Panorama: Mile-High Headlines for Thursday, July 31

July 2008

Air Time: When Political Attack Ads Are the News Story When Senator Barack Obama failed to visit with wounded troops at a military hospital in Germany last week, Senator John McCain's campaign rolled out an attack ad, claiming Obama canceled the visit after discovering cameras would not be there. And those ads have made their way onto television sets around the nation, thanks to stations like 9News and CBS4. But the ads weren't paid for. Rather, they were treated as news, The New York Times points out, calling the strategy a "political relations coup" that has reached millions of viewers, including those in presidential battleground states like Colorado. Moreover, the ad was misleading, notes the Washington Post, which investigated and found "no evidence that the charge is true." The McCain campaign was in Denver on Tuesday and Wednesday, and had already moved on to a new attack ad, calling Obama a celebrity and juxtaposing his image with those of troubled pop star Britney Spears and celebutante Paris Hilton. And that ad has been getting plenty of free air time on news shows, including Fox31's Good Day Colorado this morning. While in Denver, McCain raised $3.2 million, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Information "War Room" Will Keep an Eye Over Dem Convention Officers for the FBI, Colorado State Patrol, and National Guard will conduct intelligence operations in a round-the-clock "information war room" during the Democratic National Convention. According to the Colorado Independent, the center will use computer databases to check into reports of suspicious activities, which raises fears that people might be investigated for simply taking part in protests. In a report last year, the American Civil Liberties Union said so-called "fusion centers," like Colorado's Information Analysis Center in Centennial, "raise very serious privacy issues at a time when new technology, government powers, and zeal in the 'war on terrorism' are combining to threaten Americans' privacy at an unprecedented level." The report adds that fusion centers may actually do little to prevent terrorism.

Udall Zinged for Missing Energy Vote It didn't take Dick Wadhams, Bob Schaffer's campaign manager, long to chide Mark Udall for missing a critical vote that might have prevented Congress from taking off for summer break before passing an energy bill as gas prices hover around $4 per gallon at the pump. "He made a commitment Monday, he didn't even show up for work Tuesday, and then he missed the vote today," Wadhams tells The Denver Post. Indeed, Udall, a Democrat facing Schaffer in the race for Senate, promised on Monday to make the vote but missed it while en route to Washington, D.C., following some campaigning in Colorado. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the 213-212 vote in Udall's absence, prompting a letter from Udall expressing disappointment. He wrote that as his plane landed, he learned the vote was in progress and "as soon as I got in the car, I called the cloakroom to advise that I was en route, and asked that the vote be held open until I arrived." The nonpartisan ColoradoPols website has the letter and is tracking the story.   Arrest in Angie Zapata Slaying Allen Ray Andrade and Angie Zapata hooked up online, and Zapata performed oral sex on Andrade when they met. A day later, when Andrade discovered the 21-year-old Zapata was physically a man, he beat Zapata to death using a fire extinguisher, according to The Denver Post. (Zapata was born Justin but had become Angie with the support of family.) Andrade, 22, was arrested in Thornton and could face charges of second-degree murder and aggravated motor-vehicle theft in connection with Zapata's death. Andrade told a Greeley police detective that he thought he "killed it"--a reference to Zapata, according to the Post. The story has made its way around the globe; even celebrity gossip monger Perez Hilton has been tracking the "awful" story and directing readers to this 7News story. (Read 5280 Executive Editor Maximillian Potter's story "Second Nature," and meet a local family that is raising a little girl born in the wrong body.) Welcome to Scorcherville Denver has tied, and today is expected to surpass, the record for most consecutive days with temperatures in the 90-degree Fahrenheit range--a record more than 100 years old. Drink lots of water. Don't work too hard under the sun, etc., etc. The National Weather Service's forecast harbors no relief. Temperatures are expected to hover around or hit the 100s today, tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday. The "cool down" comes Monday, when the temperature will be a relatively cool 95. We'll know it's truly hot if the hipsters on South Broadway toss aside those wool caps they've been wearing all summer. Armstrong Enters Leadville Mountain-Bike Race Seven-time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong will compete in the Leadville Trail 100 mountain-bike race, race promoter and former state legislator Ken Chlouber "gleefully" announced yesterday, according to the Summit Daily News. Armstrong's participation is certain to raise the profile of the August 9, high-altitude race, which is "punishing and magical," according to Christopher McDougall in this piece for 5280. Goodbye Defensive Lynchpin After 15 seasons and nine pro-bowl appearances, 36-year-old safety John Lynch's days with the Broncos, and possibly his career, are over. This despite a significant pay cut and Lynch's grueling workout schedule during the off-season. It just wasn't enough to impress coach Mike Shanahan. "In my heart, I want to play, but I need to look at everything right now, and that's what I'm doing," Lynch tells the Rocky Mountain News. "Is playing still part of that? I really have to look at that and see." Audiodose: Tom Throgmorton, the man with a green thumb, visits the Denver Art Museum for KUNC Radio, enjoying the impressionist landscape paintings, "a great exhibit worth taking the time to see." Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.74, West Side International Market, 290 S. Pierce St. (via www.gasbuddy.com). Weather Today: Hot and 98 high/64 low Weather Tomorrow: Hot 102 high/66 low

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