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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  • Britain’s Political Center Has Caved In
    Britain’s next Parliament will look a lot different than the one that preceded it.It will boast a sizable Conservative majority, ensuring the party’s dominance not just for the next five years, but for the foreseeable future. It will look more diverse, with one in every 10 lawmakers of an ethnic-minority background, and more female members of Parliament than ever before. It will also be increasingly polarized: between Scottish nationalists, who will use their electoral gains to press for a second independence referendum, and the government in London, which is opposed to such plans; and within the opposition Labour Party, where the battle to reshape its future following a crushing defeat has already begun.But there is another crucial way in which this Parliament will look different from the last: the moderates. Or, more specifically, the lack of them.By “moderates” I don’t mean a unified, ideologically aligned bloc, nor some romanticized contingent of pragmatists. No, I mean lawmakers who span the British political, as well as the Brexit, spectrum, providing a vital voice for swing voters amid an increasingly divided political landscape. Within Parliament, they have served as an internal check on their respective parties, bringing with them contrarian viewpoints and, perhaps most crucially, offering opportunities for compromise.Though never a cohesive grouping within the House of Commons, moderate parliamentarians nonetheless played a significant role in this election, and undoubtedly suffered the worst. Of those who ran as independents—by choice or, in the case of some Conservative lawmakers who were purged from the party for opposing a no-deal Brexit, by force—none were able to hang on to their seats. Of those who defected from the Labour and Conservative parties to join the avowedly anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, all were defeated.[Read: Can Brexit be stopped?]The absence of these moderate parliamentarians is more than just an indicator of this deeply polarizing and partisan bent in British politics today—that much was already abundantly clear. At its core, it raises questions about the future of Britain’s center ground and whether the country’s political system, which has long relied on single-party governance, can maintain it.Despite this era of hyper-partisanship in British politics, moderate politicians still staked out a role for themselves in the House of Commons. While some proved instrumental in blocking Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bid to take Britain out of the EU without a withdrawal agreement, others fought to ensure that lawmakers had sufficient time to scrutinize and amend any Brexit deal that was put before them.To be clear, this election was never about centrists. Rather, it was about the two traditional parties—the Conservatives and Labour—and their shifts toward their respective ends of the British political spectrum. While the Conservatives moved to the left on economic issues, such as rolling back austerity measures, they moved to the right on Brexit, seeking to make a sharp break between Britain and the European Union. Meanwhile, the Labour Party moved to the left with a radical economic agenda, all while attempting to straddle the middle on Brexit by advocating for a second referendum that would give voters the final say. As a result, those who traditionally inhabit the middle ground, or who otherwise differed with their party’s position on Brexit, were effectively left with two options: put up or shut up. Many did the former, either switching parties or opting to run as independents.The odds were always going to be against the latter group in particular—unlike many of their rivals, they lacked the structural and financial backing of their former parties. David Gauke, the former Conservative minister who was among the 21 expelled lawmakers, banked on his name recognition (he has represented his constituency for more than a decade), high-profile endorsements, and clever social-media campaigns to get him over the line (in the end, it didn’t). Others relied on the support of tactical-voting campaigns, which urged voters to cast their ballots in favor of a candidate they wouldn’t ordinarily support in order to block another party from winning.The performance of the more centrist candidates in this election doesn’t bode well for one particular moderate politician hoping to transcend the country’s partisan divide: Rory Stewart. The former Conservative minister and London mayoral hopeful previously told me that he sees the potential for a new centrist movement in Britain, along the lines of what President Emmanuel Macron achieved in France. Such a movement, Stewart said, would fill the “huge, gaping hole” in British politics left by the falling number of moderate parliamentarians.When I asked Stewart after the election result if he still believes that such a movement is viable, he said yes—though not at the national level. “My instinct is that the way you actually fight extremism is from the city-level upward,” he said, adding that local politics “lends itself to being non-ideological, to being judged much more on performance.”[Read: Rory Stewart’s lofty aims]Irrespective of the election results, this new Parliament was always bound to be polarized. Neither of the main parties can claim to be the broad ideological churches that they once were. Under Boris Johnson, the Conservatives have been refashioned in his own image—that is, a party that is decisively pro-Brexit (and, specifically, pro-Johnson’s Brexit deal). Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour had undergone a marked leftward shift, in which its membership is defined not simply through loyalty to the party’s radical anti-austerity agenda, but to Corbyn himself (though the Labour leader’s announcement that he will not lead the party into the next election makes it unclear how long that will be the case). The lawmakers elected to these parties have ostensibly met these barriers to entry, ensuring that this next Parliament will be partisan by design.Brexit, too, has played a role in reinforcing this polarization. While voters largely rewarded the parties with the most coherent positions on Brexit—such as the Conservatives, who pledged to deliver on the Brexit referendum by the end of January—Labour, which attempted to appeal to voters on both sides of the Brexit divide, struggled.“On Brexit, the center cannot hold,” John Curtice, a British pollster and a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, told me. “That is the very final, clear lesson of this election.”
  • When Does a Boyfriend or Girlfriend Become Part of the Family?
    It was October 2017, and Alyssa Lucido couldn’t tell who, exactly, was being unreasonable. Her boyfriend of two years, with whom she’d been sharing an apartment in southern Oregon for a few months, had abruptly informed her that he would be taking a multiple-week tropical vacation over Christmas with his parents and older brother. Not only would Lucido and her partner not be spending the holiday together in Oregon as she’d been hoping, but she was also not invited to go on vacation with his family. Her boyfriend seemed to feel bad, she told me, but didn’t feel comfortable requesting that she be invited along.Lucido was bewildered, her feelings hurt. Her family didn’t usually take long or exotic trips as her boyfriend’s family did, “but to all little events—family dinners, camping—the invitation was always extended to my boyfriend,” she said. Were Lucido’s expectations too high? Was her boyfriend’s family being unwelcoming? Or was her boyfriend not fighting hard enough for her inclusion? When she sought advice on a Reddit message board, some respondents were sympathetic to her notion that, as a cohabiting girlfriend, she should be treated like part of the family and invited along. Several other respondents replied that in their own families, only spouses and soon-to-be spouses were included on family trips. (Lucido, now 21, and her boyfriend parted ways a short time afterward.)It is a truism among therapists that relationship issues like these—norms around when a significant other will be welcomed into a family, or at what point partners will be expected to prioritize each other’s families alongside or ahead of their own—keep their offices bustling throughout the entire holiday season. Matt Lundquist, a therapist who treats couples and individuals out of his practice in New York City, told me these are common problems among his patients who are in their late 20s and early 30s. Advice columns and online message boards, too, fill up with synopses of similar family-versus-partner sagas during the months in which family celebrations and traditions dictate behaviors. (And even when it’s not “peak season,” so to speak, the San Diego–based marriage and family therapist Jennifer Chappell Marsh told me that about “one out of 10 or so couples” who seek counseling at her office “are trying to navigate the relational tension arising from family inclusion.”)Underneath the angst, however, lies a uniquely modern phenomenon: Delayed marriage, as well as widespread acceptance of sex, cohabitation, and parenting outside of marriage, have all played a role in making the boundary between “part of the family” and “outsider” unclear. Add in the fact that older relatives, whose ideas of what’s acceptable might date back to an earlier era, often play gatekeeper at family functions, and the end product is a holiday-season headache for a lot of dating and engaged couples. But in many cases, the question of family inclusion is one that stands in for more substantial questions about commitment—and intrafamily dynamics.The number of people getting worked up over the timing and magnitude of significant others’ family involvement is a testament to just how much finding a mate has changed over the past 100 years. Until the early 20th century, marriages were frequently facilitated or supervised by parents and relatives; in Western countries, for example, “courtship” involved potential husbands visiting the family homes of potential wives, while elsewhere arranged marriages remained the norm. Now that the majority of romantic partnerships in the Western world are formed independently by the participating pair, however, relationships between people’s partners and their families come about much later.[Read: So is living together before marriage linked to divorce or what?]As dating has evolved over the past few generations, so has the process of integrating a significant other into a family. Marriage acted as a firm, dependable boundary between “outside the family” and “in the family” until about the mid-20th century, explains Michelle Janning, a sociology professor at Whitman College who studies family relationships. But because of the past half century’s rise in average age at first marriage, coincident with a societal lurch toward unmarried cohabitation and a rise in unmarried parents, just who is considered a permanent-enough partner to merit inclusion has become blurrier. “We have lost the very clear-cut boundary between ‘not partnered’ and ‘partnered,’” Janning told me. “Marriage is no longer the only institutional framework for people to form families and partnerships.”The question of a significant other’s place within a family might be a fraught question at any point in the year. But welcoming someone into a family holiday celebration can mean bringing that person quite a long way—as Janning put it, “the more mobile we are, the more likely we are to meet people from far away and partner with them,” and a visit for an afternoon from a partner who lives across town “is a very different story from someone who stays overnight.” The latter scenario forces everyone involved to confront the (sometimes profoundly uncomfortable) question of whether the unmarried couple will sleep together or in separate bedrooms.To some parents, unmarried adult children sharing bedrooms with their significant other is a nonissue, hardly rivaling, say, the controversy over canned or fresh cranberry sauce on the list of holiday stressors. But to other parents, it can be troubling—sometimes because of their own moral convictions, or because it may make other family members who are visiting uncomfortable. “Maybe you bring a partner home and you want to stay in the same bed because that’s what you do in your everyday life,” Janning said, but what your parents and grandparents think, and even maybe your parents’ perception of what your grandparents think, will all play a role in deciding whether that’s allowed.Ultimately, many families treat the granting of privileges like holiday inclusion and bedroom sharing as an approval of the relationship. It’s kind of like when partners have a “define the relationship”—or “DTR”—conversation, Janning added, but this time it’s the entire family deciding whether to officially recognize it. “This is the DTR in the family, and a couple probably doesn’t want anybody else involved, but by virtue of [the couple] having to go to their house, they have to be involved,” she said. “That is not an easy situation for couples to be in—or for their parents, or other family members.”Lundquist, the therapist in New York, agreed, and went on to say that people can find their own relationships with their relatives changed or even strained when they bring a partner home. “Bringing a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a new partner around, it’s a way that our families see us more clearly, in ways that they have perhaps been reluctant to see us when it’s just us. A parent might say to their daughter, ‘Okay, I get it. You date girls.’ But then it’s like, ‘Oh, this is your partner who you’re bringing to Grandma’s house with you? I guess you’re serious about the dating-girls thing.’ Or even, ‘Wow. You’re really assertive in your relationship with that person. We’re not used to thinking of you as assertive,’” he said. “It can be a referendum on how seriously your family is willing to take you.”Feeling excluded by a partner’s family, Lundquist said, tends to cause wounded feelings in a relationship more than feeling over-included does—but every so often, partners do balk at the idea of being treated as part of the family.Especially during the holiday season, spending time with a partner’s family can be an unappealing prospect simply because it means less time with one’s own. And in that case, Lundquist added, it’s incumbent upon the person whose family is extending the invitation to politely decline on behalf of his or her partner: “Learning how to say, ‘Actually, my partner’s not available this time, but I can’t wait to see you guys in Florida next week,’ and to stand up to and tolerate your family of origin’s disappointment around that, is an important skill in adulting,” he said.But Lundquist also noted that he would consider a partner’s resistance to attending family events a reason to closely examine the relationship itself. “The first rock I would want to look under as a therapist is, is that saying something problematic about the relationship? Because I think wanting to be included by somebody’s family is really nice,” he said. “The ‘What does it mean that I’m willing to go to Thanksgiving at your stepdad’s house but you’re not willing to do Christmas Eve at my mom’s?’ conversation? That’s mostly about the dynamic between partners.”When a couple find that their respective families approach their relationship in markedly different ways, or on markedly different timelines, difficult situations and impasses can ensue. In extreme cases, a disagreement over family inclusion can be an opportunity to move on and make a mental note about what to look for in the next partner. After Alyssa Lucido and her boyfriend broke up, for example, her next relationship was with a man whose family flew her out to spend Christmas with them when they’d been dating less than a year, and invited her on vacation with them to New York. She loved “spending time with the family, getting to know them, creating meaningful relationships with them” from an early stage, she said. The juxtaposition of that relationship with the one before it, she told me, confirmed to her that early and frequent family inclusion was “something I value in relationships.”[Read: The evolution of the desire to stay friends with your ex]But for many dating and engaged couples, mismatches in family tradition simply present a problem that needs solving, perhaps with help from a professional. Jennifer Chappell Marsh, the therapist in San Diego, often encourages couples to recognize that neither party is necessarily at fault.“Let’s say there’s a continuum of comfort with closeness or intimacy, with total enmeshment on the left side and complete detachment on the right side,” she wrote to me in an email. “If you fall just a little to the left, preferring closeness, and your partner falls just a little to the right, valuing independence, then there’s an inherent tension between the level of closeness each person prefers.” In many of these scenarios, she added, “the person who wants closeness will feel insecure and wonder if their partner is really ‘all in.’ The person who prefers more distance will feel pressure and discouraged at their loss of independence, and a sense they cannot make their partner happy.” She encourages couples to speak clearly with each other about what they need to feel secure in the relationship.Lundquist teaches a similar strategy for de-escalating tension over family inclusion. “The first step of the work is to see if we can transform some bitterness and hurt into curiosity,” he said. So instead of “Why am I not invited to your thing with your dad?” Lundquist often encourages partners to ask each other more open-ended questions: “How’s your relationship been with your dad lately?”The therapists I spoke with stressed that in many of these cases, no one is truly in the wrong. When couples are angry at each other over the question of family inclusion, it’s often because certain underlying realities of one or both parties’ family lives haven’t been addressed explicitly. When one party feels excluded, Lundquist said, “it shouldn’t be automatically assumed that it’s because the other partner is an asshole.”
  • The New L Word Is Expanding the Queer Aesthetic Canon
    On The L Word, the first-ever scripted series following the lives of lesbian characters, hair has never been just hair. The core cast, mostly feminine-presenting West Hollywood residents, seemed to possess effortlessly luxuriant tresses, their varying colors and styles as much a testament to the women’s affluence as to their characters’ sensibilities. As if by magic, their hair maintained its sheen.But two exceptions stood out, characters whose affinity for more masculine-leaning aesthetics was constantly highlighted: There was the androgynous heartbreaker Shane McCutcheon (played by Kate Moennig), a working-class hairstylist whose shaggy, sometimes odd, mane became a hallmark of mid-aughts queer women’s style. And then there was the computer technician Max (Daniela Sea), the only transgender character to become a show regular, whose grooming appeared less tailored to any individual personality and more designed just to showcase the process of transitioning—especially the baffling beard he grew seemingly overnight after buying black-market testosterone.For many trans people, especially those who watched The L Word at the time of its release, Max’s story line—one of the first television portrayals of a trans man—remains one of the show’s biggest failings. (Unlike the more fleshed-out Shane, Max was also more thinly sketched, without the benefit of rich story lines about other parts of his life.) Now, more than a decade later, a reboot, The L Word: Generation Q, is attempting to rectify the discrepancies in the show’s treatment of LGBTQ people across a wide spectrum of gender presentations. In a welcome shift, the new iteration grants its characters—especially those who are trans—plotlines, personalities, and aesthetics that aren’t framed exclusively through the lens of their marginalization.[Read: Jennifer Beals discusses the ‘The L Word’ and why the show’s reboot is necessary]A lot has changed since 2004, when The L Word first premiered on Showtime. Generation Q enters a television landscape that has already been altered by series with varying depictions of queer people, from scripted dramas (Pose, Orange Is the New Black, Euphoria) to frothy reality shows (RuPaul’s Drag Race, Are You the One?). Though the show creator Ilene Chaiken serves as an executive producer alongside Moennig and fellow returning actors Jennifer Beals and Leisha Hailey, she knew the reboot needed to have a distinct, modern voice. When we spoke in Los Angeles recently, she recalled some of the early conversations about the new series: “There should be a new kind of head writer/showrunner, and she should be some young, incredibly gifted lesbian who is still kind of out there in the world,” she remembered saying then. “I think I said someone who still dates,” she added. “That shows why I shouldn’t be doing the show.”Generation Q’s 34-year-old showrunner, Marja-Lewis Ryan, who watched the original series as it aired, said it wasn’t difficult “to expand the umbrella, because I come from a different generation,” she said. “I had The L Word. [Chaiken] didn’t have The L Word.” As much as Ryan’s show is indebted to its forebear for the enthusiasm of its fan base and the specific foibles of its returning characters’ personalities, the reboot also benefits from something more intangible: the shared language that The L Word provided to young queer people who came of age during its run (and to those who’ve watched it since). “I got to come out with a television show,” Ryan noted. “And then I also got to look back and think about it critically as a student of television.”The returning L Word cast members Bette, Shane, and Alice have settled further into their comfortable lives, while the Gen Qers enter a more uncertain climate. (Hilary B. Gayle / Showtime)The reboot picks up with Shane, as well as the museum director turned mayoral candidate Bette Porter (Beals) and the radio-show host Alice Pieszecki (Hailey), 10 years after the first series ended. Viewers are also introduced to new characters who broaden the ensemble’s range: The golden retriever–like Sarah Finley (Jacqueline Toboni), who is estranged from her Christian family, goes by Finley and draws close to Shane. Quick-thinking and family-oriented, Sophie Suarez (Rosanny Zayas) works alongside Finley as a production assistant on Alice’s talk show. Sophie’s fiancée, Dani Nunez (Arienne Mandi), first plays a foil to Bette, before realizing they have more in common than they’d expected. “We saw that there were no Latinas on the show. It was in Los Angeles. That feels odd,” Ryan noted. “The show does not represent all people … For me, it was just about trying to represent the community that I see and I live in. I live in L.A., and there’s Asians and Latinx people in L.A.” With the exception of the wealthy, well-coiffed Dani, the Generation Q cast seems far more laid-back than their predecessors. Finley, Sophie, and Dani live with Micah Lee (Leo Sheng), an adjunct professor who takes his love interest out on a first date with a gift card (the revelation of which is refreshingly more climactic than the disclosure of his trans identity). The show has also moved from glossy West Hollywood to the earthier Silver Lake, and its Millennial characters express financial anxiety that was almost never discussed in the first run.Generation Q’s L.A. has been shaped by the recession, gentrification, and policy failures. One of the reasons Bette is running for mayor, she says, is to address the city’s opioid crisis. For young LGBTQ people, these are far more familiar concerns than some of the original show’s conceits. (Who could forget the time the heiress Helena Peabody racked up a $50,000 poker debt?) References to the bleakness of the current social order don’t take the tone of jarring exclamations, though. Most often, nods to the characters’ struggles or socioeconomic backgrounds are incorporated directly into other story lines. Sophie worries about paying for her wedding, for example. Finley counts on her dates to buy drinks and spends time at the newly rich Shane’s massive house in part to escape her own cramped living quarters.Micah Lee (Leo Sheng) also lives with Sophie, her fiancée, and Finley. (Hilary B. Gayle / Showtime)Meanwhile, where the original bunch regularly looked as though they’d just walked out of a high-end salon, Generation Q skews more DIY. As the show’s hair department head Matthew Holman put it to me, Finley’s cut looks “kinda like one of her girlfriends might’ve just done it in the kitchen.” Sophie’s shaved sides and natural curls, meanwhile, feel as influenced by her Silver Lake and Los Feliz environs as by the YouTube tutorials of countless queer internet celebs. (Ryan noted to me that she’s grateful her team can handle the characters’ style: “Hair and fashion are my weaknesses as a creative,” she said with a laugh. “I’m, like, really gay, and I wear work boots and sweatpants pretty much every day.”)For the show’s costume designer, Deirdra Govan, styling the Gen Qers alongside the more well-known returning characters presented a two-part challenge. “I definitely wanted to stay away from the flannel. I wanted to get away from the L.A. that was and that is very clear,” she said. Additionally, the internet offered up new sources of inspiration. “It’s no longer [the case that] as designers we’re coming in and saying, Hey look at this. No, [the cast is] coming in and in addition to what I’m bringing in, saying, Hey, I saw this on Instagram. Hey, I saw this on social media. I’m really interested in this look. Can we make this happen? and we mind-meld.” That collaborative process has lent the new cast a decidedly Tumblr-esque aesthetic. Crucially, the pivot away from recognizable stereotypes extends to the show’s trans characters, too. Neither Micah nor Pierce, Bette’s campaign manager (Brian Michael Smith), determines his style through his transition journey, a distinct difference from Max’s aesthetic and story arc, most of which explicitly related to his trans-ness. Pierce’s suits and composure match his employer’s; Micah’s T-shirts parallel his California chill and casual approach to teaching. Unlike their predecessors, the trans men of Generation Q get to be comfortable in their own skin, and are supported by the community surrounding them. As of the season’s third episode, neither character has been regarded with suspicion or disdain. Generation Q is still finding its groove, but with its understated respect for a multitude of queer aesthetic presentations, the reboot is a welcome addition to a still-slim LGBTQ canon. As Ryan said, “We don’t really get that very much—queer representation or women really at all … We don’t get to be our own superhero.”
  • How to Conduct a Trial in the Senate
    On Thursday, March 5, 1868, Chief Justice Salmon Portland Chase, dressed in his long black-silk robe, marched to the head of the Senate chamber and solemnly announced that “in obedience to notice, I have appeared to join with you in forming a Court of Impeachment for the trial of the President of the United States.” Swearing that he would serve impartially as judge during the trial of President Andrew Johnson, he also said he would faithfully administer the Constitution and the laws. No one quite knew what that meant. They still don’t.Impeachment: People know the House of Representatives may impeach a sitting American president with a majority vote. They also know that the Senate then conducts a trial of the impeached president with the chief justice presiding, and if two-thirds of the Senate vote to convict, the president will be removed from office. But the United States Constitution does not provide procedural guidelines for how that trial is to be conducted—what constitutes evidence, for instance, or who may object to it, or who might testify for or against the president. And in 1868, after the House of Representatives voted to impeach Andrew Johnson, these issues were fiercely contested in the Senate trial.President Johnson had fired his secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, without the Senate’s consent, which the recently passed Tenure of Office Act had required. Though constitutionally dubious, that law had been created precisely to prevent Johnson from obstructing justice by sacking such men as Stanton, who was helping Congress implement the Reconstruction Acts, which Johnson had also been attempting to obstruct. When President Johnson violated the law, the House voted overwhelmingly to impeach him. It then drafted 11 articles of impeachment, most of which dealt with Johnson’s violation of the statute—his apparent commission of a demonstrable crime—although he was also accused of denying the legitimacy of Congress, holding it in contempt, failing to execute its laws, and abusing his power.[Read more: How does impeachment work?]The 11 impeachment articles were submitted to the Senate, but beyond stipulating that each chamber of Congress define the rules of its own proceedings, the Constitution did not dictate what would or should happen during an impeachment trial, or even how to organize it. So Chief Justice Salmon Chase seized the day. Chase had been a political heavyweight for decades, first as a noted lawyer for fugitive slaves and then as a senator, governor, and presidential contender from Ohio before Abraham Lincoln tapped him to be Treasury secretary and, after the death of Chief Justice Roger Taney in 1864, nominated him to the Supreme Court. A founder of the Republican Party who was deeply suspicious of its progressive wing—the wing that most desired Johnson’s conviction—Chief Justice Chase was a man convinced of his own probity. He told the Senate that in case of a tie, he wanted to be able to cast a vote.To prosecute Andrew Johnson, the House had elected seven members, called managers, who quickly argued that precedents both in England and in the United States suggested that the presiding officer, even when a member of the deciding body, had no more rights than the House did. And if that presiding officer were not a member of the body, as the chief justice was not, because he was not a senator, he should not then be allowed to vote. He could merely submit questions to the larger body, not answer them.But that argument implicitly raised yet another issue: whether the Senate during the trial should be organized as a court of law. If the Senate operated as a court, the chief justice would be able to exercise certain leverage, such as ruling on the admissibility of evidence or the reliability of witnesses. Was this judicial meddling, as some argued? Chief Justice Chase’s conditions—that as presiding officer, he should maintain control over the proceedings—were deemed an attempt to derail the entire process. It was no secret that Chase regarded the impeachment resolution against Johnson to be absurd, even though he didn’t much like the president. What’s more, Chase had his own eye firmly fixed on the Oval Office, and his overweening ambition made his impartiality suspect, because he was said to believe that Johnson’s acquittal would serve his own presidential prospects in 1868.Conducting the trial of the president mostly as if it were a legal proceeding raised other questions, having less to do with procedure or even the chief justice’s presidential aspirations than with how the president’s guilt might be adjudicated. That is, conducting the trial as if it were a legal proceeding slanted the definition of impeachable offense toward a criminal breach of the law and away from questions of fitness, folly, or abuse of power. The House members prosecuting the president argued that because an impeachment trial takes place in the Senate, not in a judicial court, the trial wasn’t subject to a judicial court’s restrictions, say, regarding conviction—namely, certainty of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And, they said, the president need not have violated a specific law to be found guilty of malfeasance. Such is the broad interpretation of an impeachable offense, as Alexander Hamilton defined it in The Federalist Papers: Impeachment should “proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”The Senate thus faced tricky problems, and because there was no blueprint for the trial of a sitting president, there was something improvised about its solutions. After long debate, the Senate did concede a great deal of its authority, concluding that the chief justice could decide on the admissibility of evidence; however, it also stipulated that an individual senator could call for a vote on any of his rulings. And the chief justice was in fact allowed to cast a tie-breaking vote on two procedural questions; a motion to prevent him from casting such a vote was defeated.Still, there were other issues to consider: For instance, would the president be compelled to appear? Johnson was not. In fact, his lawyers made sure of that, so fearful were they of what the pugnacious, scrappy chief executive might say, because he was already known for calling his enemies traitors and in some cases suggesting they be hanged. Instead, the president’s far more dignified lawyers replied to the summons.[Read more: Lessons from Andrew Johnson’s impeachment]Consider this too: Lincoln’s assassination had put his vice president, Andrew Johnson, in the White House; the country thus had no sitting vice president. Should Johnson be convicted and removed from office, then, the president pro tempore of the Senate was next in line for the job, per the Presidential Succession Act of 1796. (Today, the Speaker of the House would be next in line—and just imagine how senators might vote if they thought Speaker Pelosi would sit in the Oval Office.) Senators wanted to know whether Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio, the president pro tempore, should be allowed to vote for Johnson’s conviction, because Wade’s future would be directly affected. But Johnson’s son-in-law was Senator David Patterson of Tennessee; wasn’t this a conflict of interest too? Yet if the Senate during the trial was still understood to be a legislative body, not a court, then each state was certainly entitled to the vote of its two senators, which is what was eventually decided.In other words, no one knew beforehand what dilemmas or questions would arise. There was no way to anticipate all of them, and the 54 senators could only hash them out as best they could. No one was thinking of impeachments down the road, although the Senate’s procedural decisions were more or less codified in “The Rules of Procedure and Practice in the Senate When Sitting on Impeachment Trials” and placed in the Senate Manual; these procedures were not updated again until 1974, after Watergate. Congress plainly had not undertaken impeachment quickly and did not take its execution lightly, and if the trial was halted more than once by delays and seemingly interminable arguments about procedure, those arguments were inevitably inseparable from the question at hand: whether Andrew Johnson had committed impeachable offenses and should be removed from office.Determined to do the right thing and, if necessary, rid the country of an unfit president, the Senate proceeded in an orderly, if improvised, fashion. It intended to preserve the nation and its values, even right after a war, and without causing another one. And so it did. That preservation, that system, that belief—in the rule of law, in the ability to determine its parameters—is the considered vision it bequeathed to us.
  • What Does Tucker Carlson Believe?
    (Stephen Voss / Redux)Tucker Carlson does not think he is an “especially” good person. He knows he can “get mad” and “make a mistake,” that he can “overstate” things as a result of getting “caught up” in his own rhetoric. He also knows he can sometimes get “self-righteous,” and this, as we speak on the set of his Fox News show on a recent Friday, seems to bother him the most. Because it is everything Carlson disdains in others—the elitist sensibility that, in his mind, leads figures such as former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power to espouse a worldview whose essence, as he puts it, is “I’m a really good person, and you’re not.”This is in large part how a wealthy Washingtonian like Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson—with his prep-school education and summer home in Maine—convinces millions of viewers, weeknight after weeknight, that he is one of them. It’s not just that Carlson purports to have empathy where he believes others—such as the Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan, who testified in favor of President Donald Trump’s impeachment and whom Carlson calls a “drooling moron”—lack it. Carlson also enjoys reminding his viewers that the same people who for years told you that you were wrong, that you were a bad person, have long ago written him off, too.Carlson tapes live from Washington, D.C., five nights a week, with all the trappings of any major cable-news set—the bright lights and pixelated backdrops and row of producers studying his every move. But the Tucker Carlson Tonight studio also pulses with a kind of frenetic energy, one that perhaps comes only when your show’s basic message is a gleeful fuck you.“Our leadership class is narcissistic,” Carlson tells me. “And like all narcissists, they’re incredibly shortsighted. The moral preening is a symptom of something deeper, which is narcissism.”[Read: The bow-tied bard of populism]On that recent Friday night, I watch from behind the cameras as Carlson, toggling between his signature expressions of deep concern and manic delight, berates the conservative establishment. He showcases Pro Publica’s reporting on how the American Enterprise Institute, the prominent conservative think tank, for years published glowing pieces about Purdue Pharma, the maker of oxycontin and, incidentally, a major donor to AEI. “If you’re starting to suspect the conservative establishment doesn’t really represent your interests, there’s a reason for that,” Carlson said. “They’re every bit as corrupt as you think they are.”Such segments seem to fulfill the initial promise of Tucker Carlson Tonight, a show that once looked primed to thoughtfully channel the anti-elite sentiment sweeping the right, and perhaps disentangle it from the racial appeals long used to buoy it. At the time of the show’s launch, six days after Trump’s election, it didn’t seem insane to think that Carlson might fashion himself as the voice of a new right-wing populism: Here was someone who even pre-Trump had spoken out against the corporatist, globalist tropes captivating the leadership of both parties, who before focusing on TV was a widely respected writer for the likes of Weekly Standard, Talk, and Esquire. If there was anyone who could articulate a meaningful iteration of Trumpism, one with the intellectual heft to persist beyond the Trump era, maybe it was Carlson.Three years later, Tucker Carlson Tonight is a massive success. According to Nielsen, the show averages 3.4 million viewers a night in its 8 p.m. time slot, more than its CNN and MSNBC counterparts—Anderson Cooper 360 and All In With Chris Hayes—combined. Carlson has distinguished himself from the rest of Fox’s prime-time lineup in large part for his willingness to denounce Republicans. He’s probed the destruction wrought by “vulture capitalism” in small towns and called Trump generally incapable of getting things done. He’s praised Elizabeth Warren’s economic policies as “pure, old-fashioned economics” that “make obvious sense.”All of which could make Carlson singularly poised to rewrite conservatism, to cohere the populist tenor that continues to attract much of the electorate. And yet when we sat down for our interview, not half an hour after his standout segment on AEI, Carlson seemed to trade that appeal to nuance for something else. When I asked him how one could square segments such as the one I’d just watched with his comments last year, for example, that immigrants make America “dirtier,” he looked appalled that I might wonder whether one take was more sincere than the other. “I hate litter,” he said. For 35 years now, he said, he has fished in the Potomac River, and “it has gotten dirtier and dirtier and dirtier and dirtier. I go down there and that litter is left almost exclusively by immigrants, who I’m sure are good people, but nobody in our country—”“Wait,” I said, cutting him off, “how do you know they’re—”“Because I’m there,” he said. “I watch it.”  Ask someone who knows Carlson about the past three years, and you’ll likely hear a lamentation. It’s one of the trendier virtue signals among political and media types: saying you believe that Tucker Carlson is so smart, that it really is such a shame, because he of all people should know better, and what, pray tell, happened to him?The subtext of these conversations is the question of whether Carlson is, as Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently claimed, a “white supremacist sympathizer.” For a time, the question could be written off as unserious, a voguish desire to ascribe racism to anyone who might not support increased immigration. But in recent years, Carlson and some of his guests have lent more and more plausibility to the label. On August 6, for example, days after a white gunman killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, motivated by a fear of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” Carlson took to his program to argue that white supremacy was “not a real problem in America,” but rather a “hoax” drummed up by Democrats.Carlson should “know better,” the thinking goes, because he once centered his work on “his God-given talent for scrupulously true commentary,” as my colleague Conor Friedersdorf puts it. Now 50, he began his career writing for newspapers and magazines in the 1990s, and his editors from that time described him to the Columbia Journalism Review as “enterprising,” “hard-working,” and “extremely talented.” For those familiar only with the Carlson of television, it might come as a surprise that the left-leaning New Republic once likened his writing, which includes a profile of George W. Bush for Tina Brown’s Talk, to David Foster Wallace’s and Michael Lewis’s “best reportage.”Carlson, during our post-show interview that Friday, said he’s learned to drown out any accusations of white supremacy, because “it’s so far from the truth that it has no effect at all other than to evoke in me contempt for the people saying it, because I think it’s that dishonest.” He went on to defend his most controversial segments as an effort to show how America’s “obsession with race” and “constant talking about race” is a “diversion tactic” used by “people who don’t want to talk about economics.” “And the reason people don’t want to talk about economics,” he said, “is because the economy is rigged for the benefit of a small number of people. They don’t want to talk about it—they would much rather the population was high and hating each other on the basis of race.”There’s a hint here as to who Carlson is at his best, someone who can communicate what my colleague Shadi Hamid calls an “economics of meaning,” wherein economic or class critiques “are a means to channel anger, create meaning, and build solidarity rather than to implement better policy outcomes.” When Carlson agrees with Warren that her policies reflect “economic patriotism,” for example, he is defying what as recently as four years ago was Republican orthodoxy, scoffing at those who choose to preen over matters like the national debt rather than celebrate the ethos of a plan that serves American workers instead of “the rhetoric of markets.”[Read: The nationalists take Washington]The question, then, is whether this larger worldview Carlson is espousing each night, encompassing restrictionism, protectionism, and anti-interventionism, has currency with GOP voters absent a race-based appeal—in other words, whether an economics of meaning alone can sustain a populist revolution on the right. Carlson says it does, and it can.His programming tells another story. On his December 6 broadcast, one day after our interview, Carlson featured Pete D’Abrosca, a North Carolina congressional candidate campaigning on an end to immigration. D’Abrosca’s plan appears rooted in his belief that white Americans are “being replaced by third world peasants who share neither their ethnicity nor their culture.” He’s been lauded by the white-nationalist website VDare and is strongly supported by the so-called Groyper movement, an offshoot of the alt-right led by Nick Fuentes, a 21-year-old who has, among other things, denied the extent of the Holocaust and argued that the First Amendment was “not written for Muslims.” D’Abrosca went on Carlson’s show to advertise his proposed 10-year moratorium on immigration. “I think that there’s a new Republican Party in town,” D’Abrosca said.Carlson knows failure. This, in his view, is why, despite going to the same schools, working in the same town—gaming the same “system”—as the elites he rails against, he doesn’t share their “narcissism.” “When you get fired in TV, you know, especially when you’re running a show with your name on it, it’s impossible to evade responsibility for it,” he told me, referencing his MSNBC show, Tucker, which in 2008 was canceled during its third season. “When your show goes under, it goes under because people don’t like you. Like, you’re a loser … I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but it certainly is the only way you ever learn anything—by being humiliated, and crushed.”Yet Carlson also knows success. And if the lesson of failure is that it’s time to “learn a new trick,” he explained, the message of success is sometimes to sit still.Talking with Carlson reminded me of a moment from my interview with President Trump earlier this spring. He was reminiscing about his first evening in the White House residence. “I’ll never forget,” he told me. “I came into the White House, I was here for my first night, and I said, ‘Wow. Four years is such a long time.’”Four years ago, Paul Ryan, the GOP’s boy-wonder champion of entitlement cuts and immigration reform, was grudgingly settling into the speakership, having been drafted as the best hope of uniting his conference. Four years ago, the governor of Alabama was stumping on behalf of John Kasich in the GOP presidential primary. Four years ago, pundits were still calling Donald Trump a fluke.Now we are here in this studio, where Carlson is reaping praise for a blistering segment on a Republican mega-donor, Paul Singer, that showcased how the billionaire hedge-funder had sapped a small Nebraska town of jobs after helping engineer the takeover of a sporting-goods chain that was headquartered there. He’s listening as Jeanine Pirro calls the impeachment of Donald Trump “hogwash” and reads passages from The Federalist Papers by way of explanation. In a few minutes, he’ll excoriate the think tank that served as the ideological bedrock of George H. W. Bush’s administration and was predicted to be Paul Ryan’s employer post-Congress.A lot has happened in four years, and Carlson believes he understands why in a way his Beltway neighbors don’t. Perhaps it’s not right to say, then, that Carlson ensures his appeal to an economics of meaning gets lost when he insists that immigrants litter more than native-born citizens, or when he offers a platform to guys who are too alt-right even for the alt-right. Perhaps it’s that he knows what it takes to keep his audience listening.So cue the lamentations again, this time from the movement conservatives, who might have hoped to see him contend with populism’s fraught history and Trump-era manifestation and shape it into something different. “Carlson has radically reinvented himself,” says David French, senior editor of the conservative outlet The Dispatch, “and one would hope he'd reinvent himself again, grant the reality of right-wing populism's race problem, and do something determined and intentional to overcome it.”When I relayed that sentiment to Carlson, he burst out laughing. “Whatever,” he said. “I’ve made a complete break mentally with the world I used to live in.” He later followed up with an official statement: “David French is a buffoon, one of the least impressive people I’ve ever met. Only in nonprofit conservatism could he have a paying job.”Which brings us to perhaps the most crucial metric of success for Carlson: how many people in Washington think he’s wrong. About what, it doesn’t matter, really. Just as long, he says, as whatever “costume” the Morning Joe folks are wearing—“fighting for private equity,” “making alarmed noises about Tehran,” believing “a woman’s right to choose is the bedrock of human freedom”—is the opposite of his own.And maybe one day, he said as we wound down our interview, he’ll decide everything he’s saying in this moment is wrong. He’s certainly recanted his viewpoints before. “There’s no topic on which my views haven’t changed, because the country has changed so much,” he said. “And what I have learned is that a lot of the things I believed were totally wrong, a lot of the information that I was basing my opinions on was wrong, or dishonest, false, even fraudulent in some cases. A lot of the things conservatives were saying at one time have been completely disproven.”  But when it comes to the Tucker Carlson of the Trump era, don’t expect any sort of personal reckoning in the near future. “It’s very hard when you’re succeeding to see your own flaws. It’s very hard,” he said. “Because everything about the experience reinforces what you’re doing.“So I just know, of course, I’m making mistakes,” he adds. “It’s just harder to see what they are.”
  • An Ode to Middle Age
    From the outside it looks steady.It looks resolved. Sitting heavily in a chair, with settled opinions and stodgy shoes—there’s something unbudgeable about the middle-aged person. The young are dewy and volatile; the old are toppling into fragility. But the middle-aged hold their ground. There’s a kind of magnetism to this solidity, this dowdy poise, this impressively median state.But on the inside … You’re in deep flux. A second puberty, almost. Inflammations, precarious accelerations. Dysmorphic shock in the bathroom mirror: Jesus, who is that? Strange new acts of grooming are suddenly necessary. Maybe you’ve survived a bout of something serious; you probably have a couple of fussy little private afflictions. You need ointment. It feels like a character flaw. Maybe it is a character flaw.For all this, though, you are weirdly and unwontedly calm, like someone riding a bicycle without using his hands. You’re not an apprentice adult anymore. You’re through the disorientation period, the Talking Heads moment—“And you may find yourself in a beautiful house / With a beautiful wife / And you may ask yourself / Well, how did I get here?” You’re through the angst and the panic attacks. You don’t yet have the wild license of old age, when you can write gnarly, scandalous poems like Frederick Seidel, or tell an interviewer—as The Who’s Pete Townshend recently did—that “it’s too late to give a fuck.” But you’re more free. The stuff that used to obsess you, those grinding circular thoughts—they’ve worn themselves out. You know yourself, quite well by now. Life has introduced you to your shadow; you’ve met your dark double, and with a bit of luck the two of you have made your accommodations. You know your friends. You love your friends, and you tell them.I’m generalizing from my own case, of course, because what else can I do? Besides, a sense at last of having some things in common with the other humans, the other wobbling bipeds—this, too, is one of the gifts of middle age. Good experience, bad experience, doesn’t matter. Experience is what you share, the raw weight of it. The lines around the eyes. The bruising of the soul. The banging up against your own boundaries, your own limits.[From December 2014: The real roots of midlife crisis]Limits, limits, thank God for limits. Thank God for the things you cannot do, and that you know you cannot do. Thank God for the final limit: Death, who now gazes at you levelly from the foot of your bed, and with an ironical twinkle, because you still don’t completely believe in him.At any rate, if you’re reading this, you’re not dead. So: Should you leap gladly, grinningly, into these contradictory middle years, when everything is speeding up and slowing down, and becoming more serious and less serious? The middle-aged person is not an idiot. Middle age is when you can throw your back out watching Netflix. The middle-aged person is being consumed by life, and knows it. Feed the flame—that’s the invitation. Go up brightly.
  • A World War II Biopic That Raises Pressing Modern Questions
    “What happened to our country? To the land we love?” It’s a question one can imagine being asked in many places, at many moments in history, and one that will surely have resonance for viewers in the present day. In Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life, it’s being asked by the Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter (played by August Diehl), and what has happened to his country is the rise of fascism and annexation by Nazi Germany. Since this is a Malick movie, that cataclysm is represented with stark, sweeping scenery: rolling bucolic landscapes disrupted by the arrival of troops and blue skies suddenly darkening as they’re broken up by thunderous storms.Jägerstätter, who lived in the small mountain village of Sankt Radegund, was an openly anti-Nazi, devoutly Catholic man. He was eventually conscripted into the Nazi army, but refused to swear an oath to Hitler even on penalty of death. His status as a martyr is of obvious fascination to Malick. The director has long wrestled with the role of piety in day-to-day life, but his most recent films have been highly personal, abstract affairs that drew from his own experiences. Movies such as Knight of Cups and Song to Song were interesting but limited—fractured bits of memory rather than complete narratives. A Hidden Life is far more reminiscent of “classic” Malick, and it’s a joy to have him back.Malick made his name in the ’70s with Badlands and Days of Heaven, films that established him as a master of poetic imagery and haunting stories. The work that A Hidden Life most reminded me of, though, was The Thin Red Line, his 1998 masterpiece about the subtle and violent horrors of war. That film is set during World War II in the Melanesian islands of the South Pacific, another haven of natural beauty defiled by chaos and death. While it centers on American troops rather than the Austrian soldiers of A Hidden Life, it likewise emphasizes the loss of paradise both ideal and physical, and the visceral disorder that follows a catastrophic conflict.A Hidden Life goes a step further by implicitly tying Jägerstätter’s dilemma to the present day; the film begins with real-life footage of Nazis marching with torches, an uncomfortable and pointed echo of photos from the 2017 white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Moments later, the film cuts to a secluded mountain town where, for Jägerstätter and his wife, Franziska (Valerie Pachner), that threat seems a world away. Malick’s gift for depicting raw emotion through camera movement and largely wordless montages—the couple farming, or dancing, or celebrating in the square with other townspeople—is in full force for the first act of the film, showing a giddy joy that will eventually give way to something crueler.Sure enough, signs of authoritarianism begin to show even before troops start marching through the town. The new mayor is a strident xenophobe, given to outbursts of nationalistic language that give Jägerstätter pause. Military planes begin to rattle the skies overhead. Clouds and fog appear across the hills and valleys; the cinematography, by Jörg Widmer, is staggering, translating the sight of a gathering storm into a symbol of God’s wrath. Though Jägerstätter is dragged into the army early in the war, he never sees combat, because of France’s quick surrender. When he’s conscripted again, he has to make a more principled choice: a rejection of Hitler that he knows could lead to his execution.At 174 minutes, A Hidden Life is Malick’s longest theatrical film yet. The extended running time seems intentional, contributing to the sense of entrapment that arises when Jägerstätter is imprisoned for refusing to swear allegiance to Hitler. Even as the plot turns totally static, this section of the film contains its most dramatic, effective sequences, in which Jägerstätter is dragged before authority figures—a priest, a bishop, a Nazi general—and forced to defend his beliefs. Malick can turn philosophical quandaries into tactile, engaging scenes, and these conversations are incredible, often racked with anguish as Jägerstätter realizes that even the men of God he admires are trying to talk him into compromise.“Mine is the smallest of crosses,” Jägerstätter says with self-deprecation. He sees his own defiance as simple and obvious, a rejection of a regime that’s as far from his Christian values as he can imagine. Malick makes clear, however, how rare that sacrifice was, examining how the country around Jägerstätter—including its religious leaders—had to make a show of ignoring his plight. The current implications of A Hidden Life feel most pressing here: Malick is asking the audience (and himself) if they would capitulate in the face of tyranny or make Jägerstätter’s sacrifice. It’s a decision Malick memorializes beautifully, in a film that is his most affecting effort in almost a decade.
  • Trump’s Trade War Was Futile
    President Donald Trump promised yesterday that peace is at hand in his trade war upon China. “We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China,” he tweeted at 10:25 a.m. “They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more.” Beijing also announced that the two sides had reached an agreement.Yet the first reports on the details suggest something less than a “very large” deal—it seems more a pause and truce. Still, the world will be spared the round of United States tariffs that were scheduled for December 15. By 2020, Trump's trade wars could cost the global economy $700 billion, the International Monetary Fund estimates. More tariffs would have cost more still.Under the deal, China will increase some agricultural purchases from the United States, which it would have done anyway because the country is in the throes of a swine flu that has killed 100 million pigs and cut the country’s pork production in half. China has also made promises to improve its protection of intellectual property—something else that China was already doing anyway.In other words, the United States gained little from the self-destructive trade war that Trump started. As the Bloomberg trade columnist David Fickling quipped on news of the deal: “It's a relief when a nation decides to stop punching itself in the face; how much better if it hadn’t started, though.”Yet this latest Trump fiasco was for once something more than an individual quirk. Trump’s actions against China were supported by growing impetus among American conservatives to get tough on China, not only strategically, but economically too.[Melvyn P. Leffler: China isn’t the Soviet Union. Confusing the two is dangerous.]In October 2018, Vice President Mike Pence appeared at the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, to place the Trump trade policy in context. Unlike Trump’s China statements, Pence’s speech was intellectually coherent and carefully worded.Pence began by setting forth a problem: “China wants nothing less than to push the United States of America from the Western Pacific and attempt to prevent us from coming to the aid of our allies,” he said. Pence itemized U.S. grievances. He stated demands: “The United States wants Beijing to pursue trade policies that are free, fair, and reciprocal.” He outlined policy responses intended to constrain China and compel better behavior from it: stiffer rules on technology transfers, more U.S. military spending, and bilateral trade deals with other Asia-Pacific countries. Without even a twinkle of irony, Pence even praised investigative journalists who unearthed the financial secrets of corrupt authoritarians—so long, presumably, as they restricted their scope of work to Chinese corrupt authoritarians.“It’s also great to see more journalists reporting the truth without fear or favor, digging deep to find where China is interfering in our society, and why,” Pence said. “And we hope that American and global news organizations will continue to join this effort on an increasing basis."Pence’s words did not align with Trump-administration actions. Even as trade tensions crackled between the United States and China, Trump was picking trade fights with countries Pence had identified as potential trade allies—notably India in June 2019. The Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates that by mid-February of this year, Trump had imposed new restrictions on 12.6 percent of U.S. international trade. He had targeted not only China, but also the European Union, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea.By the time Pence next spoke formally about China, this October, he did not have much good news to report. In the year since his last speech, Pence said, “Beijing has still not taken significant action to improve our economic relationship. And on many other issues we’ve raised, Beijing’s behavior has become even more aggressive and destabilizing.”Persistent failure, however, has not caused a policy rethink. If anything, the administration’s allies have urged even tougher policies. On Tuesday, in a speech to the National Defense University, Senator Marco Rubio delivered a grim assessment. “The Chinese Communist Party,” he said, “has emerged as an immediate and growing threat to prosperity, our freedoms, and our security.” Rubio proposed a new industrial policy as a remedy, a new burst of state interventionism to encourage investment in critical sectors. Even Senator Mitt Romney, who has criticized Trump on so much else, has defended Trump’s anti-China tariffs as necessary to protect the U.S. economy.Viewers of Fox News—the president first among them—have absorbed escalating messages of hostility to China. In October, Laura Ingraham called upon the United States to break its diplomatic and economic relations with China, saying, “I think we should cut ties with China across the board.” And here’s Tucker Carlson earlier this month: I would say more broadly that what you see in the past 20 years is a systematic betrayal of America beginning with China’s admission into the WTO where our entire industrial sector collapsed. They became strong, we became weak, and a small number of people got rich doing it and they’ve never been punished for it, and they should be. At the end of 2018, Lou Dobbs called for war upon China to punish Chinese hacking of U.S. computer systems. “I can’t understand why we wouldn’t go to war over this kind of monstrous theft,” he said. (Later in the segment, Dobbs said he would settle for a cold war rather than a shooting war, just so long as there was some kind of “confrontation.”)But it’s not only Republicans who approve! The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives have agreed to a surge in U.S. defense spending to almost $750 billion, up $150 billion from President Barack Obama’s final year in office. This spending is justified above all as a response to Chinese ambitions, with special emphasis on expanding the U.S. Navy from 285 to 355 warships.The presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have urged trade policies even more protectionist than Trump’s. When former Vice President Joe Biden tried in May to soothe Iowa Democrats’ fears of China, he drew Twitter fire from Sanders: Since the China trade deal I voted against, America has lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs. It’s wrong to pretend that China isn’t one of our major economic competitors. When we are in the White House we will win that competition by fixing our trade policies. Twenty-five-hundred years ago, the ancient Greek historian Thucydides explained the origins of the Peloponnesian War: “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson explained the First World War in the same way: “Britain has the earth, and Germany wants it.” Are China and the United States doomed to repeat this tragic history in the 2020s?In July, five international-relations scholars published an open letter pleading with U.S. policy makers not to treat China as an enemy. The former World Bank president Bob Zoellick has argued in public forums and op-eds, “You cannot contain China.” This past week, Fareed Zakaria published in Foreign Affairs the most fully realized critique to date of the Trump drive to trade war.Zakaria, the host of CNN’s global public-affairs program “GPS,” scrutinized the Trump policy of confrontation with flinty realism. He predicted that the hawkish China policy advanced by leading Republicans will produce a “fractured, bifurcated international order, marked by government restrictions and taxes on trade, technology, and travel.” The result, Zakaria said, would be “diminished prosperity, persistent instability, and the real prospect of military conflict for all involved.”Zakaria argues instead that while China’s internal behavior is bad and getting worse—horrifying attacks on religious minorities; violent repression of Hong Kong protesters—its external behavior remains much more responsible than Trump, Pence, and others acknowledge.[Peter Beinart: China isn’t cheating on trade]Nor are China’s trade practices anywhere near as bad as Trump, Pence, and Rubio allege them to be. “In a recent survey of such companies conducted by the U.S.-China Business Council,” Zakaria reports, “intellectual property protection ranked sixth on a list of pressing concerns, down from number two in 2014.” The improvements date to the creation by China of new judicial proceedings to protect intellectual property. Foreign companies have filed 68 complaints in the new courts and, Zakaria says, won all 68.Zakaria contends that China has been inward-looking, concerned with protecting its regime against internal dissent and fractures. As the world’s second strongest economic power, China’s weight will inevitably be felt beyond its borders, as America’s is and most great powers’ are. Yet China’s power is most often exercised in ways that are defensive and reactive, not offensive and aggressive. China’s rise does not have to destabilize the international system.Finally, China has grown too big to be moved by Trump-style unilateral U.S. pressure. Zakaria argues: China is, by some measures, already the world’s largest economy. Within ten to 15 years, it will probably take this spot by all measures ... China will have to be given a place at the table and genuinely integrated into the structures of decision-making, or it will freelance and unilaterally create its own new structures and systems. China’s ascension to global power is the most significant new factor in the international system in centuries. It must be recognized as such.   This last point seems especially cogent. At the start of the Cold War against the Soviet Union, the U.S. economy was probably three times larger than the Soviet economy. The odds looked even better when Soviet power was contrasted to that of the U.S. plus its closest allies—the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the recovering economies of Western Europe. In 1985, the U.S.-led Western alliance produced half the planet’s output.China presents a more formidable rival than the former Soviet Union ever was. Which means that allies matter more than ever to U.S. power. But unlike his predecessors in the age of the Soviet threat, Trump’s first move in his campaign against China was to sabotage the alliances that once enhanced U.S. leverage.In his first week in office, Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. TPP balanced Chinese economic power by joining Pacific Rim countries in a tighter system of rules and responsibilities. He proceeded to launch trade wars against Canada, Australia, the European Union, and the United Kingdom—alienating potential partners that could help the United States balance China. Trump threatened to blow up NAFTA, posing an existential threat to the Mexican economy. Mexico is also an important Pacific Rim country and a TPP signatory, lest we forget.Trump first frightened South Korea by threatening to start a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula, then demanded it pay extra for American protection. He moved again and again to cancel the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Along the way, he made the United States look ridiculous by announcing that he had sent “an armada, very powerful” toward North Korea—at the very moment when the main U.S. naval force in the Pacific was 3,500 miles away and pointing in the opposite direction.Trump reneged on a refugee-resettlement deal with Australia, and even now is stressing U.S.-Australian relations by pressing the Australian prime minister to endorse conspiracy theories that Russia did not help him in the 2016 election.Trump’s attack on world trade is pushing trade-dependent Japan into recession. Japan’s exports have been dropping all year, plunging 5 percent in the month of September alone. As exports dwindle, Japan’s economy sputters, growing at only 0.2 percent in the third quarter of 2019. Trust in the U.S. presidency has reached epic lows under Trump. While his approval ratings in the Asia-Pacific region are not quite so bad as in Europe, only 32 percent of Japanese and only 30 percent of Australians express confidence in him to do the right thing. Among Canadians, only 25 percent have confidence; among Mexicans, only 6 percent.[Michael Shulman: Things weren’t always this bad between the U.S. and China]Trump has done extra harm by refusing to take seriously climate change as an issue with China. The Pacific countries are even more alarmed by climate change than European allies. Again according to Pew, 60 percent of Australians, 66 percent of Canadians, 75 percent of Japanese, and 86 percent of South Koreans regard climate change as a major threat. These numbers have risen starkly since Pew’s previous survey in 2013. China is by far the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, almost 30 percent of the planetary total, as compared with 16 percent for second-place United States.As democracy once defined the global coalition against Soviet communism, so environmentalism could define the global coalition against China’s predatory economic model. Trump threw away that indispensable unifying message before his administration even started.  Trump’s slogan of America First in practice translates to America Alone. In the 21st century, America Alone means China First, America Second. But America’s legacy of alliance-leadership offers a third way between Trump’s doomed unilateralism against China and the realistic accommodation of China that Zakaria proposes. The United States cannot impose its will on China. But it can work with others to write rules that China cannot afford to ignore. Trump’s “I order, you salute” model of leadership will end at best in failure and at worst in defeat. A return to the traditions of U.S. coalition-management—now infused with a new ethic of environmental stewardship—can extend the U.S.-led world order deep into this 21st century.
  • Don’t Let the First Amendment Forget DeRay Mckesson
    The Roberts Court has repeatedly assured the nation that the First Amendment protects everyone, regardless of popularity and regardless of viewpoint. The Court has a chance to put its doctrinal money where its free-speech mouth has been. It should do that as soon as possible by summarily reversing a recent atrocious Fifth Circuit decision called Mckesson v. Doe—rather than waiting until a Louisiana policeman has a chance to bankrupt a civil-rights activist with enormous litigation costs.In this decision, a conservative panel of the Fifth Circuit—without even hearing oral argument—mounted a frontal offensive on a venerable First Amendment precedent that has protected unpopular speakers for four decades. The panel’s three judges (E. Grady Jolly from Mississippi, Jennifer Walker Elrod from Texas, and Don Willett from Texas) flatly defied that precedent and allowed a punitive lawsuit to proceed against DeRay Mckesson. Mckesson is one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, a speaker whose ideas are not merely unpopular among conservative, southern whites like the judges, but are seen to be truly “fraught with death,” as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once described speech that, though abhorrent, deserves protection.Mckesson’s case goes back to July 5, 2016, when police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, shot and killed a street vendor named Alton Sterling under unclear circumstances (Sterling was carrying a gun, but witnesses denied police accounts that he had been aggressive; no charges were brought against the officers). On the night of July 9, Black Lives Matter activists, including Mckesson, took part in a protest outside the police headquarters and blocked the highway. Police responded in force, arresting about 70 people or more, including Mckesson. (This protest is where the Reuters photographer Jonathan Bachman took the iconic photo “Taking a Stand in Baton Rouge,” depicting the Pennsylvania nurse Ieshia Evans facing down a line of armored police.)  During the demonstration, someone threw a hard object that injured Officer Doe.[Garrett Epps: Speech rights for Trump, but not DeRay Mckesson]The arrested protesters sued city and county law enforcement for excessive force, and received a settlement totaling around $100,000 and an agreement that their arrest records would be expunged. Then Officer Doe (he received court permission to proceed under a false name) brought a suit against Mckesson and the entire Black Lives Matter movement, arguing that “Black Lives Matter leadership ratified all action taken during the protest. DeRay Mckesson ratified all action taken during the Baton Rouge protest.” Mckesson “incited the violence,” the suit alleged. But it offered no specific evidence—Mckesson’s alleged “incitement” was, the suit said, telling The New York Times that “the police want protestors to be too afraid to protest.”The theory of this ridiculous case originated with Larry Klayman, the flamboyant “birther” lawyer who, most recently, brought a $200 million conspiracy and defamation lawsuit on behalf of George Zimmerman against the family of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager he shot in 2012. After a shooter in Dallas killed five police officers in 2016, Klayman brought a $550 million suit against former President Barack Obama, the Nation of Islam, the New Black Panther Party, the civil-rights activist and TV host Al Sharpton, the billionaire philanthropist George Soros, and a group of BLM activists, including Mckesson. A federal district court dismissed that suit on multiple grounds, but Doe’s attorneys borrowed Klayman’s theories; they trundled them into federal court in Louisiana, alleging that because Mckesson led a protest and someone else committed a violent act there, Mckesson was responsible for the officer’s injuries.A trial judge dismissed the case. The claim ran straight into an established Supreme Court precedent—a 1982 case called NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware. Claiborne Hardware concerned a civil-rights boycott against segregated local stores in a Mississippi county. At a rally, the civil-rights leader Charles Evers warned listeners that “if we catch any of you going in any of them racist stores, we’re gonna break your damn neck.” During the boycott, persons unknown committed acts of vandalism; local merchants sued the NAACP, claiming that Evers and the organization were enforcing an illegal boycott by violent means. In 1982, the Supreme Court, 8–0, ordered the case dismissed.When “violence and … threats of violence” occur “in the context of constitutionally protected activity,” that context “imposes restraints” on what and whom tort law may punish, wrote Justice John Paul Stevens for seven of the eight justices. Thus, plaintiffs needed to show that Evers and the NAACP had “authorized, directed, or ratified specific tortious activity,” explicitly “incited” violence, or ordered others to carry out violent acts. There was no such evidence in Claiborne Hardware, and Doe didn’t offer any in the Mckesson case. The BLM protesters did possibly violate the law by blocking traffic, but authorities were unable to prove the offense, and apologized and paid compensation for the arrests.The officer appealed to the Fifth Circuit—arguably the most conservative circuit in the country—at which point the case took a strange turn into the constitutional Twilight Zone. Someone at the court—a judge or a clerk—apparently saw the chance to shove the law of protest radically to the right. The court panel gave no hint that it was considering a major doctrinal change—it did not request supplemental briefing, nor even allow oral argument. But it reinstated Doe’s lawsuit, writing that “the First Amendment does not protect violence.” Mckesson was liable for Doe’s injuries because he was “negligent”—he should have known he had a duty to control the actions of every member of the crowd.[Conor Friedersdorf: Does the First Amendment hold at the border?]Mckesson petitioned for rehearing en banc. Instead, the panel itself (which had not “heard” argument in the first place) granted “rehearing”—meaning that it again didn’t allow Mckesson to be heard, and simply agreed with itself in a second opinion saying, in essence, “and how!”Earlier this month, Mckesson, represented by the ACLU, asked the Supreme Court to review the case. If the Court is serious about its First Amendment jurisprudence, it should grant the petition and, in a one-line opinion, summarily reverse the Fifth Circuit. If it’s unwilling to do that, it should stay the trial below and hear the case now.What it should not do is deny the petition and allow a civil trial against Mckesson, then review the First Amendment issue if Mckesson loses. The danger of cases like this is not simply the possibility of local juries turning their ire on unpopular defendants; it is the certainty that this type of lawsuit will impose crippling litigation costs on those defendants. Appellate vindication years later will be of little use; they will likely be bankrupt by then.“This is one of those rare cases where it’s absolutely vital that the Supreme Court hear the case at this stage on a motion to dismiss,” Ben Wizner, the director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project and a co-author of the petition, told me. “If the Court refuses review and allows the Fifth Circuit ruling to stand, the harm to First Amendment interests will be complete.” Such a decision would “invite similar vexatious lawsuits against movement leaders of all political stripes. It essentially allows anyone to bankrupt any movement with which they disagree.”It’s clear that much of the right thinks that, while the First Amendment may be all very well for millionaires who want to give endless political-campaign contributions, agitators like Mckesson are over the line when they question the authority of police. In October, Fifth Circuit Judge James Ho, probably the most flamboyantly extreme of the Trump appointees to that court, called for a halt to lawsuits against violent police. “If we want to stop mass shootings,” he wrote, “we should stop punishing police officers who put their lives on the line to prevent them.”[Garrett Epps: John Roberts strikes a blow against free speech]Attorney General Bill Barr joined that chorus last week.  The American people, he told a Justice Department awards ceremony, “have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves.” He warned that “if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.”This reverence for police power is now gnawing a hole in the fabric of the First Amendment. If the Supreme Court doesn’t halt the drift, we may soon see a special First Amendment exception for anti-police protest.Chief Justice Roberts: In 2014, you defended the First Amendment right of the millionaire Shaun McCutcheon to give contributions to as many politicians as he wishes. “If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades—despite the profound offense such spectacles cause, it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition,” you wrote. You explained so smoothly how the First Amendment protects the Shaun McCutcheons of the world from their foes. Does it still have room to shelter the DeRay Mckessons as well?
  • History’s Greatest Sea Is Dying
    Most of the world’s seas are in some kind of environmental trouble, but few have declined as quickly or from such precipitous heights as the Mediterranean’s eastern edge. Although it midwifed some of history’s greatest civilizations, the eastern Med has become a grubby embodiment of the current littoral states’ failures. Where the ancients sailed, many of their successors now junk industrial waste. The accomplishments of the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, and pharaonic Egyptians, among others, have only accentuated their descendants’ political and economic rot.In recent years, the eastern Med has come to something of a “now or never” moment to salvage, or savage, the sea once and for all. Big, new offshore gas finds have set the countries along its banks against one another as they jockey for a share of the riches. Renewed great-power games, particularly over Syria, have turned the sea into even more of a geopolitical battleground. In some parts of it, warships and air forces from as far afield as Pakistan warily crisscross its waters. With much of Europe fixated on migrant flows across the Continent’s southern border, there are more obstacles to addressing the eastern Med’s environmental woes than ever before.An awful lot is riding on this moment. The Med is warming at one of the fastest paces in the world (up to 0.12 degrees Celsius, or 0.216 Fahrenheit a year, on the surface), and it is choked with plastic. Though the Mediterranean constitutes less than 1 percent of the world’s oceans, it holds 7 percent of its microplastics. The coastal states continue to sully the sea with tons of everything from shipping oil to untreated sewage, meaning there’s scarcely an untarnished ecosystem left. (It’s a similar story on land: Naval bases sit alongside garbage-strewn beaches and coastal dump sites—relatively high military budgets juxtaposed with penniless environment ministries.) For the millions of people who depend on the Med for employment, and the many millions more who treasure it as a “blue lung” in a region of sometimes suffocating heat and claustrophobic cities, the sea’s struggles threaten to become their own.But there might be an even more important subtext to the eastern Med’s decline. For millennia, those who lived near it thrived off one another, always trading and frequently cooperating from coast to coast, creating some of the greatest civilizations in world history. Yet that was long ago, and the region’s intellectual slump mirrors its environmental decay. Stifled by unilateralism, greed, and chronic short-termism, antiquity’s greatest sea resembles the contemporary world in miniature—and with this year’s United Nations climate talks having concluded in Madrid with little tangible progress, the lessons the eastern Med offers are not particularly hopeful.[Read: A blueprint for protecting the world’s oceans]“I’ve come back to the Mediterranean after 30 years and I’m heartbroken,” Gaetano Leone, a native Neopolitan who is now head of the UN Environment Program’s Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) Secretariat, told me. “Are we ever going back to the blue Mediterranean with the best fish and the pristine beaches? I don’t know if it will go back to that impeccable romantic image.”Some of the Med’s troubles are due to its unusual topography. Because it has few external outlets, it takes roughly 100 years for a drop of water to exit the sea, so there’s less dilution of toxins, and because some of the strongest currents flow west to east, the eastern Med bears the brunt of the entire littoral’s poor practices. But that’s only part of the story.Conflict has scarred it in ways big and small. Most recently, in Syria, underwater pipelines at the Baniyas oil terminal were sabotaged, sending crude gushing out to the surrounding coastline and beyond, while Gaza’s bomb-damaged wastewater facilities continue to leak raw sewage into the shallows. As ever in war, the environment tends to become a distant concern.Years of economic and political dysfunction have also left a fearsome mark. Mired in varying degrees of financial crisis, parts of North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Levant have made marine protection even less of a priority. Greece is one of a number of countries to have disregarded some environmental best practices in its clamor for investment. “During the years of crisis, we tried to make as much of our coastline as possible,” Dimitris Ibrahim, a marine-program officer at WWF Greece, told me. “This isn’t just in Greece, of course, but the narrative became that environmental protection is a barrier to growth. People might say: ‘I want a healthy ecosystem to pass to the next generation, but I also need to feed my kids.’”And when states fail to act in concert for extended periods, as has often happened in the eastern Med, there are unforeseen consequences. The Suez Canal, for one, has facilitated the passage of aggressive invasive species from the Red Sea, many of which, like the spiky lionfish, have run riot and gutted native fish stocks. The problems have only worsened since the enlargement of the canal in 2014, which Egypt seemingly excavated with little regard for the environmental impact elsewhere. “The situation is bad. It’s really bad,” Bayram Öztürk, the founder and director of the Turkish Marine Research Foundation, told me. “These days, we have 1,000 alien species in the Med. It’s like another Med in the Med.”[Read: Eat an invasive species for dinner]Those might actually be the more resolvable problems. The eastern Med’s deterioration, particularly of late, is also the result of a world that appears more unable than ever to forsake short-term economic gains, even as its environmental woes worsen by the day. Over the past decade, huge hydrocarbon discoveries have sparked a dash for undersea riches, as the likes of Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, and Greece have moved to tap their finds. In states’ zeal to extract, conservationists fear spills—with good reason. When a tanker sank near Athens two years ago, ill-equipped authorities struggled to contain it despite perfect conditions and its proximity to the capital, according to WWF’s Ibrahim. Were anything to happen near one of the isolated major fields, the impact could be catastrophic.Conservationists also fear for the Med’s biodiversity, much of which is disappearing in a hurry as tankers, rigs, and swirling pollution appropriate habitats. Scores of dead turtles have washed up along the Israeli coast in circumstances that environmental officials there believe might be related to underwater explosions. Similarly, in Greece, a combination of booming marine traffic going to and from the Suez Canal and noisy subterranean energy exploration is killing or driving away sonar-sensitive sperm whales and Cuvier’s beaked whales. That fallout might only accelerate if major gas-pipeline infrastructure is approved as the European Union looks to wean itself from its dependence on Russia.Above all, environmentalists and officials alike fear that the extensive naval buildups accompanying gas-field development will shut out environmental concerns while turning the region into even more of a powder keg. Turkey has transformed itself into a powerful maritime presence, pursuing a strategy that many of its neighbors see as an attempt to dominate the eastern Med. Egypt and Israel have also boosted their capabilities, in large part to guard their gas fields. Russia recently conducted its largest naval exercise in the Med since the Cold War, just as the United States is ramping up operations after decades of treating the region as something of an irrelevance. Even Iran and China might be muscling in: The former has been granted part of the port of Latakia, in Syria; the latter has invested heavily in the region as part of its Belt and Road initiative and controls a string of major Med ports, including Piraeus.[Read: The link between Putin’s military campaigns in Syria and Ukraine]Though the chances of a clash are slim, the threat of one has been enough to freeze cross-border cooperation. Environmental activists in the Turkish and Greek areas of Cyprus have had to tread extra carefully as Turkey, which occupies the northern part of the island, searches for gas in waters that the international community doesn’t recognize as its own. Their peers from Egypt to Libya and beyond report increased state harassment. As the region subdivides itself into loose new alliances, with Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Cyprus in one camp, and now Turkey and Libya in another, conservation efforts are falling further and further down the agenda. “We reached this situation because of very bad management, political interventions, and obviously corruption, and that all affects the Mediterranean,” Fadi Jreissati, the Lebanese minister of environment, said in an interview. “To put it simply, politics is killing nature.”Seas can take a lot of punishment without exhibiting the hurt, and that might be part of the problem. Most of the eastern Med still looks so stunning that it can be easy for the casual observer to disregard the rot. But it won’t maintain that veneer for much longer—because of climate change and rapid population growth, the damage is only going to come thicker and faster. “Every year, the storms get more violent and more unpredictable,” Dimitris Achladotis, a fisherman on the distant Greek island of Kastellorizo, told me. “Nothing that I see is normal anymore.”There are a few clear takeaways. For one, the littoral states can’t go it alone on conservation, no matter how poor some interstate relations might be. The eastern Med is too small and too interconnected for unilateral action; its countries have all played a part in dirtying the waters. They will need to work together to fix it.It appears true, too, that neither regional governments nor civil society can be relied on to prompt change, even if everyone cooperates. As a measure of how little most states are currently committing to this crisis, Lebanon, perhaps the worst pound-for-pound polluter in the Med, gives its environment ministry an annual budget of just $9 million. Most NGOs and pan-regional bodies are too cash-strapped, too cowed by their often-authoritarian home states, or too powerless at a time when many of these issues aren’t on officials’ radar. “We can make a lot of noise. We can breathe down the authorities’ neck, but if people don’t listen there’s a limit to what we can do,” said Asaf Ariel, the science officer at EcoOcean, an Israeli NGO, in an interview.Commercial interests might be the Med’s best bet, though not ones of the oil and gas variety. More than 200 million tourists cluster along the sea’s shores every year, and there’s a limit to the amount of trash on the beaches, rashes from poor-quality water, or jellyfish swarms that visitors will tolerate. If, or most likely when, deteriorating conditions start to devastate tourist businesses’ bottom line, the consequences will be severe. The Med economies are too fragile to sustain knockout blows to one of their primary industries. Governments, residents maintain, will have no choice but to act, however they might feel about one another.“If you can’t swim here, what’s the point of coming?” Margarita Kannis, a local-council member and an environmentalist on Kastellorizo, asked me. “It’s tourism or nothing in this part of the world.”
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  • Nuggets flirt with disaster in win over Knicks: “I hate the fact that we keep giving (leads) back”
    The Nuggets finally got burned when they coughed up a double-digit lead on the road at Sacramento to close out November. That costly lesson nearly played itself out again Sunday night against the lowly New York Knicks, when the Nuggets survived despite losing a 16-point second half lead. Twice in the fourth quarter they found themselves trailing by five and needing the bail-out assistance of Nikola Jokic to save them. “Once again you build a 20-point lead and you’re playing really well, and all of a sudden you let go of the rope and look up and, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re down five,’” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, who felt his team showed tired legs after their third game in four nights. Despite an abysmal second-half shooting performance and an uninspiring third-quarter defensive effort that saw the Knicks outscore the Nuggets 33-20, Denver hung on for its third consecutive win and improved to 17-8 on the season. Their next two games — at home vs. Orlando and Minnesota — afford them a strong chance at reeling off a five-game winning streak heading into next Sunday’s showdown with the Lakers. “It’s great that we can come from behind and execute and rebound to get the win, but I just hate the fact that we keep giving it back,” he added. “I know teams will go on runs in the NBA — that’s part of the game — but we just have to be more focused when we get these leads. When our bench comes in, they have to sustain if not build the lead. We’ll get there. I love the fact that we’re winning while we’re trying to still find that out.” Due to Paul Millsap’s strained right quadriceps, which kept him out for a second straight game, Mason Plumlee was on the floor for a season-high 34 minutes. He played for more than 21 minutes in the second half as the Knicks bludgeoned the paint with 30 points inside. “Like I said, a lack of defense,” Plumlee said. “They had runouts in transition, they had naked layups driving, there were a couple breakdowns in rotations and all those things, it was just one after another.” If the Nuggets are to realize their potential — they currently sit tied for third place in the Western Conference — these lapses can’t continue to happen as they did against Minnesota and Boston earlier in the season. Related Articles Nuggets win third straight game after near-collapse against the Knicks Nuggets coach Michael Malone finds new word to describe Nikola Jokic: “Fast” Nikola Jokic’s fourth triple-double of the season sparks Nuggets over Thunder Nuggets Journal: Denver needs old Gary Harris for offense to get right Nuggets Mailbag: Should front office make move to free up time for Michael Porter Jr.? “Yeah, it’s gotta get better,” Plumlee said. “Speaking of a mature team, hopefully our next step is get a lead, hold a lead, expand on a lead and get some other guys minutes at the end of the game.” Jokic, whose 11 fourth-quarter points helped salvage the night, was in a chipper mood in the postgame locker room despite the near-collapse. “I think we can find a way to hold up the lead, just by playing solid,” Jokic said. “In the second quarter we had three, four turnovers in a row and gave them a little bit of life. In the third quarter, they had the momentum. We didn’t make shots — even layups. We didn’t play really good on the defense end too, so that gave them a chance.” At some point, the lesson will land. Complacency, for an elite team, isn’t an option.
  • Nuggets win third straight game after near-collapse against the Knicks
    What should have been an insurmountable lead Sunday night at the Pepsi Center became yet another game in which the Nuggets nearly collapsed. But Nikola Jokic didn’t let them fold, and Denver survived a relentless attack from the New York Knicks to win 111-105 and improve to 17-8. The win marked their third in a row and capped off a successful Saturday-Sunday back-to-back set. “It wasn’t pretty by any means, but we’ll definitely take the win,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. He added: “Now we get a well-deserved day’s rest tomorrow.” Jokic had 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer that gave the Nuggets a two-point lead with 3:46 left. Will Barton finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. After leading by 16 points to start the second half and then trailing by as many as five points on two occasions, the Nuggets wouldn’t relinquish the lead after Jokic’s trey. With the game spiraling out of hand and the Nuggets desperate for an offensive spark, Jokic came up with a couple of massive buckets and one seismic rebound in the fourth quarter. The Knicks had taken a three-point lead with 6:18 remaining when Jokic tipped his own rebound to the corner, where a waiting Barton drained a 3-pointer to tie it at 98. “What you love about Nikola, some guys know where one player is or two players; Nikola knows where everybody is, offensively and defensively,” Malone said. Barton had seven points in the decisive quarter, and the Nuggets survived despite shooting 15-of-43 in the second half. Mason Plumlee, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, was invaluable in his 33 minutes on Sunday. For the second straight game, the Nuggets endured without veteran Paul Millsap, who sat out with a right quadriceps strain. The injury impacted their interior defense, but there didn’t seem to be any concern that it was anything serious. Knicks power forward Marcus Morris, one of four on New York’s roster, came alive in the third quarter. He dominated inside and out, connecting on six buckets in the quarter alone to help hack into what was once a 20-point Nuggets lead. All told, he poured in 16 of New York’s 33 points in the quarter as the Nuggets clung to an 87-84 lead heading to the fourth. The Nuggets gave the Knicks a 37-point pounding Dec. 5, which marked Denver’s lone win of their rough road swing. But Malone wasn’t about to underestimate any team. “Last game’s got nothing to do with tonight,” Malone said prior to Sunday’s tip. “This is the NBA. (Our) third game in four nights, we came off of a tough four-game road trip, with the understanding we have a five-game homestand, and we’re off to a good start. The Nuggets entered Sunday on a two-game winning streak, following Saturday’s convincing win over Oklahoma City. The 6 p.m. tipoff time made Sunday’s back-to-back set just a bit more taxing. Related Articles Nuggets coach Michael Malone finds new word to describe Nikola Jokic: “Fast” Nikola Jokic’s fourth triple-double of the season sparks Nuggets over Thunder Nuggets Journal: Denver needs old Gary Harris for offense to get right Nuggets Mailbag: Should front office make move to free up time for Michael Porter Jr.? Nuggets encourage Michael Porter Jr.’s scoring aggression: “He’s got scary potential” “I guess you kind of become accustomed to it, but it’s a challenge,” said Malone. “You want to wrap up last night’s game and talk about that as a staff, watch film about what went well for us, what didn’t go well, and then you have to turn the page quickly and get ready for a team that is playing better basketball than when we played them last time.” Despite Denver’s second game in two days, the Knicks looked overmatched in the first half. The Nuggets pounded the paint with 40 points over the first two quarters to stake a 67-51 halftime lead. Seven different players scored at least seven points in the first 24 minutes, led by 12 from Plumlee. He and Barton connected on several highlight finishes, including one massive alley-oop lob that Plumlee smashed with one hand. Barton was aggressive in his drives and confident in his stroke. He poured in 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting with four rebounds in the first half.
  • Inbound avalanche buries one person at Steamboat Springs ski area
    STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — One person was caught and buried in an avalanche at Steamboat Resort midday Sunday. The call to Mountain Dispatch came in at 12:58 p.m., according to Dave Hunter, vice president of mountain operations for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. The individual was transported by ambulance to UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center and are currently in good condition, Hunter said. The avalanche started in an area of terrain that is inbounds but currently closed. Read more on Steamboat Pilot. Related Articles Front Range avalanche warning as storm system approaches Authorities identify Fort Collins skier killed in avalanche Woman dies after being hit by avalanche in mountains west of Fort Collins Watch Loveland’s 5-month-old puppy be adorable on the ski slopes 82 avalanches were reported after last week’s massive snowstorm
  • Man suspected of armed bank robbery and a killing in Illinois is dead after car chase, shooting with Colorado lawmen
    A State Patrol trooper and northern Colorado police officer spotted and chased a stolen vehicle driven by a man considered armed and dangerous after a killing and an armed bank robbery in Illinois, leading to a crash, a shooting and the death of the suspect Sunday afternoon in rural Weld County. “Nobody is injured. It may have been only the suspect who fired shots. This is still under investigation,” Colorado State Patrol spokesman Ivan Alvarado said. A bulletin notified law enforcement agencies of the vehicle, associated with a homicide and armed bank robbery in Illinois, authorities said. A state patrol trooper and an Ault police officer spotted the vehicle moving near Colorado 14 and Weld County Road 49 just before 2 p.m. Related Articles Aurora leaders make moves to replace “toothless” police review board with stronger civilian oversight system Armed robbery suspect shot and killed by police in Federal Heights after leading officers on car, foot chase Officer-involved shooting, traffic crash in Westminster near 92nd and Federal Charges filed against man accused of shooting Fort Lupton officer in the face Man shot by police in Avon has died “The trooper pulled behind the vehicle, which accelerated and reached speeds over 100 mph,” a statement from Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams said. “Both the trooper and Ault police officer pursued the vehicle until it wrecked near the intersection of Weld County Road 92 and Colorado Highway 85. The driver of the vehicle fired gun shots outside the vehicle, ” Reams’ statement said. The trooper and Ault officer held the scene. Dispatchers sent a SWAT team. SWAT team members approached the crashed vehicle and found the suspect dead on the ground. Weld County deputies are investigating what happened.
  • Naval Academy investigating possible “white power” hand gestures flashed before Army-Navy football game
    The U.S. Naval Academy has appointed an officer to conduct an internal investigation into possible “white power” hand gestures flashed by students during a broadcast before the Army-Navy football game, an academy spokeswoman said Sunday. “Based on findings of the investigation, those involved will be held appropriately accountable,” Cmdr. Alana Garas, a spokeswoman for the academy in Annapolis, Maryland, said via email. “It would be inappropriate to speculate any further while we are conducting this investigation.” Lt. Col. Chris Ophardt, a spokesman for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York, said officials there were also looking into the matter. “At this time we do not know the intent of the cadets,” he said. West Point cadets and Naval Academy midshipmen in the stands appeared to display the hand sign during an ESPN broadcast segment. The gesture is similar to the one used to indicate “OK,” with the thumb and forefinger in a circle and the three other fingers splayed out behind. Related Articles Silverii: White nationalists are knocking on Colorado’s door Blow: Kamala Harris’ campaign showed us just how stacked the deck is U.S. Coast Guard leaders reprimanded an officer who used a similar hand sign during a television broadcast last year. The Anti-Defamation League recently added the sign to its database of hate symbols. It started as a trolling campaign on the internet message board 4chan, which tried to dupe viewers into thinking the fingers of the “OK” sign formed the letters “W” and “P” to mean “white power,” but the league said extremists had adopted it as a sincere expression of white supremacy. Brenton Tarrant, the Australian man charged with killing 51 people at New Zealand mosques in March, flashed the symbol during a courtroom appearance. In September, West Point removed a motto from a spirit flag used by the school’s football team because of its connection to white supremacist groups. The academy said the letters GFBD, which stand for “God Forgives, Brothers Don’t,” had been on a skull and crossbones flag used since the mid-1990s to emphasize teamwork, loyalty and toughness. The academy removed the letters after being made aware the phrase is also associated with extremist groups.
  • Senate Democrats proposing weekslong impeachment trial, testimony from four new witnesses
    WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are proposing a weekslong Senate impeachment trial seeking testimony from four new witnesses including John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney over President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, according to a detailed outlined released Sunday. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York proposed the structure for a “fair and honest” trial in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, an attempt to launch negotiations ahead of House voting this week that is all but certain to result in the president being impeached. Trump faces two charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden while withholding military aid to the ally. The president faces likely impeachment in the House, where Democrats have control, but he is expected to be acquitted in a trial in the Senate, where Republicans have the majority. McConnell has signaled his preference for a speedy trial. “This trial must be one that is fair, that considers all of the relevant facts, and that exercises the Senate’s ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ under the Constitution with integrity and dignity,” Schumer wrote. “The trial must be one that not only hears all of the evidence and adjudicates the case fairly; it must also pass the fairness test with the American people.” Trump has expressed interest in a robust trial that would not only clear him of the charges in the Senate but also vindicate him, but his desire for a lengthy proceeding is something Senate Republicans are hoping to avoid. Schumer and McConnell are are expected to meet to discuss the contours of a Senate trial, much as the Democrats and Republicans did during Bill Clinton’s impeachment two decades ago. In the letter, Schumer proposes a detailed structure and timeline for a trial to begin Jan. 7, with the swearing in of Chief Justice John Roberts to oversee the proceedings and stretch for several weeks as Democrats subpoena witnesses and testimony, specifically around Trump’s decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine. A day of what Schumer calls “pretrial housekeeping measures” would take place Jan. 6. Democrats want to hear from Bolton, who was Trump’s national security adviser at the time and labeled the alternative foreign policy being run by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others as a “drug deal” he wanted no part of. He left the White House in September. They also want testimony from Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff at the White House, who has acknowledged the military aid to Ukraine was being held up, as well as two other White House officials: Robert Blair, a top Mulvaney aide, and Michael Duffey, a budget official who was tasked with handling the Ukraine issue.
  • Federal agency to review mining company’s proposed drilling that opponents say could harm Glenwood’s iconic hot springs
    DENVER — The federal Bureau of Land Management plans to conduct an environmental assessment of test drilling proposed by the owner of a Colorado limestone quarry seeking to expand the operation, officials said. Rocky Mountain Resources Industrials Inc. sought an environmental review exemption for five test wells, The Colorado Sun reported. The company needs to perform the test drilling to assess the viability of expanding its Mid-Continent Limestone Quarry near Glenwood Springs, officials said. The company will be required to pay for the environmental study that the agency will use to examine the potential impacts to the region’s water resources, bureau officials said. Communities along the Colorado River have opposed the company’s plan for a major expansion. Letters to the agency from Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton and community leaders expressed concern that the test drilling could disrupt geothermal flows supporting Glenwood Springs hot springs attractions that are important to the tourism economy.
  • Kiszla: If this is Drew Lock’s team now, Von Miller has no future with these baby Broncos
    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Instead of the answer to the Broncos’ prayers, quarterback Drew Lock was highly questionable during a disheartening 23-3 loss to the Chiefs. The feeling of deja vu was almost creepy. Did anybody else see way too much Jay Cutler in Lock on this given Sunday? Back-foot throws.  Bad shots fired because a kid QB loves the sound of his gun. More healthy hair on his head than healthy discretion between his ears. It was all very Cutler-y. And, believe me, that’s not a good thing. For better or worse, Broncos Country better get used to it. “I will still be out there, gun-slinging around,” Lock vowed, after losing a duel against K.C. quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the fastest gun in the AFC West. Lock returned to his old Missouri stomping grounds and got stomped in the snow. If he’s the answer for the Broncos, here’s the next hard question: Does linebacker Von Miller have a future in Denver? “I don’t know how we got to this point. I don’t know how we win like this, I really don’t,” Miller said. Fair or not, those words sounded to my ears like a shot at the roster built by John Elway. Stuck on a team that has lost to the Chiefs nine straight times and will miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season, the naturally engaging Vonster is at wit’s end. “We’ve tried everything on and off the football field. We’ve tried all different coaches, all different players. I really don’t know what’s going on,” Miller said. Related Articles Broncos’ Noah Fant experiencing bumps and bruises of rookie season, with shoulder injury against Chiefs adding to the pain Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce makes NFL history amid another dominating performance against the Broncos Broncos Briefs: Pass-often game plan by Chiefs surprises Denver defense Broncos Status Report: No match against division champs Broncos up-down drill: Best and worst performances against the Kansas City Chiefs So what’s next? Maybe it would be better for all concerned if this is the end of Miller in a Denver uniform. The next era of Broncos football will be defined by Courtland Sutton, Bradley Chubb and a young core. Rather than playing for next year, it’s time for this team to play the long game. If Elway isn’t ready to trade Miller for draft picks to re-stock the roster for the team the Broncos can become in 2021 and beyond, president Joe Ellis needs to replace Elway with a director of football operations capable of making those tough choices. We’ll always have Super Bowl 50, Vonster. Broncos Country will always be grateful for that. But let’s shake, say goodbye and walk away as friends. As intriguing as Lock looked while thumping the sleepwalking Texans a week ago, his struggles in K.C. were a reality check. The rookie completed 18 of 40 passes for 208 yards and a shaky 50.8 QB rating. It now should be obvious that developing Lock won’t be anywhere near the easy, two-step process of 1) plug and 2) play. Yes, Lock has better legs than Joe Flacco ever did and arm talent beyond Trevor Siemian’s wildest dreams. But he ain’t no Mahomes, holmes. The AFC West was a lot more fun for Denver when Peyton Manning was the Sheriff laying down the law. During an afternoon at Arrowhead whiter and fuzzier than your Aunt Millie’s snow globe, the Broncos expected Air Mahomes to fly low, with extreme caution. Instead the most dangerous QB in the West (if not the entire planet), laughed at the cold and made a mockery of the Denver defense. Mahomes threw for 340 yards and led the Chiefs to scores on five consecutive possessions to open the game. “I was shocked, actually,” Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson said. “You would expect with a snow game, windy, they’re going to start running. No, they sure enough came out throwing and slinging it around.” Trailing by 20 points midway through the third quarter, Lock and his offensive mates were handed their most favorable field position of the day, with a first down at the Chiefs’ 41-yard-line. Two defensive penalties by K.C. kept the drive alive, putting the Broncos in business in the red zone, in prime position to reach the end zone. But on first down from the 11-yard-line, Lock forced a cross-field throw across his body into the end zone. No shock that his pass was intercepted. “I definitely tried to force something to happen there. It bit me in the butt,” Lock said. Yes, his demeanor is way better in defeat than the bored-to-be-here attitude displayed by Cutler back in the day. And letting a rookie work through his inevitable mistakes is part of the growing process. But no points on a drive that starts in K.C. territory because of a mindless interception? That’s a fail. The Broncos haven’t won at Arrowhead in December since Arthur Bryant put his first rack of ribs on the fire. I’ve been covering games in Kansas City during the final month of the NFL season since 1983, and can count the number of times Denver has won on one hand, with ample fingers still available to grab a frosty mug of Boulevard Pale Ale. If Lock is the answer, how long will it take for the Broncos to close the gap against the Chiefs? “I don’t think this is the last time I will be visiting Arrowhead,” the young QB said. If this is Lock’s team now, it’s time for a changing of the guard. At this point, hope is not an answer for Miller. Yes, the Vonster has been the man in Denver for years. But at age 30, Miller is too old to be playing kids’ games with these baby Broncos.
  • Avalanche travels without defensemen Cale Makar and Erik Johnson
    The Avalanche recalled defenseman Anton Lindholm ahead of its two-game road trip that goes through St. Louis and Chicago this week. Lindholm, who has one goal in 23 games for the American Hockey League’s Colorado Eagles, has yet to play in the NHL this season. The Avs are without D-men Erik Johnson and Cale Makar, both of whom skated in red non-contact sweaters Sunday. Both are out with upper-body injuries, both believed to be to the shoulder. Johnson has missed nine games and Makar has missed three. Neither will travel or play on the road trip, coach Jared Bednar said after Sunday’s practice. Related Articles Silver lining: Injured Avalanche star Gabe Landeskog was all about family in November Chambers: Why the Avalanche leads the NHL in road attendance Avalanche extends points streak to nine games with 3-1 win over New Jersey Avalanche’s Erik Johnson progressing toward return from injury Analysis: Nathan MacKinnon provides unpredictable presence for Avalanche Colorado will take a Western Conference-high 21 wins into Monday’s game against the Blues, who lead the Central Division with 46 points; the Avs are second with 45, having played two fewer games. “They’re all important but here’s the way I look at it: When you get a chance to play the team you’re battling with for first place, or one of the teams you’re battling with for first place, it’s a measuring-stick game,” Bednar told reporters Sunday. “I see this as a game where we want to prepare like it’s a playoff game and go in there and lay it on the line. That’s a mental adjustment. “It’s hard to create those type of circumstances without actually being in them. But I want to see what our team can do against the best team in the conference right now, and that’s St. Louis. It’s in their building and it should be a good game — not unlike the game we just had against Boston (a 4-1 win Dec. 7 at Boston).” The Avs (21-8-3) are on a nine-game points streak (8-0-1) and lead the NHL in scoring at 3.66 goals-per-game. St. Louis (20-8-6), the defending Stanley Cup champion, is on a two-game winning streak after losing three in a row. The Blues rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Saturday night.
  • U.S. secretly expelled Chinese officials suspected of spying after breach of military base
    By Edward Wong and Julian E. Barnes, The New York Times WASHINGTON — The U.S. government secretly expelled two Chinese Embassy officials this fall after they drove onto a sensitive military base in Virginia, according to people with knowledge of the episode. The expulsions appear to be the first of Chinese diplomats suspected of espionage in more than 30 years. U.S. officials believe at least one of the Chinese officials was an intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover, said six people with knowledge of the expulsions. The group, which included the officials’ wives, evaded military personnel pursuing them and stopped only after fire trucks blocked their path. The episode in September, which neither Washington nor Beijing made public, has intensified concerns in the Trump administration that China is expanding its spying efforts in the U.S. as the two nations are increasingly locked in a geopolitical and economic rivalry. U.S. intelligence officials said China poses a greater espionage threat than any other country. In recent months, Chinese officials with diplomatic passports have become bolder about showing up unannounced at research or government facilities, U.S. officials said, with the infiltration of the military base only the most remarkable instance. The expulsions, apparently the first since the United States forced out two Chinese Embassy employees with diplomatic cover in 1987, show the U.S. government is now taking a harder line against suspected espionage by China, officials said. Recent episodes of suspected spying add to the broader tensions between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies and biggest strategic rivals. That conflict is heightened by a trade war that President Donald Trump started in July 2018 and that shows only tentative signs of abating. On Oct. 16, weeks after the intrusion at the base, the State Department announced sharp restrictions on the activities of Chinese diplomats, requiring them to provide notice before meeting with local or state officials or visiting educational and research institutions. At the time, a senior State Department official told reporters that the rule, which applied to all Chinese missions in the U.S. and its territories, was a response to Chinese regulations imposed years ago requiring U.S. diplomats to seek permission to travel outside their host cities or to visit certain institutions. The Chinese Embassy said in October that the new rules were “in violation of the Vienna Convention.” Two U.S. officials said last week that those restrictions had been under consideration for a while because of growing calls in the U.S. government for reciprocity, but episodes like the one at the base accelerated the rollout. The base intrusion took place in late September on a sensitive installation near Norfolk, Virginia. The base includes Special Operations forces, said people with knowledge of the incident. Several bases in the area have such units, including one with the headquarters of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six. The Chinese officials and their wives drove up to a checkpoint for entry to the base, said people briefed on the episode. A guard, realizing that they did not have permission to enter, told them to go through the gate, turn around and exit the base, which is common procedure in such situations. But the Chinese officials instead continued onto the base, according to those familiar with the incident. After the fire trucks blocked them, the Chinese officials indicated that they had not understood the guard’s English instructions and had simply gotten lost, according to people briefed on the matter. U.S. officials said they were skeptical that the intruders made an innocent error and dismissed the idea that their English was insufficient to understand the initial order to leave. It is not clear what they were trying to do on the base, but some U.S. officials said they believed it was to test the security at the installation, according to a person briefed on the matter. Had the Chinese officials made it onto the base without being stopped, the embassy could have dispatched a more senior intelligence officer to enter the base, the theory goes. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Chinese Embassy in Washington did not reply to requests for comment about the episode. Two associates of Chinese Embassy officials said they were told that the expelled officials were on a sightseeing tour when they accidentally drove onto the base. The State Department, which is responsible for relations with the Chinese Embassy and its diplomats, and the FBI, which oversees counterintelligence in the United States, declined to comment. Chinese Embassy officials complained to State Department officials about the expulsions and asked in a meeting whether the agency was retaliating for an official Chinese propaganda campaign in August against a U.S. diplomat, Julie Eadeh. At the time, state-run news organizations accused Eadeh, a political counselor in Hong Kong, of being a “black hand” behind the territory’s pro-democracy protests, and personal details about her were posted online. A State Department spokeswoman called China a “thuggish regime.”(BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM.)So far, China has not retaliated by expelling U.S. diplomats or intelligence officers from the embassy in Beijing, perhaps a sign that Chinese officials understand their colleagues overstepped by trying to enter the base. One person who was briefed on reactions in the Chinese Embassy in Washington said he was told employees there were surprised that their colleagues had tried something so brazen. In 2016, Chinese officers in Chengdu abducted a U.S. Consulate official they believed to be a CIA officer, interrogated him and forced him to make a confession. Colleagues retrieved him the next day and evacuated him from the country. U.S. officials threatened to expel suspected Chinese agents in the U.S. but did not do so. China is detaining a Canadian diplomat on leave, Michael Kovrig, on espionage charges, though U.S. officials said he is being held hostage because Canada arrested a prominent Chinese technology company executive at the request of U.S. officials seeking her prosecution in a sanctions evasion case. (END OPTIONAL TRIM.)For decades, counterintelligence officials have tried to pinpoint embassy or consulate employees with diplomatic cover who are spies and assign officers to follow some of them. Now there is growing urgency to do that by both Washington and Beijing. Evan Medeiros, a senior Asia director at the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, said he was unaware of any expulsions of Chinese diplomats or spies with diplomatic cover during Obama’s time in office. If it is rare for Americans to expel Chinese spies or other embassy employees who have diplomatic cover, Medeiros said, “it’s probably because for much of the first 40 years, Chinese intelligence was not very aggressive.” “But that changed about 10 years ago,” he added. “Chinese intelligence became more sophisticated and more aggressive, both in human and electronic forms.”(STORY CAN END HERE. OPTIONAL MATERIAL FOLLOWS.)For instance, Chinese intelligence officers use LinkedIn to recruit current or former employees of foreign governments. This year, a Chinese student was sentenced to a year in prison for photographing a U.S. defense intelligence installation near Key West, Florida, in September 2018. The student, Zhao Qianli, walked to where the fence circling the base ended at the ocean, then stepped around the fence and onto the beach. From there, he walked onto the base and took photographs, including of an area with satellite dishes and antennae. When he was arrested, Zhao spoke in broken English and, like the officials stopped on the Virginia base, claimed he was lost. Chinese citizens have been caught not just wandering onto government installations but also improperly entering university laboratories and even crossing farmland to pilfer specially bred seeds. In 2016, a Chinese man, Mo Hailong, pleaded guilty to trying to steal corn seeds from U.S. agribusiness firms and give them to a Chinese company. Before he was caught, Mo successfully stole seeds developed by U.S. companies and sent them back to China, according to court records. He was sentenced to three years in prison. The FBI and the National Institutes of Health are trying to root out scientists in the U.S. who they said are stealing biomedical research for other nations — China in particular. The FBI has also warned research institutions about risks posed by Chinese students and scholars. Some university officials said the campaign unfairly targets Chinese citizens or ethnic Chinese and smacks of a new Red Scare. Last month, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a former CIA officer, was sentenced to 19 years in prison, one of several former U.S. intelligence officials sentenced this year for spying for Beijing. His work with Chinese intelligence coincided with the demolition of the CIA’s network of informants in China — one of the biggest counterintelligence coups against the United States in decades. From 2010 to 2012, Chinese officers killed at least a dozen informants and imprisoned others. One man and his pregnant wife were shot in 2011 in a ministry’s courtyard, and the execution was shown on closed-circuit television, according to a new book on Chinese espionage. Many in the CIA feared China had a mole in the agency, and some officers suspected Lee, though prosecutors did not tie him to the network’s collapse.
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  • Buyers can “name their price” for this multimillion-dollar Telluride home
    There’s a home in Telluride that would make Flo from Progressive proud. Potential buyers can name their price on this 5,400-square-foot house at 220 Cortina Drive, which hit the market Aug. 12. But don’t expect to toss a “Price is Right” bid — the window for offers is $3.75 to $4.195 million. “220 Cortina Drive was originally listed for $4.995 million and wasn’t receiving any offers, so we decided to take a different approach,” said Mike Russo, founder and developer of SparkOffer, a transaction platform that aims at a more transparent way to connect sellers with buyers. “Based on my 20 years of industry experience in the global luxury residential sector, I know that every property has a low end of the range which will motivate buyers on an accelerated time frame. “I’ve also noticed that when buyers see a set asking price that isn’t within their budget, they won’t even bother to make an offer. From that understanding, we developed our methodology of listing homes with a range vs. one price, to spark offers. Our goal is to increase sales activity within a 45-60 day time frame for 220 Cortina Drive.” The property’s clean lines and symmetrical design mirror mid-20th-century architecture constructed of steel, stone and glass. Inside features include a custom-built staircase with a 16-foot chandelier. All three levels house a bar and kitchenette and the master bedroom, fittingly, has a master balcony. Sean Hakes, managing member of Monroe Cardinal, an advisory and asset management platform, highlighted his favorite aspects of the interior: “We built two living rooms on top of each other, both with tremendous entertainment systems. You could have an extended family in both rooms and simultaneously have different experiences. Additionally, the tongue-and-groove cedar ceiling on the main floor and in the master suite lends great context and warmth to the home.” A hallmark is the house’s “green energy” ventless fireplaces found in multiple living spaces. “I’m also very proud of our energy rating. If the new owner wanted to have the house LEED certified it would qualify. San Miguel County was very complimentary about our energy efficiency, and our ongoing utility bills are almost nonexistent.” This ski-in, ski-out residence occupies 0.21 acres within Cortina Mountain Village along Sundance Trail, dotted with tall Aspen trees. “I love the overwhelming feeling of how nature surrounds you and how the home belongs among the Aspen trees,” Hakes said. “It makes me feel like I am living in a luxury treehouse.” Information provided by a news release from Quinn PR.
  • In-N-Out Burger planning to open near Lone Tree’s Park Meadows mall next year
    Colorado Springs is the beachhead. But it’s always been clear In-N-Out Burger planned to feed its fanatical following along the Front Range by building more than just the one restaurant coming to that city in 2020. Company officials have been tight-lipped about their plans for the state, but based on a site plan document available through the city of Lone Tree’s website, it appears location No. 2 is headed for the Park Meadows mall area. The document, dated Aug. 1, lists 9171 E. Westview Road as the address for the proposed new restaurant. The one-and-a-half acre patch of land is located just to the northeast of the mall along East County Line Road. It is occupied today by the Suds Factory Car Wash & Auto Detailing Center. RELATED: Double-Double wait: In-N-Out Burger still 2 years away from opening first Colorado location The site plan outlines a six-month construction process expected to wrap up in time for a late 2020 opening. The red-and-white-tiled restaurant would employ between 45 and 90 people. Its parking lot would have room for 47 cars as well as a drive-through lane with room for 26 cars. The place will be open late, from 10 a.m through 1 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, per the site plan. The document also gets into one of the key details of In-N-Out’s approach that has helped turn the California-based chain into a phenomenon with a devoted following: freshness. “In-N-Out cooks all of its burgers and fries to order — nothing is pre-cooked and there are no cooked food holding bins. This restaurant will be equipped with three burger grills. Two grills will operate at all times, and activation of the third grill will be done in response to high dine-in or, more typically, high drive-through demand … ” it reads. The site plan was first unearthed by the Lone Tree Voice newspaper on Thursday. According to the Voice’s reporting, the plan must first be approved by city staff before going on to the planning commission. The Lone Tree City Council will have the final say on whether or not the 3,867-square-foot restaurant gets built. The city of Lone Tree issued a statement on the plans Friday afternoon. The growing north Douglas County community is “excited about the potential of being one of the first In-N-Out Burger locations in Colorado.” “We pride ourselves in being a business-friendly municipality and always look forward to welcoming new businesses into our community,” the statement says. “Plus, we know that In-N-Out Burger will be one that many people in our community, and beyond, will be thrilled to see.” Related Articles Colorado’s first In-N-Out Burger moves closer to 2020 opening with land purchases Double-Double wait: In-N-Out Burger still 2 years away from opening first Colorado restaurant In-N-Out watch: It could be three years before Colorado’s first location opens Colorado will get In-N-Out and already has Trader Joe’s and Ikea. What more could we possibly want? In-N-Out laid out plans in December for its first Colorado restaurant, set to open in the middle of next year in northeast Colorado Springs. A large In-N-Out office building and a 100,000-square-foot distribution facility are also coming to that city’s Victory Ridge development. Those projects will feed the company’s operations across the state. The distribution facility is expected to have the capacity to support up to 50 restaurants. In-N-Out was founded in 1948 and now operates more than 340 locations spread across California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Utah. The sought-after fast-food brand has a dedicated real estate website, innoutrealestate.com. It is represented in Colorado by the Denver office of international brokerage SRS Real Estate Partners, according to that site. A voicemail seeking comment on the Lone Tree location left for a broker in that office was not returned Friday. The real estate site offers some clues as to where In-N-Out’s iconic red and yellow arrow sign might pop up next in the Centennial State. It lists “minimum standards” for all sites where the company would put a store. Sites must be near a roadway that carries at least 50,000 cars trips daily and must be in a “trade area” of at least 60,000 people. The area median income has to be north of $45,000 per household. The company also prefers to buy its sites. If it’s going to sign a lease it wants an option to buy, according to its standards. Updated 11:10 a.m. Aug. 16, 2019 This story has been updated to correctly identify the news organization that first reported In-N-Out’s Lone Tree plans.
  • What parts of Colorado see the most lightning?
    A recent study outlined Colorado’s most lightning-struck corridors, and it highlights much of the Denver metropolitan area as the most vulnerable part of Colorado to lightning. The April study, conducted by scientists from the National Weather Service in Pueblo and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, outlines Denver’s southern and western suburbs as part of the lightning capital of Colorado. The San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado typically see the most lightning in the western half of the state, while Colorado’s plains are also fairly active, particularly during the spring months. Here’s a detailed look at the areas of highest lightning in Colorado, with red indicating the areas of highest average annual lightning, and blue indicating the least. The data is based on lightning strikes between 1996 and 2016. You may have heard about the unfortunate incident last weekend, where lightning killed a hiker near Boulder. Colorado receives a lot of lightning strikes, and this fascinating map from a study led by @NWSPueblo shows where they happen. (1/2) #cowx pic.twitter.com/pf5LLCq7jg — ColoClimateCenter (@ColoradoClimate) July 16, 2019 The most susceptible parts of the Denver metro area to lightning are the foothills west of the city, and the Palmer Divide to the south of it. In detail, the most lightning-hit areas include: Douglas, western Jefferson and parts of Arapahoe Counties in the Denver metro area. Additionally, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Teller, western and central El Paso, western Elbert and eastern Park Counties are all in the corridor of most lightning-prone areas in the Centennial State. RELATED: Why lightning is one of the top weather-related killers in Colorado One of the main reasons parts of the Denver area are particularly susceptible to lightning is because of the so-called Denver Convergence Vorticity Zone (DCVZ). The DCVZ is a term frequently used by local meteorologists to explain a natural area of spin that often takes place in and around Denver due to eastern Colorado’s topography. That can lead to increased stormy weather for parts of the Front Range. Provided by National Weather ServiceThe animated image shows lightning strikes by time of day in Colorado from 1996-2016. The DCVZ creates a mini area of low pressure in the Denver area as air is sandwiched between the Divide to the south, the Rockies to the west and the Cheyenne Ridge to the north. In essence, the immediate Denver area becomes a funnel for converging winds, leading to some of Denver’s hyper-local and crazy weather — that often can be difficult to predict. On the contrary, that same rising motion along the Divide can create a sinking motion further north, and you can probably note a lack of lightning from Longmont up to around Fort Collins and Greeley. This area also is known for having lower snow amounts during winter storms. “(The DCVZ) enhances the activity over the southern Front Range Mountains/Pikes Peak/Palmer Divide region,” the study hypothesizes. “While decreasing lightning activity over the northern Front Range Mountains/Cheyenne Ridge region and over the area of the plains just east of the Front Range Mountains, generally north of Denver.” In light of the July 14 lightning fatality in Boulder County, it’s worth noting that the foothills west of Denver and the Palmer Divide are both especially vulnerable to lightning. Hikers, bikers and anybody enjoying the outdoors in these areas should try and get activities done earlier in the day, particularly in the lightning-heavy months of July and August. Based on analysis from the study, other parts of Colorado that are prone to lightning include the San Juans (mainly due to monsoonal moisture in July and August), the state’s eastern plains (storms that roll off the mountains and run into more low-level moisture as they move east), and far southern Colorado (monsoon). The study appeared in the June edition of the National Weather Association Journal of Operational Meteorology. Chris Bianchi is a meteorologist for WeatherNation TV.
  • Golfer Greg Norman’s Colorado ranch — featuring seven lakes, a dance hall and 11,600 acres — can be yours for $50 million
    Golfer Greg Norman’s Colorado ranch has just about everything a sportsman could want. There’s seven lakes, the pristine fly-fishing waters of the White River, miles of horseback riding and hiking trails, a sporting clays course, a long range rifle course, and 8,350 acres of private elk and deer hunting. And all you need is $50 million to call it home. Surrounded by the White River National Forest, the 11,600-acre Seven Lakes Ranch located in the Meeker Valley is on the market three years after his wife, Kirsten, an interior designer, helped update the main lodge in 2016. RELATED: Rocky Mountain High-priced home: John Denver’s 7,735-square-foot Aspen mansion going for $11 million First constructed in 1993, the nine-bedroom lodge was originally used as a rental for company retreats prior to Norman’s purchase, according to Tatiana Ceresa of Compass. In addition to the newly renovated main lodge, the property features six “Nippe” guest cabins (smaller and without heating) as well as an executive cabin (three bedrooms), a four-bedroom hunting house, four staff housing cabins (one to three bedrooms) and a sportsmen’s lodge with a half bath. There’s also a maintenance barn, fitness center, horse barn and ranch office, and water treatment plant. The property is remote. But don’t worry, it’s no more than a half-hour helicopter ride to Vail, Aspen and Steamboat. (No, there is no helipad on site, but when you’ve got 11,600 acres to play with, who needs one?) Find out more about Seven Lakes Ranch at sevenlakesranch.com.
  • This iconic Cherry Hills Village home listed at $7.75 million after major renovations
    An exquisite estate in Cherry Hills Village that finished as a finalist for the 2019 Home of the Year in Colorado Homes & Lifestyles Magazine was recently listed for sale at $7.75 million. The immaculate single-family house was originally designed in 1952 for actress and singer Ethel Merman, according to local fable. The grounds span just over two acres wrapped by formal gardens and punctuated with a vast circle drive. The Taylors have owned the five-bedroom, nine-bathroom home at 3900 S. Colorado Blvd. for over three years. Jim Taylor, his wife and two young children relocated from the Highlands area and have been enjoying the home for the past year and a half after completing a comprehensive remodel. “We were living downtown and wanted more space for the kids,” Taylor said. RELATED: In Denver housing market, what was hot is now cold. See where your ZIP code ranks in home prices. In all, Taylor’s renovations expanded the property from 7,000 square feet to 15,000 – that includes a 160-square-foot wine cellar in the basement – while gutting the house to the studs in the process.  Taylor converted the existing tennis court into a pickleball court for his children and added a 1,200-square-foot master suite as well as a 1,200-square-foot cabana and an 800-square-foot greenhouse. The Taylors now have their sights set on another iconic Cherry Hills house, a mid-century modern this time. Related Articles Why would someone tear down a $2.1 million home in Boulder? To build this $7.5 million house, of course. In Denver housing market, what was hot is now cold. See where your ZIP code ranks in home prices. Property values take another leap higher across metro Denver Denver is the most expensive city to rent an apartment in the metro area. Find out what cities are the cheapest. Denver-area real estate agents face challenges from DIY buyers and sellers and low-cost competitors “I’m a process person so I don’t mind starting a new project,” Taylor said.  “Modernizing this legacy home was the opportunity of a lifetime. Selling it is a little bittersweet.” Like this story? Help support more local journalism. Become a subscriber for only 99 cents for the first month.
  • Why would someone tear down a $2.1 million home in Boulder? To build this $7.5 million house, of course.
    A luxurious estate in Boulder’s Knollwood neighborhood is on the market for $7.5 million. The home sits on a 0.45-acre lot at 2135 Knollwood Drive and faces south so that its floor-to-ceiling windows can flood the main rooms with natural sunlight and take in Boulder Canyon and Flatirons, which are visible from nearly every window of the 5,075-square-foot home. “It’s on the western edge of Boulder right above downtown,” said Tim Goodacre, owner of Goodacre & Company. “It’s private and quiet in the Knollwood subdivision with walking trails right above it.” Annette Martin, a Boulder architect, designed this home that replaced one which was bought for $2.1 million in 2015. The single-family property houses three bedrooms and five bathrooms and was built last year. Inside features oak floors and its hallmark centers around the living room. “The living room expands to the deck, so it’s a true indoor-outdoor living space,” Goodacre said. Journalism doesn’t grow on trees. Please support The Denver Post. Become a subscriber for only 99 cents for the first month.
  • Some of Colorado’s best fried chicken is served in a family’s adobe on a turn-of-the-century ranch
    To find some of the best fried chicken in the state, you’ll need to get out of Dodge. Head toward Colorado Springs, then south on Highway 115, past Fort Carson and the insect museum, to a modest terra cotta house by the side of the road. Juniper Valley Ranch — worth the drive but easy to miss — is a 68-year-old restaurant, situated on a turn-of-the-century family farm and serving the same dinner menu since 1951. Here, members of the Dickey family still skillet-fry chicken drumsticks and thighs, bake fruit pies and rolls, rice potatoes and place two Cheez-Its on the side of a cup of sweet cherry cider or consomme (a tradition that started with a great-grandmother who enjoyed Cheez-Its in her soup but also didn’t want diners to lose their appetites). They still wear blue jeans or flowing skirts and stand before clay walls covered in tintype photographs and knickknacks from the Old West. Inside the original dining rooms, wood hearths warm the backs of creaking chairs on cooler nights. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostOlivia Dickey, daughter of owner Greg Dickey, greets patrons as they arrive for dinner at Juniper Valley Ranch restaurant on April 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs. “Authentic” is a tough word to ascribe to restaurants and food these days, but stepping into the Dickey family’s adobe home will transport you. “The menu hasn’t changed because it reminds (diners) of their childhoods or dinner at their grandma’s house, and I think there’s something really special about that,” chef Preston Dickey said. In time for spring and Juniper Valley’s 68th season, Dickey, 35, has returned to his hometown along with his husband, Jan Kratzer, 28, to live full-time. They’re carrying on a four-generation family tradition, serving fried chicken dinners to weekend diners traveling through this part of the state. On Friday and Saturday nights and all day on Sundays, Dickey and Kratzer, who previously worked in non-profits and fine dining restaurants, respectively, are in the kitchen cooking alongside Dickey’s extended family. His dad, Greg (who owns the restaurant), stepmom, sister, brother-in-law and aunts are all fixtures there. Their meals still cost $22 per person for heaping, family-style portions in four courses. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostAn assortment of homemade pies and ice cream with the restaurant’s famous butterscotch sauce are available at Juniper Valley Ranch on April 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs. You’ll get platters of crispy-outside-juicy-within fried chicken, served classic or hot (cayenne, cumin, chipotle and chili powders, plus apple cider vinegar for Juniper Valley’s touch); homemade apple butter to slather over hot biscuits; coleslaw and okra casserole and gravy to pour over it all. “You can take people back in time or take them forward in time,” Dickey said of the effect of a restaurant. “Whichever experience they want.” The forward and back is a balancing act for someone who grew up gay and “outspoken” in the ’80s and ’90s in Colorado Springs. But Dickey came from a long line of free-thinkers: homesteaders, business people, artists and matriarchs. “Four girls inherited (Juniper Valley), and they kept it all together,” he said of his great-grandmother Ethel and her three sisters, who by the mid-20th century were running the ranch and building a business with their father, Guy Parker, on his land. Between them, they sold sandwiches to construction workers, started a Mexican restaurant that later failed and then landed on skillet-fried chicken dinners, a model that stuck. Dickey’s grandmother, Sydney, eventually took over the restaurant kitchen, and when he was born, his parents, who were right out of high school, were given the reins. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostChef Preston Dickey hand fries individual pieces of chicken in a skillet at Juniper Valley Ranch on April 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs. “The running joke is I was born in the restaurant,” Dickey laughed. For the first part of his life, he lived behind the restaurant in a converted chicken coop (that’s now a gift shop), before his family moved out to the original homestead house. “Growing up in a rural area like this, it was kind of challenging,” Dickey said. “Colorado Springs 25 years ago was a different place. I felt like I needed to get away.” Sydney helped with student loans so that Dickey could attend Tufts University outside Boston. While he was away, and soon after she had retired from the family business, she died in a car crash on her way from the ranch into town. “Our family was really rocked by it,” Dickey said. “Because my parents had me so young, she was really influential in raising me.” Dickey moved to Denver shortly after his grandmother’s death, and helped at the restaurant on weekends when he was needed. Ten years after her passing, he decided to become more involved. For years, Sydney had made all the desserts at Juniper Valley. Dickey started to dabble in baking with just a butter crust and a box of peaches and thought “that would be that.” But the pies, and rolling out their dough every day, became a way for him to process his grief. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostWaitresses Marah Macura, in front, and Miranda Lening, in back, keep a steady pace bringing out food for diners at Juniper Valley Ranch on April 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs. “It’s kind of like reconciling with my family and this place,” he said. “And now, I come back and feel like I do belong here.” Last summer, he sourced fruit from farmers on the Western Slope and made 25 kinds of pies throughout the season — from blackberry to nectarine and plum — while pan-frying hundreds of pieces of chicken each day, “low and slow,” from birds that his dad would butcher every morning. “We were really worried that a lot of our food traditions would die with her,” Dickey said of his grandmother. “We didn’t learn as much as we probably should have.” But this season, he and Jan have rented out their Denver apartment on Airbnb and moved near Juniper Valley full-time. In addition to the regular menu, they’ve started baking their own sourdough bread, added local gin and tonics to the drink offerings, and are serving Nashville hot chicken as a Sunday special. “I think Jan and I have spent a lot of our lives working on other people’s dreams. Here we get to take liberties and risks that just aren’t possible at other places,” Dickey said. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostA table full of friends from Canon City toast one another during dinner at Juniper Valley Ranch on April 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs. They bought three new milking cows that birthed their first calves this spring, adding to the 10 steer and six horses left on the 300-acre ranch. By opening weekend in early April, the low-slung adobe was humming with families, first-time visitors and friends. Dickey’s sister, Olivia, and his dad greeted diners, who filled the worn-in rooms, tucking in at dining tables as the house settled into its 68th year. “Something about this place is that it (…) it’s like local produce: It follows the season, and so do we,” Dickey said. “If I could tell myself 20 years ago that I would be putting myself back here, I would have never believed it.” If you go: Juniper Valley Ranch is located at 16350 Highway 115, southwest of Colorado Springs. It’s open from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and from 1 to 7:30 p.m. Sundays. For reservations, call 719-576-0741, and for more information visit junipervalleyranch.com. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostThe sunsets outside of the small red adobe house at Juniper Valley Ranch welcomes diners to the restaurant on April 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs.
  • Melanie Griffith’s Aspen mansion — featuring gondola access and a 9,000-bottle wine cellar — sold for $4 million
    Melanie Griffith’s log cabin in Aspen sold for $4 million. The 7,391-square-foot estate at 46 Lower Hurricane Road was decorated by Griffith, who earned the Golden Globe Award for best actress for “Working Girl” (1989) and landed her first lead role in the 1991 drama “Paradise.” Griffith’s former residence features floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the interior with natural light and are a lens to Aspen Highlands Ridge. Decks wrap the house that has a stone fireplace as its focal point and a gourmet kitchen, billiards room and a wine cellar among other amenities. “A 9,000-bottle wine cellar,” said Carrie Wells, a broker with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate, who represented the seller. “There’s a very large stone fireplace that separates the dining and living room, and outrageous views.” RELATED: $149 million ranch featuring helipad, bison herd is Colorado’s most expensive property on the market What puts this property apart from others, Wells said, is that it’s on the backside of Aspen Mountain, where people can ski down the mountain to the house. The private residence has access to a gondola and Little Annie Road and is a 20-minute drive to downtown Aspen. “The main experience is a private setting and view experience that people would associate with being in Switzerland — ridge-lined, snow-capped peaks,” Wells said. Secluded on two acres, it houses five bedrooms, including a master suite, and six bathrooms, according to a news release provided by Laura Acker, vice president of Kreps DeMaria PR & Marketing. Wells said the buyer is not a celebrity but famous in the business they own. The buyer has a young family and is planning to relocate to Aspen.
  • This $17.95 million Aspen estate is on the market after staying in one family for 70 years
    An estate in one Aspen family for 70 years now searches for new ownership. The 12-acre contemporary at 700 Nell Erickson Road is on the market for $17.95 million after Paula Zurcher, 90, decided to sell. Zurcher is the daughter of Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke, who together in 1946 contributed to the development of downtown Aspen by founding The Aspen Skiing Company and created The Aspen Institute — now an international nonprofit think tank — three years later. The Paepcke’s business endeavors in Aspen spawned after the family found the 400-acre gem 10 minutes from downtown during a mountain hike. The land was pared down as time wore on, starting when Walter died in 1960. When Elizabeth passed in 1994, the property was subdivided by her heirs. What remains are four developed lots nestled in 51 common acres with caretakers for the entire ranch. “I chose the lot so that it was far removed from the road,” Zurcher said during an interview with James Tarmy of Bloomberg. “I didn’t want to see any traffic.” Colter Smith, the step-grandson of Zurcher, is the founder and broker of Christie’s International Real Estate Aspen Snowmass and the listing agent for the property after being a caretaker of it for 15 years. “I know the property intimately,” Smith said. Two-story windows line the living room and gaze toward nature’s abundance of ponds and streams, an elk habitat and aspen and spruce forests that encompass the mansion. The roughly 6,800-square-foot home has seven bedrooms all above grade, five bathrooms with one half bath and a two-car garage. Resting at the base of Aspen’s Red Mountain, the property has senior water rights and produces around 1,500 gallons a minute throughout the summer. There also is 1,400 square feet for additional development opportunities, Smith said. “It’s probably the most private lot on Red Mountain,” Smith said. “This property is about the land and the location. It’s a legacy property.”
  • What’s happening with the Rockies’ “West Lot” construction project ahead of opening day
    Rockies fans headed to games this season will get to see the transformation of the old West Lot, where work has been underway since the team last played to transform the space into a three-building project set to open in 2021. When finished, the old lot at the southwest corner of 20th and Wazee streets will be a mixed-use project that will house the team’s hall of fame. Denizens of the ballpark neighborhood may be aware of all the work that has happened since crews fenced it off last September in advance of its transformation, but for fans that haven’t been to LoDo since the end of the 2018 season, here is the latest: Excavation work is still underway, but support pillars are rising as concrete is poured for the two floors of underground parking that will eventually host 420 spots. Three tower cranes have been erected around the site. They are lit up purple at night. An official naming ceremony for the project has been scheduled for April 4. Team co-owner Dick Monfort is expected to speak about what the project means for the neighborhood and the organization. A tentative grand opening date has been announced: New Years Day, 2021. An executive team has been seated to oversee the construction. It features representatives from the architecture and designs firm Stantec, general contractor Hensel Phelps and the team. The project has also been further refined. The final product will be a trio of interconnected towers centered on a 29,000-square-foot public plaza complete with a giant video screen and a grass berm for summer lounging. The building that fronts onto Wazee Street will feature 112 condos. The building that faces 19th will be office space. The building closest to the stadium, facing 20th Street and running along the east side of the “Wynkoop Plaza” pedestrian area, will be a 176-room hotel with the team hall of fame on the second floor. RELATED: These Denver skyscraper projects stand to leave their mark on the Mile High City “This was always kind of a dead corner because it was just a parking lot,” John Yonushewski, Stantec’s senior principal on the project and a member of the executive team, said Wednesday. “Soon, people will now have a reason to interact with Wynkoop Plaza literally 24/7.” Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostConstruction workers work on the former "west lot" across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostThe former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostConstruction workers work on the former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostThe former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostThe former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. On Thursday. team owner and CEO Dick Monfort announced the team will name the project McGregor Square in honor of late team president Keli McGregor.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostThe former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostConstruction workers work on the former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostThe former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostConstruction workers work on the former West Lot across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Rachel Woolf, Special to the Denver PostConstruction workers work on the former "west lot" across from Coors Field on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Denver. The construction is for a future Rockies hall of fame, offices, residential units, and an audio visually equipped public plaza.Show Caption of Expand Yonushewski and his company were tasked with designing a project that achieved three goals at the West Lot: be active year round, extend the game day experience and be a community gathering spot. He’s confident the project will achieve all three. The size and shape of the buildings has been finalized with the city, but internal uses are still being fleshed out. Another LoDo food hall may be in the offing. An ice skating rink may be part of the winter programming. While leasing teams consider what to do with the forthcoming 75,000 square feet of bar, restaurant and shopping space, game day attendees will see the skeleton of the project slowly take shape throughout the 2019 season. Yonushewski said the development team expects to apply for a superstructure permit in late May. After that, passersby will really begin to see the buildings rise. “By September, you’ll certainly see the concrete frame up and out of the ground,” Yonushewski said. “They’ll be out of the ground and on the upper levels.” Related ArticlesSeptember 25, 2018 Rockies’ “west lot” a parking lot no more in Denver’s Union Station neighborhood February 27, 2019 Denver’s Dairy Block to host debut location of new retail concept Free Market March 20, 2019 Larimer Square owner vows not to demolish historic buildings amid effort to redevelop storied Denver block Aside from narrowing the Wynkoop Plaza walkway, work on the project is not expected to have a major impact on visitor traffic. Road closures will occur when the team is on the road, Rockies officials said. That’s welcome news at nearby Denver ChopHouse & Brewery. Assistant general manager Ally Wolf said that when streets were closed to accommodate cranes going up, business suffered. But Hensel Phelps has been responsive and helpful, putting up signs on the fences around the project alerting people that the ChopHouse is open, even moving the signs when asked, she said. Rockies season is naturally the busy season at the restaurant with game nights regularly pulling in $60,000 or more, Wolf said. She is hopeful that the construction won’t impact any of the foot traffic games generate. “We think it’s going to be great,” when it’s done, Wolf said. “It’ll be an attraction. More businesses, more condos. It will be the new thing in Denver.”
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  • “Surveillance Capitalism” author speaks of virus infecting economic sectors
    A year ago, Shoshana Zuboff dropped an intellectual bomb on the technology industry. She hasn’t stood still since. In a 700-page book, the Harvard scholar skewered tech giants such as Facebook and Google with a damning phrase: “surveillance capitalism.” The unflattering term evokes how these companies vacuum up the details of our lives, make billions from that data and use what they’ve learned to glue our attention more firmly to their platforms. A bestseller in Canada and Britain, “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” was published in the U.S. in January, is being translated into 17 languages and has inspired two small theater productions. Zuboff, meanwhile, has been counseling politicians, crisscrossing the Atlantic for public forums from Los Angeles to Rome and hitting the podcast circuit. She offered input on several pending U.S. privacy bills and wrote a 34-page policy paper for the House Judiciary Committee, whose antitrust panel is studying Big Tech’s potential abuse of its market dominance. Zuboff has “put the language of economics around the experience that we all know we’re having,” said Beeban Kidron, a film director and U.K. House of Lords member who spearheaded child-protection rules limiting how apps gather data and tempt kids to linger online. “She’s a rock star.” Early on, Zuboff realized researchers had missed the importance of the ambient data that digital services collect — where we use them, for how long, what we like, what we linger on and with whom we associate. They were calling it “digital exhaust.” But Zuboff saw that this data wasn’t just an unexpected byproduct, says Chris Hoofnagle, a University of California-Berkeley privacy expert. “It is the product.” Tech industry allies denounce Zuboff’s thesis as conspiracy-minded hyperbole. Consumers willingly trade their personal data for access to valuable services that don’t cost them a cent, they argue. Google and Facebook declined to discuss Zuboff or her book. But after more than a year of tech-related privacy scandals, malign election-interference and online platform-fueled extremism, investigations opened by state attorneys general and the U.S. government’s first tentative steps toward reining in its technology titans, it’s become clear that Zuboff helped crystallize previously vague apprehensions about the tech industry. Zuboff’s indictment is straightforward: Tech companies suck up our data trails, then use those insights to steer us toward commercial interactions, develop their next addictive apps and predict our future behavior — effectively molding individual behavior. Worse, she says, these invasive business practices are spreading. “By now, this is a virus that has infected every economic sector,” Zuboff told a meeting of international parliamentarians in May. Zuboff traces the origin of surveillance capitalism to 2001 as Google, then little more than a search engine, considered going public. Faced with the need to generate revenue, its founders decided to mine the data Google amasses when people make searches. That helped Google improve search results but also informed it about users’ family lives, religious beliefs, ethnicity, political or sexual persuasion and more. Google fed those clues into a personalized advertising machine and became a global juggernaut. Following Google’s example, Facebook and other tech companies offered an irresistible bargain. People could connect to long-lost friends, search the world’s information and watch endless streams of video at no cost. Before long, smartphones launched an explosion of “free” apps with a hearty appetite for your data. Nowadays, your movements, conversations, facial expressions and more are snatched by smart TVs, thermostats, refrigerators, doorbell cameras and connected cars. Dossiers are compiled on each of us. Among the first women to earn tenure at Harvard Business School, Zuboff won plaudits for her early grasp of how digital technology would transform the business world with her 1988 book, “In the Age of the Smart Machine.” Her next book, “The Support Economy” — co-written with her late husband, James Maxmin — predicted that out-of-touch corporations would give way to rivals responsive to the feedback of technology-empowered consumers. To Zuboff, surveillance capitalism poses an existential threat whose hidden costs are intentionally obscured by its practitioners. It is an “antidemocratic and antiegalitarian juggernaut,” she wrote. In the name of personalization, she said, “it defiles, ignores, overrides and displaces everything about you and me that is personal.” Not everyone agrees, to put it mildly. Vice President Carl Szabo of the e-commerce trade group NetChoice, whose members include Facebook and Google, said her book “paints a typical dystopian picture of technology, dismissing the remarkable benefits of online platforms and data analysis.” In response, Zuboff cites consumer surveys that indicate increasing unease with the prevailing, invasive business model. She has no illusions about how difficult it will be to turn things around. Breaking up technology giants, says Zuboff, would do little to prevent their smaller progeny from continuing their work. She does think the EU’s year-old data protection rule and California’s new data privacy law, which takes effect in January, are a good start. And she’s heartened by a recent flurry of regulatory energy in Washington, D.C. “I think it’s the very early stages of a sea change.”
  • Parisians dodge strikes by logging on to share rides, bikes
    By Claire Parker, The Associated Press ARGENTEUIL, France — Adrien Lachevre and Nailat Msoili live a few miles apart in Paris’ northwest suburbs, but their paths had never crossed until Lachevre picked Msoili up in his gray Fiat on Tuesday morning. An app had matched their schedules and morning commutes, and the two had arranged to meet at a nearly deserted gas station well before dawn, hoping to beat the traffic that has clogged highways in recent days. As a general strike across France continued, they were among many commuters who turned to technology — and strangers — to get by. Use of carpool apps, big and small, has spiked. So has demand for shared bikes and electric scooters that you activate with your phone and pick up and drop off where you want. Commuters are finding places to sleep near their workplaces via Facebook or online couch-surfing communities. All this is changing the nature of French strikes, undercutting unions’ power to paralyze the country. For instance, only about a fifth of French trains ran normally on Tuesday, and many Paris subway lines remained closed as transit workers and other unions protested President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed overhaul of the country’s pension system. Teachers, health care workers and bus drivers were among those taking to the streets. Carpooling startups were among the big winners. Msoili, a receptionist in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, usually takes a train and a bus to work each morning. For the first two days of the walkout, she stayed at a friend’s house close to her job. When the strike continued, she took a colleague’s recommendation and signed up for BlaBlaLines, a city ride-sharing service set up by popular French long-distance carpooling company BlaBlaCar. BlaBlaLines drivers, unlike those with Uber, aren’t trying to make a living from giving rides to others; they’re ordinary car owners who were already planning to drive somewhere and agree to take others along. The Paris regional transport authority subsidizes BlaBlaLines to encourage carpooling, so passengers ride free. Lachevre, who also typically takes public transportation to work, downloaded the app when the strike began. He has picked up commuters on his way to and from work ever since. “Why not help other people out?” he said. “I still have two, three, four places in my car that could permit other people to go to work without complications.” Msoili sympathizes with the transportation workers. But she has begun to take issue with the strikers’ tactics. “It’s people like us who are struggling as a result,” she said. In the meantime, BlaBlaCar has seen rides on its long-distance carpooling service double or triple since the strike began, particularly along popular train routes such as Paris to Lyon, CEO Nicolas Brusson said. BlaBlaLines usage in the Paris region has increased tenfold. Francois Mori, The Associated PressA woman rides her bicycle as commuters wait for a bus at Gare du Nord Station in Paris. Carpooling cooperative Mobicoop is appealing to French citizens’ sense of solidarity, encouraging drivers to offer rides to people headed to demonstrations in Paris. Drivers decide whether to charge a fee, and the platform makes no commission. The service saw a 178% increase in rides on the first day of the strike, according to spokeswoman Marion Deton. Vélib, which runs the city’s shared bike program, saw record-breaking usage over that weekend, when some 80,000 users took close to 240,000 rides on the green and blue bikes. Apps such as these are helping to prevent the kind of near-total paralysis seen during a 1995 strike, which was also over pension reforms. That walkout forced then-Prime Minister Alain Juppé to drop the proposal, and his government then collapsed. “Now it’s much simpler in the case of a strike to find other solutions, whether that’s carpooling or Velib or scooters,” Lachevre said. The carpooling craze is all but certain to ease up when the strike is over. Still, Brusson, the BlaBlaCar CEO, said past strikes have produced lasting growth for companies like his. “You go down from the strike, but you never go back to where you started,” he said. Lachevre and Msoili, at least, said they’ll keep the app.
  • Salesforce could add another 250 jobs in Denver
    Salesforce, a San Francisco tech company, plans a major expansion in Denver, one that includes moving into new offices at 17th Street Plaza in Denver by the end of next year, according to a blog post from the company. Salesforce provides cloud-based customer relationship management services and first located in Louisville in 2013. This spring, it moved into WeWork space at 1700 Lincoln in the Wells Fargo Building, which houses about 100 workers. In April, the Colorado Economic Development approved $5.7 million in job growth incentive tax credits for the company, which applied under the codename Project Wildcat. Portland, Ore., was also in the running. To receive the full award, the company must create 250 new jobs in Denver at an average annual salary of $100,000 a year within the next eight years. “Salesforce is an iconic brand in the tech industry and leader in enterprise software. Colorado’s dynamic talent pool continues to provide expansion opportunities for our existing firms in the technology cluster,” Michelle Hadwiger, global business development director with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, said in a statement. The company said it plans to put up a sign with its name on the building at 1225 17th St. Related Articles “Surveillance Capitalism” author speaks of virus infecting economic sectors Parisians dodge strikes by logging on to share rides, bikes A self-driving truck delivered butter from California to Pennsylvania in 3 days Reading this while walking? Here’s how to break that awful habit. In a first, IBM’s computer debater faces off against itself
  • A self-driving truck delivered butter from California to Pennsylvania in three days
    A Silicon Valley startup has completed what appears to be the first commercial freight cross-country trip by an autonomous truck, which finished a 2,800-mile-run from Tulare, California to Quakertown, Pennsylvania for Land O’Lakes in under three days. The trip was smooth like butter, 40,000 pounds of it. Plus.ai, a 3-year-old company in Cupertino, announced the milestone Tuesday. A safety driver was aboard the autonomous semi, ready to take the wheel if needed, along with a safety engineer who observed how things were going. “We wanted to demonstrate the safety, reliability and maturity of our overall system,” said Shawn Kerrigan, co-founder and chief operating officer of the company, in an interview Monday. The company’s system uses cameras, radar and lidar — laser-based technology to help vehicles determine distance — and handled the different terrains and weather conditions such as rain and low visibility well, he said. The truck, which traveled on interstates 15 and 70 right before Thanksgiving, had to take scheduled breaks but drove mostly autonomously. There were zero “disengagements,” or times the self-driving system had to be suspended because of a problem, Kerrigan said. Plus.ai has been running freight every week for about a year, its COO said, but this is the first cross-country trip and partnership it has talked about publicly. End of year is peak butter time, according to Land O’Lakes. “To be able to address this peak demand with a fuel- and cost-effective freight transport solution will be tremendously valuable to our business,” said Yone Dewberry, the butter maker’s chief supply officer, in a statement. How long will it be before self-driving trucks are delivering goods regularly across the nation’s highways? Kerrigan thinks it’s “a few years out.” Related Articles “Surveillance Capitalism” author speaks of virus infecting economic sectors Parisians dodge strikes by logging on to share rides, bikes Salesforce could add another 250 jobs in Denver Reading this while walking? Here’s how to break that awful habit. In a first, IBM’s computer debater faces off against itself Dan Ives, managing director of equity research for Wedbush Securities, predicts there will be quite a few autonomous freight-delivery pilots in 2020 and 2021, with the beginning of a commercial rollout in 2022. Like other experts, he believes the trucking industry will be the first to adopt autonomous technology on a mass scale. The timeline will depend on regulations, which vary state to state, he said. About 10 to 15 companies nationwide are working on autonomous freight delivery, Ives said. That includes San Francisco-based self-driving truck startup Embark Trucks, which last year completed a five-day, 2,400-mile cross-country trip. But that truck carried no freight. “When the (freight) trucks can go long distance, that’s when there will be significant ROI” on the autonomous technology, Ives said.
  • Reading this while walking? Here’s how to break that awful habit.
    You’re walking around and a thought occurs: “I should check my phone.” The phone comes out of your pocket. You type a message. Then your eyes remain glued to the screen, even when you walk across the street. We all do this kind of distracted walking, or “twalking.” (Yes, this term is really a thing.) The behavior has spawned debates among lawmakers about whether walking and texting should be illegal. Some cities, such as Honolulu and Rexburg, Idaho, have gone beyond talk and banned distracted walking altogether. But we shouldn’t let that reassure us. Last year, pedestrian deaths in the United States were at their highest point since 1990, with distracted drivers and bigger vehicles the chief culprits. So being fixated on a screen while walking can’t be safe. “We know research-wise it’s not a good idea, and common-sense-wise it can’t be a good idea,” said Ken Kolosh, a manager of statistics at the National Safety Council, a nonprofit that focuses on eliminating preventable deaths. “We don’t ever want to blame the victim, but there’s personal responsibility all of us have.” So why do we do it? I talked to neuroscientists and psychologists about our conduct. All agreed that texting while walking might be a form of addictive behavior. But this column isn’t about pointing fingers. Rather, now is a good time to reflect on why we are so glued to our phones, what we know about the risks and how we can take control of our personal technology rather than let it control us. Why We Text and Walk People are, by nature, information-seeking creatures. When we regularly check our phones, we are snacking on information from devices that offer an all-you-can-eat buffet of information. Our information-foraging tendencies evolved from the behavior of animals foraging for food for survival, said Dr. Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist and co-author of the book “The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World.” Studies have shown that our brains feel rewarded when we receive information, which drives us to seek more. That’s similar to how our appetites feel sated after we eat. In some ways, smartphones were designed to be irresistible to information-seeking creatures. Gazzaley drew this analogy: An animal will probably stay in a tree to gather all of its nuts before moving on to the next one. That’s because the animal is weighing the cost of getting to the next tree against the diminishing benefit of staying. With humans and smartphones, there is no cost to switching between email, text messages and apps like Facebook. “The next tree is right there: It’s a link to the next webpage, a shift to the next tab,” he said. “We transfer so easily that we don’t have to use up the nuts to move on to the next one.” So we get stuck in cycles. At what point is this considered addiction? Related Articles “Surveillance Capitalism” author speaks of virus infecting economic sectors Parisians dodge strikes by logging on to share rides, bikes Booz Allen Hamilton opens new office in Aurora, defense and aerospace-related business growing Salesforce could add another 250 jobs in Denver Yeti Cycles staying stationary after inking lease for more space in Golden Not all constant phone use was considered addictive, said Steven Sussman, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California. External pressures, like a demanding job, could force people to frequently check their phones. But when people check their devices just to enhance their mood, this could be a sign of a developing problem. Another signal of addictive behavior is becoming preoccupied with smartphone use when you should be doing something else. An even clearer indicator is what happens when the phone is taken away. “Let’s say you go out to the mountains and you don’t get reception, so you can’t use a smartphone,” Sussman said. “Do you feel a sense of relief? Or do you feel, wow, I want to get out of these mountains — I want to use the smartphone. If you feel the latter, that’s toward the addictive direction.”(BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM.)Jim Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that evaluates tech products and media for families, said there needed to be a broad public awareness campaign over the dangers of walking and texting in parallel with distracted driving. “You have distracted pedestrians and distracted drivers, so it’s the double whammy,” he said. “Tech addiction hits in both ways.” The Debate Over the Danger Just how dangerous is distracted walking? The answer is: It’s still unclear. Distracted walking is a relatively new area of research. There have been few studies to show the consequences of what the behavior can lead to. And some of the studies conflict with one another. This year, New York City’s Transportation Department published one study, including data collected about pedestrian-related incidents in New York and nationwide, which found little concrete evidence to link distracted walking with pedestrian fatalities or injuries. Yet the National Safety Council said the national data cited in the New York study did not include information on whether pedestrians were engaged in other tasks at the time of the incidents. The council instead published a study conducted by the University of Maryland in 2013. It found that between 2000 and 2011, there were hundreds of emergency room visits related to phone use while walking, and the primary cause of injury was a fall.(BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM.)While more research needs to be done on distracted walking, it’s indisputable that walking while texting is less safe than paying attention to your surroundings. “When you’re busy doing secondary tasks like texting, you don’t judge gap distances in traffic as well, you walk slower, you make poor decisions, and you’re not aware of your surroundings,” said Kolosh of the National Safety Council. How to Take Control Obviously, the answer to not getting into dangerous situations by walking and texting is not to walk and text at the same time. But that’s easier said than done, since people have trouble reining in their tech use. So several experts recommended exercises in self-control. Melanie Greenberg, a clinical psychologist and the author of “The Stress-Proof Brain,” said people could practice being more mindful by asking themselves any of these questions: Is this the most important thing for me to be doing right now? Am I controlling my destiny, or am I letting tech control it? How is my posture? Am I stressing my body out? Am I going to cause myself harm? Reducing access to the device can also be helpful, Gazzaley said. You could carry your phone in your bag instead of your pocket, making it more troublesome to pull out, for example. The National Safety Council said that when pedestrians have to check their phones, they should stop walking and stand in a safe place. It also advised people wearing earphones to listen at a low volume. Chris Marcellino, a former Apple engineer who led the development of the original iPhone’s notifications, recommended going into the phone’s settings and switching off notifications for all apps except those that are most important to you, like work-related apps. “These are things that aren’t pertinent to your life that are bombarding you all the time,” he said. Other tools, like the “do not disturb” function on both iPhones and Android phones, can be set to shush notifications temporarily. Even knowing all of this, I caught myself the other day checking Twitter while crossing a parking lot. I reflected on this and realized Twitter was a waste of time. So I deleted the app. Then I installed another one to block the Twitter website from my phone — just for good measure.
  • In a first, IBM’s computer debater faces off against itself
    CAMBRIDGE, England — The chamber hushed as the debate got underway at the Cambridge Union and the teams launched into their carefully crafted opening statements. The topic — whether artificial intelligence would do more harm than good — was something each side had a big stake in because both were using the technology to deliver their arguments. Cambridge University, home to the world’s oldest debating society, was the setting Nov. 21 for a demonstration of what the future might hold. IBM’s Project Debater, a robot that has already debated humans, was for the first time being pitted against itself — at least in the first round. Artificial intelligence “will not be able to make a decision that is the morally correct one, because morality is unique to humans,” the computer system said in a synthetic and vaguely feminine voice. “It cannot make moral decisions easily and can lead to disasters. AI can cause a lot of harm,” it continued. Artificial intelligence can only make decisions it has been programmed for and “it is not possible to program for all scenarios, only humans can.” Then, the machine switched sides, delivering the opposing team’s argument. Artificial intelligence “will be a great advantage as it will free up more time from having to do mundane and repetitive tasks,” it said, its voice embodied by a blue waveform on a screen set into a 2-meter-tall sleek black monolith-like pillar. Audience members at the society —  which has hosted notable figures such as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the Dalai Lama and Microsoft founder Bill Gates over its 200-year history — were spellbound by its first non-human guest. After first pitting the technology against a human last year, IBM challenged it to present opposing arguments, in a display of its latest advances. Unlike its earlier debate, which relied on analyzing a huge trove of newspaper and magazine articles for its replies, researchers this time crowd-sourced contributions from 1,100 Cambridge students and fed the answers to the computer. They wanted to find out, “Can you use the technology to generate a compelling narrative that will help the decision maker to take a better decision?” said lead scientist Noam Slonim. The system had to identify which side the crowd-sourced contribution was on, rank the best arguments, filter out spelling mistakes and bad grammar, then present a persuasive five-minute statement — a process IBM said took about a minute. Potential applications for the technology include helping a company or government carry out surveys or gather feedback from clients. The night wasn’t totally devoid of humanity. Related Articles “Surveillance Capitalism” author speaks of virus infecting economic sectors Parisians dodge strikes by logging on to share rides, bikes Booz Allen Hamilton opens new office in Aurora, defense and aerospace-related business growing Salesforce could add another 250 jobs in Denver Yeti Cycles staying stationary after inking lease for more space in Golden Project Debater quipped, “Let’s move to an issue close to my artificial heart: technology,” drawing laughter from the crowd. And then human debaters took over in the rebuttal and closing rounds, while also jokingly dubbing the computer “Debbie” and “Cybertronia the All-Knowing.” At the end of the night, audience members sided with the argument that artificial intelligence does more good than harm. Its future is assured, at least for now.
  • From the lawn to the lab: Apartment complexes use DNA testing to keep bad dog owners in check
    It’s morning and you’re walking your dog, with a bag in hand, on the lawn outside of your apartment so that Fido can do his business. As you walk, you hear that dreaded squish beneath your Crocs. Your neighbors didn’t pick up after their dog — again — and you haven’t even had your morning coffee. The bad-acting dog owner not only ruined your morning, but that of your landlord’s, too. Littered lawns are bad form, and bad for business. But in 2019, apartment owners have a high-tech tool in their toolbox to make sure everyone is following the rules. It involves some pet detectives and technicians in lab coats. Apartment complexes used to be notorious for their stiff, anti-pet rules. Once the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1991, landlords had to accept tenants with service animals like seeing eye dogs. The definition of service animals has broadened to include emotional support animals. This trend picked up about 20 years ago, Drew Hamrick, senior vice president of government affairs for the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, said. “It’s a competitive landscape and people can’t be so cavalier about pets,” Hamrick said. “If someone has a disability, they need a service animal. And at that point, you might as well open the doors for any pet.” This policy shift resulted in more green lawns peppered with dog poop, though. That inspired complexes to tear a page from the CSI handbook — DNA testing. Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostA pet DNA sample kit is shown at Decatur Point apartments on Tuesday. Nov. 19, 2019. Many apartment complexes across the metro area require residents to submit DNA samples of their dogs before moving in. They then contract out collection and testing services that will show who the offending parties are if animal waste is found on the property. In 2008, entrepreneur Tom Boyd bought the BioPet research lab in Knoxville, Tenn., and, upon learning that research labs don’t make money, he founded PooPrints as the lab’s side hustle to bring in some extra revenue. “I first heard about PooPrints 10 years ago,” Chief Executive Officer J Retinger said. “I thought, ‘Wow, there’s some brilliance to that. But will people get on board?’ ” The company came of age in the thick of the recession. The multi-family residential industry wasn’t hit as hard by the economic downturn and benefited from people having to rent versus owning homes, Retinger said. That, and an unaffected pet industry, created a favorable business environment for PooPrints. The company has partners in every state and seven countries: Canada, Spain, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Israel, Australia and Mexico, said Retinger, who became CEO in 2017. Pet Scoop, founded in 1994 by Sam and Lanier Johnson, has been PooPrints’ Colorado partner since 2011. “I first heard about them 10 years ago. I didn’t take it seriously until I started reading articles about them a few months later,” Sam Johnson said. “Pet Scoop’s biggest issue is that waste builds up once we leave. By fining residents, we’re taking a more proactive approach.” People swab their dog’s cheek when moving into a PooPrint-affiliated residence. That DNA sample is entered into the national pet registry. So if a pup poops on a lawn and the owner leaves it there, maintenance crews will take a sample, which will be sent to the lab in Knoxville. Then, the sample is run through the DNA database until a match is found. The result is sent to the landlord who can dish out a fine to the guilty dog owner. Related Articles Where to take your pets to see Santa in Denver during the holidays PETA calls for CU Boulder to stop using live buffalo mascot The service is effective, too, said Greg Tyndall, manager at PetScoop partner Decatur Point Apartments in Denver. Residents face a three-strike rule with fines. After the third instance of not picking up after their dog, they could face eviction. That’s a hypothetical contingency, though, because most offenders are “pretty one-and-done,” Tyndall said. And it’s not just privately held apartment complexes that require pet DNA samples. In 2018, Winter Park added the right to test dogs in its public housing leases, though it hasn’t been enforced, a spokesperson said. In Breckenridge, a public housing lease requires residents to provide a sample of dog fur, Nichole Rex, a housing planner for Breckenridge, said. The town partnered with PooPrints. “Our decision to pursue dog DNA testing was around ensuring our property was being up-kept and maintained. And making sure our guests weren’t exposed to, well, dog poop every where,” Rex said. “It has worked. No one wants to be fined $100 over dog poop.” Besides PooPrints, there are a handful of other companies doing the same kind of work — five or six by Retinger’s estimation. Not picking up dog poop might seem innocuous, but when waste is left behind, it can harm the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, animal waste that decomposes in bodies of water releases nutrients and pathogens that causes excessive weed and algae growth. Excessive growth turns water green and makes water dangerous to swim in or fish in. “You might be a responsible person but if no one else picks up, you’re going to think, ‘Why should I bother?” That snowball effect is dangerous,” Sam Johnson said. “Denver is a dog friendly city and dog waste is a negative from that.“
  • Colorado Parks &Wildlife turning to an augmented reality app to get more kids hiking
    Next time you’re in one of Colorado’s state parks, you and your mini-me may be guided on an interactive “mission” by Tyson the Bison, Agent Red-tailed Hawk or any of a number of other virtual “wildlife agents.” Colorado Parks and Wildlife has developed augmented reality adventures for 10 state parks using the educational mobile gaming platform Agents of Discovery. The goal is to get kids outside, get them moving and provide opportunities for them to learn about their environment. Each mission asks users to complete a variety of interactive tasks designed to engage them with their surroundings. Users download the free Agents of Discovery app to their smartphone and select a mission at a participating park: Barr Lake, Chatfield, Cherry Creek, Cheyenne Mountain, Eleven Mile, Ridgway, St. Vrain, Staunton, Steamboat Lake or Trinidad Lake. The app is free from the iOS App or Google Play stores, and once you’ve downloaded the mission, you can venture out without the need for WiFi or the internet. When users open the app, a satellite map appears with various markers on it. Using your phone’s GPS, you will navigate toward the markers on the map. When you arrive at the marker, tap it to reveal the challenge. Some require a photo, some are fill-in-the-blank or multiple-choice questions based on your surroundings. Some missions even come with prizes, usually picked up at the park’s visitor center. The app also keeps track of things like how many of the challenges you found, how long you spent looking and the estimated distance you walked. Some may see this as just another example of technology run amok. Isn’t part of the appeal of parks that we’re able to disconnect while enjoying nature? Even still, with the prevalence of smartphones — and Colorado’s Insta-worthy landscapes — if you’re in a state park with your kid, you may already have your phone out. “Instead of fighting with them to keep it in their pockets, why not let them use it to discover interesting things about the park?” Michelle Seubert, Barr Lake State Park manager, said in a recent press release. Mary McCormac, CPW’s statewide interpretation and wildlife viewing coordinator, sees the app as an education tool rather than a distraction. “They can play games and get info, and it’s a fun way to integrate technology into outdoor learning,” she said. Since the app is easily updated, park managers can also use it to communicate with visitors in a way that static signage can’t — whether it’s a seasonal closure in the park or conditions on the ground visitors should be aware of. Related Articles Keystone ski resort wants lift access to 2 high-alpine bowls Colorado man earns world record as oldest man to hike Grand Canyon rim-to-rim The best snowshoeing trails that are just a short drive from Denver Opting outside on Black Friday? Here’s where you can volunteer in your community. Colorado woman first to climb all 846 peaks above 13,000 feet in every state but Alaska I took the app out for a spin, trying my skill on the missions at Cherry Creek and Barr Lake State Parks. It’s best to download the app to your phone and create an account while you’re still at home. The app seems to work better when you’re logged in, plus it accumulates points for the challenges you complete.#newsletter_ad {float: right;width: 40%;padding: 0.5em;border-left: 2px solid #EDB207;margin-bottom: .2em;margin-left: .5em;}@media (max-width:416px){#newsletter_ad {width:100%;} When you open the app, you will see a list of missions. The default is to sort by distance from wherever you are. If you change it to list in alpha order, it will include missions from everywhere, and there are missions all over North America. Even in our area, there are many more than just the 10 CPW missions. Not all missions have the park name in them, for example, the Barr Lake mission is called Neidrach Trail Adventure. Find the mission for the state park you’re visiting and, again, tap it to download before you leave the house. Before heading out, make sure your phone has a full charge — the app zapped my battery quickly. Keeping these tips in mind, having a “mission” to accomplish may be just the nudge you and your kiddos need to get out, interact with nature and learn a little about Colorado. Many of the missions interweave interesting local history. Challenges may change with the seasons, and some parks may have limited access in winter. Be sure to visit the CPW page for each individual park to learn about any closures before you go. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Adventurist, to get outdoors news sent straight to your inbox.
  • Colorado Springs restaurant ordering AI company finds ideal fit for workers on the autism spectrum
    A Colorado Springs company that operates an AI restaurant ordering service has found that one group that struggles to find work is a great fit for a key job that keeps its technology running smoothly: people on the autism spectrum. Synq3 Restaurant Solutions and its intelligent virtual assistant technology (or IVA for short) has been fielding phone orders placed at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants since May 2018. Broomfield-based Noodles & Co. uses the service as well, with several other major U.S. restaurant brands expected to start using it soon, Synq3’s CEO Steve Bigari said in mid-November. As the IVA service grows, so too does one job title at Synq3, the company’s “intent analysts.” And that means more opportunities for workers with autism. “What we’re finding is people who are on the spectrum are naturally drawn to it and naturally do incredibly well with it,” Bigari said of the positions, launched earlier this year. Analysts help the automated voice ordering system interpret the wide world of human speech. If someone is placing an order in a loud room, speaking in a thick Chicago accent or using phrasing that IVA doesn’t understand right away, it appeals to an analyst for help. The system displays a handful of options of what it thinks the customer is saying on the analyst’s screen, the analyst listens to a digital whisper of the word or phrase and picks the right option. It all happens within a few seconds so the ordering process moves along smoothly. “Chipotle is a great example because many people mispronounce chorizo,” Bigari said. “A normal voice assistant would just fail. ‘I’m sorry. I don’t understand. Please repeat that. I’m sorry. I don’t understand. Please repeat that.’ And then you’re throwing your phone out the window. What happens here is it gets an immediate feedback loop.” Bigari developed the intent analyst job alongside Kevin Reiss, Synq3’s human resources director. Both expected it to be a good fit for people with autism. Bigari’s 19-year-old daughter, Anna, is on the spectrum. The responsibilities of the job fit the skill set of atypical people like her, he said: fond of detail-oriented work, repetition and instant feedback like scorekeeping but not adept at interpersonal interaction or comfortable dealing with customers face to face. She joined the company in June as its fourth-ever intent analyst. It the first job she’s had. Nearly half of people with autism reach the age of 25 without ever holding a paying position, according to statistics on the website for Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization. “I feel like I have a purpose,” Anna Bigari said while taking a break during a recent shift at Synq’s headquarters. “Before, I was just lounging around the house. Here, I make friends. I help people over the phone even though I don’t talk to them.” She is particularly fond of an internal messaging service that allows Synq3 employees to give each other kudos. Related ArticlesOctober 25, 2019 “This is my dream job”: UCHealth program trains students with disabilities, prepares them for workforce November 20, 2019 Colorado unemployment rate ties historic low January 25, 2019 Colorado’s highly educated workforce well placed to fend off job-stealing robots Automation is often looked at as an employment boogeyman, snatching jobs for human workers and giving them to machines. That not the case with Synq3, Steve Bigari said. The company got started as a call center in 2002, fielding drive-through orders placed at McDonald’s restaurants. In the early 2000s, it employed around 50 people. Today it has over 800 employees either working at its office at Mark Dabling Boulevard in Colorado Springs or in their homes. The company employs about 50 intent analysts and expects to add many more as its operation scales up. Pay starts at $11.75 an hour, but that figure is expected to rise, Bigari said. Seventeen of those employees were referred to the company through the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The division and Gov. Jared Polis recognized the company for its work at an awards ceremony in October. The job is not reserved for people with disabilities, Bigari said. Dave Boennighausen, CEO of Noodles & Co., has autism in his family. He considers Synq3 one of the state’s most innovative companies. “With the labor situation that we have today with unemployment at historic lows, they’ve created an absolute win-win,” he said.”It’s not just solving the labor challenge but also providing opportunities for a workforce that is particularly well-suited to provide a superior work.” Anna Bigari is as excited as her father to see the program keep growing. “I think there’s a lot of hope if we keep doing what we’re doing, because this job is really made for people like me who are atypical,” she said, “people who stand out.”
  • Looking for an eco-friendly afterlife? This Arvada man will dissolve your body in chemicals.
    ARVADA — On a dead-end street lined with auto body shops on the industrial edge of this city sits a low-slung, brick building where Ed Gazvoda works without automobile lifts, stud welders or dual-action sanders. Instead, Gazvoda has a tilting stainless-steel chamber into which he fits human bodies, a collection of plastic jugs to store the remains — or “essence” — and a sledgehammer to break up the bones. “We’re the only real body shop,” he said wryly of his 5-month-old enterprise, Sustainable Funeral. Gallows humor comes with the territory when you’re in the business of disposing of the dead. In Gazvoda’s case, the Harvard grad and crematory licensee is a disciple of a still-emerging method of human disposition: alkaline hydrolysis. Using heat, water and a strong base — potassium hydroxide, in this case — a body can be dissolved into liquid and bone in a matter of hours. According to the Cremation Association of North America, alkaline hydrolysis mimics what happens in natural decomposition as part of a burial, “just sped up dramatically by the chemicals.” Proponents of the practice, also referred to as resomation, aquamation or water cremation, tout it as the most environmentally friendly way to complete the final step of human life. Instead of releasing carbon dioxide, and mercury from dental fillings, into the air through conventional cremation or digging up ever scarcer land for graves, alkaline hydrolysis chemically reduces the body to a brown, sterile DNA-free liquid — essentially salts, sugars and amino acids — that can later be used as fertilizer in a garden or farmer’s field. “It breaks apart the atoms and molecules in your body,” Gazvoda said. “It’s by far the greenest way to go. It’s the future of the funeral industry because people want to do good when they die.” RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostEd Gazvoda, owner of Sustainable Funeral, is pictured in his workspace in Arvada on Nov. 21, 2019. He uses a process called alkaline hydrolosis wherein a body is broken down using potassium hydroxide and water. When finished all that’s left are some bones, implants and fluid. Family have the option of saving bones as mementos and then spread the rest the remaining effluent over the earth. Ecological benefit It’s the way Cecilia Girz chose to lay her husband of 23 years to rest this past summer. Girz, a retired meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, was sold on the method based on its smaller ecological footprint. Her husband, she said, was adamant about not being embalmed, which employs a host of chemicals, including formaldehyde. “It uses fewer resources than burial or flame cremation and you end up with an organic substance,” she said. “You’re going back to the earth that you came from.” That’s important to Girz, who said both she and her late husband were avid gardeners. She obtained his essence after his death in August and has been applying it to the garden they once tended together. “He was a terrific gardener and it seems really appropriate to have his remains dispersed that way,” Girz said choking up. “I’m remembering him and how much pleasure he took in gardening.” Girz learned about alkaline hydrolysis at a caregivers symposium where Karen van Vuuren was a speaker. Van Vuuren runs The Natural Funeral in Lafayette, which bills itself as “Colorado’s first independent, holistic funeral home.” She works with Gazvoda’s Sustainable Funeral to provide her clients with what her company calls water cremation. One client told van Vuuren that she “just wanted to be compost” after she passed. “She was super excited that there was a process that would make her a blessing to the earth rather than a burden,” van Vuuren said. “People want to feel with death that there is some legacy that is positive.” Alkaline hydrolysis has been increasing in popularity since it was first used for human disposition on a commercial basis in the United States less than a decade ago. There are now 20 states that allow it, says the Cremation Association of North America. Colorado was one of the early adopters, with the Colorado Legislature passing a bill in 2011 that made “chemical methods” an accepted form of body disposition in the state. And just as it took cremation until 2015 to eclipse burial as the preferred form of disposition in this country, advocates think alkaline hydrolysis will claim a larger share of the $20 billion end-of-life industry as people increasingly worried about global warming and contamination begin to embrace it. Left: Some of the tools used at Sustainable Funeral are pictured on Nov. 12, 2019. Right: A display is setup to show customers the containers of human remains they will receive after a body is processed at Sustainable Funeral on Nov. 12, 2019. (Photos by RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post) “Weirdest thing I do” Gazvoda has been on the cutting edge of the practice, launching a company out of his then-home in Lafayette eight years ago called CycleLife. He also invented a cheekily named container to get the job done: the Coffin Spa. He said technology in this area has improved since then. At Sustainable Funeral, Gazvoda places the body in a stainless steel container surrounded by a wooden box, which is vented with an exhaust outlet. Water and potassium hydroxide (or caustic potash), along with an accelerant, is fed into the container. Gazvoda tilts his contraption, which is heated to 170 degrees, back and forth to “bring fresh chemical to the cadaver.” Two hours later, all that’s left is fluid, bones and any medical devices or artificial joints the person may have had implanted. Gazvoda climbs into the container and removes the bones and bone fragments and dries them out with a fan. “It is a labor of love getting the bones out,” he said. The essence is poured into jugs (the typical adult body produces 25 to 35 gallons, Gazvoda said) while the bones are placed in a cotton bag. Gazvoda places the bag on a cinder block and, with a sledgehammer, crushes the bones, which are returned to the family much in the way ashes are returned to loved ones from a traditional cremation. “This is probably the weirdest thing I do,” he said, gripping the hammer with both hands. Some families want the essence back to pour over their gardens while others just want the bone. Gazvoda gives what liquid isn’t claimed to area farmers, who put it on their fields. So far he has disposed of seven bodies using what he calls Alkaline Hydrolysis 2.0. The cost to families — he charges $2,500 — is a bit more expensive than traditional flame cremation but cheaper than a burial, with its expensive casket, embalming and cemetery space. But Gazvoda said the benefit to the environment of alkaline hydrolysis — which he predicts will be a “disrupter for the whole funeral industry” — is hard to calculate. “For $2,500, that’s actually a cheap way to go out of this world and do some good,” he said. RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostEd Gazvoda sits in his workspace in Arvada on Nov. 12, 2019.
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