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Mile-High Headlines for Thursday, September 25

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A Bailout Plea

President George W. Bush appeared on national television last night to tell Americans “our entire economy is in danger.” There are problems in the markets, and there could be “financial panic” followed by “a long and painful recession,” he said (via The Wall Street Journal). That is if Congress doesn’t get over its widespread criticism and pass a proposed $700 billion economic bailout plan allowing the government to buy “unmarketable assets, such as mortgage-backed securities, that economists say are clogging the financial system and blocking access to many types of credit.” It’s a tough sell in the Rockies. Denver Democratic Representative Diana DeGette’s office received about 900 calls and e-mails, mainly from people opposed to the plan, according to The Denver Post. Colorado Springs Republican Representative Doug Lamborn’s office has similarly been flooded. At last count, 315 of the constituents who cared enough to tell him what they think said they oppose the bailout and ten support it. Colorado lawmakers are not exactly thrilled by the plan, according to the Rocky Mountain News. U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, for instance, is “frankly, mad” since Bush recently said the economy was fine. Following testimony yesterday, U.S. Senator Wayne Allard said he’s not ready to vote in favor of it, as “some questions were answered; many remain unanswered.”

Just to Help You Get a Clearer Picture of $700 Billion …

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s reference to a $700 billion economic bailout for the nation’s troubled financial institutions is a bit like watching a re-run of “Cosmos,” featuring Carl Sagan (rest in peace, my friend). All that talk of billions and billions eventually can leave you speechless, if not awestruck. Finally, someone got creative in explaining the ongoing crisis, Slate to be exact, providing a breakdown of the ominous price tag that has taxpayers shaking their heads. First, there are about 300 million men, women, and children in the United States. Keeping in mind that not all of them pay taxes, the bailout comes out to roughly $2,300 per person, about the same amount a typical American pays personally in taxes. Twelve Bill Gateses is the equivalent of $700 billion. The net worth of the entire Forbes 400 is about half the value of the bailout. James Cameron would have to film 381 blockbusters as popular as his $1.8 billion “Titanic” to foot the bill.

Interior Department Scandal: Rape Investigation

Senators Ken Salazar and Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, are asking the Bush administration whether a possible rape involving a figure at the center of the recent ethics and misconduct scandal in a Lakewood federal office has been referred to police, according to The Denver Post. The August 7 report highlighting improper relationships between U.S. Minerals Management Service employees and the oil-and-gas industry also documents a woman’s account of a potential sex crime perpetrated by former royalty-in-kind program supervisor Gregory Smith. The specific allegation is that he forced a woman to perform oral sex on him. Representative Louise Slaughter, of New York, hopes the woman in the report approaches her office for assistance and to consider pressing charges. Meanwhile in congressional testimony yesterday, Interior Department officials, including Earl E. Devaney, the Interior’s inspector general, said it was “probable” there were undiscovered financial losses at the royalties office, according to The Washington Post’s Investigations blog.

McCain Campaign Talking Points Accidentally Sent to Press

PolitickerCO writes that Republican John McCain’s regional office inadvertently sent an e-mail containing a memo giving campaign volunteers answers just in case anyone asks why McCain is canceling a much-anticipated debate with Democrat Barack Obama on Friday. The memo, which highlights the unfolding economic crisis, states, in part, that McCain is “confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people.” McCain spokesman Tom Kise made the mistake of pressing the send button to the wrong group of e-mail recipients. Following a reporter’s query, it occurred to him what he did. Kise told the reporter, “F*ck, tell me I didn’t send it to the wrong list,” according to The Colorado Independent.

The Bitter Battle for the Fourth: Next Episode

Voters tasked with deciding whether to keep U.S. Representative Marilyn Musgrave in office or to give Betsy Markey a shot are witnessing an onslaught of very vicious television commercials. In one video, Republican Musgrave alleges “millionaire Markey” is “caught up in corruption and scandal.” In the other, Markey accuses Musgrave of spreading “lies.” At the heart of both commercials is Musgrave’s allegation that Markey abused her position in U.S. Senator Ken Salazar’s office, helping her family business, Syscom Services, gain lucrative government contracts, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. In a separate story, the Coloradoan, seeking to get to the bottom of the controversy, asked the General Services Administration to review contracts between 2005 and 2007, when Markey worked for Salazar. “There’s no evidence” that Markey or her family “did anything improper in obtaining” the contracts, the newspaper writes. Markey wants a district attorney to intervene, accusing Musgrave’s campaign of running a “slanderous” ad in order to gain advantage in what is widely expected to be a close race, according to The Loveland Reporter-Herald.

Goodbye, Supreme Court. Hello Pizazz?

The gavel has finally fallen on the Supreme Court restaurant and bar on the southeast end of the 16th Street Mall. Investors in the Sheraton Hotel complex that houses the 11,000-square-foot restaurant will  transform the Supreme Court into Katie Mullen’s Irish Pub by year’s end, according to the Denver Business Journal. (A decent replacement for the not-so-long-lost and oft-missed Duffy’s Irish bar and restaurant, perhaps?) The owners will spend $2 million to bring “Celtic libations,” a long bar, live music, and Irish food to the space. Owner Paul Maye and his Irish family, who own four pubs in Northern Ireland, chose Denver to open their first U.S. location in the hopes of perfecting the concept for Chicago, Miami, New York, and California. It’s the kind of solution the city and Downtown Denver Partnership have wanted for years, hoping to offset the popularity of Lower Downtown and spark interest at the higher end of the mall, according to the Journal.

Allen Iverson’s Last Year in Denver

Thirty-three-year-old Allen Iverson, who is seeking a multiyear contract with the Denver Nuggets, showed up for practice at the Pepsi Center for an oncourt workout with teammates yesterday. The “surefire” Hall of Fame guard is in the last year of his $21 million contract, which started almost two years ago. Although Iverson has said “time and again” that he wants to end his career in Denver, team coach George Karl doesn’t think the time is right to talk about that situation, according to The Denver Post. Instead, what should be on everyone’s mind is “delivering a winning product that has shown improvement…”

Avs Work the Ice in Preseason Game

One of the Avalanche’s few big acquisitions in the offseason–33-year-old forward Darcy Tucker–briefly startled management in the third period of the Avs’ preseason opener against the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center. Tucker twisted his ankle, according to the Rocky Mountain News, but was able to return to the ice. The Avs lost 4-3 in a shootout decision, and after the game Tucker, who left the Toronto Maple Leafs to join the Avs in a two-year, $4.5 million deal this summer, claimed to be fine.

Videodose: President Bush addressed the nation last night, raising fears of a recession and pleading for Congress to support a $700 billion economic bailout. Via the White House, here’s text, video, and audio of his address.

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.34, Costco, 18414 Cottonwood Drive (via www.gasbuddy.com).

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Mile-High Headlines for Wednesday, September 24

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Do Dems Have the Edge in Colorado?
In Colorado politics, Republicans tend to make up their minds quickly. As such, they obtain early-voting ballots while Dems mobilize through registration drives. But something troubling is happening this election, says GOP strategist Sean Tonner. Though Republicans still have a voter-registration advantage, it has dropped 60 percent since the presidential election, according to The Denver Post. It could be part of the changing political equation in Colorado. A survey yesterday by Public Policy Polling gives Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama a formidable seven-point lead over Republican John McCain in Colorado (via PolitickerCO). The same survey also notes a precipitous drop in Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s approval ratings and says Dem Mark Udall has an eight-point advantage over Republican Bob Schaffer in the state’s U.S. Senate race (the two will debate live on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday). Slate says Obama and the Dems shouldn’t be too confident: “Westerners like to describe themselves as ‘independent,’ but Colorado has the numbers to back it up.”

A Shirt Tale
When 11-year-old Daxx Dalton showed up for school in Aurora wearing a homemade T-shirt that read, “Obama–A terrorist’s best friend,” he ran into a few problems with fellow students and school officials. Officials asked him to turn his shirt inside out or be suspended, and Dalton chose the three-day suspension, according to the Rocky Mountain News. The story, first aired by Fox 31 on Monday, has gone national. It made the Drudge Report yesterday, a reference on a USA Today blog, and scads of radio and television shows. In its newscast last night, Fox 31 noted that the station’s website has received some 250,000 hits thanks to the story. Daxx’s conservative father, Dann, a trucker, called school officials a bunch of lefties, according to the Rocky, and is considering a lawsuit over freedom of speech. Paperwork submitted by the school district says Daxx was suspended for willful disobedience and defiance, not the shirt, according to Fox 31.

A Wail of Their Own

For centuries Jews have made a pilgrimage to the 2,000-year-old Wailing Wall in Old Jerusalem, praying and slipping written devotions into the cracks. And, it turns out, evangelical Christians are also quite fascinated by the holy site–a 100-foot wall, which is what’s left of an ancient Jewish Temple. Yet American Christians have had to contend with the inconvenience and high prices of overseas travel. Not anymore. Come April, a $2.3 million replica wall, using stones that have a “holy feel,” will open in Colorado Springs (where else?), according to The Gazette. The evangelical missionary group Every Home for Christ is building an 8,000-square-foot, 300-seat auditorium to house the 50-ton wall at its Jericho Center for Global Evangelism. Dick Eastman, the group’s international president, cites Christians’ “strong ties” to Israel and says the wall will be used to train missionaries. It will include features the real wall does not, such as 13 prayer rooms hidden inside, he adds. Elizabeth Van Bueren, who is Jewish and lives in Colorado Springs, wasn’t too thrilled, expressing concern about the group’s motives: “They want to Christianize the entire world.”

Welcome the Incoming
Colorado is among the top states luring new residents so far in 2008, according to the Denver Business Journal, which cites an annual study by the moving company Mayflower Transit. Colorado is ranked 15th nationwide: of 5,319 moves, 55.3 percent were heading into Colorado and 44.7 were leaving. Most of the moves, according to the company, are related to new jobs, a corporate relocation, or retirement. Indeed, Colorado is a destination and now considered among the emerging, second-tier big American The New York Times Style Magazine. As The Colorado Independent writes, the Mile-High City is “the next Chicago” and is in good company with Portland, Oregon, Houston, Texas, Baltimore, Maryland, and St. Paul, Minnesota. People look to such cities “now that big players like New York, Los Angeles and Miami have become virtually unaffordable” to many in the so-called “creative class.” Denver is “chefy and musical with serious eco-cred and zero attitude.”

State of Colorado’s Mind
Some regional American stereotypes are so strong they become cliché, writes The Wall Street Journal. “The stressed-out New Yorker. The laid-back Californian. But the conscientious Floridian? The neurotic Kentuckian?” Well, perhaps. That’s according to research on the nation’s “geography of personality” in Perspectives on Psychological Science (paid subscription required), which provides a couple of interesting conclusions about Coloradans. While Colorado is frustratingly in the middle of three of the five categories–extroversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness–making it hard to discern anything unique about our fine state, we do come up as second only to Utah in terms of being the least neurotic, meaning we’re a joy to be around. And in terms of openness, an indicator of creativity and perhaps a positive stereotype worth cultivating, Colorado ranks eighth. The most open states are Washington, D.C., New York, and Oregon. The research raises a lot of interesting questions, including why personality traits differ state to state in the first place. Have fun with an interactive map here.

So Long, Tom, and Thanks
Tom Nalen’s career ended quietly yesterday when the the Broncos placed him on the injured-reserve list. The Broncos’ center, in his 15th year, was the team’s last remaining player from the team’s two Super Bowls in the late 1990s but had difficulty training because of a knee injury and missed 11 games last season because of a torn bicep, according to The Denver Post. He has been replaced by veteran Kansas City center Casey Wiegmann.

Budaj Is Number One
Peter Budaj, who is “relishing the opportunity to begin a season as the Avalanche’s top goaltender for the first time in his NHL career,” gets the chance tonight in a game against the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center (via the Rocky Mountain News). Budaj played the last two seasons behind Jose Theodore, who left as a free agent this summer, signing with Washington.

Blogdose: The work of internationally renowned (and unusual) artist Damien Hirst, who made headlines after one of his pieces sold for $198 million in a controversial Sotheby’s auction, will be featured in an MCA Denver exhibit that opens October 7, according to Andy Bosselman, who writes on his blog that viewers will “get to see what Hirst is most known for at the moment: his Natural History series where animals are placed inside glass boxes and soaked in formaldehyde.”

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.37, Western Convenience, 9190 Huron Street (via www.gasbuddy.com).

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Mile-High Headlines for Thursday, September 18

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The Bloody Battle Between Musgrave and Markey

In the battle in the Fourth Congressional District between incumbent Republican Marilyn Musgrave and Democratic challenger Betsy Markey, each week a new allegation seems to surface. In the latest volley, Musgrave campaign manager Jason Thielman alleges there is “clear evidence of wrongdoing” on Markey’s part, according to the Rocky Mountain News. The campaign charges that Markey, whose family owns Syscom Systems, violated conflict-of-interest rules, or perhaps other rules, at a time when she also worked for U.S. Senator Ken Salazar and the technology firm received millions in federal contracts, according to The Denver Post. Markey denies she was enriching herself, according to spokesman Ben Marter, who adds there’s not a “shred of evidence of any wrongdoing…” Meanwhile, Markey criticized Musgrave for voting against a Democratic energy plan that would have allowed some off-shore drilling, saying Musgrave is more interested in “partisanship than solutions,” according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

MillerCoors Energy Drink Under Fire

Earlier this month, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a lawsuit against MillerCoors Brewing Company, charging that its citrusy energy drinks–the Sparks line–infused with alcohol and super-caffeinated guarana, are more likely to cause binge drinking, auto accidents, and myriad other problems. That’s because alcohol and caffeine are a horrible mix, according to CSPI, which is asking the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to prevent MillerCoors’ sales of the potent drink, aimed at the younger, party-all-night, set. Yesterday attorneys general for 25 states–not including Colorado–joined CSPI in the battle to get MillerCoors to drop the drinks, according to the Denver Business Journal. The company–consisting of the recently merged Miller of Milwaukee and Coors of Golden–notes that the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has approved Sparks, Sparks Light, Sparks Plus, and Sparks Red. Although MillerCoors has eliminated “offensive, degrading, and ill-intentioned” ads for Sparks on the humorous Heavy.com website, according to CSPI, the group remains highly critical of MillerCoors’ marketing campaigns.

Meat Plant Settles Ramadan Dispute–in Nebraska

A union official said JBS Swift & Company yesterday settled a dispute with Muslim workers at the company’s meatpacking plant in Grand Island, Nebraska, accommodating Ramadan sunset prayer. That’s according to The Associated Press (via Forbes.com), which reports workers will be allowed to take a break together instead of in 30-minute shifts. Hundreds of Muslim workers had walked from their jobs in Nebraska and then marched in protest–strikingly similar events to those that occurred earlier this month in Greeley, where dozens of slaughterhouse workers were fired by Swift for not returning to their posts. An attorney is now representing the fired Greeley workers and reveals that the Council on American-Islamic Relations has been negotiating, to no avail, with Swift for more than a year on the issue of break times, according to the Greeley Tribune (via the Rocky Mountain News). The United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents production workers at Swift, is planning talks with CAIR.

DNC Protesters Want Their Day in Court

More than one-third of the activists arrested during last month’s Democratic National Convention in Denver say they plan to fight the charges against them. That’s according to the Rocky Mountain News, which quotes Brian Vicente of the People’s Law Project as saying that 29 of the 154 people arrested by police during the week of the convention have demanded jury trials. Another 30 are expected to join that number in October, after they appear before a judge to request their days in court. The trials could be time-consuming, clogging Denver’s courts. Take the case of Manuca Salazar, a 22-year-old Denver child-care worker, who is facing several charges, including “throwing stones or missiles”–a charge she denies. To win at trial, the city must build a case, which includes providing witnesses who saw Salazar throw an object. The same goes for the rest of the cases. Given the confusion of those arrests, you can see how defense attorneys might have a field day. Still, roughly 75 demonstrators just wanted to move on with their lives and pleaded guilty, according to Vince DiCroce with city attorney’s office.

Loaded Shotgun Leads to Suicide

File this one under Things Not to Do When Your Roommate Is Suicidal. When 19-year-old Jacob Weiss was drinking with his 18-year-old roommate at the Mountain Stream Apartments in Eagle-Vail at about 10 p.m. on Monday, the frightening subject of suicide came up. That’s when Weiss allegedly went to his bedroom and returned with a loaded shotgun, according to The Denver Post. It’s not clear what was said next, if anything, but Weiss’ roommate, whose name has been withheld by police, then shot himself. Now Weiss is facing felony charges of manslaughter, reckless endangerment (because there were other roommates in the apartment), and prohibited use of a firearm. Residents in the area don’t know much about what happened, but news of the death is chilling, according to Vail Daily.

Painting Deal Raises More Ethical Concerns

About five months ago, the Denver Art Museum provided a half interest in “Long Jakes” (The Rocky Mountain Man), an 1844 painting by Charles Deas, to local billionaire Philip Anschutz. It was an exchange for Anschutz’s help in purchasing “Cowboy Singing,” an 1892 painting by Thomas Eakins, which the museum and Anschutz now also co-own. The “unorthodox arrangement,” so described because Anschutz received interest in the museum’s important Deas painting, has spawned an ethics inquiry by the Association of Art Museum Directors, according to The Art Newspaper. 

AAMD bars the sale of art to “anyone whose association with the institution might give them advantage in acquiring the work,” according to the newspaper, and Anschutz’s foundation had donated $7.6 million to the museum in recent years. 

Anschutz owns what is considered to be the world’s largest collection of Western art, and Lewis Sharp, who directs the Denver Art Museum, told The Denver Post earlier this year that the museum did nothing unethical.

Avs: A Winning Season? Would be Nice for Joe

Francois Giguere, the general manager for the Colorado Avalanche, says the team is poised to go for the Stanley Cup championship in the upcoming season. What has to happen? “We have to stay healthy, we have to jell,” he says (via the Rocky Mountain News). There are a lot of reasons things might go well for the Avs, but seeming to top the list is the momentum of the return of captain Joe Sakic, who recently decided he’d play a 20th season in the National Hockey League.

CU Buffs on National TV Tonight

As the University of Colorado’s Buffs face Number 21 West Virginia in a football game at Boulder’s Folsom Field tonight, try to recall when the Buffs lost to the Seminoles in a similar, nationally televised non-conference game last year. It was the first “blackout” game, in which fans were encouraged to wear nothing but black, as they are tonight, according to the Daily Camera. When the Buffs lost to the Seminoles, they “grew from experience,” built on it, and if “nothing else is working in their favor tonight,” they’ve at least been “here and done this” before.

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.44, Western Convenience, 10515 South Parker Road (via www.gasbuddy.com).

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