are attempting to locate a possible suspect. With that in mind nature, a “Shelter In Place” advisory has been issued for the area. #Denver pic.twitter.com/BGEY5zjsjL — Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) April 25, 2019
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  • Some of Colorado’s best fried chicken is served in a family’s adobe on a turn-of-the-century ranch
    To find some of the best fried chicken in the state, you’ll need to get out of Dodge. Head toward Colorado Springs, then south on Highway 115, past Fort Carson and the insect museum, to a modest terra cotta house by the side of the road. Juniper Valley Ranch — worth the drive but easy to miss — is a 68-year-old restaurant, situated on a turn-of-the-century family farm and serving the same dinner menu since 1951. Here, members of the Dickey family still skillet-fry chicken drumsticks and thighs, bake fruit pies and rolls, rice potatoes and place two Cheez-Its on the side of a cup of sweet cherry cider or consomme (a tradition that started with a great-grandmother who enjoyed Cheez-Its in her soup but also didn’t want diners to lose their appetites). They still wear blue jeans or flowing skirts and stand before clay walls covered in tintype photographs and knickknacks from the Old West. Inside the original dining rooms, wood hearths warm the backs of creaking chairs on cooler nights. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostOlivia Dickey, daughter of owner Greg Dickey, greets patrons as they arrive for dinner at Juniper Valley Ranch restaurant on April 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs. “Authentic” is a tough word to ascribe to restaurants and food these days, but stepping into the Dickey family’s adobe home will transport you. “The menu hasn’t changed because it reminds (diners) of their childhoods or dinner at their grandma’s house, and I think there’s something really special about that,” chef Preston Dickey said. In time for spring and Juniper Valley’s 68th season, Dickey, 35, has returned to his hometown along with his husband, Jan Kratzer, 28, to live full-time. They’re carrying on a four-generation family tradition, serving fried chicken dinners to weekend diners traveling through this part of the state. On Friday and Saturday nights and all day on Sundays, Dickey and Kratzer, who previously worked in non-profits and fine dining restaurants, respectively, are in the kitchen cooking alongside Dickey’s extended family. His dad, Greg (who owns the restaurant), stepmom, sister, brother-in-law and aunts are all fixtures there. Their meals still cost $22 per person for heaping, family-style portions in four courses. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostAn assortment of homemade pies and ice cream with the restaurant’s famous butterscotch sauce are available at Juniper Valley Ranch on April 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs. You’ll get platters of crispy-outside-juicy-within fried chicken, served classic or hot (cayenne, cumin, chipotle and chili powders, plus apple cider vinegar for Juniper Valley’s touch); homemade apple butter to slather over hot biscuits; coleslaw and okra casserole and gravy to pour over it all. “You can take people back in time or take them forward in time,” Dickey said of the effect of a restaurant. “Whichever experience they want.” The forward and back is a balancing act for someone who grew up gay and “outspoken” in the ’80s and ’90s in Colorado Springs. But Dickey came from a long line of free-thinkers: homesteaders, business people, artists and matriarchs. “Four girls inherited (Juniper Valley), and they kept it all together,” he said of his great-grandmother Ethel and her three sisters, who by the mid-20th century were running the ranch and building a business with their father, Guy Parker, on his land. Between them, they sold sandwiches to construction workers, started a Mexican restaurant that later failed and then landed on skillet-fried chicken dinners, a model that stuck. Dickey’s grandmother, Sydney, eventually took over the restaurant kitchen, and when he was born, his parents, who were right out of high school, were given the reins. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostChef Preston Dickey hand fries individual pieces of chicken in a skillet at Juniper Valley Ranch on April 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs. “The running joke is I was born in the restaurant,” Dickey laughed. For the first part of his life, he lived behind the restaurant in a converted chicken coop (that’s now a gift shop), before his family moved out to the original homestead house. “Growing up in a rural area like this, it was kind of challenging,” Dickey said. “Colorado Springs 25 years ago was a different place. I felt like I needed to get away.” Sydney helped with student loans so that Dickey could attend Tufts University outside Boston. While he was away, and soon after she had retired from the family business, she died in a car crash on her way from the ranch into town. “Our family was really rocked by it,” Dickey said. “Because my parents had me so young, she was really influential in raising me.” Dickey moved to Denver shortly after his grandmother’s death, and helped at the restaurant on weekends when he was needed. Ten years after her passing, he decided to become more involved. For years, Sydney had made all the desserts at Juniper Valley. Dickey started to dabble in baking with just a butter crust and a box of peaches and thought “that would be that.” But the pies, and rolling out their dough every day, became a way for him to process his grief. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostWaitresses Marah Macura, in front, and Miranda Lening, in back, keep a steady pace bringing out food for diners at Juniper Valley Ranch on April 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs. “It’s kind of like reconciling with my family and this place,” he said. “And now, I come back and feel like I do belong here.” Last summer, he sourced fruit from farmers on the Western Slope and made 25 kinds of pies throughout the season — from blackberry to nectarine and plum — while pan-frying hundreds of pieces of chicken each day, “low and slow,” from birds that his dad would butcher every morning. Related Articles Brining made our roast chicken juicy but didn’t add flavor. So we reinvented it. Boulder startup working on creating pet food that doesn’t start with harming animals Move over hot dogs and beer, frosé and charcuterie are on deck for your next Rockies game Restaurant review: Onefold’s mishmash of cuisines adds something different to Denver’s breakfast and lunch scene “We were really worried that a lot of our food traditions would die with her,” Dickey said of his grandmother. “We didn’t learn as much as we probably should have.” But this season, he and Jan have rented out their Denver apartment on Airbnb and moved near Juniper Valley full-time. In addition to the regular menu, they’ve started baking their own sourdough bread, added local gin and tonics to the drink offerings, and are serving Nashville hot chicken as a Sunday special. “I think Jan and I have spent a lot of our lives working on other people’s dreams. Here we get to take liberties and risks that just aren’t possible at other places,” Dickey said. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostA table full of friends from Canon City toast one another during dinner at Juniper Valley Ranch on April 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs. They bought three new milking cows that birthed their first calves this spring, adding to the 10 steer and six horses left on the 300-acre ranch. By opening weekend in early April, the low-slung adobe was humming with families, first-time visitors and friends. Dickey’s sister, Olivia, and his dad greeted diners, who filled the worn-in rooms, tucking in at dining tables as the house settled into its 68th year. “Something about this place is that it (…) it’s like local produce: It follows the season, and so do we,” Dickey said. “If I could tell myself 20 years ago that I would be putting myself back here, I would have never believed it.” If you go: Juniper Valley Ranch is located at 16350 Highway 115, southwest of Colorado Springs. It’s open from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and from 1 to 7:30 p.m. Sundays. For reservations, call 719-576-0741, and for more information visit junipervalleyranch.com. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostThe sunsets outside of the small red adobe house at Juniper Valley Ranch welcomes diners to the restaurant on April 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs.
  • Melanie Griffith’s Aspen mansion — featuring gondola access and a 9,000-bottle wine cellar — sold for $4 million
    Melanie Griffith’s log cabin in Aspen sold for $4 million. The 7,391-square-foot estate at 46 Lower Hurricane Road was decorated by Griffith, who earned the Golden Globe Award for best actress for “Working Girl” (1989) and landed her first lead role in the 1991 drama “Paradise.” Griffith’s former residence features floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the interior with natural light and are a lens to Aspen Highlands Ridge. Decks wrap the house that has a stone fireplace as its focal point and a gourmet kitchen, billiards room and a wine cellar among other amenities. “A 9,000-bottle wine cellar,” said Carrie Wells, a broker with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate, who represented the seller. “There’s a very large stone fireplace that separates the dining and living room, and outrageous views.” RELATED: $149 million ranch featuring helipad, bison herd is Colorado’s most expensive property on the market What puts this property apart from others, Wells said, is that it’s on the backside of Aspen Mountain, where people can ski down the mountain to the house. The private residence has access to a gondola and Little Annie Road and is a 20-minute drive to downtown Aspen. Related Articles This $17.95 million Aspen estate is on the market after staying in one family for 70 years “The main experience is a private setting and view experience that people would associate with being in Switzerland — ridge-lined, snow-capped peaks,” Wells said. Secluded on two acres, it houses five bedrooms, including a master suite, and six bathrooms, according to a news release provided by Laura Acker, vice president of Kreps DeMaria PR & Marketing. Wells said the buyer is not a celebrity but famous in the business they own. The buyer has a young family and is planning to relocate to Aspen.
  • This $17.95 million Aspen estate is on the market after staying in one family for 70 years
    An estate in one Aspen family for 70 years now searches for new ownership. The 12-acre contemporary at 700 Nell Erickson Road is on the market for $17.95 million after Paula Zurcher, 90, decided to sell. Zurcher is the daughter of Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke, who together in 1946 contributed to the development of downtown Aspen by founding The Aspen Skiing Company and created The Aspen Institute — now an international nonprofit think tank — three years later. The Paepcke’s business endeavors in Aspen spawned after the family found the 400-acre gem 10 minutes from downtown during a mountain hike. The land was pared down as time wore on, starting when Walter died in 1960. When Elizabeth passed in 1994, the property was subdivided by her heirs. What remains are four developed lots nestled in 51 common acres with caretakers for the entire ranch. “I chose the lot so that it was far removed from the road,” Zurcher said during an interview with James Tarmy of Bloomberg. “I didn’t want to see any traffic.” Colter Smith, the step-grandson of Zurcher, is the founder and broker of Christie’s International Real Estate Aspen Snowmass and the listing agent for the property after being a caretaker of it for 15 years. Related Articles Melanie Griffith’s Aspen mansion — featuring gondola access and a 9,000-bottle wine cellar — sold for $4 million “I know the property intimately,” Smith said. Two-story windows line the living room and gaze toward nature’s abundance of ponds and streams, an elk habitat and aspen and spruce forests that encompass the mansion. The roughly 6,800-square-foot home has seven bedrooms all above grade, five bathrooms with one half bath and a two-car garage. Resting at the base of Aspen’s Red Mountain, the property has senior water rights and produces around 1,500 gallons a minute throughout the summer. There also is 1,400 square feet for additional development opportunities, Smith said. “It’s probably the most private lot on Red Mountain,” Smith said. “This property is about the land and the location. It’s a legacy property.”
  • What’s happening with the Rockies’ “West Lot” construction project ahead of opening day
    Rockies fans headed to games this season will get to see the transformation of the old West Lot, where work has been underway since the team last played to transform the space into a three-building project set to open in 2021. When finished, the old lot at the southwest corner of 20th and Wazee streets will be a mixed-use project that will house the team’s hall of fame. Denizens of the ballpark neighborhood may be aware of all the work that has happened since crews fenced it off last September in advance of its transformation, but for fans that haven’t been to LoDo since the end of the 2018 season, here is the latest: Excavation work is still underway, but support pillars are rising as concrete is poured for the two floors of underground parking that will eventually host 420 spots. Three tower cranes have been erected around the site. They are lit up purple at night. An official naming ceremony for the project has been scheduled for April 4. Team co-owner Dick Monfort is expected to speak about what the project means for the neighborhood and the organization. A tentative grand opening date has been announced: New Years Day, 2021. An executive team has been seated to oversee the construction. It features representatives from the architecture and designs firm Stantec, general contractor Hensel Phelps and the team. The project has also been further refined. The final product will be a trio of interconnected towers centered on a 29,000-square-foot public plaza complete with a giant video screen and a grass berm for summer lounging. The building that fronts onto Wazee Street will feature 112 condos. The building that faces 19th will be office space. The building closest to the stadium, facing 20th Street and running along the east side of the “Wynkoop Plaza” pedestrian area, will be a 176-room hotel with the team hall of fame on the second floor. RELATED: These Denver skyscraper projects stand to leave their mark on the Mile High City “This was always kind of a dead corner because it was just a parking lot,” John Yonushewski, Stantec’s senior principal on the project and a member of the executive team, said Wednesday. “Soon, people will now have a reason to interact with Wynkoop Plaza literally 24/7.” Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostConstruction workers work on the former "west lot" across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostThe former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostConstruction workers work on the former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostThe former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostThe former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. On Thursday. team owner and CEO Dick Monfort announced the team will name the project McGregor Square in honor of late team president Keli McGregor.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostThe former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostConstruction workers work on the former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostThe former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostConstruction workers work on the former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostConstruction workers work on the former "west lot" across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Show Caption of Expand Yonushewski and his company were tasked with designing a project that achieved three goals at the West Lot: be active year round, extend the game day experience and be a community gathering spot. He’s confident the project will achieve all three. The size and shape of the buildings has been finalized with the city, but internal uses are still being fleshed out. Another LoDo food hall may be in the offing. An ice skating rink may be part of the winter programming. While leasing teams consider what to do with the forthcoming 75,000 square feet of bar, restaurant and shopping space, game day attendees will see the skeleton of the project slowly take shape throughout the 2019 season. Yonushewski said the development team expects to apply for a superstructure permit in late May. After that, passersby will really begin to see the buildings rise. “By September, you’ll certainly see the concrete frame up and out of the ground,” Yonushewski said. “They’ll be out of the ground and on the upper levels.” Related ArticlesSeptember 25, 2018 Rockies’ “west lot” a parking lot no more in Denver’s Union Station neighborhood February 27, 2019 Denver’s Dairy Block to host debut location of new retail concept Free Market March 20, 2019 Larimer Square owner vows not to demolish historic buildings amid effort to redevelop storied Denver block Aside from narrowing the Wynkoop Plaza walkway, work on the project is not expected to have a major impact on visitor traffic. Road closures will occur when the team is on the road, Rockies officials said. That’s welcome news at nearby Denver ChopHouse & Brewery. Assistant general manager Ally Wolf said that when streets were closed to accommodate cranes going up, business suffered. But Hensel Phelps has been responsive and helpful, putting up signs on the fences around the project alerting people that the ChopHouse is open, even moving the signs when asked, she said. Rockies season is naturally the busy season at the restaurant with game nights regularly pulling in $60,000 or more, Wolf said. She is hopeful that the construction won’t impact any of the foot traffic games generate. “We think it’s going to be great,” when it’s done, Wolf said. “It’ll be an attraction. More businesses, more condos. It will be the new thing in Denver.”
  • 2019 James Beard Award finalists include just one from Colorado
    Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostFrasca Food & Wine in Boulder. The 2019 nominees for the James Beard Foundation Awards — the Oscars of food — were announced Wednesday morning, and only one from Colorado made the shortlist. There had been eight Colorado semifinalists this year for the prestigious prizes. Frasca Food and Wine is a finalist for Outstanding Service. For the past three years, the Boulder restaurant was a nominee for Outstanding Restaurant but never won. Since it opened in 2004, it has received a total of 10 nominations and awards from the James Beard Foundation. The restaurant won for best Wine Program in 2013, and chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson won Best Chef Southwest in 2008. “We’ve been very fortunate,” Bobby Stuckey, Frasca’s co-owner, told The Denver Post just after the announcement. “The whole team’s always been really honored and humbled and blown away.” Stuckey said there was some “residual moping” last month when his team found out they had not been nominated again this year for Outstanding Restaurant, one of the highest categories (think Best Picture at the Oscars) of the group. “Let’s put our chin up and just go at it,” he said he told them at the time. Stuckey, a master sommelier who was in Napa when the nomination was announced, said he was particularly excited to get back to Boulder to “give Rose (Votta, the restaurant’s general manager) a big hug.” The service nomination this year is fitting. “You don’t ever want to project that you want something like this, but quietly, as a team, we really care about hospitality,” Stuckey added. “To be in Boulder, Colorado, and just be spoken of in the arena is a big deal, and I think we should be honored.” Among the list of semifinalists announced in February was Q House, a modern Chinese restaurant on East Colfax Avenue, for Best New Restaurant. Chefs Caroline Glover of Annette in Aurora and Kelly Whitaker of The Wolf’s Tailor in Sunnyside had nominations for Best Chef Southwest. Jeb Breakell, of The Wolf’s Tailor, was up for Outstanding Pastry Chef, and Andy Clark, of Moxie Bread in Louisville, got a nod for Outstanding Baker. Element 47 at the Little Nell in Aspen received an Outstanding Wine Program nomniation, and Todd and Scott Leopold of Leopold Bros. distillery in Denver were both semifinalists for Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Producer. Stuckey said he had hoped to see more Colorado semifinalists move forward this year. Last year, the state received five nominations in the final round. “As a group, we’ll get there,” he said. Last year, one Denver chef, Alex Seidel, won a James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest for his work at Mercantile Dining & Provision. Before him, Jennifer Jasinski was the last Denver chef to receive the award, in 2013, for her work at Rioja. The winners of the 2019 James Beard Awards will be announced on May 6 at a gala in Chicago.
  • Have wild stories from a Colorado ski lift? We want to hear them.
    Did you reunite with your long-lost childhood best friend while waiting in the lift line? Did you see a moose running down the hill while sitting safely in a chair above? Or maybe you crashed into the person who got off the lift before you only to end up marrying him or her five years later. Tell us about it. The team here at The Know Outdoors wants to hear your favorite tales from riding Colorado ski lifts for our new project: Stories From the Lift. It doesn’t matter if your story is from the lift line, the chair, or from when you ate it while trying to get off at the top of the mountain. It can be funny, it can be romantic, it can be shocking, it can be just plain weird. It can be anything! Just tell us about it. Want some ideas of what we’re looking for? Here are two examples from our team: Missing phone I was traveling in Colorado alone on a work trip and decided to take an adventure to Breckenridge, my first time snowboarding outside of New England. My phone must have fallen out of my pocket while I was up on the lift because when I got off, my phone was nowhere to be found. I was panicked. I was alone, traveling for work in a state where I didn’t know anyone and now I was without my phone. I did a very horrible, distracted run down the mountain, took the lift back up and walked over to an Epic photo taker with frozen snot on his face. “I lost my phone and I am panicking.” “Oh yeah, man, the lift operator has a phone, someone gave it to him.” It was my phone. My white iPhone in a white case that fell face down into the white powder that someone happened to find, ski down with and take the lift back up to get it to its owner. —Sara Grant, The Know editor Making friends Back in 2016-17, I had more free time than I had friends. Translation: skiing alone on weekdays. So, I showed up at Mary Jane early one morning and hopped on the Super Gauge lift. On the way up, I fell into conversation with my chairmates. They were newly married and in their early 20s — from Nebraska, a place unfamiliar to me. We talked about farm economics and politics, and before we got off I offered to show them one of my favorite little tree runs. Turns out the flatlanders could rip. And then the really funny thing happened: We kept riding the lift and talking, and we kept accumulating more of their family members. Soon, I was leading seven or eight Nebraskans from multiple generations through all my favorite spots. They even invited me to come visit them for the solar eclipse, which was passing over their town that summer. I wasn’t able to make the trip, but the offer still stood when I got in touch six-plus months later. It was a great introduction to the joy of skiing with strangers. — Andrew Kenney, government reporter We’ll be collecting your stories and choosing some to be featured both online at The Know Outdoors and in the paper in The Denver Post. So what are you waiting for? Tell us your stories.
  • Aspen home sale sets record for price per square foot, broker says
    A house in Aspen just set a record. The property at 135 E. Cooper Ave. sold for $21.95 million late last month, but that’s not where the record-setting money resides in this residence nestled in the core of Aspen. “This is the highest price-per-square-foot sale for a single-family home in the central downtown area of Aspen,” said Carrie Wells, a broker with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate, who represented the seller of the J.M. Dixon house. That price per square foot? $3,396. Wells said the house’s location — in the area from the base of Aspen Mountain to Main Street — was a key factor in the pricing of this property and why it sold for what it did. The house has seven bathrooms and one half-bath as well as seven bedrooms — five in the main Victorian-style house and two in the guest house. What’s unique to this house, Wells said, is that in most cases the Historic Preservation Committee requires a staircase in the Victorian portion of a house. Since the guest house also has a staircase, there has been approval to eliminate the two separate staircases and connect them. Victorians in Aspen are preserved and, therefore, cannot be torn down. The seller owns properties in the Hamptons “and that’s where this design influence comes from,” Wells said. Related Articles Melanie Griffith’s Aspen mansion — featuring gondola access and a 9,000-bottle wine cellar — sold for $4 million This $17.95 million Aspen estate is on the market after staying in one family for 70 years In early January, the Aspen City Council decided to give its residents a vote on two ordinances regarding redevelopment at the base of Aspen Mountain’s west side, Carolyn Sackariason reported in The Aspen Times on Jan. 7. On the ballot is whether or not to move Lift 1A, which serves the area where Apsen holds FIS World Cup ski races, 500 feet closer to downtown Aspen. Should the voters decide “yes” on the March 5 ballot question, then the J.M. Dixon house will be closer to the lift already one block away. “The sale of this property illustrates continuous demand for Aspen properties that provide the quintessential Colorado lifestyle,” said Will Herndon, president of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse, in a news release provided by Laura Acker, vice president of Kreps DeMaria PR & Marketing. Like this story? Help support more local journalism. Become a subscriber for only 99 cents for the first month.
  • The girl who dunks? Fran Belibi is that, but the Colorado high school basketball star is so much more
    Like the dunks that built her empire, The Fran Show goes coast to coast now, a commonwealth where the sun never sets. The Regis Jesuit High School girls basketball team was killing time in New York City last month, on a Big Apple tournament junket, when the group sauntered into a bake shop in Queens. The Raiders were minding their business, 1,800 miles away from home, when the guy behind the counter began staring at Fran Belibi. “Hey,” he chirped. “Are you the dunker?” She was. And is. “So the owners come out,” Regis coach Carl Mattei recalls. “And they all sat down and started talking. “They wanted to give us free stuff when they heard we were the team from Colorado. They go, ‘Oh, you’re the dunkers.’” When the mugs in the Big Apple stop and pay homage, kids, you’re big time. “She just wants to be Little Fran, but it’s too late now,” Mattei says. “So many people know who she is. We go to airports and they say, ‘Are you the dunker?’ “It was mind-boggling to see the celebrity status at away gyms this year. They would be packed. Everyone wants to see The Fran Show. ‘Is Fran going to dunk in warmups?’ Why are boys here on a Tuesday night in an opposing gym when the (local) team sucks? They’re here to see you.” At another point on the same NYC jaunt, Belibi was in an elevator with teammates. In a blink, she “got ambushed” by girls from other teams at the tourney. “They were all asking for pictures,” Fran recalls. “It happens all the time. And it’s all right, I guess. There are worse things to be known as. For sure, I’ll take ‘The Dunk Girl’ over something else. I think it sometimes kind of takes away from the fact that I just straight-up play basketball and am a student-athlete, student being first. So it’s nice to get the attention, but once you’ve gotten over the fact that I am ‘The Dunk Girl’, then it’s important to see that I can do other things, too. “There’s more than just the dunk.”                                                                                 • She thinks it’s hilarious. All of it. The hype. The fawning. The screams. The name-dropping from the “SportsCenter” set. Belibi is blessed with a 6-foot-8 wingspan and a 7-foot-2 sense of humor, and both have served her well as the Raiders (23-3) march — although stomp is more like it — to the Final Four of the state’s Class 5A girls basketball championship bracket. “She’s still kind of, ‘I don’t know why, I just play basketball,’” Mattei says. “(I replied), ‘But you play it in a way that’s never been seen.’” Once Belibi stole the rock against Grand Junction on Jan. 6, 2017, and punctuated the drive by slamming the ball through the rim, a first for a high school girl in Colorado state basketball history, The Fran Show went viral: As of Thursday afternoon, a search for the words “Fran Belibi” on YouTube brought back a playlist of 58 videos — nine of them garnering at least 20,000 views; five of them at least 40,000; and almost all of them ending with Belibi rising through the air and the crowd, simultaneously, rising to its feet. John Leyba, Denver Post fileRegis Jesuit Raiders Francesca Belibi dunks during practice on Jan. 11, 2017 in Aurora. “I know Charli Turner Thorne, (the women’s basketball coach) at Arizona State saw (Fran) when we were on our first trip,” offers former Nuggets assistant coach John Nillen, who coached Belibi on the AAU circuit for two summers. “Charli just laughed. She said (Belibi) was going to incredible. And she was right.” For all that incredible, the 6-1, Stanford-bound Belibi is cool, thoughtful, grounded, sharper than a tungsten needle, and blissfully normal, your typical high school senior in all but CV and IQ. She’s addicted to “Candy Crush” (“It’s really a horrible obsession,” Belibi admits). Her happy place usually involves ice cream and Chick-Fil-A. When it’s time to decompress, she listens to Alessia Cara. When you ask what her desert island book would be, if push ever came to tropical shove, she chuckles. “Can we go to three?” Fran replies. “I really liked the Red Queen series. I also really liked the Red Rising series. If I need a good book, that’ll hold me for a while. I’d probably go with that.” If the television’s on in Casa Belibi — which isn’t often — they’re watching basketball, ESPN, or The Food Network. “’Worst Cooks In America,’ I think, is the funniest show ever,” she says. After years away from the social networks that launched her into the national hoops lexicon, the 18-year-old Belibi recently joined Instagram, where she’s following — among others — Overtime, ESPN, and NBA stars of the present (LeBron James) and future (Duke’s Zion Williamson). “I’m an ‘Internet Sensation,’ I think it’s really interesting to see other ‘Internet Sensations,’ and how they play and see how amazing they are,” Fran says. “I guess I’m kind of honored to be an ‘Internet Sensation’ right there with them.”                                                                     • A McDonald’s All-American, Belibi is slated to take part in a dunk contest — against boys — at the Powerade Jam on March 25 in Atlanta. LeBron is her hoops icon of choice; former NBA player Rex Chapman recently likened Belibi to a young James Worthy. Mattei thinks another Lakers star, one from the recent past, provides a better comp. “I’ve told people she reminds me of Kobe Bryant, but she plays like (Michael) Jordan,” he says. “He learned how to shoot. He learned how to pass. He became the (NBA’s) Defensive Player of the Year. She’s developing like a Jordan. She’s like, ‘OK, I need this part of my game, OK, I’ll do this.’ Girls basketball players don’t do that.” Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostRegis Jesuit forward Francesca Belibi (1) calls out to one of her players during the second half of the 5A girls state championship basketball game at the Denver Coliseum on March 10, 2018 in Denver. The Grandview Wolves beat the Regis Jesuit Raiders 67-61. She took up basketball as a freshman on a lark, something more team-oriented than the tennis she’d grown up with. As a ninth grader still learning the finer points of the game — dribbling, defense, passing, sets — she still averaged 6.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.  This season, the Regis star has bumped those totals up to 22.3 and 12.3, respectively. Jerry Knafelc’s Arapahoe High squad had scrimmaged with Regis the last few years, so when the teams met in the first week of this season, Knafelc more or less knew what was coming. His suggestion for the best way to defend The Fran Show? “Hope she fouls out,” he chortles. “We knew what we had with her to try to defend her, and that is a handful, to say the least. And so we did everything we could to just kind of keep her away from her comfort zone. We were lucky enough that she picked up some fouls and had to sit down. I don’t know if that’s a sound strategy, but it’s one that worked out for us.” And hey, if all else fails, grab. “She got tackled (in) the Mountain Vista game because their coach was like, ‘We’re not getting dunked on,’” Mattei says. “When she gets to the next level, you’re going to see a lot more of her (skill). That’s what’s fun.” “Once she gets into a Power 5 program, you’re going to be able to see what she’ll really do,” says John Nillen, who coached Belibi on the AAU circuit for two summers. “(I’ll) point to just the fact she was selected out of nowhere for the U.S. team the last two summers. That’s crazy.” So is the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame calling with a request to put Fran’s jersey on display. And there was the trip to Argentina with the Team USA U-17 squad last summer, with jaunts to Belarus and Latvia before that. “I mean, (the skills are) top 1 percent,” says Steve Gomez, the head women’s basketball coach at Lubbock (Texas) Christian University and an assistant coach with the 2018 national side that won the FIBA Women’s U-17 World Cup. “She can just explode. And you’re like, ‘Where did it come from?’ ”                                                                         • Belibi didn’t just ace the thing. She dropkicked that bad boy through the goalposts of life from about 68 yards out. Her vertical jump checks in at about 40 inches, give or take. Her ACT score — on the first attempt — came back at a 35. Guess which one she brags about? “It’s just another cool piece I can tell people about myself when I get older,” Belibi says. “‘Oh, yeah, she was the first (high school) girl to dunk.’ And I got a 35. And I got into Stanford. It’s another cool thing I can add on. It’s very different to compare accomplishments in basketball, compared to school and stuff. (The ACT) score is definitely the coolest thing I’ve ever done in school.” Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostRegis Jesuit forward Francesca Belibi (1) drives the ball up the court during the 1st half of the 5A girls state championship basketball game at the Denver Coliseum on March 10, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. The Grandview Wolves beat the Regis Jesuit Raiders 67-61. Test prep: Six weeks. Wait. Six? “The math was (the type) I’d done a long time ago,” Belibi explains. “So I really had to refresh my memory. I was in regular calculus AB a long time ago. Along with geometry.” Because now you’re doing … “I’m in multivariable calculus.” Of course. “I’m like, ‘Who gets a 35 the first time?’ It doesn’t happen,” Mattei laughs. “She walks in and says, ‘I got a 35 the first time, coach. Do you think I should do it again?’ “(I said), ‘You could get into any college in America right now.’ That’s what’s so funny about her: It’s not a big deal.” She is, though, and in corners of the globe you wouldn’t necessarily expect. One of Belibi’s assistant coaches at Regis, Ross Schreader, was running a Nike clinic in China two Augusts ago when he turned on the television to see a familiar face staring at him from half a world away, He snatched his phone and started texting Mattei. Carl, he wrote, Fran’s on a commercial in China. “Are you kidding me?” Mattei barked. He called the family. “Fran, you can’t get money,” the coach pleaded, “you’ll be ineligible (for the NCAA).” “No one sold the rights. No one gave money,” Fran replied. As Mattei understands it, a Chinese company had lifted a snippet of highlights from YouTube and spliced it with parts from one of Fran’s interviews. “Some type of energy drink.” Mattei says. “I said, ‘What a scam that is.’ Her parents are pretty shrewd businesspeople. I’m sure they got a hold of it immediately and put it to rest.” Fran’s mother, Suzanne, is a pediatrician; her father, Franck, is an internist and nephrologist. Her parents hail from Cameroon, met at medical school in Europe and eventually settled in the States near Kansas City. The family — Francesca, Fabiola, Hana and Frank — moved to Denver when the Regis forward was in 2nd grade; the long-term plan has always been for Fran to one day join the Belibi medical practice as a pediatrician herself. “I’ve been mentally preparing myself for this (medical career) for a long time. Basketball was never supposed to change that,” Belibi explains. “Basketball was just going to be like, I showed up and I wanted to have fun and play a team sport. I think just because I’m good now, all of sudden, it isn’t going to change the fact that I always wanted to be a doctor and will be a doctor.” Although Mattei wonders what would happen if some energy drink company — an American one, this time — decided to someday wave a fat check, some serious scratch, in Fran’s direction. “I’d like to sit here and say I would 100 percent not take it, just because I know what I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Fran says. “I don’t know. I haven’t ever been faced with that problem.” At least, not yet. While WNBA salaries are capped at $110,000 per year, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, former South Carolina standout A’ja Wilson, recently landed endorsement deals with Nike and Mountain Dew. If a corporation wanted to give The Fran Show legs, who knows how long and how far this run might last? “You can follow your mother’s footsteps as a pediatrician once you’ve actually taken this gift as far as this gift will take you,” Mattei says. “Because I think when she sees what she can do for so many girls and so many women — just like Serena Williams is on the tennis court. You see so many black people playing golf because of Tiger Woods. “Right now, (pro basketball) is all fluff to them. She’s just a high school girl trying to win the state championship. Like the first time her mother came up to me and said, ‘How did she learn this … basketball?’ “I said, ‘God gave her a gift.’” Several, now that you mention it.
  • Denver fashion boutique Fancy Tiger to rebrand on South Broadway
    Baker neighborhood fashion boutique Fancy Tiger Clothing will drop the fancy and the tiger from its name next month when it rebrands as FM. The name change will be accompanied by the addition of a permanent DJ booth, more house-made clothing and expanded services in the shop at 55 Broadway in Denver. Officially taking effect March 15, the rebranding was announced in a news release Thursday from Fancy Tiger founder Matthew Brown. In the release, Brown said more “elevated” clothing lines not part of the Fancy Tiger mix will be available at FM, as well as a broader selection of house-made items. The store will “continue to carry the more affordable brands that built Fancy Tiger’s reputation as an accessible boutique,” the release vowed. FM will also offer on-site hemming and complimentary home delivery of hemmed items. The store will also produce a bi-monthly map of Denver’s retail landscape tailored toward foodies and independent retail devotees. “We want to change people’s expectations about what a retail store can be to a city,” Brown said in the release. RELATED: Fast-fashion brand Zara bringing first Colorado store to Cherry Creek Shopping Center The birth of FM will be commemorated with an in-store party starting at 6 p.m. on March 15. An after-party is to follow at Syntax Physic Opera, 554 S. Broadway. Los Angeles-based DJ/musician/producer Woolfy will be DJing the after-party from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., according to Brown. Fancy Tiger was founded in 2006. Its separately owned neighbor, Fancy Tiger Crafts, will not be impacted by the change, Brown said. Updated March 4, 2019 at 11:10 a.m. This story was updated to include the name of a DJ preforming at the after-party.
  • These Denver skyscraper projects stand to leave their mark on the Mile High City
    Denver’s skyline reached rarely visited heights in 2018 when the 40-story 1144 Fifteenth office tower opened in March. Peaking at 603 feet, it is now the city’s fifth tallest building, assuming you count the spire atop the neighboring Four Seasons tower. The city flirted with a new vertical frontier, too, but the land deal around a proposed 81-story building fell apart last February. At a projected 1,000 feet, that building would have been far and away Denver’s tallest, blowing by current champion, 714-foot Republic Plaza. There’s nothing quite of that scale on Denver’s 2019 docket but a 30-story building is under construction now in the heart of downtown. A handful more buildings of that stature or greater are in the city’s planning pipeline. In a town with just 16 towers that crack the 30-story threshold today, these projects — should they all be built as planned — stand to make some visible marks on the urban horizon. Here a look at the towers that could change Denver’s skyline: Block 162, 675 15th St. The 30-story Block 162 office building has been in the works since at least early 2016. That’s when Houston-based developer the Patrinely Group announced it was partnering with the property’s owner, local real estate mogul Evan Makovsky, to bring new life to a stagnant patch of prime downtown land that was once home to the storied 15th Street Tavern but more recently hosted a community garden and a sea of parking spots. Crews broke ground on Block 162 in June. Foundation work is complete and things are set to get vertical this year on the 452-foot tower that will take up the entire north side of 15th between Welton and California streets. When it’s done — likely around the end of 2020 —  Block 162 will be Denver’s 11th tallest building, according to the skyscraper trackers at Emporis.com, supplanting the shiny TIAA-branded tower at 1670 Broadway. Patrinely vice president David Haltom said that within the next few weeks people will start to see the skeleton of the tower going up floor by floor. “There is a lot going on in Denver and the bar is being raised in the market by the quality of new development,” Haltom said in a recent interview with The Denver Post. “We believe Block 162 is going to be front and center in the discussion of the highest quality projects in Denver.” Patrinely isn’t new to Denver. It previously built a corporate campus in the Lone Tree area and collaborated on a trio of multifamily housing developments around the metro area. But with Block 162, it is going big. The tower will feature 20 floors of premium office space atop 10 floors of above-ground parking. There are no tenants committed yet. Fellow Houston firm Hines built its 1144 Fifteenth tower on a speculative basis, too, and it signed up companies including Gates Corp. and Optiv before the ribbon was cut. Courtesy of Patrinely GroupThis rendering shows what the Block 162 office building at 15th and California streets in downtown Denver is expected to look like from street level. “We believe we are in a position of advantage because there are increasingly few blocks of contiguous square footage in downtown Denver, and those that do exist are being gobbled up by new and expanding tenants,” said Haltom, referencing VF Corp.’s announcement last year it planned to take over a low-rise on Wewatta Street. Block 162 will seek to lure office users with its proximity to light rail lines, a columnless design that will provide 360-degree views and plentiful natural light on every office level and a “sky terrace” on the 11th floor featuring an outdoor lounge with fireplaces and an “activity lawn” where gym users can take their workouts outside. The ground floor will have a large lobby facing 15th Street and three retail spaces. Patrinely is working with architecture firms Gensler and StuidoInsite on the project. Swinerton Builders is the general contractor and Cushman & Wakefield brokers Doug Wulf and Todd Wheeler have been tapped to handle leasing. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostConstruction is ongoing Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostWorkers continue Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostActivity continues at the site of a future 30-story building Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostConstruction is ongoing Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostWork continues Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostConstruction is ongoing Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostWorkers continue Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Show Caption of Expand Bell Park residential tower, 1394 Market St. An angular chunk of property along Cherry Creek that was home to Denver’s first city hall will next be occupied by a 36-story residential tower if the team behind this project has its way. Bell Park — really a pair of triangular parking lots bounded by Speer Boulevard, 14th, Larimer and Market streets and bisected by Cherry Creek — for the last 18 years has belonged to Buzz Geller, the owner of Paradise Land Co. and a well-known face in Denver real estate. Pre-Great Recession, Geller and partners had planned to build a luxury high-rise containing full-floor, $10 million condos on the triangle closest to Speer. By the time the project got necessary approvals, however, the economy had collapsed and the plans were scrapped. The new project appears aimed at a broader client base. According to concept plans project partner Kairoi Residential submitted to the city in December, the 36-story tower would contain 169 apartments or condos, along with 255 underground parking spaces, a pool and a variety of amenities. The plans indicate the building would be 408 feet tall, good for a tie for the 16th tallest building in Denver, according to Emporis. Kairoi representatives didn’t reply to a request for comment, but Geller is enthusiastic about the project. “This is meant to be a gateway building,” Geller said of the tower. “I think it’s a good fit.” In addition to the property that will host the tower, which Kairoi is under contract to buy once approvals are secured, the other lot — the one occupied by Denver’s city hall until 1936 and marked with a bell that once hung in that building — is slated for a five-story office building to be owned by Geller and occupied in part by his company. The office building will leave room for a park along Larimer Street. Geller knows that real estate plans remain iffy until the buildings are built. He owns the parking lot at 17th and California streets where New York City developer Greenwich Realty Capital had planned to build an 81-story tower. After paying monthly deposits for two years to keep the property under contract, Greenwich’s financing fell apart last year, Geller said. Despite one of the architectural partners on the project recently telling the Washington Post the tower was “still a go,” Geller said he hasn’t heard from anyone involved with the proposal since Greenwich failed to close on the purchase. The two Bell Park buildings had their first hearing before the Lower Downtown Design Review Board on Feb. 7, and while the Chicago-based architects at Valerio Dewalt Train Associates cooked up some intriguing renderings — presenting a large, glass tower with a distinctive indent near the middle — Geller emphasized the designs remain subject to change. “Everything at this point is conceptual and it absolutely will be different,” he said. Geller, touting endorsements for the project from the Downtown Denver Partnership and the LoDo District board of directors, is optimistic work will be underway by the end of this year. “The goal is to get this thing built as soon as possible,” he said. Courtesy property owner Buzz GellerA rendering or the proposed Bell Park office tower as seen from the south side of Speer Boulevard. Early plans call for a 36-story tower, more than 400 feet tall. Block 176, 1917 Broadway Moving from the southwest reaches of downtown to the northeast side, there is another potentially skyline-altering project — in this case, a pair of condo towers sitting atop a shared parking pedestal — also under city review now. The project is thus far known as Block 176 and would top out at 38 stories and 400 feet on a parcel that touches Broadway, 18th Street and Glenarm Place. The plans, submitted in November by the property owner, Canadian development firm Amacon, call for 477 condos and 530 parking spaces in what would be Denver’s 18th tallest building. There is an existing building on that patch of downtown turf. Lauded watering hole Shelby’s Bar & Grill has occupied the more-than-century-old building at 519 18th St. since 1991.“] On Wednesday, the Shelby’s team took to the bar’s Facebook page to say its time is not yet up and invited customers to come in and say hello. Amacon did not return requests for comment. The city’s online permitting center shows there has been no movement on Block 176 since conceptual project plans were submitted in the fall.  Two Tabor, 1200 17th St.  Put on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” because this one is a throwback to 1984. The One Tabor Center tower was always supposed to have a sister building, but the oil crash in the 1980s put the kibosh on the project before anything could be built on the still-visible base at the corner of 17th and Larimer streets. In the years since, new plans for the second tower have bubbled up from time to time, but the corner is still a nub. In March of last year, Denver’s Davis Partnership Architects submitted new concept plans for a second Tabor building on behalf of Chicago-based property owner Callahan Capital Partners. The submittal, which coincided with the rollout of a new project website, twotabor.com, called for a 33-story, 800,000-square-foot office building reaching a height of roughly 494 feet. If constructed as planned, the building would place ninth on the city’s tallest list, according to Emporis. Renderings in the concept plan portray a sleek building sheathed in blue-tinted glass. A sharp corner faces the street while a curved side is oriented toward the interior of the block, mirroring the One Tabor Center tower. Three ground floor retailer spaces are in the mix but no new parking. All the building ought to need was built along with the first tower in the 80s. Rendering provided by Callahan Capital PropertiesA rendering of what Two Tabor would look like from across 17th Street. Developer Callahan Capital Properties and its partners Epstein and Davis Partnership Architects submitted a plan concept for the would-be 33-story tower to Denver planners on March 5, 2018. People affiliated with the latest Two Tabor effort last submitted documents to the city in May, online records show. Callahan Capital Partners was acquired by Canadian real estate firm Ivanhoe Cambridge in September. The two companies were already strategic partners when it came to owning and managing office real estate including Tabor Center, according to a news release, so it’s hard to say what effect if any the deal had on plans for Two Tabor. Todd Hartman, the asset manager listed on the Two Tabor website, did not return requests for comment. The River Mile This 58-acre expanse of asphalt and amusement park rides wedged between Speer Boulevard and Interstate 25 promises to transform Denver as it is redeveloped over the next few decades. And not just because it will eventually bump Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park off of its spot near the Pepsi Center. High-level plans for the River Mile call for the creation of a new urban neighborhood, complete with 8,000 residential units, office space, schools, grocery stores and more along the eastern banks of the South Platte River.  Property owner/developer Revesco Properties hasn’t publicly released plans for any specific buildings yet, but the company won rezoning approvals from the City Council in December that clear the way for buildings as tall as 59 stories. If a tower of that scope is built, it would become Denver’s tallest by three floors, beating out the 56-story Republic Plaza at 370 17th St.  Provided by Revesco PropertiesA rendering from Revesco Properties’ conceptual master plan for the River Mile shows the types of development that might occur on the current site of Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park in coming decades, from new buildings to changes along the South Platte Riverfront. What does it all mean? There is perhaps no one outside of the city’s planning office who has kept a closer eye on the Denver skyline over the last 15 years than Ken Schroeppel. The University of Colorado Denver urban and regional planning professor founded the website DenverInfill.com in 2005, and he’s been providing regular updates on construction projects large and small in Denver’s urban core ever since. When it comes to the 30-story-plus buildings on deck — or at least tentatively on deck — now, Schroeppel believes Block 162 has the best odds to stand out. It’s a matter of geography. “In downtown, if you look at the skyline there is kind of hole. It’s roughly along the 15th Street corridor, between Arapahoe on the one end and Welton on the other,” he said. “Block 162 is being built in that hole. Kind of filling in a gap, you might say.” Related ArticlesMarch 21, 2018 Denver’s fourth tallest building readies for opening with Chipotle, Gates and others moving in September 14, 2018 Downtown Denver office use to increase by more than 1 million square feet annually through 2021 March 22, 2018 New skyscraper that would be a sister tower to Tabor Center enters Denver’s planning pipeline. Again. He’s encouraged by what large-scale condo projects such as Block 176 say about the future of downtown. After years of building apartments — with plenty more coming — perhaps the next phase of downtown residential construction will focus on the for-sale market. Such a pivot will hinge on how comfortable developers (and their insurers) feel with efforts made to limit the ability of homeowners’ associations in Colorado to sue builders over possible construction defects in condo projects. Both the General Assembly and Colorado Supreme Court in 2017 took steps to make it harder for HOAs to sue builders. Legislators hoped their measure would spur more construction after concerns over the legal liability attached to condos projects scared many developers out of the market. “We’ve had so little condominium development downtown in the last 10 years or more,” Schroeppel said. “It’s a wide-open market that is pretty untapped at this point.” When it comes to impact, Schroeppel believes the projects being built in Denver now that have the greatest potential to change the way people experience downtown may not be those reaching for the sky. He pointed to the Market Street Station redevelopment and Rockies West Lot project as examples. Between them, the tallest building being built will be 13 stories high, but with outdoor plazas, ample space for restaurants, bars, shops and other attractions such as the Rockies team hall of fame, those projects could draw foot traffic morning, noon and night. Schroeppel calls them “nodes of activity” — key features in a thriving downtown. “That just really elevates the entire Lower Downtown area in terms of its appeal and walkability and as a destination,” Schroeppel said. “Tall buildings do not a great city make.”
Technology news, startups, reviews, devices, internet | The Denver Post
  • Tesla lost $700 million in first quarter on Model 3 problems
    Tesla reported a massive loss in the first quarter of 2019 as it struggled to deliver its mass-market Model 3 and faced factors including a diminished federal tax credit and slowing demand for the sport sedan. The $702 million loss was higher than analysts forecast for the company, slightly less than the figure reported in the same quarter one year ago and a stark departure from two straight quarters of profits. Its $3.51 billion in revenue was nearly $1 billion more than the year-ago figure, on the heels of the release of Tesla’s Model 3, but just over half of what Tesla reported in the fourth quarter. For the first couple of years after Tesla began making its Model 3, the car that is was to bring electric vehicles to the masses, it faced production problems that hampered its ability to make enough cars. Now that Tesla seems to have overcome that, it is facing more difficulties delivering cars to customers. “This was the most difficult logistics problem I have ever seen, and I have seen some tough ones,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on an analyst call. The figures were a troubling sign for investors in a year when Tesla has staked its future on the Model 3, expanding sales to China and Europe and shifting the majority of its sales and production from the flagship Model S and Model X SUV to a new model aimed at a wider market of consumers. Tesla is also facing criticism for not reliably delivering on its long-promised $35,000 Model 3, for production and delivery challenges, and for legal battles; Tesla announced cuts to about 7% of its workforce in January, and Musk is mired in an ongoing legal battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission over his tweets. Tesla reported $67 million in restructuring and related charges. The earnings report laid bare the steep challenges Tesla faces in delivering its vehicles and keeping them in customers’s hands. For example, on the Model S and X, Tesla reported a $121 million net loss largely because of forecast returns and buyback guarantee programs. Tesla said it had “a mismatch between orders and deliverable cars,” citing its high-end Model S and Model X cars in particular. Tesla said earlier this month that Model 3 deliveries had fallen from 63,150 to 50,900 because of troubles shipping the cars to their overseas destinations. Overall, Tesla said its deliveries fell 31% compared with the final quarter of 2018. Related Articles Occidental bids $38 billion for Anadarko in plan to beat Chevron How Nest, designed to keep intruders out of people’s homes, effectively allowed hackers to get in Tesla gears up for fully self-driving cars amid skepticism From gluten-free to nonalcoholic, Colorado is positioned to be at forefront of beer’s next transformation Internationally renowned Beta Nightclub will return to Denver this summer — just months after closing Tesla had cited a “massive increase in deliveries in Europe and China” and said the delivery issues were due to challenges encountered in the first quarter it was making deliveries in those markets. Tesla plans to relieve that delivery pipeline with a new factory in China, but for now it is limited to its sole Fremont, California, production plant. Things are likely to get more complicated soon with the addition of a fourth car: the Model Y. Tesla has yet to deliver its Model Y crossover, but the company said in its earnings report that it expected it to “ultimately have higher sales than Model S, Model X and Model 3 combined.” While Tesla said not to take the delivery figures as an indicator of its overall demand, the company did warn that the delivery issues would affect its financial picture. The company said, however, that it had “sufficient cash on hand”- $2.2 billion by the end of the quarter. Still, Tesla will likely need an infusion of capital to support an ambitious agenda put forth by its CEO at an investor event Monday. Tesla announced plans on Monday to launch autonomous ride-hail taxis by 2020. Musk said he expects full self-driving capabilities in Tesla’s cars by next year, and, several years later, roving fleets of autonomous Model 3 robotaxis in cities across the country.
  • Colorado has new, stronger oil and gas regulations. Now what?
    State health officials will write new rules to regulate oil and gas emissions “from cradle to grave” under a law revamping how the industry is regulated in Colorado. Along with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state Air Quality Control Commission will develop rules to carry out Senate Bill 19-181, signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis on April 16. “It’s a pretty ambitious directive,” Garry Kaufman, director of the state Air Pollution Control Division, said of the bill. “We’ll really be looking very comprehensively at emissions from cradle to grave.” In other words, from drilling, which the division doesn’t currently monitor, to transmission, or pipelines, through processing. State staffers will meet with interested parties and develop rules over the next year. The state has tightened regulation of pollution from oil and gas sites through the years, but a nine-county area along the Front Range remains out of compliance with federal air-quality standards. Oil and gas production and vehicles are the major sources of pollutants that form ground-level ozone — smog. Oil and gas operations also emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. RELATED: Colorado’s unannounced air-pollution inspections at oil and gas sites are showing results — yet emissions are up as production increases In 2014, Colorado became the first state in the nation to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas sites and three years later strengthened some of the rules. Earlier this year, 27 county and municipal elected officials in western Colorado wrote to a state task force and asked that methane and ozone regulations be stepped up statewide. The task force will make recommendations to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission no later than January 2020. The new law makes it clear that rules on oil and gas emissions will be strengthened overall, said Dan Grossman, the Environmental Defense Fund’s national director of state programs for oil and gas. “The bill also adds certainty at the end of the day that there’s going to be a strengthening of the methane rules, which will be good news for everyone,” Grossman added. The new law requires that oil and gas companies install continuous methane emissions monitors at multi-well sites, facilities with high emissions and ones near occupied dwellings. State regulators will also look at bolstering requirements for detecting and repairing leaks in equipment and further reducing emissions from pneumatic devices used to keeping the gas moving. Regulatory changes in recent years, including the methane rules, have helped cut pollution even as oil and gas production has increased, industry representatives said. The industry has been an active participant in efforts to reduce emissions, including voluntary programs during the summer, when ozone is typically worse, Dan Haley, CEO and president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said in a statement. “As we proceed with the new rulemakings brought about by Senate Bill 181, we are hopeful that the progress that has already been made is part of the conversations going forward,” Ben Marter, Colorado Petroleum Council spokesman, said in a statement. Grossman said he hopes the air commission will explore incorporating new and innovative technology to improve the detection of methane leaks throughout the oil and gas supply chain. Robert Ukeiley, an environmental health attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said he hopes that as regulators address the cumulative effects of oil and gas they consider how permits are approved. He said the current process allows companies to break up emission sources into smaller units, which doesn’t take into account the overall impact. “Ultimately, it’s a big problem in terms of ozone,” Ukeiley said. Related Articles Furor over CU’s presidential pick highlights elected Board of Regents’ partisan political divide EPA, Colorado reach $3.6M settlement with oil and gas company over alleged failure to control toxic emissions from storage tanks Post Premium: Our best stories for the week of April 15-21 Colorado’s unannounced air-pollution inspections at oil and gas sites are showing results — yet emissions are up as production increases Denver’s population has grown by nearly 20 percent since 2010 — and it’s picking up again Kaufman said the air pollution control division will review its rules for permits, including a 27-year-old rule that allows companies to drill and start production for 90 days before applying for a permit. Industry officials have said the 90-day window allows them to better determine the level of emissions before limits are set by a permit. During that time, they say they are required to operate the facilities to meet state standards. Companies must then verify their compliance as part of the permit process, Kaufman said. However, Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette has questioned whether the practice violates the federal Clean Air Act. The environmental group WildEarth Guardians has notified oil and gas operators along Colorado’s Front Range that it plans to sue over the exemption.
  • How Nest, designed to keep intruders out of people’s homes, effectively allowed hackers to get in
    Tara Thomas thought her daughter was just having nightmares. “There’s a monster in my room,” the almost-3-year-old would say, sometimes pointing to the green light on the Nest Cam installed on the wall above her bed. Then Thomas realized her daughter’s nightmares were real. In August, she walked into the room and heard pornography playing through the Nest Cam, which she had used for years as a baby monitor in their Novato, California, home. Hackers, whose voices could be heard faintly in the background, were playing the recording, using the intercom feature in the software. “I’m really sad I doubted my daughter,” she said. Though it would be nearly impossible to find out who was behind it, a hack like this one doesn’t require much effort, for two reasons: Software designed to help people break into websites and devices has gotten so easy to use that it’s practically child’s play, and many companies, including Nest, have effectively chosen to let some hackers slip through the cracks rather than impose an array of inconvenient countermeasures that could will detract from their users’ experience and ultimately alienate their customers. The result is that anyone in the world with an internet connection and rudimentary skills has the ability to virtually break into homes through devices designed to keep physical intruders out. As hacks such as the one the Thomases suffered become public, tech companies are deciding between user convenience and potential damage to their brands. Nest could make it more difficult for hackers to break into Nest cameras, for instance, by making the log-in process more cumbersome. But doing so would introduce what Silicon Valley calls “friction” — anything that can slow down or stand in the way of someone using a product. At the same time, tech companies pay a reputational price for each high-profile incident. Nest, which is part of Google, has been featured on local news stations throughout the country for hacks similar to what the Thomases experienced. And Nest’s recognizable brand name may have made it a bigger target. While Nest’s learning thermostats are dominant in the market, its connected security cameras trail the market leader, Arlo, according to Jack Narcotta, an analyst at the market research firm Strategy Analytics. Arlo, which spun out of Netgear, has around 30 percent of the market, he said. Nest is in the top five, he said. Nik Sathe, vice president of software engineering for Google Home and Nest, said Nest has tried to weigh protecting its less security-savvy customers while taking care not to unduly inconvenience legitimate users to keep out the bad ones. “It’s a balance,” he said. Whatever security Nest uses, Sathe said, needs to avoid “bad outcomes in terms of user experience.” Google spokeswoman Nicol Addison said Thomas could have avoided being hacked by implementing two-factor authentication, where in addition to a password, the user must enter a six-digit code sent via text message. Thomas said she had activated two-factor authentication; Addison said it had never been activated on the account. The method used to spy on the Thomases is one of the oldest tricks on the Internet. Hackers essentially look for email addresses and passwords that have been dumped online after being stolen from one website or service and then check to see whether the same credentials work on another site. Like the vast majority of Internet users, the family used similar passwords on more than one account. While their Nest account had not been hacked, their password had essentially become public knowledge, thanks to countless other data breaches. In recent years, this practice, which the security industry calls “credential stuffing”, has gotten incredibly easy. One factor is the sheer number of stolen passwords being dumped online publicly. It’s difficult to find someone who hasn’t been victimized. (You can check for yourself here.) A new breed of credential-stuffing software programs allows people with little to no computer skills to check the log-in credentials of millions of users against hundreds of websites and online services such as Netflix and Spotify in a matter of minutes. Netflix and Spotify both said in statements that they were aware of credential stuffing and employ measures to guard against it. Netflix, for instance, monitors websites with stolen passwords and notifies users when it detects suspicious activity. Neither Netflix nor Spotify offer two-factor authentication. But the potential for harm is higher for the 20 billion Internet-connected things expected to be online by next year, according to the research firm Gartner. Securing these devices has public safety implications. Hacked devices can be used in large-scale cyberattacks such as the “Dyn Hack” that mobilized millions of compromised “Internet of things” devices to take down Twitter, Spotify and others in 2016. In January, Japanese lawmakers passed an amendment to allow the government to essentially do what hackers do and scour the Internet for stolen passwords and test them to see whether they have been reused on other platforms. The hope is that the government can force tech companies to fix the problem. Security experts worry the problem has gotten so big that there could be attacks similar to the 2016 Dyn hack, this time as a result of a rise in credential stuffing. “They almost make it foolproof,” said Anthony Ferrante, the global head of cybersecurity at FTI Consulting and a former member of the National Security Council. He said the new tools have made it even more important to stop reusing passwords. Tech companies have been aware of the threat of credential stuffing for years, but the way they think about it has evolved as it has become a bigger problem. There was once a sense that users should take responsibility for their security by refraining from using the same password on multiple websites. But as gigantic dumps of passwords have gotten more frequent, technology companies have found that it is not just a few inattentive customers who reuse the same passwords for different accounts — it’s the majority of people online. Credential stuffing is “at the root of probably 90 percent of the things we see happening,” said Emmanuel Schalit, chief executive of Dashlane, a password manager that allows people to store unique, random passwords in one place. Only about 1 percent of Internet users, he said, use some kind of password manager. “We saw this coming in late 2017, early 2018 when we saw these big credential dumps start to happen,” Google’s Sathe said. In response, Nest says it implemented some security measures around that time. It did its own research into stolen passwords available on the Web and cross-referenced them with its records, using an encryption technique that ensured Nest could not actually see the passwords. In emails sent to customers, including the Thomases, it notified customers when they were vulnerable. It also tried to block log-in attempts that veered from the way legitimate users log into accounts. For instance, if a computer from the same Internet-protocol address attempted to log into 10 Nest accounts, the algorithm would block that address from logging into any more accounts. But Nest’s defenses were not good enough to stop several high-profile incidents throughout last year in which hackers used credential stuffing to break into Nest cameras for kicks. Hackers told a family in a San Francisco suburb, using the family’s Nest Cam, that there was an imminent missile attack from North Korea. Someone hurled racial epithets at a family in Illinois through a Nest Cam. There were also reports of hackers changing the temperature on Nest thermostats. And while only a handful of hacks became public, other users may not even be aware their cameras are compromised. The company was forced to respond. “Nest was not breached,” it said in a January statement. “These recent reports are based on customers using compromised passwords,” it said, urging its customers use two-factor authentication. Nest started forcing some users to change their passwords. This was big step for Nest, because it created the kind of friction that technology companies usually try to avoid. “As we saw the threat evolve, we put more explicit measures in place,” Sathe said. Nest says only a small percentage of its millions of customers are vulnerable to this type of attack. According to at least one expert, though, Nest users are still exposed. Hank Fordham, a security researcher, sat in his Calgary, Alberta, home recently and opened up a credential-stuffing software program known as Snipr. Instantly, Fordham said, he found thousands of Nest accounts that he could access. Had he wanted to, he would have been able to view cameras and change thermostat settings with relative ease. While other similar programs have been around for years, Snipr, which costs $20 to download, is easier to use. Snipr provides the code required to check whether hundreds of the most popular platforms, from League of Legends to Netflix, are accessible with a bunch of usernames and passwords — and those have become abundantly available all over the Internet. Fordham, who had been monitoring the software and testing it for malware, noticed that after Snipr added functionality for Nest accounts last May, news reports of attacks started coming out. “I think the credential-stuffing community was made aware of it, and that was the dam breaking,” he said. Nest said the company had never heard of Snipr, though it is generally aware of credential-stuffing software. It said it cannot be sure whether any one program drives more credential stuffing toward Nest products. What surprises Fordham and other security researchers about the vulnerability of Nest accounts is the fact that Nest’s parent company, Google, is widely known for having the best methods for stopping credential-stuffing attacks. Google’s vast user base gives it data that it can use to determine whether someone trying to log into an account is a human or a robot. The reason Nest has not employed all of Google’s know-how on security goes back to Nest’s roots, according to Nest and people with knowledge of its history. Founded in 2010 by longtime Apple executive Tony Fadell, Nest promised at the time that it would not collect data on users for marketing purposes. In 2013, Nest was acquired by Google, which has the opposite business model. Google’s products are free or inexpensive and, in exchange, it profits from the personal information it collects about its users. The people familiar with Nest’s history said the different terms of service and technical challenges have prevented Nest from using all of Google’s security products. Google declined to discuss whether any of its security features were withheld because of incompatibility with Nest’s policies. Under Alphabet, Google’s parent company, Nest employed its own security team. While Google shared knowledge about security with its sister company, Nest developed its own software. In some ways, Nest’s practices appear to lag well behind Google’s. For instance, Nest still uses SMS messages for two-factor authentication. Using SMS is generally not recommended by security experts, because text messages can be easily hijacked by hackers. Google allows people to use authentication apps, including one it developed in-house, instead of text messages. And Nest does not use ReCaptcha, which Google acquired in 2009 and which can separate humans from automated software, like what credential stuffers use to identify vulnerable accounts. Sathe said Nest employed plenty of advanced techniques to stop credential stuffing, such as machine learning algorithms that “score” log-ins based on how suspicious they are and block them accordingly. “We have many layers of security in conjunction with what the industry would consider best practices,” he said. When asked why Nest does not use ReCaptcha, Sathe cited difficulty in implementing it on mobile apps, and user convenience. “Captchas do create a speed bump for the users,” he said. The person behind Snipr, who goes by the name “Pragma” and communicates via an encrypted chat, put the blame on the company. “I can tell you right now, Nest can easily secure all of this,” he said when asked about whether his software had enabled people to listen in and harass people via Nest cams. “This is like stupidly bad security, like, extremely bad.” He also said he would remove the capability to log into Nest accounts, which he said he added last May when one of his customers asked for it, if the company asked. Pragma would not identify himself, for fear of getting in “some kind of serious trouble.” That’s when Fordham, the Calgary security researcher, became concerned. He noticed the addition of Nest on the dashboard and took it upon himself to start warning people who were vulnerable. He logged into their Nest cams and spoke to them, imploring them to change their passwords. One of those interactions ended up being recorded by the person on the other end of the camera. A local news station broadcast the video. Fordham said he is miffed that it is still so easy to log into Nest accounts. He noted that Dunkin’ Donuts, after seeing its users fall victim to credential-stuffing attacks aimed at taking their rewards points, implemented measures, including captchas, that have helped solve the problem. “It’s a little alarming that a company owned by Google hasn’t done the same thing as Dunkin’ Donuts,” Fordham said. A spokeswoman for Dunkin’ declined to comment. According to people familiar with the matter, Google is in the process of converting Nest user accounts so that they utilize Google’s security methods via Google’s log-in, in part to deal with the problem. Addison said that Nest user data will not be subject to tracking by Google. She later said that she misspoke but would not clarify what that meant. Knowing that the hack could have been stopped with a unique password or two-factor authentication has not made Thomas, whose daughter’s camera was hacked, feel any better. “I continuously get emails saying it wasn’t their fault,” she said. She unplugged the camera and another one she used to have in her son’s bedroom, and she doesn’t plan to turn them on again: “That was the solution.”
  • Telemedicine, walk-in clinics cloud role of family doctor
    Lisa Love hasn’t seen her doctor of 25 years since she discovered telemedicine. Love tried virtual visits last summer for help with a skin irritation and returned for another minor problem. She doesn’t feel a pressing need to seek care the old-fashioned way, especially since she also gets free health screenings at work. No more waiting for the doctor’s office to open. Convenience rules in health care now, where patients can use technology or growing options such as walk-in clinics and urgent care centers to get help whenever they need it. A survey last year found that about a quarter of U.S. adults don’t have a regular doctor. Some such as Love wonder how much they still need one. “Telemedicine probably can’t do everything … but for most of the things I might ever have, I’m pretty sure they can take care of it,” the Twin Falls, Idaho, resident said. Health care experts say the changing, fragmented nature of care is precisely why people still need someone who looks out for their overall health, which is the traditional role of primary care physicians such as family doctors and internists. They know patients’ medical histories, and they’re trained to spot problems that may be developing instead of just addressing symptoms that prompted the patient’s visit. They also can make sure medications don’t conflict with regular prescriptions, and they can help make sense of the information patients dig up with a Google search. But the nature of primary care is changing as patients branch off to drugstore clinics and urgent care centers. Practices are slowly shifting to more of a team-based approach that focuses on keeping patients healthy and reserves visits with a doctor for the more serious cases. “The idea that the primary care physician is the one-size-fits-all solution … that’s going to change pretty dramatically,” said Sam Glick, an executive with the research firm Oliver Wyman. This evolution began years ago when drugstores started providing flu shots and opening clinics that handle minor issues such as ear infections or pink eye. The two largest chains, CVS Health and Walgreens, now run about 1,500 clinics combined. More recently, employers have started adding worksite clinics, and thousands of urgent care centers have opened around the country to treat emergencies that aren’t life-threatening. Then there’s telemedicine, which patients can use to connect to a doctor in minutes without leaving their home or office. Related Articles Colorado lawmakers OK bill to develop public health insurance option Sen. Kamala Harris joins Trump impeachment call during Democratic town hall Vail Health to invest $60M toward mental health services as state seeks to address high suicide rate Kaiser Permanente starts contract talks with union after recent Colorado job cuts Golden doctor found guilty of fabricating patient files, then shredding them to cover up his crimes Love said she’s hooked on virtual visits. They only cost $42, or less than half the price of an office visit under her insurance plan. “I like technology and I like new things and I like saving money,” Love said. “It was worth it to me to try it.” About 25 percent of adults don’t have a regular doctor, the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation found last year. That jumps to 45 percent for those under age 30. On top of all the competition for patients, the field also is fighting a shortage of doctors as medical school students opt for higher-paying specialties. Primary care practices have adjusted by adding physician assistants or nurse practitioners to handle annual physicals and other routine care. They’re also creating teams that help them take a broader look at patient health. Those teams might include mental health specialists who screen for depression and health coaches who can improve diet and exercise. The idea is to keep patients healthy instead of waiting to treat them after they become sick. “We want to do as much outside the walls of the clinic as we can,” said Stanford University’s Dr. Megan Mahoney, noting that this push depends on insurers expanding what they will cover. Doctors also are continuing to focus more on coordinating care for people with complex health needs. Bryant Campbell’s care team includes a primary care doctor, a pharmacist and specialists to help manage his chronic liver condition and rheumatoid arthritis. The Portland, Ore., man said his team members talk frequently to avoid problems such as duplicate tests, and their approach gives him more confidence. “I sometimes think as patients we feel isolated in our health care, and this team-based approach helps a patient be as involved as you need or want to be,” he said. Doctors say the expanded scope of their practices is changing how they interact with patients. Dr. Russell Phillips frequently responds to email or cellphone questions from his patients. He also refers them to clinics for minor issues such as urinary tract infections. The Harvard Medical School professor says primary care is evolving into more of a flowing, virtual relationship where patients have more frequent but briefer contact with their doctor’s office instead of just office visits maybe twice a year. “Getting medical care is such a complex activity that people really need somebody who can advise, guide and coordinate for them,” Phillips said. “People still really want a relationship with someone who can do that.”
  • Vaccine wars: Social media battle outbreak of bogus claims
    SAN FRANCISCO — Like health officials facing outbreaks of disease, internet companies are trying to contain vaccine-related misinformation they have long helped spread. So far, their efforts at quarantine are falling short. Searches of Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram turn up all sorts of bogus warnings about vaccines, including the soundly debunked notions that they cause autism or that mercury preservatives and other substances in them can poison and even kill people. Some experts fear that the online spread of bad information about vaccines is planting or reinforcing fears in parents, and they suspect it is contributing to the comeback in recent years of certain dangerous childhood diseases, including measles, whooping cough and mumps. “The online world has been one that has been very much taken over by misinformation spread by concerned parents,” said Richard Carpiano, a professor of public policy and sociology at the University of California, Riverside, who studies vaccine trends. “Medical doctors don’t command the sort of authority they did decades ago. There is a lack of confidence in institutions people had faith in.” The effort to screen out bogus vaccine information online is one more front in the battle by social media to deal with fake news of all sorts, including political propaganda. (Researchers have even found Russia-linked bots trying to sow discord by amplifying both sides of the vaccine debate.) Pinterest, the digital scrapbooking and search site that has been a leading online repository of vaccine misinformation, took the seemingly drastic step in 2017 of blocking all searches for the term “vaccines.” But it’s been a leaky quarantine. Recently, a search for “measles vaccine” still brought up, among other things, a post titled “Why We Said NO to the Measles Vaccine,” along with a sinister-looking illustration of a hand holding an enormous needle titled “Vaccine-nation: poisoning the population one shot at a time.” Facebook, meanwhile, said in March that it would no longer recommend groups and pages that spread hoaxes about vaccines, and that it would reject ads that do this. This appears to have filtered out some of the most blatant sources of vaccine misinformation, such as the website Naturalnews.com. But even after the changes, anti-vax groups were among the first results to come up on a search of “vaccine safety.” A search of “vaccine,” meanwhile, turns up the verified profile of Dr. Christiane Northrup, a physician who is outspoken in her misgivings about — and at times opposition to — vaccines. On Facebook’s Instagram, hashtags such as “vaccineskill” and accounts against vaccinating children are easily found with a simple search for “vaccines.” The discredited ideas circulating online include the belief that the recommended number of shots for babies is too much for their bodies to handle, that vaccines infect people with the same viruses they are trying to prevent, or that the natural immunity conferred by catching a disease is better than vaccines. In truth, fear and suspicion of vaccines have been around as long as vaccines have existed. Smallpox inoculations caused a furor in colonial New England in the 1700s. And anti-vaccine agitation existed online long before Facebook and Twitter. Still, experts in online misinformation say social networking and the way its algorithms disseminate the most “engaging” posts — whether true or not — have fueled the spread of anti-vaccination propaganda and pushed parents into the anti-vax camp. Jeanine Guidry, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who studies social media and vaccines, said social media amplifies these conversations and creates echo chambers that can reinforce bad information. Carpiano said it is difficult to document the actual effect social media has had on vaccination rates, but “we do see decrease in coverage and rise in gaps of coverage,” as well as clusters of vaccine-hesitant people. Despite high-profile outbreaks, overall vaccination rates remain high in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the percentage of children under 2 who haven’t received any vaccines is growing. Related Articles Tesla lost $700 million in first quarter on Model 3 problems Occidental bids $38 billion for Anadarko in plan to beat Chevron How Nest, designed to keep intruders out of people’s homes, effectively allowed hackers to get in Tesla gears up for fully self-driving cars amid skepticism From gluten-free to nonalcoholic, Colorado is positioned to be at forefront of beer’s next transformation Some of the fake news online about health and medicine appears to be spread by people who may genuinely believe it. Some seems intended to wreak havoc in public discourse. And some appears to be for financial gain. InfoWars, the conspiracy site run by right-wing provocateur Alex Jones, routinely pushes anti-vax information and stories of “forced inoculations” while selling what are billed as immune supplements. Naturalnews.com sells such products, too. “It is a misinformation campaign,” Carpiano said. “Often couched in ‘Oh, we are for choice, understanding, education,’ ” he said. “But fundamentally it is not open to scientific debate.”
  • How do you stop robocalls to your landline?
    It’s not much of a stretch to describe robocalls as 2019’s No. 1 tech problem. “We get calls in the middle of the night,” writes Shulamit Elson in New York City. They appear to come from Slovenia and Kazakhstan and ring once before hanging up. I hear you. I’ve gotten dozens of questions about this from readers. Robocalls are certainly a nuisance to home phones as they are on smartphones, but the tech to stop them isn’t as advanced. Some providers, such as Verizon, label suspected spam calls on a phone’s caller-ID screen or let you block individually annoying numbers, but most home phones don’t have access to apps that can be the brains of the operation. Landlines also run on diverse technology: Most Americans who still have a home phone use VoIP (voice-over-internet) service, but 11 percent of homes still get service from old copper wire tech, according to U.S. Telecom, an industry trade group. For most people, I recommend starting with a service called Nomorobo. It also sells a $2 per month smartphone app, but its roots are in landlines, where it is free. Nomorobo does not work with copper-based phone lines. But it does work with dozens of VoIP carriers, including AT&T U-verse, Verizon Fios, Comcast Xfinity and Cox. I haven’t tested it myself, but I know happy customers and have interviewed the company about its data practices and business. The company won a robocaller-tech contest run by the Federal Trade Commission a few years ago. It works using a system called “simultaneous ring,” which makes incoming calls to you also go to Nomorobo. If Nomorobo picks up first, its system tries to determine if it’s a robocaller. If it is, your phone won’t ring after that first time — and you’ll know it squashed some spam. If it’s a legitimate call, they’ll patch it on through to you. You just have to remember to wait for the second ring. How does Nomorobo determine if it should hang up? It keeps a constantly updated database of about a million numbers with its own “honey pot” of phone lines that get lots of robocalls and crowdsourced reports from its users. In my tests of its smartphone app, Nomorobo wasn’t as fast at identifying the bad guys as some competitors. But it was pretty good about not blocking legitimate robocalls, such as from a pharmacy or school. One thing to know: The product is free and that means it wants something from you. Nomorobo takes the data it gathers from landlines and uses it to figure out who to block from its paying smartphone customers. Nomorobo says it doesn’t sell that data and uses it only to combat robocallers, so it’s a decent exchange. What if you have a copper phone line? Those require physical hardware you attach to your phone that screens out a list of known bad numbers. The problem is, the numbers scammers use change frequently. I haven’t tested these devices, but ones such as the $100 CPR Call Blocker V5000 only come preloaded with 5000 numbers — a drop in the bucket for the 2019 robocall epidemic. Beware of devices or service that rely on you to manually block numbers as robocalls come in. The robocallers might be spoofing legitimate numbers you might not want blocked some day, such as tech support or government agencies. Related Articles Tesla lost $700 million in first quarter on Model 3 problems Occidental bids $38 billion for Anadarko in plan to beat Chevron How Nest, designed to keep intruders out of people’s homes, effectively allowed hackers to get in Tesla gears up for fully self-driving cars amid skepticism From gluten-free to nonalcoholic, Colorado is positioned to be at forefront of beer’s next transformation Washington Post readers have been sharing a few other interesting solutions. “I formatted my home phone to ring only twice so when the computer or whomever, hears my message, quickly hangs up and leaves no message,” writes Judith Nathan of Leominster, Mass. James Fullerton of Leesburg, Va., writes he doesn’t get robocalls on his business line because he uses an “interactive voice response” system, also known as phone tree. “Robocallers simply can’t decipher the greeting, hear the list of options/extensions, and therefore the IVR blocks 100 percent of robocalls with no further intervention required,” he says. “The drawback is that the setup is somewhat complex.”
  • Tracking your pregnancy on an app may be more public than you think
    Like millions of women, Diana Diller was a devoted user of the pregnancy-tracking app Ovia, logging in every night to record new details on a screen asking about her bodily functions, sex drive, medications and mood. When she gave birth last spring, she used the app to chart her baby’s first online medical data — including her name, location and whether there had been any complications — before leaving the hospital’s recovery room. But someone else was regularly checking in, too: her employer, which paid to gain access to the intimate details of its workers’ personal lives, from their trying-to-conceive months to early motherhood. Diller’s bosses could look up aggregate data on how many workers using Ovia’s fertility, pregnancy and parenting apps had faced high-risk pregnancies or gave birth prematurely; the top medical questions they had researched; and how soon they had returned to work. “Maybe I’m naive, but I thought of it as positive reinforcement: They’re trying to help me take care of myself,” said Diller, 39, an event planner in Los Angeles for the video-game company Activision Blizzard. The decision to track her pregnancy had been made easier by the $1 a day in gift cards the company paid her to use the app: That’s “diaper and formula money,” she said. Period- and pregnancy-tracking apps such as Ovia have climbed in popularity as fun, friendly companions for the daunting uncertainties of childbirth, and many expectant women check in daily to see, for instance, how their unborn baby’s size compares to different fruits or Parisian desserts. But Ovia also has become a powerful monitoring tool for employers and health insurers, which under the banner of corporate wellness have aggressively pushed to gather more data about their workers’ lives than ever before. Employers who pay the apps’ developer, Ovia Health, can offer their workers a special version of the apps that relays their health data — in a “de-identified,” aggregated form — to an internal employer website accessible by human resources personnel. The companies offer it alongside other health benefits and incentivize workers to input as much about their bodies as they can, saying the data can help the companies minimize health care spending, discover medical problems and better plan for the months ahead. Emboldened by the popularity of Fitbits and other tracking technologies, Ovia has marketed itself as shepherding one of the oldest milestones in human existence into the digital age. By giving counseling and feedback on mothers’ progress, executives said, Ovia has helped women conceive after months of infertility and even saved the lives of women who wouldn’t otherwise have realized they were at risk. But health and privacy advocates say this new generation of “menstrual surveillance” tools is pushing the limits of what women will share about one of the most sensitive moments of their lives. The apps, they say, are designed largely to benefit not the women but their employers and insurers, who gain a sweeping new benchmark on which to assess their workers as they consider the next steps for their families and careers. Experts worry that companies could use the data to bump up the cost or scale back the coverage of health care benefits, or that women’s intimate information could be exposed in data breaches or security risks. Although the data is made anonymous, experts also fear that the companies could identify women based on information relayed in confidence, particularly in workplaces where few women are pregnant at any given time. “What could possibly be the most optimistic, best-faith reason for an employer to know how many high-risk pregnancies their employees have? So they can put more brochures in the break room?” asked Karen Levy, a Cornell University assistant professor who has researched family and workplace monitoring. “The real benefit of self-tracking is always to the company,” Levy said. “People are being asked to do this at a time when they’re incredibly vulnerable and may not have any sense where that data is being passed.” Ovia chief executive Paris Wallace said the company complies with privacy laws and provides the aggregate data so companies can evaluate how their workforces’ health outcomes have changed over time. The health information is sensitive, he said, but could also play a critical role in boosting women’s well-being and companies’ bottom lines. “We are in a women’s health crisis, and it’s impacting people’s lives and their children’s lives,” he said, pointing to the country’s rising rates of premature births and maternal deaths. “But it’s also impacting the folks who are responsible for these outcomes — both financially and for the health of the members they’re accountable for.” The rise of pregnancy-tracking apps shows how some companies increasingly view the human body as a technological gold mine, rich with a vast range of health data their algorithms can track and analyze. Companies pay for Ovia’s “family benefits solution” package on a per-employee basis, but Ovia also makes money off targeted in-app advertising, including from sellers of fertility-support supplements, life insurance, cord-blood banking and cleaning products. An Ovia spokeswoman said the company does not sell aggregate data for advertising purposes. But women who use Ovia must consent to its 6,000-word “terms of use,” which grant the company a “royalty-free, perpetual, and irrevocable license, throughout the universe” to “utilize and exploit” their de-identified personal information for scientific research and “marketing purposes.” Ovia may also “sell, lease or lend aggregated Personal Information to third parties,” the document adds. Milt Ezzard, the vice president of global benefits for Activision Blizzard — a video gaming giant that earned $7.5 billion last year with franchises such as “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” — credits acceptance of Ovia there to a changing workplace culture where volunteering sensitive information has become more commonplace. In 2014, when the company rolled out incentives for workers who tracked their physical activity with a Fitbit, some employees voiced concerns over what they called a privacy-infringing overreach. But as the company offered more health tracking — including for mental health, sleep, diet, autism and cancer care — Ezzard said workers grew more comfortable with the trade-off and enticed by the financial benefits. “Each time we introduced something, there was a bit of an outcry: ‘You’re prying into our lives,’ “ Ezzard said. “But we slowly increased the sensitivity of stuff, and eventually people understood it’s all voluntary, there’s no gun to your head, and we’re going to reward you if you choose to do it.” With more than 10 million users, Ovia’s tracking services are now some of the most downloaded medical apps in America, and the company says it has collected billions of data points into what it calls “one of the largest data sets on women’s health in the world.” Ovia’s corporate deals with employers and insurers have seen “triple-digit growth” in recent years, Wallace said. The company would not say how many companies it works with, but the number of employees at those companies is around 10 million, a statistic Ovia refers to as “covered lives.” Ovia pitches its app to companies as a health care aid for women to better understand their bodies during a mystifying phase of life. In marketing materials, it says women who have tracked themselves with Ovia showed a 30 percent reduction in premature births, a 30 percent increase in natural conception, and a higher rate of identifying the signs of postpartum depression. (An Ovia spokeswoman said those statistics come from an internal return-on-investment calculator that “has been favorably reviewed by actuaries from two national insurance companies.”) But a key element of Ovia’s sales pitch is how companies can cut back on medical costs and help usher women back to work. Pregnant women who track themselves, the company says, will live healthier, feel more in control, and be less likely to give birth prematurely or via a C-section, both of which cost more in medical bills — for the family and the employer. Women wanting to get pregnant are told they can rely on Ovia’s “fertility algorithms,” which analyze their menstrual data and suggest good times to try to conceive, potentially saving money on infertility treatments. “An average of 33 hours of productivity are lost for every round of treatment,” an Ovia marketing document says. For employers who fund workers’ health insurance, pregnancy can be one of the biggest and most unpredictable health care expenses. In 2014, AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong defended the company’s cuts to retirement benefits by blaming the high medical expenses that arose from two employees giving birth to “distressed babies.” But some health and privacy experts say there are many reasons a woman who is pregnant or trying to conceive wouldn’t want to tell her boss, and they worry the data could be used in a way that puts new moms at a disadvantage. “The fact that women’s pregnancies are being tracked that closely by employers is very disturbing,” said Deborah Peel, a psychiatrist and founder of the Texas nonprofit Patient Privacy Rights. “There’s so much discrimination against mothers and families in the workplace, and they can’t trust their employer to have their best interests at heart.” Ovia’s soft pastels and cheery text lend a friendly air to the process of transmitting private health information to one’s employer, and the app gives daily nudges to remind women to log their progress with messages such as, “You’re beautiful! How are you feeling today?” Diana Diller used Ovia to track her pregnancy with her daughter, Simone. Philip Cheung, for The Washington Post But experts say they are unnerved by the sheer volume and detail of data that women are expected to offer up. Pregnant women can log details of their sleep, diet, mood and weight, while women who are trying to conceive can record when they had sex, how they’re feeling, and the look and color of their cervical fluid. After birth, the app asks for the baby’s name, sex and weight; who performed the delivery and where; the birth type, such as vaginal or an unplanned C-section; how long labor lasted; whether it included an epidural; and the details of any complications, such as whether there was a breech or postpartum hemorrhage. The app also allows women to report whether they had a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, including the date and “type of loss,” such as whether the baby was stillborn. Much of this information is viewable only by the worker. But the company can access a vast range of aggregated data about its employees, including their average age, number of children and current trimester; the average time it took them to get pregnant; the percentage who had high-risk pregnancies, conceived after a stretch of infertility, had C-sections or gave birth prematurely; and how soon the new moms had returned to work. Companies can also see which articles are most read in Ovia’s apps, offering them a potential road map to their workers’ personal questions or anxieties. The how-to guides touch on virtually every aspect of a woman’s changing body, mood, financial needs and lifestyle in hyper-intimate detail, including filing for disability, treating bodily aches and discharges, and suggestions for sex positions during pregnancy. The company says it does not do paid clinical trials but provides data to researchers, including for a 2017 study that cited Ovia data from more than 6,000 women on how they chose their obstetricians. But even some researchers worry about ways the information might be used. Related Articles Tesla lost $700 million in first quarter on Model 3 problems Occidental bids $38 billion for Anadarko in plan to beat Chevron How Nest, designed to keep intruders out of people’s homes, effectively allowed hackers to get in Tesla gears up for fully self-driving cars amid skepticism From gluten-free to nonalcoholic, Colorado is positioned to be at forefront of beer’s next transformation “As a clinician researcher, I can see the benefit of analyzing large data sets,” said Paula Castaño, an obstetrician-gynecologist and associate professor at Columbia University who has studied menstrual-tracking apps. But a lot of the Ovia data given to employers, she said, “raise concerns with their lack of general clinical applicability and focus on variables that affect time out of work and insurance utilization.” Diller, the Activision Blizzard employee, said she was never troubled by Ovia privacy worries. She loved being able to show her friends what size pastry her unborn daughter was and would log her data every night while lying in bed and ticking through her other health apps, including trackers for food, sleep and “mindfulness.” When she reported the birth in Ovia, the app triggered a burst of virtual confetti and then directed her to download Ovia’s parenting app, where she could track not just her health data but her newborn daughter’s, too. It was an easy decision. On the app’s home screen, she uploaded the first photo of her newly expanded family.
  • Scientists reveal first image ever made of a black hole
    WASHINGTON — Scientists on Wednesday revealed the first image ever made of a black hole, depicting its hot, shadowy edges where light bends around itself in a cosmic funhouse effect. Assembling data gathered by eight radio telescopes around the world, astronomers created the picture showing the violent neighborhood around a supermassive black hole, the light-sucking monsters of the universe theorized by Einstein more than a century ago and confirmed by observations for decades. It looked like a flaming orange, yellow and black ring. “We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole. Here it is,” said Sheperd Doeleman of Harvard. Jessica Dempsey, a co-discoverer and deputy director of the East Asian Observatory in Hawaii, said that when she first saw the image, taken two years ago, it reminded her of the powerful flaming Eye of Sauron from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Unlike smaller black holes that come from collapsed stars, supermassive black holes are mysterious in origin. Situated at the center of most galaxies, including ours, they are so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape their gravitational pull. This one’s “event horizon” — the point of no return around it, where light and matter begin to fall inexorably into the abyss — is as big as our entire solar system. Three years ago, scientists using a massive and intricate observing system heard the sound of two much smaller black holes merging to create a gravitational wave, as Albert Einstein predicted. The new image, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and announced around the world in several news conferences, adds light to that sound. Outside scientists suggested the achievement could be worthy of a Nobel Prize, just like the gravitational wave discovery. While much around a black hole falls into a death spiral and is never to be seen again, the new image captures “lucky gas and dust” circling at just far enough to be safe and seen millions of years later on Earth, Dempsey said. Taken over four days when astronomers had “to have the perfect weather all across the world and literally all the stars had to align,” the image helps confirm Einstein’s general relativity theory, Dempsey said. Einstein a century ago even predicted the symmetrical shape that scientists just found, she said. “It’s circular, but on one side the light is brighter,” Dempsey said. That’s because that light is approaching Earth. The measurements are taken at a wavelength the human eye cannot see, so the astronomers added color to the image. They chose “exquisite gold because this light is so hot,” Dempsey said. “Making it these warm gold and oranges makes sense.” What the image shows is gas heated to millions of degrees by the friction of ever-stronger gravity, scientists said. And that gravity creates a funhouse effect where you see light from both behind the black hole and behind you as the light curves and circles around the black hole itself, said astronomer Avi Loeb, director of the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard. (The lead scientists in the discovery are from Harvard, but Loeb was not involved.) The project cost $50 million to $60 million, with $26 million of that coming from the National Science Foundation. Johns Hopkins astrophysicist Ethan Vishniac, who was not part of the discovery team but edits the journal where the research was published, pronounced the image “an amazing technical achievement” that “gives us a glimpse of gravity in its most extreme manifestation.” He added: “Pictures from computer simulations can be very pretty, but there’s literally nothing like a picture of the real universe, however fuzzy and monochromatic.” “It’s just seriously cool,” said John Kormendy, a University of Texas astronomer who wasn’t part of the discovery team. “To see the stuff going down the tubes so to speak, to see it firsthand. The mystique of black holes in the community is very substantial. That mystique is going to be made more real.” There is a myth that says a black hole would rip you apart, but Loeb and Kormendy said the one pictured is so big, someone could fall into it and not be ripped apart. But the person would never be seen from again. Black holes are “like the walls of a prison. Once you cross it, you will never be able to get out and you will never be able to communicate,” Loeb said. The first image is of a black hole in a galaxy called M87 that is about 53 million light years from Earth. One light year is 5.9 trillion miles, or 9.5 trillion kilometers. This black hole is about 6 billion times the mass of our sun. The telescope data was gathered by the Event Horizon Telescope two years ago, but it took so long to complete the image because it was a massive undertaking, involving about 200 scientists, supercomputers and hundreds of terabytes of data delivered worldwide by plane. The team looked at two supermassive black holes, the M87 and the one at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy. The one in our galaxy is closer but much smaller, so they both look the same size in the sky. But the more distant one was easier to take pictures of because it rotates more slowly, Dempsey said. “We’ve been hunting this for a long time,” Dempsey said. “We’ve been getting closer and closer with better technology.” The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • From handcrafted to high-tech: Beer brewing is changing and a Colorado college is leading the way
    Beer is blended with all sorts of exotic ingredients these days, from fruit to honey to cold brew coffee. On the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins, it will soon be blended with the latest “Internet of Things” technology as the school and its partners aim to educate the next generation of beer industry workers. Craig F. Walker, The Denver PostThe bottling line at Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins on Sept. 9, 2010. CSU and multinational technology and engineering firm Emerson announced plans Tuesday for the Emerson Brewing Innovation Center, a forthcoming lab space that will bring some of the latest in brewing technology to the school. Set to open in Gifford Building in the fall, the center will be home to two brewing systems built by an Emerson partner company. The beer will be brewed manually but the systems will include Emerson control systems, flow meters, measurement devices and other tools that will track and record data throughout the brewing process. That data will then be stored in a cloud accessible to students and instructors for review, allowing them to see where things went right or wrong in their efforts and to tinker with ingredients and processes. It’s all part of Emerson’s array of Internet of Things tech, smart devices that share information with one another via a web connection. “It’s getting back to some of the basic science of how you do things and how you brew beer, but then also keeping tabs on all of the steps,” Christian Grossenbacher, vice president of food and beverage for Emerson Automation Solutions. “We will be looking at working with them on a fully automated (system) down the road.” The systems will give students in CSU’s Fermentation Science and Technology program will an up-close look at how automated technology helps brewers optimize the operations and do real-time quality control. Emerson’s systems are in use by name-brand brewing companies like Miller Coors and Boston Brewing Co., maker of Sam Adams Boston Lager, according to Grossenbacher. “Partnerships like these enable us to give our students experience with industry standards and help them prepare for the job market,” Jeff Callaway, associate director of CSU’s fermentation science program, said in a news release. “The new center will enhance our fermentation science academic program while strengthening ties to the industry.” Fort Collins is home to some of the biggest and best-known craft brewing brands in the country, including fermentation sciences program supporter New Belgium Brewing Co. Emerson is from beer country, too. It’s based in St. Louis, home base for beer behemoth Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser. Grossenbacher said the company has strong Front Range ties thanks to its Boulder-based subsidiary Micro Motion Inc. Micro Motion held a panel discussion with area brewers and Callaway last year that was the impetus for Emerson deciding to invest in a partnership with CSU, he said. The partnership also includes a $10,000 donation toward a diversity fellowship for the brewing and fermentation program. “We are focused on helping train the digital workforce of the future while advancing education, innovation and diversity in the industry,” Lal Karsanbhai, executive president of Emerson Automation Solutions, said in a prepared statement. “The Emerson Brewing Innovation Center will mark the beginning of a strong and continued partnership with CSU.” Related Articles Four Colorado brewers ranked among craft beer’s Top 50 sellers in 2018 5 Colorado craft brewers rank among the nation’s 50 best-selling breweries Denver’s Molson Coors Brewing sued over $400 million correction to 2016 income
  • Thornton grounds “peeping drones” with new regs on unmanned aerial vehicles
    When the bones of a rare dinosaur were found during a construction dig in Thornton two summers ago, the unexpected discovery triggered headlines across the world. It also brought out drone enthusiasts who launched their unmanned aerial vehicles skyward in an effort to get a bird’s eye peek of what turned out to be a torosaurus fossil — close cousin to the better-known triceratops. The problem was the drones became so bothersome to workers on the ground that the task of unearthing the prehistoric creature had to be briefly halted to clear the air, according to the city. That planted the idea in the minds of city leaders that rules were needed to control the ever-expanding array of drones that have been put aloft over the last decade. On Tuesday night, Thornton City Council passed a set of regulations that make it a crime to use a drone to violate someone’s privacy, harass people or animals, or interfere with emergency officials working a scene. “We’re really trying to deal with drones that are harassing people,” said Joyce Hunt, Thornton’s assistant city manager. “We needed to do something to help with the ‘peeping drone’ issue.” Violations can result in a fine of $2,650. Thornton joins a growing list of Colorado cities and towns that have put limits on the use of unmanned aerial systems in the last few years. Last year, Greenwood Village enacted regulations similar to Thornton’s, with the additional stipulation that drone pilots are forbidden from using their camera-equipped flying devices to record overhead footage of concerts at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater. Taylor Albrecht, president of the Central Colorado UAS Club, said the more communities that put into place their own rules on drones the more a “patchwork quilt” of regulations will proliferate across the state, creating confusion for drone pilots from commercial operators filming storm-damaged roofs for insurance companies to dad-and-son teams launching the latest Christmas gift into the heavens. “We’re probably going to need the state to come through on this,” Albrecht said. “I’m concerned that any of these laws could stifle the industry.” According to Goldman Sachs Research, the drone industry has gigantic potential. Between commercial and consumer applications, the firm expects up to $30 billion will have been spent on the devices in the five years ending in 2020. But so far, the General Assembly has done little to put statewide rules into place for unmanned aerial vehicles. In 2018, lawmakers passed House Bill 1314, which makes it a misdemeanor to operate a drone in a way that obstructs a police officer, firefighter or emergency medical service provider. But additional laws that would standardize prohibitions throughout Colorado on harassment-by-drone or peeping drones have not gained traction. Part of the challenge is that the Federal Aviation Administration oversees airspace in the United States, leaving little jurisdiction on which states and municipalities can formulate their own laws. When communities like Thornton try to come up with limits, they have to steer clear of what belongs to the FAA. “We have control of use of land,” Hunt said. “We don’t have control of airspace.” Because of the bifurcated oversight at the federal and local levels, several Colorado communities limit themselves to terrestrial restrictions on drones — they forbid pilots from using public parks and open space to send up or bring down their vehicles. Related Articles “Not trying to be the drone police”: Colorado towns writing UAV rules strive to balance privacy, freedom Drone aircraft restrictions continue to spread across metro Denver as Greenwood Village approves limits on UAVs Flying a drone near a Colorado wildfire, emergency situation could land you in jail under bill Thornton tried to go further when it first weighed its ordinance late last year — saying streets, sidewalks and public rights-of-way would be off-limits to drone operators. That got instant pushback from several commercial drone pilots, who said it would effectively put them out of business. Long-time Colorado drone operator Vic Moss said federal law on drones — known as Part 107 of FAA regulations — are sufficient. Extra layers of regulation at the local level are overkill and serve to stigmatize drones, he said. He said towns and cities already have harassment and privacy laws on the books — there’s no need to carve out separate measures for drones. Yes, drones can be used to spy into someone’s backyard, Moss said, but so can many other devices. “I can do a lot more damage with a selfie-stick and a phone,” he said.
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