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

Latest US and World News

Latest News from the US and around the world.

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  • Bernie Sanders Is the Democratic Front-Runner
    He’s a 77-year old socialist who’s abrasive when he’s in a good mood, and who’s still blamed by many Democrats for Hillary Clinton’s losing to Donald Trump. But go ahead, try to argue Bernie Sanders isn’t the frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic race right now.Sanders blew past every other announced candidate’s early fundraising numbers in just the first few hours after making his second presidential run official on Tuesday, and he’s expecting to easily hit the one million sign-ups he asked for as a first show of support for his campaign.For all the more conventional Democrats who greeted the news of his candidacy with sighs, “Oh no!” or “Give me a break,” no one else running could do that.[Read: A lot of people want Bernie Sanders to run in 2020]Then there’s where he stands in early polls, behind only Joe Biden. Or the argument Sanders’s own pollster has been making that he will have surprising strength in parts of the country where he connects with many of the same disaffected voters who backed Donald Trump, or were too turned off by what’s become of politics to vote at all in 2016.“Short of Joe Biden entering the race, Sanders on paper starts off with more advantages than anybody else. He’s got the largest list, he’s got the most intense following that has stayed with him since 2016, he has a proven ability to fundraise from his small dollar base,” said Brian Fallon, a Democratic strategist who was the spokesman for Hillary Clinton,  leading the public charge against Sanders last time around. “He’s in the exact opposite position that he started off the 2016 campaign in.”The Democrats running against him assume this won’t last. But he’ll raise millions, get 20,000 people at his rallies, and make them all look junior varsity in comparison. Still, they’re confident he won’t be able to maintain that over the next year.[Peter Beinart: Bernie Sanders Offers a Foreign Policy for the Common Man]Sanders running when he’s part of a big field of enticing candidates is a whole lot different from Sanders running as the single fresh alternative to a candidate who never inspired much passion, through her entire career. He could burn out, get eclipsed by some of the newer forces in the party, and have to answer for all the parts of his record and background that didn’t get the full scrutiny when he was a novelty nowhere near winning in 2016.If nothing else, there could certainly  come a point late in the game when Democratic voters look at him, much like happened with Howard Dean in 2004, and say they just can’t take seriously the idea of Bernie Sanders actually beating Trump, or actually being commander in chief and sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office as the 46th president of the United States.At least, that’s what his rivals are telling themselves. Because that’s how races have always gone to this point. Except, that is, for 2016, when Sanders became a bizarre breakout sensation and the country put Trump behind that desk as the 45th president.No matter what, his candidacy seems set to reshape the dynamics of the race.Sanders has moved quickly in an attempt to show that he’s a more serious candidate than four years ago, when he announced his campaign during a break from the Senate floor, gave a few harried answers to the questions from the few reporters who showed up, and then said he had to get back to vote.This time, he started with a carefully constructed roll-out, with a slick announcement video, a sit-down interview on CBS This Morning, and a media tour. “Sisters and brothers,” he wrote to his huge email list Tuesday morning, “together, you and I and our 2016 campaign began the political revolution. Now, it is time to complete that revolution and implement the vision that we fought for.”A full operation is being put together, on the assumption that he will have well over $200 million in online fundraising to draw from. That includes top leadership of the campaign meant to illustrate the diversity of his support, demographically and geographically. Faiz Shakir, a former aide to Harry Reid, is leaving his job as political director of the American Civil Liberties Union to be the campaign manager. In addition to his deep political experience, he will be the first Muslim presidential campaign manager in history. Analia Mejia, an organizer of Colombian and Dominican descent who most recently directed the Fight for $15 and Earned Sick Days campaigns in New Jersey, will be the political director. The deputy political director will be Sarah Badawi, who was most recently the government affairs director for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal group that led the efforts to draft Elizabeth Warren into the 2012 race.Their organization will send out an array of emails, videos and Twitter-friendly GIFs, which  Sanders and his team hope to use to capture the sensation of his 2016 campaign and turn it into an overwhelming movement.All this will build to a big kick-off rally.“Bernie Sanders is always an underdog, because he is fighting against large special interests who don’t want to see his agenda succeed. He’ll be the underdog until the day he wins,” said Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat enthusiastic about Sanders’s announcement. “He’s the frontrunner in terms of grassroots energy and a small dollar army—we’ve seen how decisive that is.”The darkness settled in at Warren’s headquarters weeks ago, and by Tuesday morning, Warren advisers were thinking that the upside of Sanders’s candidacy is at at least that there will be two strong voices for real structural reform in the economy and political system. While her goal remains winning the White House, she and her aides have had to rethink how she’s going to get there. Sanders will massively out-raise and out-perform her for months, Warren advisers think. But over time, if she is able to build up the staying power, there might be a chance for her to have a second wind late, particularly if Sanders collapses either under his own weight or late skepticism about him becoming the nominee, people around her believe. In that scenario, she’s like John McCain in 2008 in the Republican primary, able to surge as an acceptable alternative once people try out Sanders and other candidates and realize they don’t like any of them. Sanders could serve  as a buffer for anyone who thinks that she’s too left, or too old, or doesn’t have enough of a claim on the women’s vote given the other female candidates in the race.Khanna argued that the two won’t split votes.“Running for president is something deeper. I don’t think you have just a cut and paste, ‘Let’s see who has what percent of the base and how they overlap.’ I think it’s about, ‘Do you meet the moment, and does your vision inspire people?’” he said.A Warren spokeswoman declined to comment on what impact Sanders’s presence in the race would have on her campaign.In the meantime, several other candidates are salivating over how they expect the two to destroy each other. Among those potentially positioned to do best over a scramble on the left flank are Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, who both have progressive credentials, but are campaigning to build strong and more diverse foundations of support.Or as Harris greeted the news of Sanders’s entry on Tuesday morning while at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, “The more the merrier. I think it’s great.”That will likely leave little room for some of the more left-leaning potential candidates who have been considering jumping in, most prominently Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard will likely face the same problem distinguishing herself now that Sanders is in the race.   But the moderates will rejoice, hoping that voters take notice of how the Trump campaign quickly responded to the Sanders launch: “Bernie Sanders has already won the debate in the Democrat primary, because every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism. But the American people will reject an agenda of sky-high tax rates, government-run health care and coddling dictators like those in Venezuela. Only President Trump will keep America free, prosperous and safe.”If beating Trump is the priority, the moderates  want primary voters to think, nominating Sanders would be playing right into Trump’s clear plans to spend the next 20 months pumping up his modern day red scare. That’s the theoretical space for Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is pitching herself as a pragmatist. She said at a CNN town hall on Monday night that she won’t support Medicare for All and that she would only support free college tuition “if I was a magic genie.”But the person most closely watching Sanders’s announcement is probably Joe Biden, who’s been going over polling data and election results that he believes show  votes are not as far left as the media attention to things like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal would suggest.The former vice president is deep in final deliberations about whether to run again, but he feels sure that Sanders’s agenda will both be the wrong policy for the country and the wrong politics to defeat Trump.“To be sure, there’s anxiety about what the future holds and caution about what our rapidly changing world means to families who are being left behind,” Biden said on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference in a speech full of lines that could have been from an announcement speech. “This fourth industrial revolution is causing great anxiety, and I think is part of the reason for so much of our uncertainty.”Biden spokesman Bill Russo declined comment on how Sanders’s announcement shapes his thinking.
  • A Centuries-Old Idea Could Revolutionize Climate Policy
    The economic thinker who most influenced the Green New Deal isn’t Marx or Lenin. No, if you want to understand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s bid to remake the economy to fight climate change, you need to read Hamilton.Yes, Alexander Hamilton. Long before he was associated with theatrical hip-hop, former Treasury Secretary Hamilton called for policies that sound familiar to us today. Like Representative Ocasio-Cortez, he wanted massive federal spending on new infrastructure. Like Donald Trump, he believed that very high tariffs can nurture American manufacturing. And like Elizabeth Warren, he was willing to bend the Constitution to reform the financial system.Hamilton, in short, successfully used the power of the federal government to boost manufacturing, to pick winners and losers, and to shape the fate of the U.S. economy. He is the father of American industrial policy: the set of laws and regulations that say the federal government can guide economic growth without micromanaging it. And the Green New Deal, for all its socialist regalia, only makes sense in light of his capitalistic work.In the days since Ocasio-Cortez debuted the Green New Deal, consensus has hardened: It is legislation by listicle. “An aspirational climate policy wish list,” writes the democratic socialist Ryan Cooper. “A needlessly long wish list,” says The New York Times’ David Leonhardt. “An untrammeled Dear Santa letter without form, purpose, borders, or basis in reality,” adds National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke, in Buckleyan reverie.Even its supporters seem to concede that the Green New Deal is a binder of climate policies duct-taped to an Easter basket of socialist goodies: Its individual parts may be great, but you have to admit that it looks like it might teeter over. Its critics, meanwhile, ominously suggest that it prizes ideology above science—something I have also warned of.But both views are, on the whole, incorrect. Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal is not only a set of progressive nice-to-haves, nor is it a full-on assault on capitalism. The Green New Deal has a coherent economic philosophy and a compelling theory of change—and pundits don’t have to like them to bother understanding them.[Read: ]The millennial era of climate politics has arrivedAbove all, the Green New Deal is a leftist resurrection of federal industrial policy. It is not an attempt to control the private sector, according to its authors; it is a bid to collaborate with it. And it draws on a set of ideas with a rich American history, extending long before the great World War II mobilization to which the Green New Deal is regularly compared.“This goes back to Hamilton, the daddy of it all,” says Stephen Cohen, a professor of city and regional planning at UC Berkeley. He argues that industrial policy has birthed the transcontinental railroad, the cookie-cutter suburb, the home appliance, and the computer—nearly every major American economic transition since 1776.In short, the Green New Deal’s supporters hope that industrial policy can now bring forth another transition—to cheaper energy, faster trains, and an altogether more climate-friendly economy. “The core of the Green New Deal, if you just look at the projects, is just like industrial policy, industrial policy, industrial policy,” says Rhiana Gunn-Wright, a policy researcher at the think tank New Consensus who helped draft Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal. “It’s very, very, very central. The Green New Deal is one of the largest interventions in U.S. industrial policy in a long time.”Ocasio-Cortez’s love of industrial policy did not come from nowhere. In the past few years, a group of scholars has revived an old school of economic thought that says a strong manufacturing policy is an absolute necessity for large, developed nations. They argue that the United States has neglected its domestic manufacturing sector since the 1980s, a move that risks national failure. This new school is central to the Green New Deal. Omitting it is like ignoring Milton Friedman when discussing President Ronald Reagan’s policies. And discarding it is tantamount to throwing out what makes the Green New Deal so interesting. For more than a decade, the biggest progressive ideas about curbing climate change have relied on technical or narrow market mechanisms. They have required regulators to make emitting carbon dioxide costly. By prescribing industrial policy, the Green New Deal goes in a different direction: It throws all of American government and industry behind an attempt to make renewable energy cheap.This move could revolutionize U.S. climate politics. Ocasio-Cortez has a chance to recast one of Trump’s economic intuitions—that the decline of industry has broken something fundamental in the U.S. economy—as climate policy. She may be squandering it.Last fall, a number of activists and policy scholars from the same network of leftist groups as Ocasio-Cortez founded a new think tank. They called it New Consensus. Since then, the group has done little public work beyond helping to formulate the Green New Deal. Its website has only four pages. But it has published a reading list written by Demond Drummer, its founder, that functions as a manifesto of sorts.The list does not cite a single angry issue of Dissent or postmodern rant by Slavoj Žižek. Instead, it contains a bunch of self-described pragmatists: Vaclav Smil, a scientist who Bill Gates says is his favorite author; Brad DeLong, a UC Berkeley economics professor who served in Bill Clinton’s administration; Carlota Perez, a scholar who calls herself a “radical centrist”; and Mariana Mazzucato, an economist so mainstream that the Financial Times recently profiled her love of swimming.Drummer says that the books lay out a new and coherent view of “how economic progress really happens.” Many of the books argue that wealthy countries became wealthy in the first place by supporting, protecting, and investing in strategic industries. A nation’s other policies—around trade, infrastructure, even education—were ultimately designed to serve these chosen industries. “A nation must deliberately and constantly invest in its means of making a living,” Drummer writes. “Nations that ‘[let] the free market decide’ what they should do for a living decline to the bottom of the economic food chain.”No wealthy country developed without going through this process, the books argue—especially not the United States.“From its very beginning, the United States again and again enacted policies to shift its economy onto a new growth direction—toward a new economic space of opportunity,” argues Concrete Economics, a book by Cohen and DeLong that appears on the reading list. “Yes, there was an ‘invisible hand’ … But the invisible hand was repeatedly lifted at the elbow by the government, and re-placed in a new position from where it could go on to perform its magic.”Speaking from his office in New York, Cohen walked me through this retelling of American history. Hamilton sought to move the country away from its agrarian economy, so he fought for infrastructure, high tariffs, and a muscular financial system. After he died, his successors emphasized an “American system” of infrastructure projects such as the Erie Canal and the manufacturing of products from standardized parts. During and after the Civil War, the U.S. government freely gave away huge tracts of western land to spur specific types of economic development. In particular, rail companies got land to form the transcontinental railroad.This industrial fervor extended well into the 20th century. When we think of large-scale industrial policy today, we think of the New Deal and World War II. But President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who built the interstate-highway system, encouraged mass production and suburbanization, and he preserved an enormous defense R&D budget. “Almost all of the technology we think of in terms of Silicon Valley and the like—computers, telecommunications, semiconductors—came directly out of that government R&D budget,” Cohen says.[Read: ]The Democrats want to make climate policy excitingCohen and DeLong argue that our industrial pragmatism ceased in most sectors around 1980. They claim that policy makers grew too ideological: They read too much Friedman, deregulated the financial sector, and adopted a gospel of free trade. These actions allowed East Asian countries to overwhelm American manufacturing. In 1979, manufacturing made up 21 percent of U.S. GDP; by 2007, it had fallen to 12 percent.The Green New Deal’s authors see their proposal as a remedy to this crisis. It is an attempt to bring back both U.S. manufacturing and the commonsense industrial policy that originally made that sector strong. “The economy, as it’s structured right now, is not working … and that’s not just because of the 1 percent, not just because of Wall Street,” Gunn-Wright told me. “We’ve stopped making things. We’ve stopped investing in the real economy.”Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s 33-year-old chief of staff and former campaign chair, has endorsed both the reading list and the thinking behind it. “Economics is a social system. It is not a science,” he tweeted in January, before linking to the New Consensus page. “To understand ‘basic economics,’ … you need to read economic history.” (Both Chakrabarti and Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not respond to an interview request before publication.)Some mainstream economists aren’t as convinced that industrial policy could transform the future of the United States. Many of the ideas in the books have not been “closely vetted” theoretically and may lack empirical evidence, according to Michael Greenstone, an economics professor at the University of Chicago who previously worked in Barack Obama’s White House. And he worries that many of the books distract too much from a central lesson of labor economics: that people basically get paid for their skills. While granting that some recent data suggest that workers’ share of GDP is declining in developed countries, compared with that taken by investors and capital owners, he argues that unemployment and wage stagnation have been concentrated among those with fewer skills. In this view, education policy—not industrial policy—is primarily failing Americans.Getting to the moon required attempting “300 different homework problems,” according to the University College London economist Mariana Mazzucato. (NASA)Ocasio-Cortez has taken to saying that the Green New Deal is our generation’s moonshot, and this is usually understood as an invocation of John F. Kennedy–esque vigor: When America sets its mind to it, it can do anything. But in the context of New Consensus’ reading list, the moonshot reference also reads as an allusion to another economic thinker—Mariana Mazzucato, the director of the University College London Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. Mazzucato argues that the private sector cannot innovate without the public sector giving it purpose and direction. In fact, innovation depends on the state. First, the public sector defines a problem. Then it asks—or demands—that the private sector solve that problem. She cites the Apollo program as a perfect example.“How to get to the moon was a result of 300 different homework problems that had to be solved, and most of them failed,” Mazzucato told me recently. Those homework problems were first laid out by the government, and they ranged wide across sectors, touching even nutrition and fashion. Then the government used the inspirational power of its leadership and the extensive power of its purse to assign them to the private sector.Mazzucato asserts that the state should yoke the mission of fighting climate change to every aspect of its purchasing power. Whether the government buys a company’s product, offers it a research grant, or loans it money should depend on its willingness to adopt certain Green New Deal goals. “You don’t pick the winners; you pick the willing,” she said. “The question should be: Who’s willing to engage across any sector—big firms, small firms, any size—to engage with Green New Deal strategies?” These strategies might include a renewable-energy requirement or a reduction in the physical amount of material needed to make a product.Mazzucato’s ideas are all over the Green New Deal. She has met with Ocasio-Cortez in person more than once; their staffs have consulted; they even Skyped together. Mazzucato has a fact page about the Green New Deal on her website. Yet Mazzucato is no radical. When we talked, she had just returned from Davos, and her books are more likely to be feted by the Financial Times than by Jacobin. “Mazzucato is a pretty mainstream, market-failure-correcting economist, in terms of industrial policy,” says Constantine Samaras, a professor of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. So why has the Green New Deal been cast as such a radical proposal?Look, and you’ll find Hamiltonian ideas served thickly throughout the Green New Deal resolution—even if they sometimes appear between slabs of progressive talking points. When the proposal lists “several related crises” that endanger the United States, it mentions “deindustrialization” as well as income inequality. It demands a “massive growth in clean manufacturing.” It calls for investment in “local and regional economies.” And it calls for “enacting and enforcing trade rules … and border adjustments” that will “grow domestic manufacturing in the United States.”The Green New Deal’s wide-ranging vision faces down a politically inconvenient reality: Fighting climate change will mean remaking the economy. In the United States, most climate policies have focused on only the electricity or transportation sector. But those two sectors account for only 56 percent of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions. Heavy industry accounts for almost a quarter of the country’s carbon pollution, and we still have little idea how to deal with that. There’s still no way to make steel without fossil fuels. The Green New Deal states as a goal—and little more than a goal—the need for “removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and industry as much as is technologically feasible.”In fact, the entire document is just a list of goals. “What the resolution did is outline some challenges,” Samaras told me. “There’s no policy yet. These are just principles. I think that’s getting lost.”Into that policy vacuum, many commentators have hallucinated an entire regime. “The government would put sector after sector under partial or complete federal control,” asserts David Brooks. He begs, “Exactly which agency would inspect and oversee the renovation of every building in America? Exactly which agency would hire every worker?”This does not match what Ocasio-Cortez has actually said. Speaking with Chuck Todd earlier this month, she speculated about different ways to get the Green New Deal done. “It could be Tennessee Valley Authority–style public programs, but it could also be public-private partnerships,” she said. “It can work down on a municipal level. There could be some potential contracting involved … It’s not as though the federal government’s going to wave a wand and say, ‘We’re going to do it all ourselves.’ ”A spike in government contracting? Public-private partnerships? What kind of fiat government takeover is this?[Read: ]7 reasons why the Democrats won’t pass a Green New Deal“Ocasio-Cortez is a socialist, and she wants worker collectives. But that distracts us from the core of the plan,” says Daniel Aldana Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania who helped edit coverage of the Green New Deal for Jacobin, a leftist magazine. “The original New Deal, when you read about it, is super practical. The biggest mistake is to see activist government … as ideological. It’s just a super practical approach to problem-solving. If you want to solve problems on a huge scale, then let’s actually put some public institutions to work.”And arguments for the Green New Deal can even feel a little … Trumpy. When Gunn-Wright talks to people about the Green New Deal, “they get really excited about the thought of making stuff again,” she says. “That they’ll not just be a cashier, but that they’ll make wind turbines.” Gunn-Wright also riffed on the need to make wind turbines domestically (they’re too big to ship overseas), and why border adjustments may be required to protect some nascent U.S. green industries. (Trump actually imposed a tariff on solar panels in 2017.)Viewed in a certain light, you can start to see the potential for a certain kind of play here: an attempt to integrate Trump’s working-class nostalgia with the urgency of remaking the economy to fight climate change. “Skilled crafts­men, and trades­people, and fac­to­ry work­ers have seen the jobs they loved shipped thou­sands of miles away,” the president has said. “This wave of glob­al­i­za­tion has wiped out our mid­dle class. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can turn it all around—and we can turn it around fast.” Would Green New Dealers really disagree with any of this?Yet Ocasio-Cortez only ever approaches that rhetoric at a slant. “Today is a big day for people who have been left behind,” she said when announcing the Green New Deal. “Today is a big day for workers in Appalachia. Today is a big day for children that have been breathing dirty air in the South Bronx.” She referred to her proposal not as a plan to resuscitate American industry, but as a “comprehensive agenda of economic, social, and racial justice.”“This is an investment,” she said. “For every dollar we spend on infrastructure, we get more than a dollar back for that investment.”That’s weak, compared with the ambition wound up inside her own proposal. Investment and infrastructure are such Normal Democrat Words that they lose the special nostalgic charge of industrial policy. No wonder the Green New Deal was understood as a wish list, even by its supporters. Not that Ocasio-Cortez helped her case here either: On the day of the announcement, her office published, then retracted, a sometimes juvenile FAQ document that talked about farting cows and supporting people “unwilling to work.”Gunn-Wright told me that her team doesn’t talk about the Green New Deal as industrial policy first, because people misunderstand it. Trump’s economic message is linked to his racist rhetoric, perhaps irretrievably so. Say the word manufacturing, and people hear a paean to the white working class. “We haven’t talked about the decline of manufacturing outside of cultural terms,” she said. “It’s really weaponized in terms of race. That also makes people back away from it.”And it is legitimately tricky to talk about the history of U.S. industrial policy, especially on the left. Sure, the government has guided the invisible hand throughout American economic history—but it has also guided the bayonet and the lash. In the 1790s, Hamilton’s prized financial system counted enslaved bodies as a type of commodity, alongside cotton and wheat. In the 1860s, the government had only western land to “freely” give away because it violently seized it from indigenous people first. In the 1950s, suburbanization enriched America, but it did not enrich black Americans, who were systematically prevented from obtaining federal-backed mortgages. Much of the Green New Deal’s racial-justice agenda reads as an attempt to deal with this legacy—and to ensure that people of color are not left out of the next great redirection of the American economy. Hence the policies aimed at spreading the wealth: the paid medical leave, the job guarantee, the promise to honor tribal treaties.But the sum effect has been that Ocasio-Cortez and her team shout about equity while whispering about the economy. If the word manufacturing is now a racial dog whistle, who better than a popular leftist congresswoman to reclaim its whine? It may be too much to hope for a cross-partisan climate policy in the United States, but every climate policy must have some kind of crossover appeal. The U.S. economy will eventually be remade to fight climate change. Ocasio-Cortez and her team must decide whether they will lean into their policy’s promise or make it seem like more of the same.
  • Carnival in Venice 2019
    The theme of this year’s Carnival in Venice is “Tutta colpa della Luna,” or “Blame the moon,” inspired by the 50-year mark since humans first walked on the moon. Festivities kicked off this weekend, with a nighttime floating parade, and will last until March 5. Collected here, colorful images from the opening days of Carnival 2019 in Venice.
  • Russian Doll Shatters the Word Crazy
    This article contains spoilers through all eight episodes of Russian Doll.“No, no, no, no, no, we do not use that word in this house.”So says Ruth, the no-nonsense parental guardian of Nadia, the ever-dying star of Netflix’s psychedelic triumph Russian Doll. Ruth, a therapist, actually says it twice—varying the number of nos each time—in separate “loops,” in separate episodes, when confronted with the forbidden word: crazy.Ruth’s rule fits with changing mores, as health professionals have tried to retire the term crazy for being insulting to people with mental illness. But Ruth and Nadia share a particularly intimate understanding of the harm the word can do. With the same humanity and attention to detail that it vests in all its intricacies, Russian Doll unwinds how the incoherent, shame-laden cultural image of mental illness diverges from—and worsens—the real thing.As she periodically expires and regenerates at her 36th birthday party, Nadia might be experiencing a drug trip, a video-game simulation, a spiritual trial, or a time-space glitch. Of all the possibilities, though, there’s one that frightens Nadia the most: What if it’s a psychotic break? When her friend Maxine calls her “crazy,” Nadia hisses back, “You know I hate it when people call me ‘crazy.’” When Maxine does it again, Nadia marches over to the uncooked chicken her friend has lovingly prepared and hurls it to the ground. That’s how much she doesn’t like the word.The antipathy stems from childhood. Nadia’s mother, Lenora, feverishly obsessed over nonsensical quests: breaking the mirrors in her house, buying up all the watermelons from bodegas around town, attempting to acquire the Betty Boop trademark. She also swerved emotionally, lavishing love on her daughter but then showing frightening callousness toward her. “What was her diagnosis? What the fuck was wrong with her?” Nadia asks in the present, to which Ruth replies, “Do not confuse your mother with her damage.”Lenora’s damage, though, clearly damaged Nadia, and in more than one way. Her mom’s episodes appear to have traumatized her, and Nadia refuses to talk about her memories until a mere glimpse of family photos she’s hidden under the bed unleashes a series of flashbacks. Her mother’s story also soaked Nadia with shame, because she believes her secret desire to live with Ruth rather than Lenora is what killed her mom. This guilt has almost literally short-circuited Nadia’s life, and restoring linear time requires her to finally confront it—and forgive herself—in a sit-down with Ruth.But the guilt and trauma have also short-circuited Nadia’s life figuratively, causing her to close off from deep human connection. You see signs of a rut, of stuck-ness, in her reluctance to meet her ex’s young daughter, in Nadia’s stated misanthropy (“Other people are garbage”), and in what Ruth says during their climactic chat about Lenora’s death: “Sweetheart, where is that gorgeous piece of you pushing to be a part of this world?” At ComicsVerse, in one example of the insightful Russian Doll writing done by mental-health professionals, the therapist Tim Stevens explains: Even if the effect of the trauma has not proven far-reaching enough to qualify [people who experienced trauma] for a post–Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis (PTSD)—or the more short-term Acute Stress Disorder—such people can tell you how much their life has been tossed into upheaval. Moreover, they can point to tricks or mechanisms they have developed to avoid retraumatization. In fact, for many, they are not just avoiding retraumatization but anything that’s four steps away from it. Live in that place long enough and the avoidance becomes rote. Nadia might or might not have a diagnosable condition, but inherited trauma like hers is the sort of thing that psychology and psychiatry seeks to treat, as Russian Doll points out through the character of her parental guardian. Professionally, Ruth practices a form of therapy called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) that is meant to assist with difficult memories. Viewers see it in action during one short scene of Ruth with a male patient. A device flashes lights from side to side—that’s the “eye movement” component—as the man revisits what sounds like a frightening memory from his school years and then turns to the troubles in his marriage.But Nadia doesn’t appear to be the therapy-going sort, which is one of the few things she has in common with Alan, the man who she discovers is stuck in the same time loop she is. Buttoned-up and routine-obsessed, he sometimes snaps into violent anger, and it’s eventually revealed that his loops began when he killed himself. Yet he repeatedly vows that he can handle his mental health without help. Like Nadia, he hates being called crazy. As someone obsessed with surface images—his physique, his tidy home—perhaps his aversion stems from fear of undoing the stolid image he wants to project.Such aversion might, in turn, be tied to the stigmas bound up in the idea of crazy. The term sweeps together the extreme and the ordinary, the debilitating and the treatable. Its slur-like application in everyday speech renders behaviors as attributes, implying mental illness as necessarily dangerous, congenital, and weak. Seriously threatening conditions are made unduly comic, more commonplace ones are portrayed as bizarre, and in all cases seeking treatment becomes socially fraught.This holds for many of crazy’s synonyms too. Throughout Nadia’s life, when she has acted with the outlandish mannerisms that make her so charming, one can assume that certain people have called her “whacko.” When she has tried dealing with her traumatic struggles, too, she’s likely been called “nuts” (look at how her ex, John, immediately writes her off when she confesses that she’s terrified and believes herself to be dead). But in Lenora, Nadia has seen a particularly distressing version of what those words can encompass, making it so that a mother cannot safely parent her child. Her great fear is that she shares that condition.“Is there a history of mental illness in your family?” a drug-world doctor asks Nadia when she comes searching for explanations for her dying-and-reviving. She spits back, “That’s not it. No, no no, it’s not me. All right, understand, it cannot be me.” Yet within a few loops, she’s come to grapple with the suspicion that she’s indeed having a breakdown akin to what Lenora went through. She goes to see Ruth, who carefully asks Nadia to define the scope of what she’s experiencing. Nadia says their psychiatric safe word—“record player”—and has herself committed.But in the ambulance ride with eerily familiar paramedics, she seems to realize that whatever her problems, this isn’t the treatment. The vehicle crashes, and she’s regenerated back in her friend’s apartment. “Nobody locks us up,” she says into the bathroom mirror.What is the treatment? The drug-packing doctor, for what it’s worth, has some interesting ideas. Effusing about the ketamine in a joint Nadia smoked, he explains that the horse anesthetic and club drug might be a breakthrough medicine for depression sufferers. Fact-check: true, and an FDA panel just this month recommended a ketamine-laced nasal spray to go to market. At Vox, Alice Levitt described taking an intravenous infusion to treat her suicidal thoughts and ending up in a “K-hole”—an immersive psychedelic experience—that seemed to help her symptoms in the long term. “Users retreat into their minds and experience hallucinations, sometimes reporting religious experiences or even a feeling some compare to rebirth,” she wrote.Levitt’s description is fascinating in the context of Russian Doll, and raises the possibility that Nadia’s adventure really is a ketamine vision involving a dream-Alan and a dream-Ruth. But the brilliance of the show lies partly in how it could be equally true that God put her through a series of loops, or a quantum bug did, or a computer did. In any scenario, the takeaway is the same. She had to get past the baggage around crazy so as to look in the mirror—an object Ruth likened to therapy—honestly. This took opening up to others, and it took dealing with her past. Having done so, she was then able to help someone else who, as everyone does, needed a mirror of his own.
  • The Lab Discovering DNA in Old Books
    It was in the archives of the Archbishop of York that Matthew Collins had an epiphany: He was surrounded by millions of animal skins.Another person might say they were surrounded by books and manuscripts written on parchment, which is made from skins, usually of cows and sheep. Collins, however, had been trying to make sense of animal-bone fragments from archaeological digs, and he began to think about the advantages of studying animal skins, already cut into rectangles and arranged neatly on a shelf. Archaeologists consider themselves lucky to get a few dozen samples, and here were millions of skins just sitting there. “Just an obscene number,” Collins told me, his voice still giddy at the possibilities in their DNA.In recent years, archaeologists and historians have awakened to the potential of ancient DNA extracted from human bones and teeth. DNA evidence has enriched—and complicated—stories of prehistoric human migrations. It has provided tantalizing clues to epidemics such as the black death. It has identified the remains of King Richard III, found under a parking lot. But Collins isn’t just interested in human remains. He’s interested in the things these humans made; the animals they bred, slaughtered, and ate; and the economies they created.That’s why he was studying DNA from the bones of livestock—and why his lab is now at the forefront of studying DNA from objects such as parchment, birch-bark tar, and beeswax. These objects can fill in gaps in the written record, revealing new aspects of historical production and trade. How much beeswax came from North Africa, for example? Or how did cattle plague make its way through Europe? With ample genetic data, you might reconstruct a more complete picture of life hundreds of years in the past.Sarah Fiddyment (left) and Matthew Collins looking at parchment with conservator Antoinette Curtis at the Norfolk Record Office (Matthew Collins)Collins splits his time between Cambridge and the University of Copenhagen, and it’s hard to nail down exactly what kind of -ologist he is. He has a knack for gathering experts as diverse as parchment specialists, veterinarians, geneticists, archivists, economic historians, and protein scientists (his own background). “All I do is connect people together,” he said. “I’m just the ignorant one in the middle.”Collins began his scientific career studying marine biology, thanks to a formative teenage viewing of Jaws. He specialized first in marine fossils and, later, in the ancient proteins hidden inside them. This turned out to be a dead end. For the most part, the fossils were too old and the proteins no longer intact enough to study. He was forced to look at younger and younger material, until he crossed from paleontology into archaeology. He applied the techniques of protein analysis to pottery shards, in which he found milk proteins that hinted at the diet of the people who used those pots.Collagen, a protein abundant in bone, also turns out to be especially useful. A student of Collins’s named Michael Buckley developed a technique called ZooMS to analyze bone collagen and rapidly ID the type of animal it came from. Scientists recently used ZooMS to identify a human bone sliver found in a Siberian cave; further DNA analysis revealed it to be the bone of a half-Neanderthal girl.Collins quickly realized that DNA held even more potential than ancient proteins, which can be “a blunt tool compared to DNA.” The DNA of any single animal is, after all, a library coding for all the proteins their cells can make. “DNA is a phenomenally powerful tool,” he said. “There’s so much information there.” So when Collins embarked on the parchment project, he gathered a team that included geneticists as well as archivists, bookmakers, and historians.It didn’t take long for the group to hit their first culture clash. In science and archaeology, destructive sampling is at least tolerated, if not encouraged. But book conservators were not going to let people in white coats come in and cut up their books. Instead of giving up or fighting through it, Sarah Fiddyment, a postdoctoral research fellow working with Collins, shadowed conservationists for several weeks. She saw that they used white Staedtler erasers to clean the manuscripts, and wondered whether that rubbed off enough DNA to do the trick. It did; the team found a way to extract DNA and proteins from eraser crumbs, a compromise that satisfied everyone.The team has since sampled 5,000 animals from parchment this way. They’ve found that a type of ultrafine parchment, sometimes purported to come from squirrels or rabbits, actually comes from the typical cow, sheep, or goat—and that the thinness of the parchment is the result of the parchment makers’ skill. They’ve compared the genomes of cows in parchment with that of modern ones, finding similarities to Norwegian Reds and Holsteins. They’ve found that the parchment comprising a 1,000-year-old book known as the York Gospels seemed to come mostly from female calves, which was puzzling because you usually want female calves to grow up to give birth to more cattle. A zooarchaeologist on the team suggested that an outbreak of cattle plague might have killed those calves first.[[Read: Sampling DNA from a 1,000-year-old illuminated manuscript]]Collins is not the first person to think of getting DNA from parchment, but he’s been the first to do it at scale. Timothy Stinson, an English professor at North Carolina State University, published a paper on parchment DNA in 2009. He had batted the idea around with his brother, a biologist, and they sent off parchment samples to a commercial DNA lab. But even once he demonstrated that it was possible, Stinson had trouble getting more funding for the project.It was a case study in why interdisciplinary research is difficult. The National Science Foundation would tell him that they didn’t work on livestock, and he should call the USDA. He’d talk to the USDA, and they’d tell him that medieval books fell under the purview of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He’d talk to humanities people, and they’d say, Genetics research? That already has all the money. “I really did get on this constant loop of everyone wanting me to call someone else,” Stinson says. Then Collins got in touch to collaborate—he had gotten a big grant from the European Research Council that encouraged interdisciplinary teams. Stinson is interested in how monasteries and courts sourced the parchment in their documents, and what that reveals about economic contacts in different medieval settings.Earlier this year, Collins won a grant from the Carlsberg Foundation to study beeswax. In honor of the bees, he dubbed the project ArcHives. The idea originally came from an archivist who showed Collins a document with a wax seal. Collins is excited about the possibilities of DNA in beeswax—from humans handling the wax seal, from the bees themselves, and from pollen trapped inside. The DNA could reveal who worked with beeswax, where in the world it came from, and even the flowers that grew in that region year to year. And as with parchment, Collins went searching for experts in the history and production of beeswax. Alexandra Sapoznik, a medieval historian at King’s College London, has studied the historic beeswax trade. When Collins reached out to her, she remembers thinking, Wow, someone else, wax! She is particularly interested in how beeswax made its way from beekeepers in North Africa to Europe.When it comes to the world of archaeology and DNA, “Matthew Collins knows everybody,” says Thomas Gilbert, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen who has studied DNA from artifacts such as aurochs horn. Gilbert recruited Collins to the University of Copenhagen. Since then, they have worked together on another project getting DNA out of millennia-old chewing gum from birch-bark tar.Studying the DNA in artifacts is still a relatively new field, with many prospects that remain unexplored. But in our own modern world, we’ve already started to change the biological record, and future archaeologists will not find the same trove of hidden information in our petroleum-laden material culture. Collins pointed out that we no longer rely as much on natural materials to create the objects we need. What might have once been leather or wood or wool is now all plastic.
  • Is the Insect Apocalypse Really Upon Us?
    In 1828, a teenager named Charles Darwin opened a letter to his cousin with “I am dying by inches, from not having anybody to talk to about insects.” Almost two centuries on, Darwin would probably be thrilled and horrified: People are abuzz about insects, but their discussions are flecked with words such as apocalypse and Armageddon.The drumbeats of doom began in late 2017, after a German study showed that the total mass of local flying insects had fallen by 80 percent in three decades. The alarms intensified after The New York Times Magazine published a masterful feature on the decline of insect life late last year. And panic truly set in this month when the researchers Francisco Sánchez-Bayo and Kris Wyckhuys, having reviewed dozens of studies, claimed that “insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades.” The Guardian, in covering the duo’s review, wrote that “insects could vanish within a century”—a crisis that Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys believe could lead to a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems.”I spoke with several entomologists about whether these claims are valid, and what I found was complicated. The data on insect declines are too patchy, unrepresentative, and piecemeal to justify some of the more hyperbolic alarms. At the same time, what little information we have tends to point in the same worrying direction. How, then, should we act on that imperfect knowledge? It’s a question that goes beyond the fate of insects: How do we preserve our rapidly changing world when the unknowns are vast and the cost of inaction is potentially high?First, some good news: The claim that insects will all be annihilated within the century is absurd. Almost everyone I spoke with says that it’s not even plausible, let alone probable. “Not going to happen,” says Elsa Youngsteadt from North Carolina State University. “They’re the most diverse group of organisms on the planet. Some of them will make it.” Indeed, insects of some sort are likely to be the last ones standing. Any event sufficiently catastrophic to scour the world of insects would also render it inhospitable to other animal life. “If it happened, humans would no longer be on the planet,” says Corrie Moreau from Cornell University.The sheer diversity of insects makes them, as a group, resilient—but also impossible to fully comprehend. There are more species of ladybugs than mammals, of ants than birds, of weevils than fish. There are probably more species of parasitic wasps than of any other group of animal. In total, about 1 million insect species have been described, and untold millions await discovery. And having learned of a creature’s existence is very different from actually knowing it: Most of the identified species are still mysterious in their habits, their proclivities, and—crucially for this discussion—their numbers.Few researchers have kept running tallies on insect populations, aside from a smattering of species that are charismatic (monarch butterflies), commercially important (domesticated honeybees), or medically relevant (some mosquitoes). Society still has a lingering aversion toward creepy crawlies, and entomological research has long been underfunded. Where funds exist, they’ve been disproportionately channeled toward ways of controlling agricultural pests. The basic business of documenting insect diversity has been comparatively neglected, a situation made worse by the decline of taxonomists—species-spotting scientists who, ironically, have undergone their own mass extinction.When scientists have collected long-term data on insects, they’ve usually done so in a piecemeal way. The 2017 German study, for example, collated data from traps that had been laid in different parts of the country over time, rather than from concerted attempts to systematically sample the same sites. Haphazard though such studies might be, many of them point in the same dispiriting direction. In their review, Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys found 73 studies showing insect declines.But that’s what they went looking for! They searched a database using the keywords insect and decline, and so wouldn’t have considered research showing stability or increases. The studies they found aren’t representative either: Most were done in Europe and North America, and the majority of insects live in the tropics. This spotty geographical spread makes it hard to know if insects are disappearing from some areas but recovering or surging in others. And without “good baselines for population sizes,” says Jessica Ware from Rutgers University, “when we see declines, it’s hard to know if this is something that happens all the time.”It’s as if “our global climate dataset only involved 73 weather stations, mostly in Europe and the United States, active over different historical time windows,” explained Alex Wild from the University of Texas at Austin on Twitter. “Imagine that only some of those stations measured temperature. Others, only humidity. Others, only wind direction. Trying to cobble those sparse, disparate points into something resembling a picture of global trends is ambitious, to say the least.”For those reasons, it’s hard to take the widely quoted numbers from Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys’s review as gospel. They say that 41 percent of insect species are declining and that global numbers are falling by 2.5 percent a year, but “they’re trying to quantify things that we really can’t quantify at this point,” says Michelle Trautwein from the California Academy of Sciences. “I understand the desire to put numbers to these things to facilitate the conversation, but I would say all of those are built on mountains of unknown facts.”Still, “our approach shouldn’t be to downplay these findings to console ourselves,” Trautwein adds. “I don’t see real danger in overstating the possible severity of insect decline, but there is real danger in underestimating how bad things really are. These studies aren’t perfect, but we’d be wise to heed this warning now instead of waiting for cleaner studies.”After all, the factors that are probably killing off insects in Europe and North America, such as the transformation of wild spaces into agricultural land, are global problems. “I don’t see how those drivers would have a different outcome in a different area, whether we know the fauna there well or not,” says Jennifer Zaspel from the Milwaukee Public Museum.Insects, though diverse, are also particularly vulnerable to such changes because many of them are so specialized, says May Berenbaum from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “There’s a fly that lives in the gills of a crab on one Caribbean island,” she says. “So what happens if the island goes, or the crab goes? That’s the kind of danger that insects face. Very few of them can opportunistically exploit a broad diversity of habitats and supplies.” (That said, Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys concluded that several once-common generalist species are declining, too.)The loss of even a small percent of insects might also be disproportionately consequential. They sit at the base of the food web; if they go down, so will many birds, bats, spiders, and other predators. They aerate soils, pollinate plants, and remove dung and cadavers; if they disappear, entire landscapes will change. Given these risks, “do we wait to have definitive evidence that species are disappearing before we do something?” Berenbaum asks.Doing something is hard, though, because insect declines have so many factors, and most studies struggle to tease them apart. In their review, Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys point the finger at habitat loss above all else, followed by pesticides and other pollutants, introduced species, and climate change, in that order. “If it was one thing, we’d know what to do,” says Moreau from Cornell. Instead, we are stuck trying to tend to 1 million smaller cuts.At least people are talking about the problem—a recent trend that surprised many of the entomologists I spoke with, who are more used to defending their interests to a creeped-out public. “Since when do people care about insects?” Berenbaum says. “I’m staggered by this!” She hopes that the apocalypse headlines will motivate people to take part in citizen-science projects, such as the BeeSpotter initiative she runs in Illinois. “There’s a huge amount of diversity, but we can divide up the work,” she says.Youngsteadt of North Carolina State is also confused by the sudden flux of interest, but it has meant a lot of invitations from community groups that want her to talk about the declines. She advises them to plant their gardens with native flowers, which promote a wider diversity of insects than neatly manicured lawns. Many people heed that advice to save beautiful species such as monarchs, “but are shocked by all the bugs that come over,” Moreau says. “They’ll see flies, bees, other caterpillars. They start appreciating the whole realm of insects out there. Going from ‘Ew!’ to ‘I’ve heard they’re in trouble; what can I do?’ is a good thing.”She and others hope that this newfound attention will finally persuade funding agencies to support the kind of research that has been sorely lacking—systematic, long-term, widespread censuses of all the major insect groups. “Now more than ever, we should be trying to collect baseline data,” Ware says. “That would allow us to see patterns if there really are any, and make better predictions.” Zaspel would also love to see more support for natural-history museums: The specimens pinned within their drawers can provide irreplaceable information about historical populations, but digitizing that information is expensive and laborious.“We should get serious about figuring out how bad the situation really is,” Trautwein says. “This should be a huge wake-up call, and we should get on the ball instead of quibbling.”
  • The 2020 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet
    The Bern is back.Vermont’s democratic-socialist senator is running for president again, he announced Tuesday morning. With Joe Biden still waiting on the sidelines, Sanders immediately becomes the highest-profile Democrat in the race—even though, as his detractors like to point out, he’s actually an independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate. Given Sanders’s strong showing in the 2016 race, it was easy to think of his second run as a foregone conclusion, but Sanders hesitated before jumping into the already crowded field of Democratic contenders.Some pundits deemed Sanders the 2020 Democratic frontrunner as early as 2017, but there are plausible cases for both a positive and negative outlook. For the former, Sanders has shown that he can run a big-time campaign and draw astonishing grassroots support and fundraising. And while Sanders’s campaign centered around his sometimes meandering, hectoring advocacy for leftist policies, he proved able to turn his gruffness into a sort of anti-charisma that captivated many Americans. There’s no reason to believe any of that has changed in the last few years, and this time there’s not an anointed party pick like Hillary Clinton in his path. Moreover, Sanders showed that anyone underestimating him does so at his or her own risk.On the other hand, Sanders’s last bid showed some of his limitations. He proved slow to connect to the minority voters who comprise a growing portion of the Democratic electorate. Generally, the campaign seemed somewhat chaotic and insular, and was slow to handle allegations of sexual harassment among staffers. Sanders will be 78 years old on Election Day 2020, which would make him the oldest nominee in history. Perhaps the biggest problem is that while Sanders was running against a Clinton machine that offered many reheated policy ideas, there are now a host of candidates running who have taken inspiration from Sanders himself. There’s Elizabeth Warren (who Sanders encouraged to run in 2016, only to jump in when she declined), and even some of the more centrist candidates, like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, have turned left. Sanders will have to compete with more candidates sharing some of the same policies.Given his success in 2016, anything short of the nomination will seem like a disappointment for a Sanders campaign. Yet the senator has always been adamant that his political career is about furthering his policy ideas and creating a more equitable society. Even if Sanders can’t win or even match his vote totals from the last cycle, the overall shape of the race and of the Democratic Party show he’s already succeeded.Sanders isn’t the only New Englander to join the race in the last week. On February 15, William Weld announced plans to form an exploratory committee to challenge President Donald Trump for the 2020 GOP presidential nomination. “I think our country is in grave peril and I cannot sit any longer quietly on the sidelines,” Weld said. “Our president is simply too unstable to carry out the duties of the highest executive office in the land.”There are more than 20 likely or potential Democratic candidates, some of whom are already campaigning hard. Weld could be joined by other Republicans, and there will be independent candidates and third-party contenders as well. If you thought keeping track of the race four years ago was hard, we have bad news for you. But we also have a handy, always informative, and occasionally serious guide to all those candidates.As the presidential primaries progress, this cheat sheet will be updated regularly.* * *The Democrats(Yuri Gripas / Reuters)BERNIE SANDERSWho is he? If you didn’t know the Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist before his runner-up finish in the 2016 Democratic primary, you do now.Is he running? Yes. Sanders announced plans to run on February 19.Why does he want to run? For the same reasons he wanted to run in 2016, and the same reasons he’s always run for office: Sanders is passionate about redistributing wealth, fighting inequality, and creating a bigger social-safety net.Who wants him to run? Many of the same people who supported him last time, plus a few converts, minus those who are supporting Sanders-adjacent candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, or Tulsi Gabbard.Can he win the nomination? Possibly. He didn’t last time around, and while this time he has more experience and renown, he also has more competition from candidates inspired by his success.(Aaron P. Bernstein / REUTERS)AMY KLOBUCHARWho is she? She has been a senator from Minnesota since 2007.Is she running? She announced plans to run in Minneapolis on February 9.Why does she want to run? Klobuchar represents a kind of heartland Democrat—progressive, but not aggressively so—who might have widespread appeal both in the Midwest and elsewhere. She’s tended to talk vaguely about middle-class issues.Who wants her to run? She’d probably build a constituency among mainstream Democrats. Her exchange with Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing won her a lot of fans.Can she win the nomination? Maybe! CNN’s Harry Enten rates her one of the most “electable” potential candidates, a trait that Democratic voters are especially fixated on this cycle. Her launch has been tarnished by a series of stories about harsh treatment of staff, though.What else do we know? Sadly, she is not using this fly logo.(Jonathan Bachman / Reuters)ELIZABETH WARRENWho is she? A senator from Massachusetts since 2013, Warren was previously a professor at Harvard Law School, helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and wrote a book on middle-class incomes.Is she running? Yes. She kicked off her campaign on February 9.Why does she want to run? Warren’s campaign is tightly focused on inequality, her signature issue since before entering politics. She has proposed an “ultra-millionaire tax” on people worth more than $50 million and a major overhaul of housing policies.Who wants her to run? People who backed Senator Bernie Sanders in 2016; people who were Bernie-curious but worried he was too irascible; people who didn’t like Bernie but are left-curious; Donald Trump.Can she win the nomination? Who knows? Warren’s platform is in step with the current Democratic Party’s, and her initial Iowa events went well. But she has also underperformed Democratic presidential nominees even in her super-liberal home state, and her handling of a DNA-test reveal to show her claimed Native American heritage was widely seen as a botch.What else do we know? She’s got a good doggo.(Dimitrios Kambouris)KAMALA HARRISWho is she? Harris, a first-term senator from California, was elected in 2016. She was previously the state’s attorney general.Is she running? Yes. She declared her candidacy on January 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.Why does she want to run? Harris seems to think that a woman of color who is an ex-prosecutor will check a range of boxes for Democratic voters. She has so far staked out a broad platform, trying to appeal to a wide swath of the party.Who wants her to run? Mainstream Democrats. She put up immediately impressive fundraising numbers, and she’s enlisted a number of former Hillary Clinton aides.Can she win the nomination? Sure, maybe. Harris has impressed in her short time in Washington, but it’s been a short time. Most of the country hasn’t seen her campaign yet.(City of South Bend, IN)PETE BUTTIGIEGWho is he? Beats us! Kidding—but Buttigieg, the 37-year-old openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a veteran of the Afghan War, is one of the lesser-known candidates in the field.Is he running? Yes. He announced an exploratory committee on January 23.Why does he want to run? Buttigieg’s sell is all about generation. He’s a Millennial, and thinks that his cohort faces new and unusual pressures and dilemmas that he is singularly equipped to answer. Plus, it’s a useful way to differentiate himself from the blue-haired bigwigs in the blue party.Who wants him to run? Buttigieg isn’t really popping up in polls at this point, but he has the support of some Obama alumni. He hopes to reach midwestern voters who deserted the Democrats in 2016.Can he win the nomination? Probably not. No mayor has been nominated since New York’s DeWitt Clinton in 1812. Buttigieg also fell short in a 2017 campaign for Democratic National Committee chair.What else do we know? It’s “BOOT-edge-edge,” and it’s Maltese for “lord of the poultry.”(DEPartment of Housing & Urban Development)JULIÁN CASTROWho is he? Castro was the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, before serving as secretary of housing and urban development under Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017.Is he running? Yes. He announced his bid on January 12 in San Antonio.Why does he want to run? Castro has long been saddled with the dreaded “rising star” tag, and with Texas still red, he’s got few options below the national stage. He’s emphasized his Hispanic-immigrant roots in early campaign rhetoric.Who wants him to run? It’s not yet clear. He’d like to take the Obama mantle and coalition, but that doesn’t mean he can.Can he win the nomination? He’s got a tough battle. Four years ago, he seemed like the future of the party; now the stage is crowded with rivals, potentially including fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke. "I am not a front-runner in this race, but I have not been a front-runner at any time in my life," Castro said during his announcement.What else do we know? Castro’s twin brother, Joaquin, who serves in the U.S. House, once subbed in for his brother in a parade during Julián’s mayoral campaign, so if you go to a campaign event, ask for proof that it’s really him.(KC McGinnis / Reuters)JOHN DELANEYWho is he? A former four-term congressman from Maryland, he might be even less known than Pete Buttigieg, who at least has a memorable name.Is he running? Is he ever! Delaney announced way back in June 2017, hoping that a head start could make up for his lack of name recognition.Why does he want to run? Delaney, a successful businessman, is pitching himself as a centrist problem-solver.Who wants him to run? Unclear. He’s all but moved to Iowa in hopes of locking up the first caucus state, but even there his name ID isn’t great.Can he win the nomination? Nah.(Marco Garcia / AP)TULSI GABBARDWho is she? Gabbard, 37, has represented Hawaii in the U.S. House since 2013. She previously served in Iraq.Is she running? Yes. She officially announced on February 2 in Honolulu.Why does she want to run? Gabbard says her central issue is “war and peace,” which basically means a noninterventionist foreign policy.Who wants her to run? Gabbard is likely to draw support from Sanders backers. She supported Bernie in 2016, resigning from a post as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee to do so, and she’s modeled herself largely on him.Can she win the nomination? Unlikely. Not only did she have to apologize for past anti-gay comments, but she’s perhaps best known for her unusually friendly stance toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Also, her campaign sounds like a bit of a mess so far.What else do we know? If elected, she would be the first Hindu president.(ary Altaffer/ AP)KIRSTEN GILLIBRANDWho is she? Gillibrand has been a senator from New York since 2009, replacing Hillary Clinton. Before that, she served in the U.S. House.Is she running? Yes. She announced her exploratory committee on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on January 15 and also in this kind of weird video, which feels like a joint marketing venture with Google.Why does she want to run? Gillibrand has emphasized women’s issues, from sexual harassment in the military and more recent #MeToo stories to equal pay, and her role as a mom is central in her announcement video. Once a fairly conservative Democrat, she has moved left in recent years.Who wants her to run? Gillibrand could have a fairly broad appeal among mainstream Democratic voters, and she hopes that her time representing upstate New York gives her an advantage with nonurban voters. She has, however, earned the enmity of Clintonworld for her critiques of Bill.Can she win the nomination? Perhaps. Coming from New York, she has a fundraising and media leg up.What else do we know? Sometimes people say she’s a little boring, but do they realize she went on Desus & Mero?(JOSHUA LOTT / AFP / Getty)ANDREW YANGWho is he? Yang is <checks Google> a tech entrepreneur who created the test-preparation company Manhattan Prep and then Venture for America, which tries to incubate start-ups outside New York and the Bay Area, and which is based in New York.Is he running? Apparently, yes! He filed to run on November 6, 2017.Why does he want to run? Yang’s big idea is a $1,000 per month universal basic income for every American adult.Who wants him to run? His family, presumably.Can he win the nomination? No.(Amy Harris / Invision / AP)MARIANNE WILLIAMSONWho is she? If you don’t know the inspirational author and speaker, you know her aphorisms (e.g., “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”).Is she running? Yes. She announced her candidacy on January 28.Why does she want to run? It’s a little tough to say. She writes on her website, “My campaign for the presidency is dedicated to this search for higher wisdom.” She criticized Hillary Clinton for coziness with corporate interests in 2016, and she ran for the U.S. House in 2014.Who wants her to run? Williamson has a lot of fans, but whether they really want her as president is another question.Can she win the nomination? Stranger things have happened, but no.(Joshua Roberts / Reuters)CORY BOOKERWho is he? A senator from New Jersey, he was previously the social-media-savvy mayor of Newark.Is he running? Yes. He launched his campaign on February 1.Why does he want to run? In the Senate, Booker has been big on criminal-justice reform, including marijuana liberalization. He has recently embraced progressive ideas including Medicare for All and some sort of universal nest egg for children.Who wants him to run? He’ll aim for Obama-style uplift and inspiration to attract voters. Booker has previously been close to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and to Wall Street, both of which could be a liability in a Democratic primary.Can he win the nomination? Possibly.(Jeff Roberson / AP)JOE BIDENWho is he? Don’t play coy. You know the former vice president, Delaware senator, and recurring Onion character.Is he running?Even Biden doesn’t know, though he says he’ll decide soon.Why does he want to run? Biden has wanted to be president since roughly forever, and he thinks he might be the best bet to win back blue-collar voters and defeat President Trump in 2020. (Trump reportedly agrees.) But Biden seems reluctant to end his career with a primary loss, knows he’s old (he’ll turn 78 right after Election Day 2020), and is possibly out of step with the new Democratic Party.Who wants him to run? If you believe the polls, he’s ahead of the rest of the Democratic pack. It’s not clear that you should really believe the polls at this point in the race.Can he win the nomination? It’s possible. Being Barack Obama’s vice president gave Biden a fresh glow. Then again, we’ve seen him run for president twice before, and not very effectively.(Department of Labor)JOHN HICKENLOOPERWho is he? Hickenlooper was the governor of Colorado until January, and previously held the most Colorado trifecta of jobs imaginable: mayor of Denver, geologist, and brewery owner.Is he running? Basically. “We’re beyond mulling,” he told the Associated Press in December 2018. He even told a waitress in New Hampshire he was running, but then backtracked.Why does he want to run? Hickenlooper brands himself as an effective manager and deal maker who has governed effectively in a purple state while still staying progressive. He’s said he thinks the Democratic field could be too focused on grievance and not enough on policy.Who wants him to run? Hard to say. Hickenlooper’s aw-shucks pragmatism plays well with pundits, but he doesn’t have much of a national profile at this point.Can he win the nomination? Maybe, but Hickenlooper might be too business-friendly (and just plain friendly) to succeed in this primary.(Mary Schwalm / AP)JAY INSLEEWho is he? Inslee is a second-term governor of Washington, and was previously in the U.S. House.Is he running?He sure sounds like it, but hasn’t declared.Why does he want to run? Climate change. That’s been Inslee’s big issue as governor, and it would be at the center of his campaign for president, too.Who wants him to run? A campaign would presumably attract environmentalist support, and he hopes that his time as chair of the Democratic Governors Association would help, though he’s already hit some turbulence in New Hampshire.Can he win the nomination? It’s a very long shot.(Simon Dawson / Reuters)MIKE BLOOMBERGWho is he? The billionaire former mayor of New York, Bloomberg is a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat-again.Is he running? Not officially, but he told the Associated Press last year that he thought the latest he could decide was February.Why does he want to run? For starters, he is convinced that he’d be better and more competent at the job than anyone else. A Bloomberg bid would likely center on his pet issues of gun control, climate change, and fighting the more fiscally liberal wing of the Democratic Party tooth and silver-plated nail.Who wants him to run? What, is his considerable ego not enough? Though his tenure as mayor is generally well regarded, it’s unclear what Bloomberg’s Democratic constituency is beyond other wealthy, socially liberal and fiscally conservative types, and it’s not as if he needs their money to run.Can he win the nomination? Probably not. Bloomberg has also previously toyed with an independent run, but says that would only help Trump in 2020.(Matthew Brown / AP)STEVE BULLOCKWho is he? Bullock is the governor of Montana, where he won reelection in 2016 even as Donald Trump won the state.Is he running? Maybe. In August, he said in Iowa, “I do have a story of how I’ve been able to bring people together, and I think that’s in part what our country desperately needs.”Why does he want to run? Bullock would portray himself as a candidate who can win in Trump country and get things done across the aisle. He’s also been an outspoken advocate of campaign-finance reform.Who wants him to run? Unclear. The Great Plains and Mountain West aren’t a traditional base for national Democrats.Can he win the nomination? Maybe, but it’s an outside chance.(Phil Long / Reuters)SHERROD BROWNWho is he? By statute, I am required to mention the senator from Ohio’s tousled hair, rumpled appearance, and gravelly voice.Is he running? Not yet, but he is seriously exploring the idea.Why does he want to run? Brown’s campaign would be focused on workers and inequality. He’s somewhat akin to Bernie Sanders, but his progressivism is of the midwestern, organized-labor variety, and he thinks he can win blue-collar voters in the Midwest while still pushing a strongly liberal platform.Who wants him to run? Leftist Democrats who think Sanders is too old and Elizabeth Warren too weak a candidate; lots of dudes in union halls in Northeast Ohio.Can he win the nomination? Possibly.What else do we know? Like Warren, Brown has a very good dog.(J. Scott Applewhite / AP)ERIC SWALWELLWho is he? Swalwell, who is 38, is a U.S. representative from California’s Bay Area.Is he running? He said in November that he was seriously considering it and would decide soon. A source told Politico it was a sure thing.Why does he want to run? Swalwell says the Democratic Party needs fresh blood. “We can’t count on the same old leaders to solve the same old problems,” he told The Mercury News. “It’s going to take new energy and new ideas and a new confidence to do that.”Who wants him to run? Swalwell’s seat on the House Intelligence Committee has made him a prominent Trump persecutor, but it’s still a bit of a mystery.Can he win the nomination? No? Let’s go with no.(Mark Tenally / AP)TERRY MCAULIFFEWho is he? Once known primarily as a close friend of Bill Clinton’s and a Democratic fundraising prodigy, McAuliffe reinvented himself as the governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018.Is he running? He told CNN on February 3 that he’d “like to” run, but hasn’t decided yet.Why does he want to run? McAuliffe holds up his governorship as proof that he can be a problem-solver and deal maker across the aisle, and his Clintonesque politics would be a contrast to many of the candidates in the field.Who wants him to run? It’s hard to say. McAuliffe’s tenure in office quieted some doubters, but the Clintons—both the people and their centrist policy approach—are out of style in the Democratic Party.Can he win the nomination? Probably not.(Jonathan Bachman / Reuters)TIM RYANWho is he? The Ohioan is a member of the House, representing Youngstown and America’s greatest city, Akron.Is he running? Not now, but he is toying with the idea and visiting Iowa and New Hampshire.Why does he want to run? Ryan is a classic Rust Belt Democrat and friend of labor, and he’s concerned about the fate of manufacturing. He is also an outspoken critic of Democratic leadership, mounting a quixotic challenge to Nancy Pelosi in 2017.Who wants him to run? Ryan comes from a part of Ohio that traditionally votes Democratic but swung to Trump, and he’d have supporters there.Can he win the nomination? Probably not. Members of the House seldom win the nomination; he’s got little national profile; and he might be competing against another Northeast Ohio Democrat with an overlapping set of concerns, Sherrod Brown.What else do we know?He’s big on meditation.(Brian Snyder / Reuters)SETH MOULTONWho is he? A third-term congressman from Massachusetts, Moulton graduated from Harvard, then served in the Marines in Iraq.Is he running? He says he’s thinking about it.Why does he want to run? In an interview with BuzzFeed, he said he felt the Democratic Party needs younger leaders and, alluding to his military career, “someone ... for whom standing up to a bully like Donald Trump isn’t the biggest challenge he or she has ever faced in life.”Who wants him to run? That’s not clear. With his sparkling resume and movie-star looks, Moulton has grabbed a lot of attention, but he doesn’t have an obviously strong constituency, and a rebellion against Nancy Pelosi’s leadership after the 2018 election fizzled.Can he win? It’s hard to say, but it’s inauspicious. Moulton is an untested campaigner outside of the House, and he wouldn’t even be the first young veteran to jump in, after Pete Buttigieg.(Kathy Willens / AP)BETO O’ROURKEWho is he? The man, the myth, the legend, the former U.S. representative from El Paso and Democratic candidate for Senate in Texas.Is he running? Not right now. O’Rourke seems genuinely torn about whether to try to capitalize on his election-losing-but-attention-winning 2018 Senate run and says he’ll decide by the end of February.Why does he want to run? O’Rourke is trying to figure that out. He’s young, hip, and inspirational, like Obama; like Obama, his reputation is perhaps more liberal than his voting record.Who wants him to run? A lot of livestream watchers and thirsty tweeters, a coterie of ex–Obama aides, and a bunch of operatives running the Draft Beto campaign.Can he win the nomination? Maybe, but don’t bet the farm on it.What else do we know? This video is very important.(Samantha Sais / Reuters)MICHAEL BENNETWho is he? The Coloradan was appointed to the Senate in 2009 and has since won reelection twice.Is he running? Not yet, but he sounds like he might. “We’ve got a million people that are going to run, which I think is great,” he said on Meet the Press on February 10. “I think having one more voice in that conversation that’s focused on America’s future, I don’t think would hurt.”Why does he want to run? Like his fellow Rocky Mountain State Democrat John Hickenlooper, Bennet presents himself as someone with experience in business and management who knows how to work with Republicans.Who wants him to run? Probably some of the same people who want Hickenlooper to run. Bennet gained new fans with a viral video of his impassioned rant about Ted Cruz during the January 2019 government shutdown.Can he win? Perhaps, but he’s got a crowded lane and only a small national profile.(Lawrence Bryant / REuters)STACEY ABRAMSWho is she? Abrams ran unsuccessfully for governor of Georgia in 2018, and was previously the Democratic leader in the state house.Is she running? At the moment, it seems more likely she’ll run for U.S. Senate against David Perdue in 2020, but she could still jump in.Why does she want to run? Throughout her career, Abrams has focused on bread-and-butter issues like criminal-justice reform and education, and since losing a 2018 election stained by problems with ballot access, she’s made voting rights a special focus.Who wants her to run? Abrams has drawn excitement from young Democrats, the liberal wing of the party, and African Americans. Her rebuttal to President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address won her new fans, and former Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer says she should run.Can she win? Maybe.(Mike Segar / Reuters)BILL DE BLASIOWho is he? The mayor of New York City.Is he running? No, but he hasn’t ruled it out, either.Why does he want to run? De Blasio was the harbinger of the Democratic Party’s leftward shift on economic issues, and they’d be at the center of his campaign, though the movement seems to have left him behind a bit.Who wants him to run? That’s precisely the problem. De Blasio’s term as mayor has been a little bumpy, and his attempts to build a national profile haven’t gotten far.Can he win the nomination? Doubtful.What else do we know? De Blasio would probably be the tallest candidate since Bill Bradley, in 2000. Both men are 6 foot 5.(Yuri Gripas / Reuters)ERIC HOLDERWho is he? Holder was the U.S. attorney general from 2009 to 2015, and he’s currently leading a Democratic redistricting initiative with help from some retiree named Barack Obama.Is he running? No, but in July he answered a question on the topic by saying, “Am I interested in it? Yeah, I’m interested!” He says he’ll decide in March.Why does he want to run? Holder has three big areas of interest: redistricting, civil rights, and beating Donald Trump by all means necessary.Who wants him to run? Tough to say. Obamaworld isn’t really lining up behind him, and he’s never held elected office, despite a successful Washington career.Can he win the nomination? Probably not.(Faith Ninivaggi / Reuters)MITCH LANDRIEUWho is he? Landrieu served as the mayor of New Orleans from 2010 to 2018. He was previously Louisiana’s lieutenant governor.Is he running? It seems unlikely. “Probably not, but if I change my mind, you’re going to be the first to know,” he told the New York Times editor Dean Baquet in December.Why does he want to run? Like the other mayors contemplating a run, Landrieu considers himself a problem-solver. He’s also become a campaigner for racial reconciliation, taking down Confederate monuments in New Orleans, and staking a claim for progressivism in the Deep South.Who wants him to run? Not clear.Can he win the nomination? Probably not, especially if he doesn’t run.(Jeenah Moon / Reuters)ANDREW CUOMOWho is he? Cuomo is the governor of New York. He was formerly the secretary of housing and urban development under Bill Clinton.Is he running? No. Though he's long toyed with the idea, Cuomo said in November 2018, "I am ruling it out." Then again, his father was indecisive about running for president, too.Why does he want to run? One can adopt a Freudian analysis related to his father's unfinished business, or one can note that Cuomo thinks he's got more management experience and success, including working with Republicans, than any Democratic candidate.Who wants him to run? Practically no one. Cuomo's defenders bristle that he doesn't get enough credit, but his work with Republicans has infuriated Empire State Democrats without winning any real GOP friends.(Yuri Gripas / Reuters)ERIC GARCETTIWho is he? Garcetti is the mayor of Los Angeles.Is he running? No. Garcetti flirted with the idea, visiting South Carolina and naming a hypothetical Cabinet full of mayors, but said on January 29 that he would not run.Why did he want to run? Garcetti’s pitch was that mayors actually get things done and that his lack of experience in Washington was a positive.Who wanted him to run? Garcetti was reelected in a landslide in 2017, but he had no apparent national constituency.(Andrew Harnik / AP)HILLARY CLINTONWho is she? Come on.Is she running? No, but until she issues a Shermanesque denial signed in blood—or the filing deadline passes—the rumors won’t die.Why does she want to run? She doesn’t.Who wants her to run? Pundits, mostly.Can she win the nomination? See above.(Mike Blake / Reuters)MICHAEL AVENATTIWho is he? Stormy Daniels’s lawyerIs he running?Nope nope nope nope.Why did he want to run? Attention, power, self-aggrandizementWho wanted him to run? Some very loud, very devoted fans.Could he have won the nomination? No, and his comment to Time that the nominee “better be a white male” was the final straw.(Matthew Putney / Reuters)TOM STEYERWho is he? A retired California hedge-funder, Steyer has poured his fortune into political advocacy on climate change and flirted with running for office.Is he running? No. He announced on January 9 that he would sit the race out.Why did he want to run?Impeachment, baby.Who wanted him to run? There must be some #Resistance faction out there that did.Could he have won the nomination? Nope.REPUBLICANS(Leah Millis / Reuters)DONALD TRUMPWho is he? Really?Fine. Is he running? Yes. He filed for reelection the day of his inauguration, though some speculate that he might decide not to follow through.Why does he want to run? Build the wall, Keep America Great, etc.Who wants him to run? Consistently about 35 to 40 percent of the country; a small majority consistently says he should not.Can he win the nomination? Yes. While his low approval ratings overall have stoked talk of a primary challenge, Trump remains very popular among Republican voters, and as president has broad power to muscle the GOP process to protect himself.What else do we know? There is nothing else new and interesting to know about Trump. You’ve made your mind up already, one way or another.(Stephan Savoia / AP)WILLIAM WELDWho is he? Weld, a former Justice Department official, was the governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997 and was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential nominee in 2016.Is he running? Yes. Weld announced plans to form an exploratory committee on February 15.Why is he running? Calling President Trump “unstable,” Weld said, “I think our country is in grave peril and I cannot sit any longer quietly on the sidelines.”Who wants him to run? Weld always inspired respect from certain quarters, and the 2016 Libertarian ticket did well by the party’s standards, but Weld’s unorthodox politics and hot-and-cold relationship with the GOP probably don’t help his support.Can he win the nomination? No.(Elizabeth Frantz / Reuters)JOHN KASICHWho is he? Kasich recently finished up two terms as governor of Ohio, previously served in the U.S. House, and ran in the 2016 GOP primary.Is he running? Not at the moment. On December 23, he told Fox News’s Chris Wallace, “I’m not trying to be coy. We are seriously looking at it.” Then, on January 15, he signed on as a CNN contributor, which is either a sign he’s decided against or a clever way to get airtime.Why does he want to run? Kasich has long wanted to be president—he ran, quixotically, in 2000. But Kasich has styled himself as a vocal Trump critic, and sees himself as an alternative to the president who is both truer to conservative principles and more reliable and moral.Who wants him to run? Maybe some dead-end never-Trump conservatives. It’s tough to say.Can he win the nomination?He doesn’t think so. Kasich previously ruled out an independent or third-party run, but has since reopened that door.What else do we know? John Kasich bought a Roots CD and hated it so much, he threw it out his car window. John Kasich hated the Coen brothers’ classic Fargo so much, he tried to get his local Blockbuster to quit renting it. George Will laughed at him. John Kasich is the Bill Brasky of philistinism, but John Kasich probably hated that skit, too.(Patrick Semansky / AP)LARRY HOGANWho is he? In November, Hogan became the first Republican to be reelected as governor of Maryland since 1954.Is he running? No, and people close to him doubt he will, but he has pointedly not ruled it out.Why does he want to run? Hogan is a pragmatic, moderate Republican who has won widespread acclaim in a solidly Democratic state—in other words, everything Trump is not.Who wants him to run? Never-Trump conservatives; whatever the Republican equivalent of a “good government” type is.Can he win the nomination? As long as Trump is running, no.(Official Senate PhotO)JEFF FLAKEWho is he? The Arizonan, a former U.S. House member, decided not to run for reelection to the Senate in 2019.Is he running? No. When he took a contributor role with CBS on January 23, he said he was not running.Why did he want to run? Starting in 2016, Flake was perhaps Trump’s most outspoken critic among elected Republicans, lambasting the president as immoral, unserious, and unconservative.Who wanted him to run? Liberal pundits.Could he have won the nomination? No. Flake retired because he didn’t even think he could win the Republican Senate nomination.INDEPENDENTS(JASON REDMOND / Reuters)HOWARD SCHULTZWho is he? That guy who used to sell you over-roasted coffee. Schultz stepped down as CEO of Starbucks in 2018.Is he running? Maybe. Schultz says he’s exploring it, but after a wave of backlash to his candidacy, his adviser Bill Burton said on January 29 that he wouldn’t decide until at least mid-2019.Why does he want to run? Personal pique over Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s support for a 70 percent marginal tax rate. No, seriously. Schultz has offered some vague platitudes about centrist ideas and bringing the country together, but most of it aligns with standard Democratic positions.Who wants him to run?Donald Trump.Can he win the nomination? The great thing about being a billionaire self-funder as an independent is that you don’t have to win a nomination. The downside is that you still have to win votes eventually.(Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters)JOHN MCAFEEWho is he? He's the guy who made your antivirus program-turned-international fugitive-turned-unsuccessful 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate. A typical politician, basically.Is he running? He says he's going to either vie for the Libertarian nomination again or run as an independent, though it's probably worth regarding what he says with some skepticism.Why does he want to run? To promote cryptocurrency, brah. “See, I don’t want to be president,” he told a crypto trade publication in November 2018. “I couldn’t be ... no one’s going to elect me president, please God. However, I’ve got the right to run.”Who wants him to run? Rubberneckers, disaster enthusiasts.Can he win the nomination? “No one’s going to elect me president, please God.”What else do we know? You want to see what it's like as the opposite sex for three hours? What being kissed by God feels like? You want the infinite experience of freedom? Knowledge of yourself? Eroticism that incinerates you? A simple good time? Forgetfulness? He's your man.
  • The Gun Violence That’s a Bigger Threat to Kids Than School Shootings
    Gun violence has killed nearly 1,200 children in the United States since the school massacre in Parkland, Florida, one year ago. Few of these deaths became the focus of the nation’s attention. Maybe that’s because these killings were so mundane, so normal, in the 21st-century United States.A few weeks after the Parkland shooting, a 17-year-old high-school student in Birmingham, Alabama, named Courtlin Arrington, who’d long dreamed of becoming a nurse, was shot and killed in class, just months before she was to graduate. In July, three siblings—the oldest of whom was 6—were, according to news reports, murdered along with their mother by their father, who used the same gun to kill himself. A few months after that, a 17-year-old budding entrepreneur in Dayton, Ohio, named Lashonda Sharreice Childs was allegedly murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Just days before her death, according to local news media, Childs had written in a Facebook post that “domestic violence is real,” that it wasn’t “just in movies.” In December, Izabella “Izzy” Marie Helem was shot to death at the age of 4. Izzy’s 3-year-old brother had been playing with a gun he found in their grandmother’s Lebanon, Indiana, home and accidentally fired it in her direction.While the rate of firearm-related homicides has declined since its peak in the 1980s, gun violence is the second most common cause of death among children in the U.S., according to one recent study, and its role in youth fatalities has expanded significantly in recent years.  Seldom do such fatalities result from high-profile campus massacres like that in Parkland, Florida, last February, when a 19-year-old former student slaughtered 17 people, including 14 students.[Read: The Parkland students aren’t going away]Seldom do those fatalities happen on school campuses at all, in fact. While comprehensive data are limited, a 2017 study found that the majority—85 percent—of children 12 or younger who were shot to death from 2003 to 2013 were killed in a home. Roughly four in 10 kids aged 13 to 17 who were killed with a gun also died in a home; another four in 10 were killed in the streets. Meanwhile, nearly two in three of the country’s gun deaths (of all ages) are the result of suicide, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of federal data. The remaining third are homicides, the analysis notes, and public mass shootings make up less than 1 percent of firearm fatalities, according to separate reporting by The New York Times.Research published late last February by James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University professor who has studied mass murders since the 1980s, underscores the rarity of Parkland-like incidents of gun violence. In his analysis, co-written by the doctoral student Emma Fridel, Fox rejects the characterization of mass school shootings as a national “epidemic.” Focusing on data spanning roughly the past two decades, the researchers found that of the 20 to 30 mass murders that occur on average each year, about one of them takes place at a school. (A mass shooting is defined as one with four or more fatalities.) The shooting incidents involving students, they show, have grown less frequent than they were in the 1990s, when the number of children killed in schools was four times what it is today.Taken collectively, the data indicate that children who are the victims of gun violence are far more likely to experience it in incidents smaller in scope and greater in frequency than public mass shootings—incidents like those that took the lives of Courtlin and Lashonda and Izzy, from drive-by shootings to murder-suicides to preventable accidents. The cities where such violence is most common also tend to have high concentrations of low-income people of color. A review of a recent project profiling each child who was shot to death in the year since Parkland shows that most victims were youth of color, many of them in neighborhoods where community gun violence is common. African Americans comprise nearly two-thirds of gun-homicide victims among people ages 15 to 29, for example, which makes them 18 times more likely than their white peers to be murdered this way. But the more-mundane shootings, and the ones that mainly affect people of color, tend to get far less media attention than those that occur in suburban or relatively affluent and predominantly white communities.Even incidents that do take place on campuses are rarely mass killings. Mass school shootings account for less than 1 percent of the gun-violence incidents on K–12 campuses, according to a recent report co-published by the country’s two largest teachers’ unions and Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for stricter gun control. From 2013 to 2018, slightly more than half  of these school-based incidents were intentional, small-scale shootings. Typical scenarios involved arguments between two individuals that escalated, acts of domestic violence, parking-lot altercations, and robberies that somehow involved the campus.Unintentional shootings—such as when a California high-school math teacher accidentally fired his gun in a safety demonstration during class last March, causing debris from the classroom ceiling to fall and strike a 17-year-old in the neck—made up about a fifth of these incidents. Another 12 percent were either uncategorized or the result of legal intervention; a police officer firing a gun at a potential shooter, for instance. The remaining 12 percent involved suicide deaths or attempts.Mass school shootings like Parkland are clearly an anomaly within the landscape of gun violence in the U.S. But these sorts of incidents are at the center of a lot of high-profile activism. The Parkland students had unusual success in galvanizing a national conversation around gun control. Last February, still raw from the violence they witnessed, the students quickly swept much of the country into their movement, appearing in the press and at rallies and spearheading the massive gun-reform protest March for Our Lives just weeks after the shooting.As I reported last year, these teens’ eloquence and political savvy, which themselves captured public attention, were at least partly a testament to the robust curriculum offered at their public school. Most of the activists are also white or relatively well-off, I wrote, which might have helped earn them the outpouring of sympathy and solidarity they received. But the Parkland teens ensured that their movement included students of color, and acknowledged the steady drip of community gun violence that so many of their less-privileged peers endure. Youth activists out of cities such as Chicago and Baltimore helped to organize March for Our Lives as well.Read: How America outlawed adolescenceNonetheless, the Parkland shooting unsurprisingly remained the focus of much of the March for Our Lives coverage. Ever since the Columbine massacre two decades ago, school shootings have remained at the forefront of the conversation about protecting kids from gun violence. The Columbine shooting led to safety reforms in districts across the country, as have many school shootings since. But these efforts can make schools into a stressful environment for students. Often, this punitive culture—namely, the presence of campus law enforcement—makes its way less into predominantly white, middle-class, or affluent communities, where high-profile shootings tend to happen, and more into places where the other less-recognized but more constant forms of gun violence are common.In predominantly black or Latino schools, where metal detectors, police officers, and zero-tolerance discipline policies are the norm, students might be seen as delinquent by default. Research suggests that constant surveillance and presence of police, many of whom harbor racial biases, can actually exacerbate such violence. Some studies have found a correlation between punitive discipline and a greater prevalence of campus disorder and reduced academic performance.“Black and brown people in this country are [often] criminalized by the violence of white students,” argues Jonathan Stith, the national coordinator for Alliance for Educational Justice, which advocates against punitive school policies. (Most mass shooters are white men.) This mirrors the imbalances in what kinds of gun violence the general public hears and talks about. An overemphasis on a small subset of the problem not only misrepresents where most of the danger lies, but can also inadvertently punish the wrong people. Stith told me about a meeting he attended in Chicago with some youth of color, including a young black woman who said something he's always remembered: “When I was [a teenager] and young people were killed in Chicago, nobody came for us. Nobody cared.’”
  • Reckless Even by Roger Stone Standards
    Updated at 12:00 pm E.T. on February 19, 2019.Roger Stone, the trash-talking, Richard Nixon–tattooed Donald Trump adviser recently indicted for lying to Congress and threatening a witness, had an eventful Presidents’ Day. In the space of time you or I might enjoy a leisurely brunch, Stone posted an online attack on United States District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding in his case, then altered the post, deleted the post, offered a defense for the post, and finally had his lawyers file a “notice of apology” for the post in federal court. None of this is normal, not even in 2019.This surreal chain of events began—as many do—on Stone’s Instagram page, where he has been relentlessly decrying his prosecution and soliciting defense funds. “Through legal trickery Deep State hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointed Judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges against Hillary Clinton and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime,” Stone proclaimed. He added a picture of Jackson with a small symbol in the upper-left-hand corner—a cross in a circle, or, according to some, crosshairs.Stone’s gripe is nonsense. Jackson caught Stone’s case because she was previously assigned a related case, an utterly routine practice in federal court. She revoked Paul Manafort’s bond and jailed him before trial because he tampered with witnesses, which will get you detained by any judge no matter who appointed her. Jackson didn’t “dismiss the Benghazi charges against Hillary Clinton,” because Clinton was never charged with a crime. Rather, she dismissed a civil lawsuit against Clinton on the rather mundane grounds that it was barred by the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988, which makes suing federal employees for things they did in the course of their job very difficult. Stone’s post was more of his customary legal fabulism.[Quinta Jurecic: A confederacy of grift]Federal criminal defendants are not, as a rule, famed for self-control. But Stone’s attack on the judge presiding over his case is reckless even by his standards. Some have speculated that Stone, always fumbling for an angle, may have wanted to force Jackson to withdraw from the case. That won’t work. Federal courts have long held that a party can’t insult or antagonize a judge and then demand her recusal on the theory that the insults have biased her. That’s why President Trump couldn’t force United States District Judge Gonzalo Curiel off his case with his bigoted and boorish claims that Curiel’s ethnic background disqualified him from hearing the Trump University case. In fact, a party can’t even force a judge off a case by threatening her—and some have tried. The reason is obvious: If a litigant could force a judge to drop a case with deliberate misbehavior, then insults and threats would fly and dockets would descend into chaos.Though foolhardy, Stone’s attack on Jackson is not, as some have suggested, a violation of Jackson’s recent gag order. Jackson ordered the lawyers in the case not to make statements “that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.” With respect to Stone and the witnesses in the case, Jackson only prohibited misbehavior on the courthouse steps and in the immediate vicinity—thus taking advantage of judges’ power to control their immediate surroundings to assure orderly litigation. Stone’s Instagram post doesn’t qualify.Other critics quickly proclaimed that Stone had committed a criminal threat or unlawful incitement by posting the picture with a symbol they interpreted as crosshairs. That’s possible, but unlikely. Rhetoric like Stone’s is protected by the First Amendment unless it is designed, and likely, to cause imminent lawless action, such as a speaker urging a crowd to attack nearby protesters. Even if you take Stone’s Instagram post as an attempt to incite, it almost certainly doesn’t urge sufficiently immediate action.[David Frum: Roger Stone’s arrest is the signal for Congress to act]Similarly, it’s questionable whether Stone’s post is a “true threat”—the sort of threat outside First Amendment protection. A true threat is a threat that a reasonable person would interpret as a sincere expression of intent to do harm, and that the speaker knew would be taken that way. Stone, who has a history of pushing questionable content from erratic sources, apparently cut and pasted the picture from a conspiracy website. This has led to trouble before, such as the time that Stone—accidentally, he says—republished a photo with swastikas. It would be difficult, given Stone’s established history of careening from one reckless utterance to another, to show that he meant this one as a sincere threat. “I’m sorry, Your Honor, but my client only intended to insult you and didn’t even notice the crosshairs” is not the defense I’d choose, but we go to court with the clients we have, not the clients we want.Stone’s lawyers submitted a startlingly quick and unprecedented apology to the court, e-filing a statement that Stone “recognizes the impropriety” and attaching Stone’s dubious claim that he had “no intention of disrespecting the court.” The apology’s real message is from the lawyers: We’re sorry, Your Honor, that we can’t control our client. Will it be enough to spare Stone from consequences? Probably. Jackson has shown that, like many wise federal judges, she prefers to avoid drama and unnecessary confrontations. Stone has apologized and deleted the post, and any sanction against Stone would only feed into his thirst for spectacle.Jackson won’t forget what happened, though, and one day she could be tasked with sentencing Stone. Never gratuitously annoy the person who is deciding how long you’ll spend in federal prison. I shouldn’t have to tell people these things, but here we are.(Minutes after this article posted, Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued an Order to Show Cause directing Roger Stone to appear at a hearing on February 21, 2019 to determine whether the gag order should be broadened or his bail should be modified or revoked in light of his Instagram post. This is an excellent lesson in humility for pundits like me who speculate on what judges might do. At the hearing, Judge Jackson might broaden the gag order to prohibit Stone from a broader range of speech and might revoke Stone’s bail or modify the terms of his release based on his post. All of those acts would have significant First Amendment implications. She may also simply chastise Stone and tell him to behave. I’ll refrain from a prediction.)
  • The Uncomfortable and Profound Authenticity of Roma
    That was me, I whispered to myself when, early in Roma, a maid named Cleo (played by Yalitza Aparicio) perched on the edge of a sleeping child’s bed one morning. I whispered those words again when Cleo peeled eggs for young Pepe (Marco Graf) at breakfast while he shared his dreams of becoming a pilot. As I watched Alfonso Cuarón’s sumptuous black-and-white Netflix drama about a domestic worker employed by a middle-class family in the La Roma neighborhood of 1970s Mexico, I flitted back and forth: I was Cleo. I was also the children.As someone who was raised by maids and who later worked as one, I found that the most authentic moments in Roma were also the subtlest: the silent expressions and gestures of tenderness that blur the line between family member and employee. It’s this in-between space where the complicated love between Cleo and her employer’s family takes root.Whether in France where I worked, in Singapore where I was raised, or in Mexico where Roma is set, many live-in maids do similar tasks: preparing meals, washing laundry, cleaning the house, caring for pets, and watching over children. In Roma’s opening scene, the camera lingers on a shot of soapy water flowing toward a drain before panning to introduce a slight, dark-skinned figure. By her dress, her posture, and the deftness with which she handles her brush and bucket, we know she is a maid. The repeated images of the dog feces Cleo is forced to clean from this driveway underscore Cuarón’s sympathy for the tedious, filthy work maids do, how invisible and lonely the labor is.But Roma—which is competing for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture, on Sunday—would be empty and arduous if it only re-created the pain of domestic work. A semiautobiographical tale dedicated to Cuarón’s childhood maid, Liboria “Libo” Rodríguez, the movie is most profound when it amplifies the complex role of a maid within a family. As I learned in my childhood home, and later as an adult, outside the realm of housework lie other unspoken forms of responsibility: pleasing the patriarchs and matriarchs, guiding the children through emotional turmoil, having to be everyone’s caretaker and broken-heart-mender, all the while being subject to a family’s mercurial moods.Take the particular intimacy between Cleo and her employer, Sofía (Marina de Tavira, who’s nominated for an acting Oscar alongside Aparicio). In one scene, a desperate Sofía, agitated at her strained relationship with her husband, scolds Cleo for not cleaning the feces off the driveway, as if that mess could’ve been why the man deserted his family for another woman. Later, when Sofía’s son listens in on his mother’s conversation about her impending divorce, Sofía emerges from the phone call frantic and embarrassed. She alternates between reassuring her son and shouting at Cleo for not stopping the boy from eavesdropping, an outburst that’s more cathartic than instructive. Sofía has the luxury of maintaining her composure with her children in part because she can take out her anger on an ever-patient Cleo.NetflixSo often, maids like Cleo are expected to be the unflinching center of calm to whatever hurricane might be swirling in the household where they work. I learned this at home in Singapore. Even though my family was relatively poor, we always had a woman at home to pick up after us. If my mother were distraught over her husband or children, the maid also quietly absorbed those frustrations. Years later, I experienced this dynamic from a different perspective while working as an au pair in France; a father coming home late at night might mean I’d be the outlet for his wife’s unhappiness. Maybe a maid doesn’t seem fragile because she—80 percent of the 67 million domestic workers in the world are women—is ostensibly outside the family’s struggles. Maybe the employer just can’t fathom that a maid could feel a family’s sorrow as well.Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) hugs a child after telling her employer Sofía (Marina de Tavira) about her pregnancy. (Carlos Somonte / Netflix / Everett Collection)The connection between Sofía and Cleo, as in many employer-maid relations, is all the more fraught because Sofía’s anger is interspersed with gestures of affection—like when Cleo reveals news of her pregnancy, and later when Sofía declares to Cleo in solidarity: “We women are always alone!” Cleo, herself abandoned by the boy who impregnated her, becomes an ally when Sofía requires it. This dynamic was familiar to me: When my parents divorced because of my father’s affair, my mother became volatile. Sometimes she was exceptionally gentle and friendly toward Amy, our maid then; other times, she was aggressive and violent. Amy, in return, always tended to my mother kindly, as though she were her wounded ward.In Roma, the way de Tavira veers between fawning wife, doting mother, and erratic boss makes for an unsettling but lively performance well deserving of an Oscar nomination. A first-time actor, Aparicio more than holds her own, treading around de Tavira with unnerving poise. When her employer slights her, Cleo reacts with a practiced deference and collectedness that’s heartbreaking to watch.As knotty as the relationship between Cleo and Sofía is, Roma is most fascinating when it examines the love between the maid and the four children in her care. In an early scene, Cleo has to stop washing clothes to soothe Pepe after he’s snubbed by his older brother. She plays dead with Pepe on the roof; together, they’re two small bodies lying down and looking at the sky in one grand, wide shot. While Cleo is hired primarily to clean and to shepherd children, Cuarón understands that what makes her special is what she’s not explicitly hired for: to be a surrogate parent; an older, wiser sibling; or a playmate, as the situation entails. That isn’t par for the course with “caretaking,” but something Cleo and many maids I know go above and beyond to do, out of love. These women become patchwork parents, balancing menial chores with the hard emotional labor of filling the gaps in the family unit.[Read: ‘Roma’ is the latest entry in Alfonso Cuarón’s feminist oeuvre]In my memories of being cared for by nannies, I often felt as if I had a second mother, one who was consistent, present, and generous with her time, and whose emotional clockwork mirrored mine. When my father left the family, our maid at that time, Lena, cried with me and my grandmother in the kitchen. “Poor thing,” Lena murmured as we pressed into her. She held both of our trembling frames, trying to be strong, yet her face was as wet as ours. And when my younger brother was diagnosed with diabetes, Jane, our maid then, broke down in sobs late at night—something I only know because I shared a room with her. She followed his health changes with fervor, traded days off to keep my brother company. Eleven years later, when I met her in Dubai, where she was working, she was glad to see me but admitted,“How I wish your brother were here.” He’d been on her mind the whole time.Later, when I worked as an au pair, I learned my place was not on the family’s couch, but in the kitchen, where I could whip up treats for the children before I put them to bed. Still, I’d hold them after their parents yelled at them for not doing their homework well, or for not finishing their food. I dried tears, combed hair, fixed collars. If they didn’t behave, it was my fault; if they were upset and didn’t calm down, I wasn’t doing a good enough job. I was 22, and it seemed as if the welfare of the entire family rested on my shoulders. So I learned, as an outsourced proxy parent, how to dote without being in the parents’ way. I understood the soft power of domestic work, having been taught by maids in my own home, and being on the receiving end of their love for years.netflixOne of the most poignant images in Roma is of Cleo gazing out the window with a child lying on her after she has lost her own. In an apparent effort to be kind, Sofía invites Cleo on a family trip to the beach, claiming it will take her mind off her stillbirth; in reality, Cleo is still supposed to keep an eye on the children and support Sofía when she breaks the news of her divorce at dinner. Watching these scenes, it’s hard not to get the sense that Cleo’s enormous capacity for love is being redirected from her own child onto Sofía’s kids—so much so that Cleo risks her life to save two of them from drowning, despite being unable to swim. In a scene of surreal calm captured in a lengthy tracking shot, Cleo strides through rising waters without flailing her arms or screaming. Cuarón keeps us wondering: How did she do that? Who is she?The director portrays Cleo as a saintly figure of unfathomable love and responsibility. In her commonplace job, she’s a miracle worker who always endures—a depiction that frustrated some writers. “Instead of lending her character dimensionality, Cleo’s tribulations begin to feel cartoonishly grim,” Dan Schindel argued in Hyperallergic.“And even if the film’s climax doesn’t ultimately affirm that Cleo is ‘part of the family,’ it still feels like it overly sentimentalizes her position with them.” But I’m not sure I read the climactic scene on the beach as excessively sentimental. The film’s most famous image,  in which Sofía and her children heap like wet sand to Cleo after her lifesaving act, looks a lot like entrapment: Cleo is their pillar of strength, yet she is completely overcome by them. Cuarón himself has said “that embrace is as much a hug as a cage.”  And if the movie’s view of Cleo seems “clouded” and distant, as Schindel writes, that might be because a maid’s role is truly so enigmatic, as I’ve explored. There’s a good reason Roma has garnered so much attention not just from arthouse-film enthusiasts, but also from activist groups and domestic workers who’ve praised the movie’s accurate portrayal of the delicate dance maids must perform. Some critics weren’t convinced of Roma’s authenticity, however. In a tweet, The New Yorker’s Richard Brody (who also wrote a longer takedown of the movie) criticized “upper-middle-class filmmakers depicting heroic manual laborers as deprived of discourse, as strong silent (terse and quiet) types,” calling such movies “failures of observation and imagination.”But it seems, at least to me, as though Cuarón is being realistic. Being strong and silent is a necessity for many maids, and in my case as in Cleo’s, communication is made much harder when we’re not able to work in our native language. (I was tottering in French; Pepe explicitly orders Cleo not to speak in her indigenous Mixtec language, Tu’un Savi, at the beginning of the film.) And if Roma is uncomfortable to watch, that’s perhaps because it also shows how class divisions and hierarchies are ingrained from an early age. By virtue of having a maid, the family’s children now have a grown woman at their disposal, to fetch them food or save them when they stray too far, whose language they can dictate.In Roma, I saw what looked like a man’s attempt at some sort of atonement. The film reads like a way for Cuarón to process how much his maid, Libo, might have had to put up with on his behalf, an effort to see the politics and loaded gestures he missed as a young child. In Cuarón’s enormous ambit as producer, writer, cinematographer, editor, and director, he can be seen as indicting a family—for perpetuating class-based inequalities, for being ambivalent about their maid’s struggles—and by extension his own. I expected Roma to touch some nerves, particularly because it shows the callous, inconsistent, and often selfish treatment of domestic workers. Yet I’d hazard that Cuarón would hardly be surprised at this reaction. It seems exactly as he intended.
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  • All the Denver and Colorado locations spotted on “The Bachelor” with Colton Underwood
    After last week’s “Bachelor” episode, when nearly half the cast went home – some voluntarily – Colton is wracked with indecision. Except, his whole job is to be decisive. That’s all you do on “The Bachelor.” You choose. But when some of the departing women recite the dreaded incantation, “not here for the right reason,” Colton must figure out whom to trust. We also saw another contestant voluntarily leave — the third this season, perhaps setting a record for the number of women who have dumped the Bachelor of their own accord. First Elyse, then Sydney — and now Heather. We’re down to the final four. The best moment. In an otherwise forgettable episode, Hannah B. and Heather both turn their goodbyes into lady power moments. First up was Hannah B.’s one-on-one date in Colton’s hometown, Denver. She had previously told Colton she was falling in love with him, and this week her reward was meeting the parents. While she thinks she’s getting a hometown rose, those of us who’ve watched “The Bachelor” before know that meeting the parents before the final three means the Bachelor can’t make up his mind. Colton’s dad’s big advice: Trust your gut. On to dinner. Hannah B. steps out of the limo in a pink gown she’d clearly been saving for her big moment. (Twitter went crazy for it — the shoulder pads, the sleeves. The $595 price tag. Is that polyester? Where can your recappers buy it?) But Colton wastes no time: “I spent so much time questioning who’s ready, and I didn’t get to look in the mirror and ask myself if I’m ready for … us.” Ouch. But then Hannah turns the whole breakup around with the line that won the night: “I will not allow myself to not feel chosen every single day, and I’ll wait until whenever that is.” Colton continues on with (unnecessary) words of encouragement: “Just know that there is someone out there for you.” To which Hannah B. responds: “I know that.” And just like that, everyone on Twitter forgot how they felt about her dress. But as if to solidify her spot on “Bachelor in Paradise,” Hannah B. suggestively warns Colton that some of the women left are not here for the right reasons, and steps into the limo. This makes her the fourth woman to say this to Colton. Why does everyone keep saying this? Is this what makes Colton jump the fence? Nope. On to the group date, where Colton’s big plan is to ask everyone their intentions. But before he can listen to his gut, Heather uses her one-on-one time to send herself home. She says she can’t bring him home to her family because she’s not sure how she feels. But really Heather is setting herself free. Enjoy your 20s, Heather! The worst moment. Colton is not a confident man. To the contrary, he sometimes seems to be animated entirely by his anxiety. For weeks he’s been intermittently telling the camera (and sometimes the women competing for his affection) that one thing terrifies him above all else: the possibility that he might fall for someone who’s “not ready” for love. In this episode, he evokes that fear so often that we lost count. An abbreviated sample: “My ultimate fear in all of this. I’m confident in all the decisions I make. But I just don’t want to make a mistake,” he admits. “My greatest fear in all of this is I get to the end, I’m crazy, madly in love,” he says, “but I miss something.” “It’s terrifying for me. If I get down on one knee … and it doesn’t get reciprocated,” he frets. “That’s my worst fear.” And so on. And on. And on. “It sucks,” he observes, as if summing up his whole season. “This is my greatest fear.” As this refrain ultimately reveals, what really freaks him out is the prospect that some of these women want anything other than his finite and inevitably divided attention. Of course a few of the women are there for the Instagram followers, for the #sponcon possibilities, maybe even for the chance of being the next Bachelorette! There’s no shame in that, and the only reason they have to pretend otherwise is that the show has told them that the real crime is being there for the “wrong reasons.” And yet, the mere prospect that things might be otherwise leaves Colton paralyzed with dread. In other words, Colton’s worst, greatest, ultimate fear seems to be one that is framed entirely within the discourse of the show itself. It is as if he has internalized the logic of “The Bachelor” so fully that it has annihilated his own psychic life, leaving him with nothing to fear but what Chris Harrison tells him is fearful. With each repeated complaint, quaking Colton seems to be writing an addendum to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: His is a phobia defined solely by the prospect that a “Bachelor” contestant might be … a contestant on “The Bachelor.” The weirdest moment. “Bachelor” Twitter, which is both a loving and spiteful place, was mostly preoccupied with the fact that Colton did not yet run away from the show and jump over an extremely tall fence, a moment that was teased in the first episode that the show has yet to deliver. But on the group date, Heather Has-Been-Kissed got one of the most awkward farewells on the show: After arriving to the group date in an old-timey sightseeing locomotive, she decides she does not choo-choo-choose Colton and voluntarily leaves the show so she can kiss more dudes. The rest of the women do not witness her departure but realize Heather’s time is up when they hear the mournful toooooooooot. Colton walks her over to the train, and they kiss goodbye. (Kissing! She does it all the time now!) And then she gets on the caboose, which chugs its way out of Bachelor Gulf at an extremely awkward and low speed, banishing Heather to fend for herself as a zinc miner in the Yukon territory. Actually, Heather has probably bought herself a one-way Acela ticket to “Bachelor in Paradise,” where she will go on to kiss many more men. There’s a whole world out there for you, Heather! With no wall jump, “Bachelor” Twitter latched onto the train ride’s absurdity, filling our timelines with “Thomas the Tank Engine” memes and Harry Potter. At the hometown visit episode next week, we’ll see which of the four remaining relationships — Cassie, Hannah G., Caelynn, Tayshia — are on the right track. The  Feb. 18 episode of “The Bachelor” proved to be a fun experience for locals as the entire episode took place in Denver and the Colorado mountains. A familiar face, Ben Higgins, appeared in the episode too when he met up with Colton Underwood at his new LoHo restaurant, Ash’Kara. Among the local places spotted where where they stayed: Underwood was put up in Cherry Creek’s Jacquard hotel, while the women stayed in Capitol Hill at the Patterson Inn. The bulk of his dates took place in LoDo, Loveland and Georgetown, and Caelynn Miller-Keyes got a private Red Rocks performance by Brett Young. Those weren’t the only places spotted, though. Here’s a list: Denver and Colorado locations on “The Bachelor” • Denver Pavilions • Confluence Park • Union Station • Milk Market • Wings Over The Rockies • Loveland Pass • Loveland Ski Area • The Fort • Red Rocks • Georgetown Loop Railroad • Grant-Humphreys Mansion • Jacquard hotel • Denver Art Museum • Denver International Airport • Colorado Capitol • Ash’Kara • Coors Field • Stoic and Genuine • Denver Millennium Bridge • Milkbox Ice Creamery, Union Station • Patterson Inn
  • Don Newcombe dies: Former Dodgers great was the inaugural Cy Young Award winner
    LOS ANGELES — Don Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92. The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning after a lengthy illness. “Don Newcombe’s presence and life established him as a role model for Major Leaguers across the country,” Dodgers President Stan Kasten said. “He was a constant presence at Dodger Stadium, and players always gravitated to him for his endless advice and leadership. The Dodgers meant everything to him, and we are all fortunate he was a part of our lives.” Newcombe, like Dodgers teammate Jackie Robinson, was signed by Branch Rickey from the Negro Leagues and went on to make a huge mark in the major leagues. “Newk” was a fierce presence on the mound, a 6-foot-4 and 225-pound bear of a man who stared down hitters and backed up anyone foolish enough to crowd the plate. He was a four-time All-Star and won 20 games three different times. His greatest year was 1956 when he went 27-7 and won both the Cy Young Award, then only given to one pitcher for both leagues, and the National League MVP award. Newcombe, Robinson and catcher Roy Campanella were a trio of black stars for the Dodgers who often supported each other. “We came up with a strategy,” Newcombe later recalled. “We knew the impact we were attempting would have. We had to endure. (Robinson’s) character, his backbone, his guts — those were the keys. Jackie was the leader under Mr. Rickey.” The three talked frequently, Campanella and Newcombe from the Dodgers’ Nashua, New Hampshire, farm team and Robinson from Brooklyn. “We talked about how things were going,” Newcombe said. “What if somebody charged the mound on me? What would I do? Nobody did. Related Articles Manny Machado to Padres: Infielder agrees to 10-year, $300M deal with San Diego Bryce Harper is biggest story at Phillies camp, but he’s not a Phillie or in camp Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants manager, to retire after this season Andrew Toles has personal matter, doesn’t report to Los Angeles Dodgers “Our teams are trying”: Commissioner Rob Manfred says players share responsibility for MLB’s slow offseason “I remember in the New England league, a catcher threw dirt in Roy’s face. He said, ‘If you do that again, I’ll personally take your arm out of its socket.’ They challenged us. They did anything they could to break down the idea.” Newcombe’s Dodgers were perennial also-rans, who specialized in winning the National League pennant then losing the World Series to the Yankees. Newcombe played on three pennant winners with the Dodgers and the World Series champions in 1955, the year they finally beat the Yankees. Born June 14, 1926, in Madison, New Jersey, Newcombe pitched in the Negro Leagues starting in 1944 at age 18. In 1945 he had an 8-3 record with the Newark Eagles and won the attention of the Brooklyn Dodgers organization. In 1989, at a reunion of Negro League greats, Newcombe gave a speech in Atlanta where he reflected on his experience. “I wish that in some few words I could wipe away that pain you’ve suffered so long because you have skin this color,” he said. “We know that we would not be here today if it were not for the Negro Leagues. I thank God I had the chance to walk shoulder to shoulder with you.” Newcombe played in Nashua of the New England League and for teams in Montreal, Venezuela and Cuba before joining the parent club in 1949. He went 17-8 in 1949, his first season with the Dodgers and was named NL Rookie of the Year. Newcombe, Robinson and Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians became the first black players to appear in an All-Star game that season, when the Dodgers hosted the mid-season contest at Ebbets Field. On July 8, 1949, Newcombe and Hank Thompson of the New York Giants became the first black pitcher and hitter to face each other in a major league game. In 1950 Newcombe went 19-11, and in 1951 went 20-9, but he failed to win the season’s most important game. He was the starting pitcher in the decisive playoff series between the Dodgers and the Giants, and he held a 4-1 lead going into the ninth inning. But he gave up three hits to the first four batters and was replaced by Ralph Branca, who quickly achieved baseball infamy when Bobby Thomson lofted a pennant-winning home run, “the shot heard ’round the world.” Like many ballplayers of his generation, Newcombe lost some prime years to military service, giving the Army the 1952 and 1953 seasons. “Wait until next year” had become a virtual mantra in Brooklyn as the Dodgers won the National League title in 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953, only to lose the World Series every time. Then came 1955, “the year next year finally came” in Brooklyn parlance. The Dodgers finally beat the Yankees in the World Series and Newcombe went 20-5 during the regular season, winning 18 of his first 19 decisions. On the day of his 20th win he hit his seventh home run of the season, a National League record for a pitcher at the time. But Newcombe always struggled in the postseason. He lost the first game of the 1955 series to the Yankees and was passed over in favor of Johnny Podres after preparing to pitch in Game 7. He was 0-4 with an 8.59 ERA in career World Series appearances. In his MVP year of 1956, Newcombe became the first black pitcher to lead either league in wins. Brooklyn won another pennant that year, but lost the World Series to the Yankees in seven games, with Newcombe defeated in the final game. Newcombe faded quickly after 1956 as he pitched for the transplanted Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians. He had a brief resurgence for the Reds, going 13-8 with a 3.16 ERA in 1959. In a 10-year major-league career he had a record of 149-90 record and a 3.56 ERA. He pitched for Spokane, Washington, in the Pacific Coast League in 1961 and finished his professional career in Japan in 1962. Alcoholism helped lead to his early retirement. He gave up drinking in later years and worked for drug and alcohol prevention programs. He continued working for the Dodgers, most recently as special adviser to the chairman. He was a frequent presence at the stadium in recent years, always nattily attired in a suit and tie with a fedora atop his head. He took part with Sandy Koufax in a first pitch ceremony before Game 7 of the 2017 World Series vs. Houston at Dodger Stadium and was at the park for last fall’s World Series vs Boston. In 2011, Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander joined Newcombe as the second man to sweep the sport’s three major awards. Newcombe introduced Verlander at the following year’s Baseball Writers Association dinner. Newcombe wasn’t elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, due mostly to his Army and alcohol-shortened career. He kept virtually no memorabilia from his career. He sold his Rookie of the Year, MVP, and Cy Young trophies, along with his World Series ring, to filmmaker Spike Lee. He pushed for greater pension rights for former Dodgers and promoted the idea of a national holiday to honor Jackie Robinson. In 1968, Newcombe met with Martin Luther King Jr. just 28 days before the civil rights leader’s assassination. King had dinner at Newcombe’s home in Los Angeles before returning to Atlanta. According to Newcombe, King told him, “Don, you’ll never know how easy you and Jackie and Doby and Campy made it for me to do my job by what you did on the baseball field.” Newcombe outlived most of his Dodger teammates and was deeply affected when Campanella and Don Drysdale died within a week of each other in 1993. “When tragic things happen, it gets the guts out of you,” he said at the time. “You try to be strong, but when those things happen you break down and cry like a baby.” “You want these tragedies to stop,” he said. “You want to say, ‘Hey, God, hold on a minute. What are your plans for us?’ You want an answer, but there is no answer.”
  • Nederland’s Barker Reservoir shoreline marches away from town
    Nederland Mayor Kristopher Larsen is a planetary scientist who worked years ago on testing Mars rovers before their deployment to the red planet. Researchers would take their hardware places such as the Mohave or Black Rock deserts to do so. Lately, Larsen’s had an odd thought when driving past Nederland’s Barker Reservoir, its wintertime shoreline now receded eastward away from town far enough to expose several football fields’ worth of arid brown dirt and scattered rocks. “I’m looking at it thinking, we could do Mars rover testing there,” he joked. “The other day, the wind was gusting 85, 86 mph, and there was a dust cloud coming off the dried part; I had never seen that big a dust storm,” Larsen said. “It looked like something you would see down in Arizona. Related Articles Colorado drought report: Southwest faces long road back to normal; Front Range dry but better off PHOTOS: Despite drought, ranch life goes on in Western Colorado Arizona lawmaker accused of endangering Colorado River drought plan This year’s snowfall has been so good that rafters are already excited U.S. says 2 states must finish Colorado River drought plan “But other than aesthetics, I don’t think there’s really any effect” of the lake being so low. Larsen said a number of people around his mountain town, who are used to seeing Barker Reservoir drawn down during the winter, are nevertheless talking about its shrunken contours this winter and contending that it exceeds what they recall seeing in recent years. To read the full story, go to the Boulder Daily Camera
  • Neutrons used to examine Harvard’s priceless gold specimen
    ALBUQUERQUE — Scientists at a federal laboratory have helped to unravel some of the mysteries of a rare specimen of wire gold discovered at a Colorado mine more than 130 years ago. Officials at Harvard University’s mineral museum had asked Los Alamos National Laboratory for help in understanding more about the structure of the gold specimen known as the Ram’s Horn. They say it’s the finest known example of its kind. Related Articles Boulder-based Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha secures $3.5M investment Your smart light can tell Amazon and Google when you go to bed Human rights groups call on Apple and Google to review Saudi app that can track women Telemedicine’s challenge: Getting patients to click the app Berthoud Brewing launches a Loveland brewpub in 5030 Local No scientific studies previously had been published on the internal nature of the specimen. Scientists used neutrons from a half-mile-long particle accelerator at the New Mexico lab to see deeper into the sample. They determined it’s a mix of gold and silver and is composed of only a few single crystals. The specimen will be the centerpiece of an exhibit at Harvard’s Museum of Natural History in 2020.
  • Mikaela Shiffrin ties record for World Cup wins in a season with No. 14
    Not even a departure from the traditional slalom format could prevent Mikaela Shiffrin from claiming her 14th World Cup win of the season Tuesday to equal the single-season record set by Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider in 1989. Related Articles Mikaela Shiffrin makes history despite battling severe chest cold Mikaela Shiffrin settles for bronze medal in GS at world championships Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Anja Paerson defend Mikaela Shiffrin’s race selection Mikaela Shiffrin goes “off the grid” to recuperate after super-G win Lindsey Vonn crashes, Mikaela Shiffrin wins at world championships In a “city event” at Stockholm, Sweden, Shiffrin won her ninth slalom of the season, including the gold medal last Saturday at the world championships. In nine slaloms on the World Cup this season she has won eight and finished second in the other. Unlike the traditional alpine format of skiers racing one at a time, this one pitted them in a series of two-run duels in a knockout format. Shiffrin defeated Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway, Katharina Truppe of Austria and Anna Swenn Larrson of Sweden before prevailing in the finals against Christina Geiger of Germany. Having to make eight runs was especially taxing for Shiffrin given that she is still recovering from a bout of severe chest congestion that left her coughing and gasping for breath after winning her fourth straight world championships slalom title three days earlier at the Swedish resort of Are, 380 miles north of Stockholm. “Each run I was pretty good, but not always the fastest, so I was thinking, ‘OK, there’s going to be some luck as well,’ but I was consistent and tonight that was enough,” Shiffrin told a public address announcer in the finish area. “It was really fun, actually. I think I skied as well as I could. Even if I was healthy, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do better. Now I’m going to have some time to really recover. Anyway, it was a pleasure to ski, a little bit rough, but I think it was exciting.” Shiffrin said she wasn’t thinking about the wins record as the night unfolded. “I wasn’t expecting something from today,” Shiffrin said in the post-race news conference. “It was my hope that I could have a good enough result to keep my standings in the slalom and keep pushing on that. Tonight really wasn’t about that 14th victory.” Shiffrin now will get two weeks off, skipping downhill and super-G races the next two weekends, but she will have plenty of chances ahead to break the tie with Schneider. She has two slalom races and two giant slaloms remaining on her schedule, which ends at the World Cup finals March 11-17. She may decide to race the super-G at the finals, too. She leads the season super-G standings, but because she is skipping the next one at Rosa Khutor, Russia, three women could pass her in the standings before they get to the finals. “I never quarrel with a man who buys ink by the barrel,” former Indiana Rep. Charles Brownson said of the press. But we need your help to keep up with the rising cost of ink. Get your first month for just 99 cents when you subscribe to The Post.
  • Police seek charges against driver of RTD R-Line train that derailed, injuring 9
    Aurora police have recommended nine charges against the operator of an RTD R-Line train that derailed in a snowstorm Jan. 28, resulting in the ejection and serious injury of a passenger. Jeremiah Hartzell, 33, is being investigated for one count of first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault and five counts of third-degree assault, Aurora police confirmed Tuesday. RELATED: RTD: Speed caused Aurora derailment that severed woman’s leg; operator fired One woman’s leg was severed in the incident, and another eight passengers were injured when the train went off the tracks at a 90-degree curve at South Sable Boulevard and East Exposition Avenue. The 18th District Attorney’s Office will now have to decide which charges to prosecute in the case. Related Articles RTD: Speed caused Aurora derailment that severed woman’s leg; operator fired RTD lacks technology that might have prevented Aurora derailment that severed woman’s leg RTD train derails in Aurora, ejecting and seriously injuring a passenger RTD fired the train operator last week, citing speed as a “primary factor” in the derailment. The agency told The Denver Post that its light rail operators are trained to approach sharp curves at 10 mph and that the R-Line on Jan. 28 was traveling three times that speed. A Denver Post investigation published last week found that RTD does not have technology that can automatically slow or stop one of its light rail trains if it is traveling too fast on a curve. The federal agency that oversees light rail in the United States does not require that transit agencies have any kind of speed override safeguards on their systems. Police on Tuesday said the woman whose leg was severed in the derailment has asked for privacy.
  • CHSAA state wrestling preview: Names and story lines to know heading into the Pepsi Center
    With the CHSAA state wrestling tournament running Thursday through Saturday at the Pepsi Center, here are the biggest names and story lines to watch. Four seek a fourpeat. There’s plenty of individual history likely to be made this weekend as Ponderosa’s Cohl Schultz, Greeley Central’s Andrew Alirez, Pomona’s Theorius Robison and Pueblo County’s Brendon Garcia all seek their fourth state titles.  With another Class 5A heavyweight crown, Schultz can cement himself as possibly the greatest wrestler in Colorado prep history, while Robison (No. 1 seed at 5A 145), Alirez (No. 1 at 4A 152) and Garcia (No. 1 at 4A 113) are also heavy favorites in their respective weights. Three girls in the brackets. For the second time in Colorado wrestling history, three girls qualified for the state tournament in the same season, bring the total to a dozen female state qualifiers all-time. This winter, Valley junior Angel Rios (Class 3A 106 pounds), Sierra Grande/Centennial freshman Isabella Durgan (2A 182) and Skyview senior Jasslyn Gallegos (3A 106) will be competing. Last weekend, Rios became Colorado’s first-ever female regional champion, earning her a top-four seed in her state bracket which puts her in position to become the first girl to ever place at the tournament. Related Articles As Legacy’s Grady Funk eyes a Class 5A state title, the weight of his family’s wrestling name intensifies Some Denver high school sports teams forced to use replacement coaches during teachers strike Colorado girls wrestling division gets one step closer to reality Colorado Prep Stats Sizing up the team races. Pomona is clearly the frontrunner in Class 5A, as the Panthers bring a class-best 13 qualifiers to the Pepsi Center with every one of their wrestlers capable of netting team points. From freshman Elijah Olguin at 106 to senior Justin Pacheco at 132 to the three-time champion Robison, Pomona should have ample firepower to dethrone defending champion Grand Junction for the Panthers’ sixth state title and third in the last four years. Brighton (10 qualifiers), Grandview (9), Monarch (9) and Ponderosa (7) will also challenge in 5A, while 4A is headlined by Pueblo East, Pueblo County, and Windsor. Alamosa is the clear favorite to repeat in 3A and the 2A title will come down to defending champion Wray and Rocky Ford. Other names to watch. Beyond the four seniors aiming for a fourth state title, there’s plenty more premier talent across each class. Pueblo East’s Andy Garcia (seeded No. 1 in Class 4A 285), Windsor’s Dominick Serrano (No. 1 in 4A 132), Windsor’s Isiah Salazar (No. 1 in 4A 182) and John Mall’s Wesley Van Matre (No. 1 in 2A 138) are all chasing a third state title as juniors. Other returning big-school champions include Monarch’s Vince Cornella (wrestling at 113), Grand Junction’s Dawson Collins (120) and Grandview senior Fabian Santillan (132) in 5A; and Windsor’s Will VomBaur (120), Discovery Canyon’s Patrick Allis (126), Windsor’s Dominick Serrano (132), Longmont’s Drake Engelking (170) and Windsor’s Isaiah Salazar (182) in 4A. Schedule, tickets. Thursday’s action begins with preliminaries for Class 2A and 3A at 2 p.m., with big-school preliminaries scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday night.  Friday’s quarterfinals are at 9 a.m. for 2A/3A and 12:45 p.m. for 4A/5A, followed by semifinals for all classes at 6:45 p.m. Saturday’s Parade of Champions begins at 6:30 p.m., with title matches set to get underway after that. Tickets can be purchased online via Altitude Tickets. Journalism isn’t free. Show your support of local news coverage by becoming a subscriber.Your first month is only 99 cents.
  • Investigators detail how parking spot dispute led to fatal shooting of ex-CU Buff T.J. Cunningham
    What began as a dispute via text message between two neighbors over street parking ended in the death of an Aurora assistant principal who had played football for the University of Colorado and the Seattle Seahawks. Arapahoe County Sheriff's OfficeMarcus Johnson A probable cause statement from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office released Tuesday sheds light on how this weekend dispute turned deadly. Anthony “T.J.” Cunningham, an assistant principal at Aurora’s Hinkley High School, and Marcus Johnson lived across the street for each other. They had each other’s phone numbers. Early on Sunday, the two got into an altercation, sheriff’s spokeswoman Deborah Sherman said. “They were texting each other that morning back and forth,” she said. “They decided to settle it at the school.” RELATED: Former CU Buffs football player, Aurora assistant principal, shot in parking dispute dies The probable cause statement said that Cunningham’s brother, Tyrese McClintonel, went with him to nearby Eaglecrest High School in Aurora on Sunday to meet Johnson so the two could “box it out.” McClintonel told police that in the high school parking lot, Cunningham and Johnson walked toward each other, yelling expletives. Johnson told police that Cunningham carried a bottle. Johnson then allegedly shot Cunningham three times, according to the sheriff’s probable cause statement, striking the former football player in the head and chest. Police said Cunningham was unarmed. While police were responding to the shooting, dispatchers received a call from Johnson, who told them that he had “just shot his neighbor,” the police statement said. Cunningham was transported to the Parker Adventist Hospital after the shooting, but died Monday afternoon. Police arrested Johnson at his home after 9:30 a.m. Sunday on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, finding a black handgun in plain view in his car. The charge is being upgraded to first-degree murder in the wake of Cunningham’s death. Johnson appeared in Arapahoe County Court on Tuesday morning for an advisement hearing, and he is set to return to court Friday morning for the filing of charges. Related Articles Man shot in parking dispute identified as former CU Buffs football player, assistant principal One man shot in Adams County on Monday Northeast Denver officer-involved shooting sends two to hospital Tuesday night Cunningham, an Overland High School standout, played wide receiver and defensive back at the University of Colorado from 1992 to 1995. The Seattle Seahawks selected him 209th overall in the 1996 NFL draft. During his CU tenure, Cunningham was part of four bowl teams. He finished with 21 career receptions for 239 yards as a receiver, before switching to the defensive backfield in 1995. He played in nine games with Seattle in 1996, recovering one fumble. CU Athletic Director Rick George called Cunningham a “good family man” who “had a strong passion for working with young people as evidenced by serving as an assistant high school principal.”
  • Broncos Mailbag: Should Denver move up to draft Drew Lock, even with Joe Flacco?
    Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos Mailbag weekly during the season. You can pose a Broncos- or NFL-related question for the Broncos Mailbag here. Follow Ryan for more daily updates on Twitter. Compare and contrast Case Keenum‘s year with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017 versus last year with the Denver Broncos: The play calling, the types of plays called, surrounding skill players and the offensive line. Did the Broncos’ coaches utilize Keenum’s skill set in the best way possible? Will the new offensive coaches utilize Joe Flacco any better? As you might guess, I’m a big proponent of coaching to match the players’ skills. Vance Joseph and Bill Musgrave failed in that regard, I believe. Your thoughts? — David Brown, Lenexa, Kan. A lot to unpack here. Let’s start with Keenum’s 2017 with the Vikings. He had a career year — 11-3 record (most wins), 22 touchdown passes (ditto) and a 98.3 rating (highest). For the Broncos, he was 6-10 with 18 touchdowns, a career-high 15 interceptions and an 81.2 rating. The Real Keenum is somewhere in between those two statistical packages, if not closer to the Broncos. Basically, he came back down to where he was pre-2017. That’s why the Vikings chose not to re-sign him. A look at the ’17 Vikings and ’18 Broncos revolves around one thing: Minnesota gave up only 252 points; the Broncos allowed 349 points. Too often, Keenum had to chase the game, a product of a poorer defense, but also poorer game management (turnovers) on his part to help stake the Broncos to a lead. His interception percentage jumped from 1.5 to 2.6 percent. As for how the Broncos used him, I do believe his knee injury in October played a role in not moving him out of the pocket too often. But I disagree with the opinion that Musgrave was too committed to spreading the field out with three-receiver personnel. The Broncos gave it a shot with Keenum, didn’t like what they saw and have moved on to Flacco. By trading for Joe Flacco, the Broncos have pretty much assured us they’re going to trade up to the No. 5 spot this year, ahead of the Jaguars, to take Drew Lock. Flacco is not the answer at quarterback. He’s the tutor. (And a way to help sign a couple of free agents.) — Dan, St. Louis Wow! Didn’t expect to see this scenario and hadn’t given it any thought until Dan chimed in via email. The Broncos currently have the No. 10 pick. Tampa Bay currently holds the fifth pick. In my mock over the weekend, I had the Buccaneers taking Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. If anything, the Flacco trade means the Broncos should be in trade-down mode. They need to add players, not give away picks to move up for a quarterback. Trading up five spots would cost them this year’s second-rounder and maybe next year’s first-rounder. Not exactly the way to build a roster. Also, I can’t see Flacco as this master free-agent recruiter. Guys go for the money, period. RELATED: Denver Post NFL Mock Draft: Projecting Round 1 Hey Ryan, so now that Denver’s gone with Joe Flacco, how does John Elway approach the draft? — Mike, Castle Rock I got into it a little bit in the previous question and in Sunday’s newspaper. With Flacco in the fold, the Broncos believe they have properly addressed their starting quarterback for 2019 and maybe even 2020. I emphasize: That’s what they believe. If the Broncos need cornerback help in Round 1, they could trade down to No. 13 (Miami) or No. 15 (Washington) and still get one of the top corners. How I would approach the draft: Cornerback (after a trade down), quarterback and offensive line in the second round and then offensive line in rounds 3-4. I love the Vonster. I want Von Miller to be a Bronco for life. But is it fair to keep him on a team that will struggle to be .500 the next few years if we could trade him to a contender and receive two first-round picks? That could give us a legit chance to be a dominant team over the next 2-10 years (with our existing young talent)? — Chris Zavala, Dallas Von Miller said last month after a Pro Bowl walk-through that he wants to be with the Broncos “forever.” I do think it’s important for Miller to be a one-team guy who will be identified with the Broncos and only the Broncos after his career, which is on track for Canton. But fair has nothing to do with it. Sorry for being blunt. This is business. Trading Miller this offseason would be bad business and result in a $19.375 million “dead” salary cap hit per Over The Cap. If the Broncos struggle again in 2019 and want to acquire some high-end draft picks, they would have an $11.75 million “dead” cap hit in 2020. If the relationship falls apart, next offseason would be the first time to explore that. As for the price Miller could command, the package paid by Chicago to Oakland for Khalil Mack started with two first-round picks. Where does Su’a Cravens fit into the 2019 Broncos defense? I understood that he was acquired to bring some coverage speed to our dime linebacker package, but don’t recall seeing him used much last year. Does Brandon Marshall’s departure signal a bigger role for Cravens? — Patrick, Louisville We don’t know if Cravens fits at all. He should look at the new defensive brain-trust of coach Vic Fangio, coordinator Ed Donatell and secondary coach Renaldo Hill as a way to salvage his career. Cravens was shut down after the preseason (knee surgery). He played five games (117 snaps) before Vance Joseph saw enough and made him a healthy scratch for the final three games. The Broncos could cut Cravens and create $850,000 of cap space. I’m not sure Marshall’s impending release has an impact on Cravens’ role as much as it creates roster space for the Broncos to acquire another dime linebacker. Related Articles O’Halloran: Broncos trading for Joe Flacco will be a boon behind the scenes — and bring a sigh of relief for Vic Fangio Kiszla: When it might be tempting to ask out of Denver, linebacker Von Miller pledges he’s all-in with Broncos Rich Scangarello explains Broncos’ new offensive vision Not really a question, more so a statement. Tell your fan base out there to settle down and take a deep breath, they are getting a VERY UNDERRATED, FINE QB. Flacco got the shaft here with poor offensive drafting and over-the-hill free agents. Once the Ravens traded receiver Anquan Boldin (Flacco’s go-to guy), they NEVER replaced him. They did away with the alpha-males in the locker room because it hurt coach John Harbaugh’s feelings when folks didn’t agree with him. Gary Kubiak was the best thing that happened to Flacco (in 2014), and if Denver follows that blueprint, nothing but success will come its way. It starts with the offensive line — protect him and open the holes for the backs. Although, I am a Ravens fan, I wish Flacco and the Broncos the best. — Nick Caprio, Baltimore, Md. Within this comment is a key point for Broncos fans. In 2014, Kubiak, after being fired as Houston’s head coach, joined the Ravens as offensive coordinator. Flacco threw a career-high 27 touchdowns, his 91.6 passer rating was the second-best of his career and his plus-15 TD-to-INT ratio was tied for his best. It came after a 19-touchdown, 22-interception season. The Ravens went 10-6 in 2014. Kubiak is from the Mike Shanahan Offensive Tree. New Broncos coach Rich Scangarello worked three of the last four years for Kyle Shanahan. Democracy depends on journalism, and journalists need your help. 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  • “#MeToo” painted on statue of WWII sailor kissing nurse
    SARASOTA, Fla. — Police in Florida want to know who spray-painted “#MeToo” on the leg of a statue depicting a sailor and a dental assistant kissing at the end of World War II. Sarasota police said in a news release that officers found the phrase painted in red on the left leg of the woman in the “Unconditional Surrender” statue in Sarasota early Tuesday. The paint covered the length of the nurse’s leg. RELATED: Sailor in iconic V-J Day Times Square kiss photo dies at 95 Police said officers didn’t find any spray paint bottles in the area. No other objects were defaced. At approximately 12:53 am, our Officers were dispatched to the intersection of N Gulfstream Ave & Bayfront Dr reference to an unknown individual spray painting ‘# MeToo’ on the Unconditional Surrender statue. Additional information is at — SarasotaPD (@SarasotaPD) February 19, 2019 Authorities estimate the damage to the statue at more than $1,000. They say the incident occurred sometime Monday afternoon or evening. George Medonsa, the sailor who kissed dental assistant Greta Zimmer Friedman, died Sunday at 95.
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  • These Denver skyscraper projects stand to leave their mark on the Mile High City
    Denver’s skyline reached rarely visited heights in 2018 when the 40-story 1144 Fifteenth office tower opened in March. Peaking at 603 feet, it is now the city’s fifth tallest building, assuming you count the spire atop the neighboring Four Seasons tower. The city flirted with a new vertical frontier, too, but the land deal around a proposed 81-story building fell apart last February. At a projected 1,000 feet, that building would have been far and away Denver’s tallest, blowing by current champion, 714-foot Republic Plaza. There’s nothing quite of that scale on Denver’s 2019 docket but a 30-story building is under construction now in the heart of downtown. A handful more buildings of that stature or greater are in the city’s planning pipeline. In a town with just 16 towers that crack the 30-story threshold today, these projects — should they all be built as planned — stand to make some visible marks on the urban horizon. Here a look at the towers that could change Denver’s skyline: Block 162, 675 15th St. The 30-story Block 162 office building has been in the works since at least early 2016. That’s when Houston-based developer the Patrinely Group announced it was partnering with the property’s owner, local real estate mogul Evan Makovsky, to bring new life to a stagnant patch of prime downtown land that was once home to the storied 15th Street Tavern but more recently hosted a community garden and a sea of parking spots. Crews broke ground on Block 162 in June. Foundation work is complete and things are set to get vertical this year on the 452-foot tower that will take up the entire north side of 15th between Welton and California streets. When it’s done — likely around the end of 2020 —  Block 162 will be Denver’s 11th tallest building, according to the skyscraper trackers at, supplanting the shiny TIAA-branded tower at 1670 Broadway. Patrinely vice president David Haltom said that within the next few weeks people will start to see the skeleton of the tower going up floor by floor. “There is a lot going on in Denver and the bar is being raised in the market by the quality of new development,” Haltom said in a recent interview with The Denver Post. “We believe Block 162 is going to be front and center in the discussion of the highest quality projects in Denver.” Patrinely isn’t new to Denver. It previously built a corporate campus in the Lone Tree area and collaborated on a trio of multifamily housing developments around the metro area. But with Block 162, it is going big. The tower will feature 20 floors of premium office space atop 10 floors of above-ground parking. There are no tenants committed yet. Fellow Houston firm Hines built its 1144 Fifteenth tower on a speculative basis, too, and it signed up companies including Gates Corp. and Optiv before the ribbon was cut. Courtesy of Patrinely GroupThis rendering shows what the Block 162 office building at 15th and California streets in downtown Denver is expected to look like from street level. “We believe we are in a position of advantage because there are increasingly few blocks of contiguous square footage in downtown Denver, and those that do exist are being gobbled up by new and expanding tenants,” said Haltom, referencing VF Corp.’s announcement last year it planned to take over a low-rise on Wewatta Street. Block 162 will seek to lure office users with its proximity to light rail lines, a columnless design that will provide 360-degree views and plentiful natural light on every office level and a “sky terrace” on the 11th floor featuring an outdoor lounge with fireplaces and an “activity lawn” where gym users can take their workouts outside. The ground floor will have a large lobby facing 15th Street and three retail spaces. Patrinely is working with architecture firms Gensler and StuidoInsite on the project. Swinerton Builders is the general contractor and Cushman & Wakefield brokers Doug Wulf and Todd Wheeler have been tapped to handle leasing. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostConstruction is ongoing Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostWorkers continue Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostActivity continues at the site of a future 30-story building Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostConstruction is ongoing Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostWork continues Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostConstruction is ongoing Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostWorkers continue Feb. 5, 2019, on the site of a future high-rise building on Block 162 in Downtown Denver. Show Caption of Expand Bell Park residential tower, 1394 Market St. An angular chunk of property along Cherry Creek that was home to Denver’s first city hall will next be occupied by a 36-story residential tower if the team behind this project has its way. Bell Park — really a pair of triangular parking lots bounded by Speer Boulevard, 14th, Larimer and Market streets and bisected by Cherry Creek — for the last 18 years has belonged to Buzz Geller, the owner of Paradise Land Co. and a well-known face in Denver real estate. Pre-Great Recession, Geller and partners had planned to build a luxury high-rise containing full-floor, $10 million condos on the triangle closest to Speer. By the time the project got necessary approvals, however, the economy had collapsed and the plans were scrapped. The new project appears aimed at a broader client base. According to concept plans project partner Kairoi Residential submitted to the city in December, the 36-story tower would contain 169 apartments or condos, along with 255 underground parking spaces, a pool and a variety of amenities. The plans indicate the building would be 408 feet tall, good for a tie for the 16th tallest building in Denver, according to Emporis. Kairoi representatives didn’t reply to a request for comment, but Geller is enthusiastic about the project. “This is meant to be a gateway building,” Geller said of the tower. “I think it’s a good fit.” In addition to the property that will host the tower, which Kairoi is under contract to buy once approvals are secured, the other lot — the one occupied by Denver’s city hall until 1936 and marked with a bell that once hung in that building — is slated for a five-story office building to be owned by Geller and occupied in part by his company. The office building will leave room for a park along Larimer Street. Geller knows that real estate plans remain iffy until the buildings are built. He owns the parking lot at 17th and California streets where New York City developer Greenwich Realty Capital had planned to build an 81-story tower. After paying monthly deposits for two years to keep the property under contract, Greenwich’s financing fell apart last year, Geller said. Despite one of the architectural partners on the project recently telling the Washington Post the tower was “still a go,” Geller said he hasn’t heard from anyone involved with the proposal since Greenwich failed to close on the purchase. The two Bell Park buildings had their first hearing before the Lower Downtown Design Review Board on Feb. 7, and while the Chicago-based architects at Valerio Dewalt Train Associates cooked up some intriguing renderings — presenting a large, glass tower with a distinctive indent near the middle — Geller emphasized the designs remain subject to change. “Everything at this point is conceptual and it absolutely will be different,” he said. Geller, touting endorsements for the project from the Downtown Denver Partnership and the LoDo District board of directors, is optimistic work will be underway by the end of this year. “The goal is to get this thing built as soon as possible,” he said. Courtesy property owner Buzz GellerA rendering or the proposed Bell Park office tower as seen from the south side of Speer Boulevard. Early plans call for a 36-story tower, more than 400 feet tall. Block 176, 1917 Broadway Moving from the southwest reaches of downtown to the northeast side, there is another potentially skyline-altering project — in this case, a pair of condo towers sitting atop a shared parking pedestal — also under city review now. The project is thus far known as Block 176 and would top out at 38 stories and 400 feet on a parcel that touches Broadway, 18th Street and Glenarm Place. The plans, submitted in November by the property owner, Canadian development firm Amacon, call for 477 condos and 530 parking spaces in what would be Denver’s 18th tallest building. There is an existing building on that patch of downtown turf. Lauded watering hole Shelby’s Bar & Grill has occupied the more-than-century-old building at 519 18th St. since 1991.“] On Wednesday, the Shelby’s team took to the bar’s Facebook page to say its time is not yet up and invited customers to come in and say hello. Amacon did not return requests for comment. The city’s online permitting center shows there has been no movement on Block 176 since conceptual project plans were submitted in the fall.  Two Tabor, 1200 17th St.  Put on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” because this one is a throwback to 1984. The One Tabor Center tower was always supposed to have a sister building, but the oil crash in the 1980s put the kibosh on the project before anything could be built on the still-visible base at the corner of 17th and Larimer streets. In the years since, new plans for the second tower have bubbled up from time to time, but the corner is still a nub. In March of last year, Denver’s Davis Partnership Architects submitted new concept plans for a second Tabor building on behalf of Chicago-based property owner Callahan Capital Partners. The submittal, which coincided with the rollout of a new project website,, called for a 33-story, 800,000-square-foot office building reaching a height of roughly 494 feet. If constructed as planned, the building would place ninth on the city’s tallest list, according to Emporis. Renderings in the concept plan portray a sleek building sheathed in blue-tinted glass. A sharp corner faces the street while a curved side is oriented toward the interior of the block, mirroring the One Tabor Center tower. Three ground floor retailer spaces are in the mix but no new parking. All the building ought to need was built along with the first tower in the 80s. Rendering provided by Callahan Capital PropertiesA rendering of what Two Tabor would look like from across 17th Street. Developer Callahan Capital Properties and its partners Epstein and Davis Partnership Architects submitted a plan concept for the would-be 33-story tower to Denver planners on March 5, 2018. People affiliated with the latest Two Tabor effort last submitted documents to the city in May, online records show. Callahan Capital Partners was acquired by Canadian real estate firm Ivanhoe Cambridge in September. The two companies were already strategic partners when it came to owning and managing office real estate including Tabor Center, according to a news release, so it’s hard to say what effect if any the deal had on plans for Two Tabor. Todd Hartman, the asset manager listed on the Two Tabor website, did not return requests for comment. The River Mile This 58-acre expanse of asphalt and amusement park rides wedged between Speer Boulevard and Interstate 25 promises to transform Denver as it is redeveloped over the next few decades. And not just because it will eventually bump Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park off of its spot near the Pepsi Center. High-level plans for the River Mile call for the creation of a new urban neighborhood, complete with 8,000 residential units, office space, schools, grocery stores and more along the eastern banks of the South Platte River.  Property owner/developer Revesco Properties hasn’t publicly released plans for any specific buildings yet, but the company won rezoning approvals from the City Council in December that clear the way for buildings as tall as 59 stories. If a tower of that scope is built, it would become Denver’s tallest by three floors, beating out the 56-story Republic Plaza at 370 17th St.  Provided by Revesco PropertiesA rendering from Revesco Properties’ conceptual master plan for the River Mile shows the types of development that might occur on the current site of Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park in coming decades, from new buildings to changes along the South Platte Riverfront. What does it all mean? There is perhaps no one outside of the city’s planning office who has kept a closer eye on the Denver skyline over the last 15 years than Ken Schroeppel. The University of Colorado Denver urban and regional planning professor founded the website in 2005, and he’s been providing regular updates on construction projects large and small in Denver’s urban core ever since. When it comes to the 30-story-plus buildings on deck — or at least tentatively on deck — now, Schroeppel believes Block 162 has the best odds to stand out. It’s a matter of geography. “In downtown, if you look at the skyline there is kind of hole. It’s roughly along the 15th Street corridor, between Arapahoe on the one end and Welton on the other,” he said. “Block 162 is being built in that hole. Kind of filling in a gap, you might say.” Related ArticlesMarch 21, 2018 Denver’s fourth tallest building readies for opening with Chipotle, Gates and others moving in September 14, 2018 Downtown Denver office use to increase by more than 1 million square feet annually through 2021 March 22, 2018 New skyscraper that would be a sister tower to Tabor Center enters Denver’s planning pipeline. Again. He’s encouraged by what large-scale condo projects such as Block 176 say about the future of downtown. After years of building apartments — with plenty more coming — perhaps the next phase of downtown residential construction will focus on the for-sale market. Such a pivot will hinge on how comfortable developers (and their insurers) feel with efforts made to limit the ability of homeowners’ associations in Colorado to sue builders over possible construction defects in condo projects. Both the General Assembly and Colorado Supreme Court in 2017 took steps to make it harder for HOAs to sue builders. Legislators hoped their measure would spur more construction after concerns over the legal liability attached to condos projects scared many developers out of the market. “We’ve had so little condominium development downtown in the last 10 years or more,” Schroeppel said. “It’s a wide-open market that is pretty untapped at this point.” When it comes to impact, Schroeppel believes the projects being built in Denver now that have the greatest potential to change the way people experience downtown may not be those reaching for the sky. He pointed to the Market Street Station redevelopment and Rockies West Lot project as examples. Between them, the tallest building being built will be 13 stories high, but with outdoor plazas, ample space for restaurants, bars, shops and other attractions such as the Rockies team hall of fame, those projects could draw foot traffic morning, noon and night. Schroeppel calls them “nodes of activity” — key features in a thriving downtown. “That just really elevates the entire Lower Downtown area in terms of its appeal and walkability and as a destination,” Schroeppel said. “Tall buildings do not a great city make.”
  • Plans to change Larimer Square, Denver’s most historic block, entering next chapter
    The Granite Building might be the most majestic structure in Larimer Square. Built at the southeast corner of 15th and Larimer streets in 1882, the striking red and beige stone building is a four-story welcome mat for the city’s first and most celebrated historic district. It sits on the same plot where Denver founder Gen. William Larimer built his log cabin home in 1858. In 1882, it was home to a dry goods store. Today, its tenants include the Comedy Works comedy club, and, allegedly, a ghost. At a distance, the Granite Building looks good for its age, crowned with an ornate cornice, its slender windows wreathed in stonework. Upon closer inspection though, pieces of the building are beginning to crumble under the weight of its 136 years. It’s hardly the only building on Larimer Square beginning to show its age. Because of that wear, and how Larimer Square’s private owner is seeking to fix it, the block faces an uncertain future in 2019 despite a pair of historic preservation ordinances that have protected it for more than four decades. Unlike the front of the Granite Building, however, nothing is set in stone. Larimer Square owner Jeff Hermanson and his partners with Urban Villages, a real estate firm he brought on to manage and redevelop pieces of the historic district, are seeking public feedback as they consider potentially landscape-changing new construction on the block. The work, they say, is essential to shoring up the square’s financial future at a time when the oldest commercial block in Denver is facing an estimated $130 million in restoration needs. Partial demolition of some existing buildings has not been ruled out, though any new development on Larimer Square would require approval from city authorities including the landmark preservation commission, the Lower Downtown design review board and potentially the City Council before it could proceed. Starting this month, people will have the opportunity to learn more and weigh in on potential alternations to the square. Urban Villages will open a “community center” in a vacant retail space at 1411 Larimer St. on Feb. 25 dedicated to gathering input and feedback on what the block needs or may not need. All are welcome, they say. “We believe that the best results and the most creative ideas are going to come from a broad spectrum of input from the community,” Urban Villages chief development officer Jon Buerge told The Denver Post in January. He sees a future where redevelopment could keep Larimer Square lively 24 hours a day, with housing being part of the mix, including opportunities for low-income renters. “Diversity and inclusivity need to be part of this. We don’t think Larimer Square can tell the story of Denver if it only tells the story of select few.” Joe Amon, The Denver PostFailing patches and repairs have been made to this Granite Building in Larimer Square, pictured Feb. 6, 2019, in Denver. Property owners and development partners are moving on to ask for public input on their plans to build tall buildings on the historic block. Joe Amon, The Denver PostFailing patches and repairs on the Granite Building in Larimer Square are pictured Feb. 6, 2019, in Denver. Joe Amon, The Denver PostWhile sandblasting Euclid Hall in Larimer Square it was found to have been built with under fired bricks that left them porous and unsightly. The building is pictured Feb. 6, 2019, in Denver. Joe Amon, The Denver PostHorizontal watercourses to grab water sheeting down the front of the Gallup-Stanbury Building Larimer Square are covered with netting and supports to protect those below from their weakness February 6, 2019, in Denver. Show Caption of Expand Making history In a city that has attracted thousands of new residents from elsewhere in recent decades, many may not be familiar with the historic significance the collection of 19th- and early 20th-century brick, stone and wood structures huddled along Larimer between 14th and 15th streets. In addition to Gen. Larimer’s cabin, the block was home to Denver’s first commercial buildings and its first seat of government, according to official state historian and University of Colorado Denver history professor Tom Noel, who co-authored the 2016 book “Denver Landmarks and Historic Districts.” Apollo Hall, Denver’s first theater, once stood on the west side of Larimer Square where the (also historic) Congdon Building is today. It was there that the “People’s Government of Denver” was created in 1859, Noel said. In the 1890s, when the original Denver City Hall was across 14th Street in what is now Bell Park, a corner bar, Gahan’s Saloon (Ted’s Montana Grill today) was a good place to get a drink and maybe weigh in on city policy. The owner, John Gahan, was a Denver City Councilman. “A lot of city ordinances and whatnot were probably worked out in that bar instead of at city hall,” Noel said. Even the city’s first mortician set up shop on Larimer Square. It’s a bit of more recent history that gets Noel most excited when discussing Larimer Square, specifically the 1971 ordinance that established the block as the city’s first historic district. That process has since been replicated 53 times in Denver, establishing the city as a national pace-setter for historic preservation. “It’s the one block of old Denver that was rescued from the urban renewal authority that knocked almost everything else down,” he said, referring to the wave of mass redevelopment that washed across downtown Denver in the late 60s, leveling entire blocks in its path. Time takes a toll Almost 50 years after the ordinance was adopted, Hermanson and Urban Villages are holding up the rugged state of the Granite Building as just one example of why potentially drastic, ordinance-altering changes are needed on the square. Horizontal sandstone bands that stretch across the face of the building, previously patched with stucco in order to protect them, have been re-exposed to the atmosphere because they were quietly eroding out of sight. The patching, applied decades ago when historic preservation techniques were still being developed, is partly to blame. “A lot of repairs were done very early on at Larimer Square before we knew how these materials would interact with each other,” said Jane Crisler, a historic preservation architect with the firm EUA who is working as a consultant to Larimer Square’s owner/developer team. “The stucco was a great color match and it looked great but the stone behind it was deteriorating because it was trapping water.” RELATED: Larimer Square: Denver’s history carved in granite Many other trouble spots are visible around the square. On a recent tour, Crisler pointed out a large crack running up the south side of the Sussex Building at 1430 Larimer. She highlighted sand-blasted bricks on the building now occupied by Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen. They were so heavily damaged by the process meant to clean them up, they now have to be covered with a protective coating to keep them from turning to dust. Netting has been put up over strips of sandstone lining the 1873-built Gallup Stanbury building at 1445 Larimer to ensure pieces of rock don’t fall onto unsuspecting shoppers below. Joe Amon, The Denver PostWhile sandblasting Euclid Hall in Larimer Square, pictured Feb. 6, 2019, the building was found to have been constructed with under fired bricks that left them porous. “The best way to preserve historic buildings,” Crisler said, “is to make them viable and accessible.” Damaged masonry is just one issue that needs addressing. According to Urban Villages, the 20 historic buildings there need upgrades to their plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling and life/fire safety systems. The developer also aims to improve access for people with disabilities in buildings built a century before the Americans with Disabilities Act. Urban Villages consulted with third-party experts and independent construction estimators to arrive at the work’s projected $130 million price tag, Buerge said. It’s a chunk of change the development team says only an infusion of cash brought on by new construction can provide. “We’re really committed to doing this the right way and making sure these buildings continue to thrive but, in order to do that, new buildings will have to be added to Larimer Square,” Buerge said. He points out that five new buildings have been built on the block in the last 30 years.  Some of those who have already offered feedback on the proposals to change the square are skeptical just how much Hermanson and Urban Villages are listening. Hermanson and Buerge unveiled a conceptual plan last February that called for a pair of towers to be built in the alleyways behind the square’s historic buildings, one housing a hotel and another featuring workforce housing. The proposal, if built as suggested, would have altered some of the historic buildings there and required the City Council to grant a variance to the 1974 Larimer Square design standards that cap building heights on the block at 64 feet. The proposal landed the square on National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of most endangered historic places last year, a sign of how symbolically important Larimer Square is on a national level. Amid an avalanche of criticism, the team pulled that plan back in June and convened an advisory committee of more than 50 historic preservation advocates, neighborhood residents and city leaders to discuss the state of Larimer Square and ways to keep it vibrant and viable into the future. After six meetings, Hermanson and Urban Villages disbanded the group in December, a unilateral decision some notable committee members felt demonstrated the meetings were never meant to build consensus in the first place. “It was interesting that it was an advisory committee that was never asked for advice,” said Dana Crawford, Larimer Square’s first owner and the person most responsible for its protected status. Crawford, who has a building named after her on the block, said she and other advisory committee members she talked to felt like the meetings they attended were more sales pitches than input sessions. The decision that new construction had to be pursued was already made, they said. The decorated developer, who pieced together the properties that make up the Larimer Square in the 1960s, is no stranger to changes there. Her efforts to turn the block from the dilapidated skid row it became in the first half of the 1900s into the vibrant shopping and dining area it is today resulted in the redevelopment and partial demolition of some of the 1800s buildings. In 1982, she floated a plan that would have seen a 16-story, 400-unit apartment building built on the south end of the block, extending over 14th Street to Bell Park. A 150-unit “European-style” hotel that fronted onto Market Street was also part of the proposal, according to reporting in the Rocky Mountain News. “At that time, I was very interested in trying to get people to live downtown,” Crawford said of that ill-fated plan. “The reason we didn’t go through with it was because everybody hated it.” Crawford sold the block in 1986. She did so, she said, to reward “extremely patient” investors who backed her work there. While she believes Hermanson and Urban Villages are after a genuine fix to real issues on the square, she hopes they see that its value is more than monetary. “Larimer Square is something that gives the city a feeling of being different from a lot of other places,” she said. “My own perception is it’s very important for the city of Denver that Larimer Square continue as a concept.” What’s next? It’s protecting the concept of the historic districts that most worries Fabby Hillyard. Hillyard is the co-chair of LoDo District Inc. board of directors. The organization is dedicated to advocating for Denver’s Lower Downtown Historic District, located right next door to Larimer Square. Hillyard was part of the advisory committee last year. The cost of upkeep is a concern at historic properties across the country, she said. Granting variances to the codes that protect those properties on the basis of financial need alone would undermine the entire preservation movement. “If economic hardship were to become a reason for changing a (historic preservation) ordinance there would be many developers in many places who would avail themselves of that opportunity,” she said. Joe Amon, The Denver PostLarimer Square owner and development partners are moving on to ask for public input on their plans to build tall buildings on the historic block. Feb. 6, 2019, in Denver. Annie Levinsky, executive director of Historic Denver, has been critical of Hermanson and Urban Villages’ proposed changes since they became public. Her fears were not assuaged by participating in the advisory committee. Levinsky believes the development team remains committed to building tall buildings on the square regardless of other options available, something Historic Denver feels is far from necessary. The nonprofit performed an analysis this summer that found room for roughly 200,000 square feet of new construction on Larimer Square that would not require a variance to the existing design standards, she said. And there are sources of funding out there beyond new development. “We are not opposed to some evolution. We think there are a variety of ways they could update and refresh Larimer Square without putting the buildings in jeopardy or changing the context of the block,” Levinsky said. “Our take is that there is a path to success that is easy to follow and well laid out and that’s taking advantage of state and federal tax credits which are substantial. And we’re willing to help them figure out how to do this.” Related ArticlesJune 8, 2018 Larimer Square “two towers” redevelopment proposal on hold as group meets to discuss historic block’s future February 21, 2018 Larimer Square owner says he wants to revitalize area but preservationists worry about scale June 26, 2018 Denver’s Larimer Square makes list of nation’s 11 most endangered historic places Buerge said although the tax credits have not yet been employed to address the needs at Larimer Square, Urban Villages has used them as a tool on other projects across the country and is confident it can access them again. However, “tax credits and grants only cover a small percentage of the projected renovation costs,” he said in an email. Big changes are not imminent. Buerge said the community input process is open-ended and there are not set plans in place for Larimer Square’s future. With all the talk of change, though, it’s clear many in the Mile High City — and even nationally — have their eyes trained on the block. Few people have a better seat in the regard than Robert Zimmerman, co-owner of combination home-furnishings/fine art gallery/interior design services business Element. Element has been on Larimer Square for a decade, moving last year from one space in the Sussex Building to a bigger space next door at 1428 Larimer St. “I have been in love with Larimer Square since I moved here in 1990,” Zimmerman said. “It’s been a dream come true to be here for the last 10 years and run a business. I love the historical nature of it.” Being in a more than century-old building has its drawbacks. The air conditioning is on the weak side, and there has been various leaks and other challenges to contend with, he said. With talk of changes swirling, Zimmerman says he has faith in Hermanson and Urban Villages to treat the block with care. “I can’t imagine them doing anything that is going to be unattractive,” he said. “I know that they are going to come up with the best plan possible to preserve all the aspects of Larimer Square.”
  • Colorado marijuana sales crack $6 billion since 2014 legalization, state says
    Colorado marijuana businesses have sold more than $6 billion worth of weed and related products since a voter-approved measure allowing adults over the age of 21 to consume recreational pot took effect in the state on Jan. 1, 2014. The milestone figure was highlighted Tuesday in a news release from the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, the agency tasked with overseeing both recreational and medical cannabis businesses in the state. RELATED: “Where’s all that marijuana money?” Colorado’s pot dollars help schools, but maybe not as much as you think Colorado crossed the $6 billion sales threshold thanks to a record-setting 2018. Sales surpassed $1.55 billion for the year, beating the record of more than $1.51 billion set in 2017. The sales have Colorado on the cusp of another milestone: $1 billion in marijuana tax, licensing and fee revenue. As of the end of January, the state had collected $927 million from those categories — covering both recreational and medical marijuana businesses — since adult-use pot became legal in 2014. Colorado collected more than $266.5 million in taxes, fees and licensing payments in 2018 alone.  Related ArticlesDecember 27, 2018 “Where’s all that marijuana money?” Colorado’s pot dollars help schools, but maybe not as much as you think February 8, 2019 Denver’s new program to erase low-level marijuana convictions launches Saturday January 25, 2019 Owners of Sweet Leaf dispensary chain sentenced to a year in prison for illegal marijuana distribution Many in the state have questioned why marijuana tax money can’t be tapped to pay striking Denver Public Schools teachers more money, but the system set up under Amendment 64, the measure that greenlighted recreational pot use in Colorado, earmarks that revenue for school repairs and construction and other programs, not teacher pay. A baseline report covering the state’s first five years of legal rec sales released last year found that youth use had not increased over that time, but pinpointed stoned driving and an increase in organized crime activities as areas of concern.
  • Colorado’s top hotel: Aspen’s Little Nell tops Broadmoor in U.S. News & World Report rankings
    A decorated legend has been supplanted by a younger competitor. And we’re not talking about rejected headlines from the Super Bowl. U.S. News & World Report on Tuesday released its Best Hotels in the USA rankings for 2019 and there was a shakeup at the top within Colorado. The Little Nell in Aspen was recognized as the best hotel in the state and the 19th best in the country in this year’s rankings. It outdid the historic Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, which at No. 29, ranks as Colorado’s second-best hotel, according to U.S. News’ analysis. The two purveyors of luxury accommodations were Colorado’s only Top 50 finishers this year. [RELATED: Gaylord Rockies Resort was anything but a sure bet] Both hotels made U.S. News’ top 50 hotels in the country for 2018, but The Broadmoor was ranked highest among Colorado destinations, coming in 30th while The Little Nell was No. 33. In its 2019 write up, U.S. News laud’s the Little Nell’s proximity to skiing — it’s at the base of Aspen Mountain — its two fine dining restaurants and a spa ideal for post-powder day relaxation. Beyond the amenities, though, are the people. The list entry tips its cap to the Nell’s “Ski Concierge team” that can line up lift tickets, gear rentals and more. Recent guests have described the hotel’s employees as “some of the nicest they have ever met,” according to U.S. News. “I think we just have a really strong connection with our guests,” Little Nell spokeswoman May Selby said of the 92-room hotel that opened in 1989. “We have a really high percentage repeat guest and I think that is only growing. And we’re pet-friendly.” U.S. News & World Report compiles its annual lists of luxury resorts and hotels — a collection of rankings which now includes the best hotels in the Caribbean, the best hotels in Mexico and best hotels in Europe — by aggregating the opinions of published travel experts and customer reviews shared online through TripAdvisor. In years past, hotels and resorts had to have a class rating of at least 4 stars to be considered, but in 2019, U.S. hotels with 3.5-star ratings were also included so long as they had received “industry accolades.” In total, 3,878 U.S. hotels made the rankings this year, up from 2,194 a year ago. Related ArticlesFebruary 6, 2018 Colorado Springs’ Broadmoor rated country’s 30th best hotel by U.S. News and World Report August 17, 2018 FIRST LOOK: Source Hotel’s market hall opens for business in RiNo on Saturday December 18, 2018 “Long and winding road”: Aurora’s $800M Gaylord Rockies Resort opens Colorado showed well in 2019. Twenty-nine hotels in the state earned “Gold badge” recognition, meaning they were ranked in the top 10 percent of all hotels that made the list. That’s the fourth most of any state, behind Florida, New York and California. In total, 133 Colorado hotels were ranked. The top-rated hotel in Denver this year was the Four Seasons at 1111 14th St. downtown. Some newer hotels — like the Gaylord Rockies Resort in Aurora and the Source Hotel in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood  — will have to wait and see how they stack up. U.S. News starts compiling ranking material the summer before releasing results, so some hotels that opened in the fall and winter don’t make the cut in their first year.
  • Ward Lucas relives covering prolific serial killer in Netflix’s “Ted Bundy Tapes”
    Until two weeks ago, Ward Lucas didn’t even have a Netflix account. Now the retired investigative reporter and television news anchor who spent three decades at Denver’s 9News is featured in one of the platform’s most talked-about new series. John Leyba, The Denver PostIn this 2001 file photo, former 9News anchor Ward Lucas, left, is seen on the station’s set with newscaster Anita Lopez. Lucas, who spent more than three decades at the Denver TV station, appears in the new Netflix docu series “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.” “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” burst onto the streaming scene on Jan. 24 — a four-part series detailing the brutal, unflinching story of one America’s most notorious serial killers. Bundy assaulted and murdered 30-some women during the 1970s in several states, including Colorado. Millions around the country followed with horror as Bundy conducted two brazen escapes over the years — he committed more assaults and murders while on the lam — before finally being recaptured in 1978. He was executed in Florida in 1989. Lucas was there when the saga first began. A young radio reporter in Seattle in the early 1970s, Lucas began covering the disappearance of several young women. “Seattle was in a royal state of panic,” Lucas, 70, told The Denver Post in an interview this week. “Everyone was talking about it.” As the number of missing women continued to climb, Lucas went out with police on ride-alongs throughout the city. “We got a call about a guy breaking into a woman’s house,” Lucas recalled. “The cops drive up and we went to the door, and the woman was sobbing. She said, ‘I thought I was going to be No. 16.’ ” His radio station had started numbering the victims. “I was kind of revolted by the whole thing,” Lucas said. “We were doing almost gratuitous coverage. Every single story up there was a Ted Bundy story. In retrospect, it was appropriate.” A national story Until that point, the story was huge in Seattle — but not anywhere else. The disappearances of Denise Naslund, 19, and Janice Ott, 23, on the same day in July 1974 changed all that. The two women were abducted, separately, in broad daylight from Lake Sammamish State Park by a man who had one of his arms in a sling, who asked for their help in unloading a sailboat from his tan Volkswagen. “Suddenly, we have a man named ‘Ted,’ ” Lucas said. “Suddenly we had witnesses. It was the first real hard evidence.” Two weeks after the two women disappeared, Lucas’ supervisor came to him with an unusual story assignment. “My boss wanted me to go to the park with my arm in a sling and a hidden tape recorder,” Lucas said. “He wanted to stage this stunt to see if I could get people to help me with a boat.” Lucas refused. “We had an argument over ethics,” he said. “It eventually made me leave the station.” Glenwood Springs Post Independent via APIn this 1977 photo, serial killer Ted Bundy, center, is escorted out of court in Pitkin County, Colo. The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent discovered the 40-year-old photo of Bundy, along with others, that had been locked in an old safe in the newsroom, which a local locksmith volunteered to open. The photos show Bundy in custody in 1977, the year he escaped from local law enforcement twice while awaiting a murder trial. In 1976, Lucas moved to Colorado to work for 9News. If he thought he was leaving the Bundy beat behind, he was wrong. Already in Utah State Prison at the time, Bundy was extradited to Aspen in June 1977 for a preliminary hearing in the murder of a 23-year-old registered nurse named Caryn Campbell. Lucas remembers that when young women in the Aspen area went missing, he had a hard time convincing the higher-ups that this was something they needed to cover. “I kept saying this is a national story,” Lucas said. “My news director said, ‘Aspen is outside our viewing area.’ He refused to let me cover the story. So I paid for a plane flight for me and a photographer. All of a sudden, I guess, we decided it was a national story.” RELATED: Photos of serial killer Ted Bundy found in old Colorado safe “Hi, Ward” Pitkin County Court was the site of Bundy’s first dramatic escape. Unshackled, he jumped out a second-floor window and escaped into the woods. It took six days for authorities to catch him. That’s when Lucas had his most memorable — and only — encounter with the mass murderer. “There’s a famous shot when he came down the courthouse stairs, and he’s walking through a crowd,” Lucas said. “He turns to me and said, ‘Hi, Ward.’ He was obviously watching the news coverage.” While he would later become a household name in Colorado news, Lucas in 1977 was still a relatively unknown face. “The other reporters there turned to me and said, ‘Who the hell are you?’ ” It was the last time Lucas saw Ted Bundy in person. Lucas said the beat reporters back in the day used to be pretty open about sharing information. But not with the Bundy case. “It was dramatic,” he said. “It was all a competition among reporters — not so much information sharing. Everyone wanted the big scoop.” Related Articles Ward Lucas looks back on “32 great years” at 9NEWS Glenwood newspaper discovers photos of serial killer Ted Bundy in old safe Ted Bundy’s DNA to be added to national database Snowmass, Vail can’t shake Ted Bundy legacy Museum displays serial killer Ted Bundy’s VW About six or seven months ago, Netflix called to see whether Lucas — who retired in 2009 after 33 years at 9News — would be interested in flying to Seattle to be interviewed for the Bundy series. “I didn’t have Netflix until a couple days after it aired,” Lucas admitted. “I don’t watch much TV.” Still, he believed the documentary stayed mostly true to the facts. “I thought it was well done,” Lucas said. “They didn’t overly sensationalize; they didn’t go overboard.” So why does the Ted Bundy story capture the imagination of so many Americans decades after his final breath? “He was good-looking, articulate, well-spoken, a law student — and obviously devious,” Lucas said. “That was intriguing. In the midst of this national panic, girls were still getting into the car with him. “Bundy was the boy next door.”  
  • Denver did not rank as high as you’d expect for cities with an active lifestyle thanks to bowling costs
    Ah, Denver. The capital city of the least obese state in the nation, known for its abundant sunshine, multitudinous parks, proximity to the Rocky Mountains and being the … eighth best big city in America for leading an active lifestyle? That’s right, eighth. As in one space lower than seventh, seven places below No. 1. That’s where personal finance website WalletHub puts the Mile High City on its rankings of 2019’s Best & Worst Cities for an Active Lifestyle. The report, which examined the 100 biggest cities in the country, came out last week, and used 38 data points across two main categories  — “budget and participation” and “sports and outdoors”  — to decide which cities reign supreme when it comes to giving residents the best opportunity to live their best, non-couch-based lives. Related ArticlesSeptember 12, 2018 Colorado is the least obese state in the country, study finds October 27, 2018 Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy grows to $62.5 billion, new report says May 4, 2018 Samet: Science and Colorado’s “brown cloud” Among the factors weighed include proximity to a ski resort, walking trails per capita, and a low percentage of physically inactive residents. Good stuff, right? Not enough to elevate Denver over paragons of physical health like Chicago and Minneapolis. WalletHub’s online report doesn’t provide a full ranking for each category, but it’s safe to assume Denver’s ranking took a hit on categories like proximity to a major lake/ocean and air quality. Curse you, brown cloud. Other categories that factored into Denver earning its eighth spot: average bowling cost, little leagues per capita, pick-up soccer meetups per capita and public golf courses per capita. Besides Chicago and Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Denver’s oft-compared municipal nemesis Seattle ranked higher than Denver in the report. Honolulu earned the top spot. Colorado as a state showed well. Colorado Springs clocked in at 33rd on WalletHub’s list and Aurora 55th. Among the site’s ranking for cities with the lowest percentage of physically inactive residents, Colorado Springs was No. 3, while Denver and Aurora tied for fourth. (Portland and Seattle came in first and second in this category, respectively.) Denver can’t knock itself too much for its eighth spot, though. We never had a chance once they threw the ocean and cheap bowling into the mix.
  • Rocky Mountain High-priced home: John Denver’s 7,735-square-foot Aspen mansion going for $11 million
    Aspen roads can take you home to the place once owned by John Denver. The public got a glimpse of the fabled musician’s residence on Thursday through an open house after the gated-community property between Aspen and Woody Creek hit the market for $11 million. The house at 570 Johnson Drive was built in 1972, a year after Denver’s single, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” lit his stardom en route to over 33 million records sold worldwide before his untimely death at age 53. Aspen couple Denis and Kelly O’Donovan bought the house in December 2016 for $2.75 million — $8 million under the original asking price, which included a guest house on a nearby lot that was Denver’s recording studio. That property wasn’t part of the final sale to the O’Donovans and is still in the possession of the owners directly after Denver. “(The house) was as-is, no inspection, leap of faith,” Kelly O’Donovan said of when she and her husband bought it. “We were house shopping, it was in the right price range. My husband is from Ireland and I’m from Texas and we both grew up listening to John Denver.” The O’Donovans replaced the roof, did a complete electrical rewire and redid all the plumbing, as well as installing new floors and windows. They also made it a labor of love, preserving its more elegant features. “We salvaged beautiful stained-glass installations, and sinks and handles and faucets and four wood-burning fireplaces,” Kelly O’Donovan said. They added a bedroom and raised the kitchen ceiling to the second floor, giving the house with private nooks tucked into its open floor plan even more appeal for entertaining and family gatherings. The view: “Out of this world, incredible,” Kelly O’Donovan said. “There’s tons of wildlife: foxes, hawks, deer and giant elk. It’s a peaceful and serene place.” The main mansion underwent a remodel in 1985 and its 7,735 square feet engulf five bedrooms, five baths and two half-baths, a workout room, three wet bars and office space among numerous other amenities. The remodel fused modern elements into the 46-year-old structure, which still features its original cabinets, albeit with a re-purposed feel. After Denver crashed his private plane into Monterey Bay near Pacific Grove, Calif., on Oct. 12, 1997, while performing a series of touch-and-go landings at a nearby airport, unidentified buyers acquired his Starwood neighborhood home and guest house for $3.68 million. Related Articles This ski-in, ski-out Telluride-area mansion features a bowling alley, sauna and $7.5 million price tag $22.2 million gets you a mansion near Longmont with polo grounds that double as a runway $149 million ranch featuring helipad, bison herd is Colorado’s most expensive property on the market The home was vulnerable to being demolished because it has no historic designations. “They could have (demolished) it, but they really wanted to preserve what they could,” said agent Jim Bineau, per The Aspen Times, who works for Coldwell Banker Mason Morse. “They were really excited that it was John Denver’s house. It had meaning to them.” This decision safeguarded the place where Denver made his home in the early 1970s, in an area he often sang about in songs that emphasized his joy for nature and aversion to city life, like “Rocky Mountain High” and “Starwood in Aspen.” It’s a long way from L.A. to Denver It’s a long time to hang in the sky It’s a long way home to Starwood in Aspen A sweet Rocky Mountain paradise Oh, my sweet Rocky Mountain paradise
  • Need-to-know info for Denver-area shoppers making last-minute holiday purchases this weekend
    All right folks, it’s the eleventh hour. If you’ve left your holiday shopping to this point, you might be a procrastinator, a busy person, a retail thrill-seeker or a journalist who only knows how to get things done on deadline. Whatever your story, you’re not alone. Based on the results of a recent survey of more than 6,900 U.S. consumers, the National Retail Federation estimates 134 million people will be shopping on “Super Saturday”  —  that’s this Saturday, the last one before Christmas — this year. That’s 56 percent of holiday shoppers, and up from 126 million people last year. Whatever has prevented you from buying gifts thus far, if you still plan to do so The Denver Post has some tips and info to pass along to make your retail journey easier. Shopping at stores When it comes to last-minute shopping, some brick-and-mortar retailers are staying open longer the next few days to be accommodating (and rake in a little late-season revenue). Kohl’s launched a round-the-clock shopping event at 7 a.m. Friday. The department store’s locations — 14 in the metro area — won’t close again until 6 p.m. Monday, Christmas Eve. The new mall on the metro area block, the Denver Premium Outlets at 13801 Grant St. in Thornton, is also advertising extended hours over the weekend. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday. Shopping online If you’re an Amazon Primer member in the Denver area, you’re in luck. Since the e-commerce standard-bearer launched free same-day delivery in the Denver area earlier this year, select items can be purchased on the website and delivered the same day through Monday. Just look for the “Prime FREE Same-Day” icon or use the “Prime FREE Same-Day” filter. If you’re not a Prime subscriber, Amazon is offering free trials of the service. Visit to sign up and you can still avail yourself of free last-minute delivery. Holiday markets open through the weekend. If you’re after artisan or locally made gifts, there is still time to find those at holiday craft markets around town. Both the Denver Christkindl Market, operating out in a pop-up space just off the 16th Street Mall at 1515 Arapahoe St., and the Horseshoe Market‘s holiday flea market, at 433 S. Teller St. in Lakewood’s Belmar neighborhood, are open this weekend. Christkindl will host shoppers from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, while Horseshoe’s 120-vendor setup will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Good luck, folks. Just don’t be a Homer Simpson and poach gifts from your fellow shoppers. Related ArticlesFebruary 19, 2019 Neutrons used to examine Harvard’s priceless gold specimen February 18, 2019 Boulder-based Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha secures $3.5M investment February 17, 2019 Your smart light can tell Amazon and Google when you go to bed February 17, 2019 Human rights groups call on Apple and Google to review Saudi app that can track women February 17, 2019 Telemedicine’s challenge: Getting patients to click the app
  • Grainwave, a THC-infused non-alcoholic beer, hits dispensary shelves Friday
    After months of chatter, a booze-free beer promising a different kind of buzz will hit pot shop shelves this week just in time to be a stocking stuffer for select folks age 21 and up. Ceria Brewing Co.‘s debut product, Grainwave Belgian-Style White Ale, will be available at Green Solutions’ dispensary locations across the state starting Friday. The nonalcoholic beer, going for $7.95 per 10-ounce bottle, will deliver 5 milligrams of THC to the drinker’s system, about half the amount of many standard edible servings. The aim is to provide a high that is pleasant, relaxing and mellow enough to be enjoyed socially as well as recreationally.  “You should feel good but you won’t get too stoned,” Ceria co-founder and brewmaster Keith Villa said. “What better way to enjoy a Broncos game, especially when they’re losing, than to have a couple of these and feel good?” Villa is known for making a different Belgian white ale. He created Blue Moon, which put him on the brewing map in 1995. The brewmaster retired from Molson Coors earlier this year, and a short time later he and his wife, Jodi Villa, founded Ceria in their hometown of Arvada. “We want to remove the stigma around cannabis,” Villa said. “There are still a lot of people who won’t go into a dispensary. This breaks down stigma. We truly believe it will change the industry.” Grainwave is brewed as a normal beer, and then the alcohol is removed. That’s why its label calls it “de-alcoholized cannabis beer.” Villa formulated his beer with help from Evergreen-based hemp research firm ebbu. The folks at ebbu helped Ceria connect with Keef Brands, makers of Keef Cola, Bubba Kush Root Beer and other infused sodas. Its products have been available on dispensary shelves since before legalized sales began in 2014. Keef is providing the cannabis extract that spikes Villa’s beer, as well as bottling and distributing the product. Andy Cross, The Denver PostProduction supervisor and beverage expert, Casey Steele, left, pours out maltodextrin used on a test batch of THC infused, nonalcoholic cannabis beer at the Ceria Brewing Co. in the Keef Cola facility Dec. 13, 2018. Brewmaster Dr. Keith Villa, right, takes a close look during the test. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post) Ceria’s profile as something to be shared in a social setting appealed to Keef CEO Erik Knutson. “Where you’re looking for a social experience, you don’t sit down and break up a brownie into 20 pieces,” Knutson said. “It’s definitely a cool alternative for people who are maybe at a point in their life where they don’t want to drink alcohol anymore.” The Green Solution prides itself on carrying new and unique products, said Casey Efting, the chain’s retail manager for Colorado. He files Ceria under “revolutionary.” Colorado has long been home to a vibrant brewing culture, as Villa can attest. And it was the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales. It seems only natural the two should meet. But federal law prohibits infusing alcoholic products with THC, leaving two options: Infuse beer with another nonpsychoactive component of cannabis, or make a nonalcoholic beer. “This is something that even we have looked at in the past. How do we crack that code? How do we bring something to market that doesn’t have alcohol in it?” Efting said. “I think it’s going to be very popular.” Ceria has two other beers on deck: an American light lager and an India Pale Ale. The lager will pack less of a THC punch, 2.5 milligrams per bottle. The IPA will be more potent, with 10 milligrams in each.  On the opposite side of the metro, in Aurora, there is a brewery making an infused beer on the other end of the spectrum. Dad and Dude’s Breweria this summer relaunched its cannabidiol, or CBD, infused beer. CBD, lauded in holistic circles for its relaxing and anti-inflammatory effects, is available in a variety of products these days, but when Dad and Dude’s started selling beer made with it in 2017 the feds cracked down. This July, the Breweria started up again, calling the beer George Washington’s Secret Stash in honor of the first U.S. president’s practice of growing hemp. It was a gamble, company president and co-founder Mason Hembree admits, but no federal agencies have come knocking. And with a farm bill that legalizes hemp awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature, he doesn’t expect they will. The IPA is available in six packs and on tap when Dad and Dude can keep it in stock. “There are a lot of people going for it,” Hembree said.  Related ArticlesNovember 10, 2018 A cannabis Coke and a smile? Colorado companies hoping to tap infused beverage craze December 13, 2018 Advocates: New farm bill is a boon for Colorado’s ‘sprouting’ hemp industry October 18, 2018 Canadian legalization creates opportunities for Colorado marijuana businesses Hembree aims to obtain a permanent patent for the brewing method used to make his infused beer. He already holds a provisional patent. He believes that will slow down competitors including “big beer” brands. Molson Coors has already announced a joint venture in Canada aimed at infused drinks. “I do believe this is an emerging market that is going to be a much larger market than already anticipated,” he said.
  • Holiday travel through DIA: Great Hall construction, snow globes and wearing shoes through security (sometimes)
    Shocker: This holiday season will be busy at Denver International Airport. On Dec. 21, DIA is expecting 196,790 passengers to pass under its tented roof. On Dec. 27, another 198,360 people will do the same. With those blockbuster traffic days in mind, airport and TSA officials are offering some tips and advice for travelers. In a nutshell: be prepared, be early and if you have a question, reach out and ask, either in person or online. “We always recommend that passengers are inside the airport two hours in advance of their flight and during the busy holiday travel season that is even more important,” TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon said Friday. Getting around the Great Hall Demolition work that started this summer as part of DIA’s $650 million Great Hall renovation project will continue through the holidays. The work is primarily impacting the upper levels of the Jeppesen Terminal building where the airline check-in counters are located. “If you haven’t been out here since we started construction, pay close attention to the yellow construction signage. That is going to be helpful for getting people to where they need to go,” airport spokeswoman Emily Williams said. Staff members with maps are stationed around the terminal, and the airport website,, has a map tab at the top right corner of the homepage. Because the work is taking place in the middle of the terminal, passengers will not be able to walk from one of the buildings to other on the upper level. If you enter on the south end and need to reach an airline counter to the north, you will have to go outside and come back in, or take the long way around, going down to the main level and back up. “If you need to check in, you want to be dropped off near the sign for your airline,” Williams added. On the main level, officially level 5, where two of the airport’s three main security checkpoints are located, passengers can walk from one end to other by walking by the baggage carousels located on either side of the main corridor. Striving for convenience and comfort The homepage features real-time updates on waits at security checkpoints and the status of the airport parking garages and lots. Security information is displayed on screens in the terminal as well. Parking information can be accessed by phone at 303-DIA-PARK, and picking option 1. DIA last month launched a new bag drop and check-in service at its two economy parking lots, the $8-per-day Pikes Peak and Mt. Elbert shuttle lots. As long as you arrive 90 minutes before your flight, you can can stop at a kiosk at the lots where a greeter will help you check your bags, print boarding passes and pay airline bag fees. The service is available Saturday through Thursday from 2 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 2 a.m. to 7 p.m. To ease stress and add a little seasonal fun to the airport experience, DIA, for the third year, is operating a free ice skating rink on the open-air plaza between the terminal and the Westin Hotel on the south side of the building. Complimentary hot chocolate and apple cider are part of the mix some afternoons, Williams said. Flying with gifts, and other tips TSA security lines will operate normally around the holiday season, but the agency does have recommendations for seasonal questions. If you plan to fly with gifts, don’t wrap them with paper and tape. If a gift sets off an alarm, a TSA agent may have to open it to inspect it. Instead, use a gift bag or box or wrap it when you arrive at your destination. Snow globes are subject to liquid restrictions. If you’re flying with a snow globe with greater than 3.4 ounces of liquid in it, put it in a checked bag. You can fly with prepared foods, but again be aware of the liquids rule if your food item is pour-able or spreadable. Fruitcake: OK to carry on. Jam: Check it if the jar is larger than 3.4 ounces. The TSA’s Harmon said passengers who are unclear about what they should do with a certain item can find help by visiting, downloading the agency’s mobile app, or even reaching out to its Twitter account, @TSA. “You can even snap a picture of an item and say, ‘Can I bring this on the aircraft?’ and we will respond in real time to say if you can put it in checked bag, your carry-on bag, or if you should just leave it at home,” she said. The TSA does sometimes employ dogs at DIA screening points that may clear some passengers without them having to take their shoes off, but all travelers should be prepared to go through security as they normally would — shoes off and all — this holiday season. Flight delays happen MagnifyMoney, a financial advice and blog site, earlier this week released a list of the best and worst airports for on-time holiday flights. DIA landed at fourth worst, with 64.1 percent of its flights between Dec 20 and Dec. 31 arriving and departing on time over the last 10 years. Related ArticlesNovember 14, 2018 Sky-high praise: DIA ranked No. 1 large airport in the U.S. by Wall Street Journal July 7, 2018 DIA’s terminal is in for more than 3 years of construction. Here’s how it will play out, and what to expect. November 16, 2018 New Denver International Airport “bag drop” option streamlines air travel time for Thanksgiving The MagnifyMoney study covered the 50 busiest airports in the U.S. and relied on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to the site. Williams said DIA’s internal analysts couldn’t replicate those findings. Over the entirety of 2017, the airports on-time percentage was 82.2, she said. Williams said it’s important to remember DIA is a hub airport with incoming flights impacting the timing of outgoing traffic. That means if the weather is good in Denver but bad in other parts of the country, it can still lead to delays. “The best thing to do is check with us, check with your airline and know that we are all doing all we can to get you moving,” she said.
Technology news, startups, reviews, devices, internet | The Denver Post
  • Neutrons used to examine Harvard’s priceless gold specimen
    ALBUQUERQUE — Scientists at a federal laboratory have helped to unravel some of the mysteries of a rare specimen of wire gold discovered at a Colorado mine more than 130 years ago. Officials at Harvard University’s mineral museum had asked Los Alamos National Laboratory for help in understanding more about the structure of the gold specimen known as the Ram’s Horn. They say it’s the finest known example of its kind. Related Articles Boulder-based Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha secures $3.5M investment Your smart light can tell Amazon and Google when you go to bed Human rights groups call on Apple and Google to review Saudi app that can track women Telemedicine’s challenge: Getting patients to click the app Berthoud Brewing launches a Loveland brewpub in 5030 Local No scientific studies previously had been published on the internal nature of the specimen. Scientists used neutrons from a half-mile-long particle accelerator at the New Mexico lab to see deeper into the sample. They determined it’s a mix of gold and silver and is composed of only a few single crystals. The specimen will be the centerpiece of an exhibit at Harvard’s Museum of Natural History in 2020.
  • Your smart light can tell Amazon and Google when you go to bed
    As Amazon and Google work to place their smart speakers at the center of the internet-connected home, both technology giants are expanding the amount of data they gather about customers who use their voice software to control other gadgets. For several years, Amazon and Google have collected data every time someone used a smart speaker to turn on a light or lock a door. Now, they’re asking smarthome gadget makers such as Logitech and Hunter Fan to send a continuous stream of information. In other words, after you connect a light fixture to Alexa, Amazon wants to know every time the light is turned on or off, regardless of whether you asked Alexa to toggle the switch. Televisions must report the channel they’re set to. Smart locks must keep the company apprised whether the front door bolt is engaged. This information may seem mundane compared with smartphone geolocation software that follows you around or the trove of personal data Facebook vacuums up based on your activity. But even gadgets as simple as light bulbs could enable tech companies to fill in blanks about their customers and use the data for marketing purposes. Having already amassed a digital record of activity in public spaces, critics say, tech companies are now bent on establishing a beachhead in the home. “You can learn the behaviors of a household based on their patterns,” says Brad Russell, who tracks smart home products for researcher Parks Associates. “One of the most foundational things is occupancy. There’s a lot they could do with that.” Some device makers are pushing back, saying automatic device updates don’t give users enough control over what data they share or how it can be used. Public guidelines published by Amazon and Google don’t appear to set limits on what the companies can do with the information they glean about how people use appliances. Amazon and Google say they collect the data to make it easier for people to manage their home electronics. Automatic status updates reduce the time it takes to process voice commands and lets smarthome hubs present up-to-date information on a screen or smartphone app. Greater awareness of what’s going on also lets them suggest helpful uses for their voice assistants, and develop new ones. Smart speakers are among the fastest-growing categories of consumer electronics, led by Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home devices. That’s pushed the companies and their Alexa and Assistant software deeper into debates about the trade-offs between useful services and the harvesting of personal data. Both have had public pratfalls around privacy of voice commands, either recording private messages in error or sending them to others. The commercial success of voice assistants has bolstered dozens of companies working to build interest in internet-enabled televisions, kitchen appliances and other devices. Many people first start tinkering with connected appliances after buying a smart speaker. Surveys show about a quarter of U.S. smart speaker owners regularly use them to control something else, a percentage analysts expect to rise. When smart speakers first hit the market, using them to command another device worked like this: After receiving the command “Alexa, turn on the light,” the software would ask the light bulb maker’s servers for the current status of the bulb. After a reply came back confirming the switch was off, Alexa would instruct the light to turn on. Now, in a push that accelerated last year, Amazon and Google are recommending — and, in some cases, requiring — that smarthome makers tweak their code to reverse that relationship. Instead, the light bulb must report in to the hub with its status at all times. “Oversharing for the sake of oversharing is probably never a good thing,” said Ian Crowe, a senior director with Logitech International S.A., a builder of computer and home electronics accessories. “We should have a good reason, and our users should agree it’s a good reason,” before sharing data. Logitech has tried to meet Amazon and Google halfway. Rather than tell smart speakers what each device connected to Logitech’s Harmony remote controls were doing, Crowe says Logitech reports back with broad descriptions, specifying that a user is watching television instead of passing on information about their choice of channel, for instance. “There are very relevant concerns about how much the system knows,” he said. Crowe says Logitech has had conversations about status reporting with Amazon and Google, but declined to detail them. Executives at two other smart device makers, speaking on the condition of anonymity to protect business relationships, say they’ve asked for concessions from Amazon and Google related to user privacy or transparency and guarantees about use of the data, but have been rebuffed. An Amazon spokesman says the company doesn’t sell user data and doesn’t use information it gets from status reports for advertising. Status reports, he says, are designed to enable useful features for customers. He declined to comment on how long Amazon stores the data. A Google spokesman declined to comment on the company’s implementation of status updates. Russell, the analyst with Parks Associates, calls status reporting “a bit of a Trojan Horse request.” Amazon and Google, he says, are suggesting, “’Hey, help us help you by giving us the status of your device, and make everyone’s life easier.’ But what they’re not saying is, ‘Gee, we can do a lot with that data.’ ” Even light fixtures, in elaborate setups, are a map of home life: When do you get home? When does the light in your child’s bedroom usually go off? What days do you burn the midnight oil? Still, the nascent smarthome market is fiercely contested, and some critics acknowledge their worries about data collection are partly motivated by concerns that Amazon and Google will use their central position to muscle out rivals and dictate terms to the rest of the market. Moreover, some other smarthome companies themselves gather status reports, though they lack the scale or billion-dollar advertising businesses of the tech giants. Meanwhile, plenty of companies say they are on board with status reporting. Matt McPherson, an engineering manager with Hunter Fan, says that before the advent of status reports, device sometimes shut down without answering the user’s command. “Do I think these guys are intentionally grabbing data in order to find some way of advertising?” he asks. “At this moment I don’t think so, but I can see something of that nature happening in the future.” Some say Amazon and Google would do well to be more transparent by telling users, outside of the confines of lengthy privacy policies, what data they’re collecting and offering more fine-grained options for managing it. Amazon and Google let users delete accumulated smart-home data, but neither offers an option to stop collecting it from specific devices in the first place. The only way customers can disable data sharing for a specific device is to unplug it from the system. “We know that there are consumer concerns, deeper than what’s been written about, about how much listening is really going on by any voice system,” said Martin Plaehn, who runs Control4 Corp., a builder of smart-home management tools. People intuitively understand that by asking a voice assistant to control a device, they’re giving that company information about that action, he says. It’s less likely they know that linking a television to the system begins a process of transmitting updates when someone changes the channel or turns it on or off.
  • Human rights groups call on Apple and Google to review Saudi app that can track women
    WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is asking the chief executives of Apple and Google to immediately stop offering a Saudi e-government app that allows men in Saudi Arabia to track and control the movement of women. In a letter sent to the tech giants Monday, Wyden urged them to prevent their app stores from being used by the Saudi government to continue the “abhorrent surveillance and control of women.” Human rights groups are also calling on Apple and Google to consider the abuse and discrimination that the app could fuel. Absher, an app people can download on the Google Play store and Apple’s app store, works as an e-government portal and general services software for the Saudi Interior Ministry. It allows Saudi citizens to process a host of personal status issues such as getting a passport, a birth certificate or vehicle registration. But the app, according to human rights advocates, also facilitates Saudi Arabia’s patriarchal guardianship system. It remains illegal for women in Saudi Arabia to travel without permission from a so-called male guardian. Under this system of laws and practices, women in the kingdom need the approval of a “guardian” — typically a male relative — for a range of decisions and actions, including marriage, employment with private companies, certain types of health care and release from prison, said Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. Using Absher, Saudi men can restrict the travel of Saudi women by first allowing or disallowing them to leave the country, and the men can also limit the dates and places women are permitted to travel. “We call on Apple and Google to assess the risk of human rights abuses on women, which is facilitated by the App, and mitigate the harm that the App has on women,” Amnesty International said in a statement to The Washington Post on Tuesday. “The use of the Absher app to curtail the movement of women once again highlights the disturbing system of discrimination against women under the guardianship system and the need for genuine human rights reforms in the country, rather than just social and economic reforms.” The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Apple does not include the number of downloads for apps, but according to the Google Play store, Absher has been installed on devices more than 1 million times. The Interior Ministry says on its website that Absher platforms for individuals and businesses have more than 11 million users. On both Apple and Google’s app stores, the app preview states: “Absher has been designed and developed with special consideration to security and privacy of user’s data and communication. So, you can safely browse your profile or your family members, or labors [sic] working for you, and perform a wide range of eServices online.” Google and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Coogle of Human Rights Watch said: “The Saudi government uses this app to discriminate against women, and therefore those who are providing the app should ensure that their app complies with their terms of service and perhaps even look into advocating with Saudi Arabia to change the laws and change the app.” Criticism of the app follows the high-profile case of Rahaf Muhammad, a Saudi teenager who fled from the kingdom and was granted asylum in Canada. Her escape and criticism of the Saudi government have drawn heightened attention to the country’s male guardianship laws. The calls for change come amid an enduring scandal over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October.
  • Telemedicine’s challenge: Getting patients to click the app
    Walmart workers can now see a doctor for only $4. The catch? It has to be a virtual visit. The retail giant recently rolled back the $40 price on telemedicine, becoming the latest big company to nudge employees toward a high-tech way to get diagnosed and treated remotely. But patients have been slow to embrace virtual care. Eighty percent of mid-size and large U.S. companies offered telemedicine services to their workers last year, up from 18 percent in 2014, according to the consultant Mercer. Only 8 percent of eligible employees used telemedicine at least once in 2017, most recent figures show. “There’s an awful lot of effort right now focused on educating the consumer that there’s a better way,” said Jason Gorevic, CEO of telemedicine provider Teladoc Health. Widespread smartphone use, looser regulations and employer enthusiasm are helping to expand access to telemedicine, where patients interact with doctors and nurses from afar, often through a secure video connection. Supporters say virtual visits make it easier for patients to see a therapist or quickly find help for ailments that aren’t emergencies. But many still fall back to going to the doctor’s office when they’re sick. Health care experts have long said that changing behavior can be hard. In telemedicine’s case, patients might learn about it from their employer and then forget about it by the time they need care a few months later. Plus emotions can complicate health care decisions, said Mercer’s Beth Umland. “My little kid is sick, I want them to have the best of care right away, and for some people that might not register as a telemedicine call,” she said. Some patients — especially older ones — also just prefer an in-person visit. “Going to the doctor’s office is a big event in their life and something they look forward to,” said Geoffrey Boyce, CEO of InSight Telepsychiatry, which provides virtual mental health services. Tom Hill is among that crowd. The 66-year-old from Mooresville, Ind., said he’s never used telemedicine and has no plans to. “I believe in a handshake and looking a guy in the eye,” Hill said during a recent shopping break at a downtown Indianapolis mall. “I don’t buy anything online either.” But the practice does gain fans once patients try it. Julie Guerrero-Goetsch has opened her MDLive telemedicine app several times since first using it about a year ago to get help for a sinus infection. The Fallon, Nev., resident was skeptical, but she didn’t have time to go in person. MDLive connected her to a doctor soon after she opened the app. She said he started asking questions about symptoms “just as if I was sitting in a doctor’s office” and prescribed an antibiotic. Caitlin Powers tried telemedicine recently after hearing about it through a friend. The Columbia University graduate student was feeling stuffed up and worried she might be coming down with the flu. She said her appointment started on time, lasted 10 minutes, and she spoke by video with a doctor in Florida while never leaving her Brooklyn apartment. “As a student, I don’t really have time to spend three hours waiting to see a doctor, and this was so easy,” she said. Doctors have used telemedicine for years to monitor patients or reach those in remote locations. Now, more employers are encouraging people covered under their health plans to seek care virtually for several reasons. Telemedicine can reduce time spent away from the job, and it also can cost half the price of a doctor’s visit, which might top $100 for someone with a high-deductible plan. However, those savings can be negated if telemedicine’s convenience causes people to overuse it. Walmart said it cut the cost for virtual visits to give another care option to the more than one million people covered by its health benefits. Employers aren’t the only ones pushing the technology. The drugstore chains CVS Health and Walgreens are promoting apps that let customers connect to doctors. Some insurers such as Oscar Health are offering it for free to customers as a first line of treatment. Ease of use is one of the reasons researchers and telemedicine providers think the practice will become more widespread in several areas of care. Those include dermatology and follow-up doctor visits after a surgery or medical procedure. Mental health visits are another area ripe for virtual care because patients can feel more comfortable talking to a therapist in their own home, said Boyce of InSight Telepsychiatry, which delivers mental health care in about 30 states. Boyce said people also like the anonymity of a virtual visit. Related Articles Boulder-based Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha secures $3.5M investment Your smart light can tell Amazon and Google when you go to bed Human rights groups call on Apple and Google to review Saudi app that can track women Berthoud Brewing launches a Loveland brewpub in 5030 Local Denver’s Molson Coors Brewing sued over $400 million correction to 2016 income Mental health visits were the most common use of telemedicine by patients until primary care overtook that specialty a few years ago, Harvard’s Dr. Ateev Mehrotra and other researchers found in a recent study of claims data from a large insurer. Research firm IHS Markit estimates that telemedicine visits in the U.S. will soar from 23 million in 2017 to 105 million by 2022. But even then, they will probably amount to only about one out of every 10 doctor visits, said senior analyst Roeen Roashan. MDLive CEO Rich Berner said telemedicine is like the digital video recorder TiVo, which took a while to catch on with viewers. “People were so used to doing things the other way that it just took a little while to kind of really go mainstream,” he said. “But when it did, it went mainstream big-time.”
  • Denver Good Times using artificial intelligence to take drive-through breakfast orders
    The next time you are in Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard drive-thru, the voice taking your order might not belong a human. Denver Post fileGood Times at the intersection of Broadway and Evans in 1999. The Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard at 2095 South Broadway is using an artificial intelligence system to take drive-through breakfast orders, according to a news release. The artificial intelligence company, Valyant AI, is based in Denver and said their deal marks one of the first in the world for this type of business-focused technology. The new system will help Good Times during peak hours when speed is a priority. Quick-serve restaurants earn nearly 70 percent of their business from drive-through customers, the release stated. If a line of cars stretches too long, potential customers are likely to drive away. That is where Good Times hopes artificial intelligence can step in. “If there is inclement weather, or if an employee doesn’t show up, Valyant’s platform can truly save the morning,” said Scott Lefever, chief operating officer at Good Times. The system is custom designed for drive-throughs. Unlike the Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, which need to have a large vocabulary, Valyant’s platform is tuned into Good Times’ menu and ordering phrases. This, the companies hope, will boost accuracy and ensure a quick experience for customers. All orders will still have a person listening in, making sure the system doesn’t malfunction. Related Articles Researchers say Amazon face-detection technology shows bias Colorado’s highly educated workforce well placed to fend off job-stealing robots
  • Tri-State announces new CEO and new Colorado wind farm to power 47K homes
    In dual announcements Tuesday, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association said it has named a new CEO and is adding its fifth utility-scale wind farm in Colorado. Westminster-based Tri-State, which serves member electric cooperatives in Colorado and other states, has named Duane Highley as its new CEO. Highley, the current president and CEO of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp., will start April 5. He will succeed Mike McInnes, who is retiring. In a separate announcement, Tri-State said it plans to install a 100-megawatt wind farm in eastern Colorado, which it said will boost its total power from wind in Colorado to 471 megawatts. Duane Highley, Tri-State’s new CEO Tri-State has come under fire from some of its member associations and renewable-energy advocates for relying too much on coal at a time when the costs of wind and solar energy are falling and concerns about climate-changing emissions from fossil fuels are increasing. But Tri-State says nearly a third of its power comes from renewable sources. McInnes said in a statement that Tri-State has “worked to address the challenges of an ever-changing industry” while staying true to its mission. Rick Gordon, Tri-State board chairman and president, commended McInnes for his work and said the energy supplier is “well-positioned for the future. “As CEO, (Highley) will work with our board of directors to advance a strong vision for the association’s future,” Gordon, said. “He has spent the past 35 years working with two financially strong cooperatives and demonstrates leadership collaborating with members, key stakeholders and public officials.” Highley said in a statement that the Tri-State board, members and staff will work to “bolster what remains our key focus — serving the needs of our members so they can deliver on their promise to rural communities across the West.” McInnes joined Tri-State in 2000 and became executive vice president and general manager in March 2014. The board changed his title to CEO in 2015. Before working for Tri-State, McInnes was executive vice president and general manager of Plains Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative in Albuquerque, N.M. Tri-State supplies wholesale power to 43 member electric associations in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Nebraska. Tri-State’s new wind project is a joint effort with EDP Renewables to install a 104-megawatt turbine farm about 20 miles south of Seibert in eastern Colorado. The Crossing Trails Wind Farm, expected to start operating in 2020, will produce enough electricity annually to supply on average more than 47,000 rural Colorado homes, Tri-State said in a news release. It will be in the service territory of the K.C. Electric Association. Critics of Tri-State have noted plans by Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest electric utility, to shut down some of its coal plants early and produce more electricity from renewable sources. Late last year, Xcel started operating the Rush Creek Wind Project, a 600-megawatt wind facility in Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson and Lincoln counties that can produce enough electricity for about 325,000 homes. In January, Tri-State announced it was doubling the power it will get from solar energy with the 100-megawatt Spanish Peaks Solar Project north of Trinidad. Tri-State is also reducing its coal-generating capacity, spokesman Lee Boughey said in an email. “We have retired our capacity in the San Juan Generating Station in New Mexico, and will retire Nucla Station by the end of 2022 and Craig Station Unit 1 by the end of 2025,” Boughey said. “They’re absolutely taking steps in the right direction. Kudos to them,” said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. “But we’re just not seeing the bold moves” on reducing the use of coal. Related Articles Tri-State’s contentious contract dispute with Western Slope cooperative ends up in court Tri-State announces new 100-megawatt solar project in southern Colorado Tri-State could save $600 million by boosting renewable energy use, report says Nichols added that Tri-State isn’t addressing its members’ concerns about the economics of coal compared to the declining costs of wind and solar. Tri-State’s mix of energy sources has been a point of contention with some of its member cooperatives. In 2015, the Taos, N.M.-based Kit Carson Electric Cooperative paid $37 million to break its contract with Tri-State, citing rising electric rates and a desire to use more renewable energy sources. The Delta-Montrose Electric Association wants to buy out its contract with Tri-State in part because its rates have increased 56 percent since 2005. The Montrose-based association asked the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in December to intervene, saying the exit fee Tri-State wants is “unjust, unreasonable, and discriminatory.” Tri-State responded  in January with a lawsuit asking the Adams County District Court to clarify the Delta-Montrose association’s obligations under its contract and the state public utilities commission’s jurisdiction in the dispute.
  • 5G wireless: Everything you need to know about speed, hype, risk
    NEW YORK — A much-hyped network upgrade called “5G” means different things to different people. To industry proponents, it’s the next huge innovation in wireless internet. To the U.S. government, it’s the backbone technology of a future that America will wrestle with China to control. To many average people, it’s simply a mystery. The technology is one of the issues expected to take center stage at the MWC mobile conference in Barcelona, Spain, this month. The interest goes well beyond engineers: In Washington, there are fears that China could take the lead in developing the technology and sell equipment that could be used to spy on Americans. What, exactly, is 5G wireless — and will you even notice when it comes online? WHAT IS 5G? 5G is a new technical standard for wireless networks — the fifth, naturally — that promises faster speeds; less lag, or “latency,” when connecting to the network; and the ability to connect many devices to the internet without bogging it down. 5G networks will ideally be better able to handle more users, lots of sensors and heavy traffic. Before we can all use it, wireless companies and phone makers have to upgrade. Phones need new chips and radio antennas. The phone you have today won’t work with a 5G network. Wireless companies have been getting ready. They’ve been revamping their network equipment, buying up chunks of radio spectrum for carrying 5G signals, and installing new 5G antennas on cellphone towers, utility poles and streetlights. Wireless providers will invest $275 billion in 5G-related networks in the U.S., according to CTIA, an industry trade group. WHEN WILL IT BE AVAILABLE? A true U.S. mobile rollout will start in 2019. It will take a few years to go national, and even then more rural areas of the country will not be covered in the “millimeter wave” frequencies that promise the highest data speeds and capacities, said Michael Thelander, CEO of wireless consultancy Signals Research Group. Thelander predicts that China may lag the U.S. by a year in its initial rollout, but will ultimately have the biggest deployment, while European countries will build out more slowly. Beware of confusion, though. Wireless carriers have a history of rushing to slap the latest-and-greatest label on their networks, and this time is no different. AT&T has already applied the name 5G on a service that’s not really 5G. (Sprint, upset, then sued its larger rival.) Once the network is ready, you’ll need a 5G-enabled phone to connect to it. The first ones should be available in the first half of 2019, but a 5G iPhone isn’t expected until 2020. 5G phones will most likely be more expensive than current 4G phones. Don’t worry, even when 5G turns on, you can keep using 4G phones, just not at 5G speeds. WHAT CAN 5G DO? There’s a considerable amount of hype over the promise of 5G. Industry groups say it will promote smart cities by connecting sensor networks that could manage traffic and quickly identify streetlight outages. 5G could connect self-driving cars and fuel new applications in virtual and augmented reality. Its high-speed connections could enable better remote surgery and other telemedicine, help companies automate their factories and offer businesses dedicated high-speed internet lanes. “5G speeds, and ever-faster home broadband, will mean that existing applications will get richer, and also that new applications will emerge — new Flickrs, YouTubes or Snapchats. We don’t know what yet,” Benedict Evans, a partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, wrote in a January blog post . The most immediate impact on consumers will be faster download speeds for movies and other video. Thelander says your phone’s internet will work better in crowded locations such as stadiums. WHAT ARE THE SECURITY CONCERNS? The 5G network is one front in rising tensions between the U.S. and China. The U.S. government has warned U.S. companies not to use Chinese telecom technology in communications networks due to security concerns, and is pressing other countries to ban Huawei, a Chinese telecom company, from 5G network buildouts. U.S. officials have suspected for years that the Chinese government could use Huawei network equipment to help it spy. Huawei has rejected such accusations.
  • Colorado energy director Will Toor to drive push toward renewables, electric vehicles
    For Will Toor, it’s an exciting time to be on the front lines of energy and transportation issues. Dropping prices are encouraging utilities of all sizes to switch to wind and solar. Options are increasing for drivers who want to go electric. AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver PostColorado Energy Office executive director Will Toor in his office on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. For six years, Toor worked on those issues as transportation program director at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, as a member of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, as a Boulder County commissioner and as Boulder mayor. He has taken the helm at the Colorado Energy Office at a time when changes in energy and transportation are among the top agenda items of a new governor. “Gov. (Jared) Polis has articulated some bold goals around clean energy and climate change, with the goal of 100 percent clean energy in the electric sector by 2040,” Toor said in a recent interview. On Toor’s fourth day on the job, Polis signed an executive order reaffirming the previous administration’s goal of having nearly 1 million electric vehicles on Colorado roads by 2030. However, the order makes a significant change in the 2018 Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan by directing that tens of millions of dollars to replace older gas- and diesel-fueled trucks and fleet vehicles be used only for electric vehicles — not newer diesel and propane-fueled vehicles, as originally allowed. The money comes from the state’s nearly $70 million share of the national settlement with Volkswagen over allegations that it modified software to cheat on emissions tests. [RELATED: Colorado’s electric car dream: More charging stations, less smog] “I do believe it’s a very strategic investment,” Toor said. “I think we’re on the threshold of major market innovations where the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fleet may be able to move toward electrification quite rapidly.” Toor also thinks there will be plenty of options for Colorado drivers if the state Air Quality Control Commission adopts a rule based on California’s requirement that a certain percentage of vehicles sold in the state be electric. The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association isn’t reassured. The trade group says 75 percent of the vehicles sold in the state are trucks and sports utility vehicles, and there aren’t a lot of those yet. The association is suing to repeal tougher vehicle fuel-efficiency standards approved in late 2018 and has pledged to speak out if an electric-vehicle standard is considered. “I understand their concerns,” Toor said, “but it’s important to recognize that when we talk about 75 percent of new vehicles being trucks, that actually includes everything from small crossovers up through pickup trucks.” Manufacturers plan to add more electric SUVs to their lineups, Toor said, so there should be more choices by the time the Colorado standard would take effect. Having an electric-vehicle requirement on the books will encourage automakers to offer a wider array of vehicles in Colorado, he said. An Associated Press story saying cold weather can temporarily sap an electric vehicle’s power, reducing its range by more than 40 percent, shouldn’t be a big concern, said Heatheryn Higgins, Colorado Energy Office spokeswoman. Cold weather is more of an issue with the first generation of electric vehicles, and the state’s commitment to building more public charging stations will help alleviate drivers’ ‘range anxiety,’ ”  she said. Toor acknowledges that batteries for electric vehicles and storage come with their own environmental problems. The mining of metals and minerals used to make batteries can create significant, negative environmental damage. Disposal of batteries creates problems with the toxic waste. “There’s no free lunch. Every form of energy has impacts,” Toor said. “But when you compare the environmental impacts of lithium batteries to the impacts of burning fossil fuels, I think it’s a much smaller impact.” Working to extend the life of batteries and effective recycling efforts will be important, Toor said. While interest in electric cars is rising, there’s even more momentum to boost the amount of electricity generated by renewable energy sources, Toor said. Dramatically declining prices for wind and solar power and batteries to store that power are big reasons. Xcel Energy Colorado, the state’s largest electric utility, is retiring two coal-fired plants early and intends to increase renewable energy sources to 55 percent of its supply mix by 2026. It’s working to cut its carbon-dioxide emissions to zero by 2050. [RELATED: Tri-State Generation and Transmission faces loss of member over rates, renewables] City-owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives in Colorado have set goals of cutting carbon-dioxide emissions and expanding the use of renewable energy sources. Amy Oliver Cooke of the Independence Institute, a Colorado libertarian think tank and advocacy organization, would like state policy to focus more on decentralized “micro” electric grids, which she believes would “empower people rather than enrich Xcel Energy.” “Oftentimes Gov. Polis and Will Toor are well-intentioned, but my concern is that I think they’re asking the wrong questions,” said Cooke, director of the Energy and Environmental Policy Center at the Independence Institute. “In 2050, will the grid be powered 100 percent by industrial wind and utility-scale solar and batteries? The question we should be asking is: Will we still have a massive, centralized grid with behemoth power plants?” Cooke also wonders if discussions of energy use will include looking at nuclear power. “If you want carbon-free power on demand, nuclear has to be on the table,” she said. Moving forward, Toor said the energy office will meet with community members and engage a variety of stakeholders. Utilities and industries of all types, auto manufacturers and dealers and local governments will be important partners, he added. A major focus of the office is energy efficiency, and Toor said he wants to work with the oil and gas, building and other industries in that area. A blog by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, Toor’s former employer, cites federal data saying recent reductions in carbon dioxide emissions nationwide has resulted from energy efficiency, which drives down demand for electricity. The energy office has launched a program aimed at helping large industrial facilities improve their energy management to reduce use and costs. Related Articles Xcel Energy shooting for 100-percent carbon-free electricity by 2050 Colorado’s Electric Car Dream: More charging stations, less smog and the warm embrace of renewable energy Gov. Jared Polis pushes Colorado toward zero-emission vehicles with first executive order With oil and gas, the bulk of the state’s interaction with the industry is through the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Department of Natural Resources, Toor said. However, he sees opportunities to work with the industry on increasing the efficiency of its operations. The appointment of Toor as director of the state energy office “gives me great faith in what can be accomplished,” said Suzanne Jones, Boulder mayor and the executive director of Eco-Cycle. She has known Toor since he was director of the University of Colorado Environmental Center. Toor, who has a doctorate in physics, served with Jones on the board of the Colorado Environmental Coalition, now Conservation Colorado. “I don’t always agree with him, but I’m always impressed by the intellectual rigor he brings to issues and his thoughtfulness,” Jones said. “He’s able to explain issues and bring people together around common values.”
  • Colorado congressmen want to help NASA take longer missions to faraway spots
    Space travelers tapping natural resources on the moon and other planets to survive isn’t just the stuff of novels or movies. It’s the subject of serious study by NASA and researchers, and has an entire program devoted to it at Colorado School of Mines. Now, Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado has introduced a bill in Congress to take steps that could create an institute dedicated to research into what natural resources in outer space could be used by astronauts on long missions to faraway spots. The bill introduced Thursday and co-sponsored by fellow Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter would direct NASA to study the idea and submit a report to Congress in six months. The Space Resources Institute Act is intended to support plans for space missions that will be longer in duration and distance, Tipton said. The goals are to identify minerals, water sources and other materials on asteroids or planets that crews could use to supplement their supplies and develop the technology to put them to use. NASA calls the effort “in-situ resource utilization,” or using what’s in place where you are. In the case of space travel, that means using local materials, whether it’s on the moon, Mars or an asteroid, to be able to carry out missions in deep space. RELATED: California has Silicon Valley. Could Colorado become home to “Aerospace Alley?” Tipton said the ability to tap the natural resources of other planets will be key to the United States maintaining its preeminence in space. “When you step back into the ’60s, that was a race to space,” the Republican lawmaker said. “We have had the advantage in space and I don’t think we ought to be willing to cede that.” While NASA, universities and businesses have been researching what natural resources are available in space and how they can be developed, there’s no central program or agency supporting the science and technology, Tipton and Perlmutter said in a written statement. They said the bill will direct NASA to look at establishing such a hub. There is high interest among Colorado aerospace companies and schools in such a space resources institute, the congressmen said. “Colorado is uniquely situated for this kind of program, given our aerospace industry and our mining history,” said Perlmutter, a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Subcommittee on Space. Perlmutter, a Democrat, said companies and organizations in other states, including Washington and Ohio, are also interested in the idea. Colorado’s aerospace economy is second only to California’s, with 180 aerospace companies and more than 500 businesses that provide space-related products and services, according to a 2018 report by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. The industry in Colorado supports 190,880 direct and indirect jobs while pumping $15.4 billion into the economy each year. Related Articles California has Silicon Valley. Could Colorado become home to “Aerospace Alley?” Colorado-built Dream Chaser, successor to the space shuttle, turning into reality Littleton-made NASA spacecraft arrives at ancient asteroid, its first visitor Since the 1990s, the Colorado School of Mines has had a center that researches the development of space resources. The center “focuses on developing core knowledge and gaining design practices in systems for responsible exploration, extraction, and use of resources in the Solar System,” according to its website. George Sowers, a professor of space resources at the School of Mines, said in a statement that creating a space resources program within NASA would ensure the U.S.remains a leader in the field. “As NASA solidifies its plans to return to the moon and then go on to Mars, the utilization of space resources will play a critical enabling role,” Sowers said. “Furthermore, bringing the resources of space within the economic sphere of Earth will spur the next great economic revolution for humankind.”  
  • Pivot Energy developing community solar projects in Denver metro
    A company that wants to see Colorado become a national leader in community solar projects is installing three new arrays in the Denver area, including one in the River North district. Provided by Pivot EnergyDenver-based Pivot Energy has installed three new community solar gardens in Denver, including this rooftop array on a River North mixed-use development. Denver-based Pivot Energy’s new projects include a 140-kilowatt rooftop “community solar garden” on the roof of S*Park — Sustainability Park — a mixed-use development in Denver’s River North, or RiNo. The array could produce enough electricity for about 35 homes. Another new solar garden is a 100-kilowatt array on the roof of Stanley Marketplace in the Stapleton neighborhood. It could supply the equivalent of 25 homes. A third installation, in Denver’s Green Valley Ranch, has roughly 3,070 panels and will generate about 1 megawatt of electricity, enough to supply 250 homes, when the power starts flowing. Community solar gardens, which Colorado helped pioneer, are centralized arrays of solar panels that users “subscribe” to. They are aimed at people who want to use solar power but whose roofs aren’t suitable, who live in an apartment or can’t afford to install a system. Between 50 percent and 75 percent of U.S. electric customers can’t access traditional rooftop solar systems, according to a 2018 report by Green Tech Media Research. Subscribers to community solar projects pay the owner or manager of the solar garden and get credits on their utility bills. It’s typical for subscribers to pay about 10 percent less than they normally would, said Jon Sullivan, Pivot Energy’s vice president of project development. RELATED: Solar energy company makes Pivot to new name, services as it expands A state law approved in 2010 requires that a certain percentage of subscribers be low-income. At least 10 people must sign up for a solar garden. “A community solar garden is a perfect blend of localized solar and utility-scale solar (power),” said Rick Hunter, Pivot Energy CEO. Community solar projects are also the fastest-growing sector of the solar-energy industry, Hunter added. Green Tech Media Research reported in 2018 that community solar projects had reached a five-year compound annual growth rate of 53 percent, compared with 26 percent for all solar installations. However, the report also noted that community projects made up less than 2 percent of all operating solar projects. A bill in the Colorado General Assembly could help open new opportunities for community solar ventures in the state, Sullivan said. The legislation, House Bill 19-1003, by Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, would increase the maximum size of a solar garden to 10 megawatts from 2 megawatts. It would also drop the requirement that subscribers be in the same or adjacent county as the project’s physical location. The subscribers to Pivot Energy’s new projects are a mix of public agencies, including a metro-area recreation district and low-income housing units. The proposed changes to the law would allow Pivot Energy and other companies building and financing community solar gardens to build bigger projects in areas outside cities, where there is more space, and sell the electricity to urban customers, Sullivan said. Related Articles Solar energy company makes Pivot to new name, services as it expands Have pen, will travel: Ritter to hold bill-signing ceremonies Black Hills Energy launches two solar projects in southeastern Colorado “It would drive down the costs overall. It would catapult the program,” Sullivan said. Hunter said the benefits of decentralized, distributed generation of electricity include less need for more, expensive infrastructure and development of a more resilient system in the face of storms and other problems that could otherwise knock out power to many people all at once. Pivot Energy, which also has offices in Chicago and St. Louis, builds, finances and manages community solar gardens in Colorado and other states. It has developed a total of 22.4 megawatts of the projects across Colorado, with 6 megawatts of the energy serving low-income subscribers.
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