Reuters: Top News
Shares skid as trade war deepens, fuels bond rush
Asian shares sank on Monday as the latest salvos in the Sino-U.S. trade war shook confidence in the world economy and sent investors steaming to the safe harbor of sovereign bonds and gold, while slugging emerging market currencies.
China says wants 'calm' resolution to U.S. trade war
China is willing to resolve its trade dispute with the United States through "calm" negotiations and resolutely opposes the escalation of the conflict, Vice Premier Liu He, who has been leading the talks with Washington, said on Monday.
GANNETT Syndication Service
All she wants to do is her yoga
Two-year-old Hayden Fabregas decided to practice her yoga moves while waiting for a flight with her father, Chris, at the Atlanta airport.
World leaders meet at G-7 summit
Leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States are meeting in France.
Succession Bores Into the Power of Fear
This post contains major spoilers for Season 2, Episode 3 of Succession.The most recent episode of HBO’s Succession, “Hunting,” will be most remembered for one phrase: “boar on the floor.” That’s the catchy name of the “game” that the Waystar Royco mogul Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox) inflicts on his potentially traitorous underlings, forcing some of them to oink like piggies and scuffle for sausages. A hilarious and awful spectacle with no rules other than Logan’s whims, boar on the floor transforms a dining room full of polished executives into a fraternity hazing basement. “It’s fun!” Logan shouts, and to viewers, it is that—while also being disturbing.But the key to understanding this particularly genius episode of this genius TV comedy is in a more commonplace phrase than “boar on the floor.” It’s in the word okay. No show’s writers are better at capturing the fumbling, pseudo-jocular, not-all-that-witty way that real people actually talk. Most of Sunday’s episode amounted to a symphony of people saying “okay” to one another, which subtly underscored Succession’s big insights about fear and power.Okay is a versatile word. There’s the yes-like version, which is how Frank (Peter Friedman) replies to being asked to give a toast by the CEO who will soon roast him as “a creep.” There’s the time-stalling, doubtful “okay …” that Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) issues when Logan announces his plan to buy Pierce (the Warner Media to Waystar Royco’s Fox Corporation). And there are the similar versions of okay that Gerri, Karl (David Rasche), and Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) use when trying to flatter one another into being the one to stand up to Logan about that plan. Connor (Alan Ruck), rebuffing his sister’s attempt to stop him from releasing a tax-protesting campaign video, is like a pull-string doll who mostly says—blankly, placatingly—“okay.” (Well, that and, “You don’t hyperdecant?”).Then there are all the implied, unstated “okays” that meet Logan’s preposterous demands: to pee in a bucket, to get on all fours, to try to buy a $20 billion competitor possibly just to fulfill a long-held grudge.Logan, however, only says “okay” once. It’s after he orders Siobhan (Sarah Snook) on a mission she doesn’t want to go on, and hangs up the phone without getting her answer. Otherwise, he has no use for bland affirmations and conversational truces. At both the beginning and end of the episode, he is directly informed of his team’s doubts about his vision to acquire another huge company. He notes their dissent with an “uh-huh” or a “well”—and then declares that the bid is happening anyway. There is no negotiation, no softening, to be seen.A man uninterested in compromise is a frightening man, and it’s a given that Logan “can be scary, vindictive, paranoid, violent,” as Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) reveals to a journalist at the beginning of the episode. Waystar Royco unmistakably operates on a “culture of fear,” a term that sociologists have applied to myriad real-life cultures and companies. But Succession is less interested in what happens in corporate America than how. The Roy family, it’s plenty clear by now, is replete with incompetence. The media properties they own are rapidly becoming obsolete. The CEO’s health is faltering. How does Logan still hold steel-wire leashes on his minions and his investors? How does he get everyone around him to meet his every dictate with “okay”?The first way is through the blunt-force power of threats. We haven’t seen Logan kill anyone. But we’ve seen him cover up a death, and the briefing on that matter that his security manager gave in the Season 2 premiere was all-too-businesslike. So the macho and gruesome language thrown around in the Waystar offices has a certain unsettling credibility. In “Hunting,” one underling says he’s burned villages and overthrown governments on Logan’s behalf—is he kidding? When Logan hears news that an associate talked with the CEO’s would-be biographer, he erupts, saying that person is dead to him, and Kendall (Jeremy Strong) elaborates that they’ll be chopped up and thrown in the Danube. As to the question of why there’s a corporate retreat in Hungary: Gerri says, unblinkingly, that it’s because you can shoot whatever you want and get away with it. “Here’s the safety briefing,” Logan barks on the way to the hog hunt. “If you move against me, I’ll put a hole in the back of your fucking head!”Logan’s rampage against traitors doesn’t quite come to the point of murder. But it’s clear that another kind of threat he often issues is very real: blackmail. All season long, the once-rebellious Kendall has played Logan’s dead-eyed servant, a conversion that happened because of the dirt that his father has on him. Now, in front of a room full of colleagues, Logan not-so-subtly implies that Waystar’s lawyer Karl has a habit of visiting prostitutes. “Does your old lady know about that?” Logan asks, to which Karl replies, “She knows I’m something of a libertine.” Logan: “Is that a yes?” Karl closes his eyes and issues a surrender, a plea of uncle: “Okay.”The grilling of Karl is part of Logan’s larger tactic for dominance—humiliation. Boar on the floor morphs professionals into pigs, and the hooting and jeering from onlookers is a clear demonstration of how easily civilization can collapse into something more animalistic; see the infamous dinner-party scene from 2017’s The Square for a yet-starker depiction of this dynamic. What’s excellent about Succession’s version is that you witness, via nervous laughter and stammered refusals, the incremental way that collegiality crumbles and a tyrant’s ability to rule through fear is recognized. “Logan, what the fuck?” Karl asks, early in the belittling process. Later, Cousin Greg protests that the rules say he doesn’t deserve to be sent into the boar pit, but Logan corrects him: There are no rules.The particularities of Logan’s mind games are telling. Boar on the floor is quite clearly something Logan made up, inspired by the boar they’d hunted that day and were eating that night. You can see him inventing it in real time, blurting out the name—Karl seems to think it’s an insult toward him at first—and only later filling in the details. It’s also the sort of “game” Logan used as a father to create a dominance hierarchy among his kids: Last season, we learned of Roman (Kieran Culkin) being locked in a dog cage by his brothers at the goading of their dad. By definition, these tactics are dehumanizing. That they have mythic resonance—Logan is Circe, turning sailors to swine—speaks to their power. Shame has been called the “master emotion” by psychologists, and its effects are palpable in the breakfast scene after the chaotic dinner party. Tom pretends he drank too much to remember what he did, but his chief rival, Cyd Peach (Jeannie Berlin), lets him know she remembers by asking whether he wants a sausage. It’s obvious she’ll never treat him the same. Meanwhile, Frank—viciously insulted by Logan just after being brought back into the fold—shrugs his shoulders when telling Gerri that he’s considering taking a job offer at Waystar. He also all-too-willingly nods when Logan writes off the night before as a product of drinking and jet lag. That BS explanation is as close to an apology as Logan will ever give for his monstrousness, and his employees have essentially said “okay” to being treated, forevermore, like livestock.
Trump’s Two G7 Summits
At the Group of Seven meeting in Biarritz, France, there are, in effect, two different summits under way—one that’s happening in President Donald Trump’s mind, and another that is actually happening on the ground; there’s the summit Trump is trying to will into existence, and the summit unfolding in real time.To hear Trump tell it, predictions that the weekend summit would be contentious were all wrong. Only the “Fake and Disgusting News” would conclude that his relations with the other leaders meeting in the coastal resort were “very tense,” he tweeted, when in fact, they were “getting along very well.” His counterparts, he insists, are coming forward and agreeing with him that it’s a good idea to readmit Russia to the group, he said today (it was tossed out in 2014 after it annexed Crimea). He’s hearing broad support for his trade dispute with China and a lunch visit yesterday with Emmanuel Macron was the best he’s had yet with his French counterpart, he said.Yet in none of these instances does Trump’s version of events hold up. Pressed to name the other leaders who endorse the notion of letting Russia back in, for example, Trump demurred. “I could, but I don’t think it’s necessary,” he said. Trump’s account is even at odds with what his own government has been telling reporters: One U.S. official said that the leaders agreed that the country wasn’t yet deserving of an invitation, according to The Wall Street Journal. A foreign diplomat who represents one of the G7 nations told me, speaking on condition of anonymity, that Russia has done nothing since its banishment that would warrant its inclusion in a club of advanced economies with democratic systems. What’s more, senior administration officials told reporters last week, before Trump left for France, that Russia hadn’t even asked to be readmitted to the G7.Trump’s trade war with China has meanwhile taken an ominous turn that is rattling financial markets. On Friday, Beijing said it would impose tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, prompting Trump to retaliate with a new round of tariffs and a demand that U.S. companies pull out of China.Escalating trade tensions have left U.S. allies unnerved, despite Trump’s claim that his approach is winning approval at the G7. Boris Johnson, in his first face-to-face meeting with Trump since becoming prime minister, commended the overall state of the U.S. economy, but issued an unmistakable rebuke of Trump’s trade practices. Johnson told reporters that “just to register the faint, sheeplike note of our view on the trade war, we’re in favor of trade peace on the whole, and dialing it down if we can.” Asked if he would like to see “trade peace” with China, Johnson added that Britain has “profited massively” from free trade over the past two centuries. Sitting across from a U.S. president who has proudly called himself “Tariff Man,” Johnson said that “we don’t like tariffs on the whole.”Even as Trump gushed about his idyllic lunch with Macron, U.S. officials were telling reporters that France’s president was overly focused on “niche” issues, including climate change and the African economy.While Trump has celebrated what he calls the cordial spirit at the summit, profound differences have emerged in public. At his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, Trump said he wasn’t happy about North Korea’s missile tests, but also mentioned the “very nice letter” he’d gotten just last week from the country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un. He suggested Kim was right to be upset about the “war games” that South Korea, America’s longtime ally, had undertaken. North Korea, he said, hadn’t violated any “agreement.” Abe took a far different tone. North Korea’s launch of short-range missiles, he said, “clearly violates the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.”Trump’s narrative encapsulates a larger problem: whether he can be taken at face value, means what he says, and knows his own mind. There was a heart-stopping moment during Trump’s meeting with Johnson when he signaled he was rethinking his hard-line approach to China. “Are you having second thoughts about it?” a reporter asked. “Yeah, sure. Why not? … I have second thoughts about everything,” Trump said. That sounded like a retreat. Was Trump admitting that he wanted a way out of the spiraling trade dispute with China?But, no. Or so it seems. The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, soon put out a statement: Trump’s comment had been “greatly misinterpreted,” she said. His regret is only that “he’s not raising the tariffs higher.” Grisham’s statement elides an important question: Whose fault is it that Trump’s comment was “misinterpreted”?How is anyone to know for sure when White House policy is articulated largely through bursts of 280-character tweets, interspersed with screeds about the latest personnel moves at Fox News? (Trump found time today to send out a tweet complaining about Fox’s hiring of the longtime Democratic operative Donna Brazile.)If the past is any guide, there’s another possibility: Trump meant what he said and is in fact having second thoughts when it comes to China. That sort of thing has happened before. Let’s go back in time—all the way to last week. After The Washington Post wrote last Monday that Trump was considering a payroll tax cut as a way to boost the economy, the White House put out a statement denying that was the case. The following day, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office he was indeed mulling such a tax cut. By Wednesday, Trump said the idea was dead.So who knows if Grisham’s statement is the last word or whether Trump, in the end, may pull back, as Johnson advised. At stake is more than just Trump’s reputation, but the fate of the world’s two largest economies. “It seems like he speaks off the cuff and says things and then that, in turn, becomes policy,” Simon Lester, a trade expert at the Cato Institute, told me. “Not because he put any thought into it initially, but just because he said something and then has to follow it through.”
The Wizard of Oz Invented the ‘Good Witch’
Whenever I introduce myself as a witch who writes about witches, conversation often turns to The Wizard of Oz, and when it does I’m always tempted to focus on the movie’s verdant villain. Many fans delight in the Wicked Witch of the West’s deranged cackle and her lust for power and ruby pumps. Even when she meets her demise at Dorothy’s hands, she goes down in style, seething: “Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?” The filmmaker John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray) has said, “That line inspired my life. I sometimes say it to myself before I go to sleep, like a prayer.”Still, on the 80th anniversary of the movie that made the Wicked Witch famous, I find myself more drawn to her pastel counterpart, Glinda the Good Witch of the North. She was arguably the first American pop-culture figure to prove that, despite their reputation for diabolical antics, witches could be benevolent beings. Though there had been two silent-film adaptations of the Oz story before MGM’s The Wizard of Oz came out in August 1939, the typical moviegoer would’ve been most familiar with screen witches who were creepy old crones or black-frocked fairy-tale monstresses out to get wide-eyed ingenues. In all her rosy-pink goodness, Glinda was literally and figuratively a witch of a different color and an unlikely feminist force.It can be easy at first to dismiss the Good Witch as frivolous when compared to her nemesis. “Of the two Witches, good and bad, can there be anyone who’d choose to spend five minutes with Glinda?” Salman Rushdie once asked in The New Yorker, calling her “a silly pain in the neck.” It’s true that there’s a cartoonish high-femininity to Glinda: her butterfly-bedazzled pageant gown, her honeyed singing. And then there’s the way her character affirms old-fashioned ideas about the value of beauty: “Only bad witches are ugly,” Glinda tells Dorothy upon their meeting. In Oz, prettiness and virtue are conflated, and Glinda is the fairest of them all.Billie Burke, the 54-year-old actor who played Glinda, also prized beauty, and some of her opinions on the matter come across as retrograde today. “To be a woman, it seems to me, is a responsibility which means giving, understanding, bearing, and loving. To begin with, these things require being as attractive as possible,” she declares in her 1959 autobiography, With Powder On My Nose. But she thought the wise and gracious Glinda was a departure from the (in her words) “skitter-wits,” and “spoony ladies with bird-foolish voices,” that she was known for playing. She came to consider Glinda her favorite role, though she’d insist on referring to the character as a “good fairy” rather than a “good witch,” thereby distancing herself from the very word that the film sought to redefine for the better.As Burke recognized, there’s more to Glinda than her saccharine trappings. When the Wicked Witch threatens her, she responds with a laugh: “Oh, rubbish! You have no power here. Be gone, before somebody drops a house on you, too.” Glinda later asks Dorothy if she has a broomstick for flying to the Emerald City. “Well then, you’ll have to walk,” the Good Witch replies when Dorothy says no. Glinda then sends the child to brave the wilds of Oz with nothing more than a canine companion and some flashy footwear. Beneath Glinda’s tulle outfit is a spine of steel—and a belief that a young woman like Dorothy could grow one and become independent, too.Delving into the provenance of Glinda’s character reveals a lineage of thinkers who saw the witch as a symbol of female autonomy. Though witches have most often been treated throughout history as evil in both fiction and in real life, sentiments began to change in the 19th century as anticlerical, individualist values took hold across Europe. It was during this time that historians and writers including Jules Michelet and Charles Godfrey Leland wrote books that romanticized witches, often reframing witch-hunt victims as women who’d been wrongfully vilified due to their exceptional physical and mystical capabilities. Per Michelet’s best-selling book, La Sorcière of 1862: “By the fineness of her intuitions, the cunning of her wiles—often fantastic, often beneficent—she is a Witch, and casts spells, at least and lowest lulls pain to sleep and softens the blow of calamity.”The ideas of Michelet and like-minded writers influenced Matilda Joslyn Gage, an American suffragist, abolitionist, and Theosophist. She posited that women were accused as witches in the early modern era because the Church found their intellect threatening. “The witch was in reality the profoundest thinker, the most advanced scientist of those ages," she writes in her feminist treatise of 1893, Woman, Church, and State. Her vision of so-called witches being brilliant luminaries apparently inspired her son-in-law, L. Frank Baum, to incorporate that notion into his children’s book series about the fantastical land of Oz. (Some writers have surmised that “Glinda” is a play on Gage’s name.)Like Gage, Baum was a proponent of equal rights for women, and he wrote several pro-suffrage editorials in the South Dakota newspaper he owned briefly, the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer. Although his book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900, is titled after a man, it is fundamentally a female-centric story: a tale about a girl’s journey through a land governed by four magical women. There are actually two good witches in Baum’s original version: Glinda is the witch of the South, not the North, in his telling and she doesn’t appear until the second-to-last chapter. The book states that she is not only “kind to everyone,” but also, “the most powerful of all the Witches.”Upon closer examination, the airy Technicolor Glinda is an exemplar of female leadership in keeping with Baum’s vision. She is, after all, a ruler, and it’s her decisions that drive much of the film’s plot. A maternal Merlin of a sort, Glinda is both a generous guide and a firm teacher. She assists Dorothy in key moments, giving her the ruby slippers and changing the weather to wake her out of a poppy-induced stupor. But she doesn’t let the young heroine take the easy way out. At the end of the film, she explains that she chose not to tell Dorothy that the girl had the power to heel-click herself home from the get-go, so that Dorothy could “learn it for herself.” Glinda knows Dorothy will awaken to her full potential and become self-sufficient only by facing each hex and hoax head-on. This cinematic Glinda is not only a sorceress then, but also a sage. It’s clear why Oprah chose to be styled as the Oz sovereign for the Harper’s Bazaar 2015 Icons issue, declaring, “Glinda is a spiritual goddess.” The Good Witch may float in a bubble, but she has plenty of gravitas.Glinda’s arrival on-screen blazed an iridescent trail for the aspirational witch characters that followed. It also opened the door for a new type of narrative featuring the witch as a protagonist, and not just as a villain or sparkly sidekick. Though the specific conflicts that these lead witches face vary from script to script, each must negotiate her relationship to the power she has—and whether her magic is seen as an asset or a threat is often a reflection of the sexual politics of her time. Veronica Lake’s Jennifer in I Married A Witch (1942) and Kim Novak’s Gillian Holroyd in Bell, Book, and Candle (1958) are charming, glamorous women who use witchcraft to manipulate the men they fancy. But they have to relinquish their gifts in exchange for true love, prioritizing conjugal bliss over conjuration. Elizabeth Montgomery’s Samantha Stephens, of the 1960s show Bewitched, must constantly choose between her desire to be a “normal” housewife to please her husband and her own need to use her (super)natural abilities—a tension that many second-wave feminists would have recognized.The witches of ’90s films such as Practical Magic and The Craft deploy vengeance spells against their male abusers. These occult guerrilla girls manifested in the movies during a decade when sexual harassment came to the fore of public discussion, due in part to the Anita Hill hearing and the riot grrrl movement. And the enchanting champions of the Harry Potter films and the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina display a cautiously hopeful outlook about the intersection of magic and social justice. The Potter films and original books can be read as an allegory about the fight against prejudice. Sabrina has plotlines that center black and queer characters, which is especially fitting when one considers witchcraft has been historically linked to marginalized groups. Such fictional covens not only reflect the diversity of TV audiences, but also the broad range of contemporary witchcraft practitioners who draw from non-European traditions. It’s notable that in Harry Potter and Sabrina, 21st-century witches get to keep their powers and use them to save the world. Slowly but surely, as feminism has evolved and expanded, the pop-culture witch has shape-shifted along with it.Today, many people—including me—proudly describe themselves as witches. Sometimes, the label is chosen to signify one’s engagement in some form of modern witchcraft; just as often, it’s used as a way to express opposition to patriarchal constraints. But no matter the connotation, Glinda helped paved that yellow brick road for us, amplifying the notion that a witch is someone we can root for, or better yet, be.
Is Trump Destroying Bipartisan Consensus on Israel?
Updated on August 25, 2019 at 12:19 p.m. ETFor a long time, elected officials in Washington maintained a rough consensus on Israel. The United States and Israel were unquestioned allies. Military and aid packages were guaranteed winners in Congress. And support for Israel was bipartisan. Following the Six-Day War in 1967, when the country’s survival seemed imminently threatened, Jewish organizations helped build this American consensus, and helped sustain it: Lawmakers and other political leaders were entitled to their own opinions, but at a basic level, being anything other than pro-Israel was unacceptable.As the past two weeks of head-spinning news about Israel have demonstrated, some aspects of Washington’s long-standing consensus on the country are changing. Donald Trump has upended normal channels of advocacy, leaving large, traditional institutions constantly scrambling to catch up with his latest tweet or off-the-cuff remark. He constantly amplifies far-right and far-left voices on subjects relating to Israel, fueling a narrative of fracture and polarization. And while Republicans have long worked to portray themselves as the only true friends of Israel, Trump has made this a priority, last week going so far as to say that Jews who vote for Democrats show “a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” later clarifying that he meant disloyalty to Israel. The past three years have exacerbated existing fissures among American Jews, with activists on the left loudly questioning the old consensus and political leaders on the right going along with Trump’s tactics.Trump’s behavior is “very dangerous,” Abe Foxman, the former longtime head of the Anti-Defamation League, told me. “He’s trying to use us: in his efforts, his campaign, whatever his needs are.”[Read: Trump has enabled Israel’s antidemocratic tendencies at every turn]The upshot is that Jewish organizations have lost control of the narrative on Israel. Trump’s actions and statements about Jews and Israel have little to do with the Jewish people—they reflect the mode and priorities of his largely Christian, right-wing base. In practice, Washington’s bipartisan consensus on Israel mostly remains intact, but the story about Israel has changed radically. Jews have become characters in a larger political drama over Israel and anti-Semitism, two of the issues they have historically cared about most. The endless cycles of outrage are not meant to benefit Jews, and they’re not really about Jews. The watchword of pro-Israel groups in Washington has always been bipartisanship. This generally lines up with Americans’ views: Since at least 2001, according to Gallup, people from liberal Democrats to conservative Republicans have consistently held favorable opinions of Israel, and their views have largely improved over the past two decades. Alan Solow, a former chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who helped lead fundraising for both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, told me that he came up in an era when members of the two political parties basically agreed that they should work together to promote the U.S.-Israel relationship. Now “the whole world is becoming more partisan,” he said.Trump, in particular, has changed the bipartisan playbook on Israel. The president repeatedly singles out Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who have been critical of Israel and were recently barred from entering the country at Trump’s urging. When Trump says these women hate Israel, hate Jews, and are anti-Semites, that gives permission to “the president’s people to say, ‘We don’t care about traditional ways of approaching the U.S.-Israel relationship,’” Solow said. “It also frees up all the president’s opponents in the Jewish community to say, ‘You know what? All the rules have changed.’” As a result, politically conservative and progressive Jews, who might have once found common ground on the Israel issue, are constantly at one another’s throats.For Jewish leaders who want the old bipartisan consensus to remain in place, this dynamic has been highly frustrating. “I’ve been struggling with the impact this has had on the [Jewish] community,” Democratic Representative Ted Deutch of Florida told me. Groups including the Republican Jewish Coalition have defended Trump no matter what, even when he seems to invoke classic anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish dual loyalty. “We are going to support Trump because President Trump has been a great friend to the Jewish community and a great friend to our organization, and he’s been the most pro-Israel president in history,” Neil Strauss, the national spokesman for the Republican Jewish Coalition, told me. “What President Trump said wasn’t anti-Semitic ... The idea that President Trump doesn’t like Jewish people is outlandish.”Democrats such as Deutch, however, see this as divisive. “There was a decision made that somehow it’s in the best interests of the president’s reelection campaign to try and drive a wedge in the middle of the community,” Deutch said. As a result, a week’s worth of news cycles have been dedicated to Trump’s comments and the reactions of far-left Democrats such as Tlaib and Omar, who recently held a press conference that was “essentially the voice of the BDS movement,” Deutch said, referring to the effort to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel. While Congress recently voted 398–17 to condemn the BDS movement, with nearly every Democrat supporting the resolution, that majority gets little voice—the dozens of pro-Israel Democrats who recently visited Israel together could hold a press conference on the steps of the Capitol and “there wouldn’t be a single reporter there to cover it,” Deutch said. Trump “winds up giving attention to anyone he’s criticizing, and it elevates the rhetoric and temperature.”Under Trump, all the typical rules of political advocacy have been destroyed, leaving pro-Israel groups flat-footed following every new Trump tweet. “It used to be, you take a certain position, there are two or three responses,” Foxman said. But Trump is totally unpredictable. On August 15, after Trump tweeted that Israel should bar Tlaib and Omar from entering the country on a planned visit and the Israeli government announced that it would do so, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential pro-Israel organization, criticized the decision—an exceedingly rare move for the staunchly bipartisan group that showed how little power it had in the situation. “All the institutions are in disarray. Lobbying isn’t what lobbying used to be,” Foxman said. Trump “didn’t clean the swamp. He just confused the swamp.” Large, traditional membership organizations are particularly ill-suited to navigate this political environment. “The Jewish organizational world, for better or worse, [is] the most status-quo, establishment thing you can possibly imagine,” Solow said. “It’s always trying to find a happy spot and stay out of trouble. And you’ve got a president who—that’s the last thing he wants to do.”[Read: AIPAC Is losing control of the narrative on Israel]When it comes down to it, Trump may not care so much about making Jewish pro-Israel organizations happy. “A lot of this has nothing to do with the Jews,” Yehuda Kurtzer, the president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, told me. “I think most of the president’s policy over the last two years as it relates to Israel has been about evangelicals.”The Israeli government long ago decided to accept and court the help of conservative American Christians, who widely support pro-Israel policies, in part for theological reasons. Republican politicians in the United States play up their pro-Israel credentials to satisfy their voter base, trying to spin their Democratic opponents as anti-Israel. All of this has undermined the bipartisan consensus that large Jewish institutions have traditionally pursued, turning Israel into another right-wing rallying cry. Among Christians, “it’s much more of a culture-wars mentality,” says Dan Hummel, a historian at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who studies Christian Zionism. “It’s about winning and maintaining power.” Insofar as Trump cares about getting more Jewish voters—an unlikely outcome, given that Jews voted against him more than any other religious group in 2016—it’s not for their numbers, but for the credibility they afford.Evangelical-led pro-Israel organizations have clear sway in the Trump administration. The leaders of Christians United for Israel, an American group that claims to represent 7 million members, won top speaking slots at the opening ceremony for the new American embassy in Jerusalem last year. Trump regularly gives interviews to the evangelical Christian Broadcasting Network, and his evangelical advisers cheer him on as he criticizes Jews for voting for Democrats.The most bizarre example of the Christian influence on Trump’s views of Jews and Israel came last week, following Trump’s comments about Jewish disloyalty. The president tweeted praise given to him by Wayne Allyn Root, a Christian conspiracy theorist who says he has Jewish heritage and regularly claims, dubiously, to speak for American Jews. Trump credulously crooned about how much Jews love him using the words of an evangelical Christian, even as Root invoked the imagery of Jesus: Jews love Trump “like he is the second coming of God,” Root allegedly said, reflecting neither mainstream Jewish political views nor mainstream Jewish theology. “If the president believes that somehow it helps him among evangelicals to claim that there is only one way [to support Israel], and he is going to tell the Jews what that way is, it may make some members of his base feel good,” Deutch said. “But it’s caused enormous discomfort in the Jewish community.”Beyond the cozy halls of Washington, American Jews have a wide range of views on Israel, and they always have. Young, progressive Jewish activists today are trying to raise greater awareness of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. A decade ago, years before Trump, the organization J Street tried to disrupt the stalwart pro-Israel consensus in Washington to create more space for criticism. What’s changed the most in recent years is not the diversity of Jewish views on this issue, but the tools Jewish groups have to make their voices heard on an issue they care about deeply. Every other week, some explosive new fight over Israel or anti-Semitism seems to break out, but very little of it has to do with protecting Israel or defending Jews.America is living through a never-ending nightmare of partisan warfare. Israel and Jewish historical trauma are but the stage, Jews the bit players. And that’s never been good for Jews before. “We’re basically being swept along as pieces of a human drama that is not really about us,” Kurtzer said. “No version of a story in which Jews are objects in their own history ends well.”
Saved From Death Row, Only to Be Returned
In 1991, an 18-year-old named Marcus Robinson, along with a friend, carjacked a white teenager, who was later found dead at a construction site. At trial, Robinson and his accomplice each said the other had shot the victim.Both Robinson and the friend were black, and race immediately became a hallmark of the prosecution’s strategy in Robinson’s trial. During jury selection, John Dickson, the prosecutor, asked a potential black juror if he had trouble reading; he did not ask any white candidates that question. He struck five out of 10 black jury candidates and only four out of 28 nonblack candidates. The judge, prosecutor, and defense attorneys were white. So were a majority of the jurors, who, in 1994, sentenced Robinson to death. (His friend, Roderick Williams, received a life sentence.) Robinson was the youngest person ever sentenced to death in North Carolina.He had been on death row for 15 years when, in August of 2009, the North Carolina legislature, dominated at the time by Democrats, passed the Racial Justice Act, which sought to reckon with a legacy of racism infecting capital cases. While overt racism in criminal trials had long been outlawed by the U.S. Constitution, the new law permitted capital defendants to get their sentence reduced to life without parole if they could show that their trial and sentencing had been tainted even by unintentional racism at any stage, including the jury-selection process. More than 90 percent of the 152 death-row inmates in North Carolina at the time filed motions under the RJA. They had good reason: At the time, in a state that was at least one-third nonwhite, almost half of the inmates on death row had been sent there by juries with one or no black jurors.Robinson was the first death-row inmate to present claims of racial bias. During a two-week hearing before Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks, in early 2012, his lawyers showed statistical evidence that prosecutors in Cumberland County rejected black jury candidates more than twice as often as they rejected white ones. Perhaps more damning was evidence involving the prosecutor who had tried the case. On the stand, Dickson admitted that he had “unconscious bias” against black people and that the criminal-justice system was racially biased. Robinson’s lawyers also presented evidence that Dickson had historically dismissed black jury candidates more often than their white peers and that he consistently kept notes on the race of prospective jurors.In April of 2012, Weeks issued a 168-page ruling that found Robinson’s trial and sentencing had been affected by racial bias, writing that Robinson’s lawyers had shown “the persistent, pervasive and distorting role of race in jury selection throughout North Carolina.” He resentenced Robinson to life without parole—a ruling that advocates hailed as a success not just for Robinson but also for others on death row seeking relief. The celebration was short-lived, however.Soon afterward, the state appealed Robinson’s new sentence to the North Carolina Supreme Court. A year later, while the appeal was pending, a newly Republican-led legislature repealed the RJA with the support of a recently elected Republican governor, Pat McCrory. (Those who supported the repeal used Weeks’s ruling in Robinson’s case as a talking point, calling the RJA a “loophole” that was being exploited by those condemned to die.) For Robinson, the consequences of the repeal were concrete and dire. The North Carolina Supreme Court found in 2015 that Weeks had made a procedural error and the case needed to be reconsidered. But since at that point the RJA had been repealed, another judge assigned to rehear Robinson’s claims dismissed the case, essentially sending Robinson back to death row.Robinson’s legal team appealed his dismissal. Since then, his case has largely fallen out of the news. But early this week, it will arrive at an important inflection point. Robinson, along with three other death-row inmates convicted in Cumberland County who originally won their RJA claims only to be returned to death row when the law was repealed, will have the opportunity to argue for their lives at a series of North Carolina Supreme Court hearings.The defendants are expected to argue that their life sentences under the RJA should have remained valid given the proof of racial bias; the state notes the 2013 repeal specifically disallows retroactive appeals such as these. Those four defendants will be joined by two others, whose claims were dismissed after the RJA’s repeal before they could present any evidence before a judge.Cassandra Stubbs, Robinson’s attorney and the director of the Capital Punishment Project at the ACLU, told me, “To finally have the full evidence of discrimination heard, to have a judge find that he is entitled to life without parole because of the intentional discrimination in his case, to be taken off death row, and sent to a new prison to serve what is still an unbelievably harsh sentence, only to then to be thrown back on death row without a new trial—it’s unimaginable.” She said Robinson wasn’t available to comment.The hearings and their eventual outcomes are, of course, a matter of life and death for Robinson and the other defendants.They also raise a broader issue that, while discussed in criminal-justice circles, has yet to be satisfactorily resolved: Given that it’s now well understood that racial discrimination is pervasive in capital cases around the U.S., why is a flawed system still sending people to their death?[Read: Racism and the execution chamber]After the Civil War, under a set of laws adopted by Southern states known as the black codes, black citizens were often banned from serving on juries, along with voting, running for public office, and testifying against white people at trial. This changed with the 1875 Civil Rights Act, which names jury service as one of the guaranteed rights for once-enslaved people. In 1880, the United States Supreme Court reinforced this, ruling in Strauder v. West Virginia that states could not restrict jury service to white people. But in the years that followed, states regularly circumvented the Strauder holding by allowing prosecutors to keep black people off juries by making racist decisions under the guise of factors like intelligence, moral character, and home address.Prosecutors also relied on peremptory strikes—their right to eliminate a prospective juror without explanation—to exclude black people. In the 1965 case Swain v. Alabama, the Supreme Court held that a prosecutor had not violated the Constitution when he used peremptory strikes to cut six out of eight potential black jurors (the other two turned out to be exempt from jury service); no black people had served on a trial jury in that county over the previous 15 years. The Court reasoned that the individual strikes of a prosecutor could not by themselves amount to racial bias, even if they occurred amid broader racial disparities. (Earlier this year, when the Supreme Court overturned the capital conviction of Curtis Flowers, the decision was based not on generalized racism but on intentional discrimination on the part of the Mississippi district attorney, Doug Evans, who had tried Flowers.)This state of the law was modified slightly by the 1986 Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky, which required “race-neutral” reasons for jury strikes. But after Batson, prosecutors continued to strike black people from juries, using a variety of excuses. One Georgia prosecutor struck a black jury candidate for having “gold teeth.”The Supreme Court again considered the relevance of patterns of discrimination in a 1987 case, McClesky v. Kemp, in which a Georgia man named Warren McClesky was sent to death row in 1978 for killing a white police officer in the course of a robbery he committed with three other men. (McClesky denied shooting the officer.) McClesky argued to the Supreme Court that the death penalty was racially discriminatory in Georgia, supported by a statistical study of the state that had found that the sentence was most often given to black men who killed white victims.The Court was unmoved by the evidence of racial disparity, arguing that general racial disparities were “inevitable” and not enough to overturn McClesky’s death sentence. But, significantly, the Court suggested that states could enact legislation that would allow capital defendants to use statistical evidence of racial discrimination to argue against the death penalty in their case.In the years since, while many states have cited widespread racial discrimination when eliminating the death penalty, North Carolina chose a more unconventional route to address concern over racial bias in capital sentencing. “The states taking problems with their death penalties seriously over the past decade or so decided it can’t be fixed, that it has to be abolished,” David Weiss, a staff attorney at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, which represents death-row clients in North Carolina, told me. “North Carolina chose a unique path with the RJA, to keep the death penalty on the books, but provide a mechanism for ensuring it’s not racially biased.” (In a similar, but less robust, 1998 law, Kentucky began allowing some statistical evidence of racial prejudice to be introduced in capital trials.)The Racial Justice Act was based on a radical idea. In lieu of being forced to prove intentional racism by the prosecutor, a defendant needed only to show through quantitative analysis that the system in North Carolina was racially biased in order to receive a maximum sentence of life without parole. Stubbs told me, “It was significant for a state to say, ‘We are going to break the link between the death penalty and racial discrimination.’”The RJA’s passage reinforced a building interest on the part of researchers and reformers in discrimination in jury selection. Jury service isn’t as visible of a touchstone of democratic participation as voting rights, although it is no less significant. Weiss described jury service as “one of the most important ways to take part in the government.”In the years leading up to the law’s enactment, a growing body of research suggested that discrimination in jury selection was widespread, and may have already brought about fatal consequences. Multiple studies had shown the impact of a racially diverse jury on sentencing.In a 2010 report, after the RJA was enacted, the Equal Justice Initiative looked at the number of black jury candidates excluded from trials in eight southern states (not including North Carolina) in the 20 years after Batson and found that in some communities, a majority of black candidates were struck from juries. In Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, whose population has consistently been about 25 percent black, 80 percent of criminal trials had one or no black jurors. In one 1987 capital trial in Georgia, prosecutors marked black jurors “B#1,” B#2,” and “B#3.”Researchers at Michigan State University conducted a statewide survey on jury selection in North Carolina. In 173 proceedings, including at least one for each of the state’s death-row inmates as of July 2010, they found that prosecutors struck potential black jurors two and a half times more than white ones.The hearings this week will center largely on the vital question of whether Robinson and the others in his position should have ever been sent back to death row once they had been removed from it. It will also surely draw attention to the law that inspired these men’s removal from death row in the first place, and whether it should have ever been repealed. Stubbs said the hearings are symbolically significant because of the amount of racial bias still found in cases like Robinson’s, even as fewer people are sent to death row today than at the time of his first trial: “The death penalty is getting rarer, but it’s not getting less arbitrary or less discriminatory.”Stubbs said that the RJA was meant to restore public faith in the criminal-justice process: “The system is rotten if there’s racial bias in it.” But perhaps the greatest achievement of the RJA was in inspiring research such as the MSU study that further established just how influential race is on the outcomes of capital cases. Those studies have definitively shown disparities at the “state, local, and individual level,” Weiss said. “The legislature repealed the law, but they can’t repeal what we now know.”
On Trump and Queeg: A Follow-up
Three days ago I argued that if Donald Trump were in any consequential job other than the one he now occupies—surgeon, military commander, head of a private organization or public company, airline pilot—he would already have been removed. A sampling of reader response:The military would have responded. One reader writes:
I am retired military officer and there IS a significant part of his behavior that should generate a change of command without a parade.
The UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] is very clear about anyone in the chain of command influencing ongoing military law procedures. If ANY military officer would have done what this man did concerning Eddie Gallagher they would have been removed from their position without hesitation. [JF note: Gallagher was the Navy SEAL who was tried for murder, on allegations he stabbed a captive prisoner to death. After he was acquitted, Trump publicly took credit for helping get him off. More here.]
My God, what have we done.
Also, school systems. Another reader adds:
He would be unemployable in every school district in America.
We elected a president who couldn’t even be a substitute teacher.
But maybe not in corporations? From another reader:
In your piece from 22 August, you mentioned:
“The board at a public company would have replaced him outright or arranged a discreet shift out of power. (Of course, he would never have gotten this far in a large public corporation.)”
I respectfully disagree. One thing that is almost never discussed in the US is the medieval level at which corporate management is done. It is a fiefdom where the CEO is the chosen one to do as he wishes for as long as he can.
Trump would have risen to the top of many a corporation looking for a 'savior' (isn't that what we call the CEOs who will fix a company in trouble?)
Many American CEOs are as incompetent as Trump. They do a better job of hiding it, and they make sure that their successors get blamed for their messes.
I’ll accept the reader’s argument that some corporate CEOs may be no more knowledgeable or competent than Trump—though I’d like to hear a specific example. (Maybe Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos? On the other hand, even today’s flawed corporate-governance system eventually caught up with her.)I disagree that the board of a public corporation would have indefinitely put up with what the world has recently seen from such a leader, in the way that the GOP majority in the Senate—the functional equivalent of a corporation’s board—puts up with Trump.The new ‘Flight 93’ A reader refers to the popular right-wing concept that the 2016 presidential election was a civic version of United Flight 93, from September 11, 2001. On that flight, passengers recognized that the plane had been taken over by terrorists, and they stormed the cockpit to bring the plane crashing to the ground rather than allowing it to become a flying bomb detonated in Washington.The idea that 2016 was the “Flight 93 Election” became shorthand for a “by any means necessary!” approach to Donald Trump: Yeah, he has his problems (just like crashing a plane into the ground has its problems), but the alternative is even worse.The reader writes:
Whether purposely or not, your piece echoes and counterweights the pernicious metaphor of The Flight 93 Election by Micheal Anton.
It was helpful to be reminded that most institutions have procedures in place for removal of a presiding officer who is unfit for duty.
Speaking of the military, maybe ‘The Caine Mutiny’ is not the right model. In my post I likened Donald Trump’s current bearing to that of Philip Queeg, in Herman Wouk’s famed 1950s novel The Caine Mutiny and the subsequent movie.Several readers wrote to note a complication with that comparison. In specific, while many people agreed with the similarities between Trump’s behavior and Queeg’s, several pointed out that the moral Herman Wouk seemed to draw from his story worked against the point I was trying to make.Here’s a sample letter. For those not familiar with the book or all the characters mentioned, the central point is that Wouk ended the book being more sympathetic to his manifestly deranged main character, Captain Queeg, and critical of those who removed him from command. The reader says:
I have a quibble with your literary analysis.
My Dad gave me a tattered copy of The Caine Mutiny when I was in eight grade. It’s a great coming of age story. As I have become a graying and nondescript adult, as Willie Keith [one of the complicated protagonists] is described in the final pages, I appreciate Keith’s story more and more.
But it seems to me that at the end of the book, the narrative itself and important characters within it (not just Keith but Greenwald and even Keggs) conclude that Queeg should NOT have been relieved.
Greenwald, from a position of moral authority, credits Queeg with doing what was necessary to protect the country from fascism while the rest of them trained up for war, and regrets what he sees as his own (necessary) role in Queeg’s humiliation. Keith accepts and agrees with the official Navy reprimand he receives for his role in the relief.
Keggs, now a captain himself, wonders how they got off the hook. The consensus opinion at the end of the book is that Keefer (and of course the fascists) were the true villains, and that the Navy that put Queeg in command of a DMS [destroyer mine sweeper] generally knows what it’s doing.
I loved everything else about the article. But let’s not let Trump off the hook the way Herman Wouk let Queeg off the hook.
Several other readers suggested a better (if less famous) comparison: the 1995 movie Crimson Tide, set aboard a nuclear-missile submarine, in which an executive officer played by Denzel Washington stands up to a captain played by Gene Hackman and finally (and correctly) relieves him of command.Does naming a problem matter? I explained in my original post why I had long resisted “medicalizing” Trump’s aberrant behavior — that is, linking his excesses to some possible underlying disorder, rather than just noting them on their own. A mental-health professional writes to disagree:
I have to disagree on your belief that it wouldn't matter to anyone what his diagnosis is.
We have a unique situation here in which his most likely diagnosis would distress many if they truly understood what the term actually means and how we can draw a reasonable conclusion that we know his provisional diagnosis without ever seeing him.
As a Psychiatric Social Worker who has worked in forensic mental health, I know that it is well established that at least 1% of the population does not develop a conscience. They don't get angry, or stop caring, they simply lack to capacity to feel guilt, empathy, or grief. In many cases, this appears tied to brain abnormalities….
There are different terms and models for assessing such a person. Malignant Narcissism has been openly mentioned. Narcissistic Sociopath is common in pop culture. I prefer the term Psychopathy which is the model I am most familiar.
By definition, such a person is unfit for office (even if they lack the traits of the small subsection who become serial killers). I have to believe that the majority of the Republicans in Congress would care if they understood they are enabling a psychopath and the danger that represents to our country.
As a Social Worker, I am aware there are times when community safety and our duty to humankind outweigh the so-called
"Goldwater Rule" [JF note: this is the informal bar on commenting on people a mental-health professional has not examined personally]. This is spelled out in our NASW Code of Ethics and are reasons for the Tarasoff ruling and the laws on reporting suspected child abuse. [JF note: the Tarasoff case involved professionals’ responsibility to warn people who might be victims of a mentally ill patient’s behavior].
Imagine a professional who has the special training and has spent the time familiarizing themselves with the data on Trump trying to defend their decision to stay silent ten years from now. "Well, I knew that Trump might be a Psychopath, but you know, professional ethics."…
FBI agents are trained in the many ways such a person gives themselves away, but even a well-educated lay person can recognize that we have a profoundly mental disturbed man in the White House.
More on why a diagnosis matters. From another reader:
One of the characteristics of NPD [narcissistic personality disorder, whose list of symptoms closely resembles daily reports from the Trump White House] is that when meeting obstructions to the patient's narcissism, there is a progression from attempting to charm, to bullying, to outright paranoia; as you note, we re seeing that progression.
I agree the medicalizing our observations has no particular effect. Sufficient to say that our President is decompensating, getting crazier and crazier.
We thought democracy would spare us. From another reader:
Toward the end of today's piece you write:
"There are two exceptions. One is a purely family-run business, like the firm in which Trump spent his entire previous career. And the other is the U.S. presidency, where he will remain, despite more and more-manifest Queeg-like unfitness, as long as the GOP Senate stands with him."
I can't help but think of the long history of hereditary monarchs and Popes who were not only utterly unfit to rule, but were unfit in ways that were clearly visible to everybody around them. Some of them were mere toddlers when they acceded to the throne.
I think that in the US, after tossing out one of those monarchs, we've convinced ourselves that our system just wouldn't allow this to happen. We love democracy so much that we can't conceive of the idea that a quarter of our country would willingly make the effort to walk into a polling booth and sign over power to someone like this, and that enough of the rest of us would not see it as such a dire emergency that they wouldn't bother to vote against him.
It feels like a step backwards not just for the Presidency (which has seen its fair share of xenophobic, incompetent, and corrupt occupants), but for a world in general that seemed like it had moved on from an obviously flawed method of entrusting people with power.
Thanks to the readers, and a final point I can’t make often enough.If a renegade CEO were jeopardizing a public corporation’s future, the board of directors would finally act.If a renegade pilot threatened the safety of passengers, an airline’s management — or the regulators from the FAA — would feel legally obliged to act.Same for a renegade doctor, or teacher, or most other officials. The scandal of some police agencies, and of some Catholic (and other) hierarchies, is their failure to act as the evidence mounted up.The body that could act in the public interest in this case is the U.S. Senate. As explained in the original piece, any effort to rein in Trump, or to remove him from command, finally rests on support from the 45 men and 8 women who make up the current Republican majority in the Senate. Unlike the other 330 million or so Americans, those 53 individuals — the people whose names are listed here — could do something directly. And they won’t.
My Family's Gun Wounds: A Tale in Three Acts
For years, I laughed off guns. They were part of the scenery where I grew up in Chicago. Street gangs fought each other with switchblades and brass knuckles and sometimes you heard the pop of gunfire at night. I shrugged it off. Made jokes about the situation. Closed my eyes and went to sleep.In America, we “go ballistic” when we get angry. We “shoot from the hip” when we talk out of turn. We have “trigger warnings” in the classroom. Guns and gun culture are everywhere in our lives.Living with gun violence can desensitize you. Humor was our coping mechanism, designed to keep complex emotions at bay. I’m ashamed to say that I made fun of family members who were shot and lived to tell the tale.Yes—family members, plural. Three of them, to be exact.The first was my grandfather. He shot himself in the foot, in rural Michigan.The second was my cousin, who got shot in the stomach in Chicago.The third was my little brother. He was shot in the head, in an alley in Denver.My grandfather was maimed in a hunting accident, long before I was born. He meant to shoot a rabbit or a squirrel, but shot himself instead. The bullet took off his big toe. I remember when I was little he’d walk around barefoot in the morning, in pajamas with his coffee, a pucker of scar tissue where his toe should have been. I made fun of him, as I got older, because he was an alcoholic. I did it out of earshot. I snickered with my friends. What kind of fool shoots himself in the foot?[Read: The bullet in my arm]My cousin was shot when I was a teenager. It was a revenge shooting, according to my father. He said Carl, my cousin, was fooling around with a married woman. The husband came home one day to find the two of them together and shot him. Carl was married himself. The man shot him in the stomach. As the story goes, he managed to drive himself to South Shore Hospital, at 75th and Stony Island, and survived. My father turned the incident into a joke. He even embellished the story, describing Carl being shot as he exited his lover’s boudoir. Just what story did he tell his own wife when he called her up from the hospital? he asked. We laughed.My cousin denies this story when I ask him about it. He says he was the victim of a stickup.“To this day, that bullet is still there. If I get an X-ray or go through airport security, I still see it. They left the bullet in. It hadn’t hit any vital organs.”I ask him how he feels about gun violence today.“America has lived so long with guns, it’s damn near impossible to get rid of them. Only way we can stop it is to ban firearms—but I want mine. I’m 80 years old. I’m not as strong as I was … I’m damn sure going to use a firearm if someone breaks into my house. ” Carl owns three guns: a .22, a .38, and a Glock.My brother was shot when he was 24. I was pushing 30. Chris was living in Denver. He was going home, after a late night at a gay bar, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It was after 2 o’clock in the morning. He was drunk. The bars had closed. He came across a couple—two gay men—arguing in the street, and stopped to listen. A stranger, behind him, started talking to him. The stranger was muscular and good-looking. He was wearing a denim jacket, which was odd because it was a hot summer night.“The reason why that’s important is that’s where he had his gun,” my brother says. “I’m thinking I’m going to get picked up, but I was staying with friends, so he said we’d go to his place. Then he pulled the gun and cocked it, too. He made me go into the alley. He robbed me. He said, ‘Give me your money. Faggot this, faggot that. You’ll know better than to flirt with straight men.’”Chris continues, “He made me get on my knees. And then he started banging the gun against my head. I started to cry. I kept trying to reason with him. ‘Are you done?’ I asked. ‘You’ve got my money.’ He kept hitting me. He wouldn’t leave me alone.“Then everything went black. There was this really high-pitched sound. The black went away and I could get up. Someone came. I was in shock. A complete stranger saved my life.”I flew to Denver when it happened. Chris was hospitalized for more than a week. He had two black eyes and his head was swathed in bandages. The doctors said there was no brain damage. They said he couldn’t work for a year. It was the mid-’80s. They didn’t talk about hate crimes then.Today, Chris is trim and muscular and laughs easily. You don’t notice the scar on the back of his head at first. In fact, you forget it’s there. Only when he turns around do you see the yellow stripe of flesh on his skull.I ask him what it’s like to live with a gunshot wound.“People ask you questions,” he says. “Normally I say exactly what happened, because if I lie about it, I’m feeding into shame.”I close my eyes and think about him—my little brother—and what he has been through and the shame he once felt. I think about my cousin and the fears that keep him armed. I think about my grandfather and how lucky he was, and how much worse it could have been. And I think about all the other families in this country of guns, families who no longer have their fathers or sons, mothers or daughters. I think of all the losses stretching across the land and back in time. I don’t laugh about guns anymore.
Boris Johnson’s G7 Balancing Act
Boris Johnson has spent the first month of his premiership holding bilateral talks with Britain’s allies in the European Union and in the United States. But can he appeal to both at once?At this weekend’s Group of Seven summit in the French seaside town of Biarritz, he has endeavored to do just that. The annual gathering, which brings together leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States, marks the British leader’s debut at an international summit. For Johnson, it’s an opportunity to reaffirm Britain’s role as an enduring global player, just months before its potentially chaotic exit from the world’s largest trading bloc.But it also poses a more difficult diplomatic test—one in which Britain will need to undergo the tricky balancing act of maintaining its relationships with its European partners while also cultivating a potentially lucrative relationship with President Donald Trump.Arriving at the summit yesterday with jokes and smiles, Johnson didn’t appear too daunted by the task. But it won’t be easy. The U.S. and the EU find themselves on opposing sides of myriad policy issues, ranging from the Iran nuclear deal and NATO to climate change and trade. Strained between both sides of the Atlantic, Britain is left with few options: To maintain close alignment with the EU risks compromising Johnson’s burgeoning bromance with Trump and the president’s promise for a “very substantial” post-Brexit trade deal; to do the opposite risks sparking further confrontation with the EU amidst the ongoing Brexit deadlock.Brexit and trade have been the focus of the summit for Johnson, who held bilateral meetings today with both Trump and European Council President Donald Tusk to discuss them. To the former, Johnson called for the removal of “very considerable barriers” barring British goods such as pork pies and U.K. bell peppers from being exported to the U.S. market. To the latter, he warned that the only way to prevent a no-deal Brexit, on which Tusk said he will not cooperate, is to remove the Irish backstop, a provision in the current Brexit deal, negotiated by his predecessor, Theresa May, that would maintain an open border on the island of Ireland by keeping Britain closely tied to EU rules and regulations (Johnson has dismissed the backstop as “antidemocratic”).[Read: The clause that makes Brexiteers furious—and why they have a point]The transatlantic divisions between European leaders and the Trump administration offer a preview of the balancing act that British foreign policy will need to navigate in a post-Brexit world. On Iran, Britain has remained firmly aligned with Germany and France in defense of the 2014 nuclear deal and in opposition of the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine it through the reimposition of crippling sanctions on the Iranian regime. Still, Britain also announced last month that it would join a U.S.-led mission in the Gulf following the seizure of one of its tankers by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Though the British government insisted that the move doesn’t constitute a shift in its position on Iran, Germany and France notably decided not to follow suit, citing opposition to Washington’s strategy of “maximum pressure” on Iran.On trade, Britain is in a similarly difficult position. With just two months left before it leaves the EU and all the trading relationships that membership to the bloc affords, London is desperate to begin striking its own deals—starting with the United States. But a free-trade deal with the U.S. won’t be easy, and Washington is likely to expect any number of concessions from British officials on both the trade and foreign-policy fronts. Without significant leverage at its disposal, Britain is unlikely to be able to negotiate with the U.S. on an equal footing.Trump has so far taken a shine to Johnson, whom he endorsed to succeed former Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of his state visit to Britain earlier this year. In the days following Johnson’s ascendance, Trump boasted about his British counterpart being called “Britain’s Trump,” and the two have since held several phone calls to discuss issues including Brexit (of which Trump is a vocal supporter) and trade. “He’s the right man for the job,” Trump said of Johnson in their first meeting since Johnson took over as prime minister.[Read: Inside Donald Trump and Boris Johnson’s special relationship]Still, Johnson has been careful not to be seen as embracing the American president, who remains unpopular in Britain, too closely. In addition to calling for the U.S. to remove trade barriers on British goods, Johnson also distanced himself from Trump’s renewed calls for Russia to be readmitted to the G7 without preconditions following its expulsion from the group over its annexation of Crimea in 2014.“Given what happened in Salisbury in Wiltshire, given the use of chemical weapons on British soil … given Russia’s provocations,” Johnson said in a press conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, “I must say I am very much with Chancellor Merkel in thinking that the case has yet to be made out for Russia to return to the G7.”But whether Johnson is able to balance Britain’s interests with both the U.S. and Europe may ultimately be out of his control. “A lot comes down to what mood Donald Trump is in,” Leslie Vinjamuri, the head of the U.S. and Americas program at the London-based Chatham House, told me, noting that the American president has been known to portray himself as a defiant force in these international gatherings. Indeed, last year’s gathering ended in Trump departing the summit early and withdrawing his endorsement of the group’s joint communiqué following a bitter dispute with the summit’s host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, over trade.“If the last seven to 10 days are anything to go by, this is not a good moment,” Vinjamuri said, citing the president’s decision to cancel his state visit to Denmark over the country’s refusal to discuss selling Greenland.Some efforts have been taken by this year’s host to avoid such confrontation. Ahead of the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that this year’s gathering would dispense with the joint communique, noting that they are only used to detect dissent. “I know the points of disagreement with the U.S.,” Macron, the summit’s host, said, adding: “It’s pointless.”
When Kamala Was a Top Cop
When Senator Kamala Harris is criticized for actions she took as San Francisco’s district attorney or as California’s attorney general, the Democratic presidential hopeful responds in two ways. She cites the most progressive aspects of her record, arguing that she’ll advocate in the White House for more reforms to the criminal-justice system. And she asserts that it is laudable to work for change from within broken institutions, “at the table where the decisions are made.”She says very little, and nothing convincing, about some of the most serious charges against her, like that she fought hard to keep innocents in prison and failed to fight hard against corrupt cops.If elected president, Harris seems as likely as any of her Democratic rivals, and far more likely than Donald Trump, to pursue a criminal-justice-reform agenda that overlaps with policies I favor as a civil libertarian. And I do not hold it against Harris that as a municipal and state official she enforced many laws that I regard as unjust. All the candidates now running for president will, if elected, preside over the enforcement of some laws that they and I regard as unjust.But like her rivals, the reforms that Harris would sign into law as president would depend mostly on what Democrats in Congress could get to her desk. Far more important is how she would preside over a federal legal system and bureaucracy that is prone to frequent abuses. And her record casts significant doubts about whether she can be trusted to oversee federal law enforcement, the military, intelligence agencies, the detention of foreign prisoners, and more.The Innocent-Man TestOn June 6, 1998, police were summoned to a bar in the San Fernando Valley where a fight had broken out. The Los Angeles Police Department officers Michael Rex and Thomas Townsend rolled into the parking lot and turned on their floodlights. They later testified that they saw Daniel Larsen, then 30, pull a long, thin object from his waistband and throw it under a vehicle; that they ordered everyone in the parking lot to get down on their knees; that they retrieved a double-edged knife with a weighted handle from beneath a car; and that they arrested Larsen, who was convicted of felony possession of a deadly weapon during a jury trial, despite protesting his innocence. Larsen had two prior felonies and was sentenced to 28 years to life.Larsen continued to proclaim his innocence, but got nowhere for years, until he became one of the few inmates chosen by the Innocence Project to benefit from its limited resources.The petition assembled on his behalf was formidable. At trial, Larsen’s defense attorney called no witnesses, having failed to do the leg work of identifying any who would help his case. But as it turned out, a man named James McNutt, a retired Army sergeant first class and former police chief, had been in the parking lot that night with his wife, Elinore, and both agreed to give sworn statements asserting that they saw a different man throw the object under the car, and that they specifically saw Larsen just standing there doing nothing.The man that the couple saw is named William Hewitt. And he swore that’s what happened, too. So did Hewitt’s girlfriend, who said Hewitt sold his motorcycle shortly after the incident to bail Larsen out of prison, because Hewitt felt guilty that another man was being punished for his actions. Not only did Larsen’s defense attorney fail to identify or call these witnesses; he also failed to request that the knife be examined for fingerprints and did not present a theory of third-party culpability. He was later disbarred for failing other clients.There was, however, a procedural weakness in Larsen’s petition: He filed it in 2008, long after the one-year deadline for appeals. After missing that deadline, getting federal habeas relief is difficult and rare. One must show evidence of actual innocence.In 2009, Magistrate Judge Suzanne H. Segal finally heard testimony from the multiple witnesses who proclaimed that the knife belonged to another man. She ruled that in light of the new evidence, Larsen’s case seemed to be among those “extraordinary cases where the petitioner asserts his innocence and establishes that the court cannot have confidence in the contrary finding of guilt.” She declared that “no reasonable juror would have found Petitioner guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” and that he “clearly received ineffective assistance of counsel,” but stopped short of declaring him to be innocent outright.On June 14, 2010, Larsen was still in prison, but the state was ordered to either retry him within 90 days or to release him. Harris, who was elected attorney general that year, could have chosen to free the man who had already served more than a decade in prison for possessing a knife that almost certainly wasn’t his.Under her leadership, the attorney general’s office instead filed an appeal attempting to block his release because he hadn’t filed his claim for relief in a timely manner. It sought to keep a man in prison on procedural grounds, despite strong evidence of innocence. As a result, Larsen needlessly spent two more years in prison, until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that he had cleared the threshold for producing proof of innocence and should be released. Even then, Harris’s office continued to litigate the matter, arguing before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit that “one reasonable juror could still vote to convict.” The argument failed. And Harris’s office finally conceded defeat.Still, it did not quite relent.According to the journalist Nick Martin, the freed inmate applied to get money from the California board that compensates the wrongly imprisoned. The going rate is $140 for every day of wrongful incarceration. “To be declared eligible for compensation, a person has to prove to the court that they deserve the money. And in order to secure that proof, one of the main requirements of the board is a recommendation from the attorney general’s office,” Martin wrote. “When Harris’ office filed their suggestion on Sept. 4, 2014 that the board should decline Larsen’s claim, despite him already proving his innocence in court, that essentially sealed his financial fate.” Martin reported last month that Larsen now lives in a small garage and relies on welfare payments.Harris’s office didn’t merely fight to keep a man in prison after he’d demonstrated his innocence to the satisfaction of the Innocence Project, a judge, and an appeals court. After losing, it fought to keep the newly released man from being compensated for the decade that he spent wrongfully imprisoned.Harris failed the innocent-man test.The Disclosing-Misconduct TestIn 2010, the crime lab run by the San Francisco Police Department was rocked by a scandal when one of its three technicians was caught taking evidence––cocaine––home from work, raising the prospect of unreliable analysis and testimony in many hundreds of drug cases. It was later discovered that, even prior to the scandal, an assistant district attorney had emailed Harris’ deputy at the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office complaining that the technician was “increasingly UNDEPENDABLE for testimony.”But even after the technician was caught taking home cocaine, neither Harris nor anyone in her office notified defense attorneys in cases in which she had examined evidence.“A review of the case, based on court records and interviews with key players, presents a portrait of Harris scrambling to manage a crisis that her staff saw coming but for which she was unprepared,” The Washington Post reported in March. “It also shows how Harris, after six years as district attorney, had failed to put in place written guidelines for ensuring that defendants were informed about potentially tainted evidence and testimony that could lead to unfair convictions.”In fact, her office initially blamed the San Francisco police for failing to tell defense attorneys about the matter. A judge was incredulous, telling one of the assistant district attorneys, “But it is the district attorney's office affirmative obligation. It's not the police department who has the affirmative obligation. It's the district attorney. That's who the courts look to. That's who the community looks to, to make sure all of that information constitutionally required is provided to the defense.”Harris claimed that her staffers didn’t tell her about the matter for several months.The Wall Street Journal reported in June that years earlier, her aides had sent her a memo urging her to adopt a policy of disclosing police misconduct to defense attorneys to safeguard the right to a fair trial. Police unions, however, were opposed to the policy, and Harris failed to act on it until after the 2010 scandal.Had she chosen otherwise, she would not have woken up to this San Francisco Chronicle story: “Kamala Harris’ office violated defendants’ rights by hiding damaging information about a police drug lab technician and was indifferent to demands that it account for its failings, a judge declared Thursday … In a scathing ruling, the judge concluded that prosecutors had failed to fulfill their constitutional duty to tell defense attorneys about problems surrounding Deborah Madden, the now-retired technician at the heart of the cocaine-skimming scandal that led police to shut down the drug analysis section of their crime lab.”Meanwhile, Jeff Adachi, then head of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, declared at the time, “Anytime I've asked the district attorney for a meeting, I've been told the district attorney is out of town or not available. We need a district attorney who will give this the attention it deserves.”Harris failed the disclosure-of-misconduct test.The Corrupt-Prosecutors TestFor years, R. Scott Moxley, an indefatigable alt-weekly reporter, has covered police and prosecutorial misconduct for OC Weekly, a beat that never left him short for material, and that absolutely exploded in 2014, when Harris was attorney general. As he summarized it, “Sheriff’s deputies had spent years running unconstitutional jailhouse scams against pretrial inmates to secretly secure prosecutorial victories at trials. In return, prosecutors under then–District Attorney Tony Rackauckas looked the other way when deputies hid, doctored or destroyed exculpatory evidence from defendants; repeatedly committed perjury; and disobeyed lawfully issued court orders. Tens of thousands of pages of records inside the Orange County Superior Court, as well as at the California Court of Appeal, prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element of what became known nationally as the jailhouse-informant scandal.”For months, Moxley watched as details of the scandal emerged in a Santa Ana courtroom, and then as the judge declared that multiple deputies had perjured themselves on the stand. Earlier this year, he gave a scathing assessment of Harris’s response, which amounted to almost nothing by the time she was elected to the Senate in 2016.According to Moxley:
After more bombshell evidence emerged that expanded the scope and intensity of the deputies’ cheating, [Judge] Goethals—a former homicide prosecutor—wrote another ruling expressing exasperation over the corruption.
Harris finally acted.
She announced the opening of an investigation into the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD). As months, then years passed, it became increasingly clear the probe was nothing more than a sham. Though efforts were made to conceal that fact from the public, illuminating details emerged. For example, Harris’ investigators incredibly obeyed Orange County Sheriff’s Department commands not to audio record certain statements from accused deputies.
More telling, however, is the fact that the alleged investigation long ago landed in bureaucratic oblivion. Though Goethals and the California Court of Appeal officially announced disgust with OCSD perjury years ago, the AG’s office—first under Harris and now with Xavier Becerra—hasn’t held anyone accountable after a probe that so far has lasted more than 1,411 days.
The probe later ended without any charges filed.Moxley went on to quote Scott Sanders, the assistant public defender who first unearthed the corrupt behavior in question. Sanders declared, “The former attorney general’s efforts in Orange County were far from a profile in courage. Her unwillingness to stand up to dishonest law enforcement will be her lasting legacy here, and the criminal-justice system will continue to pay the price for years.”In a separate case, Kern County prosecutor Robert Murray appended to a confession two fabricated lines that would significantly increase the potential sentence a defendant faced, then gave a falsified transcript to the defendant’s attorney. When the attorney found out what happened, he filed a motion to dismiss the indictment for prosecutorial misconduct.Sidney Powell reported this in The Observer:
California Judge H.A. Staley got it right. He found that Mr. Murray’s fabrication of “evidence”—falsifying the transcript of a confession during discovery and plea negotiations—was “egregious, outrageous, and . . . shocked the conscience.”
The trial judge saw no laughing matter—and neither should the rest of us. He dismissed the indictment completely, and in a scathing opinion, also quoted by the appellate court, wrote that the prosecutor’s actions “diluted the protections accompanying the right to counsel and ran the risk of fraudulently inducing defendant to enter a plea and forfeit his right to a jury trial.” The court refused to “tolerate such outrageous conduct that results in the depravation of basic fundamental constitutional rights that are designed to provide basic fairness.”
As for Harris:
Undaunted by the criminal conduct of a state prosecutor, or the district court’s opinion, Ms. Harris appealed the decision dismissing the indictment. According to the California attorney general, only abject physical brutality would warrant a finding of prosecutorial misconduct and the dismissal of an indictment. Fortunately for all of us—and the Constitution—she lost again.
She failed the corrupt-prosecutors test.Progressives are divided about Kamala Harris’s candidacy, with some criminal-justice reformers who started off skeptical warming to her. For example, Shaun King told BuzzFeed News, “I was a little slow to trust her as a reformer on criminal justice, but I think she’s proven herself to me. I think she’s become one of the better spokespersons for really serious criminal-justice reform in the Democratic Party.”I don’t doubt that Harris will continue to champion prudent criminal-justice reforms, whether she continues in the Senate or becomes president. But speaking and even voting for sound criminal-justice policies and being a trustworthy overseer of a sprawling criminal-justice bureaucracy are very different things.I can forgive a politician a vote on a crime bill that looks ill-conceived two decades later, or a too-slow evolution toward marijuana legalization, or even a principled belief in the death penalty, something I adamantly oppose. I find it far harder to forgive fighting to keep a man in jail in the face of strong evidence of innocence, running a team of prosecutors that withholds potentially exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys, and utterly failing as the state’s top prosecutor to rein in glaringly corrupt district attorneys and law enforcement.At best, Harris displayed a pattern of striking ignorance about scandalous misconduct in hierarchies that she oversaw. And she is now asking the public to place her atop a bigger, more complicated, more powerful hierarchy, where abuses and unaccountable officials would do even more to subvert liberty and justice for all.
The Amazon Fires Are More Dangerous Than WMDs
Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET on August 25, 2019.When Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidential election last year, having run on a platform of deforestation, David Wallace-Wells asked, “How much damage can one person do to the planet?” Bolsonaro didn’t pour lighter fluid to ignite the flames now ravaging the Amazon, but with his policies and rhetoric, he might as well have. The destruction he inspired—and allowed to rage with his days of stubborn unwillingness to douse the flames—has placed the planet at a hinge moment in its ecological history. Unfortunately, the planet doesn’t have a clue about how it should respond.In part, the problem is that so much of the world is now governed by leaders who share Bolsonaro’s sensibility. Even before Bolsonaro presided over the incineration of the world’s storehouse of oxygen, he led a dubious regime. His path to power began with the corrupt impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, followed by the arrest of his higher-polling electoral rival.In part, the problem is the dismal state of international institutions, which haven’t been so tattered since World War II. In the face of global critics begging Bolsonaro to stop the destruction of the Amazon, he shouts about the threats to Brazil’s sovereignty. For that complaint to land, he would need democratic legitimacy, and this revanchist has none; yet those critics do nothing more than sputter inconsequential rage.If a country obtains chemical or biological weapons, the rest of the world tends to react with fury—or at least it did in the not-so-distant past. Sanctions rained down on the proliferators, who were then ostracized from the global community. And in rare ( sometimes disastrously misguided) cases, the world decided that the threat justified a military response. The destruction of the Amazon is arguably far more dangerous than the weapons of mass destruction that have triggered a robust response. The consequences of the unfolding disaster—which will extinguish species and hasten a worst-case climate crisis—extend for eternity. To lose a fifth of the Amazon to deforestation would trigger a process known as “dieback,” releasing what The Intercept calls a “doomsday bomb of stored carbon.”It is commonplace to describe the Amazon as the “world’s lungs.” Embedded in the metaphor is the sense that inherited ideas about the sovereignty of states no longer hold in the face of climate change. If the smoke clouds drifted only so far as the skies of São Paulo, other nations might be able to shrug off the problem as belonging to someone else. But one person shouldn’t have the power to set policies that doom the rest of humanity’s shot at mitigating rising temperatures.What makes Bolsonaro’s behavior so galling is the pointlessness of it. Of course, he has ties to agribusiness, which would like to raze the forest for its cattle and crops. And he campaigned on the promise of damming the river and developing the region into the country’s economic engine. But there are even baser motives driving Bolsonaro’s gleeful policy of deforestation: The man has a demonstrable record of racism, and he’s compared the indigenous people who live on protected lands to animals in a zoo. And like Donald Trump, he squeezes personal joy from his confrontations with foreign leaders and NGOs, posing as the manly enemy of the effete elites. In other words, he’s letting the fires burn, at least in part, to troll his enemies. He’s cutting out the world’s lungs for the sake of owning the libs.The situation isn’t without hope. The world can treat Bolsonaro with, at least, the urgency it has shown Venezuela’s dictator, Nicolás Maduro. To force him away from his policy of deforestation, and to prod him to intensely fight the fire, world leaders should threaten to cancel trade agreements and ban the import of timber and beef from companies that operate in the Amazon; they should sanction members of the Bolsonaro inner circle (who, in the grand tradition of the nation’s political history, seem to have achieved an expertise in money laundering); they should turn Bolsonaro and his sons, who serve as their father’s henchmen, into pariahs, forbidding their international travel.Thus far, French President Emmanuel Macron is the lone world leader who seems appropriately terror-struck by the satellite pictures of the devastation. And when he proposed rolling back trade agreements with Brazil, he spurred Bolsonaro to at last mobilize his military to act against the flames.If there were a functioning global community, it would be wrestling with how to more aggressively save the Amazon, and acknowledging that the battle against climate change demands not only new international cooperation but, perhaps, the weakening of traditional concepts of the nation-state. The European Union or a coalition of nations should, at least, mull sending planes or firefighters to extinguish the flames, even if Bolsonaro rejects their presence. Admittedly, that might not be practical or might exacerbate the problem. But the case for territorial incursion in the Amazon is far stronger than the justifications for most war. In the meantime, the planet chokes on old notions of sovereignty.
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Silver car plowed through street, hitting two pedestrians, then accelerated away in downtown Denver
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Several police officers had responded to the fight. A video circulating on social media shows the car accelerating near people and hitting two. Police issued a bulletin Sunday night saying the car was “fleeing.”
The two people hit, one falling to the pavement as the car sped away, “were evaluated at the hospital” and didn’t suffer serious injuries, police said.
On Sunday night, police sent a request on social media seeking information on the driver of the car, asking anybody familiar with that incident to call 720-913-7867.
Officers responded to a fight just before 2am at 20th/Market when a fleeing vehicle struck 2 people. The pedestrians were evaluated at the hospital & did not suffer serious injuries. Anyone with info about the driver/vehicle is encouraged to call @CrimeStoppersCO at 720-913-7867.
— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) August 26, 2019
A year later, Nepali-Americans mourn, demand justice in Westminster police killing of unarmed immigrant Birendra Thakuri
WESTMINSTER — As attorneys pressed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Westminster Police Department in the fatal shooting a year ago of unarmed Nepali immigrant Birendra Thakuri, his mother, family and friends gathered Sunday demanding justice.
“We do not want this to happen ever again to anybody,” Nepali-American community leader Narayan Shrestha, 68, said during an afternoon presentation at a public library. At sunset, a few dozen mourners formed a circle around candles, singing and praying, at the grassy spot just outside the gates of upscale housing development where 27-year-old Thakuri was killed.
The lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court follows a decision earlier this year by Adams County District Attorney Dave Young to clear Westminster police officer Steve Bare of wrongdoing in the killing. Young said Thakuri attacked Bare three times before Bare fired one shot, hitting Thakuri in the chest.
The lawsuit targeting Westminster and Bare accuses police of using excessive force in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Thakuri had been treated for mental problems and was out with his brother, walking along Federal Boulevard near 114th Avenue. Residents in that area had called 911 reporting young men fighting. Westminster police officer Bare responded, alone, and confronted the brothers. Police said the brothers advanced on Bare.
“We really need justice. We are not quiet. Please don’t think we are nobody. We are somebody,” Shrestha said Sunday, flanked by other leaders in a metro Denver community of Nepali speakers estimated at around 20,000.
“Why does a man have to die when he has no weapons? A police officer has many other options available before pulling the trigger.”
Thakuri grew up in Nepal and moved to Colorado in 2006 with his older brother, Surendra, and their mother, Sanu, when he was 15. He graduated from Centaurus High School and worked as a teller for First National Bank. He had taken classes at Metro State University. The family helped support an orphanage in their former home back in Nepal.
“He wanted to be a businessman. He had a desire to open a restaurant,” Shrestha said. “He did have a mental problem … He dreamed of going home to help kids.”
Thakuri had been prescribed medications after diagnosis in March 2018 of bipolar disorder, court documents show. It was unclear whether he’d been taking the medications.
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Westminster police officer Bare should have called for backup before confronting Thakuri and his brother, attorney Gail Johnson said. He also should have given more verbal warnings, and tried using pepper spray or a Taser to subdue Thakuri, Johnson said.
Under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, police power “needs to be exercised proportionately,” she said. “There are many other things this officer could have done before killing this young man.”
Initially, Bare apparently was able, using a police flashlight, to deter Thakuri that night, when Thakuri may have been mentally unstable, Johnson said. “Even accepting the police officer’s version of the facts as true, the force was excessive,” she said.
The attorneys contend Westminster police, who do not use body cameras to create video records, of fatal shootings at a rate nearly five times higher than the Denver Police Department and several times higher than the national norm.
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Drunk drivers, beware! Colorado cops will be on the lookout for you this weekend.
Police are searching for a dark SUV, possibly an Oldsmobile Bravada, that is likely to have damage on the passenger side.
Police are asking anyone with information about the driver or vehicle to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.
UPDATE: Earlier auto/moped crash occurred at Colfax/Stuart & is hit-and-run. Vehicle is dark SUV, possibly Oldsmobile Bravada, with likely passenger side damage. Anyone with info about the driver/SUV is encouraged to call @CrimeStoppersCO at 720-913-7867. https://t.co/spUbQdLqBL
— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) August 26, 2019
This is a developing story.
Hong Kong police draw guns, arrest 36 in latest protest
HONG KONG — Hong Kong police drew their guns and fired a warning shot Sunday night after protesters attacked officers with sticks and rods, and brought out water cannon trucks for the first time, an escalation in the summerlong protests that have shaken the city’s government and residents.
The day’s main showdown took place on a major drag in the outlying Tsuen Wan district following a protest march that ended in a nearby park. While a large crowd rallied in the park, a group of hard-line protesters took over a main street, strewing bamboo poles on the pavement and lining up orange and white traffic barriers and cones to obstruct police.
After hoisting warning flags, police used tear gas to try to disperse the crowd. Protesters responded by throwing bricks and gasoline bombs toward the police. The result was a surreal scene of small fires and scattered paving bricks on the street between the two sides, rising clouds of tear gas and green and blue laser lights pointed by the protesters at the police.
The protesters eventually decided to abandon their position. Two water cannon trucks and a phalanx of police vehicles with flashing lights joined riot police on foot as they advanced up the street. They met little resistance. Television footage showed a water cannon being fired once, but perhaps more as a test, as it didn’t appear to reach the retreating protesters.
Officers pulled their guns after a group of remaining protesters chased them down a street with sticks and rods, calling them “gangsters.” The officers held up their shields to defend themselves as they retreated. Police said that one officer fell to the ground and six drew their pistols after they were surrounded, with one firing the warning shot.
Some protesters said they’re resorting to violence because the government has not responded to their peaceful demonstrations.
“The escalation you’re seeing now is just a product of our government’s indifference toward the people of Hong Kong,” said Rory Wong, who was at the showdown after the march.
One neighborhood resident, Dong Wong, complained about the tear gas.
“I live on the 15th floor and I can even smell it at home,” he said. “I have four dogs, sneezing, sneezing all day. … The protesters didn’t do anything, they just blocked the road to protect themselves.”
Police said they arrested 36 people, including a 12-year-old, for offenses such as unlawful assembly, possession of an offensive weapon and assaulting police officers.
Earlier Sunday, tens of thousands of umbrella-carrying protesters marched in the rain. Many filled Tsuen Wan Park, the endpoint of the rally, chanting, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
The march in Hong Kong’s New Territories started near the Kwai Fong train station, which has become a focal point for protesters after police used tear gas there earlier this month. Police with riot gear could be seen moving into position along the march route.
Protesters have taken to the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s streets for more than two months. Their demands include democratic elections and an investigation into police use of force to quell the protests.
A large group clashed with police on Saturday after a march in the Kowloon Bay neighborhood, building barricades and setting fires in the streets. Police said they arrested 29 people for various offenses, including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons and assaulting police officers.
The clashes, while not as prolonged or violent as some earlier ones, ended a brief lull in the violence. The protests, which began in early June, had turned largely peaceful the previous weekend, after weeks of escalating violence.
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In nearby Macao, another Chinese territory, a pro-Beijing committee chose a businessman as the gambling hub’s next leader with little of the controversy surrounding the government in Hong Kong.
Ho Iat-seng, running unopposed, will succeed current leader Chui Sai-on in December. Asked about the protests in Hong Kong, the 62-year-old Ho said they would end eventually, like a major typhoon.
Protesters in Hong Kong have demanded that the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, also chosen by a pro-Beijing committee, step down, though that demand has evolved into a broader call for fully democratic elections.
Associated Press videojournalists Yves Dam Van, Katie Tam and Johnson Lai contributed to this report.
Rockies roughed up as Cardinals sweep Colorado in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS — Matt Carpenter knew it was just a matter of time.
The veteran infielder busted out of a prolonged slump with a homer and two singles as the St. Louis Cardinals cruised to an 11-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies after a long rain delay Sunday.
Lane Thomas had a pinch-hit homer for the Cardinals, who moved 2 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. It is their largest lead since holding a three-game cushion on May 1.
St. Louis, which has won seven of eight and 13 of 16, swept the four-game series by a combined score of 31-12.
Carpenter entered in a 4-for-29 skid with 12 strikeouts. But the three-time All-Star broke loose by reaching base in his first four trips to the plate during a 3-for-4 performance.
RELATED: Rockies’ starting pitching — a disaster this season — looks bad again next year
He singled in the middle of a six-run second inning that broke the game open. Carpenter added a solo homer in the third to push the lead to 7-2. He walked in the fifth and singled in the sixth.
“It feels good being able to use both sides of the plate,” Carpenter said. “Hit a ball away, hit a ball in. It feels good to feel good in the box.”
Nolan Arenado and Garrett Hampson homered for the Rockies, who have dropped six of seven.
Carpenter batted .257 last season with 36 homers and 81 RBIs. He came into Sunday hitting .212, but raised the mark six points with his first three-hit game since June 17.
“Those were the Matt Carpenter at-bats that we’ve been accustomed to,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “He turned it on. He kept the line moving. It was really good to see.”
Cardinals teammate Tommy Edman, who had three hits and two RBIs, was happy to see Carpenter find his stroke.
“If he gets going like he did last year, that just adds more to our offense,” Edman said.
Ryan Helsley (1-0) picked up his first career win with 2 1/3 innings of relief. He gave up one hit, one unearned run and struck out four.
St. Louis starter Michael Wacha allowed six hits and three earned runs over 4 2/3 innings. He tied a season high with seven strikeouts.
Antonio Senzatela (8-8) was roughed up for six runs and five hits over 1 2/3 innings in his return from the minors.
“That’s really a bad game,” Senzatela said. “Not my day.”
Dexter Fowler added a two-run double in the fifth and drove in three runs.
St. Louis, which is a season-high 13 games over .500 at 71-58, erased an early 2-0 deficit. Edman broke a 2-all tie with a two-run double. Paul Goldschmidt followed with a two-run single as the Cardinals sent 12 batters to the plate in the second.
“Our offense really came alive,” Edman said.
It was the first four-game sweep of the season for the Cardinals.
Arenado, who had three hits, launched his 33rd homer in the fifth. It was his 100th RBI, giving him five successive seasons of 100 or more.
Colorado is an NL-worst 18-39 since June 21.
“We just didn’t pitch very well and they’re a hot club,” manager Bud Black said. “No excuses.”
The start was delayed by rain for 2 hours, 35 minutes.
ON THE MOVE
The Rockies optioned RHP DJ Johnson to Triple-A Albuquerque to make room for Senzatela.
Cardinals: INF Kolten Wong was held out of the lineup after fouling a pitch off his toe in the seventh inning Saturday.
Rockies: RHP Tim Melville (1-0, 1.29 ERA) will face Atlanta RHP Julio Teheran (8-8, 3.53) on Monday in Denver. It is a makeup of an April 10 game that was postponed due to snow. Melville earned a win on Wednesday, allowing two hits and one run in seven innings of a 7-2 victory at Arizona.
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (9-9, 4.51) opposes Brewers LHP Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 3.64) in the first of a three-game series at Milwaukee on Monday night. Wainwright is 7-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 19 career starts at Miller Park.
Rockies’ starting pitching — a disaster this season — looks bad again next year
Unless the Rockies can figure out how to fix their starting pitching, they’re headed toward more misery in 2020. I’m not optimistic that fix is forthcoming.
My, how things have changed.
Way back in spring training, some yahoo wrote the following:
“There is a chance — a chance, mind you — that the Rockies will put their best starting rotation in franchise history on the mound this season.”
That yahoo was me.
Now before you petition to have my BBWAA card revoked, please consider that I also wrote: “That tantalizing possibility is predicated on many things, but certainly, two things must happen. One, the Rockies’ core of young pitchers must stay healthy. Two, those pitchers must continue the maturation that began last season.”
Neither of those things occurred. And after right-hander Antonio Senzatela gave up six runs in 1⅔ innings Sunday in the Rockies’ 11-4 loss at St. Louis, the cumulative ERA for Colorado’s starters is 5.79. That ranks as the third-worst in franchise history, trailing only the 1999 rotation (6.19) and the 5.81 ERA post in 2012.
I do think the “juiced baseballs” have adversely affected the Rockies’ starters, but that’s not a blanket excuse for how poorly they have performed. Their strikeout/walk ratio of 2.34 ranks 11th in the National League, and they have produced a quality start only 32 percent of the time, ranking 12th in the NL. Poor pitching (both starting and relieving) has sucked the life out of this team.
“Our pitching staff — with the exception of a couple guys — historically and statistically, has a walk habit,” manager Bud Black said back in spring training. “We have to do a better job of both coaching them and them making some adjustments in their game to be better strike throwers, especially in certain counts.”
That has not happened, so surely Black and pitching coaches Steve Foster and Darren Holmes have to shoulder some of the blame. Will there be changes in the coaching staff? It’s possible, but I honestly don’t know at this point.
OK, enough rehashing. What about next year?
The Rockies have only two starters on which they can rely: right-handers German Marquez and Jon Gray. Though Marquez has failed to take a step forward this season (12-5, 4.76 ERA in 2019 vs. 14-11, 3.77 ERA in 2018), he’s an immensely talented and ultra-competitive pitcher. Gray, who will soon have surgery to hopefully permanently repair the stress fracture in his left foot, turned the corner this season, going 11-8 with a 3.84 ERA. He was Colorado’s most consistent starter.
After those two, however, the outlook is bleak.
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Antonio Senzatela to start for Rockies on Sunday in St. Louis, setting up another proving round for the sporadic right-hander
Though lefty Kyle Freeland is slowly working his way back, can we realistically expect him to perform like the ace he was in 2018? Right-hander Peter Lambert, just 22, has some talent, but he looks shellshocked right now. Chi Chi Gonzalez and Tim Melville are stopgap starters, nothing more.
If Tyler Anderson can recover from his knee surgery, perhaps there is a comeback left in him. But Senzatela is a huge disappointment, and Jeff Hoffman has been a disaster and could be on thin ice. Prospects on the horizon remain prospects.
As my story back in spring training showed, I try to be optimistic about the Rockies. But I also have to be a realist, and when it comes to starting pitching, the Rockies are in a hard place.
Rick Scuteri, The Associated PressColorado Rockies pitcher Tim Melville throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning during a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Phoenix.
Braves RHP Julio Teheran (8-8, 3.53 ERA) at Rockies RHP Tim Melville (1-0, 1.29)
1:10 p.m. Monday, Coors Field (Make-up game from April 10)
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM
What will Melville do for an encore? In his first start in a Rockies uniform, the right-hander, who began the season pitching for the independent Long Island Ducks, allowed just two hits and one run over seven innings. He also had his first big-league hit and the first two RBIs of his career. Now comes the challenge of pitching at Coors Field. Teheran is coming off a strong start vs. Miami. Over seven scoreless innings, he recorded a season-high nine strikeouts and limited the Marlins to just five hits. The performance came six days after he recorded just four outs against the Mets in the shortest start of his career.
Trending: With their 11-4 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday, the Rockies (58-73) fell 15 games under .500.
At issue: Walks continue to be a huge problem for Colorado pitchers. Over the course of four their losses in St. Louis, the issued 24 free passes.
Tuesday: Red Sox RHP Rick Porcello (11-10, 5.49 ERA) at Rockies RHP German Marquez (12-5, 4.76), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Wednesday: Red Sox LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (14-5, 4.10) at Rockies RHP Peter Lambert (2-3, 6.55), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Thursday: Pirates RHP Trevor Williams (6-6, 5.35) at Rockies RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-5, 6.43), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Chloe Dygert closes out sweep of first women-only Colorado Classic
The gritty drive Chloe Dygert demonstrated in winning all four stages of the Colorado Classic, pulling away on finishing laps of the weekend stages even when she had the overall title all but wrapped up, emerged when she was a young girl growing up in a suburb of Indianapolis.
“When she was 6 or 7, we had a 5K run and a 15K run,” her father, David, recalled Sunday after she left the peloton breathing her fumes in winning the first women-only Colorado Classic by more two minutes. “She insisted she had to do the 15K (9.3 miles). We got done, and I thought social services was going to be waiting at the end to arrest me for letting her do that. She’s always had this incredible cardio engine, ability to recover and attack and recover, whether it was running, basketball or whatever.”
It wasn’t just her motor that set her apart, it was her will to win, and now courage is part of the equation. At the Tour of California in March of 2018, she suffered a severe concussion in a crash that essentially ended her season only two months after she set a world record at the world championships in individual pursuit. Coming back involved more than healing her brain. When she returned to racing, she had to overcome fear of crashing again. It didn’t help that when she went to the Tour of California this year, people kept asking her how it felt returning to the scene of the accident.
“That really messed my head up,” said Dygert, who rides for Sho-Air Twenty20. “I was really nervous in that race. It’s all coming together now. It’s taken a lot of time, I’m still definitely not comfortable, but it’s getting better and better every time I race.”
To the untrained eye, it looked as if her descent from the brutal climb on the Beaver Creek stage that had her pushing 60 mph on a road riddled with switchbacks was fearless, and that was where she opened her winning margin in that stage. Her father, though, could see she was being cautious.
“TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) are scary business,” said her father, wearing a new T-shirt with Colorado’s trademark C on the front because he fell in love with the state since he got here last week. “It took a long time for her to get better.”
Sunday’s race, as anticlimactic as it was, did have an interesting last couple of laps after Janelle Cole of the Lux/Flexential team broke from the peloton and Dygert went with her. They worked together until Dygert pulled away about three kilometers from the finish to win the stage by 11 seconds.
Brodie Chapman, a TIBCO-SVB rider from Australia, finished second in the overall standings, 2 minutes and 37 seconds behind.
“It’s been a wonderful event,” Chapman said. “I’m just super stoked and impressed by all the crowds, the professionalism of the organization, all the volunteers. It’s just amazing. Chloe thoroughly dominated this weekend, so for me it was just try to hang in there for second place.”
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Race organizers generated some skepticism when they announced they were dropping the men’s race this year to showcase the women, but everyone involved seemed pretty happy with the way things turned out.
“When you do anything innovative or new, you’re going to have skeptics, and I took it as a challenge,” said Ken Gart, chairman of RPM Events Group. “We weren’t sure people (spectators) would show up, and that question was answered. There are things to prove globally. To prove the business model and show the quality of athletes to the world, we’ve got a lot of work to do. But in terms of the skepticism about our intent and our broad goal, that feeling has gone away.”
The event is guaranteed to return next year, because it will be the second year of a two-year contract the race has with VF Corporation as presenting sponsor. Dygert left little doubt she wants to return next year.
“Definitely,” she said as emphatically as she dominated all four days.
Man killed in motorcycle crash in Fort Collins
A 22-year-old Fort Collins man was killed when his motorcycle crashed into an empty canal and then flipped into an open field early Sunday morning.
Witnesses called Fort Collins Police Services at 1:16 a.m. Sunday and reported that a motorcycle went off the road at the intersection of Centre Avenue and Rolland Moore Drive in central Fort Collins and dropped into a ditch canal, according to a press release.
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Motorcyclist killed in one-vehicle crash in Denver’s Overland neighborhood
The motorcycle, a 2002 Yamaha, had been traveling south on Centre Avenue, went off the right side of the road and into the empty canal, where it crashed into the far side of the bank and then flipped into an open field, police reported.
The driver, a 22-year-old man, died at the scene, police said. Authorities have not released his name pending notification of his family.
The intersection was closed for more than four hours after the crash, which police believe may have been caused by speeding.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Drew Jurkofsky at 970-416-2224.
Ex-Rep. Joe Walsh making longshot GOP challenge to Trump
Joe Walsh, a former Illinois congressman and tea party favorite turned radio talk show host, announced a challenge Sunday to President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020, saying the incumbent is unfit for office and must be denied a second term.
“He’s nuts. He’s erratic. He’s cruel. He stokes bigotry. He’s incompetent. He doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Walsh told ABC’s “This Week.” The longshot portrayed himself as a legitimate alternative in party where he said many are opposed to Trump but are “scared to death” of saying so publicly.
His campaign slogan: “Be brave.”
Polls shows Trump is backed by most Republican voters, and the lone rival already in the race is former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, the 2016 Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee who is regarded as fiscally conservative but socially liberal.
Undeterred from pressing ahead with his candidacy, Walsh said, “I think this thing … will catch on like wildfire.” The former Trump booster added: “I’m a conservative. And I think there’s a decent chance to present to Republican voters a conservative without all the baggage.”
The one-word response from Trump’s campaign to Walsh’s entry: “Whatever.”
Walsh narrowly won a House seat from suburban Chicago in the 2010 tea party wave but lost a 2012 reelection bid and has since hosted a radio talk show. He has a history of inflammatory statements regarding Muslims and others and declared just before the 2016 election that if Trump lost, “I’m grabbing my musket.”
But he has since soured on Trump, criticizing the president over growth of the federal deficit and writing in a New York Times column that the president was “a racial arsonist who encourages bigotry and xenophobia to rouse his base.”
The road ahead for any Republican primary challenger will be difficult.
In recent months, Trump’s allies have taken over state parties that control primary elections in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and elsewhere. State party leaders sometimes pay lip service to the notion that they would welcome a primary challenger, as their state party rules usually require, but they are already working to ensure Trump’s reelection.
South Carolina Republicans have gone so far as to discuss canceling their state’s GOP primary altogether if a legitimate primary challenge emerges to eliminate the threat.
At the same time, polling consistently shows that Trump has the solid backing of an overwhelming majority of Republican voters. An Associated Press-NORC poll conducted this month found that 78% of Republicans approve of Trump’s job performance. That number has been hovering around 80% even as repeated scandals have rocked his presidency.
“Look, this isn’t easy to do. … I’m opening up my life to tweets and attacks. Everything I’ve said and tweeted now, Trump’s going to go after, and his bullies are going to go after,” Walsh said.
Asked whether he was prepared for that, Walsh replied: “Yes, I’m ready for it.”
Weld, in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said he was “thrilled” that Walsh was in the race and that Mark Sanford, a former South Carolina governor and congressman, was considering joining them, leading to a “more robust conversation.”
“Who knows? The networks might even cover Republican primary debates,” Weld said.
Walsh, 57, rode a wave of anti-President Barack Obama sentiment to a 300-vote victory over a Democratic incumbent in the 2010 election. He made a name for himself in Washington as a cable news fixture who was highly disparaging of Obama.
Walsh was criticized for saying that the Democratic Party’s “game” is to make Latinos dependent on government just like “they got African Americans dependent upon government.” At another point, he said radical Muslims are in the U.S. “trying to kill Americans every week,” including in Chicago’s suburbs.
He lost his 2012 reelection bid by more than 20,000 votes to Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who was elected to the U.S. Senate four years later.
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Walsh told Obama to “watch out” on Twitter in July 2016 after five police officers were killed in Dallas. Just days before Trump’s 2016 win over Hillary Clinton, Walsh tweeted: “On November 8th, I’m voting for Trump. On November 9th, if Trump loses, I’m grabbing my musket. You in?” Walsh later said on Twitter that he was referring to “acts of civil disobedience.”
On Sunday, Walsh said he apologized for past divisive comments.
“I helped create Trump. There’s no doubt about that, the personal, ugly politics. I regret that. And I’m sorry for that,” he said.
Davies reported from Indianapolis.
Rory McIlroy ends season with a $15 million bang at East Lake
ATLANTA — Rory McIlroy captured the biggest cash payout in golf history Sunday when he surged past Brooks Koepka in the final round at East Lake to win the FedEx Cup and its $15 million prize.
One shot behind, McIlroy took the lead with a three-shot swing on No. 7 and never let Koepka or Xander Schauffele catch him in the Tour Championship.
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McIlroy closed with a 4-under 66, a score that would have won the Tour Championship in any scoring format. He finished four shots ahead of Schauffele.
He joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win the FedEx Cup twice since it began in 2007.
And this time, McIlroy had the stage to himself. A year ago, he was merely a bystander playing in the final group as Woods capped off his comeback by winning at East Lake.
This time, the chants were for him.
Editors' Picks and Don't Miss stories | The Denver Post
In-N-Out Burger planning to open near Lone Tree’s Park Meadows mall next year
Colorado Springs is the beachhead. But it’s always been clear In-N-Out Burger planned to feed its fanatical following along the Front Range by building more than just the one restaurant coming to that city in 2020.
Company officials have been tight-lipped about their plans for the state, but based on a site plan document available through the city of Lone Tree’s website, it appears location No. 2 is headed for the Park Meadows mall area.
The document, dated Aug. 1, lists 9171 E. Westview Road as the address for the proposed new restaurant. The one-and-a-half acre patch of land is located just to the northeast of the mall along East County Line Road. It is occupied today by the Suds Factory Car Wash & Auto Detailing Center.
RELATED: Double-Double wait: In-N-Out Burger still 2 years away from opening first Colorado location
The site plan outlines a six-month construction process expected to wrap up in time for a late 2020 opening. The red-and-white-tiled restaurant would employ between 45 and 90 people. Its parking lot would have room for 47 cars as well as a drive-through lane with room for 26 cars. The place will be open late, from 10 a.m through 1 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, per the site plan.
The document also gets into one of the key details of In-N-Out’s approach that has helped turn the California-based chain into a phenomenon with a devoted following: freshness.
“In-N-Out cooks all of its burgers and fries to order — nothing is pre-cooked and there are no cooked food holding bins. This restaurant will be equipped with three burger grills. Two grills will operate at all times, and activation of the third grill will be done in response to high dine-in or, more typically, high drive-through demand … ” it reads.
The site plan was first unearthed by the Lone Tree Voice newspaper on Thursday. According to the Voice’s reporting, the plan must first be approved by city staff before going on to the planning commission. The Lone Tree City Council will have the final say on whether or not the 3,867-square-foot restaurant gets built.
The city of Lone Tree issued a statement on the plans Friday afternoon. The growing north Douglas County community is “excited about the potential of being one of the first In-N-Out Burger locations in Colorado.”
“We pride ourselves in being a business-friendly municipality and always look forward to welcoming new businesses into our community,” the statement says. “Plus, we know that In-N-Out Burger will be one that many people in our community, and beyond, will be thrilled to see.”
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Colorado will get In-N-Out and already has Trader Joe’s and Ikea. What more could we possibly want?
In-N-Out laid out plans in December for its first Colorado restaurant, set to open in the middle of next year in northeast Colorado Springs. A large In-N-Out office building and a 100,000-square-foot distribution facility are also coming to that city’s Victory Ridge development. Those projects will feed the company’s operations across the state. The distribution facility is expected to have the capacity to support up to 50 restaurants.
In-N-Out was founded in 1948 and now operates more than 340 locations spread across California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Utah.
The sought-after fast-food brand has a dedicated real estate website, innoutrealestate.com. It is represented in Colorado by the Denver office of international brokerage SRS Real Estate Partners, according to that site. A voicemail seeking comment on the Lone Tree location left for a broker in that office was not returned Friday.
The real estate site offers some clues as to where In-N-Out’s iconic red and yellow arrow sign might pop up next in the Centennial State. It lists “minimum standards” for all sites where the company would put a store. Sites must be near a roadway that carries at least 50,000 cars trips daily and must be in a “trade area” of at least 60,000 people. The area median income has to be north of $45,000 per household.
The company also prefers to buy its sites. If it’s going to sign a lease it wants an option to buy, according to its standards.
Updated 11:10 a.m. Aug. 16, 2019 This story has been updated to correctly identify the news organization that first reported In-N-Out’s Lone Tree plans.
What parts of Colorado see the most lightning?
A recent study outlined Colorado’s most lightning-struck corridors, and it highlights much of the Denver metropolitan area as the most vulnerable part of Colorado to lightning.
The April study, conducted by scientists from the National Weather Service in Pueblo and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, outlines Denver’s southern and western suburbs as part of the lightning capital of Colorado. The San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado typically see the most lightning in the western half of the state, while Colorado’s plains are also fairly active, particularly during the spring months.
Here’s a detailed look at the areas of highest lightning in Colorado, with red indicating the areas of highest average annual lightning, and blue indicating the least. The data is based on lightning strikes between 1996 and 2016.
You may have heard about the unfortunate incident last weekend, where lightning killed a hiker near Boulder. Colorado receives a lot of lightning strikes, and this fascinating map from a study led by @NWSPueblo shows where they happen. (1/2) #cowx pic.twitter.com/pf5LLCq7jg
— ColoClimateCenter (@ColoradoClimate) July 16, 2019
The most susceptible parts of the Denver metro area to lightning are the foothills west of the city, and the Palmer Divide to the south of it. In detail, the most lightning-hit areas include: Douglas, western Jefferson and parts of Arapahoe Counties in the Denver metro area. Additionally, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Teller, western and central El Paso, western Elbert and eastern Park Counties are all in the corridor of most lightning-prone areas in the Centennial State.
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One of the main reasons parts of the Denver area are particularly susceptible to lightning is because of the so-called Denver Convergence Vorticity Zone (DCVZ). The DCVZ is a term frequently used by local meteorologists to explain a natural area of spin that often takes place in and around Denver due to eastern Colorado’s topography. That can lead to increased stormy weather for parts of the Front Range.
Provided by National Weather ServiceThe animated image shows lightning strikes by time of day in Colorado from 1996-2016.
The DCVZ creates a mini area of low pressure in the Denver area as air is sandwiched between the Divide to the south, the Rockies to the west and the Cheyenne Ridge to the north. In essence, the immediate Denver area becomes a funnel for converging winds, leading to some of Denver’s hyper-local and crazy weather — that often can be difficult to predict.
On the contrary, that same rising motion along the Divide can create a sinking motion further north, and you can probably note a lack of lightning from Longmont up to around Fort Collins and Greeley. This area also is known for having lower snow amounts during winter storms.
“(The DCVZ) enhances the activity over the southern Front Range Mountains/Pikes Peak/Palmer Divide region,” the study hypothesizes. “While decreasing lightning activity over the northern Front Range Mountains/Cheyenne Ridge region and over the area of the plains just east of the Front Range Mountains, generally north of Denver.”
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In light of the July 14 lightning fatality in Boulder County, it’s worth noting that the foothills west of Denver and the Palmer Divide are both especially vulnerable to lightning. Hikers, bikers and anybody enjoying the outdoors in these areas should try and get activities done earlier in the day, particularly in the lightning-heavy months of July and August.
Based on analysis from the study, other parts of Colorado that are prone to lightning include the San Juans (mainly due to monsoonal moisture in July and August), the state’s eastern plains (storms that roll off the mountains and run into more low-level moisture as they move east), and far southern Colorado (monsoon).
The study appeared in the June edition of the National Weather Association Journal of Operational Meteorology.
Chris Bianchi is a meteorologist for WeatherNation TV.
Golfer Greg Norman’s Colorado ranch — featuring seven lakes, a dance hall and 11,600 acres — can be yours for $50 million
Golfer Greg Norman’s Colorado ranch has just about everything a sportsman could want.
There’s seven lakes, the pristine fly-fishing waters of the White River, miles of horseback riding and hiking trails, a sporting clays course, a long range rifle course, and 8,350 acres of private elk and deer hunting.
And all you need is $50 million to call it home.
Surrounded by the White River National Forest, the 11,600-acre Seven Lakes Ranch located in the Meeker Valley is on the market three years after his wife, Kirsten, an interior designer, helped update the main lodge in 2016.
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First constructed in 1993, the nine-bedroom lodge was originally used as a rental for company retreats prior to Norman’s purchase, according to Tatiana Ceresa of Compass.
In addition to the newly renovated main lodge, the property features six “Nippe” guest cabins (smaller and without heating) as well as an executive cabin (three bedrooms), a four-bedroom hunting house, four staff housing cabins (one to three bedrooms) and a sportsmen’s lodge with a half bath.
There’s also a maintenance barn, fitness center, horse barn and ranch office, and water treatment plant.
The property is remote. But don’t worry, it’s no more than a half-hour helicopter ride to Vail, Aspen and Steamboat. (No, there is no helipad on site, but when you’ve got 11,600 acres to play with, who needs one?)
Find out more about Seven Lakes Ranch at sevenlakesranch.com.
This iconic Cherry Hills Village home listed at $7.75 million after major renovations
An exquisite estate in Cherry Hills Village that finished as a finalist for the 2019 Home of the Year in Colorado Homes & Lifestyles Magazine was recently listed for sale at $7.75 million.
The immaculate single-family house was originally designed in 1952 for actress and singer Ethel Merman, according to local fable. The grounds span just over two acres wrapped by formal gardens and punctuated with a vast circle drive.
The Taylors have owned the five-bedroom, nine-bathroom home at 3900 S. Colorado Blvd. for over three years. Jim Taylor, his wife and two young children relocated from the Highlands area and have been enjoying the home for the past year and a half after completing a comprehensive remodel.
“We were living downtown and wanted more space for the kids,” Taylor said.
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In all, Taylor’s renovations expanded the property from 7,000 square feet to 15,000 – that includes a 160-square-foot wine cellar in the basement – while gutting the house to the studs in the process. Taylor converted the existing tennis court into a pickleball court for his children and added a 1,200-square-foot master suite as well as a 1,200-square-foot cabana and an 800-square-foot greenhouse.
The Taylors now have their sights set on another iconic Cherry Hills house, a mid-century modern this time.
Why would someone tear down a $2.1 million home in Boulder? To build this $7.5 million house, of course.
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“I’m a process person so I don’t mind starting a new project,” Taylor said. “Modernizing this legacy home was the opportunity of a lifetime. Selling it is a little bittersweet.”
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Why would someone tear down a $2.1 million home in Boulder? To build this $7.5 million house, of course.
A luxurious estate in Boulder’s Knollwood neighborhood is on the market for $7.5 million.
The home sits on a 0.45-acre lot at 2135 Knollwood Drive and faces south so that its floor-to-ceiling windows can flood the main rooms with natural sunlight and take in Boulder Canyon and Flatirons, which are visible from nearly every window of the 5,075-square-foot home.
“It’s on the western edge of Boulder right above downtown,” said Tim Goodacre, owner of Goodacre & Company. “It’s private and quiet in the Knollwood subdivision with walking trails right above it.”
Annette Martin, a Boulder architect, designed this home that replaced one which was bought for $2.1 million in 2015.
The single-family property houses three bedrooms and five bathrooms and was built last year. Inside features oak floors and its hallmark centers around the living room.
“The living room expands to the deck, so it’s a true indoor-outdoor living space,” Goodacre said.
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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.
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“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.”
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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.
“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.
“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.
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“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.”
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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.
Technology news, startups, reviews, devices, internet | The Denver Post
Summer camps use facial recognition so parents can watch from home
When David Hiller’s two daughters checked into Camp Echo, a bucolic sleep-away camp in Upstate New York, they relinquished their cellphones for seven idyllic weeks away from their digital lives.
But not Hiller: His phone rings 10 times a day with notifications from the summer camp’s facial-recognition service, which alerts him whenever one of his girls is photographed enjoying their newfound independence, going water-skiing or making a new friend.
His daughters don’t really know about the facial-recognition part, he said. But for him and his wife, it’s quickly become a cherished summer pastime, alerting them instantly when the camp uploads its for-parents haul of more than 1,000 photos a day — many of which they end up looking through, just in case.
“I love it. I wish I was with them,” he said. “But I at least feel like I know what they’re doing.”
Facial-recognition software has raised alarms with privacy advocates for its ability to quickly identify people from a distance without their knowledge or consent — a power used increasingly by police and federal investigators to track down suspects or witnesses to a crime. San Francisco and other cities banned the surveillance technology’s use by public officials and police earlier this year.
But while that debate rages, the technology has quietly become an accepted, widespread and even celebrated part of Americans’ everyday lives. Used to automatically tag photos on Facebook and unlock people’s iPhones, the systems have fueled a cottage industry of companies offering to secure school entryways, unlock office doors and identify people at public events.
Now hundreds of summer camps across the United States have tethered their rustic lakefronts to facial-recognition machines, allowing parents an increasingly omniscient view into their kids’ home away from home.
The technology has shoved one of childhood’s most traditional rites of passage into the internet age, offering parents a subtle means of digitally surveilling their kids’ blissful weeks of disconnect.
The face-scanning photos also have sparked an existential tension at many camps: How do you give kids a safe place to develop their identity and independence, while also offering the constant monitoring that modern parents increasingly demand?
The companies selling the facial-recognition access advertise it as an easy solution to separation anxiety for always-on parents eager to capture every childhood memory, even when those memories don’t include them. One company, Bunk1, said more than 160,000 parents use its software every summer.
“It’s all about building this one-way window into the camper’s experience: The parent gets to see in, but the camper’s not distracted from what’s going on,” said Bunk1 president Rob Burns, a former camp counselor himself. “These are parents who are involved in everything their kid does, and that doesn’t go away when the kid is at camp.”
But some counselors argue that summer camp is one of the few places left in the world where children are expected to unplug — a cocoon for kids to develop real friendships, learn about themselves and get a first glimpse of the freedom and self-confidence they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives. They worry kids will be robbed of that experience if they know it’s also being transmitted to family hundreds of miles away.
“How can our kids ever learn to be autonomous when we’re always tracking and monitoring them?” said Katie Hurley, a child and adolescent psychotherapist. “We want kids to embrace new experiences: to be great people, expand their social circles and take healthy risks. And we tamp down on them when we’re always over their shoulders, saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be watching.’ ”
No national law regulates facial-recognition software. But Federal Trade Commission regulators said last month that they were considering updates to the country’s online child-privacy rules that would designate kids’ faces, among other biometric data, as “personal information” protected under federal law. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that Facebook users can sue the company for its use of facial recognition technology to identify people in photos without their consent.
Most camp directors said they appreciate that the photos can bring peace of mind to lonely parents worried about their kids’ first faraway solo trip. But the photos can also end up perpetuating a cycle of parental anxiety: The more photos the camp posts, the more the parents seem to want — and the more questions they’ll ask about their kids.
When a camper isn’t smiling or is on the outside of a big group shot, counselors said they know to expect a phone call from back home. Liz Young, a longtime camp director now helping oversee two camps on the coast of New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee, said she now fields as many concerned-parents calls in two hours as she used to get all month — mostly from parents asking about how their kids look on camera, or whether they’re being photographed enough.
“If a child’s not captured one day, that parent will be ringing: ‘Were they being left out? Are they OK? Are they in the infirmary?’ And we might just know, oh, they went to the toilet,” said Rosie Johnson, a photographer from London working this summer at a camp in the woods of Michigan.
The kids, knowing their parents, will often try to make themselves seen, racing up to her during the day to say their parents need more photos. “A lot of the girls will say, ‘A photo a day keeps your mum away,’ ” she said.
The Bunk1 app uses facial recognition technology to allow parents to see what their children are up to while they are away from summer camp. (Provided by BUNK1)
Bunk1, based in New York, has signed contracts with camps who pay an undisclosed fee to start using tools including shared photo galleries and facial-recognition software, which Burns said is used on campers as young as 6 and is offered to parents free of charge.
Another company, Texas-based Waldo Photos, says it offers facial-recognition services to more than 150 summer camps in 40 states for a daily fee, paid by either the camp or parents, of about $1 or $2 per child.
“You get that hit you need as a parent … because, selfishly, as a parent, you want to see your child experiencing all of that,” Waldo founder Rodney Rice said. More than 40,000 parents have signed up.
Both services ask the parents’ permission before scanning: On Bunk1, parents upload a photo of their child to teach the system what to look for, then get regular notifications every time a photo is posted, alongside a question, “Is this your camper?”
Bunk1’s “parent engagement platform” also offers families a snail-mail alternative, Bunk Notes, that lets parents use a smartphone app to send a letter, for $1, that a camp staff member will then print out and hand-deliver to their kids. (Several parents said they send a note at least once a day.)
The facial-recognition tool is a technical godsend, Burns said, because it lets some parents zero in on the few camp photos they actually care about — while also surfacing some shots, where their kid might be in the background, that they might have otherwise missed.
Bunk1, whose developers and other employees are based across the U.S., Canada and Colombia, was bought in 2017 by a private-equity-owned holding company called Togetherwork, which specializes in software for groups such as college sororities, sports camps, synagogues, dance studios and dog day-care centers.
The company’s terms of service say that a camp or parent who uploads a photo automatically grants Bunk1 “the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive right and license to use, reproduce … and distribute” the content worldwide.
The company, Burns said, stores children’s photos securely in domestic data centers and takes families’ privacy seriously: One parent, he said, recently called to request that the company delete their account due to concerns over their digital footprint. But he declined to share details about how the data is secured, who designed the software or how it works, citing the need to protect themselves “against any potentially malicious activity.”
Common frustrations with facial-recognition software — including that it tends to work better on lighter skin — also plague Bunk1’s system, Burns said. But he declined to provide details on accuracy beyond saying there are “some bigger challenges with some skin colors versus others.”
Parental anxiety, he said, is a natural camp response, especially from parents sending their kids away for the first time. But he doubted that parents’ close involvement or the use of facial-recognition software had “any impact on the psychology of the child.”
“If they’re looking at photos of their kids while they’re at camp,” Burns said, “the child doesn’t know any different.”
Some privacy advocates questioned how the children’s facial images would be used, and what would happen to the data if the company were breached, hacked or sold. They also expressed concern that the corporate database of children’s faces could one day be tapped for its use in government surveillance.
“Summer camp has traditionally been a place of exploration, a place where one can grow, and a pervasive surveillance system seems completely at odds with those purposes,” said Matt Cagle, a technology and civil liberties attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. What would they do, he asked, if immigration officials “gave them a list of children’s photos and said, ‘Can you search your databases to see if any of the kids are at this camp?’ ”
Both companies said they had never fielded requests from police or government authorities. Rice said the “privacy hysteria” was “unfounded,” and Burns said Bunk1 is not a “pervasive surveillance system,” adding, “If it was, hundreds of camps would not use it.”
Not every camp is sold on the technology. Camp Encore/Coda, a summer music camp in Sweden, Maine, lets kids and parents exchange simple Bunk1 notes but has declined to use the facial-recognition feature, which camp director Jamie Saltman calls “a little dystopian” and “way too creepy.”
But Bunk1’s software has nevertheless gained a massive following. Dayna Hardin, the president of CampGroup, which oversees 14 summer camps across the United States and more than 6,000 kids, said the group now employs 35 photographers so “there’s pretty much nothing that doesn’t get photographed.”
One camp, Lake of the Woods and Greenwoods in rural Decatur, Mich., has four photographers and a social-media director on staff to help push nearly constant updates onto Bunk1, Facebook and Instagram, where recent photos of kids jumping into a lake or firing bows and arrows have netted hundreds of comments and “likes.” The facial-recognition system is in its second summer at the camp, and roughly half of all parents of its campers have signed up.
Some of the kids, Hardin said, are so accustomed to constant photography that they barely notice the camera crew. It’s the parents, she said, who struggle with the distance — and who are desperate for the reassurance the facial-recognition systems provide. She’s had parents tell her they’ll pull off on the side of the road the minute the photos go online.
“They’re growing up in this digital world, and cutting the umbilical cord is really hard,” Hardin said — speaking of the grown-ups, not the kids. “Today’s parents are used to getting six messages a day about their kids since the time they were 6 months old.”
That’s made it tough on people like Johnson, the 21-year-old photographer who moved from London to work at a camp as part of a summer job-exchange program. She keeps a tightly scheduled, paper itinerary of the day’s activities — a big group shot at the morning flag ceremony is more efficient for getting lots of faces than, say, a few kids at arts and crafts — but she still ends up walking about 13 miles a day trying to get everyone on camera.
The photos she and her colleagues upload go online the next day, and post at noon on the dot — a time she knows all too well, because parents regularly watch their phones for the notifications to arrive. The close scrutiny from parents has made her that much more careful about the experiences she captures on camera. When kids frown for a photo, even if they’re joking, she’ll remind them that their parents are watching and worrying — and, sometimes, judging the camp based on what they see.
Some of that heavy monitoring, camp directors note, is financially motivated: Parents shelling out $10,000 for an eight-week summer camp tend to want to see where that money has gone. But there is a competitive element, too, the directors said: Some parents race to share the photos on social media as a way to curate their kids’ childhood and offer visual evidence that their family is worth envying.
Hurley, the child psychotherapist, said the summer-camp face scans and technologies like them can “feed this cycle of anxiety in families, because the parents never feel calm and safe and that things are OK, and that bleeds down to the kids.”
The photos, Hurley worried, could inflame new tensions for kids hitting the age — generally, in the pre- and early teens — when they can start to feel awkward about all the photos their parents post. But they can also foster unease for kids questioning how much of their emotions and internal lives they’re comfortable sharing in every moment, even when they’re far from home.
“Parents right now are conditioned to really worry if their kids are having fun and if they’re happy — which is absurd, because they send them to these amazing camps where they’re practically guaranteed to have fun,” she said. “This idea where you have to be happy all the time: That’s not real, and yet that’s what we’re chasing and what we’re looking for when we want all these pictures all the time.”
Kate Lemay, the executive director of the YMCA of Greater Boston Overnight Camps, which runs three boys’ and girls’ camps in New Hampshire, said she appreciates that the photos can help give parents a sense of trust in where their kids are staying. She worked with Bunk1 to help develop a Web seminar for parents to help them “manage expectations” and deal with anxiety around the experience, including how many photos they’d see. Counselors, she said, also often help kids learn to deal with homesickness and other “instantaneous emotions” that often lead them to reach for their cellphone.
But still, she struggles over how much access to their kids is too much. “As much as it is a reassuring platform, some days I wonder if this is something we should be doing, or if it’s making it worse,” she said.
“There’s the contradiction of these really old-fashioned summer camps with no electricity in the cabins, no cellphones … but the parents can check in daily to look at the expressions on their kids’ faces,” she added. “Part of childhood development is: It isn’t always 100 percent smiling.”
Facebook rolls out tool to block off-Facebook data gathering
SAN FRANCISCO — Soon, you could get fewer familiar ads following you around the internet — or at least on Facebook.
Facebook is launching a long-promised tool that lets you limit what the social network can gather about you on outside websites and apps.
The company said Tuesday that it is adding a section where you can see the activity that Facebook tracks outside its service via its “like” buttons and other means. You can choose to turn off the tracking; otherwise, tracking will continue the same way it has been.
Formerly known as “clear history,” the tool will now go by the slightly clunkier moniker “off-Facebook activity.” The feature launched in South Korea, Ireland and Spain on Tuesday, consistent with Facebook’s tendency to launch features in smaller markets first. The company did not give a timeline for when it might expand it to the U.S. and other countries, only that it will be in “coming months.”
What you do off Facebook is among the many pieces of information that Facebook uses to target ads to people. Blocking the tracking could mean fewer ads that seem familiar — for example, for a pair of shoes you decided not to buy, or a nonprofit you donated money to. But it won’t change the actual number of ads you’ll see on Facebook. Nor will it change how your actions on Facebook are used to show you ads.
Even if you turn off tracking, Facebook will still gather data on your off-Facebook activities. It will simply disconnect those activities from your Facebook profile. Facebook says businesses won’t know you clicked on their ad — but they’ll know that someone did. So Facebook can still tell advertisers how well their ads are performing.
Jasmine Enberg, social media analyst at research firm eMarketer, said the tool is part of Facebook’s efforts to be clearer to users on how it tracks them and likely “an effort to stay one step ahead of regulators, in the U.S. and abroad.”
Facebook faces increasing governmental scrutiny over its privacy practices, including a record $5 billion fine from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for mishandling user data. Boosting its privacy protections could help the company pre-empt regulation and further punishment. But it’s a delicate dance, as Facebook still depends on highly targeted advertising for nearly all of its revenue.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the “clear history” feature more than a year ago. The company said building it has been a complicated technical process, which is also the reason for the slow, gradual rollout. Facebook said it sought input from users, privacy experts and policymakers along the way, which led to some changes. For instance, users will be able to disconnect their activity from a specific websites or apps, or reconnect to a specific site while keeping other future tracking turned off.
You’ll be able to access the feature by going to your Facebook settings and scrolling down to “your Facebook information.” The “off-Facebook activity” section will be there when it launches.
The tool will let you delete your past browsing history from Facebook and prevent it from keeping track of your future clicks, taps and website visits going forward. Doing so means that Facebook won’t use information gleaned from apps and websites to target ads to you on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. It also won’t use such information to show you posts that Facebook thinks you might like based on your offsite activity, such as news articles shared by your friends.
Stephanie Max, product manager at Facebook, said the company believes the tool could affect revenue, though she didn’t say how much. But she said giving people “transparency and control” is important.
Enberg, the eMarketer analyst, said the ultimate impact “depends on consumer adoption. It takes a proactive step for consumers to go into their Facebook settings and turn on the feature.”
People who say they value privacy often don’t actually do anything about it, she said, so it’s possible too few people will use this tool to have a meaningful effect on Facebook’s bottom line.
How do you teach kids about texting? Bring in the teenagers as media scouts
ESSEN, Germany — How do you teach tech-savvy kids to safely navigate the digital world? In Germany, you bring in the teenagers.
Chantal Hueben, 18, stood in front of a group of fifth-graders and asked them to brainstorm about the messaging program Whatsapp, which most are using to participate in a group chat for their class. They spoke about themes like cyberbullying and what material is OK to post.
“Many are not really aware yet of the impact their messages can have on others,” said Hueben, dressed all in black except for white sneakers. “We’re teaching them not to post anything private on the class chat, not to send photos of others and not to insult anybody.”
The session at the Gesamtschule Borbeck high school, in the western German city of Essen, is part of a large-scale program in which teenagers teach their younger schoolmates how to stay safe and sane online.
As they grow older, they also participate in workshops about media copyright issues or sexting, and, at the end of eighth grade, they take a test to get a laminated “mobile license” that allows them to use their smartphones at certain times at school.
The exam includes 10 multiple choice questions. One asks what to do when somebody sends an embarrassing Snapchat photo of a fellow student. The answer, of course, is to not forward the picture to others.
Over two-thirds of kids in Germany have smartphones by the age of 11 and, like children around the world, many are stressed by the huge number of messages they receive and don’t know how to handle inappropriate and hurtful posts. With many parents and teachers lacking in digital skills and unable to relate to what it means to grow up with a smartphone, German authorities decided peer education was the best approach.
At Borbeck, which has about 1,000 students and is considered one of the most advanced schools in Germany when it comes to teaching digital skills, there are 32 students teaching in the “Medienscouts,” or media scouts, program.
“We’re also students, so we have this buddy and role model relationship with the younger kids that definitely motivates them to learn from us,” Hueben said.
With the program, Germany is ahead of many other countries, where “media skills” are often taught by teachers and are more about how to read or watch news media rather than the personal impact.
It was founded in 2011 by public authorities in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In Germany, education is managed by the country’s 16 separate states, and now 11 of them have established similar programs in hundreds of schools.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, 766 schools have so far participated in the media scout program. More than 3,120 high school students have been trained as scouts and around 1,500 teachers have acted as guidance counselors to help the kids grow up as mature cyber world citizens.
“It would be great if the media scouts would be established at every high school,” said Sven Hulvershorn, from the media authority agency for the western German state, who oversees the media scout program. “We’re not there yet, but we’re working on it.”
Media scouts Leon Zielinski, right, and Chantal Hueben teach young pupils about social media in Germany. (Martin Meissner, The Associated Press)
Beyond teaching children how to deal with the daily stress of digital communications, experts in Germany agree there’s a need to coach them in how to protect themselves from online bullying, sexual predators or fake news.
“We first had a complete ban on phones in our school,” explained teacher Vera Servaty, who is the media scouts’ guidance counselor at Borbeck high school. “But the reality is that media is a central aspect of the students’ lives. If the school doesn’t help them navigate the media and the parents aren’t of any help either, then how should the children learn responsible ways with the digital world?”
The program is more developed than in many other countries. In the United States, many schools have not fully embraced peer-to-peer tutoring in social media, says Liz Kolb, a professor of education technology at the University of Michigan.
U.S. schools are required by a federal program to teach appropriate online behavior, but that is done by teachers, and while some schools offer peer-to-peer tutoring, it is not on the scale of what Germany is doing.
“Schools are pretty much figuring out their own way because there really is no strong mandate they have to have a certain curriculum or specific goals,” Kolb said of the U.S. “It’s definitely needed and schools are seeing that it’s needed, they just don’t know how to go about fitting it into the already tight curriculum they have.”
At Borbeck high school, the media scouts spend several hours teaching the fifth-graders how not to let WhatsApp take over their lives. Beyond practical tricks, like turning off the setting that lets the sender know if a message has been read, the older students also talk with the fifth-graders about learning how to take breaks from their smartphone.
After the end of Hueben’s workshop, 11-year-old Simon Scharenberg looked relieved.
He said he often felt overwhelmed by the hundreds of WhatsApp messages he receives every day, most of them from schoolmates in the class group chat. He felt obliged to follow up on all of them out of fear of missing important information about homework or school activities.
After the WhatsApp workshop, Scharenberg said he felt more confident about taking a break from messaging.
“I will put down my phone in the kitchen when I come home from school,” he said, explaining his new strategy. “Before I go to sleep, I will check all the messages. But I only reply if I really feel like it.”
Galaxy Note 10 hands on: What Samsung’s $950 big new phone adds — and takes away
Samsung’s big-screen Galaxy Note phone is adding even more screen. But much of the conversation will be about what the Note 10 is taking away.
That’s right: Now even loyalists to the world’s biggest smartphone maker will be saying goodbye to the headphone jack. As we hold on to our phones longer, it’s getting harder for a $1,000 (or more) upgrade to impress — especially when it also brings new compromises.
The Galaxy Note 10 debuted at an event in New York on Aug. 7, and I had a chance to get my hands on one in advance. Well, two actually: There’s a $950 Note 10 with a 6.3-inch screen and $1,100 Note 10+ model with a 6.8-inch screen. The latter is the venti to most other smartphones’ grande. Even the maxed-out iPhone XS Max is only 6.5 inches, measured on the diagonal.
Have we officially run out of palm? The Note 10+ is the largest phone Samsung has made that also doesn’t fold up, like the $1,980 Galaxy Fold scheduled to arrive in September.
I’m happy to report that even though the Note 10+ has a larger screen than last year’s 6.4-inch Note9, the new model feels a smidgen less heavy. Samsung squeezed in more screen by nipping at the bezel edges and making it a little taller. Like on the Galaxy S10 that arrived this spring, there’s a hole punched through the screen for a camera, which pushes the usable screen area closer to the edge.
In lots of ways, the Note 10 adopts the nice-to-have improvements to Samsung’s S10. The fingerprint reader has also moved from the back of the phone to its rightful place on the front, embedded inside the screen. You can also wirelessly charge a friend’s phone, just by setting theirs on top of the Note 10.
The Note 10 is getting a boost to three back cameras, for normal, zoom and ultrawide shots. I suspect this three-camera setup is going to become the new normal for flagship phones. Want even more? The Note 10+ also has a fourth depth camera, which can be used for 3-D-scanning (but still needs to find its killer app).
And the Note’s most famous detachable feature, the S-Pen stylus, is evolving. Now it will convert your scribbles into searchable text, even if you have terrible handwriting like me. You can also use the S-Pen as a kind of magician’s wand to command the phone without touching it. For example, you can set the phone at a distance and wand it into zooming and different modes — though my brief attempt at wand control made me look like a Hogwarts dropout.
That was the good news. Now queue the funeral dirge.
Samsung’s decision to get rid of a headphone jack hardly makes it unique — Apple cut them from iPhones in 2016. Phone makers want the precious space it required to fill up with more battery power. But supporting traditional headphones was definitely a reason to remain loyal to Samsung. It’s the phone maker that gives you more options, not fewer.
With the Note 10, Samsung is throwing a pair of USB-C headphones in the box. But they’re not even giving you a dongle to connect your existing headphones.
Another Samsung standby is also gone, at least in the smaller Note 10: expandable storage. In past Notes, you could pop in a Micro-SD card. On the Note 10, you have to buy storage built in. What is this … an iPhone? At least the baseline storage is a decent 256 gigabytes — and you can still add your own storage on the Note 10+.
Finally, we should talk about batteries. In last year’s Note 9, the 4,000 mAh battery was a beast, lasting 12 hours in my grueling test. But in the Note 10, Samsung has shrunk it to 3,500 mAh. The company hasn’t said how that will impact performance, but it’s probably not going to help. On the Note 10+, there is a larger 4,300 mAh battery — but it also has to power a bigger, higher-resolution screen.
All things considered, is there any reason to pine for an upgrade?
I haven’t had a chance to live with the Note 10 yet. But its features feel mostly like the $750-and-up Galaxy S10 with a pen, and there’s a lot to like about this year’s other flagship Samsung phone. It’s good that the Note line is catching up on the fingerprint reader and multiple cameras.
But wait … why are we talking about catching up? Samsung threw a few new ideas into the Note 10, like a fun augmented-reality doodler app for videos. But the Note used to be the place where Samsung put all its newest, weirdest technologies first. The Note was the original big-screen phone, back when many people mocked them as phablets. The Note was also the first phone to get a curved screen.
The truth is, the Note 10 is no longer Samsung’s bleeding edge phone. That title goes to the Galaxy Fold, which bled so much that Samsung had to delay its original planned release.
Meanwhile, the Note’s rivals are doing really interesting things. Huawei’s P30 Pro phone comes with a telescoping, 50 times zoom camera. (Talk about spy tech!) And Google’s coming Pixel 4 will have secure facial unlock (still missing from Samsung phones) and a special radar to detect hand gestures near the phone, not to mention Google’s incredible Night Sight lowlight photography capability.
And Apple keeps making a case for privacy as a differentiator in the way it designs its operating system and services, while the topic gets nary a mention from Samsung.
Seeing all the other innovation happening in other phones makes staying loyal to Samsung harder.
The Note 10 was available for preorder starting Aug. 8 and will be in stores Friday. If you want to save a little cash, trade in an existing phone on Samsung.com for up to $600 off.
Privacy questions arise as humans review user audio at Facebook
NEW YORK — Facebook has paid contractors to transcribe audio clips from users of its Messenger service, raising privacy concerns for a company with a history of privacy lapses.
The practice was, until recently, common in the tech industry. Companies say the use of humans helps improve their services. But users aren’t typically aware that humans and not just computers are reviewing audio.
Transcriptions done by humans raise bigger concerns because of the potential of rogue employees or contractors leaking details. The practice at Google emerged after some of its Dutch language audio snippets were leaked. More than 1,000 recordings were obtained by Belgian broadcaster VRT NWS, which noted that some contained sensitive personal conversations — as well as information that identified the person speaking.
“We feel we have some control over machines,” said Jamie Winterton, director of strategy at Arizona State University’s Global Security Initiative. “You have no control over humans that way. There’s no way once a human knows something to drag that piece of data to the recycling bin.”
Jeffrey Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy privacy-advocacy group, said it’s bad enough that Facebook uses artificial intelligence as part of its data-monitoring activities. He said the use of humans as well is “even more alarming.”
Tim Bajarin, tech columnist and president of Creative Strategies, said it’s a bigger problem when humans use the information beyond its intended purpose.
Facebook said audio snippets reviewed by contractors were masked so as not to reveal anyone’s identity. It said it stopped the practice in early August. The development was reported earlier by Bloomberg.
Google said it suspended doing this worldwide while it investigates the Dutch leaks. Apple has also suspended its use of humans for the Siri digital assistant, though it plans to bring them back after seeking explicit permission from users. Amazon said it still uses humans, but users can decline, or opt out, of the human transcriptions.
A report from tech news site Motherboard in early August said Microsoft also uses human transcribers with some Skype conversations and commands spoken to Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana. Microsoft said in a statement that it has safeguards such as stripping identifying data and requiring non-disclosure agreements with contractors and their employees. Yet details still leaked to Motherboard.
After the Motherboard report, Microsoft said it “could do a better job” explaining that humans listen to the conversations. It updated its frequently asked questions for Skype to say that using the translation service “may include transcription of audio recordings by Microsoft employees and vendors.”
It makes sense to use human transcribers to train artificial intelligence systems, Winterton said. But the issue is that companies are leading people to believe that only machines are listening to audio, causing miscommunication and distrust, she said.
The companies’ privacy policies — usually long, dense documents — often permit the use of customer data to improve products and services, but the language can be opaque.
“We collect the content, communications and other information you provide when you use our Products, including when you sign up for an account, create or share content, and message or communicate with others,” Facebook’s data-use policy reads. It does not mention audio or voice specifically or using transcribers.
Bajarin said tech companies need to use multiple methods to refine artificial intelligence software, as digital voice assistants and voice-to-text technology are still new. But he said being more clear about the human involvement is “the very least” companies could do.
“They should be very clear on what their policies are and if consumer messages or whatever it is are going to be seen,” he said. “If humans are part of the process for analysis that needs to be stated as well.”
Irish data-protection regulators say they’re seeking more details from Facebook to assess compliance with European data regulations. The agency’s statement says it’s also had “ongoing engagement with Google, Apple and Microsoft” over the issue, though Amazon wasn’t mentioned.
Facebook is already under scrutiny for a variety of other ways it has misused user data. It agreed to a $5 billion fine to settle a U.S. Federal Trade Commission probe of its privacy practices.
Tribes across country push for better internet access
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — In a remote, roadless Arizona canyon that is home to a small Native American tribe, there’s a natural skepticism toward the internet.
The telemedicine equipment that health care officials promised would work gathers dust. School children who have online homework struggle to get online. And streaming a web-based conference or taking classes remotely? Well, “that’s a lot of luck you’d have to get,” said Ophelia Watahomigie-Corliss, who sits on the Havasupai Tribal Council.
Things started to change after a small company approached the tribe with a plan to broaden coverage for educational use. It’s now using the experience to help push the federal government to give tribes priority for broadband spectrum largely unassigned across the western United States.
The Federal Communications Commission has not issued any new permanent licenses for the Educational Broadband Services spectrum in more than 20 years. It asked the public a year ago to weigh in on possible changes to the licensing system to better define geographic areas, build in flexibility, create priorities for tribes and educational institutions, and possibly auction off the 2.5 GHz-band spectrum.
The agency estimates that about one-third of the people living on tribal lands don’t have access to high-speed internet, but others say the figure is twice as high. That’s partly because homes on remote reservations are spread far apart.
And tribes say large telecommunications companies are unwilling to expand to tribal lands because of the cost.
The internet on the Havasupai reservation has been a mixed bag. Tribal employees could sign on to their email and do internet searches but not much else. Public access for 450 residents was centered on the community building in the village of Supai. Thousands of tourists who trek 10 miles down a winding trail to see the reservation’s famed blue-green waterfalls have no internet access at their campsites away from the village.
The tribe began working with a company called MuralNet in 2017 to get teachers and students better access. They successfully sought temporary authority from the FCC to use the Educational Broadband Services spectrum — a sort of channel of electromagnetic waves — that wasn’t being used. Flagstaff-based Niles Radio Communications helped build the network.
“We’re really putting our chips on EBS,” said Mariel Triggs, chief executive of MuralNet. “It works in extreme cases. It’s cheap; it’s reliable.”
Jacqueline Siyuja now has a wireless router to take online classes for her job at the tribe’s Head Start program. A few years ago, she and her colleagues had to fly out of the canyon and drive more than two hours to a community college in Flagstaff for classes. She also had to take her young daughter with her.
“It was really challenging for us,” she said.
Jordan Manakaja eventually wants to get her bachelor’s degree and become a therapist in the community. She prefers online classes at home where she can interact with an instructor.
“We have the opportunity to wind down and get comfortable before we’re in a classroom,” she said. “That was more beneficial to us mentally.”
The tribe won’t know whether it can make other plans for the spectrum — such as using telemedicine, transmitting medical records electronically or starting an online high school — until the FCC decides whether to grant the tribe’s application for a permanent license.
Nearly 2,190 licenses that generally cover a 35-mile radius have been granted to 1,300 licensees, according to the FCC. The agency has asked for public comment on realigning the boundaries of the licenses, eliminating the educational use requirement, and allowing tribes, current licensees or new educational entities to access unassigned spectrum before a possible auction.
Despite its name, the spectrum isn’t used solely for educational purposes. Licensees can lease it to commercial providers. Sprint is among the largest users.
Tribes in Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Washington, Idaho and others in Arizona also are pressing the FCC for a priority filing window.
On the Havasupai Tribal Council, Watahomigie-Corliss is dubbed the telecommunications member and she’s the youngest at 33. When she presented the project to colleagues, she was well aware of their doubts.
“It was my job to prove to them it could possibly work, and that comes with the territory of so many people trying to make things work at Supai that work on the outside,” she said.
Colorado officials hope to lure Fortune 500 company’s bioscience campus with $24.8 million incentive
The Colorado Economic Development Commission is hoping a Fortune 500 bioscience company doesn’t pull the football away at the last minute when it comes to setting up shop in the state and creating 1,000 jobs.
The commissioners on Thursday voted unanimously to offer a $24.8 million tax credit package to the unknown company, according to a spokeswoman with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The business is identified in city documents by the codename Project Charlie Brown.
The global firm with a comic-strip-inspired alias has big expansion plans. A summary from the COEDIT staff says the company is seeking to create a campus that will bring together technical, manufacturing, distribution, managerial and administrative arms of its business, a project with an estimated $150-million price tag.
That campus has the potential to create 1,000 new jobs over an eight-year period. The positions would pay $136,721 per year on average, more than double the what the average Coloradan takes home, according to the state summary.
The company is also weighing locations in Minnesota, Tennessee and Texas, according to the state.
Should Project Charlie Brown land in Colorado, state officials anticipate additional benefits that include skills-based training for workers and the potential for “significant economic spinoff.”
Finally, “the project highlights Colorado’s continuing strength in the bioscience and healthtech innovation sectors,” the state’s summary reads.
Metro-area hubs for the blended health and tech industries include the Fitzsimons Innovation Community facility on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora and the Catalyst HTI building in Denver’s River North Art District.
The 180,000-square-foot Catalyst building opened last year and is now 90 percent leased, according to Mike Biselli the entrepreneur behind the project. Tenants there include Kaiser Permanente, Hitachi Consulting and UCHealth.
Biselli said Thursday he’s not at all surprised a Fortune 500 biotech company would be eyeing Colorado for a major campus.
“That’s just one of many in the hopper,” he said.
Biselli said people in both the private and public sectors have been hard at work for years building a robust health-tech ecosystem in the state and people in that industry — in the U.S. and internationally — are taking notice. He called the strong cooperation between public and private groups to attract big-name organizations to the state “the unique sauce” that makes Colorado a special place to do business.
“We’re just getting going,” Biselli said.
Tinder bypasses Google Play, joining revolt against app store fee
By Olivia Carville, Bloomberg News
Tinder joined a growing backlash against app store taxes by bypassing Google Play in a move that could shake up the billion-dollar industry dominated by Google and Apple Inc.
The online dating site launched a new default payment process that skips Google Play and forces users to enter their credit card details straight into Tinder’s app, according to new research by Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter. Once a user has entered their payment information, the app not only remembers it, but also removes the choice to swap back to Google Play for future purchases, he wrote.
“This is a huge difference,” Schachter said in an interview. “It’s an incredibly high-margin business for Google bringing in billions of dollars,” he said.
The shares of Tinder’s parent company, Match Group Inc., spiked 5 percent when Schachter’s note was published in mid-July. Shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc. were little changed.
Apple and Google launched their app stores in 2008, and they soon grew into powerful marketplaces that matched the creations of millions of independent developers with billions of smartphone users. In exchange, the companies take as much as 30 percent of revenue. The app economy is expected to grow to $157 billion in 2022, according to App Annie projections.
As the market expands, a growing revolt has been gaining steam over the past year. Spotify Technology filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission earlier this year, claiming the cut Apple takes amounts to a tax on competitors. Netflix Inc. recently stopped letting Apple users subscribe via the App Store and Epic Games Inc. said last year it wouldn’t distribute Fortnite, one of the world’s most popular video games, through Google Play.
Match declined to answer questions about whether the company was also investigating bypassing Apple’s App Store.
“At Match Group, we constantly test new updates and features to offer convenience, control and choice to our users,” Justine Sacco, a spokeswoman for Match, wrote in an email. “We will always try to provide options that benefit their experience and offering payment options is one example of this.”
Google didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Of the high-profile companies that have shunned the App store, Match is the only one that has changed the payment method in-app, Schachter noted. Others have instead forced subscribers back to their own websites to enter payment information.
Tinder’s move could spark a domino effect.
“Tinder is relatively small and it won’t have a massive impact, but the concern is if this grows and gets into gaming apps as it starts moving forward,” Schachter said. “We’re going to see a lot of other companies potentially trying to experiment with this.”
“Leveling the playing field”: Increased popularity of car-sharing apps is fueling tax debate
PHOENIX — When Chris Williamson was in the market for a new family car, a timely ad and conversations with a co-worker convinced him to try something out of the ordinary. He bought a BMW 3 Series convertible and covers the payments by renting it to strangers on a peer-to-peer car sharing app called Turo.
It allows his family of seven to have a nicer car, essentially for free.
“It’s great to have that little bit of extra income and not have to worry about the car payments,” said Williamson, a teacher from the Phoenix area.
But his customers and others using car-sharing apps around the United States get their rentals tax-free. That’s made them a target for rental car companies, airport authorities and local governments. They say users of the upstart apps should pay the same taxes and fees that come with traditional rental cars.
At stake is hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that cities and airports count on to pay for stadiums and convention centers or to fund police, fire and other general operations.
“These companies are very sophisticated, technology-savvy companies that have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in each of them,” said Ray Wagner, senior vice president for government relations at Enterprise Holdings, parent of the nation’s largest car-rental firm. “They should be expected to comply with the same rules as a small, mom and pop rental car company located in rural Arizona.”
Turo says Enterprise is trying to stifle competition.
Car-sharing companies, including Turo and GetAround, function like Airbnb for vehicles, allowing people to rent out their cars when they’re not using them. Founded about a decade ago, they’ve taken off recently with the help of millions of dollars from venture capital firms and other investors.
That’s put them in conflict with the $42 billion-per-year rental car industry and the tourism and government agencies that tax it and regulate safety and consumer protections.
The battle is heating up in some three dozen state legislatures as well as the courts and offices of local tax authorities. Barraged with lobbying from both sides, lawmakers are grappling with how to regulate an emerging industry without destroying it — a repeat of recent fights between the taxi industry and Uber and Lyft, and between hotels and Airbnb.
“The tragedy would be if we snuffed out something like this in its infancy that has a lot of great potential,” said Arizona Rep. Travis Grantham, a Republican who has introduced legislation backed by Turo that would exempt car-sharing from all rental car taxes except the standard sales taxes.
Tourism taxes have long been popular with politicians who can use surcharges on hotel rooms and rental cars — paid largely by visitors who vote elsewhere — to raise money for local priorities.
Forty-four states levy excise taxes on rental cars — on top of the standard sales tax, if one applies — and most allow local governments to levy their own as well, according to a March study by the Tax Foundation, a conservative think tank. Airports often add surcharges to pay for sprawling rental-car facilities.
Taxes, fees and surcharges can add as much as 30 percent to the cost of renting a car while generating millions of dollars.
In metropolitan Phoenix, the baseball league that draws fans to 10 stadiums for spring training every March could see a sharp decrease in revenue as the new platform for car rental grows, said its president, Jeff Meyer. Rental car taxes help cover debt payments for some of the Cactus League’s facilities and for the Arizona Cardinals football stadium.
California, Oregon and Washington passed legislation on car-sharing years before the industry took off, and Maryland did so last year. Bills governing the practice have been introduced in more than 30 other states, with the fight especially contentious in Colorado, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico and Ohio.
Turo also is fighting in court with Los Angeles and San Francisco airport authorities, which contend the company should pay fees. Meanwhile, Chicago tax authorities wrote that car-sharing is subject to rental car taxes in response to questions from an Enterprise lawyer, according to a letter provided by the company.
In Arizona, Enterprise is backing legislation that would tax car-sharing such as rental cars and require them to enter agreements with airports to use their facilities, while Turo supports a proposal that would exempt car-sharing companies from most taxes.
In Ohio, a detailed package of new regulations on car-sharing companies was tucked into the House version of the state transportation budget. It came as the Columbus Regional Airport Authority broke ground on a new $140 million car rental facility that relies on a steady stream of car rental user fees.
The peer-to-peer companies won a temporary reprieve earlier this year, as the provision was dropped from the bill. But Ohio Sen. Bob Peterson, the No. 2 Republican, said he anticipates a stand-alone regulatory bill will be introduced soon.
“I think everybody was agreed this is a new industry that needs some more regulation,” Peterson said.
Both sides portray their position as a matter of fairness.
Those supporting stricter regulations say people who rent out their cars for profit should not only pay the taxes but meet the safety and transparency requirements that go with renting a car.
“The goal is leveling the playing field,” said Arizona Rep. David Livingston, a Republican who is sponsoring legislation to treat car-sharing firms like rental car companies. “You want all these companies operating with the same type of rules and regulations so they can compete and the best one wins, whoever that is.”
Turo’s lobbyists point to the billions of dollars car-rental firms save on taxes. Most states charge no sales tax for vehicles sold exclusively for rental, and allow those companies to pass along vehicle licensing fees to customers.
Turo asks why its users should pay rental taxes if they’re not exempt from other vehicle taxes that benefit rental car companies.
“Our host community is individuals that are just trying to offset the cost of a car,” said Steve Webb, the company’s vice president of communications. “And Enterprise is this $24 billion Goliath that is using their political connections to stifle innovation.”
Turo says more than 95% of its 197,000 “hosts” share three or fewer cars on the platform. But some of the company’s 350,000 listed vehicles are owned by people who rent out small fleets.
Wagner, the Enterprise executive, calls it “politically motivated fiction” for Turo to focus on taxes paid by people who occasionally list their car.
For Williamson, the Phoenix teacher who rents his BMW through Turo, the prospect of his customers having to take on those taxes and surcharges is concerning. The people who rent his BMW are looking to splurge. He also sometimes rents his family’s Honda Pilot SUV.
“Any time you start to creep the price up for anything, you’re going to get people who say, ‘Oh, I guess we won’t take the convertible this weekend. We’ll just take whatever Hertz has on special,’ ” he said.
Mobile shopping app Ibotta becomes Denver’s only billion-dollar “unicorn” company
Denver is now home to a unicorn. Not the mythical creature kind, but the super-valuable, privately held company variety.
Mobile shopping app Ibotta announced this week that it is now valued at $1 billion following the close of a recent nine-figure funding round headlined by Koch Disruptive Technologies, a subsidiary of Koch Industries.
Hitting that level of value, assessed by the investors that signed over the big checks, not the company itself, is an unprecedented feat for a Colorado-based company.
“By definition, unicorns are rare. However, they are not so rare anymore if you’re in Silicon Valley,” Rosanna Garcia, a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, said Wednesday. “I think that’s the big difference for this company is they’re in Denver. They are the only ones. It is truly a rarity here.”
Ibotta — a play on the phrase “I bought a …” — launched in 2012. Its free app rewards shoppers for buying items from more than 1,500 leading brands and retailers that partner with the company, whether those purchases are made in-store or online. So far, its app has been downloaded more than 35 million times and has around 6 million active monthly users. Ibotta cuts customer in on it money-making deal with companies, shelling out $600 million in rewards to date, according to a news release.
Earlier this year, Ibotta edged into the mobile payment space, launching “Pay with Ibotta.” That service allows shoppers to pay for stuff they buy at about 75 national retail chains and on around 100 websites directly through the app, with more companies being added, company officials say.
The expansion is part of Ibotta founder and CEO Bryan Leach‘s ambitious goal.
“We want to make every purchase in the world rewarding,” he says. “We want to make the moment of payment really resonate emotionally.”
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The company celebrated reaching unicorn status with a little theater. Its CTO last week donned a purple unicorn costume to deliver the news to some of Ibotta’s approximately 500 employees at its Denver HQ. Leach said he plans to plow the undisclosed sum raised into more growth, aiming to hire another 200 or so workers in the coming two to three years. Unicorn status out to aid recruitment. The Denver Post earlier this year named the company a “Top Workplace.”
“We’re a fast-paced workplace that is dreaming very big,” Leach said. “We want to say to the world, ‘Look, we are going to compete with all of the major digital payment companies in the world, and if you want to be part of that and not live where those companies are based, but come to Colorado, we’re here.'”
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Ibotta’s mythic achievement could benefit many other companies, DU’s Garcia says.
“It’s a signal for investors to start looking in Denver for those types of companies that can grow into a billion-dollar valuation,” she said. “Not just in tech, but in health care, any kind of industry that is in an upward trend.”
Updated Aug. 8, 2019, at 9:37 a.m. Because of an error by a reporter, the original headline was incorrect. Ibotta is Denver’s only “unicorn” company today but not its first.