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Updated: 31 min 35 sec ago

Colorado Buffaloes football coach Mike MacIntyre reflects on 2016 season and looks ahead to Colorado State

37 min 28 sec ago

LOS ANGELES — University of Colorado football coach Mike MacIntyre received more attention than usual this week at Pac-12 media days after the Buffaloes became among college football’s most fascinating story lines last fall.

MacIntyre discussed team expectations at length during his podium time on Wednesday in addition to several other topics surrounding the program.

Q. How do you reflect on what happened last season and how did it come together?

A. “I felt like coming into last season I was saying it, and a lot of people were laughing at me when I said I thought we could be Pac-12 champions. I never told our team before that and I never said that publicly before last year. We had the makings to do that. We got there but just didn’t finish it like we want to.

“I felt like as the season went along, the back-to-back road games at Michigan and Oregon, we played well against Michigan but screwed it up. I think that gave our kids confidence that, wow, we can do this. Then winning the game with the style we did at Oregon where the year before we lost a lot of close games, we’d come back and lose at the end. To win it that way I think just propelled them and gave them confidence at the end of games last year that we were able to finish games often and be more successful.”

Q. What did this group learn from the Pac-12 championship game defeat?

A. “What we learned from it is Washington’s really good. Then we also learned from it that in the four games that we lost were all top-10 teams. We weren’t as good on the offensive line as their defensive lines were consistently. We have a lot of guys returning on our offensive line that are thirty pounds stronger in the squat and the bench. We have young guys that we’ve redshirted and moved in. This is the best offensive line we’ve had in the five years we’ve been there. We’re a good offensive line, and we have good depth. So I think that will help us stay on track in those games better where we won’t look so hodgepodge on offense like we did in those games. Then we’ll be able to control the clock a little bit better and move and score. So I feel good about our offensive line and being able to handle that coming up.”

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Q. How would you describe your team’s attitude entering the 2017 campaign?

A. “Their work ethic has been phenomenal. It’s always been great, but this group of guys understand what was left by the legacy of the other young men, and they don’t want a letdown, so I’ve seen a little bit more intensity. I’ve seen a little bit by the leaders, more involved, vocal. And Derek (McCartney) and Phillip (Lindsay) are both here, this is Derek’s second time to be a captain, and this is Phillip’s third time. So we have two other captains on our team, it’s their second time being captain. So we have four guys out of our six captains that have been captains multiple times. You get a second chance to do it again, and you understand different things to do.”

Q. What do you expect when the season opens against Colorado State?

A. “First of all, that’s always an emotional game. They have an excellent football team coming back. Their offense is ranked high in the country. You know, they have an advantage this year. They’re playing zero week (against) Oregon State, so that’s a big difference to me. Then we’re playing the first game, so we’ll have to catch up with them a little bit. Wish I would have known that way beforehand, because we would have put a zero week game and not made it the first game. So that’s going to be different for us. So hopefully we’ll be fresh and ready to go. But they’re very talented.”

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Aurora agrees to pay $110,000 to man police shocked with stun gun

37 min 49 sec ago

The City of Aurora has agreed to pay $110,000 to settle claims that police unlawfully stopped, detained and fired a stun gun charge into the back of a young black man, the ACLU of Colorado announced.

A recording from an Aurora police officer’s body camera released last September showed Darsean Kelley being shocked with the stun gun.

“What are we being detained for?” Kelley, who was with a second man, yelled just before the officer fired the darts from the device. “Answer my question officer! I know my rights.”

As the darts hit his back, Kelley immediately fell to the ground, his arms outstretched. He can be heard screaming, apparently in pain, in the video, which the ACLU released after the incident.

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Aurora police spokesman Bill Hummel referred questions about the settlement to City Attorney Michael Hyman, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

“Through constructive, respectful dialogue, the ACLU of Colorado and the City of Aurora, through the City Attorney’s Office, were able to work together to resolve this case promptly and without expensive and time-consuming litigation,” the ACLU’s Mark Silverstein said in a news release.

But the Aurora police department is incapable of policing itself, the ACLU said.

Aurora police internal affairs and the department’s independent Internal Review Board reviewed the incident with Kelley and determined that the use of force was “reasonable, appropriate and within policy,” the ACLU said. The review board concluded that nothing in the incident warranted further investigation.

“That the Aurora Police Department reviewed this incident and gave it a departmental stamp of approval shows the department is incapable of policing itself,” ACLU Staff Attorney Rebecca Wallace said.

Kelley was stopped on Feb. 19 when Aurora police were looking for a suspect who purportedly pulled a gun on a child. Police arrested Kelley and he was charged  municipal court with failing to obey lawful orders, a misdemeanor.

The charges against Kelley were later dropped.

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Marine dog with cancer gets tear-filled farewell in Michigan

49 min 13 sec ago

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Hundreds of people in Michigan came together to salute and say a tear-filled final goodbye to a cancer-stricken dog who served three tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines.

Cena the black lab received a hero’s farewell Wednesday before being euthanized at a museum ship in Muskegon and carried off in a flag-draped coffin.

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Cena was a bomb-sniffer for the Marines until his retirement in 2014. He then became a service dog for Lance Cpl. Jeff DeYoung, Cena’s first wartime partner.

Cena was recently diagnosed with terminal bone cancer.

DeYoung organized the celebration for the dog. He says he wanted to take his dog on one last ride in a topless Jeep before Cena was put down. The Jeep was decorated and named “Cancer Response Team.”

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Members of GOP governors panel tell Aspen audience they want federal money, but state control on health care

50 min 40 sec ago

Members of the Republican Governors Panel speaking at the Aspen Institute offered some advice for their colleagues in the Senate, they aren’t looking for a big health care fix from Congress.

Instead, the governors want the federal government to provide federal money and let the states determine how to fix the health care crisis.

“Just give us a full-scale block grant, not only for money but for responsibility,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said. “Give the resources and the responsibility back to the states. That’s what our founders intended. It actually works. Obamacare doesn’t work right now. It’s failing most states in the nation.”

Walker and the other governors on the panel, Eric Greitens of Missouri, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Doug Burgum of North Dakota and Phil Bryant of Mississippi, shared horror stories of individual buyers’ insurance premiums soaring while coverage deteriorated, particularly in rural areas.

Most of the 33 Republican governors in the U.S. are in Aspen for an annual summer conference. The Institute takes advantage of their presence to invite a panel of governors each year to discuss the hot topics of the day as part of the McCloskey Speaker Series.

There was no discussion among the Republican governors of the 20-plus million people nationwide who gained health care coverage under the Affordable Healthcare Act or how constituents in their states would be affected by proposed rollbacks in Medicaid coverage. Of the five states represented on the panel, only North Dakota participated in the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  Missouri, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Mississippi are among the 19 states that did not expand Medicaid coverage.

Read the full story at

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Cañon City police dog Duke jumps in river to catch fugitive

51 min 1 sec ago

Cañon City’s police dog made sure a fugitive was quickly apprehended Wednesday by jumping into the Arkansas River to catch him.

Members of the Cañon City Police Department, Florence Police Department, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado State Patrol were all searching for the suspect, Cañon City police reported on the department’s Facebook page.

This fugitive, who was believed to be armed, was located near Veterans Park. “The suspect … fled on foot toward the Arkansas River (and) Centennial Park area and eventually jumped into the river to avoid apprehension,” the post said.

Duke, however, jumped in without hesitation, apprehended the suspect and pulled him to the river’s edge where officers were able to safely pull both suspect and dog from the river.

Read the full story on

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Two construction workers injured in fall from scaffold in Lone Tree

58 min 1 sec ago

Two workers were seriously injured Thursday when they fell about 40 feet from scaffolding erected at a construction site in Lone Tree.

The men were working on a multi-family housing development at 9980 Train Station Circle when they fell from the fourth story at 9:43 a.m., according to South Metro Fire Rescue spokesman Eric Hurst.

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“They were on scaffolding on the fourth floor and both fell at the same time, down to the street level,” Hurst said. The men were taken to a hospital.

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Englewood office is investigating the accident.

David Nelson, OSHA area director, said his office has so far not determined if the fall was the result of unsafe conditions on the scaffold.

2 construction workers fell 40 feet at 9980 Trainstation Cir in Lone Tree, both were seriously injured and taken to Sky Ridge Medical Center

— SouthMetroFireRescue (@SouthMetroPIO) July 27, 2017

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Broncos open training camp with “better spark” after missing postseason

1 hour 5 min ago

Von Miller waved his arm in giant circles as he sidestepped through the end zone, drawing cheers from swaths of fans seated on a hillside at the UC Health Training Center.

Minutes later, tight end Virgil Green laid out for a diving catch in front of the delighted orange-clad contingent.

Just like that, preparations for the 2017 season were firmly underway for the Broncos. The team opened up training camp Wednesday morning, beginning a campaign in which the Broncos face doubts less than two years removed from a Super Bowl victory.

Andy Cross, The Denver PostDenver Broncos tight end Virgil Green #85 makes a catch on the end zone on the first day of training camp at Dove Valley July 26, 2017.

Coming off a 2016 season in which they missed the playoffs and finished 9-7, players said there is no shortage of motivation to be found.

“We came out with a better spark this year, for sure,” safety T.J. Ward said. “You can definitely tell this team is on a mission, and it’s the way we practice, carrying over from (organized team activities) and minicamp.”

Cornerback Aqib Talib said the Broncos entered camp late last summer “lackadaisical” as they came off their Super Bowl 50 victory.

“It was regular,” Talib said of Thursday’s opening practice. “Last year it wasn’t regular.”

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Among the first two players on the field were Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, the two quarterbacks battling for the starting job.

Both players shared first-team repetitions during various drills.

Not present was veteran defensive end Derek Wolfe, who was excused with illness. Rookie defensive end DeMarcus Walker was helped off the field by a trainer after experiencing what coach Vance Joseph called a “heat issue.”

The Broncos ended their first practice of camp about an hour early, with players then scattering to sign autographs.

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GOP seeks support for narrow version of “Obamacare” repeal

1 hour 15 min ago

WASHINGTON — Battered by repeated failures to repeal or replace “Obamacare,” Senate GOP leaders retreated to a narrow approach Thursday that would undo just a few of the most unpopular elements of Barack Obama’s law. Democrats vowed opposition as the Senate prepared for a bizarre Capitol Hill ritual, a “vote-a-rama” on amendments that promised to last into the wee hours of Friday morning.

The so-called “skinny repeal” was being touted as a way for Republicans to get something, anything, out of the Senate after frittering away the first six months of Donald Trump’s presidency trying unsuccessfully to get rid of the current law. Talks with the House would follow, with the hope of crafting a compromise repeal-and-replace bill that could pass both chambers sometime in the fall.

Whether Republicans can make it that far looks iffy at best. But Trump tweeted his encouragement Thursday morning, albeit with an ominous touch: “Come on Republican Senators, you can do it on Healthcare. After 7 years, this is your chance to shine! Don’t let the American people down!”

The “skinny bill” strategy emerged after Republicans barely succeeded earlier this week in opening debate on health legislation in the narrowly divided Senate, winning the procedural vote to do so thanks only to Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie.

Hours of debate followed, as well as few amendment votes that starkly revealed Republican divides. On Tuesday, on a 57-43 vote with nine GOP defections, the Senate rejected a wide-ranging proposal by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to erase and replace much of the Affordable Care Act. Then on Wednesday, a straightforward repeal measure failed 55-45 with seven Republicans joining Democrats in voting “no,” even though nearly identical legislation had passed Congress two years earlier.

That left Republican senators hunting for other options, and the “skinny repeal” rose to the top. The measure has not been finalized, but senators say it could eliminate Obamacare’s two mandates — for individuals to carry insurance and for employers to offer it — along with an unpopular tax on medical devices, and contain a few other provisions.

“It is being called a skinny bill because it won’t have much in it,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. “It is not a solution to the Affordable Care Act problems. But it is a solution on how we can get to a place where we can write a solution to the Affordable Care Act.”

Whether Republicans have the votes even to pass that much is unclear. But the outcome will emerge over the next 12 to 24 hours, as senators buckle in for the “vote-a-rama” during which unlimited amendment votes can be offered on the health legislation from both sides.

Most of them will be dismissed along partisan lines; some may resurface in years to come in the form of attack ads. But at some point along the way McConnell is expected to offer the “skinny bill” as an amendment of his own, with hopes it will get a majority.

“I think it is quite likely we will be here much of the night, if not all night,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. “And at the end of it hopefully we’ll have a bill that can bring us together.”

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Yet as has happened every step of the way in the health care debate, no sooner did the “skinny bill” emerge than opposition arrayed against it.

The insurance company lobby group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, wrote to Senate leaders Thursday saying that ending Obama’s requirement that people buy insurance without strengthening insurance markets would produce “higher premiums, fewer choices for consumers and fewer people covered next year.”

A bipartisan group of governors including John Kasich of Ohio and Brian Sandoval of Nevada also announced against it.

Although Republican senators presented the “skinny bill” as a means to get into talks with the House, some GOP aides and lobbyists were suggesting that the House might pass the Senate’s “skinny bill” as-is, which would allow Republicans to claim at least a partial victory and move on to other issues. With tax legislation and other priorities waiting in the wings, Republicans are eager to rid themselves of the burden of making good on their many campaign promises to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” which has proven far more difficult than expected.

But the House might be unwilling to agree to the “skinny bill” as-is. Conservatives were already ruling that out.

“There would not be enough votes to pass it and send it to the president,” said Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, head of the conservative Freedom Caucus. “But to use it as a vehicle to continue negotiations is certainly welcomed.”

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Broncos sell out of half-priced ticket pairs within 8 minutes yesterday

1 hour 18 min ago

Another year and another battle for half-priced tickets that left some celebrating good fortune and others cursing a failed attempt.

The Denver Broncos said the team sold out its half-priced ticket pairs within 8 minutes of going on sale Wednesday, beating last year’s quick sell out in 20 minutes. After an hour, 18,000 of the 20,000 half-priced tickets were sold. Half-priced single tickets are still available for some games.

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But people who still want to head to a game will have to shovel out for full-priced tickets.

As is common, people took to Twitter to air their excitement:

That feeling when you have Broncos tickets…..

— Michael (@AdamErnies) July 26, 2017

Got lucky and got some Broncos tickets hella happy lol

— igotthesauce (@Guero2310) July 26, 2017

Somehow, after constant trying, I was able to score some 1/2 price @Broncos tickets when they went on sale today 👍🏻 #BroncosCountry #BeatKC

— Brent Ogden (@MileHiRocks5280) July 26, 2017

But others went online to lament, some pre-emptively:

I’m not ready for how angry I’m gonna be in less than an hour when I don’t get Broncos tickets

— Kyle (@MileHighKyle27) July 26, 2017

Its like everybody in 1-70 stopped just to get their hands on them

— Daniel (@55Daniel_) July 26, 2017

My 70yr old dad is getting sick of hearing “maybe next year” for his 1st NFL gm @Broncos the ticket sale yesterday broke our hearts. Again.

— August Poehls (@TheReal8thMonth) July 27, 2017

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Michigan child’s body was decomposing on arrival at hospital, court records say

1 hour 22 min ago

WYOMING, Mich. — The body of a 6-month-old western Michigan boy had already started to decompose by the time his mother took him to a hospital after she had basically ignored him for two days in her sweltering home with no air conditioning, according to court records.

The temperature in Lovily Johnson’s Wyoming apartment was about 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius) a few hours after Noah Johnson was pronounced dead on arrival July 19 at a Grand Rapids hospital.

The child weighed 12 pounds (5.5 kilograms) and also had a severe diaper rash after being left mostly unsupervised and strapped in a car seat upstairs in the home since the morning of July 17 while his mother smoked marijuana and visited friends, and WOOD-TV reported.

Johnson, 22, is jailed on first-degree murder and child abuse charges. She faces an Aug. 2 probable cause hearing.

Court records allege that on July 17 Noah was given a bottle around 10 a.m. and then was left alone for nearly 12 hours. The boy’s diaper was not changed during that time. The following day he was left alone from about 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and then until 5 a.m. the next day. reported Johnson didn’t call 911 when she returned home and found her son unresponsive. She called her father, who also didn’t call emergency services but did drive them to the hospital.

Johnson had previous contacts with the state that involved Noah and his older sister.

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Child Protective Services filed a complaint in March 2015 after Johnson’s newborn daughter tested positive for marijuana. Johnson told authorities that she had smoked marijuana during her pregnancy.

Earlier this month, another complaint was filed after Noah was left in an unlocked vehicle parked outside a video rental shop.

Johnson’s daughter, now 2 years old, was placed in state care last week.

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In U.S. first, scientists edit genes of human embryos

1 hour 23 min ago

For the first time in the United States, scientists have edited the genes of human embryos, a controversial step toward someday helping babies avoid inherited diseases.

The experiment was just an exercise in science — the embryos were not allowed to develop for more than a few days and were never intended to be implanted into a womb, according to MIT Technology Review, which first reported the news.

Officials at Oregon Health & Science University confirmed Thursday that the work took place there and said results would be published in a journal soon. It is thought to be the first such work in the U.S.; previous experiments like this have been reported from China. How many embryos were created and edited in the experiments has not been revealed.

The Oregon scientists reportedly used a technique called CRISPR, which allows specific sections of DNA to be altered or replaced. It’s like using a molecular scissors to cut and paste DNA, and is much more precise than some types of gene therapy that cannot ensure that desired changes will take place exactly where and as intended. With gene editing, these so-called “germline” changes are permanent and would be passed down to any offspring.

The approach holds great potential to avoid many genetic diseases, but has raised fears of “designer babies” if done for less lofty reasons, such as producing desirable traits.

Last year, Britain said some of its scientists could edit embryo genes to better understand human development.

And earlier this year in the U.S., the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine said in a report that altering the genes of embryos might be OK if done under strict criteria and aimed at preventing serious disease.

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“This is the kind of research that the report discussed,” University of Wisconsin-Madison bioethicist R. Alta Charo said of the report of Oregon’s work. She co-led the National Academies panel but was not commenting on its behalf Thursday.

“This was purely laboratory-based work that is incredibly valuable for helping us understand how one might make these germline changes in a way that is precise and safe. But it’s only a first step,” she said.

“We still have regulatory barriers in the United States to ever trying this to achieve a pregnancy. The public has plenty of time” to weigh in on whether that should occur, she said.

One prominent genetics expert, Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California, said gene editing of embryos is “an unstoppable, inevitable science, and this is more proof it can be done.”

Experiments are in the works now in the U.S. using gene-edited cells to try to treat people with various diseases, but “in order to really have a cure, you want to get this at the embryo stage,” he said. “If it isn’t done in this country, it will be done elsewhere.”

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No evidence 5,000 Colorado voters who unregistered were ineligible to vote, secretary of state says

1 hour 36 min ago

There is no evidence any of the more than 5,000 Colorado voters who have withdrawn their registrations following the Trump administration’s request for voter information were ineligible to participate in elections, Secretary of State Wayne Williams said Thursday.

“It’s my hope that citizens who withdrew their registration will re-register, particularly once they realize that no confidential information will be provided and that the parties and presidential candidates already have the same publicly available information from the 2016 election cycle,” Williams said in a written statement. “Clearly we wouldn’t be asking them to re-register if we didn’t believe they were eligible.”

Williams’ remarks come as his office prepares in the coming days to send publicly available voter data — including names, addresses, party affiliations and birth years — to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Julia Sunny, a spokeswoman for Williams, said the information is slated to be submitted by Monday night.

The commission established by President Donald Trump first asked Colorado for the voter data on June 28, but then told the state July 10 to hold off on sending the information until court challenges to the request played out. On Monday, a federal court in Washington, D.C., declined a request to halt the process.

In light of that decision, the commission renewed its request for voter data Wednesday.

The commission was created in May with a mandate to focus on voter fraud, voter suppression and other “vulnerabilities.” But the effort has been clouded by privacy concerns and distrust, particularly following Trump’s unfounded claims that millions of people voted illegally in 2016 and cost him the popular vote.

In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016

Williams, along with dozens of other secretaries of state, has said he will provide only information considered public under state law.

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Since June 28, thousands of Coloradans — including Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters — withdrew their registrations. Some county election officials said the trend was unlike anything they’ve seen in their careers.

As of Wednesday, 5,072 Colorado voters had unregistered. There are more than 3.3 million active voters in the state.

More than 200 other Colorado voters have signed up in that span to become “confidential voters,” a designation that allows their information to be withheld.

In a Wednesday letter to Williams, Kris Kobach, vice chair of the election integrity commission, promised that he would release any “personally identifiable information from voter registration records to the public” and that all data will be disposed of — as permitted by federal law — once the panel’s work is complete.

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Twitter fails to boost monthly audience, sending shares down

1 hour 57 min ago

Twitter failed to attract more monthly users in the second quarter, spooking investors looking for evidence that the company is on a sustainable long-term growth path. The shares tumbled the most in nine months, even as quarterly revenue topped analysts’ projections.

A long-term turnaround depends on Twitter expanding its audience. That number stands at 328 million monthly active users — the same as in the prior quarter, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement Thursday. Revenue fell 4.7 percent and the company’s net loss also widened, affected by a $55 million writedown of the value of its investment in SoundCloud, the German music streaming service.

Twitter is still working to prove that it can build a sustainable, growing business. After hitting a plateau with its user base and struggling with a slowdown in sales, the company started narrowing its focus, shuttering businesses and teams that didn’t fit its goal of being a destination for live-event content. With a goal of reaching profitability, Twitter began investing heavily in video, aiming to draw a more mainstream set of users and premium advertising deals. The network now has a promising set of partnerships in its pipeline, but some investors are skeptical that Twitter will ever be much bigger than it is today.

“It’s a niche platform,” said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research. “It always was and always will be.”

Though its monthly audience failed to grow, Twitter said there’s room for optimism because 12 percent more users are visiting the site on a daily basis than in the same quarter last year. The company declined to disclose a daily active user number or provide further details. But Twitter also said that it doesn’t expect its overall sales growth to improve in the second half, citing “headwinds” related to products it’s de-emphasizing.

The shares fell as much as 14 percent percent to $16.85. It was the biggest intraday drop since October. They were up 6.3 percent in the 12 months through Wednesday.

Twitter reported a net loss of $116.5 million, or 16 cents a share. Revenue dropped to $573.9 million, though that beat analysts’ average estimate of $537.2 million as the company drew more money from video advertising and its business selling data to third parties.

In the third quarter, Twitter said it expects adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of $130 million to $150 million. The average analyst estimate was $144.1 million.

Twitter’s business troubles contrast with its increased profile in the political world, as President Donald Trump frequently uses the platform to reach the public in an unfiltered manner. Despite his daily fusillade of tweets, Trump hasn’t helped Twitter’s growth in its home country.

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Monthly active users in the U.S., Twitter’s most important advertising market, declined to 68 million from 70 million in the prior quarter. U.S. advertising revenue also fell 7 percent to $335 million as it struggles to compete with Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc., which account for most of the growth in digital advertising.

Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said Twitter doesn’t know why U.S. monthly active users slipped.

“We don’t have data that will explain a causal impact” of that shift, he said on a conference call.

Amid heated political conversations, users have criticized Twitter for its handling of abuse and harassment on the site. The company has worked to improve its process for responding to reports. The company reported a 10-fold increase in the amount of accounts it “takes action on” each day.

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“Very possible”: Kid Rock exploring candidacy for Michigan Senate seat

1 hour 57 min ago

Ever since bad-boy rocker Kid Rock, born Robert Ritchie, debuted the website this month, the question has been whether the political campaign was a mere marketing ploy or something more.

And now we have the answer – sort of. Rock – OK, let’s call him Ritchie, since he wants to graduate from sex-tape-boasting musician to the upper chamber of Congress, potentially seeking to unseat Michigan Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow – posted a message on his blog early Thursday morning elaborating on the prospect of an actual campaign.

He called a run “very possible” and said he was “exploring my candidacy.”

Since he launched the website, “I was beyond overwhelmed with the response I received from community leaders, D.C. pundits, and blue-collar folks that are just simply tired of the extreme left and right bulls—,” wrote the musician, who has been outspoken about his right-leaning politics. He’s not wrong there: A sample Politico headline was “Senator Kid Rock. Don’t Laugh” and a poll (albeit a conservative one) showed him leading against Stabenow.

As he mulls his future, Ritchie has established a nonprofit organization and plans to sign up voters at his concerts, but in what might presage the future of the celebrity politician, whose commercial endeavors are indistinguishable from his public-service quests (cough, Trump Hotel, cough), he says selling stuff and hyping a run aren’t mutually exclusive.

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“I have no problem selling Kid Rock shirts and yes, I absolutely will use this media circus to sell/promote whatever I damn well please (many other politicians are doing the same thing, they just feed you a bunch of bulls— about it),” he wrote. Proceeds will benefit the voter-registration drive, he says.

The blog post ends with a characteristic touch of swagger. “We will be scheduling a press conference in the next 6 weeks or so to address this issue amongst others,” he wrote. “And if I decide to throw my hat in the ring for US Senate, believe me … it’s game on mthrf-rs.”

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Rapids sign Axel Sjöberg to three-year extension

2 hours 15 min ago

The Colorado Rapids have signed defender Axel Sjöberg to a three-year extension with a club option for 2021, the club announced Thursday. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Sjöberg, 26, was named to the MLS Best XI last season and was one of three finalists for MLS Defender of the Year.

“Securing Axel for the next three years was a top priority for us this season,” said Rapids interim general manager Padraig Smith in a news release. “Axel’s level of commitment and work ethic have made him one of the best defenders in Major League Soccer and we look forward to his continued contributions for years to come.”

The Sweden native has missed 13 of 19 games this season due to injury, but has started in every regular season match in which he has appeared in for the Rapids in his three-year professional career (51 games). Sjöberg has recorded two goals and one assist in 4,571 minutes.

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In 2016, the 6-foot-7 center back anchored Colorado’s league-best defense that was stifling on the pitch. The Rapids ranked first in shutouts (13), goals against (32), goals against at home (7) and goals against average (0.94).

Sjöberg will no longer occupy an international roster spot for Colorado as he recently received a green card.

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PHOTOS: Denver Broncos 2017 training camp opens

2 hours 23 min ago

Denver Broncos fans streamed into Dove Valley for the first day of training camp July 26, 2017 in Englewood, Colorado.

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Top officer says military transgender policy unchanged for now

2 hours 28 min ago

WASHINGTON — The U.S. will continue to permit transgender individuals to serve openly in the military until Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has received President Donald Trump’s “direction” to change the policy and figured out how to implement it, the nation’s top military officer said Thursday.

In a memo to all military service chiefs, commanders and enlisted military leaders, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said “there will be no modifications” to current policy for now, amid questions about Trump’s announcement on Twitter that the U.S. government will not “accept or allow” transgender people to serve in any capacity in the military.

“I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement,” Dunford began, adding that nothing would change until the president’s direction has been received by Mattis and Mattis has issued “implementation guidance.”

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” Dunford wrote. “As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.”

The Dunford statement suggests that Mattis was given no presidential direction on changing the transgender policy. Mattis has been away on vacation this week and has been publicly silent amid questions about whether he favors Trump’s announced ban.

Dunford himself was not aware that Trump was going to announce a transgender service ban on Wednesday, a U.S. official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Trump’s announcement caught the Pentagon flat-footed and unable to explain what it called Trump’s “guidance.” His proclamation, on Twitter rather than any formal announcement, drew bipartisan denunciations and threw currently serving transgender soldiers into limbo.

“Please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” the commander in chief tweeted.

Trump wrote that he had consulted with “my generals and military experts,” but he did not mention Mattis, the retired Marine general who less than one month ago told the military service chiefs to spend another six months weighing the costs and benefits of allowing transgender individuals to enlist. At the time, Mattis said this “does not presuppose the outcome of the review,” but Trump’s tweets appeared to have done just that.

The Pentagon has refused to release any data on the number of transgender people currently serving. A Rand Corp. study has estimated the number at between 1,320 and 6,630 out of 1.3 million active-duty troops.

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Criticism for Trump’s action was immediate and strong from both political parties.

His action is “harmful, misguided and weakens, not strengthens our military,” said Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

John McCain, the Arizona Republican and Vietnam War hero, said Trump was simply wrong.

“Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving,” he said. “There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity.”

Not everyone at the Capitol agreed.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said, “The president’s decision was the absolute right decision. … It’s about time that a decision is made to restore the warrior culture and allow the U.S. military to get back to business.”

Transgender people already in uniform were concerned about what comes next.

“Everybody is hurt, everybody is scared,” said Rudy Akbarian, 26, who is in the military but did not want to identify his branch.

Akbarian, who said his chain of command was supportive as he transitioned from female to male, said his time to re-enlist is coming up and he might stay to ensure there is a strong voice for transgender troops like himself.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Defense Department was working with the White House to “address the new guidance” from Trump. That suggested there is not yet any new written policy or executive order.

Trump’s sudden declaration appears to halt a decades-long trend toward more inclusive policies on military service, including the repeal in 2010 of a ban on gays serving openly. President Bill Clinton in 1993 began the push to allow gays to serve. In December 2015, President Barack Obama’s Pentagon chief, Ash Carter, announced that all military positions would be open to women. Liberalizing policy on transgender troops was the next step.

Just last week, when asked about the transgender issue at a Senate hearing, Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “I am an advocate of every qualified person who can meet the physical standards to serve in our uniformed services to be able to do so.” He mentioned no opposition among service chiefs to allowing transgender service.

Transgender service members have been able to serve openly since 2016, when Carter ended the ban. Since Oct. 1, transgender troops could receive medical care and start changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon’s personnel system.

Carter also gave the services until July 1 to develop policies to allow people already identifying as transgender to join the military if they meet normal standards and have been stable in their identified genders for 18 months.

On June 30, Mattis extended the July 1 deadline to next Jan. 1, saying the services should study the impact on the “readiness and lethality of our forces.” That is the prism through which Mattis has viewed most, if not all, personnel issues. Just last week he ordered a high-level Pentagon review aimed at verifying that all military personnel policies “support and enhance warfighting readiness and force lethality.”

In a series of tweets, Trump said allowing transgender troops to serve is an unacceptable burden on the military’s ability to fight and win wars.

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” he wrote.

The Rand Corp., a federally funded think tank, has estimated that extending gender transition-related health care coverage to transgender personnel would cost the military $2.4 million to $8.4 million a year, out of a yearly Pentagon budget of more than $600 billion.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had made “a military decision.” She said it was his judgment that allowing transgender service “erodes military readiness and unit cohesion.”

Sanders said the “president’s national security team was part of this consultation” and that Trump “informed” Mattis of his decision immediately after he made it on Tuesday.


Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Vivian Salama contributed to this report.

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Summer treat: Polar bears frolic in load of donated snow in Finland

3 hours 3 min ago

HELSINKI — Polar bear mom Venus has gotten a summer treat — a chance to frolic in the snow with her eight-month-old cub despite the heat enveloping Finland’s northern Lapland.

A pile of snow has been dumped onto their home at Ranua Wildlife Park, 760 kilometers (470 miles) north of Helsinki. It was donated by the Ruka ski center to help cool down the polar bears, who were suffering in unusual temperatures of 24 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit).

Marko Junttila, Ranua Zoo via APVenus the polar bear of the Ranua Zoo enjoys the snow in the polar bear’s enclosure in Ranua, Finnish Lapland on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Related Articles

Venus’ cub, who has not been named yet, took his fledgling steps out of hibernation in March when he jumped out into the fresh Arctic snow. On Wednesday he enjoyed the new snow.

Ranua is home to 200 animals, including 50 other Arctic species such as arctic foxes, geese, cranes, minks, buzzards, owls, otters, reindeer and wolverine.

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What the heck is a vote-a-rama?

3 hours 8 min ago

WASHINGTON — Sleep well, wear comfortable shoes and bring lots of snacks. That’s the advice floating around the north end of the U.S. Capitol as the Senate prepares to embark on one of its most unique, byzantine — and useless, depending on whom you ask — traditions.

The ritual of ‘vote-a-rama’ (yes, that’s an official term) is what stands between Republican senators and their long-sought goal to repeal and replace Obamacare. It’s expected to begin sometime on Thursday.

Senators must endure dozens of policy amendments in rapid-fire succession stretching late into the night, a marathon procedure former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg once described as ‘the Senate’s equivalent to Chinese water torture.’

Only after the Democrats tire themselves out do Republican leaders get the opportunity to tee up a final vote on some sort of health care proposal, although the end game remains extraordinarily fuzzy at this point.

Why endure upward of 12 hours of legislative abuse?

Republicans chose this route because it allows them to bypass a Democratic filibuster, the traditional tool for delaying or blocking votes.

With 52 senators, the GOP is eight votes shy of a filibuster-proof majority. That leaves the party with the option of working with Democrats on legislation, which would be tough since Democrats won’t do anything to jeopardize Obamacare, or work around them using special budget legislation that requires only 50 senators to pass.

Republicans chose the latter. (They’re planning to do the same with a tax overhaul next year.)

Part of the deal with that special budget legislation, however, is that they must partake in a vote-a-rama.

Senators typically vote late into the night on alternating Democratic and Republican amendments, with little more than a minute or two of debate on each. It’s a radical departure from the chamber’s typically slow and dull approach, where party leaders will go to great lengths to protect their lawmakers from tough votes.

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The scene it produces on the Senate floor is as fascinating as it is mundane. Senators sit at their desks, a rare sight, reading newspapers and magazines, chewing on candy from the chamber’s designated sweets drawer and thumbing their smartphones as their colleagues give short speeches or cast votes. Often there is takeout delivered to the chamber’s back rooms, which commonly blast out the evening’s professional sporting event of choice.

–It’s not a very pleasant experience,’ said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. ‘For a while you enjoy it, and then all of a sudden after six or seven hours you realize what a waste of time it is.’

The amendments senators vote on won’t carry the force of law even if they’re adopted. What they do is offer a messaging opportunity, particularly for Democrats.

As members of the minority party, Democrats don’t have control of the Senate floor and hence have little opportunity to go on the offensive when it comes to their policy agenda. Vote-a-rama offers that opportunity, and a chance to force colleagues to vote on tough, sometimes embarrassing issues that could come back to haunt them later on the campaign trail.

Democrats perennially tee up votes on climate change and instituting a carbon tax, issues that are popular with their base but often make Republicans squirm. It’s also common to see amendments that force senators to vote against issues they support more broadly due to technicalities or other details.

Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue wants to eliminate the vote-a-rama process as part of a larger budget overhaul effort.

–You pay attention because you never know when somebody slips in a real vote,’ he said. ‘If I do one thing in my time up here, it’s to change this budget process.’

Amendments on a wide array of issues beyond just health care are expected in the days ahead. But when it comes down to it, passage of any sort of Republican health care bill — whatever that may be — remains on the shoulders of a dozen or so wary GOP senators, the same moderates and conservatives leaders have failed to woo over the last several weeks.

How leaders move past that remains to be seen.

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Taylor Swift set to testify at Denver groping trial: “Never been so sure of anything in my life”

3 hours 50 min ago

Pre-trial documents suggest music superstar Taylor Swift is determined to reveal in graphic detail a nasty secret that she kept hidden for years until it was released to the world by the same man she accuses of sexual assault.

“Ms. Swift … will testify at trail, that (radio talk show host David) Mueller ‘put his hand under (her) dress and grabbed (her) bare ass,’ ” according to a motion filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Denver by her three Washington, D.C. attorneys. Swift intends to testify that she has “never been so sure of anything in (her) life.

Swift, who was 23 at the time of the alleged assault, is “absolutely certain of what Mueller did” and that it was intentional and “not an accident,” the document says. Swift never reported the incident to Denver police and did not acknowledge the alleged sexual assault until Mueller filed a civil lawsuit against her more than two years later in 2015.

The defense motion confirms that Swift will testify at the trial. The document was filed as a proposed “final pretrial order.”

Mueller, who was 51 and identified on radio as “Jackson,” claims that on June 2, 2013, Swift and co-defendants including her mother Andrea Swift, falsely accused him of improperly touching Swift at a pre-concert meet-and-greet at the Pepsi Center and then pressured his employer, Lincoln Financial, to fire him. He was fired two days later.

  • John Leyba, The Denver Post

    Taylor Swift performs to a sold out crowd June 2, 2013 during her Red Tour stop in Denver at Pepsi Center.

  • John Leyba, The Denver Post

    Taylor Swift performs to a sold out crowd June 2, 2013 during her Red Tour stop in Denver at Pepsi Center.

  • John Leyba, The Denver Post

    Taylor Swift performs to a sold out crowd June 2, 2013 during her Red Tour stop in Denver at Pepsi Center.

  • Taylor Swift plays the Pepsi Center in September.

  • DENVER, CO. - JUNE 02: Taylor Swift performs to a sold out crowd June 2, 2013 during her Red Tour stop in Denver at Pepsi Center. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post)

  • Taylor Swift performs to a sold out crowd June 2, 2013 during her Red Tour stop in Denver at Pepsi Center.

  • Taylor Swift performs to a sold out crowd June 2, 2013 at Denver'sPepsi Center.

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Swift claims that while she told her mother that Mueller lifted her dress and grabbed her that neither she nor her mother spoke with his bosses at KYGO. Although her manager, Frank Bell, notified KYGO officials about the incident, “at no time did Mr. Bell, or any other defendant, ask KYGO to take any specific action.”

The document says that seven KYGO personnel participated in an investigation of the incident, which included reviewing a photograph witnesses consider “damning,” before independently firing Mueller for violating the morality clause of his contract.

Swift countersued Mueller claiming assault and battery and is seeking reimbursement for attorneys fees and costs in defending a “frivolous lawsuit,” the document says. It asserts defenses of “unclean hands” based on Mueller’s “wrongful, unconscionable” conduct.

The motion by the defense attorneys lists the names of witnesses planning to testify at the trial set to begin on Aug. 7. In addition to Swift, those witness include her mother and her manager.

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Swift did not know Mueller before the incident and she didn’t direct anyone to have Mueller fired, the motion says.

“She will also testify that she had no reason or motive to accuse Mueller of inappropriately touching her,” the motion says.

Other witnesses will include Swift’s photographer, who took the photograph that captured the alleged assault, and will testify about Swift’s reaction. Swift’s bodyguard Greg Dent, who was present when the photograph was taken, also will testify about Mueller’s conduct.

Expert witnesses will include economist Jeffrey Opp, who will testify about damages caused by Mueller’s “defamation.” Jason Briody, director of forensic services at Atlanta Data Forensics, will testify regarding the destruction by Mueller of a two-hour recording of the interview between him and his bosses the day before he was fired. Last week, U.S. District Judge William Martinez  sanctioned Mueller for destroying four devices potentially containing the recording including his computer, cellular phone and iPad.

Bayard de Volo, chair and associate professor of women and gender studies at the University of Colorado, will testify about emotional and psychological traits associated with victims of sexual assault and harassment.

The document indicates that Mueller and Swift’s attorneys engaged in settlement discussions, but details about those discussions were sealed.

“Counsel for the parties have no current plans to hold future conferences, but are open to continuing settlement discussions,” the motion says.

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