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Kickin’ It with Kiz: Ben Simmons in a Nuggets uniform? It’s an excellent idea, but …

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Ben Simmons won’t report to 76ers’ training camp, AP source says

The Nuggets should consider trading for Ben Simmons, but only depending on the cost. His shortcomings were magnified in the NBA playoffs. But he has length and is a very good defender. Coach Michael Malone and Nikola Jokic would make Simmons better. Again, it’s all about the cost.

— Bobby, hoops dreamer

Kiz: A decade down the road, we might well say Simmons had a more-stellar NBA career than Michael Porter Jr. But if Philadelphia wants to trade Simmons right now, it’s hard to envision how the financial machinations of a trade to Denver could work, unless injured guard Jamal Murray is involved. So I’m guessing we have a better chance of seeing Aaron Rodgers play quarterback for the Broncos today than we do of greeting Simmons as a Nuggets starter on opening night.

Are the Broncos for real? The roster seems to have improved, even at quarterback. But improvement isn’t all that Broncos Country wants. We’re about winning and championships. We’re not there… yet.

— A.R., keeping it real

Kiz: While we’re all grooving to the Teddy B Experience, nobody expects this orange-and-blue bandwagon to roll all the way to a championship. But do I detect signs of vulnerability in the Kansas City Chiefs? I’m a believer in the hangover effect of a Super bowl loss. So I think the Broncos not only have a shot at sneaking into the playoffs, they also will end that 11-game losing streak to K.C. For real.

You stupid fool, Teddy Bridgewater has won exactly two games against (crummy) teams. Can’t you save your obsequious toadying and butt-kissing until halfway through the NFL season?

— Steve, has way with words

Kiz: You nailed it. Obsequious toadying is my brand. They don’t call me Mr. Sunshine for nuthin’.

Thanks for your column about the Rockies and franchise owner Dick Monfort. I gave up my tickets to the Rockies for the reasons you described. I would rather watch them on television. The Rockies are our home team, but let the transplants support the Dodgers and Monfort.

— Sam, spends wisely

Kiz: Well, at least the Rockies will be able to watch the playoffs on TV and root for former teammate Nolan Arenado.

Kiz, would you write something about the lack of a salary cap in baseball?  I don’t see how smaller-market teams like the Rockies can hope to keep top players or consistently contend without a cap. I know there never has been one and probably never will, but …

— Gordon, Longmont

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Nebraska OL Teddy Prochazka out for season with knee injury

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Nebraska OL Teddy Prochazka out for season with knee injury

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska offensive lineman Teddy Prochazka will miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury.

The freshman was hurt in the 32-29 loss to Michigan on Saturday, his second start at left tackle. Coach Scott Frost said Prochazka would have surgery next week and should return for spring practice.

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Merck asks US FDA to authorize promising anti-COVID pill

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Merck asks US FDA to authorize promising anti-COVID pill

By MATTHEW PERRONE

WASHINGTON (AP) — Drugmaker Merck asked U.S. regulators Monday to authorize its pill for treating COVID-19 in what would add an entirely new and easy-to-use weapon to the world’s arsenal against the pandemic.

If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration — a decision that could come in a matter of weeks — it would be the first pill shown to treat the illness. All other FDA-backed treatments against COVID-19 require an IV or injection.

An antiviral pill that people could take at home to reduce their symptoms and speed recovery could prove groundbreaking, easing the crushing caseload on U.S. hospitals and helping to curb outbreaks in poorer countries with weak health care systems. It would also bolster the two-pronged approach to the pandemic: treatment, by way of medication, and prevention, primarily through vaccinations.

The FDA will scrutinize company data on the safety and effectiveness of the drug, molnupiravir, before rendering a decision.

Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutic said they specifically asked the agency to grant emergency use for adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at risk for severe disease or hospitalization. That is roughly the way COVID-19 infusion drugs are used.

“The value here is that it’s a pill so you don’t have to deal with the infusion centers and all the factors around that,” said Dr. Nicholas Kartsonis, a senior vice president with Merck’s infectious disease unit. “I think it’s a very powerful tool to add to the toolbox.”

The company reported earlier this month that the pill cut hospitalizations and deaths by half among patients with early symptoms of COVID-19. The results were so strong that independent medical experts monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early.

Side effects were similar between patients who got the drug and those in a testing group who received a dummy pill. But Merck has not publicly detailed the types of problems reported, which will be a key part of the FDA’s review.

Top U.S. health officials continue to push vaccinations as the best way to protect against COVID-19.

“It’s much, much better to prevent yourself from getting infected than to have to treat an infection,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said while discussing Merck’s drug last week.

Still, some 68 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated, underscoring the need for effective drugs to control future waves of infection.

The prospect of a COVID-19 pill comes amid other encouraging signs: New cases per day in the U.S. have dropped below 100,000 on average for the first time in over two months, and deaths are running at about 1,700 a day, down from more than 2,000 three weeks ago.

Also, the average number of vaccinations dispensed per day has climbed past 1 million, an increase of more than 50% over the past two weeks, driven by the introduction of booster shots and workplace vaccine requirements.

Still, heath authorities are bracing for another possible surge as cold weather drives more people indoors.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, health experts have stressed the need for a convenient pill. The goal is for something similar to Tamiflu, the 20-year-old flu medication that shortens the illness by a day or two and blunts the severity of symptoms like fever, cough and stuffy nose.

Three FDA-authorized antibody drugs have proved highly effective at reducing COVID-19 deaths, but they are expensive, hard to produce and require specialty equipment and health professionals to deliver.

Assuming FDA authorization, the U.S. government has agreed to buy enough of the pills to treat 1.7 million people, at a price of roughly $700 for each course of treatment. That’s less than half the price of the antibody drugs purchased by the U.S. government — over $2,000 per infusion — but still more expensive than many antiviral pills for other conditions.

Merck’s Kartsonis said in an interview that the $700 figure does not represent the final price for the medication.

“We set that price before we had any data, so that’s just one contract,” Kartsonis said. “Obviously we’re going to be responsible about this and make this drug as accessible to as many people around the world as we can.”

Kenilworth, New Jersey-based Merck has said it is in purchase talks with governments around the world and will use a sliding price scale based on each country’s economic means. Also, the company has signed licensing deals with several Indian generic drugmakers to produce low-cost versions of the drug for lower-income countries.

Several other companies, including Pfizer and Roche, are studying similar drugs and are expected to report results in the coming weeks and months. AstraZeneca is also seeking FDA authorization for a long-acting antibody drug intended to provide months of protection for patients who have immune-system disorders and do not adequately respond to vaccination.

Some experts predict various COVID-19 therapies eventually will be prescribed in combination to better protect against the worst effects of the virus.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Best of the West College Football Top 25: Can CU Buffs, CSU Rams pull off something they haven’t done for nearly 780 days?

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Best of the West College Football Top 25: Can CU Buffs, CSU Rams pull off something they haven’t done for nearly 780 days?

Where were you on Sept. 7, 2019?

Back to that date in a second.

Let’s be frank: Outside of Golden, Laramie and the Academy, it’s been a patchy first seven weeks to the college football season along the Front Range. While the new Ralphie can run with the best of them, the new Buffs have stumbled. Rams faithful who expected a 2-0 start at home were greeted by feisty Jackrabbits and a cold shower.

But hope is on the way, kids. Before we present the latest installment of The Denver Post’s Best of the West College Football Top 25 here at DenverPost.com, a friendly public service announcement:

Front Range college football fans actually have something to look forward to Saturday. Well, besides basketball season.

CU (1-4) is favored at home by 7.5 points, according to BetMGM.com, for a visit against 0-5 Arizona. CSU (2-3) is a 10-point favorite, the same sports book says, heading into its visit to 2-4 New Mexico a few hours later.

What’s the significance? If form holds — and neither the ‘Cats and Lobos are great shakes — we could be staring at something we haven’t seen around here in more than two years:

The Buffs and Rams winning a football game on the same day.

The last time that happened? Sept. 7, 2019.

It’s been that stinking long. Blame TV schedules. (CSU last fall beat Wyoming in a Thursday night game on Nov. 5; CU opened the season with a win over UCLA two days later.) Blame the pandemic. Blame the 2019 football season in general. Blame Mike Bobo. Blame Mel Tucker.

Remember Mel? In Week 2 of the ’19 campaign, his Buffs rallied for a thrilling 34-31 home overtime win over Nebraska. At roughly the same time, CSU was knocking the stuffing out of Western Illinois, 38-13, at Canvas Stadium.

As of Monday morning, it had been 765 days since both drank from the sweet cup of victory on the same afternoon. Time to put that little streak to bed, don’t you think? No pressure, Buffs and Rams. No. Pressure.

As to the business at hand, Oregon (4-1) is your new (old?) No. 1 in The Denver Post Best of the West College Football poll, which each Monday ranks the top 25 FBS programs from the Front Range to the Pacific Ocean, as culled from the Pac-12, the Mountain West and BYU. Post columnist Sean Keeler (@SeanKeeler), Post deputy sports editor Matt Schubert (@MattDSchubert) and Post reporter Kyle Fredrickson (@KyleFredrickson) vote on the top 25.

The rest of the latest rankings follow, with in-state squads listed in bold:

THE DENVER POST BEST OF THE WEST TOP 25 POLL — OCT. 11

School Previous Up next
1. Oregon (4-1) *(2) 2 vs. California, Fri.
2. Arizona State (5-1) *(1) 3 at Utah
3. BYU (5-1) 1 at Baylor
4. San Diego State (5-0) 5 at San Jose State, Fri.
▲5. Utah (3-2) 13 vs. Arizona State
6. Nevada (4-1) 7 vs. Hawaii
7. UCLA (4-2) 8 at Washington
8. Air Force (5-1) 9 at Boise State
9. Boise State (3-3)
15 vs. Air Force
10. Stanford (3-3) 6 at Washington State
▼11. Oregon State (4-2) 4 BYE
12. Fresno State (4-2) 12 at Wyoming
13. Utah State (3-2) 14 at UNLV
14. Wyoming (4-1) 10 vs. Fresno State
15. USC (3-3) 11 BYE
16. Hawaii (3-3) 16 at Nevada
17. Washington (2-3) 18 vs. UCLA
18. Washington State (3-3) 19 vs. Stanford
19. CSU (2-3) 20 at New Mexico
20. California (1-4)
21 at Oregon, Fri.
21. San Jose State (3-3) 17 vs. San Diego State, Fri.
22. New Mexico (2-4)
23 vs. Colorado State
23. Colorado (1-4) 22 vs. Arizona
24. Arizona (0-5) 24 at Colorado
25. UNLV (0-5) 25 vs. Utah State

*First-place votes in parenthesis

▲= Biggest climb of the week
▼= Biggest drop of the week
The next Best of the West poll will post Monday, Oct. 18.

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Mesa County authorities searching for possible downed plane

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Mesa County authorities searching for possible downed plane

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating multiple reports of a possible plane crash east of Grand Junction.

According to the sheriff’s office, Denver Aircraft Traffic Control lost communication and radar contact with a Beechcraft Baron twin-engine aircraft around Castle Peak, which is north of Jerry Creek Reservoirs in Mesa County.

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Gophers running back Trey Potts won’t return for rest of 2021 season

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Gophers running back Trey Potts won’t return for rest of 2021 season

Gophers starting running back Trey Potts won’t return the 2021 season, head coach P.J. Fleck said Monday.

Fleck declined to talk about the specific nature of Potts’ issue, which is his standard practice for all players, but Fleck called the situation “really scary” and “unfortunate.”

Potts had a six-night stay in hospital in Indiana last week after an upper-body ailment was discovered in the fourth quarter of the Gophers’ 20-13 victory over Purdue on Oct. 2 in West Lafayette, Ind. He was released Friday and traveled back to Minnesota.

“He’s a competitor,” Fleck said. “… He’s devastated though because the seriousness of his injury, I mean, we’re just thankful he’s OK,” Fleck said. The third-year tailback from Williamsport, Pa., could be at the team’s practice Tuesday, or might even stop by the Larson Football Performance Center on Monday.

Fleck said “it’s too early to tell” if the ailment could end Potts’ college career. “I have just been told, don’t expect him back for the rest of the year,” Fleck said. “I think that’s positive for him if football is something that he wants to do with the options that he has, but I think that if that was the only option (to retire), that would have been said by now.”

In the Boilermakers game, Potts rushed for 6 yards on a third-and-3 play with three minutes left, and after being tackled, he showed no signs of being injured after the play. He went back into the huddle before being subbed out as the Gophers went to its wildcat package.

On the sideline, medical officials soon took Potts to the injury tent and then carted off the field before being transport to a nearby hospital. He was later transported to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

Gophers AD Mark Coyle and U medical personnel stayed with Potts on Saturday night. The U brought Potts’ parents, Georgia and Jerome, to Indiana from from Pennsylvania. Fleck and wife, Heather, visited Potts in the hospital on Oct. 4.

“You win a football game like that and there’s this excitement of winning, but then there’s real life that you’re incredibly concerned about him and his safety and his health and his well-being,” Fleck said Monday.

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Naval nuclear engineer, wife arrested on espionage charges previously taught school in Denver

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Naval nuclear engineer, wife arrested on espionage charges previously taught school in Denver

A Naval nuclear engineer and his wife who were arrested Saturday on federal espionage charges worked as teachers in the Denver area in the mid-2000s.

Jonathan Toebbe taught at Kent Denver between 2005 and 2008, and his wife, Diana Toebbe, taught at the school from 2005 to 2012, according to an email from Lisa Mortell, a school spokeswoman. Jonathan Toebbe’s profile on LinkedIn, a professional networking website, said he taught physics at the school. Mortell declined to say what subjects Diana Toebbe taught.

Jonathan Toebbe also earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering at Colorado School of Mines, which he attended between 2008 and 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Jonathan Toebbe, 42, is accused of selling restricted data about the design of nuclear-powered warships to an FBI agent, whom he believed was a representative of a foreign power. Diana Toebbe, 45, is accused of aiding her husband in the illegal transaction, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Jonathan Toebbe worked as a nuclear engineer at the U.S. Department of the Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Program. He held an active national security clearance through the U.S. Department of Defense, giving him access to classified information about naval nuclear propulsion and military design elements, the news release said.

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With goaltender Cam Talbot settled in, Wild looking forward to big things

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With goaltender Cam Talbot settled in, Wild looking forward to big things

Cam Talbot exudes a palpable sense of calm whenever he’s between the pipes for the Wild. It’s something coach Dean Evason and his teammates talk about often, as does general manager Bill Guerin, and even some opponents who play the Wild.

It’s gotten to the point where the 34-year-old goaltender has actually garnered the nickname Calm Talbot. Maybe not the cleverest nickname in the world, but it’s so on the nose that it doesn’t matter.

Maybe the most impressive thing about Talbot’s demeanor, though, is how he was able to operate that same way last season under trying circumstances.

After signing with the Wild in the middle of a pandemic, then hurriedly rushing to the Twin Cities a few days after Christmas for the start of an abbreviated 56-game season, Talbot very rarely felt settled in away from the rink.

“You had a week to get the kids into school, get COVID tested a few times, and then get on the ice with the guys,” said Talbot, who went on to finish last season with a 19-8-5 record, 2.63 goals-against average and .915 save percentage amid the chaos.

Needless to say, the preseason has gone much smoother this time around with Talbot arriving in the Twin Cities about a month before the start of training camp. He remembers smiling to himself as he and his wife Kelly loaded up the car with their daughter Sloane and their son Landon in the backseat.

“They were excited to come back,” said Talbot, who lives in his native Canada during the offseason. “It’s nice to see when the kids get that excited for a 14-hour drive. That’s not something that’s always fun for kids. They’ve been excited to see their old friends and stuff again and make new friends in school.”

That comfort his family has this season has allowed Talbot to feel comfortable himself heading to the rink every day.

“It’s so much more normal I guess we could say this season than the past couple of seasons,” Talbot said. “It’s definitely been nice to be here early and get settled in.”

It raises the question: If Talbot was so impressive last season with so much influx, what might he do for an encore this season now that things are more orderly?

That’s something to keep an eye on as Wild start a new chapter for the franchise this season. Gone are former faces of the franchise Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, and for the first time in more than a decade, it feels like a completely different team on the ice.

“I’m excited to see what this group can do,” Talbot said. “We took a big step forward last season. I don’t know if anyone except for us in that room expected us to do what we did last season. We have the same belief in that room this season. It’s going to be fun getting back to full 82-game season. It’s nice to get back to some normalcy here.”

No matter what happens this season, one thing the Wild can count on is Talbot staying calm in the crease. It’s something he learned as the backup to the legendary Henrik Lundqvist early in his career. He also credited longtime New York Rangers goaltending coach Benoit Allaire for helping him develop those skills.

“He was huge for my career,” Talbot said. “He’s a calming personality himself. There’s never any panic in his voice. He’s very positively driven. He just kind of rubs off on people that way. He helped me to become a little more calm and more patient.”

That’s always been a focus for Talbot, because as he has learned throughout his NHL career, a team usually goes as its goaltender does throughout a game.

If a goaltender is constantly sprawling for saves, his teammates will feed off that chaotic energy, and very rarely in a good way. If a goaltender is cool, calm and collected between the pipes, his teammates will feel comfortable making the simple play themselves.

As much as his teammates rave about him, Talbot was quick to credit them for his stellar stats last season.

“This is an easy group to play behind,” he said. “Just so easy to read off of. It starts with the six guys in front of me and obviously the forwards are a big part of that, too. We have a great lineup of skill, grit and shutdown guys up front. You mix that with our top six on the backend and not a ton for the goaltender to do. My job is to go out there and stop the shots I’m supposed to stop and give us a chance to win. Behind a group like this, they made it easy for me.”

That said, Talbot has proven more than capable of making the big saves at the biggest moments. There were many times throughout the playoff series with the Vegas Golden Knights last season — the Wild lost a heartbreaker in Game 7 of the opening-round series — that Talbot singlehandedly kept his team in it.

“I’m not going out there to do too much or try to overplay certain situations,” he said. “I try to stay as calm and patient as possible and let the play come to me. The guys in front of me they make that so much easier because they’re so easy to read off of and they’re calm themselves. We don’t have a lot of guys that panic under pressure.”

As things slowly return to normal this season, Talbot doesn’t plan on changing his playing style. He also made it clear that he wants to play as much as possible.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a back-to-back or every other day with travel kind of thing,” Talbot said. “I feel my best when I’m rolling. You don’t really get a chance to think. You just go out there and play. Whether it’s a good game the night before, or even a rough game, it’s even better to get back in there and put it behind me and get another solid start under my belt.”

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Tire stuck around Colorado elk’s neck removed after 2 years

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Tire stuck around Colorado elk’s neck removed after 2 years

Courtesy of Pat Hemstreet via CPW

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers Scott Murdoch, left, and Dawson Swanson hold up the tire that was on a bull elk for at least two years.

An elusive Colorado elk with a tire stuck around its neck for at least two years was freed of its appendage Saturday night when state wildlife officers tranquilized the bull and cut its antlers to remove the obstacle.

“It was tight removing it,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer Scott Murdoch said in a news release. “It was not easy for sure, we had to move it just right to get it off because we weren’t able to cut the steel in the bead of the tire. Fortunately, the bull’s neck still had a little room to move. We would have preferred to cut the tire and leave the antlers for his rutting activity, but the situation was dynamic and we had to just get the tire off in any way possible.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers Dawson Swanson and  Murdoch received a report of the elk Saturday evening from a resident of Pine, roughly one mile south of Pine Junction on private property off of County Road 126. The elk — estimated to be about 4 1/2 years old and weighing more than 600 pounds with five points on each of its antler beams — was in a herd of about 40 other elk, according to the news release.

Once Swanson and Murdoch removed the tire, they examined the animal’s neck.

“The hair was rubbed off a little bit, there was one small open wound maybe the size of a nickel or quarter, but other than that it looked really good,” Murdoch said. “I was actually quite shocked to see how good it looked.”

The successful removal was the fourth attempt by wildlife officers in the past week to tranquilize the bull.

“Tranquilizer equipment is a relatively short-range tool and given the number of other elk moving together along with other environmental factors, you really need to have things go in your favor to have a shot or opportunity pan out,” Swanson said. “I was able to get within range a few times that evening, however, other elk or branches blocked any opportunities. It was not until shortly before dark that everything came together and I was able to hit the bull with the dart.”

Swanson said the operation only took a few minutes and soon the elk was back on its feet, estimated to be about 35 pounds lighter.

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Cyberattacks concerning to most in U.S., according to new poll

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Cyberattacks concerning to most in U.S., according to new poll

RICHMOND, Va. — Most Americans across party lines have serious concerns about cyberattacks on U.S. computer systems and view China and Russia as major threats, according to a new poll.

The poll by The Pearson Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that about 9 in 10 Americans are at least somewhat concerned about hacking that involves their personal information, financial institutions, government agencies or certain utilities. About two-thirds say they are very or extremely concerned.

Roughly three-quarters say the Chinese and Russian governments are major threats to the cybersecurity of the U.S. government, and at least half also see the Iranian government and non-government bodies as threatening.

The broad consensus highlights the growing impacts of cyberattacks in an increasingly connected world and could boost efforts by President Joe Biden and lawmakers to force critical industries to boost their cyber defenses and impose reporting requirements for companies that get hacked. The poll comes amid a wave of high-profile ransomware attacks and cyber espionage campaigns in the last year that have compromised sensitive government records and led to the shutdown of the operations of energy companies, hospitals, schools and others.

“It’s pretty uncommon nowadays to find issues that both large majorities of Republicans and Democrats” view as a problem, said David Sterrett, a senior research scientist at The AP-NORC Center.

Biden has made cybersecurity a key issue in his young administration and federal lawmakers are considering legislation to strengthen both public and private cyber defenses.

Michael Daniel, CEO of the Cyber Threat Alliance and a former top cybersecurity official during the Obama administration, said the poll shows the public is firmly aware of the kind of threats posed online that cybersecurity experts have been stressing for years.

“We don’t need to do a whole lot more awareness raising,” he said.

The explosion in the last year of ransomware, in which cyber criminals encrypt an organization’s data and then demand payment to unscramble it, has underscored how gangs of extortionist hackers can disrupt the economy and put lives and livelihoods at risk.

One of the cyber incidents with the greatest consequences this year was a ransomware attack in May on the company that owns the nation’s largest fuel pipeline, which led to gas shortages along the East Coast. A few weeks later, a ransomware attack on the world’s largest meat processing company disrupted production around the world.

Victims of ransomware attacks have ranged from key U.S. agencies and Fortune 500 companies to small entities like Leonardtown, Maryland, which was one of hundreds of organizations affected worldwide when software company Kaseya was hit by ransomware during the Forth of July weekend.

“We ended up being very lucky but it definitely opened our eyes that it could happen to anyone,” said Laschelle McKay, the town administrator. She said Leonardtown’s I.T. provider was able to restore the town’s network and files after several days.

The criminal syndicates that dominate the ransomware business are mostly Russian-speaking and operate with near impunity out of Russia or countries allied with Russia. The U.S. government has also blamed Russian spies for a major breach of U.S. government agencies known as the SolarWinds hack, so named for the U.S. software company whose product was used in the hacking.

China has also been active. In July, the Biden administration formally blamed China for a massive hack of Microsoft Exchange email server software and asserted that criminal hackers associated with the Chinese government have carried out ransomware attacks and other illicit cyber operations.

“The amount of Chinese cyber actors dwarfs the rest of the globe, combined,” Rob Joyce, the director of cybersecurity at the National Security Agency, said at a recent conference. “The elite in that group really are elite. It’s a law of large numbers.”

Both Russia and China have denied any wrongdoing.

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Woman killed in mass shooting at St. Paul bar officially ID’d as 27-year-old from St. Paul

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Woman killed in mass shooting at St. Paul bar officially ID’d as 27-year-old from St. Paul

Police confirmed on Monday that the woman killed in a mass shooting in St. Paul was Marquisha D. Wiley, 27.

Wiley, of St. Paul, was among 15 people who were shot at Seventh Street Truck Park at 214 W. Seventh St. — an indoor food truck hall and bar near the Xcel Energy Center — early Sunday.

Marquisha Wiley (Courtesy of the family)

“One minute she’s having a good time, the next minute she’s lying in her friends’ arms who are trying to save her life and she didn’t make it,” Steve Linders, a police spokesman, said Sunday. “I can’t think of anything worse.”

Fourteen other people were shot and wounded. Police arrested three men, who they said were among the injured. They remained hospitalized as of Monday morning.

Wiley, whose nickname was Kiki, had “an absolutely beautiful soul inside and out,” said Jenny Gleb, a cousin of Wiley’s mother and an “auntie” to Wiley.

“She had the biggest heart in the world,” Gleb said. “She had a passion to work with animals and was a vet tech for several years.”

Gleb started a GoFundMe for Wiley’s parents, writing on it that Wiley’s “life was tragically taken by a senseless act of gun violence. Her parents now need to prepare for something none of us want to every do, planning a funeral for their daughter.”

Wiley’s grandfather said Sunday that she was an innocent victim caught in the crossfire — there were gunshots fired at people behind her when she was shot. He described her as “very loving” and a “good girl.”

Alicia Mabeus, who worked with Wiley in Woodbury, described her as “thoughtful and caring for patients and humans alike.”

“She truly had a heart of gold and I could see that just from the few months we worked together,” Mabeus added.

Police have not released information about a motive for the shootout and said Monday that the case remains under investigation.

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