Latest – North Denver News
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City Park Jazz – Cast Iron Queens August 8
Wed, 04 Aug 2021 19:14:52 +0000
Cast Iron Queens Sunday, August 8, 2021 4:00 PM 6:00 PM City Park Jazz (map)
Cast Iron Queens

Cast Iron Queens

The Cast Iron Queens is the realization of an idea that has always been close to Erica’s heart. The Cast Iron Queens is a vibrant, joyful expression of American Music, that is a new and exciting melting pot of Jazz, Soul, Blues and Country that is sure to take you to Higher Ground! The Queens say “Our Mission is to showcase the richness and diversity of our tapestry of talents! If being moved is your goal, the Cast Iron Queens are your vehicle!!”

Important Info about 17th Street Closures:

From our friends at the Denver Office of Special Events: A construction project has closed 17th Ave for 2.5 blocks just west of Colorado Blvd. Also, traffic is reduced to one lane for eastbound traffic between Garfield & York. Parking on 17th is greatly reduced and prohibited on some stretches. This closure will last throughout the summer. Read more >

As always, we recommend carpooling, public transportation or rideshare, or riding a bike. This year, our new friends at Z Cycles are sponsoring the Bike Corral, where you can safely check your bike while you enjoy the show.

COVID-19 Update

We’ve partnered with Curative to provide pop-up COVID-19 testing at City Park Jazz this season! They’ll be located on the Plaza in front of the Pavilion for walk-ups.

As of now, large outdoor gatherings are permitted. We ask that if you have not yet been fully vaccinated, please continue to protect us and your neighbors by wearing a mask. Thank you!

Do you need accessible parking?
There is a lot adjacent to the Pavilion for those who need it — you’ll need a placard or license plate designation in order to access it, and it’s first-come, first-served. See the map >
Bring a buck! Or even two!
City Park Jazz is a 501(c)3 non-profit. We have no paid staff — we’re completely volunteer run. YOUR donations make the series possible. If every person who attended a show brought just $1, we’d cover the costs every week! Look out for the bucket brigade at the set break and help us out so we can keep City Park Jazz going forever!

Category: City Park Jazz
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Crushing heat wave set new records in the Western States
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 03:51:11 +0000

The western United States experienced an early summer heatwave that set new records across multiple states. Temperatures reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in certain areas for several days. Residents of the region were already experiencing a severe drought, and this event was yet another extreme in climate. People’s memories of last year’s devastating wildfire season are likely still fresh.

In the middle of June 2021 a thick layer of hot air hung over the west United States for six days, causing temperatures skyrocketing. All-time maximum temperatures records were set in seven states between June 15-10 (CA, AZ. NM. UT. CO. WY. MT). Phoenix, Arizona saw a record-setting six days of high temperatures exceeding 115 degrees. The highest was 118 degrees on June 17th.

Tucson, Arizona, was not left behind. It set daily records on six consecutive days, June 12-17. June 15-16 tied for fourth and tenth hottest days ever recorded. The heat lasted from sun up to sun down. In Tucson, the temperature was 98 degrees at 8 AM on June 17. You had to travel to Death Valley to enjoy the highest temperature in the country, 128 degrees.

The Southwest was not the only place where the heat reached. Salt Lake City, Utah tied its all time record with temperatures of 107 degrees on June 15, after a three-day streak that saw highs above 100 degrees. High temperatures averaged 100 degrees between June 13-19. Billings in Montana also reached 108 degrees, which is a record.

What else was happening besides the heat?

The extreme heat wave hit parts of the country that were in deep drought. More than 20% of the country falls within the worst two categories (D3-4: Extreme or Exceptional). The vast majority of this land is located in areas with just experienced record-setting temperatures.

Category: West
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City Park Jazz – SUCH July 11
Wed, 07 Jul 2021 19:01:54 +0000
SUCH Sunday, July 11, 2021 4:00 PM 6:00 PM City Park Jazz (map)
SUCH

SUCH

Music is a universal language, and for SUCH (pronounced ‘such’), it is the language of her soul. Growing up the daughter of Haitian immigrants, her life was centered around faith and family. Singing in her father’s church planted the seeds for a music career that is on the rise and touching the world. Following an appearance on American Idol, which took her to Hollywood, Such wrote and recorded ‘Trial and Error’, spawning a hit single, ‘Sugar Maple.’ Her music found a solid following in the UK, where she spent several consecutive weeks atop the Soul charts, and in Africa where she won the All Africa Music Award, continental Africa’s equivalent of a Grammy. Such also discovered a passion for acting and played Celie, the lead character in the stage adaption of The Color Purple, earning Broadway World Best Actress and Best Acting Debut Awards. Her latest single ‘Before Dark‘, a top 40 Urban Adult Contemporary hit oozes with the growing self-confidence of a woman who knows what she wants, and how and when she wants it. “I’ve been on this road to discovering who I am as a Black woman and someone who is a little more comfortable in her skin.” Such shares this journey with her new album, ‘WIDE NOSE, FULL LIPS. Inspired by challenges such as police brutality and a desire to flip the mainstream standards of beauty, WIDE NOSE, FULL LIPS is an unapologetic love letter to blackness. Such is currently touring and looks forward to creating unforgettable bonds and memories with music lovers everywhere.

Important Info about 17th Street Closures:

From our friends at the Denver Office of Special Events: A construction project has closed 17th Ave for 2.5 blocks just west of Colorado Blvd. Also, traffic is reduced to one lane for eastbound traffic between Garfield & York. Parking on 17th is greatly reduced and prohibited on some stretches. This closure will last throughout the summer. Read more >

As always, we recommend carpooling, public transportation or rideshare, or riding a bike. This year, our new friends at Z Cycles are sponsoring the Bike Corral, where you can safely check your bike while you enjoy the show.

COVID-19 Update

We’ve partnered with Curative to provide pop-up COVID-19 testing at City Park Jazz this season! They’ll be located on the Plaza in front of the Pavilion for walk-ups.

As of now, large outdoor gatherings are permitted. We ask that if you have not yet been fully vaccinated, please continue to protect us and your neighbors by wearing a mask. Thank you!

Do you need accessible parking?
There is a lot adjacent to the Pavilion for those who need it — you’ll need a placard or license plate designation in order to access it, and it’s first-come, first-served. See the map >
Bring a buck! Or even two!
City Park Jazz is a 501(c)3 non-profit. We have no paid staff — we’re completely volunteer run. YOUR donations make the series possible. If every person who attended a show brought just $1, we’d cover the costs every week! Look out for the bucket brigade at the set break and help us out so we can keep City Park Jazz going forever!

Category: City Park Jazz
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City Park Jazz – Nelson Rangell August 1
Tue, 27 Jul 2021 19:11:45 +0000
Nelson Rangell Sunday, August 1, 2021 4:00 PM 6:00 PM City Park Jazz (map)
Nelson Rangell

Nelson Rangell

Jazziz magazine writes that Nelson Rangell is “an artist of depth, a master of song, and an improviser non pareil.” The Times of London notes “his extraordinary facility on a range of instruments” and Rangell’s “considerable crowd pleasing power”. Saxophone Journal writes “He commands the alto saxophone with such authority there can be no denying that Rangell is a true artist,” and Flute Talk Magazine states “Nelson Rangell creates the impression that anything is possible when he improvises.” Such praise is a confirmation of what contemporary jazz fans have known since the Denver based saxophonist emerged in the late 80s: that Rangell is one of the most exciting and diverse performers in the genre, equally adept at soprano, alto, and tenor saxophone, as well as being a genuine virtuoso on flute and piccolo.

Nelson Rangell is the fourth child in a musical family. His brother, Andrew, is a well known concert pianist living in Boston; his brother, Bobby, lives in Paris and is a leading woodwind player in European jazz and studio scenes. His sister, Paula, is a professional singer living in New Orleans.
Rangell first played flute at the age of 15. Within months he was studying both classical and jazz music at The Interlochen Arts Academy, a national camp for gifted music students. He went on to attend The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. As a student he twice won Down Beat Magazine’s prestigious National Student Recording Awards competition both as best jazz and best pop/rock instrumental soloist. After college he headed to New York in 1984 to pursue his career.

The next four years were spent “paying dues”, sitting in, playing alongside, and gigging with some of the world’s greatest contemporary jazz musicians including Hiram Bullock, Jorge Dalto, Eric Gale, Richard Tee, David Sanborn, Michael Brecker and many others. He also found occasional employment with the legendary Gil Evans Monday Night Orchestra and worked on many commercial jingle recording sessions. Rangell’s debut album was released on Gaia/Gramavision Records, but soon thereafter he was signed by Larry Rosen and Dave Grusin at GRP Records.

A succession of albums followed at GRP where he recorded eight CDs. His stated ambition throughout these endeavors has been “to try to consistently grow and evolve as a player and broaden my horizons as an artist while endeavoring to make music that people will feel and relate to.” With his musical armory encompassing flute, piccolo, alto, tenor and soprano saxophone as well as whistling, he was well equipped to fulfill this desire. He has recorded with The Rippingtons, Chuck Loeb, Patti Austin, Tom Browne, and The GRP All Star Big Band to name a few and is featured on Don Grusin’s Grammy nominated CD “The Hang.” Though Rangell has recorded mostly in the contemporary/pop and smooth jazz formats garnering top radio play and a large audience, The Times of London also notes Rangell’s “undoubted virtuosity” and states He is “one of fusion’s most accomplished exponents.”  With his discography of now 17 CD releases Nelson Rangell continues on his musical path with 2 new and very unique albums, “Red”, a collection of dedicated saxophone recordings in the pop jazz and contemporary jazz idiom and “Blue” which features the flute and piccolo throughout its highly artistic and diverse 11 tracks.

Important Info about 17th Street Closures:

From our friends at the Denver Office of Special Events: A construction project has closed 17th Ave for 2.5 blocks just west of Colorado Blvd. Also, traffic is reduced to one lane for eastbound traffic between Garfield & York. Parking on 17th is greatly reduced and prohibited on some stretches. This closure will last throughout the summer. Read more >

As always, we recommend carpooling, public transportation or rideshare, or riding a bike. This year, our new friends at Z Cycles are sponsoring the Bike Corral, where you can safely check your bike while you enjoy the show.

COVID-19 Update

We’ve partnered with Curative to provide pop-up COVID-19 testing at City Park Jazz this season! They’ll be located on the Plaza in front of the Pavilion for walk-ups.

As of now, large outdoor gatherings are permitted. We ask that if you have not yet been fully vaccinated, please continue to protect us and your neighbors by wearing a mask. Thank you!

Do you need accessible parking?
There is a lot adjacent to the Pavilion for those who need it — you’ll need a placard or license plate designation in order to access it, and it’s first-come, first-served. See the map >
Bring a buck! Or even two!
City Park Jazz is a 501(c)3 non-profit. We have no paid staff — we’re completely volunteer run. YOUR donations make the series possible. If every person who attended a show brought just $1, we’d cover the costs every week! Look out for the bucket brigade at the set break and help us out so we can keep City Park Jazz going forever!

Category: City Park Jazz
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City Park Jazz – Chris Daniels and the Kings July 18
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 19:06:47 +0000
Chris Daniels and the Kings w/Freddi Gowdy Sunday, July 18, 2021 4:00 PM 6:00 PM City Park Jazz (map)
Chris Daniels and the Kings w/Freddi Gowdy

Chris Daniels and the Kings w/Freddi Gowdy

Chris Daniels & the Kings (now with Freddi Gowdy) are celebrating their 36th year with live ‘fireside chats” from Chris on Facebook during “safe at home” and as things open up – out playing songs from BLUES WITH HORNS – our 15th Kings album and out second with Freddi Gowdy of the Freddi Henchi band. In December 2019 Freddi joined Chris and an inductee into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame!!

Doing more than 120 dates per year touring over two continents, Daniels and his band have been invited to appear in such diverse places as The Down Home Blues Festival in South Carolina, The Bob Hope Chrysler Desert Classic, The Curacao Swing Festival (South America), and all over Europe. Chris was inducted into the COLORADO MUSIC HALL OF FAME in 2013 with Judy Collins and he has appeared with the Garth Brooks, B.B. King, Vince, Gill, Amy Grant, Joe Walsh, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Oates, The Luminieers, Uncle Cracker, Blues Traveler, The Neville Brothers, and the list goes on.

The band has also headlined on major international festivals, including Ribs & Blues Festival in The Netherlands, at Marktrock, Berchem Blues, and the Lokeren festivals in Belgium. The Kings have also served as the back up band for Garth Brooks, Bonnie Raitt, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Johnnyswim, Sonny Landreth, David Bromberg, Al Kooper, Bo Diddly, members of Little Feat, and Was Not Was at the Roxy in LA to name a few.

Die hard fans from Italy to Holland rocked with this remarkable artist who has appeared on major TV channels across the world, including HDnet all High definition TV, VH-1, TNN, Much Music/Canada, Nippon TV/Japan, Crooked River Grove, KUSA, and on Onhe Filter, AVRO, KAVRO, Paris MTV, and Brussles 1 in Europe, and on Swing TV in Buenos Ares, Argentina.

Important Info about 17th Street Closures:

From our friends at the Denver Office of Special Events: A construction project has closed 17th Ave for 2.5 blocks just west of Colorado Blvd. Also, traffic is reduced to one lane for eastbound traffic between Garfield & York. Parking on 17th is greatly reduced and prohibited on some stretches. This closure will last throughout the summer. Read more >

As always, we recommend carpooling, public transportation or rideshare, or riding a bike. This year, our new friends at Z Cycles are sponsoring the Bike Corral, where you can safely check your bike while you enjoy the show.

COVID-19 Update

We’ve partnered with Curative to provide pop-up COVID-19 testing at City Park Jazz this season! They’ll be located on the Plaza in front of the Pavilion for walk-ups.

As of now, large outdoor gatherings are permitted. We ask that if you have not yet been fully vaccinated, please continue to protect us and your neighbors by wearing a mask. Thank you!

Do you need accessible parking?
There is a lot adjacent to the Pavilion for those who need it — you’ll need a placard or license plate designation in order to access it, and it’s first-come, first-served. See the map >
Bring a buck! Or even two!
City Park Jazz is a 501(c)3 non-profit. We have no paid staff — we’re completely volunteer run. YOUR donations make the series possible. If every person who attended a show brought just $1, we’d cover the costs every week! Look out for the bucket brigade at the set break and help us out so we can keep City Park Jazz going forever!

Category: City Park Jazz

Latest – thecherrycreeknews.com
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National parks refine ticketed-entry systems to manage visitor boom
Fri, 30 Jul 2021 05:04:33 +0000

WASHINGTON — Watching the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain at Maine’s Acadia National Park is a gorgeous view — so breathtaking that on some days, as many as 500 cars could be found vying for the scenic overlook’s 150 parking spots.

That competition has become more manageable since Acadia officials began using a reservation system in May, according to the park’s superintendent, Kevin Schneider, who testified to federal lawmakers Wednesday about overcrowding in national parks.

“We want people to have a really high-quality experience, and not everybody can be out there at the same time in their cars,” Schneider told members of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. 


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Some of the country’s most famous national parks are grappling with an increasingly unsustainable rise in visitors.  

Marquee destinations like Montana’s Glacier National Park and neighboring Yellowstone have seen the number of annual visitors double since 1980, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) said during Wednesday’s hearing. Yellowstone saw 4 million visitors in 2019, and Glacier tallied more than 3 million.

In 2019 alone, there were 327 million visits to U.S. national parks — or the equivalent of every American making a park visit, said Kristen Brengel, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Parks Conservation Association.

That demand has only been exacerbated recently as Americans eager to resume travel have sought outdoor activities that are safer in the ongoing pandemic.

Colorado is home to four national parks: Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Senators at Wednesday’s hearing were flanked by poster-sized photos of traffic jams at Acadia and Glacier as frustrated visitors attempted to wiggle their way in to hike and see other attractions.

“We can accidentally love our parks to death,” said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), chairman of the panel’s subcommittee on national parks. “Overcrowding can also significantly harm the visitor experience and strain the resources of gateway communities, souring what should be a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.”

Like Acadia, Glacier also has implemented a ticketed-entry system for summer-season visitors seeking to access Going-to-the-Sun Road between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. 

The launch of that entry system has been bumpy, and came not long before the summer season kicked off. 

Some visitors who booked trips long before the entry system was announced became frustrated when they couldn’t get entry tickets, said Kevin Gartland, executive director of the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce, a business group in the Montana resort town located 25 miles west of the park’s western gate. 

“One businesswoman put it to me last Friday like this: She feels more like she’s a therapist than a marketing director this year,” Gartland said, urging decisions about next year’s entry requirements be made in the coming months.

Still, Gartland said the entry passes have helped manage the flow, preventing problems that occurred last year when the park gates were shuttered because it was at capacity. That meant traffic backed up for hours, blocking access to businesses near the park entrance. 

Timed entry permits are also required at Rocky Mountain National Park.

A view of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. (Jacob W. Frank/ National Park Service/Public domain)

Michael Reynolds, a regional director for the National Park Service who oversees parks in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, and portions of Montana, acknowledged that the rollout of Glacier’s entry system has had “fits and starts.”

Reynolds said that while the process has gotten smoother, he and other park officials intend to work more closely with the business community and local groups to improve that experience. 

In addition to the entry reservations, senators and the park officials both said they’d like to see more efforts to encourage visitors to check out lesser-known parks as a potential way to alleviate some of the strain.

Reynolds touted the National Park Service’s new phone app as a resource, prompting King to ask whether it has the capability to show visitors which areas are more congested so they can divert to nearby attractions.

Reynolds promised to check into such an option, but cautioned that parks in some areas of the country may have challenges with that, due to limited internet bandwidth.  

“We’re working on that in another bill,” King quipped, referencing the ongoing efforts on Capitol Hill to craft infrastructure legislation.


First published by Colorado Newsline
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Water ‘crisis’ discussed by Interior’s Haaland, Colorado officials at Denver roundtable
Fri, 23 Jul 2021 04:50:29 +0000

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s visit to Colorado began on Thursday at the headquarters of Denver Water, where she met with state and local leaders to discuss federal efforts to deal with the worsening drought conditions that have spread across much of the American West.

“Being from New Mexico, I know how much climate change impacts our communities, from extended fire seasons to intense drought and water shortages,” Haaland said at a press conference. “And I know how important the Colorado River Basin is to these discussions.”

Haaland, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat from Denver, were among those who joined a closed-door roundtable discussion of water issues prior to Thursday’s press event.


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“Part of our goal today was to hear directly from affected communities and affected water districts who are experiencing drought,” said Tanya Trujillo, assistant secretary for water and science at the Interior Department. “We’re taking leadership from the president, directly from the (Office of Domestic Climate Policy), and are working on drought and resiliency, both in the short-term context but also looking forward to longer-term programs.”

As of July 20, 2021, more than 36% of Colorado was experiencing “severe” drought conditions or worse. (U.S. Drought Monitor)

The latest weekly map released by the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday showed virtually no change to conditions in Colorado, where more than a third of the state — an area including much of the Western Slope — remains under a “severe” drought classification or worse. Things are even more dire in many other Western states, with “extreme” or “exceptional” drought conditions persisting across nearly all of Utah and Nevada, and large parts of California, Arizona, Oregon and Washington.

The conditions are part of a decades-long trend, driven by human-caused climate change, towards hotter, drier weather across much of the West. The post-2000 “megadrought” impacting the Colorado River Basin, the primary water source for more than 40 million people, is estimated to be the region’s worst dry spell since the 16th century, and scientists say it is being driven in large part by higher temperatures, rather than natural variability in precipitation.

One year after a historic and deadly 2020 wildfire season, another round of large, fast-moving fires is again razing drought-stricken lands in multiple states this summer, their smoke plumes drifting across the country and causing hazy skies and unhealthy air quality as far away as New York City. For the first time ever, officials with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation have begun emergency water releases from reservoirs upstream of Lake Powell, including Colorado’s Blue Mesa Reservoir, in an effort to keep water levels high enough to continue hydroelectric power generation at Glen Canyon Dam.

Friday stop in Grand Junction

“Drought doesn’t just impact one community,” said Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo and the first Native American to lead the Interior Department, which oversees more than 500 million acres of land across the country, much of it in the West. “It affects all of us, from farmers and ranchers to city dwellers and Indian tribes. We all have a role to use water wisely and manage our resources with every community in mind.”

The Colorado River Basin is subdivided into Upper and Lower basins, with the former ending at Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam. (U.S. Geological Survey)

“The idea of collaboration and interconnectedness, I think, is really important,” said Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead at the press conference. “It’s not just what happens here in the headwaters of the Colorado River, it’s also what happens in the Lower Basin states. … We are working collaboratively. I think we need to work more closely.”

Along with their counterparts in other states, officials with the Colorado Water Conservation Board are currently studying the feasibility of a “demand management” program for the Upper Colorado River Basin, which would establish a voluntary program to pay large water users to temporarily reduce their consumption under certain conditions. Such a program could be implemented as part of a renegotiated Colorado River Compact, an interstate agreement that is set to expire in 2026.

“That is something that has to be approved by all the Upper Basin states,” Becky Mitchell, director of the CWCB, said at Thursday’s press conference. “This is one potential solution, or piece of the solution. … This has definitely put a sense of urgency on the work we’re doing at the state level, and we’re going to continue to push forward as much as we can on that.”

Haaland and other officials also used Thursday’s event to tout the importance of congressional efforts to improve water management throughout the West, including through an infrastructure package currently being negotiated by the White House and a bipartisan group of senators, including first-term Colorado Sen. John Hickenlooper.

“The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework includes important investments that will provide much-needed funding for the western drought crisis by investing in water efficiency and recycling programs, Tribal water settlements, and dam safety,” the Interior Department said in a press release.

Haaland’s trip to Colorado will continue with a stop in Grand Junction on Friday, where she will hold a meeting on wildfire response and preparedness and visit the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management, as a decision looms on whether the Biden administration will reverse the agency’s controversial 2019 relocation there. Haaland is also scheduled to hold a roundtable discussion on outdoor recreation in Ridgway on Saturday.


First published by Colorado Newsline
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Billionaires slipped the surly bonds of Earth but couldn’t escape its problems
Mon, 26 Jul 2021 16:57:54 +0000

Billionaires slipped the surly bonds of Earth, but couldn’t escape its problems” first appeared in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

Billionaire space cowboys Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have rightfully been taking some flack for sub-orbital jaunts earlier this month that garnered plenty of headlines but little in the way of actual scientific advancement, apart from trying to normalize the idea of routine spaceflight for other, exceptionally rich people.

With all the power of the rockets that propelled them and their titanic egos into the wild blue yonder, social media went incandescent with criticism, arguing persuasively that Bezos and Branson could have used their money to address a sprawling multitude of problems, from climate change to income inequality, back here on Earth.

“Jeff Bezos is going into space tomorrow. Yesterday, on earth, I saw a man search for food in a trash can,” the critic Charles Preston observed on Twitter.


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Warren Gunnels, a top aide to U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), piled on, tartly noting that “class warfare is Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson becoming $250 billion richer during the pandemic, paying a lower tax rate than a nurse and racing to outer space while the planet burns and millions go without healthcare, housing and food.”

Others wryly noted that should Bezos, the former Amazon chief, need to relieve himself while rocketing through the skies, he could always use the same plastic bottles that his drivers have said they use as they try to meet punishing delivery schedules.

Bezos, at least, had the presence of mind to observe that his critics were onto something, conceding that they were “largely right,” CNBC and other outlets reported.

“We have to do both,” he said. “We have lots of problems here and now on Earth and we need to work on those and we also need to look to the future, we’ve always done that as a species and as a civilization. We have to do both.”

in the case of the billionaire space race, there was almost no sense that this was, to paraphrase Neil Armstrong, one giant step for humankind.

On one level, Bezos was right. There always has been a fundamental tension between humankind’s interstellar ambitions, which tend to be massively expensive, and the feeling that money could be better used to ameliorate more terrestrial concerns.

“I am not opposed to climbing mountains because they’re there, or pursuing knowledge for knowledge’s sake, but I would urge the Trump Administration to consider putting its scientific efforts into problems closer to home (climate change? Or, say, clean water in Flint?) before our plan to colonize the moon turns into a plan to escape to it,” Ana Marie Cox wrote in 2018 as the former president briefly floated the idea of lunar colonization before the Earth was plunged into the worst public health crisis in a century.

There is undoubtedly a case to be made for the utility of spaceflight of advancing the cause of human knowledge. The digital flight controls pioneered by the Apollo program is “now integral to airliners and is even found in most cars,” according to NASA, which, admittedly, has something to gain by touting the earthbound benefits of space flight.

The Earth, 240,000 miles away, is seen rising above the moon on Dec. 24, 1968. (NASA/Bill Anders)

Writing in Foreign Policy in 2019, Greg Autry reminded readers of the now legendary image of the Earth captured by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders in 1968: A big, blue marble looking alone and so very vulnerable in the vast void of space.  That photo, dubbed “Earthrise,” has inspired ever since.

“Today conservationists and other critics are more likely to see space programs as militaristic splurges that squander billions of dollars better applied to solving problems on Earth,” Autry wrote. “These well-meaning complaints are misguided, however. Earth’s problems — most urgently, climate change — can be solved only from space. That’s where the tools and data already being used to tackle these issues were forged and where the solutions of the future will be too.”

Knowledge — and money — deployed in the service of the greater good is almost always welcome. And I remain as much an evangelist for the exploration of interstellar space as anyone else. I agree with the premise that there is a mandate to explore — while gleaning the knowledge that comes along with it.

But in the case of the billionaire space race, there was almost no sense that this was, to paraphrase Neil Armstrong, one giant step for humankind.

Rather, it was about puffing the egos of spectacularly wealthy men, who despite all the hoopla, never made it that far into space in any event, with negligible scientific benefit.

Bezos and Branson slipped the surly bonds of Earth, as the poet John Gillespie Magee once wrote. But they returned to a planet just as riven by inequality, war, a still raging pandemic, and the crisis of climate change.

I’d suggest that if they were looking, as Magee also wrote, to “(touch) the face of God,” they could have kept themselves  — and their billions — on solid ground, and devoted it to Her creation on Earth.


First published by Colorado Newsline
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Thousands of Coloradans await rental assistance as eviction moratorium expiration looms
Tue, 27 Jul 2021 16:59:30 +0000

Colorado distributed $11.4 million in rental assistance in June — more than the previous five months combined. But thousands of households are still awaiting payments for approved rental assistance as the expiration of the federal eviction moratorium looms less than a week away.

The federal eviction ban, established in September 2020, is set to expire on July 31, with no indication from the White House or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the moratorium will be extended. Another protection that’s set to expire at the end of the month is an executive order issued by Gov. Jared Polis that gives tenants 30 days — not 10 — to get caught up on rent before a landlord can file an eviction.

“I think what’s really frightening about the situation is that you have hundreds of millions of dollars that are ready to go,” said Zach Neumann, co-founder and executive director of the Colorado-based COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project. “But you have people who don’t know about it, or you have people who are trying to access it, but it takes time.”


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Colorado was allocated $247.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for emergency rental assistance. State lawmakers also allocated $54 million in December towards the state’s emergency housing assistance programs. Local governments have also received additional state and federal funding for housing assistance programs.

Though the number of households that received rental assistance hit an all-time high in June, thousands of households that have been approved are still waiting on their payments. The exact number of households is difficult to determine because the state’s rental assistance reporting dashboard doesn’t distinguish between applications that have been approved versus people that have actually received their rental assistance payments.

The dashboard says approval/payment, and it looks really high. It looks like they’re doing great. But you can’t tell how many payments have been made. And we have clients who are just nervous as hell for August 1 because they’ve been approved months ago.

– Jana Happel, staff attorney with Colorado Legal Services, discussing the state’s rental assistance dashboard

“The dashboard says approval/payment, and it looks really high,” Jana Happel, a staff attorney for Colorado Legal Services in Denver, referring to the state’s rental assistance reporting dashboard. “It looks like they’re doing great. But you can’t tell how many payments have been made. And we have clients who are just nervous as hell for August 1 because they’ve been approved months ago.”

Discrepancies with the state’s rental assistance reporting dashboard

A spokesperson with the Department of Local Affairs told Newsline in an email on Monday that the dashboard was under construction and wouldn’t be updated until sometime in August. But the dashboard was updated later on July 26 after not being updated in 20 days.

Before the dashboard was updated, it showed that $57.2 million had been approved in rental assistance between January and June 2021. After the update, the dashboard showed $48.7 million for the same time frame — a difference of $8.5 million. According to data from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Colorado paid out $19.9 million in rental assistance from January through June 2021.

Happel said the whole point of Polis’ executive order and the federal eviction moratorium was to buy state and local entities more time to get the historic amount of rental assistance funds out the door.

“Imagine how many people’s housing could be saved if that money gets out, before the moratorium expires,” Happel added.

“Now it looks like the worst is going to happen. All that money is mostly in the bank. The states are pushing out very little for a variety of reasons,” Happel said. “We’re not talking about onerous (regulations) or tenants dragging their feet or landlords, we’re talking about people who are approved and now we just need to cut the check. And they can’t explain to us why they’re not spending the money that’s just sitting in the bank.”

No one from the Department of Local Affairs was made available to answer questions from Newsline regarding the state’s rental assistance dashboard.

State auditors are currently taking a closer look at Colorado’s rental assistance programs, specifically around the administrative costs associated with distributing pandemic relief funds and how well the state’s Property Owner Preservation Program has operated. The two audits are expected to be published in September and October.

Coalition encourages Polis to take executive action

A coalition of elected officials, organizations and housing advocates sent a letter to Polis on Monday urging him to slow the eviction process for people who have been approved for rental assistance but are waiting for the payment.

Republican and Democratic mayors who signed onto the letter include those from Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Castle Pines, Denver, Edgewater, Golden, Lafayette, Northglenn, Thornton, Westminster and Wheat Ridge. Other supporters included officials from school districts, Children’s Hospital of Colorado, Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Denver Department of Public Health Environment and Mental Health Center of Denver. 

Conor Cahill, a spokesperson for Polis, said in an email that “the Governor and his team review all input including letters and appreciate the engagement of so many Coloradans on this important issue.”

Happel said that even if the eviction process was slowed for renters that have assistance funds in the pipeline, there is still the issue that landlords are not required to accept rent payments after an eviction is filed with the court. A bill signed into law this year, Senate Bill 21-173, changes that by allowing tenants to pay back their rent at any time until a court has issued a judgement for possession. But the law doesn’t take effect until Oct. 1.

A graph provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development depicting risk of eviction for renters during the pandemic.

Currently, 40.5% of Colorado adults — a huge jump from 25.5% in early June — are living in households that are not current on their rent or mortgage payments and where eviction or foreclosure in the next two months is either very likely or somewhat likely, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. The survey estimates that 78,971 Colorado adults fall into this category.

Black and brown households have been disproportionately impacted by the state’s housing crisis, according to the state’s data. Renters who identify as Hispanic or Latino represent 31.4% of rental assistance applications, while only making up 21.8% of Colorado’s population. Similarly, renters who identify as Black or African American make up 13.9% of  applications and only represent 4% of the state’s population.

Due to longstanding income inequality along racial lines in the U.S. — a product of ongoing discrimination, unequal job opportunities and systemic racism — Black and Latino households make up a disproportionate amount of the rental market. In 2018, 27% of U.S. renters were white, compared with 55% of Latino households and 59% of Black households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Eviction filings steadily increase

Since Jan. 1, 12,683 evictions have been filed around the state as of July 25, according to data from the Colorado Judicial Branch and Denver County Court. Denver alone accounts for nearly 25% of the filings with 2,499 cases.

Happel, with Colorado Legal Services, said she expects to see a spike in eviction filings once the federal eviction moratorium expires, similar to what was seen in January.

“Through the pandemic, there’s been ebbs and flows with the different holes and the changing of orders and things like that,” she said. “We’re expecting to see a lot.”

In comparison to other states, when it comes to distributing rental assistance Colorado appears to be the middle of the pack, Neumann said. He participated in a White House roundtable last week regarding rental assistance and evictions. “There’s certain states that have been faster. There are also a lot of states that have basically moved none of the money.”

“People are trying hard to figure this out, it’s just, it’s really hard to do with the federal rules. They don’t make it easy and it takes time, and they’re just real hurdles,” Neumann said. “I think the slowness is largely a product of those challenging federal guidelines and not because anyone has not moved quickly or not worked hard.”


First published by Colorado Newsline
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Conflicting versions of tree-spiking case overshadow Stone-Manning nomination
Sat, 17 Jul 2021 04:38:53 +0000

Tracy Stone-Manning and a former federal investigator in recent days shared widely varying accounts of her involvement in a 1989 tree-spiking in an Idaho national forest, as the fight over the Montanan’s nomination to lead the U.S. Bureau of Land Management escalated.

Stone-Manning’s confirmation remains stuck in a divided U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, with no vote yet scheduled by Chairman Joe Manchin III. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have pounded away at the discrepancies in the narratives given by retired U.S. Forest Service Special Agent Michael Merkley and Stone-Manning about the tree-spiking. 


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The Biden administration maintained its support for Stone-Manning’s version of events, with Interior Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz dismissing a damning letter from Merkley to the energy panel as a “work of fiction.”

“The Interior Department stands by Tracy’s statements and written submissions,” she added.

All accounts of the incident share one common set of facts: Stone-Manning mailed a letter to the Forest Service in 1989 threatening that loggers who attempted to cut down a portion of Clearwater National Forest could be hurt by spikes driven into them in an attempt to sabotage a sale — a federal crime.

Years later, in late 1992 or early 1993, investigators learned from Guenevere Lilburn, a former girlfriend of one of the convicted organizers of the tree-spiking, that Stone-Manning sent the letter. 

Stone-Manning received immunity from prosecution in 1993 in return for her testimony against John Blount and Jeff Fairchild, who were both convicted of the spiking, considered an act of eco-terrorism because of its potential to maim or kill timber industry workers.

But Stone-Manning and Merkley diverge in other crucial details of the incident, especially her involvement in the planning of the tree-spiking and level of cooperation with the investigation.

A letter to the committee

Merkley sent a letter Wednesday to Manchin (D-W.Va.) and the committee’s ranking Republican, John Barrasso of Wyoming, saying that Stone-Manning helped plan the sabotage, contradicting the narrative Stone-Manning has long maintained about the incident.

Stone-Manning only began cooperating with investigators in 1993 once she became a target of the investigation herself, at which point she hired an attorney who negotiated the immunity deal, Merkley wrote. During the initial investigation, “she was the nastiest of the suspects,” and refused to answer any questions, even though she knew who was responsible, he wrote.  

Barrasso’s committee staff confirmed Merkley’s identity, including obtaining a photo of his Forest Service special agent badge. 

But Stone-Manning has insisted that her sole involvement was to re-type and mail the letter in 1989, repeating that contention in her response to 39 pages of questions asked by Barrasso. Stone-Manning, then a 23-year-old graduate student in the University of Montana’s environmental studies program, believed the letter would alert the proper authorities to the matter. 

She only became aware of the tree-spiking when Blount handed her the letter and asked her to mail it, she wrote. 

Even then, she wasn’t sure Blount and Fairchild had actually spiked the forest. She described being “disturbed by the whole situation and frightened by him.”

A 1993 phone call from the ex-girlfriend, Lilburn, describing Blount’s abuse of her, prompted Stone-Manning to tell authorities what she knew about his role in the tree-spiking. Lilburn was “sobbing” on the phone, Stone-Manning wrote, and told her Blount was in jail for domestic abuse. 

Lilburn asked for Stone-Manning’s help to keep him imprisoned for longer by sharing what she knew about the tree-spiking, and Stone-Manning agreed, she wrote.

Various other people involved in some way with the incident have also given conflicting accounts recently that shed little light on the truth.

Blount said in an E&E News interview that Stone-Manning was involved in planning the tree-spiking.

The Washington Post reported that Fairchild backed up Stone-Manning’s account that she was uninvolved except for mailing the letter.

Senate reacts

Senate Republicans have made Stone-Manning’s credibility central to their case against her confirmation. They contend she lied to the committee by saying she’d never been the target of an investigation. 

They say that is false because Merkley wrote that she received a target letter, informing her she was a target of the investigation. 

Yet the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case, George Brietsmeter, told The Associated Press he doubted that Stone-Manning received a letter informing her she was a target of the investigation.

Republicans say they believe Merkley and that Stone-Manning has lied to the U.S. Senate — which potentially could be a violation of the law.

“Tracy Stone-Manning’s story isn’t supported by the facts,” Barrasso said in a Friday statement. “The lead investigator’s detailed letter and numerous other accounts from the time make it clear that her sworn statements to the committee are just false. Lying to the U.S. Senate has consequences. In this case, the nomination should be rejected.”

Every Republican member of the Senate Energy Committee signed a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday asking him to withdraw Stone-Manning’s nomination, including one of Stone-Manning’s home-state senators, Republican Steve Daines.

In an appendix to that letter, Republicans pointed out that Stone-Manning’s account of feeling disturbed and frightened by Blount was at odds with her testimony at the 1993 trial that he and Fairchild were among her circle of friends.

Increasing the partisan divide on the nomination, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky added his voice this week to the GOP chorus opposing her. At one point, Senate Republicans featured three separate press releases on the Senate Energy website attacking Stone-Manning. House members like Colorado’s Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert have joined in on social media. “She is unfit to lead a federal agency and her nomination should be withdrawn,” Boebert tweeted Friday about Stone-Manning.

A retired criminal investigator and Army veteran said Tracy Stone-Manning, Biden’s nominee to be director of the BLM, was the “nastiest of the [ecoterrorist] suspects. She was vulgar, antagonistic, and extremely anti-government. She was very uncooperative” until offered a deal.

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) July 16, 2021

Senate Democrats have not appeared as organized or forceful in defending her. 

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has not addressed the battle over the nomination, which while not as high-profile as for a Cabinet post has still gained widespread attention among conservatives. A spokesman for the New York Democrat did not return messages seeking comment this week.

Manchin, often seen as the deciding vote in the 50-50 Senate, has not said how he will vote on the confirmation. 

A White House official did offer a statement of support, calling Stone-Manning “a dedicated public servant who has years of experience and a proven track record of finding solutions and common ground when it comes to our public lands and waters.”

Tester support

To the extent they have defended her, Democrats have focused more on her career in public life after graduation, than on the details of a 30-year-old crime and subsequent investigation. 

Before taking a senior role in conservation policy with the National Wildlife Federation, Stone-Manning worked as a regional director for U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), chief of staff to then-Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and director of Montana’s environmental quality department.

Tester, the sole Democrat in the three-member Montana congressional delegation, in a state former President Donald Trump won by 16 points, has stood firm even as the controversy has swirled.

“Tracy Stone-Manning is a dedicated public servant who has devoted her life to advocating for the public lands that drive our economy and serve as the backbone of Montana’s outdoor heritage,” Tester said in a statement Thursday. 

“Tracy will bring Montana common sense to the Bureau of Land Management and serve as a collaborative, nonpartisan steward for our public lands, as well as the thousands of good-paying jobs that rely on them. I look forward to her confirmation.”

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