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Panorama: Mile-High Headlines for Wednesday, July 23

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Stone-Cold Politics

The Bush administration is pushing new rules to allow oil companies to squeeze as many as 800 billion barrels of oil from stone on public lands throughout the Rocky Mountain West. That’s enough to meet current U.S. demand “for 110 years,” Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne tells The Denver Post. The aggressive move by the Republican Bush administration, which has just six months left in office, has Democrats like Senator Ken Salazar and Governor Bill Ritter fuming. They say oil-shale production is still too experimental, and extraction efforts could harm the environment. They also say more effort should go toward developing alternative sources of energy. In a press release, Ritter calls the Interior Department’s proposed rules for oil-shale development “premature, unnecessary and irresponsible.”

Airline Employees Grounded

Denver’s most used carrier, United Airlines, will cut at least 7,000 jobs–about 13 percent of its workforce–after facing $2.7 billion in losses during the second quarter, traceable to high fuel costs, which, as The Denver Post reports, is the company’s largest operating expense. Some 1,500 salaried managers and 5,500 pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, and customer-service reps will be looking for new jobs by the end of 2009, according to Chicago’s Sun-Times. United will cut at least 167 jobs in Denver, and the Post estimates that number could rise as high as 675. The news comes as Denver-based Frontier Airlines, also citing the soaring costs of fuel, announced plans to slash another 113 positions by next month, bringing its total to 569, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

“Spam King” on the Lam

That scoundrel, Edward “Eddie” Davidson, the one who filled e-mail “In” boxes with millions of spam messages in a penny-stock scam, has escaped a federal minimum-security prison in Florence. Davidson, who was serving a 21-month sentence that began this year, forced his wife to drive him home, changed his clothes, and is now missing, last seen in Lakewood, according to the Rocky Mountain News. U.S. marshals, aided by several agencies, including the FBI and the Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force, are leading the search for Davidson. After a conviction for tax evasion and falsifying e-mail headers, Davidson was fined $714,139. His gold coins were among possessions seized by the authorities and, coincidentally, were headed to IRS auction today. 

Canadians Keep an Eye on Fort Carson “Deserter”

The plight of Robin Long, who is believed to be the first U.S. Army deserter of conscience to flee to Canada and be sent back to the United States, is on the minds of many in Canada. A day after Pfc. Long learned he was slated to serve with Fort Carson’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team in 2005, he left the Colorado Springs post and sought refugee status in Canada. Now back in American hands, he faces a range of punishments–anything from “rehabilitation” to death, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. In a recent editorial, The Toronto Star blasted the Canadian government for allowing the deportation, and a network of supporters has also cropped up, including at Courage to Resist. 9News quotes Lee Zaslofsky, who in the 1960s left the U.S. military and sought refuge in Canada, becoming a citizen there. Zaslofsky, in Colorado to support Long, says Canadians are “very distressed by this.” More deportations could come. For an in-depth look at conscientious objector Mark Wilkerson, read “The Resister,” by 5280 Associate Editor Patrick Doyle, from the December 2007 issue.  

In the Lap of Irony

John McCain said he’d like to give Americans a break from the gas tax after prices at the pump soared earlier this year. But the idea was shot down as a gimmick by many Democrats, including Barack Obama. All the while, the committee hosting the 2008 Democratic National Convention has been filling up its vehicles on city pumps that allow them to avoid state and federal taxes, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz said something about the deal “just doesn’t seem right,” and Councilman Charlie Brown was quoted by The Denver Post as wondering, “Why shouldn’t the DNC be willing to help our roads and our maintenance and our construction?” Mayor John Hickenlooper maintained that Minneapolis was allowing Republicans to fill up in the same fashion for the Republican convention in that city, but a spokeswoman contacted by the Post says that isn’t true.

No Free Speech For You

While the Dems seem to be getting the red-carpet treatment in Denver, those planning to exercise their democratic right to freedom of speech at next month’s convention are being marginalized to the point of exclusion. That’s according to an editorial this week in USA Today, chiding Mayor John Hickenlooper for breaking a promise to allow at least one protest route to end “within sight and sound of the convention.” The newspaper notes that the route now ends “several blocks away, and parades must end one hour before convention sessions begin.” As for the mesh-wire-and-concrete-barrier-reinforced “demonstration zone” that will stand at the Pepsi Center, it’s about two football fields away from the hall’s main entrances, and delegates would need “superhuman powers to see or hear marchers. Which seems to be precisely the idea.” What’s motivating the protesters? This story on FOX31 offers a flavor, as does the Recreate68 website.

Udall–Losing Ground, Gaining Ground, Has a “Slight Edge”–Getting Dizzy

Just to be sure you’re thoroughly confused about Mark Udall’s chances of beating Bob Schaffer in the Senate race this November, Rasmussen Reports has released its latest numbers, giving Democrat Udall a three-point advantage over his Republican adversary. Last month, Udall enjoyed a nine-point lead; in May he led by six points; and prior to that, the race was dead even. CQPolitics walked into the fray yesterday. Citing Udall’s “hefty war chest and a lead in the polls,” the respected blog, one of the Congressional Quarterly government-watching publications, says Udall’s prospects of replacing retiring Senator Wayne Allard “appear to be brightening.”

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.85, Western Convenience at 1650 S. Chambers Road in Aurora (via www.gasbuddy.com).

Weather Today: Afternoon thunderstorms and 95 high/66 low
Weather Tomorrow: Afternoon thunderstorms 96 high/66 low

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