Panorama: Mile-High Headlines for Friday, July 18

July 2008
We're a Little Less Fat Than the Rest of the Nation! Colorado is the nation's thinnest state, making for feel-good headlines that hide some not-so-great news. The obesity rate for Colorado now hovers near 19 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase from two years ago. But we're not Mississippi, Alabama, or Tennessee, which, the Associated Press notes, tip the scales with more than 30 percent of adults there considered obese. Our get-out-there-and-do-stuff lifestyles appear to be giving Colorado the edge. James O. Hill, director for the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado at Denver and co-founder of America on the Move, a nonprofit that promotes healthy lifestyles, provides WebMD with some sound ideas for battling the bulge. Rollergirl Jen Frale seems a model Coloradan, sharing the secrets of her somewhat brutal workout with The Denver Post. Mile-High Cry A jury on Thursday found real estate guru and self-described multimillionaire Fredric "Rick" Dryer guilty of violating the organized-crime control act, securities fraud, and theft--among 44 counts. During his trial, which lasted nearly a month, investors testified that they'd lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of Dryer's actions, according to the Denver Business Journal. At one point during testimony, an investor described Dryer, the founder of the Mile High Capital Group LLC, as a "slimeball." Other investors wept. Realty Times describes what happened as a Ponzi scheme in which investors paid earnest money on residential properties, "most of which were never built." Dryer, already convicted twice on securities fraud, was handcuffed and taken into custody but is expected to post a $750,000 bond. He faces between 8 and 523 years in prison. Schaffer Fills Up on "Udall Premium" Everywhere Bob Schaffer seems to go, he stumbles "across bubbling anger over the cost of gas--stories of busted school budgets, slimmer profit margins, and bigger chunks lopped off fixed incomes," writes The Denver Post. Schaffer, a Republican oil-and-gas executive running for Senate, happily stoked that anger in Conejos by lugging along a mock gas pump with the slogan "Udall premium," which takes a swing at his Democratic opponent, Mark Udall. Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain News conservative columnist Vincent Carroll takes aim at Schaffer for suggesting that Udall is a "hypocrite" for supporting a 2002 resolution that strongly denounced Saddam Hussein, then voting against giving President George W. Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. That's "rubbish," Carroll writes, and Schaffer "should cut it out." Army Reserve The Army is backing down from its plans for a massive expansion of Fort Carson's Army training grounds in southeast Colorado. Rather than try to increase the 235,000-acre Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site by some 418,000 acres to meet growing training needs, the Army now says it can do with 100,000, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. Keith Eastin, an assistant Army secretary, is promising jobs and that land will come from "willing sellers" rather than federal land-seizure laws. The Denver Post editorializes: "While these matters rarely come together so neatly, surely at this point there must be a way to forge a compromise between the Army and anxious land owners." But opponents aren't budging. They say Eastin and politicians like Republican Senator Wayne Allard are forcing the plan through despite a large coalition that's against it. Life Is Still (Unfortunately) Like a Box of Chocolates Bryan Merryman, the chief financial officer of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Inc., led Federal Reserve Bank officials from Denver and Kansas City on a tour of a Durango shop this week, as workers made Rocky Pop caramel corn and raisin clusters. The visit was meant to give policymakers at the central bank a snapshot of how inflation is impacting the nation's economy, according to Bloomberg News. When it comes to chocolate, almost every ingredient has gone up. For example, cocoa prices have risen 10 percent each year for about five years, and that's making the chocolate business a little less sweet. "I don't know what the catalyst is going to be for a turnaround," Merryman says, relaying an anecdote that's likely to make it into the Fed's so-called Beige Book, which provides a window into the economy. Signs of the Times Hand signals captured on video are once again at the center of controversy in the National Football League. This time the focus isn't on coaches looking for a competitive advantage, but players making possible signs to street gangs, according to the Los Angeles Times. The issue keeps the story of the gang-related drive-by shooting death of Darrent Williams in the news. "There have been some suspected things we've seen," says Milt Ahlerich, the league's vice president of security. The issue of athletes flashing signs gained national attention in April, the LA Times notes, when Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics was fined $25,000 by the NBA for making "menacing gestures" during a game. Videodoses: Hick and the Aye-Ayes In this United Airlines video, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper promotes Denver in anticipation of the Democratic National Convention. A pair of aye-ayes, big-eared, strange-fingered nocturnal primates, get used to their new digs at the Denver Zoo in this video from the Rocky Mountain News. Are they ugly or cute? Do they possess mystical powers, as some in their native Madagascar believe? Cheapest Gallon of Gas 'Round Here: $3.86, Gasamat at 731 S. Main St. in Brighton (via www.gasbuddy.com) Weather Today: Thunderstorms and 88 high/64 low Weather Tomorrow: Clear 98 high/68 low