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Updated: 18 min 13 sec ago

Pac-12 football rewind: USC stumbles, UCLA rolls over (again), ASU goes bowling (trust us) and has anybody seen Stanford

3 hours 52 min ago

Insta-reaction to Pac-12 developments on and off the field …

1. Rendering judgment.

The Hotline was clear as we could be: Week 3 was momentous for the conference, not only because of the opponents but also the stages.

As we discussed in detail Friday, the Pac-12 had six games on full-reach TV networks, with five of the broadcasts coming in the peak-viewing windows (afternoon and early evening) in the Eastern and Central Times Zones.

In other words: Week 3 was a sterling opportunity for the conference to showcase its product on media outlets that reach 80+ million viewers.

How did that go?

Let’s recap, in Eastern time …

ESPN at 9 p.m. (Friday): Washington State’s dominant second half beat Houston

ESPN at 3:30 p.m.: Stanford blasted by UCF

ABC at 3:30 p.m.: USC loses in overtime at Brigham Young

FOX at 4 p.m.: Arizona State edges Michigan State

FOX at 8 p.m.: UCLA embarrassed by Oklahoma

ESPN at 10:30 p.m.: Arizona thumps Texas Tech

Sure, there were also victories over North Texas, Hawaii, Cal Poly, Montana and Idaho State.

But those were low-level games on a network with limited scope (the Pac-12 Network and its regional feeds).

In the games that mattered most, the game that were available across the country, the conference was mediocre at best and overwhelmed at worst.

FOX analyst Brock Huard, in the booth at the Rose Bowl as Oklahoma was stomping the Bruins, framed it well: “When you get outclassed the way you were in Orlando this morning (Stanford) and here, that leaves quite a mark.”

And not a good one.

I was impressed with Washington State but question whether a victory over an unranked Group of Five team that lost five games last year will move the needle on the reputation meter.

As for Arizona State, well, any road victory over a ranked Big Ten team resonates, whether it’s 10-7 or 42-38.

But the big-picture impact of ASU’s performance could be diminished by other results.

“The only bright spot for the Pac-12,” ESPN analyst Rod Gilmore said of the Sun Devils during the Arizona-Texas Tech telecast, “as they were just pummeled in a couple other games.”

Overall, we’d give the conference a C for its work today.

Through three weeks, the Pac-12 stands somewhere in the middle of the Power Five — it’s better than the ACC, in our view — but is seemingly devoid of elite teams.

Also, the .500 record (5-5) against the Mountain West and BYU doesn’t help.

2. Missed opportunities.

Losses by USC and Colorado were particularly damaging to longer-term goals for each team.

The Trojans were positioned to build on their momentum from the Stanford win, to further entrench coach Clay Helton, to climb in the rankings and perhaps set up a major intersectional duel in South Bend next month.

But they couldn’t hold a 24-17 lead late and lost in overtime in the same stadium where Utah won handily in Week 1.

Now, the Trojans return home to face the Utes on Friday, then visit Washington and, after a week off, head to South Bend.

Oh, and BYU isn’t as good as any of them.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s loss to Air Force (in overtime) could prove devastating to the Buffaloes’ postseason hopes.

Instead of entering conference play 3-0, they are 2-1 and face an extremely difficult cross-division schedule: The Buffs get Stanford, Oregon, Washington and Washington State and miss Cal and Oregon State.

In addition to those external obstacles awaiting CU, there are issues within: The offense struggled for 50 minutes against what is hardly a dominant Falcons defense.

3. Bounce-back wins.

Washington and Arizona regained their footing thanks, in part, to game-plans that took advantage of strengths (imagine that).

The Huskies finally made tight end Hunter Bryant a focus of the passing game. He responded with five catches for 115  yards and a touchdown as Jacob Eason carved up the Hawaii defense.

UW’s receivers are either inconsistent (the veterans) or inexperienced (the freshmen). Bryant poses all sorts of matchup problems with his size (240 pounds) and speed.

He should be to the Huskies’ aerial game what Colby Parkinson and Jacob Breeland are to the Stanford and Oregon passing games, respectively.

Arizona’s decisive victory over Texas Tech — a critical victory for the Wildcats’ bowl math — was powered by the running game.

Tailbacks J.J. Taylor, Darrius Smith and Gary Brightwell and quarterback Khalil Tate combined for 300 yards and overpowered the Red Raiders in the fourth quarter, ending the game with 19 consecutive running plays.

Simple calculation in Tucson: The running backs are better than the receivers. Why not lean on your strength?

Oh, and we should make mention of Arizona’s defense, which played its best game of the season (by an order of magnitude) and held the Red Raiders to 14 points.

The performance was closer to what we expected from the veteran unit and makes the breakdowns against Hawaii and NAU all the more baffling.

4. Arizona State is in (the postseason)

The Sun Devils improved to 3-0 with their victory in East Lansing — a very Herm Edwards win.

By that we mean that ASU was physical on both sides of scrimmage, that it felt more like an NFL affair than a college game, and that the Sun Devils did what they do very well:

They didn’t beat themselves.

They stayed in range into the fourth quarter, made a few plays in the final minutes — mostly, Jayden Daniels with his legs — and let the Spartans self destruct.

Edwards knew exactly what kind of game ASU needed in order to have a chance to win, and he got it.

Now, the Sun Devils are, in our opinion, a lock for the postseason.

Here’s why:

Wins required: Three in nine games.

Home games: Colorado, Washington State, USC, Oregon, Arizona

Road games: Cal, Utah, UCLA, Oregon State

It’s easy to find three wins there. (How about Colorado, Arizona and Oregon State?) Heck, it’s not hard to find four.

The Sun Devils played it exactly right: They beat two cupcakes, did the dirty work at MSU and are sitting pretty as a result.

(Hotline research shows that teams with 3-0 non-conference records have qualified for bowl games at an 83 percent clip.)

In fact, I’d make the case that ASU is more likely to win the South than it is to miss the postseason.

5. Anybody seen Stanford?

Yes, the schedule was brutal: Road game against a rival, Thursday flight into Eastern Time and Florida humidity.

Yes, the opponent was impressive: UCF has speed and playmakers — a poor matchup for Stanford under any circumstance — and is capable of beating all but a few teams in the country.

And we shouldn’t discount the Cardinal’s injuries, especially on the offensive line.

But Stanford isn’t the Stanford we’ve witnessed for the better part of the past decade.

The slide was evident last year and has accelerated.

What’s wrong? What foundational fissures result in the Cardinal getting outscored 80-10 over the final two-and-a-half quarters at USC (42-3) and the first half at UCF (38-7)?

(And by freshman quarterbacks, no less.)

As was the case when Stanford was winning Rose Bowls, everything starts with the offensive line and the defensive front seven.

The drop in talent and toughness in those areas is impossible to miss.

There are no Shayne Skovs and Trent Murphys and David Parrys and Henry Andersons and Solomon Thomases.

There are no David Yankeys and Cameron Flemings and Joshua Garnetts and Andrus Peats.

(Well, there was a Peat, but left tackle Walker Little is out for the rest of the season.)

The Cardinal has other issues, for sure.

But the slide starts with the simple fact that Stanford doesn’t possess the talent at the positions that, because of its style of play and recruiting model, most need to possess it.

Support the Hotline: Several Hotline articles will remain free each month (as will the newsletter), but for access to all content, you’ll need to subscribe. I’ve secured a rate of 16 cents per day for a full year or — introductory offer alert! — just 99 cents for the first month, with the option to cancel anytime. (You dip a toe, then it’s up to me to get you hooked.) Click here. And thanks for your loyalty.

*** Send suggestions, comments and tips (confidentiality guaranteed) to pac12hotline@bayareanewsgroup.com or call 408-920-5716

*** Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline

*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.

Categories: All Denver News.

450 miles of border wall by next year? In Arizona, it starts

4 hours 38 min ago

YUMA, Ariz. — On a dirt road past rows of date trees, just feet from a dry section of Colorado River, a small construction crew is putting up a towering border wall that the government hopes will reduce — for good — the flow of immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

Cicadas buzz and heavy equipment rumbles and beeps before it lowers 30-foot-tall (9-meters-tall) sections of fence into the dirt. “Ahí está!” — “There it is!” — a Spanish-speaking member of the crew says as the men straighten the sections into the ground. Nearby, workers pull dates from palm trees, not far from the cotton fields that cars pass on the drive to the border.

South of Yuma, Arizona, the tall brown bollards rising against a cloudless desert sky will replace much shorter barriers that are meant to keep out cars, but not people.

This 5-mile (8-kilometer) section of fencing is where President Donald Trump’s most salient campaign promise — to build a wall along the entire southern border — is taking shape.

The president and his administration said this week that they plan on building between 450 and 500 miles (724 and 806 kilometers) of fencing along the nearly 2,000-mile (3,218-kilometer) border by the end of 2020, an ambitious undertaking funded by billions of defense dollars that had been earmarked for things like military base schools, target ranges and maintenance facilities.

Two other Pentagon-funded construction projects in New Mexico and Arizona are underway, but some are skeptical that so many miles of wall can be built in such a short amount of time. The government is up against last-minute construction hiccups, funding issues and legal challenges from environmentalists and property owners whose land sits on the border.

The Trump administration says the wall — along with more surveillance technology, agents and lighting — is key to keeping out people who cross illegally.

Critics say a wall is useless when most of those apprehended turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents in the hope they can be eventually released while their cases play out in immigration court.

In Yuma, the defense-funded section of tall fencing is replacing shorter barriers that U.S. officials say are less efficient.

It comes amid a steep increase since last year in the number of migrant families who cross the border illegally in the Yuma area, often turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents. Many are fleeing extreme poverty and violence, and some are seeking asylum.

So far this year, Border Patrol agents in the Yuma sector have apprehended over 51,000 family units. That’s compared with just over 14,500 the year before — about a 250% increase.

The Yuma sector is the third busiest along the southern border, with officials building a temporary, 500-person tent facility in the parking lot of the Border Patrol’s Yuma headquarters in June.

It spent just under $15 million for the setup and services for four months, including meals, laundry and security, but officials are evaluating whether to keep it running past next month as the number of arrivals in Yuma and across the southern border have fallen sharply in recent months.

The drop is largely due to the Mexican government’s efforts to stop migrants from heading north after Trump threatened tariffs earlier this year to force Mexico to act.

The number of people apprehended along the southern border fell by 61 percent between this year’s high point in May and the end of August. In Yuma, it fell by 86 percent, according to government figures. Most people apprehended are either traveling as families or are unaccompanied children.

“Historically this has been a huge crossing point for both vehicles as well as family units and unaccompanied alien children during the crisis that we’ve seen in the past couple of months,” Border Patrol spokesman Jose Garibay said. “They’ve just been pouring over the border due to the fact that we’ve only ever had vehicle bollards and barriers that by design only stop vehicles.”

Victor Manjarrez Jr., a former Border Patrol chief who’s now a professor at the University of Texas, El Paso, was an agent when the government put up the first stretch of barriers along the southern border — in San Diego.

He’s seen barriers evolve from easily collapsible landing mats installed by agents and the National Guard to the sophisticated, multibillion-dollar projects now being done by private contractors.

Manjarrez says tall border fencing is crucial in some areas and less helpful in others, like remote stretches of desert where shorter barriers and more technology like ground sensors would suffice.

“One form doesn’t fit in all areas, and so the fence itself is not the one solution. It’s a combination of many things,” Manjarrez said.

The ease of construction varies by place and depends on things like water, Manjarrez said, adding that just because a plot of land is flat “doesn’t mean it’s not complex.”

He said building 450 to 500 miles (724 and 806 kilometers) of fence by the end of next year would be tough if that figure doesn’t include sections of the wall that have been built recently.

“As it stands now, contractors are building pretty fast,” Manjarrez said. The real question is whether the government needs to build that much fencing, he said.

The Trump administration may face those issues along with lawsuits from landowners who aren’t giving up their property so easily and environmentalists who say the barriers stop animals from migrating and can cut off water resources.

The Tohono O’odham tribe in Arizona also has expressed opposition to more border fencing on its land, which stretches for nearly 75 miles (120 kilometers) along the border with Mexico.

Near Yuma, the Cocopah Indian Tribe’s reservation is near the latest fencing project, and leaders are concerned it will block the view to its sacred sites, spokesman Jonathan Athens said.

___

This story has been corrected to say that the section of fence installed near Yuma, Arizona, is 30 feet, or 9 meters, tall.

Categories: All Denver News.

Laviska Shenault made Air Force look silly, so what are the CU Buffs saving him for?

September 14, 2019 - 6:00pm

BOULDER — CU Buffs offensive coordinator Jay Johnson, a month ago, on Laviska Shenault:

“I think you’ve got to put yourself in a position to use him and get him the ball,” Johnson told The Denver Post, “but I think you also have to be careful where that line is, that not everything is going to him.”

That line?

We’re past it now.

Actually, we passed that bad boy about eight minutes into the second quarter of the Buffs’ 30-23 overtime loss to Air Force at Folsom Field.

After halftime, No. 2 touched the ball seven times for 69 yards, or 9.9 per tote. Point of comparison: The rest of the Buffs’ offensive skill guys were involved in the other 37 plays, amassing 127 yards — or 3.4 per carry or catch.

Without Shenault, CU’s 6-foot-2 junior wideout, the hosts don’t rally. They don’t push the Falcons to overtime. They don’t tease 3-0, let alone sniff it.

RELATED: Kiszla: CU Buffs’ bad home loss to Air Force reminds us Pac-12 football is bad football

“When we were moving, we were moving,” said Shenault, who finished the afternoon with 149 yards receiving and rushing and two scores, including a 2-yard touchdown plunge with 28 seconds left. “We were unstoppable. But like I said (before), little things messed us up, kind of slowed us down.”

When the ball’s in No. 2’s hands, anything’s possible.

As quick as K.D. Nixon is, as high as Dimitri Stanley’s ceiling might be, as much fun as tight ends Jalen Harris and Brady Russell can look once they get a head of steam …

They’re not Laviska.

There’s only one Laviska.

And you’ve only got, in all likelihood, one season left to use him.

Only one season left for the moments such as the one No. 2 provided with 9:37 to go in the first quarter, when Shenault took a short post route from quarterback Steven Montez, squirted free from the grip of three Air Force tacklers — three! — and outraced another to the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown.

What are you saving him for?

Other than double-teams, the only limits are Johnson’s imagination. Imagination and how deeply he feels like twisting the knife, once it’s planted between the other guy’s shoulder blades.

“They’re going to start double-triple (teaming), whatever they’re going to do (to Shenault),” Johnson said. “And then somebody else is going to have to step up.”

Johnson could’ve used more from somebody else against the Falcons. Anybody else. He could’ve used a lot more from Nixon, who managed just three touches for 20 yards. His offensive line failed him early with a slew of false start flags. Montez remains maddeningly inconsistent — Tom Brady one series, Blake Bortles the next.

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If your quarterback can’t get your best player the ball, fine. Put your best player under center more often. Or at tailback. Or in the slot.

There’s a fine line between being clever and being cute, granted.

We’re past it now.

The Buffs are likely to be underdogs in seven of the nine Pac-12 tests to come, starting with Saturday night’s visit to Tempe against unbeaten Arizona State. Last fall, Shenault carried the water — and the flag — against the Sun Devils, notching two scores through the air and two more on the ground, racking up 140 yards from scrimmage on 18 touches, or 7.7 per tote.

“Obviously, he’s going to be put on display,” Johnson said of Shenault. “But we need other guys to do stuff, too.”

Arizona State 10, at Michigan State 7.

That line?

We’re past it now.

Categories: All Denver News.

Colorado State QB Collin Hill injured as Rams fall short at Arkansas

September 14, 2019 - 5:53pm

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas quarterback Nick Starkel, in his first start in a Razorbacks uniform, led his team on two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, breaking a 34-all tie and sending Arkansas to a 55-34 win over Colorado State on Saturday.

The Razorbacks (2-1) earned their first victory over an FBS opponent this season and only the second in coach Chad Morris’ 15 games dating back to last year.

Starkel, who transferred from Texas A&M in the offseason, was named quarterback Monday after entering and playing well in the second half of Arkansas’ loss to Ole Miss last Saturday. He rewarded Morris’ faith, going 20 for 35 for 305 yards with three touchdowns against the Rams.

Starkel completed three straight passes for 12, 17 and 20 yards on the go-ahead drive before Devwah Whaley’s 5-yard touchdown run capped it for a 41-34 lead. He then threw a 62-yard touchdown to Cheyenne O’Grady on the ensuing series.

Colorado State (1-2) rallied from a 14-point, first half deficit and tied it at 34 when back-up quarterback Patrick O’Brien scrambled and found Dante Wright for a 75-yard touchdown pass near the end of the third quarter. O’Brien entered for starter Collin Hill during the Rams’ first drive of the second half when it appeared Hill, who has twice suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, tweaked his leg.

Arkansas scored on its first five drives of the game, including two touchdown passes by Starkel.

THE TAKEAWAY

Colorado State: The Rams’ offense continued to prove its worth after scoring 31 and 38 points in its first two games, but the 522 yards allowed were the most given up on the season.

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Arkansas: The Razorbacks’ 24 first-quarter points were the most it has scored in Chad Morris’ tenure as head coach. The 522 yards of total offense were the team’s best mark under Morris. Already on his fifth quarterback, he may have finally found his man.

UP NEXT

Colorado State: The Rams conclude the nonconference portion of their schedule at home against Toledo on Saturday.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks host a second consecutive Mountain West opponent when San Jose State visits Fayetteville on Saturday.

Categories: All Denver News.

Kiszla: CU Buffs’ bad home loss to Air Force reminds us Pac-12 football is bad football

September 14, 2019 - 4:49pm

BOULDER — After watching Air Force kick the CU Buffaloes’ tail, not to mention their undefeated record, into the wild, blue yonder, here’s a legitimate question:

How in the world is the Pac-12 recognized as a Power Five football conference?

“We viewed this as a state championship game, because they beat CSU and we just beat them. All we have to do is beat CSU and we win the state,” Air Force quarterback D.J. Hammond said Saturday, after the Falcons walked away from Folsom Field with a 30-23 victory.

Yes, it required overtime, as well as a blocked extra point from Colorado kicker James Stefanou in the fourth quarter, for Air Force to win.

But make no mistake. The Zoomies were the better team. Their vaunted rushing attack average 5.6 yards per snap, kicking sand in the teeth of the big, bad Buffs, from the opening snap to Kadin Remsberg’s 25-yard dash for the game-winning score.

And here’s the real head-scratcher: The phrase Air Force football has long been considered somewhat of an oxymoron, because these Falcons don’t fly. Nevertheless … despite the fact Hammond didn’t throw often, his dozen attempts did as much as 43 passes by CU counterpart Steven Montez, who sleepwalked through much of the game.

“Got to do a better job,” Montez said, “can’t come out lethargic like that.”

With kickoff at 11 a.m., were the Buffs guilty of rolling out of bed with an emotional hangover from beating Nebraska only seven days earlier?

“What a difference a week makes, right?” shrugged Colorado coach Mel Tucker.

Seven days ago, Tucker could have been elected senator in his newly adopted home state. Now, it’s back to the drawing board, in an effort to figure out why his Buffs have fallen into a nasty habit of slow starts they managed to overcome against Colorado State and Nebraska.

“Eliminating bad football is what we have to do,” Tucker said.

Well, here’s the bigger truth: The Buffs are not good enough to beat the odds and win three high-intensity games in a row. What cost Colorado against Air Force was not so much an emotional letdown as a lack of talent.

A CU offensive line that failed to open holes consistently for running backs Alex Fontenot and Jaren Mangham also was guilty of spotty protection for Montez. The poor eye discipline of this defensive backfield, especially against play-action passes that repeatedly burned the Buffs, looks as if it might cause Tucker to lose sleep at least until the return of safety Aaron Maddox, expected to miss a month after suffering a lower-leg laceration against the Falcons.

Now, we would be remiss not to salute an inspired performance by the Falcons, who never blinked, even when CU’s 13-3 rally in the fourth quarter sent the game into overtime. This victory was so cool for the Mountain West and all the little guys routinely ignored by the playoff committee that it almost evoked a smile from Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, who pulls on his grumpy pants before heading off to work every morning.

“It’s a good one, but it’s just one win,” said Calhoun, who does dour better than any football coach this side of New England sourpuss Bill Belichick.

So let us do the gloating, coach. The Zoomies once again exposed Pac-12 football for the joke it has become.

Since a four-team playoff for the national championship was adopted prior to the 2014 season, the Pac-12 has only qualified a team for the semifinals twice and the lone victory on that big stage was by Oregon nearly five years ago.

And guess what? The conference appears guaranteed to get shut out of the playoffs again this season.

“Just to beat a Power Five team is really big for the program,” Hammond said.

As Hammond and his teammates bounced for joy on the Folsom turf after the Air Force defense stopped CU on downs in overtime, the Falcons stomped on the stereotype players from the Mountain West are significantly inferior to the Buffs or most of the over-hyped athletes in the Pac-12.

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Read this and weep, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: When the Falcons beat the Buffs, it was already the fourth time during this young football season the lowly Mountain West has knocked the self-proclaimed “conference of champions” on its arrogant rump.

During an eight-year stint with its current conference affiliation, you know how many times Colorado has beaten four Pac-12 foes in a single football season?

Once.

If I were Mountain West commish Craig Thompson, I would pick up the telephone first thing Monday morning, call Pac-12 offices and ask Scott when he would like to begin merger talks between the two leagues.

Categories: All Denver News.

Kickin’ It with Kiz: Collateral damage of prolonged Bowlen family feud over ownership? Broncos will sink to bottom of NFL.

September 14, 2019 - 4:01pm

The only reason Brittany Bowlen is being groomed to take over ownership of the Broncos is because she will keep the gravy train going for the current cast of trustees. Beth Bowlen would kick all these clowns out.

Bruce, taking sides

Kiz: The wedding of Brittany was scheduled Saturday in the Colorado mountains. Now that had real potential to be an awkward family gathering, don’t you think? The staff here at Kickin’ It Headquarters wasn’t invited to the festivities. But inquiring minds want to know: Would it have been physically possible for Beth Bowlen to toast the bride and groom with a glass of champagne in one hard, while raising her other hand in a middle-finger salute?

I’ve said from the beginning of this ownership mess that Pat Bowlen’s legacy will be that he foolishly left the team to all his children. No matter who is named to run the Broncos, the fight will go on. Mr. B should’ve left the team to one child or sold.

Bill, admonishing the dead

Kiz: Growing up in my house, my two brothers and I threw elbows in effort to get the biggest piece of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. (Sorry, Mom. But he started it!) So why should any of us be surprised seven Bowlen kids by two marriages couldn’t even wait until their father was in the grave to begin fighting over a football franchise worth in excess of $2.5 billion?

Great NFL teams start with great ownership. We’re (up a creek without a paddle) while these goofy heirs destroy Mr. B’s legacy.

David, Kohler, Wis.

Kiz: Although I can type 40 words a minute with two thumbs, perhaps that skill doesn’t qualify me to do the job of Broncos president Joe Ellis. But, if I were in charge of keeping these incorrigible Bowlen children in line, I would be tempted to summon Brittany and Beth to my office, lock the door and tell them either we will put an end to this family feud, pronto, or immediately start the proceedings to sell the team to somebody outside the family circle that’s capable of acting like an adult.

So if the new lawsuit is successful and Bowlen is found to be mentally unfit in 2009 or late 2008, is it possible former coach Mike Shanahan might ask for his lifetime contract to be reinstated for being fired unjustly?

Phil, relitigating history

Kiz: At this point, I’m not sure if hiring Josh McDaniels to coach the Broncos in ’09 would necessarily be judged as evidence of clear, solid thinking. But my understanding is the primary reason John Elway returned to the organization as a front-office executive in 2011 was Mr. B’s stubborn insistence the move be made. Seeing as the Broncos went on to win Super Bowl 50 under Elway’s guidance, it was a very prescient decision by an owner in failing health.

And today’s parting shot suggest the Bowlen Family Feud makes for more compelling soap opera than “The Young and the Restless.”

Finally! Mark Kiszla has found a topic he is qualified to report on: daytime family feuds. Kiz is Denver’s own “Maury Povich Show.”

David, munching popcorn

Categories: All Denver News.

Air Force takes CU Buffs by surprise with deadly passing game: “Nobody in this nation can stop us.”

September 14, 2019 - 3:20pm

One game into the 2019 season, Air Force quarterback Donald Hammond III hadn’t thrown a pass.

One play into Saturday’s showdown at Folsom Field, and the junior had already thrown one against Colorado.

If Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun was holding on to a secret weapon in advance of his team’s showdown with Colorado at Folsom Field, he didn’t waste much time revealing it.

Starting with the first play and extending throughout the first half, his option quarterback’s arm was just as important as his legs.

“It was just how we game planned,” Hammond said after Air Force’s shocking 30-23 win in overtime. “We saw on film that they weren’t good with the play-action pass and we thought it was going to be open.”

The Falcons, who threw just one pass in a 48-7 season-opening win over Colgate, weren’t wrong.

Hammond finished with 155 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 passing attempts, with all but one of those completions resulting in a first down or touchdown.

“We knew we were going to need to hit some, and we were fortunate we hit a couple big ones,” said Calhoun, whose team also piled up 293 yards on 52 carries.

Third-and-long, normally a problem for Air Force’s triple-option, instead offered an opportunity for Hammond and his pass catchers — one they converted time and again in building a 20-10 halftime lead against the Buffs.

A perfectly lofted pass down the seam to Geraud Sanders resulted in a 32-yard touchdown on the Falcons’ second possession. Hammond extended the Falcons’ third drive with a third-and-10 out route to receiver Benjamin Waters for 11 yards, then later waltzed into the end zone from 2 yards out for a 13-10 lead.

One drive later, Hammond went deep again, hitting Waters in stride on second down for an 81-yard touchdown.

“We just take one-on-ones to heart,” said Sanders, who had four receptions for 56 yards. “Coach says win your one-on-ones. Once we do that, we’re winning those one-on-ones, it’s hard to stop us once we get going.”

Indeed, the only thing that seemed to stop Air Force were turnovers and penalties.

The Falcons gave the ball away three times — twice with fumbles between the 30s and once on an interception that bounced off Taven Birdown’s hands and into Mikial Onu’s in CU’s end zone at the end of the second quarter.

Air Force didn’t punt until midway through the third quarter, and punted once more the rest of the way.

“We were the only ones that were stopping ourselves, they weren’t stopping us,” Hammond said. “All we had to do was play our game and keep it going and we’d win the game.”

That’s exactly what they did in overtime, too.

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It was essential option football on the very first play from scrimmage — a fake inside and a pitch to tailback Kadin Remsberg who streaked down the sideline for a 25-yard score.

Seven plays later CU quarterback Steven Montez’s fourth-down pass to Laviska Shenault fell incomplete in the corner of the end zone, and the Falcons stormed the field in celebration.

“Nobody in this nation can stop us except for ourselves,” Hammond said.

On Saturday, at least, that was true in the state of Colorado.

Categories: All Denver News.

Long before ‘natural’ was cool, Celestial Seasonings saw the future in tea leaves

September 14, 2019 - 3:18pm

Celestial Seasonings is more than a herbal tea company. It started 50 years ago in Boulder with a mission to make a healthy and tasty tea that people like to drink, said Mo Siegel, one of the founders who gathered herbs and flowers to blend them as tea for selling at local health food stores.

“I feel thrilled it has lasted 50 years,” Siegel said.

Its mission-driven culture and the passion of people who worked there put the company on a strong footing, he said, adding he is looking forward to speaking at the company’s 50th anniversary celebration Thursday for former and current employees.

“There were so many heroes who made the company happen,” he said.

The community of Boulder deserves a special mention for standing behind Celestial Seasonings, Siegel said.

Boulder, meanwhile, might say Celestial Seasonings deserves special mention of its own.

“Celestial Seasonings put Boulder on the natural products map,” said Arron Mansika, executive director of Naturally Boulder, adding the company has been a training ground for many professionals in the food industry, not just in Boulder but nationally.

The idea that doing business that’s good for the planet and the people also is good business was championed by the founders of Celestial Seasonings, he said, adding the company benefited immensely under Moe Siegel’s leadership. Siegel won Naturally Boulder’s Lifetime Achievement award in 2013.

“He combines marketing savvy and business acumen with genuine warmth,” Mansika said.

Staff brews success

The company became successful, because the employees were willing to work hard to succeed, and they were optimistic about the world that was slowly discovering natural foods, said Siegel, who sold the company to Kraft Inc. in 1984, repurchased it in 1989 with help from Vestar Capital Partners in a leveraged buyout, and merged it with the Hain Food Group to become The Hain Celestial Group in 2000.

Celestial Seasonings offers more than 100 varieties of herbal, green, black, wellness, rooibos and chai teas. Tea products accounted for about 5% of the Hain Celestial Group’s consolidated net sales from 2017 through 2019, the company noted last month in its annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission . In the fiscal year ending June 30, the Hain Group had net sales of $2.3 billion.

According to a recent report by global market intelligence agency Mintel, Celestial Seasonings in May (in last 52 weeks) had a 10.3% share of the bagged, loose leaf and single cup tea market In the United States with sales of $132.8 million. Mintel’s estimated U.S. sales in the brewed tea market (bagged, loose leaf, and single cup) in 2019 are pegged at $1.7 billion.

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In the last several years, Celestial Seasonings updated packaging, introduced new tea varieties and ready-to-drink options to expand its market share, particularly among millennials.

“The brewed tea market has been flat or in decline (when accounting for inflation) for years with no end in sight,” Mintel’s August report on Tea and Ready-To-Drink Tea states. (The overall tea market is estimated to be $8.7 billion in the United States.)

The company continues to reach out to all demographic groups with its specialty teas, said Blair Price, director of marketing for tea with The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.

Last year, the company launched TeaWell, a line of wellness teas that include a variety of organic herbs known to  provide multiple health benefits, she said.  Research suggests millennials are drinking more tea than ever before.

“We have found that millennials love us,” Price said.

Ingredients matter

Celestial Seasonings uses the black and green  teas, herbs, spices and botanicals sourced from all over the world, said Charlie Baden, senior blendmaster at Celestial.

He began working for the company in 1975 as a herb cleaner and handler, and became a blendmaster in 1980. Ingredients are inspected and tested for freshness, purity, cleanliness and flavor. Anything that doesn’t pass his stringent test, is put aside.

“We want to make sure the blends are perfectly consistent. I’m the keeper of the tea.” Baden said.

He can identify different varieties of chamomile and hibiscus by smell and taste. “I taste every batch and tweak the blend if needed. We blend about 200,000 pounds of tea a week,” he said.

Sleepytime, the bestselling specialty tea of all time for Celestial Seasonings, was introduced by Siegel in 1972. “It’s calming, soothing, and tastes really good. A perfect symphony of flavors,” Baden said.

In the early years, Celestial Seasonings couldn’t manufacture herbal teas quickly enough, he said. Sourcing of ingredients was tough then. Over the years, the company built relationships with farmers and local communities in more than 35 countries to get its supplies, Baden said.

“Our growth has been pretty stable. We are still a happy family,” he said.

Family feel

The culture Siegel created at Celestial Seasonings to treat workers like family has continued, Baden said. People still gather in the cafe to eat their lunch with other people. In the early days, the company provided free lunches, he recalled.

“We used to jokingly say anyone who ever lived in Boulder worked here at least once,” he said.

Merri Trotter, who has worked part time at the Celestial Seasonings gift shop since 2001, attended Celestial Seasonings 40th anniversary in 2009. The party was held outside the cafe area,and was attended by many former employees as well, she recalled.

“They made us Teatinis instead of Martinis,” Trotter said.

Teatinins were first created at a media event in the ’90s in Victoria, Canada, remembered senior blendmaster Baden. They are made from true blueberry tea and contain real blueberries. The special drink is served at special company events, he said.

JoAnn Hafner, corporate packaging manager for The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., remembers the 40th anniversary party for creative collages that depicted Celestial Seasonings history through the decades. Hafner, who has worked at the company 33 years, also remembers meeting “many original employees” of Celestial. She thinks the company’s culture is akin to that of close-knit family that works hard and has fun doing that. The informal environment encourages people to reach out to others, she said.

“I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and co-workers,” Hafner said of the 50th anniversary celebration.

Milestones

A select sampling of milestones Celestial Seasonings has marked over the past five decades.

1969

Mo Siegel makes first blends from wild herbs picked by hand in Colorado.

1970

Introduced Mo’s 36 Herb Tea, sold exclusively at a Boulder health food store.

1972: Introduced Sleepytime, the bestselling specialty tea of all time

1984

Purchased by Kraft, Inc.

1989

Company bought back from Kraft by Celestial Seasonings management and Vestar Capital Partners in a leveraged buyout.

1995

Introduced green tea line, the first green tea to be launched in mainstream stores across the United States

2000

Introduced chai tea line, which features four flavors.Merged with The Hain Food Group to become The Hain Celestial Group.

2003

Introduced Cool Brew Iced Tea line, which includes four flavors.

Introduced rooibos tea line, which features three red tea flavors.

2005

Free tea tour, at the Boulder headquarters, reaches 1 million visitors mark. The popular tour receives more than 100,000 visitors annually and was named one of the top 10 free travel destinations in America by USA Weekend magazine in June 2009.

2008

Introduced two new green teas benefiting National Breast Cancer Foundation.

2013

Launched five new organic and fair trade estate teas exclusively at Whole Foods.

Partnered with Trader Joe’s for two exclusive teas (Harvest Blend and Chai)

Two kombuchas made exclusively for Sprouts (Immunity Concord Grape and Hydration Coconut Lime).

Source: Our History at celestialseasonings.com

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CU Buffs bit by Nebraska hangover, fall to Air Force in OT, 30-23

September 14, 2019 - 1:26pm

BOULDER — Against Nebraska, the Buffs survived by inches. On Saturday, CU died by them.

“The little things,” Buffaloes wideout Laviska Shenault mused after CU fell at home in overtime to Air Force, 30-23. “The little things just messed us up.”

The little things at Folsom Field piled up, too. Namely:

• Six Buffs penalties at home for 40 yards in losses, most of them false starts along the offensive line that repeatedly put the hosts in tough down-and-distance situations.

• A blocked extra point with 6:09 left in the contest that left CU down seven and playing for a tie during its final drive in regulation instead of driving for a potential victory.

• Play-action passes by Falcons option quarterback Donald Hammond III, who shocked the CU defense with scores through the air for 32 and 81 yards in the first half, the latter staking AFA to a 19-10 lead.

• Conversions on third-and-7-or-more, a scenario in which logic should’ve given CU, on paper, an advantage over the run-happy Falcons. Instead, the visitors managed to convert a first down on four of six of those third-and-7-or-more opportunities. The Buffs (2-1), by contrast, converted just three out of 10.

And the last chance, on third-and-10 at the AFA 14 in overtime, was among the most painful for the hosts. Montez was forced to scramble left out of the pocket, releasing a hurried throw to tailback Alex Fontenot on a hot route for a 2-yard loss.

On fourth and 14, with the game — and a 3-0 start — on the line, Montez’s toss appeared to be rushed again. His rainbow in the left corner of the end zone toward Shenault, who was double-covered, missed the mark.

“A lot of that,” said Montez, who connected on 26 of 43 throws for 220 passing yards and two scores, “it’s on me.”

The first meeting since 1974 of the state’s two most storied Football Bowl Subdivision programs, and the first at Folsom since 1973, lived up to its billing — especially late.

Over the final 3:53 of regulation, Montez drove the Buffs 60 yards to knot the score at 23-23, thanks to some timely assists from Shenault.

The pair hooked up for a 15-yard completion on second-and-13 with 4:21 to go, then a 12-yard pass play with 49 seconds left to convert a third-and-8 at the Falcons 5. Shenault took a direct snap on second-and-goal with 28 seconds to go and drove the pile into the end zone to pull the hosts to within a point.

CU coach Mel Tucker elected to kick the extra point and play for overtime, and the Falcons obliged, taking a knee after the ensuing kickoff. Air Force (2-0), 3.5-point underdogs, scored on its first and only play of the extra session, on a 25-yard run by Kadin Remsberg.

“We viewed this as a state championship game, because they beat CSU and we just beat them,” Hammond said. “All we have to do is beat CSU and we win the state, we run the state.”

Saturday’s contest was the second straight in which CU had gone to overtime at home against a regional rival, making it the first back-to-back overtime contests in Buffs history. But Buffs players and coach Mel Tucker dismissed the idea of an emotional letdown coming off an electric, crowd-storming 34-31 comeback victory over then-No. 25 Nebraska here the weekend before.

“Our guys fought and they played hard, they didn’t quit,” said Tucker, who opened his CU ledger with three straight rivalry tilts and saw his Buffs outscore the opposition 75-34 after halftime in all three contests. “It’s not about that.”

But it was about the fact that the Buffs didn’t force the Falcons to punt for the first time until there was 5:33 left in the third quarter. It was about a running game that only managed 105 yards, combined, on the ground against a Mountain West Conference defense. It was about an inconsistent performance from Montez and from his offensive line, wasting a performance that saw Shenault rack up 124 receiving yards, 25 rushing yards and two scores.

CU fans and alums feared for weeks — months — that AFA could be well a “trap” game, especially coming off an emotional win over the Cornhuskers the weekend before. Buffs faithful feared a contest that would mirror the holy scare Army gave No. 10 Michigan in Ann Arbor before the Wolverines escaped with a 24-21 double-overtime win — that the Buffs would get Michigan-ed.

Early on, the Buffs got Michigan-ed. And then some.

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On CU’s initial defensive series, the Buffs snuffed out AFA’s first dive play of the day with aplomb, as starting strong safety Aaron Maddox charged in and stripped the ball from fullback Taven Birdow, a miscue recovered by the Buffs’ Davion Taylor at the Falcons 34.

In what would be a harbinger of a garish second quarter, CU’s ensuing drive was stopped after five plays at the Air Force 19. James Stefanou’s 36-yard field goal gave the hosts a 10-0 cushion midway through the first quarter.

The cushion wouldn’t last long. And when the Falcons were driving again with a minute left in the third quarter, Maddox suffered lower leg laceration as he spilled into the Falcons’ sideline pursuing the play. The 6-foot-1 junior gave a thumbs up to the crowd as he was carted off and didn’t return.

“He was in a lot of pain,” Tucker said.

As the Falcons and fans in blue danced on the Folsom Field turf on Saturday afternoon, Maddox wasn’t the only one. Not by a long shot.

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Heavy delays on eastbound I-70 at Georgetown after semitrailer catches fire

September 14, 2019 - 1:19pm

Eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 were closed Saturday afternoon at Georgetown due to a semitrailer fire, the Colorado Department of Transportation tweeted. The right lane remains closed, while the other lanes have since reopened.

Drivers can expect heavy delays, transportation officials said. The fire initially closed both sides of the interstate as smoked crossed the highway.

The load on the back of the trailer caught fire on eastbound I-70 near exit 229, Sgt. Blake White, spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol, said. There was no indication of a crash, and no injuries have been reported.

I-70 EB: Road open at Exit 228 – Georgetown. Right lane remains closed due to semi fire. Heavy delays in the area. https://t.co/GxuAErknw9

— CDOT (@ColoradoDOT) September 14, 2019

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Broncos fans will find bao buns, vegetarian tacos and high-end wine this season at Mile High

September 14, 2019 - 11:45am

The Broncos are upping their food game this season at Empower Field at Mile High.

The stadium’s new food service provider, Aramark, is partnering with several local restaurateurs, including Bonanno Concepts, for new food stalls at the stadium. Empower Field also added new concession tech in an effort to serve customers more quickly.

“Empower Field at Mile High is constantly looking for ways to improve the fan experience, and we are confident that with Aramark as our concessionaire, we can modernize how fans enjoy food and beverages at our stadium events,” said Jay Roberts, the stadium’s general manager. “We are also thrilled to debut several newly renovated concession stands on Sunday, which is the first step in a multi-year process to improve speed of service while also adding more variety to the menu.”

Fans at Sunday’s home opener against the Chicago Bears will find new food options at Frank Bonanno Concepts (Section 119), where chef Frank Bonanno plans to feature rotating menu items from his 11 Denver-area restaurants. Look for bao buns stuffed with pork belly and topped with hoisin sauce and green onions and a fried hot chicken sandwich topped with American cheese and rooster sauce.

Bonanno admits he’s a little nervous about this Sunday.

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“It is an evolving concept,” he said. “But I’m 100 percent positive we are going to hit it out of the park.”

Other local favorites new this season include GQue Championship BBQ (Section 135) and Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs (Section 103). Federal Blvd Burger (Sections 107, 512, 538; United Club Sections 314, 332) will serve up burgers with Jack cheese and peach and green chile chutney. In Section 518, you can find a new kimchi hot dog with Sriracha mayo and cilantro.

For those who don’t eat meat or are cutting back, you’ll find several stands selling vegetarian street tacos (Sections 103, 107, 119, 503, 539) made with chipotle-roasted cauliflower and ranchero black beans. And for those who most definitely do eat meat, the Orange and Blue Burger (United Club Sections 303, 342) is made with a chorizo patty topped with bacon and blue cheese crumbles.

In addition to new menu options, Aramark is hoping technology can cut wait times and get fans back in their seats quicker.

The Tenders Love and Chicken stand (Sections 103, 122), which offers home-style breaded chicken tenders and dry wings with a selection of 10 self-serve sauces, features 16 self-service kiosks where fans can order and pay for their food with the goal of reducing wait time by as much as 50 percent.

“An overwhelming number of people are looking for increased choice and speed of service,” Roberts said.

At Drink MKT, fans have the choice of 77 different alcoholic beverages in a can, from craft beer to hard seltzer and 26 non-alcoholic beverages such as soft drinks, coconut water and Dunkin Donuts iced coffee. If you’re looking for something more high-end, there are 13 wines ($50-$100) sold by the bottle.

Once fans make their selection, they will proceed to self-checkout scanners where customer service representatives will check IDs and open alcoholic beverages, but they will no longer remove the caps from non-alcoholic beverages.

Aramark, which is also the food provider at Coors Field, replaced Centerplate as Empower Field’s concessionaire this season. Aramark and Levy, the long-time vendors at Pepsi Center, are being replaced this season.

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Hunt fire in northwest Colorado is 40 percent contained

September 14, 2019 - 9:51am

Crews are conducting burn operations to prevent the further spread of the Hunt fire, which is 40 percent contained, in northwest Colorado.

The wildfire, which started Sept. 5 in Rio Blanco County as a result of lightning, has increased to nearly 2,700 acres, the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit said Saturday.

Fire crews expect favorable weather conditions Saturday to continue mitigation efforts, officials said.

The fire is on remote Bureau of Land Management land, burning in thick brush on ridges and valleys north of the Roan Plateau.

Public lands and routes in the area have been closed since the fire started.

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One dead, one injured after overnight crash in Denver

September 14, 2019 - 9:18am

One person was killed and one seriously injured after a crash early Saturday near Denver’s City Park.

The two-car accident occurred at 2:15 a.m. at the intersection of East 12th Avenue and North Colorado Boulevard, police said.

The driver and a passenger from one of the vehicles fled on foot after the accident, according to police. They have not been found.

One person was pronounced dead later Saturday morning, and another passenger is in the hospital with serious injuries, police spokesman Kurt Barnes said.

Police are investigating.

Update: this collision was a two vehicle crash. The driver and one passenger of one of the vehicles fled on foot.

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) September 14, 2019

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Associated Press fact check: Trump, Democrats and their tale of two countries

September 14, 2019 - 9:08am

WASHINGTON — The country described by the Democrats running for president is mired in child poverty, riven with economic unfairness and broken in its approach to health care, crime and guns. The country presented by President Donald Trump is roaring and ascendant — and, hey, how about those moderating prescription drug prices?

The reality, of course, is more complex than this tale of two nations.

After three turns on the debate stage by the Democratic candidates, it’s become clear that for the most part they hew to actual statistics and other fundamentals more closely than does Trump, who routinely says false things and repeats them as if willing them into being.

That’s not to say the Democrats are beacons of accuracy. Some will use older statistics when newer ones don’t suit their argument or give a selective reading of history when that fits the story they want to tell. Sometimes what they don’t say speaks loudly, as when they won’t acknowledge the cost of their plans or the likely tax hit on average people.

All of that was seen in the past week of political rhetoric. A look:

GUNS

TRUMP: “Democrats want to confiscate guns from law-abiding Americans so they’re totally defenseless when somebody walks into their house with a gun.” — remarks Thursday to House Republicans in Baltimore.

THE FACTS: That’s a vast overstatement. No Democratic candidates have proposed stripping all guns from Americans. One of the top 10 candidates, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, has proposed confiscating assault-type weapons such as the AK-47 through a mandatory buyback program.

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MIGRANTS

JOE BIDEN, on the treatment of migrants in his time as Barack Obama’s vice president: “We didn’t lock people up in cages.” — Democratic presidential debate Thursday.

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THE FACTS: Yes they did.

The “cages” — chain-link enclosures inside border facilities where migrants have been temporarily housed, separated by sex and age — were built and used by the Obama administration. The Trump administration has been using the same facilities.

Democrats routinely accuse Trump of using cages for migrant children without acknowledging the same enclosures were employed when Biden was vice president.

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HEALTH CARE

BERNIE SANDERS: “Every study done shows that ‘Medicare for All’ is the most cost-effective approach to providing health care to every man, woman and child in this country.” — Democratic debate.

THE FACTS: No, not every study.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report earlier this year that total spending under a single-payer system, such as the one proposed by Sanders, “might be higher or lower than under the current system depending on the key features of the new system.”

Those features involve details about payment rates for hospitals and doctors, which are not fully spelled out by Sanders, as well as the estimated cost of generous benefits that include long-term care services and no copays and deductibles for comprehensive medical care.

A report this year by the Rand think tank estimated that Medicare for All would modestly raise national health spending, the opposite of what the Vermont senator intends.

Rand modeled a hypothetical scenario in which a plan similar to legislation by the Vermont senator had taken effect this year. It found that total U.S. health care spending would be about $3.9 trillion under Medicare for All in 2019, compared with about $3.8 trillion under the status quo.

Part of the reason is that Medicare for All would offer generous benefits with no copays and deductibles, except limited cost-sharing for certain medications. Virtually free comprehensive medical care would lead to big increases in the demand for services.

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TRUMP: “Our ambitious campaign to reduce the price of prescription drugs has produced the largest decline in drug prices in more than 51 years.” — remarks at North Carolina rally Monday night.

THE FACTS: He’s exaggerating his influence on drug prices, which haven’t fallen for brand-name drugs, the area that worries consumers the most.

Most of his administration’s “ambitious campaign” to reduce drug prices has yet to be completed. Major regulations are in the works and legislation has yet to be passed by Congress. A rule requiring drugmakers to disclose prices in TV ads has been blocked for now by the courts.

Harsh criticism of the industry — from Trump and lawmakers of both parties in Congress — may be having some effect, however.

The Commerce Department’s inflation index for prescription drug prices has declined in seven of the past eight months, which is highly unusual. That index includes lower-cost generic drugs, which account for 90% of prescriptions filled in the U.S. Prices for generics have been declining under pressure from big drug distributors.

For brand-name drugs, though, a recent analysis by The Associated Press shows that on average prices are still going up, but at a slower pace. The cost of brand-name drugs is what’s most concerning to consumers, with insured patients facing steep copays for some medications.

The AP analysis found that in the first seven months of 2019, drugmakers raised list prices for brand-name medicines by a median, or midpoint, of 5%.

That does reflect a slowing in price increases. They were going up 9% or 10% over those months the prior four years. But it’s not a decrease in actual prices. There were 37 price increases for every decrease in the first seven months of 2019. Pricing data for the AP analysis came from the health information firm Elsevier.

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ELIZABETH WARREN, asked whether her health plan would mean higher middle-class taxes: “We pay for it, those at the very top, the richest individuals and the biggest corporations, are going to pay more. And middle-class families are going to pay less. That’s how this is going to work. … Look, what families have to deal with is cost, total cost.”

THE FACTS: That’s a dodge.

The senator from Massachusetts did not answer back-to-back questions about whether middle class taxes would go up from her version of Medicare for All.

It’s a given that consumers will pay less for health care if the government picks up the bills. But Sanders is almost alone among the candidates who support Medicare for All in acknowledging that broadly higher taxes would be needed to pay for that universal coverage. He would consider, and probably not be able to avoid, a tax increase on the middle class in exchange for health care without copayments, deductibles and the like. “Yes, they will pay more in taxes but less in health care,” he said in a June debate.

Some rivals, including Warren, have only spoken about taxing the wealthy and “Wall Street.” Analysts say that’s not going to cover the costs of government-financed universal care.

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ECONOMY AND TRADE

TRUMP: “How do you impeach a President who has helped create perhaps the greatest economy in the history of our Country?” — tweet Friday.

THE FACTS: “Perhaps” is a rare bit of modesty in this frequent boast by Trump but he is still wrong in claiming the U.S. has its best economy ever.

In the late 1990s, growth topped 4% for four straight years, a level it has not reached on an annual basis under Trump. Growth reached 7.2% in 1984. The economy grew 2.9% in 2018 — the same pace it reached in 2015 under Obama — and hasn’t hit historically high growth rates.

The unemployment rate is near a 50-year low of 3.7%, but the proportion of Americans with a job was higher in the 1990s. More Americans are now out of the workforce, taking care of children or relatives, or going to school, while others became discouraged about their job prospects and stopped looking. The government doesn’t count people as unemployed unless they are actively searching for jobs. Wages were rising at a faster pace back then, too.

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TRUMP, on China’s economy. “By the way, China is having the worst year they’ve had now in 57 years, OK? Fifty-seven.” — remarks Wednesday in meeting on e-cigarettes.

TRUMP: “They’ve had now the worst year in 57 years.” — North Carolina rally on Monday.

THE FACTS: That’s not true. China is far from the impoverished disaster of a half century ago, when it was reeling from the massive famine caused by Mao Zedong’s radical economic policies and heading into the chaos of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.

China’s economy is indeed slowing from Trump’s taxes on Chinese imports, as well as its own campaign to constrain runaway debt. The International Monetary Fund expects the Chinese economy to grow 6.2% this year. That’s the slowest growth for China in nearly 30 years. But it’s still markedly faster than U.S. growth.

Since overhauling its economy in the late 1970s, China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, established a growing middle class and surpassed Japan to become the world’s second-biggest economy.

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TRUMP: “Hundreds of billions of dollars have been and are coming into our country in the form of tariffs, and China is eating the cost.” — North Carolina rally.

THE FACTS: Americans are also eating the cost.

As he escalates a trade war with China, Trump refuses to recognize that tariffs are mainly, if not entirely, paid by companies and consumers in the country that imposes them.

In a study in May, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, with Princeton and Columbia universities, estimated that tariffs from Trump’s trade dispute with China were costing $831 per U.S. household on an annual basis, before tariffs were recently escalated. Analysts also found that the burden of Trump’s tariffs falls entirely on U.S. consumers and businesses that buy imported products.

A report last month by JPMorgan Chase estimated that tariffs would cost the average American household $1,000 per year if tariffs on an additional $300 billion of U.S. imports from China proceed in September and December. Trump has since bumped up the scheduled levies even higher, probably adding to the U.S. burden.

___

BERNIE SANDERS: “We have the highest child poverty rate of almost any country on Earth.” — Democratic debate.

THE FACTS: This oft-repeated line by the Vermont senator is an exaggeration.

There are nearly 200 countries in the world, many with people living in extreme poverty that most Americans would struggle to fathom. Poverty is also a relative measure in which someone who is poor in one nation might look rather prosperous in another.

But the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development updated its child poverty report in 2018. The United States had an above average level of child poverty, but it was not at the bottom of the 42 nations listed in the report. The United States still fared better than Russia, Chile, Spain, India, Turkey, Israel, Costa Rica, Brazil, South Africa and China.

___

TRUMP: “We passed the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history.” — North Carolina rally.

THE FACTS: His tax cuts are nowhere close to the biggest in U.S. history.

It’s a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years. As a share of the total economy, a tax cut of that size ranks 12th, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 cut is the biggest, followed by the 1945 rollback of taxes that financed World War II.

Post-Reagan tax cuts also stand among the historically significant: President George W. Bush’s cuts in the early 2000s and Obama’s renewal of them a decade later.

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TRUMP: “More Americans are working today than ever before in the history of our country.” — North Carolina rally.

THE FACTS: Yes but that’s driven by population growth. A more relevant measure is the proportion of Americans with jobs, and that is still below record highs.

According to Labor Department data, 60.9% of people in the United States 16 years and older were working in August. That’s below the all-time high of 64.7% in April 2000.

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VETERANS

TRUMP: “We passed something they wanted to do for half a century: We passed VA Choice.” — North Carolina rally.

THE FACTS: It was Obama who won passage of the Veterans Choice program, which gives veterans the option to see private doctors outside the VA medical system at government expense. Congress approved the program in 2014, and Obama signed it into law. Trump expanded it.

___

EL PASO

BETO O’ROURKE, former U.S. representative from Texas, on last month’s mass shooting in El Paso: “Everything that I’ve learned about resilience, I’ve learned from my hometown of El Paso, Texas, in the face of this act of terror, that was directed at our community, in large part by the president of United States. It killed 22 people, and injured many more, we were not defeated by that. Nor were we defined by that.” — Democratic debate.

THE FACTS: Nobody has claimed that Trump “directed” the shooting. Earlier in the debate, O’Rourke had said the shooter was “inspired to kill by our president.” It is hard to know for sure what led the gunman to open fire inside a Walmart in El Paso, killing 22 people. The suspect posted a manifesto online before the shooting that echoed Trump’s comments on immigration. Yet the suspect said his own views “predate Trump and his campaign for president.”

The screed spoke of what the suspect called a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” railed against immigrants and warned of an imminent attack. Nearly all of the victims had Latino last names.

The suspect purchased the gun legally, according to El Paso’s police chief.

___

RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

KAMALA HARRIS, on Trump: “The only reason he has not been indicted is because there was a memo in the Department of Justice that says a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.” — Democratic debate.

THE FACTS: We don’t know that it’s the only reason. Former special counsel Robert Mueller didn’t go that far in his report on Russian intervention in the 2016 election and obstruction of justice.

Harris, a California senator, is referring to a Justice Department legal opinion that says sitting presidents are immune from indictment. Mueller has said his investigators were restrained by that rule, but he also said that they never reached a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.

In Mueller’s congressional testimony in July, he said his team never started the process of evaluating whether to charge Trump.

Associated Press writers Josh Boak, Christopher Rugaber, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington and Amanda Seitz in Chicago contributed to this report.

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Boulder County jail inmate tests positive for Hepatitis A amid statewide outbreak

September 14, 2019 - 9:01am
Paul Aiken, Daily CameraA Boulder County Sheriff’s Office vehicle leaves the intake area at the Boulder County Jail in Boulder on Feb. 4.

An inmate in Boulder County jail has tested positive for hepatitis A, the latest case in a statewide outbreak that has led to one death.

Jail and public health officials were notified Friday that an inmate, in jail since mid-August, had tested positive for the contagious liver infection, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday in a news release. The inmate, who was not identified, was then separated from the rest of the jail population.

No other inmates or jail workers have exhibited signs or symptoms of hepatitis A, the sheriff’s office said.

RELATED: Colorado health officials report first death in statewide hepatitis A outbreak

Anyone released from the jail on or after Aug. 20 may be at risk for developing the disease, sheriff’s officials warned. Those released from jail since that date are urged to call their health care provider or Boulder County Public Health at 303-413-7500 starting Monday.

People can visit vaccinefinder.org for a retail location to receive a vaccination. Boulder County Public Health is able to assist those who need help paying for the vaccination, the news release said.

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Denver health officials on Thursday announced the first death related to the outbreak. Since Sept. 11, 163 cases have been reported in the state, with two-thirds of the infected people needing hospitalization.

Hepatitis A is transmitted by a person consuming the virus through contaminated objects, food or drinks. Symptoms include fatigue, limited appetite, stomach pain and nausea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Around the NFC: Gary Kubiak’s influence already felt in Minnesota

September 14, 2019 - 9:00am

Spry Sproles. Yes, that was 36-year old running back/receiver/returner Darren Sproles leading Philadelphia last week with 47 rushing yards. He totaled 16 touches — nine carries, three catches (for 16 yards) and four punt returns (11.5-yard average) in the Eagles’ win over Washington. “We’re always going to monitor that each week,” coach Doug Pederson told reporters of Sproles’ usage.

Kubiak Effect. Minnesota looked like a Gary Kubiak offense last week against Atlanta. Kubiak doesn’t call the Vikings’ plays but his influence has been well-documented. In a 28-12 win over the Falcons, quarterback Kirk Cousins passed only 10 times. It marked only the ninth time in 20 years a team won while passing 10 or fewer times. The Vikings rushed 38 times for 172 yards. “it’s going to be important that becomes an identity we can sustain week in and week out,” Cousins said.

Panthers in trouble. Carolina dropped to 0-2 with Thursday night’s loss to Tampa Bay and the Panthers are now playing uphill. Both losses were at home. Cam Newton is no longer a running threat (two carries for no yards vs. the Buccaneers) and they have only one home game between now and Nov. 3. The Panthers’ next five games: at Arizona, at Houston, vs. Jacksonville, vs. Tampa Bay in London and at San Francisco.

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Broncos Journal: Bears who played for Fangio laud his football and life lessons

September 14, 2019 - 9:00am

This was way back at the Pro Bowl in Florida, when Vic Fangio was freshly-minted as the Broncos’ coach after a successful run as the Chicago Bears’ defensive coordinator.

After a walkthrough workout, I asked Bears safety Eddie Jackson about some of Fangio’s best sayings/slogans. Fangio had helped turn Jackson from a fourth-round pick to a first-team All Pro so there had to be some kind of play-call that stood out, right?

Nope.

His answer was completely unexpected and provided a window into the way Fangio cares about his players.

“Save your money,” Jackson said.

Huh? Is that a football-related saying?

“He always preached saving your money so when you’re done playing, you have it,” Jackson said. “He’s not all about football. He’s also about what’s after football.”

That mutual admiration was evident back in January and again this week as the Bears and Broncos prepared to face each other Sunday.

“The good thing about (playing for Fangio) is that there was always something you could learn,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said in a conference call with the Denver media. “He’s coached some of the greats at linebacker. When a guy like that is talking, a person in (that) position listens because that’s where I want to see myself.”

Earlier this offseason, former Bears linebacker Sam Acho said it was Fangio’s consistency that would benefit the Broncos.

“I spent four years playing for the Bears, four years playing for Vic and he was the same guy every single day,” Acho said. “He’s a very stoic guy, but I don’t think people realize how passionate and loving and caring he is.”

The Bears acquired outside linebacker Khalil Mack after the 2018 preseason. Fangio said this week he was not really aware of Mack’s skills because he didn’t evaluate him during his draft year.

While Bears fans were buzzing (justifiably so), Fangio was matter of fact.

“Everybody was like, ‘Man, you guys must be so excited; Khalil is the best,’” Acho said. “Vic was like, ‘Well, I have to go watch tape on him.’”

Jackson had the story about money, Acho the story about Mack and Trevathan the story about coaching linebackers.

“I’ve got a story for you,” defensive tackle Akiem Hicks said during Pro Bowl Week. “There was a call my first year in Chicago (2016). We were in a nickel front (five defensive backs) on the 2-yard line against heavy personnel.

“I looked to the sideline (and said), ‘Is this what we’re doing?’ Inside, I was thinking, ‘How is this going to happen?’ But it was a tackle for loss by a linebacker. Vic just knows things the common guy doesn’t.”

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The players who were with Fangio in Chicago were asked if they had advice for Broncos players.

Trevathan: “Just take in as much as you can from somebody who’s doing it for a while and who loves the game of football.”

Hicks: “I’m sure every defensive coordinator shows the players how they want it done and what they’re looking for. But he has a special way of doing it. One of Vic’s strengths is he doesn’t ask more of you than what you have. He doesn’t put you in compromising situations. He puts you in a spot so you can play to your strengths and (also) works for your defense.”

Acho: “I consider him a friend. He’s the first one in the building and the last one out. He prepares so meticulously that you know as players that you’re always going to have a chance to win. You realize you’re around greatness.”

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Saunders: Rockies’ window to compete has slammed shut, so when will it open?

September 14, 2019 - 9:00am

Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich once told me that he doesn’t believe in windows. Windows of contention for a big-league baseball team, that is.

While that might be true for big-spending, perennial contenders like the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox, I don’t think it holds true for the Rockies, a team that has never won a division title in its 27 years. For the Rockies, windows open and slam shut quickly.

Last season, tied to this season, provides the perfect example.

Last year, the Rockies won 91 games, took the Dodgers to Game 163 and beat the Cubs in the wild-card playoff game before being dominated by the Brewers, who swept them in the National League Division Series. This year, a 3-12 start, terrible pitching and a slew of injuries in the second half doomed Colorado. A 95-loss season looks likely.

A number of players have told me that they thought the front office and owner Dick Monfort blew it by not making bold moves at last year’s trade deadline. To paraphrase a few of those conversations: “We had a great chance to win the division, we should have traded some prospects. That was our best chance.”

Colorado Rockies

We’ll never know what trades were discussed but never consummated last summer. Plus, looking back at what actually happened at the last year’s trade deadline, it’s hard to think of a specific deal that would have put Colorado over the top.

With this season ranking as one of the most disastrous in franchise history, I’m left wondering when another window will open.

“To see how far we’ve fallen back has been difficult, for sure,” star third baseman Nolan Arenado said.

Asked if the Rockies were facing a “rebuild,” Arenado answered: “I don’t even know what it is right now. We are relying on a lot of young guys right now, for sure. I remember when I was young, I made a lot of mistakes, so I get it. They have to learn from their mistakes.

“But you want to win. Every year you want to have a chance to win, but this year just wasn’t one of our better chances.”

So what about next year? If the Rockies’ pitching — both in the rotation and in the bullpen — doesn’t improve dramatically, they have no shot at making the playoffs, let alone kicking the Dodgers off their NL West throne.

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The lineup has a lot of talent, especially if outfielder David Dahl continues to improve and is able to stay healthy for a full season. And Ryan McMahon is flashing signs of being a future all-star. But if the Rockies are going to improve during the offseason, spending money is going to be a problem. Their current payroll of $156.6 million ranks 12th in the majors, according to Spotrac, but more than half of that payroll is being paid out to four players: All-stars Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, failed closer Wade Davis and inconsistent fourth outfielder Ian Desmond.

Plus, the Rockies will have to pay first baseman Daniel Murphy big money. Counting his $8 million salary for 2020 and the $6 million buyout for 2021, the 34-year-old has $14 million left in guaranteed money on his contract. Murphy has been only adequate at the plate (.277 average, 13 home runs, .798 OPS), and he’s a terrible first baseman.

So I certainly don’t see an open window in 2020. As for 2021, we’ll have to wait and see, with the knowledge that both Trevor Story and Arenado could say goodbye at the end of it.

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CU Buffs vs. Air Force Falcons live blog: Real-time updates from the college football game at Folsom Field

September 14, 2019 - 9:00am
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Live updates, tweets, photos, analysis and more from the college football game between the Colorado Buffaloes and the Air Force Falcons at Folsom Field in Boulder on Sept. 14, 2019.

Mobile users, if you can’t see the live blog, tap here.

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Solid gold toilet stolen from Winston Churchill’s birthplace

September 14, 2019 - 8:30am

LONDON — Thieves have stolen a unique solid gold toilet worth up to 1 million pounds ($1.25 million) from the birthplace of British wartime leader Winston Churchill.

The toilet, the work of Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan, had been installed only two days earlier at Blenheim Palace, west of London, after previously being shown at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Police said the toilet was taken early Saturday by thieves who used at least two vehicles. Because the golden toilet had been connected to the palace’s plumbing system, police said its removal caused “significant damage and flooding” to the building, a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with valuable art and furniture.

A 66-year-old man was arrested. The man has not been identified or charged.

Thames Valley Police Detective Inspector Jess Milne said: “The artwork has not been recovered at this time but we are conducting a thorough investigation to find it and bring those responsible to justice.”

Blenheim Palace said in a statement that officials are “saddened” by the theft but “relieved no one was hurt.”

“We knew there was huge interest in the Maurizio Cattelan contemporary art exhibition, with many set to come and enjoy the installations,” the palace said in a tweet.

“It’s therefore a great shame an item so precious has been taken, but we still have so many fascinating treasures in the Palace and the remaining items of the exhibition to share.”

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A statement on the Palace website said the building was closed to the public Saturday because of “an unforeseen incident.” The grounds remained open.

The Palace said normal operations will resume Sunday.

Prior to the theft, visitors to the Cattelan exhibition could book a three-minute appointment to use the toilet.

The magnificent stately home is extremely popular with visitors and is occasionally used for special events including high end fashion shows and art exhibits. It is located in Oxfordshire, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) west of London.

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