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Panorama: Mile-High Headlines for Friday, July 25

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John McCain Visits the Dalai Lama in Aspen

As Democrat Barack Obama continues his swing through Europe today, following a historic speech yesterday in Berlin, his presidential opponent, Republican John McCain, arrives in Aspen for a private meeting with the Dalai Lama–an effort to show his international concern extends beyond the war in Iraq. McCain calls Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader a “transcendent international role model and hero,” according to USA Today. There are just two weeks to go until the the Olympics begin in Beijing, and in recent months the Chinese, who took Tibet by force in 1951, have engaged in bloody crackdowns on Tibetans who dare ask for freedoms or national autonomy. McCain was one of the first to say he’d boycott opening ceremonies, Britain’s Guardian writes, noting that Obama soon followed suit. President George W. Bush has not. McCain is also scheduled to appear at the national convention of the American GI Forum of the United States at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Denver, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

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The Obama Treatment

While Barack Obama is touring the world, his campaign staff in Chicago is hoping to boost Colorado’s image. The campaign is giddy that the Democratic National Convention will take place in a “true Electoral College swing state,” according to Newsweek, and Obama hopes to make the most of it with solid grassroots organizing. “On one level, the convention is all about Colorado,” says a top Democratic Party official, and part of that plan is to take full advantage of a rock-star setting for Obama’s anticipated acceptance speech at Invesco Field at Mile High. Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean was in Denver to check out progress of the transformation of the football field and Pepsi Center, saying that plans, if approved by Obama’s campaign, will be “extraordinary,” according to the Rocky Mountain News. Next week, Democratic officials hope to announce how tickets to Invesco will be distributed.

Crocs Going Down

A day after Crocs Inc. announced it will provide a tag warning consumers the ugly-but-colorful rubbery clogs might cause toes to become jammed in an escalator, the company’s stock plunged about 47 percent. That’s according to Bloomberg News, which was tracking the Niwot shoe company’s downhill skid in the Nasdaq Stock Market. The report notes that retailers had cut back on orders–possibly Crocs’ first drop in sales since shares were sold to the public in 2006. “It’s a fad, not an essential basic in the consumer’s wardrobe,” New York-based retail consultant Walter Loeb tells Bloomberg. But the company, which boasts sales of up to $223 million, says that it may break even this year, though revenue will be “down modestly.” Still, the company is closing a factory in Canada. 5280 staff writer Robert Sanchez chronicled Crocs’ troubles in the June edition of the magazine. Read “Burning Rubber” here.

The Slump and Tumble World of Metro-Area Daily Papers

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What with buyouts and layoffs of newsroom staffers, times are bad for good old-fashioned newspapers across America. Denver and Boulder are, unfortunately, no exception, according to the Denver Business Journal. E.W. Scripps Co., which owns the Rocky Mountain News, reported that its quarterly equity in earnings tumbled 78 percent, from $6 million in 2007 to $1.3 million for the same period this year. Scripps is in a profit-and-operations-sharing agreement with the owner of the The Denver Post, Denver-based MediaNews Group Inc., meaning MediaNews’ earnings share for the quarter was similar. Scripps also says its share of earnings in a separate MediaNews partnership that operates Boulder’s Daily Camera, among others, was off 87 percent in the second quarter. Richard Boehne, the president and CEO of Scripps, says there are no plans to sell any of the chain’s newspapers; however, the company will “keep its eyes open.”

Air Force Crew Asleep at the Nuke Switch

Three of the Air Force’s ballistic-missile crew members fell asleep while on duty in North Dakota at a time when they were responsible for protecting classified launch-code devices this month, triggering an investigation by military and National Security Agency experts. Air Force Col. Dewey Ford, a spokesman for Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, which investigated the matter, says the public was never in any harm, according to the The Associated Press. But the context is alarming. As CNN notes, this is the fourth known incident involving lax handling of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently received the resignations of the Air Force’s top two officers after it was discovered that a B-52 flew from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to a Louisiana base carrying six nuclear warheads without the crew’s knowledge.

A Shocking Way to Start a Life Together

Andy and Ania Somora, of Durango, went to the Chikaming Township in Michigan to get married and have a grand old party. But when things got a little out of hand, police arrived and Tasered the bride and groom, who consequently began their honeymoon in jail. Police had ordered the 100 guests to leave, according to The Durango Herald, but some continued partying and even swore at officers, leading to the incident. Kacpar Skowron, a professional photographer from Chicago and a friend of the Somoras, tells a different story. He says police overreacted, and calls the officer who made the arrests “a big jerk” for provoking the crowd by handcuffing the elder and distinguished Somora for his attempts to defuse the situation. Andy Somora was shocked twice with a Taser, and Ania, who was holding onto her husband, also received a jolt.

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Weather Today: Possible thunderstorms and 92 high/64 low
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