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Major funds blink in a duel with smaller investors on GameStop

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GameStop is simply a place to buy a video game in much of America. It’s been a battlefield on Wall Street, however, where swarms of smaller investors find themselves make an unprecedented stand against the 1%.

In loss, the funds representing the financial elite tend to walk away. The major bets they made that the stock of GameStop would collapse went wrong, leaving them facing collective losses of billions of dollars. On Wednesday, all the crazy activity drove GameStop’s stock as high as $380, up from $18 just a couple of weeks earlier.

The stunning takeover of power gives smaller-pocketed investors some affirmation, many of whom are urging each other on Reddit and are exchanging stocks for the first time due to free-trading software provided by brokerages. More investors on Wall Street are now left wondering whether the stock market is going to pop into a risky bubble when AMC Entertainment, Bed Bath & Beyond and other downtrodden stocks are unexpectedly surging as well. Earlier this week, the S&P 500 reached a new high, but it dropped on Wednesday.

Two betting companies that had made bets to drop the price of GameStop’s money-losing stock have effectively thrown in the towel. One, Citron Research, admitted in a YouTube video on Wednesday that it unwound the bulk of its bet and took “a loss, 100 percent” to do so. But Andrew Left, who runs Citron, said it didn’t change his opinion that the stock of GameStop will actually go down.

“We’re moving on,” said Left. For GameStop, little has improved but the stock price,” He also said he has “consumer respect,” which can run up stock prices far higher than where critics say they should be, at least for a while.”

Melvin Capital is also leaving GameStop, with CNBC being told by founder Gabe Plotkin that the hedge fund was suffering a huge loss. He dismissed reports that the hedge fund was going to collapse. The scale of the damages that Citron and Melvin have suffered is uncertain.

GameStop’s stock has been struggling for a long time previous to the recent blast. As purchases of video games are gradually moving online, the business has been losing money for years, and its shares plummeted for six consecutive years before rebounding in 2020.

This forced many experienced investors to make bets that the supply of GameStop would drop even further. In these bets, known as “short sales,” investors borrow a share and sell it in hopes of buying it back at a cheaper price later and pocketing the difference. GameStop is one of Wall Street’s busiest stocks.

But its shares started rising sharply earlier this month after the company’s board was replaced by a co-founder of Chewy, the online supplier of pet supplies. The theory is that when it relies more on digital purchases and closes brick-and-mortar stores, he will assist with the restructuring of the business. Its stock soared from less than $18 on Jan. 11, to $19.94. It looked like an enormous change for the stock at the moment.

Meanwhile, smaller investors exhorted each other online to keep the price of GameStop rolling higher.

The raucous conversations are full of sarcasm, self-deprecation and space ship emojis that reflect the expectation that the stock of GameStop would launch to the moon.

What’s the latest logical selling point (over 200? 500?) so I don’t have to watch this ticker every second until Friday/Monday?????? “In a Reddit thread Tuesday afternoon, one person wrote as GameStop soared. “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING,” noting that there were other things they wanted to do.

There is no overriding explanation why this cavalcade of smaller and first-time buyers has been drawn by GameStop, but there is a distinct dimension of retaliation in online communications against Wall Street.

One person posted on Reddit: “The same wealthy people who caused the market crash in 2007/08 are still in power and continue to manipulate the market to get even richer, we’re just taking back our fair share.”

Another person said, “Hey Mom, I can’t come over for dinner.” “I’m bankrupting the boys’ 10-figure hedge fund.”

The war has also produced huge financial losses for Wall Street players, who shortened the stock of GameStop, above personal attacks.

They had to buy shares to do so as GameStop’s profits rose and short sellers hurried to get out of their bets. That also further amplified the momentum, forming a feedback loop. According to S3 Partners, short sellers of GameStop were still down by more than $5 billion in 2021 as of Tuesday.

Most of Wall Street’s expertise remains sceptical that the portfolio of GameStop will hang on to its enormous gains. The firm is unlikely to start making significant enough gains anytime soon to support its $22.2 billion market value, analysts claim. The stock closed at $347.51 on Wednesday. BofA Global Research analysts increased their price target to $10 on Wednesday.

All the mania raises some doubt that consumers are taking unnecessary chances, and on Wednesday, reporters asked Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell whether the Fed’s drive to stabilise markets during the pandemic is helping to push stock prices too far.

Powell downplayed the position of low interest rates and pointed to the hopes of buyers for COVID-19 vaccinations as triggers for record stock markets and further support from Washington for the economy.

On Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission said that it had found all the uncertainty in the market, but it did not clearly name GameStop. The Agency has reported that it is “working with our fellow regulators to evaluate the situation and review the activities of market investors.”

The Reddit chat group later on Wednesday, where much of the GameStop stock drive, dubbed r/WallStreetBets, took place, was taken private, leaving it unavailable to outsiders. Any long-time users even took to Twitter to state that they could not use it anymore. A Reddit spokesperson stated that it was taken private by the group’s moderators, but gave no further comment.

Furthermore, a text and audio chat community also named r/WallStreetBets was shut down by the gamer-friendly site Discord for “continuing to allow hateful and discriminatory content after repeated warnings,” the organisation said in a release.

For historical purposes, Discord said it tracked that party, named a “server,” for “some time” because of persistent breaches of its laws, including hate speech, glorifying abuse and promoting disinformation, and sent numerous notices to its administrator.

“To be clear, due to financial fraud related to GameStop or other stocks, we did not ban this server,” Discord said. “We are monitoring this situation and we will cooperate with the authorities as appropriate in the event of allegations of illegal activity.”

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Mahesh is leading digital marketing initiatives at RecentlyHeard, a NewsFeed platform that covers news from all sectors. He develops, manages, and executes digital strategies to increase online visibility, better reach target audiences, and create engaging experience across channels. With 7+ years of experience, He is skilled in search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, and advertising, and analytics.

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Denver’s closed Civic Center Park has host of problems — but crime’s not on the rise, data shows

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Denver’s closed Civic Center Park has host of problems — but crime’s not on the rise, data shows

Civic Center Park is officially closed. Anyone who bypasses the barricades and fencing around the national landmark between the Colorado Capitol and the Denver City and County Building risks being ticketed. It’s for the public’s own good, Denver leaders say.

In a news release announcing the temporary closure of the park and two adjacent properties, city officials said the areas “have become a hotspot for violence, crime, drug sales and substance misuse.” Scott Gilmore, deputy director of the city’s parks department, emphasized to CBS Denver that recent violent incidents were a driver of the shutdown.

But Denver police data doesn’t show an uptick in reported crime in Civic Center. Instead, crime levels have remained relatively stable in recent years, according to data analyzed by The Denver Post.

Denver police Chief Paul Pazen, in an interview, emphasized that the closure call was not made by his department.

“We’re not going to pretend we don’t have challenges over there,” he said of the downtown park. “Our focus is addressing the drug dealers and trying to hold them accountable for the harm they’re creating in the community.”

Crome statistics aside, city leaders have provided a laundry list of environmental and public health risks they say made a shutdown the only option. At a time when downtown Denver is struggling to rebound from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and there is an effort to rebrand and reinvigorate the eastern end of downtown near Civic Center, the closure is a period of short-term pain that will lead to a long-term improvement to civic life, leaders insist.

“There is a great deal of human waste and trash that is in the park. A lot of needles. A lot of discarded food,” Denver parks department spokeswoman Cynthia Karvaski said, adding that the food and trash are attracting rats. “We needed to come up with an operational plan that was sustainable and we weren’t able to do that with the park open.”

Civic Center long has had a reputation for being a hotbed for drug dealing and drug use. The refrain from city leaders ahead of the park shutdown had been that things were different this summer.

People openly shooting up and other things like aggressive — but not outright violent — behavior might not show up in crime reports but it impacts life in the park, said Eric Lazzari, executive director of the nonprofit Civic Center Conservancy.

For Lazzari, sitting at a table for lunch during a Civic Center Eats food truck event this summer and having another man sit at the same table and inject himself with an unknown substance hammered home how dire things had become.

“We are absolutely supportive of what the city did,” he said. “It was a necessary step. It had gotten to that point.”

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Denver police officers detain two men from a homeless encampment at Civic Center Park in Denver on Sept. 7, 2021. The city of Denver has temporarily shut down Civic Center Park, citing health and safety issues.

Civic Center Park crime data

In its analysis, The Post looked at all crimes reported in the park, around the Pioneer Monument Fountain, the Wellington Webb Municipal Office Building and the major intersections that surround the park between Jan. 1, 2016, and Aug. 31, 2021. The area around the fountain and a strip of park space on the east side of the Webb building also have been shut down during the Civic Center cleanup.

There were 222 total crimes reported in that area in the first eight months of 2021, the data shows. That’s more than the 204 reported in that same time period in 2020 but fewer than the 284 reported in 2019. Between 2016 and 2020, the police department received an average of 323 crime reports in the first eight months of each year.

Violent crimes like assaults, robberies and homicides also have not changed substantially. Denver police recorded 20 such crimes through August of this year. That’s the same as the average count for the previous five years in that time period.

There had not been a homicide recorded in the park in the previous five years, but 2021 brought an end to that.

Jalen Adams, 28, was killed and two others injured in an Aug. 6 shooting at the park. That came after another man was shot and killed in the park on March 8.

Property crimes like theft and burglary have fallen, the data shows, though reports of drug sales and use have increased in the last three years.

Narcotics are the primary driver of crime and violence in the park, Pazen said.

Police previously had identified the area around the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Broadway as one of the five crime hotspots in the city in 2020.

But Pazen told City Council members at an Aug. 9 meeting of the council’s Public Safety Working Group that the department and others had successfully quelled the violence in that area after efforts like increased bike patrols and cleanups.

“The downtown hotspot, we see a shift. We primarily saw hotspot activity around the Colfax and Broadway location in 2020 and as you can see from the density map of 2021 that shift is primarily around the Ballpark neighborhood and the LoDo area,” he said.

Pazen said that the Civic Center closure will disperse drug dealers who sell in the park. The crime will return when the park reopens, but he said that temporarily dispersing them could reduce the intensity of the problem.

“Displacement is an issue we have to monitor,” he said. “You can be making positive change in certain areas, but you have to ensure that you’re not blind to moving this to another location.”

1632055139 626 Denvers closed Civic Center Park has host of problems —

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Abher Miranda, front left, and Joel Meyering, front right, from Denver’s Parks and Recreation Department, tie fences together with steel wire at Civic Center Park in Denver on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021.

Disruptions

Denver parks crews got to work at 4 a.m. Wednesday putting up the remaining fencing now surrounding Civic Center. The city temporarily closed the park in the spring of 2020 to support social distancing at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Karvaski said. She couldn’t remember another time the public had been barred from the park before that.

The decision wasn’t made by the parks department alone. The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver police and Mayor Michael Hancock’s office all contributed, according to Karvaski.

“Parks personnel — rangers and clean-up staff — were having a hard time performing their jobs because of everything that was occurring in the park. They were being harassed, etc.,” she said of what led to the decision.

Gilmore initially said the park would be closed for at least two months, time enough to accommodate turf restoration, tree trimming, lighting improvements, camera upgrades and other work. Karvaski said some areas could reopen sooner than that depending on progress.

1632055139 999 Denvers closed Civic Center Park has host of problems —

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Scott Gilmore, deputy director of the city’s parks department, collects trash at Civic Center Park on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021.

She feels there is a misconception that the shutdown is an excuse to run off people who sleep in the park. City parks already are closed between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., she said. Tents and other temporary structures aren’t allowed, even they have been a common sight in Civic Center at times during the summer.

“We don’t have encampments in the parks, particularly in our downtown parks,” Karvaski said.

Leaders of several organizations that serve the people who spend their days in the park, many of whom are unhoused, said they support the closure. But they also worry the closure will scatter people who need and use their services.

“We have been in this position before. All it does is force the individuals in the park deeper into the community,” said Ean Thomas Tafoya, founder of mutual aid organization Headwaters Protectors, which picks up trash and delivers water to the unhoused community in Civic Center and elsewhere around town.

Jennifer Kloeppel, CEO of Showers for All, said her organization, which provides showers and laundry services, supports the closure even though it has disrupted their twice-weekly Civic Center Park service days. They plan to start providing nearby services in the next few weeks.

Kloeppel said the atmosphere in the park changed toward the end of August.

“I’ve never felt unsafe being around the unsheltered community,” she said. “It was when I saw an influx of people coming in that were inciting violence that weren’t part of the regular unhoused community there.”

The discussions around the park closure could lead to some positive changes, in Tafoya’s view. For one, it has brought charitable groups together to talk about the work they do in the park. Tafoya wants to focus on how the services they provide can be updated to reduce negative side effects.

“We have a lot of people coming in to do feedings but they’re not thinking about harm reduction,” he said. “They are dropping off way more food than could be consumed without refrigeration and that ultimately ends up being used against these individuals.”

1632055139 658 Denvers closed Civic Center Park has host of problems —

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

People are asked to leave a homeless camp site near Civic Center Park in Denver on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021.

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Denver lands in top 3 spot for hottest summer on record

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Denver lands in top 3 spot for hottest summer on record

In a normal year, Denver will see an average of 46 days of 90-degree heat. That number has been ever-increasing as our summers have been getting warmer and warmer over the years.

When we talk about heat in Denver, it’s usually customary to reference the number of 90- and 100-degree heat days to give an idea of where we stand in terms of how hot a season has been.

This year, much like recent years, has provided the Front Range with a huge surplus of days with intense heat. So far, through mid-September, Denver has felt 90-degree heat on 57 days, well above the normal 46 days. Nine out of the top 10 years with the most days of 90-degree heat have happened since 2000.

Denver has felt 100-degree heat for 5 days this year which ties the city for third place for the most number of 100-degree days behind 2012 (13 days) and 2005 (7 days). Interestingly, prior to 2000, it was pretty rare to feel 100-degree heat in the city. From 1872 (when weather records began to be collected in Denver) to 2000, Denver averaged zero days of 100-degree heat. It just wasn’t the norm. From 2000 to now, Denver has averaged 3 days of 100-degree heat per year. A notable upward trend.

Data from ClimateCentral shows that Denver’s average summer temperatures have warmed by 2.6-degrees since 1970 and we experience 17 more days of 95-degree heat per year than the 1970s. This trend of hotter weather is a factor that should be realized when planning for the future. There is simply more hot weather expected now than there was before.

On a national level, the United States just experienced a hotter summer (June-August) than the Dust Bowl of 1936. California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho and Utah all had their hottest summer on record this year. Colorado as a whole had its fourth warmest summer on record and Denver ranked third for hottest summers ever with an average temperature of 74.6-degrees.

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From Western Slope to Eastern Plains, Colorado agriculture under pressure to adapt to warming world

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From Western Slope to Eastern Plains, Colorado agriculture under pressure to adapt to warming world

Not long after Paul Bruchez’s family bought a ranch along the Colorado River near Kremmling, his father became ill amid a crippling drought in 2002 that left them without irrigation water.

“The family conversation was we either need to be involved and create some positive change or we need to go,” Bruchez recalled. “Dad said we’re going to fight for what we have. I’ve been doing it ever since then.”

The 40-year-old Bruchez is a fifth-generation Colorado farmer and rancher and is vice chairman of the Colorado Basin Roundtable. He works with area ranchers, environmentalists, scientists and local and state officials on conserving water and restoring stretches of the Colorado River for irrigators and wildlife.

“From my perspective, if we don’t fight for it, no one will,” said Bruchez.

Bruchez acknowledges the fight farmers and ranchers are in could determine not just the future of his family’s ranch, but the future of agriculture in Colorado and beyond. Whether it’s called climate change or long-term drought, the hotter, drier weather is threatening water supplies and crop yields, and is driving ranchers to cut herd sizes or find greener pastures elsewhere for the animals.

Agriculture is one of Colorado’s major industries, contributing $47 billion annually and supporting nearly 200,000 jobs, according to state data.  A state task force projects that drought could cost the state an additional $830 million in annual damages by 2050, with $511 million of that occurring agriculture alone.

An analysis by The Washington Post highlights the climate change challenge facing the region. Based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data between 1895 and 2019, the analysis found that a group of counties in northwest Colorado and eastern Utah warmed more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s double the global average.

According to the Colorado Climate Center, this summer has been the second-warmest on record for western Colorado.

“We’ve seen some of the most significant warming in the country showing up over parts of western Colorado. That’s really consistent with what climate change reports were predicting,” said Becky Bolinger, assistant state climatologist.

But the rest of Colorado has not been spared. Statewide, this August was the 14th-warmest August in 127 years. In 2020, all of Colorado was declared in drought or abnormally dry for the first time in eight years.

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

John Stulp inspects a wheat field after harvesting at Stulp Farms in Lamar on Friday, July 30, 2021.

Lamar farmer and rancher John Stulp said a former state climatologist told him that Colorado is so large, there’s rarely a part of the state that isn’t in drought.

“But it just seems like they’re getting bigger and lasting longer. And they’re also getting shorter, closer together,” said Stulp, a former state agriculture commissioner. He was a special water policy adviser to former Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Southeast Colorado, where his family has farmed dryland wheat for about 50 years, is always on the edge of a drought, Stulp said. This year, the fields started turning brown when the moisture didn’t come in March and April.

“It was starting to die and then in the first of May we started getting some rains. We had over 4 inches of rain here in three, four, five significant rains in May,” Stulp said.

And while he ended up with a good crop, Stulp called the warming trend “a slow moving train coming down the track,” straining water supplies and producing less snowpack in the mountains to feed the rivers. Agriculture will face pressure to use less.

“We’re already seeing the cutbacks,” said Stulp.

The first-ever declared shortages on the Colorado River have prompted voluntary and mandatory cutbacks. In Arizona, one of seven states that divvy up the water under a 1922 compact, farmers are expected to bear the brunt.

The Colorado River compact will be renegotiated by 2026. The states covered by the agreement are Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California.

More efficient irrigation methods return more water to the system, Stulp said. “It’s estimated that some water is used and reused six or seven times before it leaves the state.”

Stulp said the move toward not plowing a field after harvest, leaving the stubble of plants as cover to retain moisture and nutrients and prevent soil from blowing away, has increased farmers’ yields.

1632054251 598 From Western Slope to Eastern Plains Colorado agriculture under pressure

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Stulp Farms in Lamar is pictured from above on Friday, July 30, 2021.

Growing food for the world

As in other Western states, the lion’s share of the water in Colorado goes to agriculture. The Colorado Department of Natural Resources figures put the percentage at 85.2%, while 6.6% goes to commercial and municipal uses.

Bruchez was on a panel discussion three years ago when a reporter asked if there are problems with water quality and supply and if agriculture uses most of the water, why not just cut the flows to farmers and ranchers? He said he asked the reporter if he enjoyed his lunch that day. The reporter did.

“And I’m like, ‘When you say ag water, that’s what we do, grow food to feed the world,’”  Bruchez recounted.

The Colorado River, which runs through the family’s ranch, is key to being able to keep producing food, Bruchez said. The lifelong fly fisherman who oversees the family’s fishing guide business worked with the conservation group Trout Unlimited and area ranchers to raise money and obtain grants to build riffles in the river. The structures mimic natural features where rocks break the water surface, improving fish habitat by increasing oxygen and the presence of insects that feed fish.

Riffles also help to raise the water table, which greatly aided Bruchez’s neighbors, Bill and Wendy Thompson. The structures raised the water levels at their irrigation intakes on the river.

“The water was so low I couldn’t get my water out of the river. The intakes were sticking out in the air,” said Bill Thompson, a former area water commissioner for the state.

1632054252 685 From Western Slope to Eastern Plains Colorado agriculture under pressure

Photos by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

LEFT: Long time rancher and former Grand County water commissioner Bill Thompson leans against his trailer next to his wife Wendy on their ranch in Kremmling, Colo., on Aug. 31, 2021. Thompson has been a rancher his entire life in the valley but the struggles of maintaining that life get harder every year with climate change, drought and people selling off their land. “We are in debt up to our eyeballs,” he said. RIGHT: Rancher Paul Bruchez walks along the banks of the Colorado River where he helped build a man-made riffle, seen in the river behind him, for Thompson.

Bruchez has rallied area ranchers to participate in a study to figure out how much water hay grown at high altitudes consumes and how long it takes a field to recover after a period of no irrigation. Results will provide information the Colorado Water Conservation Board needs as it determines the feasibility of voluntary reductions in irrigation.

Access to water looms large for Harrison Topp. He raises peaches, cherries, apples and “sundry other fruit” in a family-owned business in Hotchkiss and Paonia. He said the last year has been a roller coaster:  drought, a fruit-killing freeze in 2020, the closures of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon because of mudslides from heavy rains on slopes left bare by last year’s wildfires.

The I-70 closures have cost farmers time and money, according to a report by the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and the Colorado State University Extension. At the time of the closures, one farmer estimated he would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if reliable transportation wasn’t restored.

“We do our own deliveries to the Front Range, so the cost associated with it was time and mileage,” Topp said.

What is really wearing on Topp is the existential threat of a warming climate.

“In the darkest moments, I’m on the verge of panic about the state of water and climatic volatility and climate change overall,” the 35-year-old Topp said.

Topp said everyone has a stake in figuring out if agriculture is sustainable in certain parts of the state. He said farmers and ranchers can stay in business with access to adequate water and support from state and federal governments to recover from extreme weather and natural disasters.

“The ultimate end user of that water is the person who eats that food, whether it’s a steak or a peach or a cantaloupe or an ear of corn,” Topp said.

Mesa County rancher Janie VanWinkle makes the same point by referring to food production rather than agriculture. She believes the public, most of whom live in cities, doesn’t see the connections between her family’s work and the food on their plates.

VanWinkle’s son, Dean, who graduated from college in May and returned to Colorado to work with his parents, was emphatic when asked how viable agriculture is in a warming climate.

“With the most respect, I don’t think that’s a real question because without agriculture, what are people going to eat?” the younger VanWinkle asked.

1632054252 895 From Western Slope to Eastern Plains Colorado agriculture under pressure

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Rancher Roberta Dalton smiles and looks to the sky as a small passing rain storm drops sprinkles of rain in the paddocks at her ranch in Whitewater, Colo., on Sept. 1, 2021. Every bit of rainfall is celebrated by ranchers in this area marked by continued drought.

“A lifestyle we love”

Roberta Dalton worked 31 years for the U.S. Postal Service and seven years in the airline industry. She was in the Army and lived in Kentucky. But she has always returned to the Grand Valley and to the way of life she loves: ranching.

This year, though, Dalton feared her ranch was on the brink. She and her former husband, Pat, who’s still her business partner, took most of their cattle to Wyoming where the forage is better. At their place in Whitewater, just south of Grand Junction, there wasn’t enough water to harvest hay.

“The field is alive, but beyond that there was no production,” Dalton said.

Thirty of her cow-calf pairs are in a nearby pasture at her son-in-law’s place and 70 will stay in Jeffrey City, Wyo., until around the first of November. The Daltons signed a contract after looking around for a while.

“It was tough. We were getting down to the wire where we were going to load them on a truck and take them to a sale,” Dalton said. “That would’ve been the end of our cattle ranching.

“But it’s a lifestyle we love so we’ll hold out while we can,” she said.

Ranchers in other parts of Colorado and in other states are facing the same plight. Extreme drought in parts of North Dakota have dried up feed crops for cattle, leading to earlier-than-planned trips to the auction barns.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture doesn’t track cattle sales driven by drought, spokeswoman Olga Robak said, but the department shared stories from farmers and ranchers during a recent tour of drought-stricken areas. Northwest Coloradans reported drastically reducing their herds, selling their haying equipment because there is no hay, battling insect infestations and getting only 0.35 of an inch of rain in two and half months.

1632054252 956 From Western Slope to Eastern Plains Colorado agriculture under pressure

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

A woman fly fishes in the heavily receding waters of Green Mountain Reservoir in Heeney, Colo., on Aug. 31, 2021. The reservoir was built to replace water to the Colorado River that is diverted to the Front Range through the Big Thompson Project. It is a storage reservoir so the levels will fluctuate as water is called for on the Western Slope. One of the biggest reservoirs in Summit County, it is about 17 billion gallons below normal so far this year.

“The dual challenge in agriculture is struggling to survive at the industry level, but more importantly at the individual level, especially this year when folks are going out of business. We’re doing a lot of work on mental health because of the impacts,” said Kate Greenberg, state agriculture commissioner.

Monsoon rains, absent three of the last four summers, showed up this year, providing relief for the southwest part of the state and pulling the Eastern Plains out of drought. However, Bolinger, assistant state climatologist, said short-term dryness is returning after several hot days and spotty rainfall.

And much of northwest and southwest Colorado remain in exceptional, extreme or severe drought,  according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. 

Colorado experienced three of its largest wildfires on record in 2020. This year, people from the West Slope to the Front Range have struggled with layers of smoke blowing in from huge wildfires on the West Coast.

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As ICU beds fill up, Colorado hospitals beg public to get vaccinated against COVID — and the flu

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As ICU beds fill up, Colorado hospitals beg public to get vaccinated against COVID — and the flu

Colorado intensive care units are almost full, and a bad flu season could push them to the edge if coupled with continued spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Stephen Cobb, chief medical officer for Centura Health’s Denver region, said that hospitals are managing by postponing non-emergency surgeries and shifting staff around, but how the winter goes is at least partly up to the public.

It’s important to get vaccinated against both COVID-19 and the flu, to wear masks and maybe to avoid crowds for a while, he said. While most people don’t become seriously ill from the flu, older adults and young children are at higher risk.

“We desperately need the community to get vaccinated,” he said. “We’ve learned how much our behavior affects the kind of respiratory season we’re going to see.”

Last fall and winter, hospitals faced a tsunami of COVID-19, but a drop in other health care needs helped them withstand it. The flu season was almost nonexistent, due to masking and social distancing, and accidents were down as people spent more time at home. Now, people are out and about again, giving each other common viruses and getting injured.

COVID-19 patients are a minority of all patients in Colorado intensive-care units, but there’s little room to spare if the virus continues spreading.

On Sept. 10, the state reported fewer beds were available in intensive-care units than were during the worst days of the winter: 197. Scott Bookman, the state’s COVID-19 incident commander, said hospitals were activating their surge plans and converting general rooms to accept more intensive-care patients. Some also were closing outpatient clinics so they could move staff to higher-need units, he said.

The number of beds available fluctuates from day to day, and that number has risen and fallen since the state’s announcement. On Tuesday, the state reported 238 ICU beds were ready to use, but by Thursday, that dropped to 187. That’s about 11% of total capacity — the lowest level available since the pandemic started.

Those are statewide figures, though, and conditions are worse in some parts of Colorado.

Larimer County late last week alerted residents that ICU capacity in the county’s hospitals had been at or above 100% since Aug. 30 — and was at 107% on Thursday. COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county grew from 10 to 76 in the last two months, and nearly 40% of patients in the ICU in August and September had COVID-19, the county health department said.

“Once again I am pleading with our residents to take this situation seriously,” Tom Gonzales, director of the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, said in a message to residents. “We can no longer ask our hospitals to carry the burden of this preventable disease.”

“Taking up our ‘just in case’ bed”

Colorado’s relatively fortunate to have more than 10% of beds available statewide, and hospital leaders urged residents not to delay seeking care if they’re experiencing potentially dangerous symptoms, like chest pain. While many facilities are putting off non-emergency surgeries, they still have space to treat heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening conditions, Cobb said.

That’s not the case in some parts of the country.

In much of the South, at least 95% of ICU beds are full, and reports of patients dying for lack of a bed have started to emerge. An Alabama man died of a heart condition in early September after a full hospital called 43 intensive-care units but still couldn’t find him a bed, and a Texas man died of complications from gallstones, which could have been treated if a hospital had had space for him.

All of Idaho and parts of Alaska recently announced they were moving to “crisis standards of care,” a designation that provides legal cover for doctors and hospitals if they can’t give everyone an acceptable level of medical care. In practice, that may mean that a person who’s less likely to survive doesn’t get an intensive-care bed, to allow limited staff to focus on those who have the best chance.

Still, the situation isn’t exactly rosy in Colorado: about one in five hospitals reporting to the state said they could be short on staff in the next week, and 15% expected a shortage of ICU beds.

Colorado hospitals are managing by postponing elective procedures, discharging patients promptly, adjusting staff and declining to take transfers from other facilities when they don’t have a bed available, said Cara Welch, spokeswoman for the Colorado Hospital Association.

J.P. Valin, chief clinical officer for SCL Health, said about 90% of the people in the ICUs of their Colorado facilities are there for something other than COVID-19: accidents, strokes, emergency surgeries. They also have accepted some patients from neighboring states that have run out of space, he said.

The situation isn’t a “crisis,” but it’s important to reduce the strain on the system, so that beds are available for anyone who needs one, Valin said.

“We think a fair amount of this is still the legacy from delayed and deferred care,” he said. “What COVID patients are doing, they’re taking up our ‘just in case’ bed.”

Other hospitals also have seen a rise in patients. HealthOne reported admissions for COVID-19 had tripled in recent weeks, though they still are a relatively small fraction of all patients. About one-third of those patients need ICU care, which is in line with previous waves, spokeswoman Stephanie Sullivan said.

“There is no question that the current surge has put a strain on staffing across Colorado and the entire region, but we are grateful that our hospitals have been able to meet the needs of our patients,” she said in a statement.

Number of beds dependent on staff

As of 2018, Colorado had about 3.2 ICU beds for every 10,000 people, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s higher than the national average, but still doesn’t leave much room for surges. Hospitals don’t build substantially more space for patients than they expect to need on a regular basis, let alone employ enough nurses to handle unusually high levels of demand for months on end.

The discussion about beds is really about staff to care for the people in them, Valin said. Some ICU nurses have gone to work on less-demanding units, while others have left hospitals altogether or taken higher-paying jobs as travel nurses in the Southern states that are dealing with worse surges, he said.

“We have plenty of beds. We have plenty of ventilators. We have plenty of PPE,” he said, referring to personal protective equipment like masks and gloves.

Dr. Adit Ginde, an emergency medicine physician at UCHealth, said hospitals also are dealing with some vaccinated staff having to stay home because of COVID-19 symptoms. They haven’t become seriously ill, but it’s one more strain on a system that’s at capacity, he said. While severe illness is rare after COVID-19 vaccination, milder breakthrough infections are less so.

“We’re asking the community to do their part” by getting vaccinated and taking precautions, he said.

As of Thursday morning, UCHealth had 265 COVID-19 patients, which is just over the number at the peak of the first wave in April 2020, and some hospitals are following “surge plans” to free up beds, spokesman Dan Weaver said.

Both the UCHealth and SCL hospitals have been postponing some non-emergency care. That’s a category that includes anything that can be scheduled, including removing tumors or performing open-heart surgery, Valin said.

“You can imagine how hard that is for patients and families,” he said.

El Paso County Public Health announced late last week that it was changing its regional hospital capacity designation from level orange to level orange-red as beds continue to fill.

Dr. David Steinbruner, chief medical officer for UCHealth Memorial in Colorado Springs, said the network’s hospitals in the Pikes Peak region were seeing record numbers of patients seeking care for COVID-19 and other health issues. On Thursday, UCHealth’s hospitals in the region were treating 90 patients with COVID-19, a number not seen since the deadly winter wave was subsiding in January.

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Ken Burns on his new “Muhammed Ali” doc, Denver’s guest-starring role

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Ken Burns on his new “Muhammed Ali” doc, Denver’s guest-starring role

On June 18, 1963, after besting Henry Cooper in a match in London, 21-year-old Cassius Clay turned his attention to Denver-based boxer Sonny Liston — the only thing standing between Clay and the world heavyweight title.

“Liston will fall in eight (rounds) to prove that I am great,” Clay told the assembled cameras, having referred to Liston as a “tramp,” a “bum” and an “ugly bear.”

Liston responded in kind: “Well, I imagine that if he would come to me, I’d kill him,” he said in a TV interview. “And if he (runs), I’m going to catch him and kill him.”

Clay did come to him, in fact. The psychological game that Clay was so masterful at included driving from Chicago to Denver in an old bus he owned, emblazoned with the “Liston will go in eight” boast, before an event that solidified their high-profile fight. Ever the needler, Clay pulled his bus into Liston’s Denver neighborhood (Liston once said, “I’d rather be a lamppost in Denver than the mayor of Philadelphia”) at 1 a.m. on Nov. 5, 1963, and laid on the horn.

“We woke him up and he came out in the middle of the night in his underclothes, his robe, and he had a big stick …,” Clay later said. “He got mad and we argued for about an hour, and then the (Denver) police came with dogs. … The scene that we had that night, it was a major thing. Martin Luther King was demonstrating (it)” outside of Denver.

The trip culminated in a press conference at Denver’s downtown Hilton in which the boxers committed to a February 1964 fight in Miami Beach, Fla. Clay, who would soon change his name to Muhammad Ali, backed up his boasts in a stunning upset, defeating Liston in a seventh-round technical knockout.

Ed Kolenovsky, The Associated Press

Former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali smiles as his attorney Hayden Covington talks to newsmen after Ali was arraigned and bond was set at $5,000, May 8, 1967, in Houston. Ali pleaded “not guilty” on a charge of refusing the be drafted into the Armed Forces. They are seen after the bond was posted.

“It’s just classic Ali,” said director Ken Burns, who produced a new, four-part PBS series, “Muhammad Ali,” that recounts these and dozens of other stories. “You don’t need a promoter, really, when you’ve got the greatest promoter on earth. He understood that … and he made the news enough in Denver that almost 60 years after the fact, documentary filmmakers felt it was worthy enough to tell that story.”

The 2½-hour “Round One,” directed by the Emmy-winning Burns, covers Ali’s career from 1942 through 1964. It premieres at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 19, on the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel. The streaming service costs $4 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription, via amazon.com and streaming providers. The rest of the episodes arrive Sept. 20, 21 and 22, respectively.

While the first one follows Cassius Clay’s rise from “boastful amateur boxer to contender for the heavyweight championship,” as the doc puts it, there’s plenty in the ring for the other three rounds.

“We still have an authorship to it, but we’re not going to tell you what you already know,” Burns, 68, said of the oft-covered Ali.

The documentary was written and co-directed by Sarah Burns and David McMahon, whose collaborations with Burns include “The Central Park Five,” “Jackie Robinson” and “East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story.” As with all of Burns’ projects, the series puts Ali into a greater social context while also looking into his revolutionary persona through the lens of social justice.

Ali’s incredible, early-career accomplishments — including a 1960 Olympic gold medal win when he was a teenager — did little to prepare the world for his activism, conscientious objection from the Vietnam War, and conversion to Islam, the latter influenced in part by his discussions with Malcom X.

Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, left center, ...

Associated Press file

Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, left center, talks to the media in Louisville, Ky., after conferring with civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., right center, regarding the boxer’s draft status in this March 29, 1967 file photo. Ali was in his hometown for his court suit to prevent his Army induction April 28 in Houston. Later, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund represented Ali when the high court struck down his conviction for refusing to serve in the military.

“We found hundreds of interviews with him, thousands of hours of archival material, and conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with his friends and family,” Burns said of the series, which he and his editors cut down from more than 400 hours of visual storytelling. “There’s some anxiety about trying to find a new way to do it, because we wanted to do something that was extraordinarily deep.”

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Improving Investor Behavior: How do you measure your wealth?

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Improving Investor Behavior: How do you measure your wealth?

How do you measure your wealth? Most people assume there are two typical ways. The first is a simple money calculation that takes everything you own, subtracts everything you owe, and that formula gives you your net worth. Simple. Others say wealth is not a measure of the money one has but of the intangibles such as relationships, time, health, etc.

The trouble with the first approach is that money is simply a scorecard, a measure of available resources quantified in dollar bills. It misses out on everything that the second approach captures: the wealth found in personal connection and freedom of time. But it’s hard to pay your bills with friendship, so the second method misses out on some of the pragmatism found in the first. As a result, I think it’s essential to measure wealth with a combination of the two and with one simple word: value.

Steve Booren

Money is a byproduct of creating value for others. We are paid for the value we provide to others, and we pay others for the value they create for us. For example, I have no idea how the water in my plumbing works, but I know that in exchange for a number of dollars, I can hire someone who has spent their life understanding how it works and what is needed to keep it working. They create value for me with their skillset. Likewise, I create value by helping others understand what’s important about money and guiding them toward a bigger future. I receive money in exchange for that value.

So really, our wealth is not in the money we have, but rather in our ability to make that money. Our wealth does not come from the dollars themselves but from the knowledge and skills that generate those dollars. That’s our value, and that’s where we find the confidence so many are seeking.

In “Total Cash Confidence,” author Dan Sullivan refers to the acronym K.A.S.H. or knowledge, attitude, skills and habit. Taken together, these attributes are what creates confidence. K.A.S.H. confidence comes from understanding that you can provide value to someone when they want something done but don’t want, or know-how, to do it.

Going one step further, I think our wealth is a function of our value. Creating value for others often results in payment for that value. Create more value, receive more money. This recurring loop creates an endless marketplace of wealth for those who can help others. That payment may be monetary, but it also applies to relationships. Think about it: We invest our time and energy in those we choose to have around us. We create value by being there when they need us and receiving value when they do the same. In this way, our measure of wealth captures both the tangible and intangible. Whether the deposits go into our emotional bank or our regular bank, we can improve our wealth through the value we create.

This is why so many people struggle with the traditional idea of retirement. When people strive to achieve a certain portfolio balance and then quit their career, they aren’t retiring to anything. They aren’t going to something; they are moving away. When people are in the creation phase, their futures are more extensive. They receive intellectual, emotional, and resource deposits. When they “arrive” at a number or an age then decide to quit creating value and retire, their future tends to shrink. If the value of their portfolio decreases when they are no longer creating value for others, fear often sets in.

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Sunday Bulletin Board: ‘Are you out of your mind? You can get perfectly good chicken at the grocery store.’

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High school football: Ninth-ranked Woodbury rolls past Eagan 48-15

Our poultry, our ‘friends,’ ourselves

DEBK of Rosemount writes: “Chicken-butchering of 2021 has just concluded with Taxman’s stuffing the last of this year’s roosters into the freezer. Thus ends an effort that each August or September consumes a full week of our lives and moves me precipitously — though temporarily — toward vegetarianism. And friendlessness, too, as it happens.

“My women friends are a talented, hard-working, generous bunch, but every year when I mention that Taxman’s hatchet has been sharpened, they abandon me unceremoniously. Those who have experience in chicken-butchery are especially apt to be occupied with unspecified ‘other things’ during my hour of need. Euterpe, however, who is professionally trained in the wielding of knives (for culinary purposes) and whose Christianity ought to impel her to come to my aid, avoids all polite pretense. Her blunt refusal cuts to the quick, an injury aggravated by her calling into question my sanity and reminding me that ‘you can get perfectly good chicken in the grocery store.’

“She’s right on both counts. And every year as I’m elbow-deep in feathers and guts, I swear off raising our own ‘broilers,’ as we chicken people call the roosters we raise for eating. Alas, chicken-butchering is like child-bearing: A woman forgets how awful it is. No matter how ghastly the butchering season, by the time Stromberg’s spring chicken catalog arrives in the mail, I’m eager to place my order for Red Rangers.

“Maybe not in 2022, though. Oh, I’ll order broilers — but perhaps not my long-favored Red Rangers. This year, as we began the grisly harvest, I reported to Taxman that our birds seemed to be taking on traits of the Cornish Cross, the wildly popular breed chosen by real (as opposed to pretend) farmers and commercial chicken producers. Taxman concurred, noting that this year’s crop of Red Rangers had quickly attained the size and contours of young turkeys, eating us into the financial abyss as they did so. Moreover, the remarkable development of their foreparts (‘breasts,’ to us chicken folks) had rendered the young roosters almost immobile, the very trait that causes us to eschew the aforementioned Cornish Cross. Taxman and I like our free-range flock to be capable of ranging freely — or as far as Hamish, the resident border collie, will allow. Anyway, according to Taxman, only one of this year’s entire batch of broilers managed to hop over the fence into the laying hens’ pen, there to inaugurate a new breed, the Red Ranger/Speckled Sussex hybrid.”

Then & Now

And: In memoriam

CHRIS, “formerly of Falcon Heights, now from Beautiful White Bear Lake,” reported, on September 10: “Being a golfer, I love commemorative golf pins. I ordered this one early in September 2001. It arrived a week after the Twin Towers went down on September 11th.

“When I opened the package, I just stared at it in disbelief. It so upset me that from that day, it was in a box in the bottom of my dresser drawer — until today. I have an 8:30 tee time, and for the first time in 20 years, I am wearing it and remembering all the brave souls lost that day.”

And now KATHY S. of St. Paul: “Subject: A phone booth in New York where people talked to those lost on 9/11.

“NPR has a video online called ‘They Lost Loved Ones In 9/11. We Invited Them To Leave A Voicemail In Their Memory.’ It shows people who walked up to a phone booth where they talked to people they lost on 9/11.

“I saw how vivid their life-long pain is. But what I noticed most is guys who were willing to cry and express emotions on camera. I remember when Ed Muskie’s 1972 campaign to be the U.S. President was destroyed when (it was said) he cried while replying to a political dirty trick. A (guy) President was not allowed to show weakness, let alone tears, back then.

“As a fan of counseling and facing problems, I figure we have come a long way since 1972. And since 9/11.”

Live and learn

Or: One for the books

RED’S OFFSPRING, north of St. Paul, writes: “Subject: Lessons learned.

“In talking with my grandson Sam, I learned that biology is one of his sophomore classes. Hearing ‘biology,’ I was reminded of my high-school biology course at Cretin (many years prior to Cretin-Derham Hall).

“The teacher was Christian Brother Anthony. My memory flashed back to two classroom incidents that have stayed with me all these years.

“Incident one: On the first day of class, Brother told us to write our names on a sheet of paper, put ‘JMJ’ (‘Jesus, Mary, Joseph’) beneath our names, and write ‘Biology’ on the top line, in the center of the paper.

“I don’t recall what else we wrote before he collected the papers.

“He stood at the front of the room with our papers in his hand. He proceeded to fold each paper in half from top to bottom. He deposited most of the papers in the basket, while we wondered what he was doing.

“As he stood in front of us, holding just a few papers, he said: ‘I told you to write “Biology” in the “center” of the paper.’

“He didn’t give us a lecture about following directions. He didn’t need to. We got the message.

“Incident two: On the day of our first test, Brother passed out a blue book and a sheet with numerous paragraphs on it. The assignment was to find false information in the paragraphs and write corrections in the blue books. I have no recollection of how much I wrote.

“Lunch followed biology, and as we left, Brother announced: ‘I hope you wrote a lot, because all the information in the paragraphs was incorrect.’

“We could hardly wait to get to the lunchroom to tell our classmates what we’d found out about the test!

“As the next class was leaving Biology, Brother Anthony informed them they should have left the blue books blank, because everything in the paragraphs was true.

“There are some educational experiences you don’t forget.”

Live and learn

BIG EEK of Southeast Minneapolis: “When I was a prospective high-school teacher, the college arranged for each of us to spend two weeks in a nearby small town at the end of spring term, to get some practical experience. Another fellow and I went to W., 80 miles east of the city. As a math major, I shadowed Mr. B., who taught all the math in the school on the outskirts of town. I watched him at his job, and he assigned me lessons to prepare and teach.

“On Thursday, he rushed up to me before his first-period Algebra class. He had given the students all the odd-numbered problems in the new textbook they were using, to do for homework. Number 17 was a monster. It was full of parentheses within square brackets within curlicues. I advised him to start in the middle and work his way out from there.

“Sure enough, the captain of the football team asked him how to do Number 17. Mr. B. put the problem on the blackboard and started in on it. Halfway through, he glanced at me at the back of the room, and I gave him a slight nod. His final answer was 32. Answers to the odd numbers were given in the back of the book.

“Mr. B. pointed to the football player and asked him what the answer was in the back of the book. ‘Thirty-two,’ said the football player. ‘See,’ Mr. B said confidently to the class, ‘you just start in the middle and work your way to the outside.’

“At noon, Mr. B thanked me and treated me to lunch at the school cafeteria. After school, I was walking to my room in the middle of town. Three of the 12th-grade girls walked along with me. The only three options for lunch were to bring a bag, or eat at the Chinese restaurant in town (every town had a Chinese restaurant) or the cafeteria.

“One of the girls asked me where I had eaten. ‘At the cafeteria,’ I said. ‘Ugh,’ she said, making a face. ‘You must have a death wish.’ Lunch had been something I had never eaten before, or since. I think it was called Shepherd’s Pie. It was . . . interesting.”

Now & Then

MARY LOUISE OLSON of Hudson, Wis.: “Subject: A classmate reunion.

“The idea of classmates’ from kindergarten through high-school graduation being together once again seemed like just a ‘pipe dream.’ But it could happen, and it did! On July 9, 2021, six of us were at the steps of OUR school (1941-1953). Some family members were there as well, and smiles with greetings were everywhere. A current Spring Valley, Wisconsin, school staff member met and escorted us to the room where it all began. Absent was the fireplace that we as kindergartners thought was very special. Now the building is coming down, and evidence of destruction was the present-day condition of the classroom.

“One classmate brought the report card that was used by our teacher, Miss Henrietta Wessels. It didn’t seem particularly outdated, because our ‘mental habits,’ ‘physical characteristics,’ and ‘social attitudes’ were evaluated by the teacher. We had projects like ‘our pets,’ ‘good manners,’ ‘home and family,’ ‘birds,’ ‘health,’ ‘seeds on plants and trees,’ and ‘gardening.’ Obviously, the school year was filled with real learning. Considering that a war was being fought, with local folks in harm’s way, and a major Spring Valley flood occurred in September of 1941, reality did inflict learning in our class.

“As the remaining six class members, we mentioned the names and recalled memories of classmates no longer with us. A poem that had been taught was recited. We had all learned to play a tonette, and soon we heard one played; a song was sung from memory. We remembered to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, albeit as we learned it in 1941, minus the added line known today.

“What a blessing! The six of us could look back and smile at one another with an appreciation of long lives and positive learning from the start, thanks to our community of Spring Valley. Wisconsin.”

Everyone’s a (restaurant) critic!

THE DORYMAN of Prescott, Wis.: “Subject: Restau-rant review (channeling Andy Rooney).

“I like a good sandwich. I have several favorites. A Reuben with grated horseradish is probably number one, and egg salad is not too far behind. I get Patty Melts when I can, and Philly Cheesesteaks are always welcome. While a delicious sandwich is a first choice ‘lunch-out’ menu choice for me, I am always wary of the physical demands that usually follow that selection. Apparently if it is composed (and shaped) smaller than a properly inflated, regulation, bisected, NFL football, most restaurants think I will be disappointed. The bread, on the other hand (pun intended), is glowingly described in the menu but rather inconsequential when delivered. Any exotic taste, texture or artisan preparation is usually lost on the bottom slice because of the ‘fall-apart’ sauce for my added enjoyment. If you even attempt to pick it up (which I always think is the whole point of the thing), it takes both hands, and if it holds together during elevation, the first bite usually distributes the fillings everywhere but in your mouth. Am I the only one (ahem, BB) who would willingly pay $14 for a sandwich that has the good old-fashioned, sensible, fit-in-your-mouth ingredients ‘sandwiched’ (get it, Chef?) between two slices of good old-fashioned unsoaked bread . . . and not leave $4 worth of groceries on the table and my shirt? Plus, I don’t want to take the other half home; I had it for lunch! A first-world problem, I know, but hey, I loved my mother’s sandwiches, where less was always more.”

This ’n’ that ’n’ the other ’n’ the other ’n’ the other

All from AL B of Hartland: (1) “As a tour leader, I took many group photos. There are the magic words, words with weight, used to make one smile: I’d say ‘Prunes,’ ‘Say cheese,’ ‘Smile,’ ‘Smile, you’re on “Candid Camera,”‘ ‘Whiskey,’ ‘Lottery winners,’ ‘Cabbageheads’ and ‘Duck snort.’ A duck snort is a softly hit ball that goes over the infield and lands in the outfield for a hit. Chicago White Sox announcer Ken ‘Hawk’ Harrelson popularized the term.”

(2) “A bug zapper participates in an indiscriminate slaughter of insects, many of them beneficial. A University of Delaware study found that 0.22 percent of the kills were biting insects. Research showed that your chances of being bitten by a mosquito increase when you are near a bug zapper. The light is attractive, and so are you.”

(3) “My wife and I walked the county fair. We strolled by the onion-rings stand. We knew from experience those rings were tasty. Their aroma was inviting. ‘Those onion rings smell great,’ said my wife. I love my wife, so we walked past the stand again.”

(4) “This is the time of the year when I think of family reunions. I remember when I had a full roster of aunts. We had a pie table at reunions in those years. Woe be to anyone who brought a store-bought pie. Those good women believed in being fruitful and multi-pied.”

(5) “I’ve learned . . . the inventor of the doorbell didn’t own a Chihuahua.”

Band Name of the Day: The Chicken People — or: The Duck Snorts

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Trevor Story on what’s likely his final homestand with Rockies: “I want to relish it”

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Trevor Story on what’s likely his final homestand with Rockies: “I want to relish it”

Trevor Story is a trust-the-process, stay-in-the-moment kind of guy. But, he admits, he’s peeking ahead just a bit.

That’s perfectly understandable.

The Rockies’ two-time all-star shortstop is fast approaching a huge decision that will define the rest of his career. Plus, the Rockies open their final homestand of the season beginning Tuesday when they host the Dodgers at Coors Field. Those nine games — three each against the Dodgers, Giants and Nationals — will likely be Story’s final home games in LoDo.

“I just recently thought about that,” Story said. “It’s certainly a reality that those could be my last home games playing there. It’s something where I will just try and relish it and be in the moment. I really want to enjoy the time, enjoy the fans, enjoy the ballpark, all of that. Because you just don’t know what’s to come.”

Story, 28, will become a free agent at the end of the season. While the Rockies will extend him a qualifying offer, they have not approached him about a new contract. All indications are that Story will explore free agency. He’ll be looking for the biggest contract of his career, one that could be worth more than $100 million.

As for the possibility of staying in Colorado, Story doesn’t have much to say. “No teams are off the table,” Story said. “That’s kind of the way we’ve looked at it.”

Rockies interim general manager Bill Schmidt gave a predictable response regarding Story’s future.

“We think the world of Trevor as a player, and more importantly, as a person,” Schmidt said. “We’ll see how things play out this offseason.”

For Story, his decision is not just about money. He also wants to be part of a team that projects as a consistent postseason contender, if not in 2022, then very soon after that. Story remains close with former Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, who forced his way out of Colorado and landed in St. Louis via a trade this past February.

Although Story’s Colorado career appears to be coming to a close after six seasons, he’s proud of the way the Rockies’ have transformed what once looked like a disastrous, 100-loss season. The Rockies, 68-78 entering the weekend series at Washington, had gone 28-27 since the all-star break prior to Friday night.

“The way we played lately is encouraging for sure,” Story said. “We are playing freer and a lot looser than we were in the beginning of the year. It’s good to see.”

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Twin Cities law professors on the US Constitution: about this series

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Twin Cities law professors on the US Constitution: about this series

Government of the people? That takes will. And a way.

We the people are responsible for the will. The U.S. Constitution helps show the way.

As Mitchell Hamline law professor Afsheen John Radsan writes here, “The Constitution is special to me as the son of two Iranian immigrants who came to the United States in 1962 to pursue their American dreams. For both citizens and newcomers, the Constitution, as much as the Statue of Liberty, stands as a monument to their faith in this country’s potential for greatness.”

But when it comes to self-governance, we are not redeemed by faith alone. Government of the people requires good work — “eternal vigilance,” even — that persists from generation to generation. Understanding our Constitution, its ideas, mechanisms and applications, strengthens the people for the work.

Hence, this series of explanatory — but not pedantic! — columns, begun today by Professor Radsan. Over the next several Sundays and in the months to come, Twin Cities law professors from diverse backgrounds and perspectives will write about timely constitutional ideas and issues. The views they express are the views of the individual authors.

The series is a result of collaboration among Mitchell Hamline School of Law professors Natalie Netzel and Marie Failinger, students from St. Paul Public Schools and the Pioneer Press. Its aim is to offer foundational knowledge of the U.S. Constitution with hope of fostering civic engagement and respectful discourse on challenging topics.

Because it’s crucial that our young adults, too, engage in the work to uphold the Constitution and advance the ideals it represents, we asked Cayden Mayer, a junior at St. Paul Central High, to assist in the editing of today’s column. Thank you, Cayden.

And thank you, dear reader, for your interest in government by the people.

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Mitchell Hamline Professor Afsheen John Radsan: The Constitution is a monument to faith in our country’s potential for greatness

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Mitchell Hamline Professor Afsheen John Radsan: The Constitution is a monument to faith in our country’s potential for greatness

Editor’s note: Over the next several Sundays and in the months to come, Twin Cities law professors from diverse backgrounds and perspectives will write about timely constitutional ideas and issues. Here’s more about this series.


In 1787, 55 founding fathers gathered in Philadelphia to write a new charter for an independent nation. They expected other citizens, eventually, to read what they were writing. James Madison, more important to the drafting process than General George Washington, had read many philosophers but he still had the good sense to write more clearly than they did. For his proposals to be ratified by a necessary nine out of 13 states, the Constitution could not be too long or too technical. If citizens were confused by any provisions, they would assume the worst.

Madison knew that if the states did not ratify a new constitution, they would be left with the disorder from their Articles of Confederation. These articles had governed since the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776. A basic flaw was that they barely allowed any central power to resolve disputes between and among states.

Madison succeeded. Our Constitution, with fewer than 30 amendments, has endured more than two centuries. Modern citizens, however, have lost their impulse to read it. Why should this be? My pocket version covers just 35 pages. The Constitution is special to me as the son of two Iranian immigrants who came to the United States in 1962 to pursue their American dreams. For both citizens and newcomers, the Constitution, as much as the Statue of Liberty, stands as a monument to their faith in this country’s potential for greatness.

If you have not read it or if you who have would like to return to what you read years before, what are the highlights? We might all ask whether the Constitution has lived up to what historian Joseph Ellis describes as a “blueprint for political and economic success for the nation-state in the modern world.” Does it deserve credit for turning a “wholly peripheral outpost of Western Civilization” into a superpower?

 

Start with the preamble. It explains that the Constitution was established to form “a more perfect Union.” Note the phrase “We the people.” The states, of course, through their people, were transferring power from the Articles of Confederation. By 1819, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, in a famous case about a national bank, would claim that the bedrock of constitutional power rests with the people, not with the states — one of many steps toward more federal control of our lives. The Constitution’s secondary goals are stated: justice, tranquility, the common defense, the general welfare, and liberty. Back then, citizens expected far less from their government. They viewed government as much as a threat to their liberty as a means for enhancing their freedom. The founders’ Constitution did not promise healthcare or education or subsidized meals.

 

After the preamble, look at the first five articles. They are an outline for how our government is supposed to work. While the Constitution fails to answer all questions, it provides a reasonable framework for answering these questions. A basic aspect of our “rule of law” is settling disputes through dialogue rather than violence.

 

The first three articles lay out the branches of federal government in descending order of importance. They are based on ideas from Montesquieu and Locke about checks and balances on political power.

First, and most important, comes the legislature, Congress. Next is the executive branch or the presidency. Third is the judiciary or the Supreme Court.

By a great compromise in Philadelphia, Congress is divided into two parts: The House of Representatives, based on population, favors the big states; and the Senate, ensuring two senators per state regardless of their populations, favors small states. Accordingly, today California has the largest representation in the House while California and Wyoming still have an equal number of senators. Today, as a result of gridlock and dysfunction, Congress has become relatively weaker. So citizens look elsewhere for assistance in handling their problems.

Article Two describes the presidency. Given the country’s need for decisive and unified action against various threats — pirates, terrorists, or pandemics — presidential power has surged. Critics warn of an “imperial presidency,” a reminder that the founders rebelled against a king. Defenders of a strong presidency reply with the concept of a “unitary executive.” They see a parallel to the overall goal of a more perfect union.

The Supreme Court, covered in Article Three, has also surged in importance. The founders would be shocked at how Americans today look to nine unelected justices to decide some of the most important issues in our lives. Fewer moral choices are thus left to state legislatures and ordinary citizens. More choices are framed as matters of “rights.” Rights, of course, cannot be voted upon and are protected by the courts from majority excesses. Take unsegregated education, a right guaranteed in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education. Or the right to end a pregnancy at some point before the birth of a fetus (Roe v. Wade in 1974). Or the right to same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015).

Article Three does not state how many justices need to be on the Supreme Court. It is up to Congress. Although the number of justices can be changed without an amendment to the Constitution, there is a longstanding tradition of nine justices; the last time there was a different number on the Court was in the nineteenth century.

 

Glance at Article Four. It breaks down barriers between states. The “full faith and credit” clause helps explain why a Minnesota driver’s license is accepted when we cross into Wisconsin. Or why a couple who is married in California is not required to get remarried when they move to Minnesota. And the “privileges and immunities” clause helps explain why Wisconsin cannot exclude Minnesota residents from employment in Wisconsin.

 

Look at Article Five. This is where you can step outside of the Constitution, where we can go back on everything that has been decided. This article covers the process for amending the Constitution.

By design, it is more difficult to amend the Constitution than it is for Congress to pass a law or statute. Just so, laws that come out of Congress are “ordinary” statutes. The Constitution, by contrast, is a higher or more fundamental law. The Supreme Court, through its judicial review, decides whether a challenged statute or another challenged action is consistent with the Constitution, something established in the famous case of Marbury v. Madison in 1803.

Now that the Supreme Court has decided that the Constitution provides a right to same-sex marriage, for example, those who say marriage should be available only to couples of different sexes have limited options for change. They can hope a new group on the Supreme Court will “undiscover” or “overrule” this right. Or they can attempt to amend the Constitution concerning marriage. As a comparison, think how the “right” to drink alcoholic beverages was once prohibited by amendment and then renewed by another amendment.

 

After the articles, skim the first 10 amendments. These amendments, also called the Bill of Rights, were necessary to get the Constitution ratified. Madison originally said that individual rights were already protected by the checks and balances embedded in the first three articles. He considered a bill of rights redundant. Yet Madison, ever practical, relented when he saw that he did not have the votes for a simpler document in the state-by-state votes on ratification.

The Ninth Amendment takes care of a concern that Madison, in listing some rights, may have overlooked others: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The Constitution, in other words, includes these rights but is not limited to them.

The Tenth Amendment is almost as short as the Ninth: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.” The founders, through their paradoxical innovation of “federalism,” believed they could provide more freedom for the people by providing two layers of government; the state governments would check the federal government at the same time the federal government checked the states. Further, this amendment makes clear that the federal government does not have all power. Some things must be left to the states. Citizens and politicians, to this day, have argued about the appropriate balance between federal and state power. Think of mask mandates during the pandemic. Did we need a national standard? Or was it better to let the states serve as “individual laboratories?”

 

Of all the compromises at the founding, nothing was more important than the dirty deal on slavery. Slavery is not mentioned by name in the original constitution. Still, everybody in Philadelphia knew it was the price of getting slave-holding states to join the union. The Southern states drove a hard bargain. They protected their power through the anti-democratic features of the Senate as well as an “electoral college” for selecting the president. Slaves, treated as property, still counted concerning the size of a state’s delegation in the House of Representatives. The Southern states also made clear that slavery could not be abolished by law or by amendment before 1808.

Some of the founders believed time was on their side. They hoped that slavery would soon disappear as an economical institution and would no longer create disputes between citizens and states. That belief proved insanely optimistic. It took four years of Civil War as well as 600,000 lives to end slavery in the United States.

The constitutional victory was enshrined in the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, the most significant overhaul of the Constitution since the founding. These amendments are so significant that somebody, like me, who pushes for an “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution, should be asked why the appropriate reference is 1787 rather than 1870. The “Civil War” amendments took the nation from a place where some human beings could be abused and tortured as property to an expectation that “we the people” includes everyone, no matter color or creed.

Afsheen John Radsan is a professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. He is a former federal prosecutor as well as a former assistant general counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency.

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