Mile-High Headlines for Thursday, September 11

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Denver Interior Department Office Unveils Rebel Image
Call it “improper ‘drilling’ (ahem) ,” a joke Scientific American’s blog could not resist. Yes, the stuffy old feds who oversee the oil-and-gas industry now seem quite sexy and naughty. And the Interior Department’s strait-laced inspector general isn’t at all amused after discovering that workers in the until-now-relatively-obscure U.S. Minerals Management Service rigged oil contracts, acted as consultants to the industry they were supposedly regulating, accepted gifts, had sex and did drugs with each other and/or oil-n-gas reps. As The Washington Post notes, the service was “amok,” particularly in its Lakewood office. “A culture of ethical failure” persisted, according to this memo–a critical problem since the agency collects roughly $11 billion a year in oil-and-gas royalties on behalf of taxpayers. Democrats jumped on the findings, according to The Denver Post, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who quickly unveiled new energy legislation while pointing the finger at the Bush administration. “Little did we know how cozy the relationship between Big Oil and the administration’s regulators have been,” Pelosi said.

Welcome Back, Candidates
Barack Obama, who, you may recall, was just here for the Democratic National Convention, is reportedly returning to Colorado on Monday. And details are still sketchy, but there’s also talk of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin swinging through Colorado around the same time, according to the Rocky Mountain News, which notes that campaigns for Obama and John McCain have a “heavy rotation of television advertising and a series of office openings throughout the state.” Moreover, there’s drama. Obama has been ravaged for saying McCain’s promises of change are akin to putting “lipstick on a pig”–an expression, by the way, that both Dems and Republicans utter more than you’d think. The McCain camp seized on it, making Obama out to be a sexist pig in light of Palin’s memorable description of herself as a pit bull with lipstick. The “mis-step” was a definite “stumble” from the view of Britain’s TimesOnline, which writes that Dems have yet to “grapple seriously with the Palin phenomenon, which is simultaneously shoring up the Republican base and eroding” Obama’s.

That Was Swift: Muslim Meat Factory Workers Canned

The Muslim Somali immigrants at the JBS Swift & Company slaughterhouse in Greeley have learned a lesson about America and freedom of speech: You may fight for what you think is right, but you won’t always win. More than 100 workers lost their jobs after failing to report to work in a dispute that began when the company refused to allow adequate prayer breaks for Ramadan, according to theGreeley Tribune, which also reports that about 120 workers returned to their jobs. “Employees were told failure to report to work when recalled would result in their immediate termination,” notes a statement from Swift (via The Denver Post), leaving workers to seek legal and political help. It’s unclear whether the conflict will hurt some good business news for Greeley. The city is ranked number 20 on an economic think tank’s list of cities that are most successful at creating and sustaining jobs, according to the Denver Business Journal, better than Denver-Aurora, Loveland-Fort Collins, Boulder, and Colorado Springs.

Oh Goody, A Giant Blue and Yellow IKEA
With all the fuss surrounding plans to build a stylish IKEA home furnishings store south of Denver, in Centennial, you’d think ABBA was planning a reunion for the opening. The community is excited, and droves of people will travel hundreds of miles to get there, as 9News reports. Right now, there are “only” 35 IKEA stores in the United States, and the nearest ones to Denver are in Draper, Utah, which is 545 miles away, and Tempe, Arizona, which is 765 miles away. The store means millions in sales tax revenues for Centennial and “cute, modern, great” stuff that’s affordable for customers like Jennifer Herrera, who is quoted by The Denver Post. If the pattern at IKEAs elsewhere “holds true, then hotels and restaurants will also build nearby to accommodate the influx of customers” driving in from around the region, according to So that’s why a 1,700-space parking lot is planned for the 400,000-square-foot, two-level store. No details are available on an opening date, as IKEA goes through the usual government approval process.

Taste Test: Rocky Mountain News Twitters a Funeral
Newspaper websites these days are electronic wonderlands rife with video, photo essays, links to original documents, and more–all meant to tell stories in creative ways. But the Rocky Mountain News’ use of Twitter, a social-networking service that allows users to send brief updates to their “followers” via email or text message, to cover the funeral of three-year-old Marten Kudlis, is just wrong, as points out. And as Westword’s media columnist Michael Roberts opines, “Clear your desk of any sharp objects, because when you read the entries by reporter Berny Morson below, there’s a good chance your jaw will drop onto it–hard.” The sidebar to this story followed Morson’s step-by-step account of the funeral service in excruciating instant message-ese: “coffin lowered into ground … rabbi chanting final prayer in hebrew … rabbi calls end to ceremony … family members shovel earth into grave.” Wake-up call to editors: While technology may add context to stories, it can sometimes rob emotion and make a newspaper seem indifferent to suffering.

Seventh Anniversary of 9/11
Seven years after 19 terrorists hijacked four jetliners, killing some 3,000 people, many will not ever forget what happened. “For most of us, those ripples are slight: quart-size plastic bags and annoying airport delays. For others, the aftershocks are huge: empty chairs at the dinner table, loved ones who have put on military uniforms and left home,” writes The Denver Post. Cathy Faughnan, of Lafayette, will remember the loss of her husband on September 11 in New York City, a “pretty day” when he went off to work after a simple kiss and goodbye, by doing “something he would like to do–like get out his bike and maybe ride it down to Boulder, which he loved,” writes the Rocky Mountain News. On the East Coast, there was a pause this morning to mark the anniversary of the attacks with a “heartfelt ceremony” at ground zero, according to the Associated Press.

Iverson’s Philly House a Seeming Bargain
Pity basketball All-Star Allen Iverson of the Denver Nuggets as he tries to sell the home he owns outside Philadelphia, where he once played for the 76ers. Okay, that’s enough. Iverson and his wife are trying to sell the house they bought for $5 million in 2003 and put on the market in 2006, when Iverson came to the Nugs. The six-bedroom, 14,000-square-foot home in Villanova has arched Palladian windows, a movie theater, guest suite, poolhouse, and a stream on four, sprawling acres, according to a Wall Street Journal story in The Denver Post. And it is now going at a bargain–$4 million–due to the sluggish housing market.

Cutler’s Taunter Is Foggy, But He Remembers
Remember that guy who taunted Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler from the sidelines? Let’s see, who was that again? Oh, yeah. Phillip Rivers, the Chargers’ trash-talking quarterback who has recovered from reconstructive knee surgery and, incidentally, is coming to Denver this Sunday for the Broncos’ home opener. “I can only imagine the reception I’ll get,” Rivers says of Sunday afternoon’s AFC West game, according to the Rocky Mountain News. “I imagine it will be pleasant.” The boos are almost audible now. Both quarterbacks are downplaying the incident, although to others, the Rocky notes, there’s the possibility of a good rivalry for years to come.

Videodose: Glen Fritzler, owner of Fritzler Farm in LaSalle, takes a helicopter ride to show off the 2008 Fritzler Corn Maize–a tribute to his parents, Ed and Eileen Fritzler–in this Rocky Mountain News video.

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.46, Western Convenience, 10515 South Parker Road (via

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