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Panorama: Muslim Workers Protest Swift, Football Fantasies, and More

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Mile-High Headlines for Tuesday, September 9

Muslims Protest Meat Plant in Greeley
Muslim workers at the JBS Swift & Company’s meatpacking plant in Greeley are protesting their employer’s treatment of them during a time of religious fasting. That’s according to The Greeley Tribune, which reports that 300 hungry Muslim workers, many of them Somalis, were refused breaks late last week when Ramadan ended. One worker said six Muslim employees were fired on Friday, and other employees were told they could not pray, prompting a walkout. The company is now seeking to resolve the situation, according to an editorial this morning in the Trib, which also notes that the conflict stems from JBS Swift’s failure to allow a break one-and-a-half hours before the regularly scheduled time. “Many of the Somali workers, here in the country legally as refugees, have moved their families to Greeley to work at the meat processing plant,” the newspaper writes. In other immigrant news, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Citizenship today launches a new program meant to Americanize new immigrants, according to The Denver Post.

Coffman, Mired in Ethics Questions, Should Resign, Group Says
Mike Coffman, a Republican running for Congress, still holds his day job as Colorado’s secretary of state. But the lefty ProgressNowAction says Coffman ought to “resign immediately” since his state elections director, Holly Lowder, is shrouded in scandal just two months prior to overseeing what is expected to be the longest ballot in the nation (via ColoradoIndependent.com). At question are Lowder’s ties to John Paulsen, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Lowder recently lived in a home owned by Paulsen, an election-data contractor who received contracts through Coffman’s office totaling roughly $184,000. Colorado Ethics Watch has been closely tracking the issue. Meanwhile, ColoradoPols.com is having a field day, noting a long list of other Coffman controversies: “And now this–the director of elections shacked up with one of her major contractors, unbeknownst to anybody?”

United We Stand?
It sucked to be United Airlines yesterday, when the magic of online news transformed a six-year-old Chicago Tribune story about the company’s bankruptcy into the morning’s hottest business story. The airline, which is Denver International Airport’s biggest, watched helplessly as the story spread online and its stock tumbled from nearly $13 a share to $3. NASDAQ Stock Market halted trading and then restarted it, according to various news agencies, including the Financial Times, allowing investors to take a deep breath and figure out the mess. The stock regained most of its value but nonetheless posted a loss. The Tribune Company quickly distanced itself from the debacle, which seems to have emanated from another newspaper’s electronic archives. There are calls for a full investigation. Luckily for United, despite all the concerns over fuel prices, traffic at DIA remains strong. In July, it turns out, more than five million passengers went through the airport–the most ever in a single month, according to the Denver Business Journal.

Russia-Colorado Ties Suffer
Why, just why, did Russia have to occupy parts of the Republic of Georgia last month? The action has sent ripples throughout the economy, including in Colorado, where aerospace companies are coming to terms with calls to extend the aging U.S. space shuttle program and limit cooperation in the outer limits with Moscow. That’s according to the Denver Business Journal, which reports that Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company’s development of a spaceferry called Orion, in Littleton, and United Launch Alliance rocket company, in Centennial, are watching developments closely. Lawmakers, including presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, are pushing to extend the space shuttle program, which would probably crimp funding for Orion. Meanwhile, Georgia urged the United Nations’ highest court to halt alleged Russian abuses in its territory, accusing Russia of an ongoing campaign of “ethnic cleansing,” according to numerous news sources, including Agence France-Presse.

Great Pumpkin? Maybe Not
Halloween is a ways off, but prepare yourselves for a small scare. Pumpkin prices will probably be 50 cents per pound higher this year (and we know how closely you’ve been tracking pumpkin prices). Higher transportation costs certainly can’t help, but Duane Pope, of Pope Farms on the plains northeast of Denver, in Wiggins, tells 9News the real problem is that “the hail beat everything up.” Pope won’t be selling pumpkins this year; after they were punctured by hail, the gourds began to rot. And Pope’s patch wasn’t the only one hit in Colorado, according to 9News, which also quotes Gary May of May Farms, saying his pumpkins were a bit thirsty this year.

Broncos Win Makes Team Look Like Winners
Prepare yourself for the onslaught of hopeful Super Bowl talk. Forget that the Broncos have an entire season to go. Fans, after all, have a lot of reasons to be fanatical about the Broncos whoopin’ the Raiders 41-14 in Oakland last night. For one, legally troubled receiver Brandon Marshall, suspended for the game, wasn’t at all missed (sorry, Brandon). And, as The Denver Post notes, coach Mike Shanahan “has a new toy”: receiver Eddie Royal, a regular-sized man (5’10” and 182 pounds). Royal, who played like a veteran, is a second-round draft pick from Virginia Tech. He had nine catches for 146 yards, including a touchdown.

Sometimes Sports Are Just a Fantasy
When star Patriots quarterback Tom Brady went out for the duration of the season, millions of Fantasy Football fans were perhaps more freaked out than real fans in New England. The Rocky Mountain News has the inside track on Brady’s “shocking demise,” in terms of fantasy gaming, that is. Watch out before you look to the Falcons, Ravens, or Eagles for talent.

Audiodose: The Alzheimer’s Association begins Memory Walks around Colorado this month, raising money to combat the perplexing disease. Dr. Marc Ringel talks about how to help care for the stricken (via KUNC radio).

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.46, Western Convenience, 10515 South Parker Road (via www.gasbuddy.com).

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