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Panorama: Mile-High Headlines for Tuesday, August 12

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Denver Sued Over Mistaken Identity Arrests “Recklessly sloppy.” That’s how the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado describes Denver’s role in the arrests and incarcerations of innocent people. Several agencies ignored information that they were putting the wrong person in the clink, according to the ACLU, which has filed a lawsuit on behalf of four plaintiffs. Numerous newsies are on the story, including Susan Greene, a columnist for The Denver Post, who has long been on the trail. What happened? Just ask public high school teacher Dennis Michael Smith. He went with a friend to visit a former student at the county jail only to be mistaken for a crook and arrested himself. Elsewhere in the metro area’s beleaguered criminal-justice system, the Denver District Attorney’s office dropped a case against a man who was facing three years in prison for assaulting an officer, after 9News obtained video showing undercover Denver police detectives beating the man and breaking his teeth. Threats Against Obama Seem Scarier in Overseas Papers Sometimes newspapers in other countries focus on issues that American papers are either too cautious to approach or couch in abstract language. That explains why we must go to Scotland’s Scotsman and the Times of India to report that Democrat Barack Obama could be the target of a violent attack by white supremacists at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. The papers quote Railton Loy, grand wizard of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan International, telling Fox News, “If that man is elected president, he’ll be shot sure as hell.” The Scotsman additionally notes that websites and blogs are buzzing with racial hatred and threats–all laced with plenty of obscenities and n-words. Mayor John Hickenlooper confirmed to the Scotsman that he was aware of the threats and that the Denver police and federal investigators “will go to great lengths to deal with that.” The skies should be secure, too, as feds close airspace over Denver for the convention, warning pilots that if they stray into restricted air, it “may result in the use of force,” according to the Rocky Mountain News.

Social Issues and Colorado’s November Ballot In the November election, Initiative 311 seeks to ban the use of race as criteria for college admissions, government hiring, and contracting. A recent poll finds that roughly two-thirds of Colorado voters support the proposal and less than one-fifth oppose it, meaning that the affirmative action question could become a thorny issue for Democrat Barack Obama, says Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipac University Polling Institute, in a Wall Street Journal blog, echoing a piece from yesterday in The New York Times. Brown says “most on the Democratic side of the aisle would prefer that the battle for the state’s crucial nine electoral votes won’t be tied up with such a racially charged matter.” There’s no indication yet that it is: Obama is now four points ahead of Republican John McCain in Colorado, according to this poll from yesterday. And a proposal to define a person as a fertilized egg, thereby banning abortion, is on Colorado’s ballot this November as well as the agenda of anti-abortion activists commemorating the twenty-year milestone of legendary protest at the Democratic National Convention, as reported by 5280.com contributor Bethany Kohoutek. The left-leaning ColoradoIndependent.com today wraps up a two-part investigation into the connection between James Patrick Johnson, the Ohio doctor leading a national outreach campaign for the initiative, and radical individuals and groups who advocate violence. Coloradopols.com also happens to be discussing the so-called personhood proposal, or Amendment 48, noting that the evangelical Focus on the Family is predictably supportive. Pro-Pot Group: Cindy Hensley McCain Is a “Drug Dealer” Cindy Hensley McCain isn’t only Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s wife. She is also the chairwoman of Hensley & Co., which distributes Anheuser-Busch beer. And because Mrs. McCain plays a role in pushing alcohol, the pro-marijuana group Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation is attempting to ravage Mrs. McCain’s reputation by labeling her a “drug dealer.” SAFER, known for its efforts to legalize marijuana in Colorado, has issued a “Wanted” poster for Mrs. McCain–yet another attempt to bolster its arguments that alcohol causes more deaths than marijuana. The group has posted a video at a website it created called DrugDealerCindy.com and is receiving a bit of friendly criticism from the right-leaning FacetheState, which calls SAFER’s campaign “desperate.” The Denver Post Sues Governor Ritter The Denver Post sued Bill Ritter yesterday in a battle over the governor’s cellphone records, according to a story reported by, you guessed it, The Denver Post. The newspaper claims Ritter has refused to turn over records dating back to 2007, when he took office, and that the records are subject to release under the Colorado Open Records Act. The Post says it only wants the records of official calls, not any personal ones. Ritter’s office claims it would be burdensome to separate the calls and that the calls don’t fall under the purview of the open-records law anyway. It’s unclear from the story whether the Post is on a fishing expedition or is seeking some specific information about the governor’s calling habits but won’t tell its readers. A Post editorial urges Ritter to drop his objections and “be straight with Colorado citizens … What’s he hiding?” Tickle Me Pink Bassist OD’d Bassist Johnny Schou, of the Fort Collins band Tickle Me Pink, died of a heroin overdose, a coroner’s report indicated yesterday, ending more than a month of speculation surrounding his death. His band’s main webpage says nothing yet about the news, which was reported by several organizations, including the Rocky Mountain News and The Coloradoan of Fort Collins. Schou, 22, died the day his band released their debut CD, Madeline, and were preparing for a coast-to-coast tour. Schou’s MySpace page remains active with 226 friends, several leaving messages of grief. Rockies: Do or Die There are 42 games remaining in the Colorado Rockies’ season as the team embarks on a three-game series tonight versus Arizona at Coors Field. The team, as the Rocky Mountain News puts it, is on the fringes of the National League West, sitting in third place, eight games behind the Diamondbacks. The Rockies, last year’s comeback kids, are in a similar boat this year with a 53-67 record, but the next three games will be crucial. In baseball’s long history, “only 14 teams have faced deficits of 10 or more games and rallied to finish in first place.” An Olympic Agent? Becky Hammon, who grew up in South Dakota and attended Colorado State University, is, oddly, in Beijing playing basketball with the Russians, an “illustration of how the Olympic Games seemingly have adopted a system of free agency for athletes,” according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Because she spends winters playing professionally in Russia, Hammon was offered citizenship and an Olympic shot, an issue that might just spawn debate should the United States face Russia. The Art-emev of Bronze Alexander “Sasha” Artemev was an alternate on the U.S. Olympic men’s gymnastics team. But the Highlands Ranch son of Soviet gymnasts performed amazingly on the pommel horse yesterday, delivering an unexpected team bronze medal in Beijing. “I was a little bit nervous, I’m not going to lie,” Artemev tells The Denver Post, adding, however, that he turned the energy to his advantage. Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.68, Western Convenience, 11515 N. Hwy. 83 (via www.gasbuddy.com). Weather Today: Sunny 89 high/59 low Weather Tomorrow: Isolated storms 89 high/58 low Enjoy what you’re reading? Starting August 18, Panorama will be available as an e-newsletter. Sign up now, and receive our Mile-High headlines each weekday morning via email.

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