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NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks paid a visit to the New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Fountain on Sunday to deliver a passionate sermon in the wake of what may have been an attempted bombing at the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP earlier this month. “We refuse to be intimidated,” he roared to the congregation, which whooped and hollered in response. Via the Gazette.

The Colorado office of public defenders filed three lawsuits against Denver County Courts, alleging that judges indiscriminately set bail too high and refuse to have timely hearings on the matter thus unfairly prolonging low-level offenders’ time in already over-crowded jails. “These are people who usually have mental illness, were wrongfully arrested or are of a race other than white,” Iris Eytan, a public defender who has signed onto two of the cases, said. “It reeks of injustice.” Via the Denver Post.

A Pueblo man fleeing police after allegedly breaking into a home was shot and killed during a firefight near a church. Very few details are available as the investigation gets under way, but the entire incident was captured on film by the Pueblo Police force’s newly issued body cameras. Via the Pueblo Chieftain.

A new policy starting Monday will require any welfare recipient in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program – or Colorado Works — to pass a drug and alcohol screening if he/she is suspected of using benefits to fuel an addiction. Rick Bengtsson, executive director of the El Paso County Department of Human Services, said that “[the measure] is not punitive. It’s therapeutic, and it’s about family safety.” Mark Silverstein, legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said the program was based on an implicit assumption that welfare recipients are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.  “Not only is this a solution in search of a problem, it’s a bad, misguided and possibly unconstitutional solution in search of a problem.” Via the Durango Herald.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy addressed the crowd assembled at the X-Games in Aspen last week. “Climate change does threaten skiing, it does threaten snowboarding, it does threaten winter recreation as we know it.” In addition to appealing to the attendees’ love of snow-sports, McCarthy also framed the issue in economic terms, pointing out that the industry adds about $67 billion to the economy every year and supports more than 900,000 jobs. “We need to take action, not tomorrow, but today,” she said. McCarthy also gushed about the opportunity to explore the mountain with snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler who she called “her hero.” Via Aspen Daily News.

Top photo: Cornell William Brooks.

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A same-sex wedding comes to conservative Oklahoma. It’s not easy for the wedding couple — and it’s not easy for Oklahoma. As Kathryn Frazier, who was marrying Tracy Curtis, put it:  “I’m a gay Christian in Oklahoma — there is no greater cosmic joke than for me to be a gay Christian.” Via the Washington Post.

Culture wars, old and new, and the battles still rage. Via E.J. Dionne at the Washington Post.

Nicholas Kristof and the death of an old friend: Where, he asks, is the empathy? Via the New York Times.

The abortion bill was a disaster for the House GOP leadership. Next up: immigration. Via the National Journal.

Via Tom Engelhardt: Customs and Border Protection, a division of our gargantuan Department of Homeland Security, runs a fleet of 9 drones  and is looking to expand the fleet to 24 drones at a cost of $443 million. Doesn’t matter that the fleet is already an enormous waste of money. Drones cost $12,255 per flight hour yet, as the Washington Post reports: “Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of border-crossing apprehensions were attributed to drone detection.”  The inspector general says the government should shelve the expansion plan. Homeland Security is hearing none of that. Our absurd high-tech spendthrift border preoccupations will only get worse, as Todd Miller and Gabriel Schivone write for TomDispatch in a piece titled “Gaza in Arizona.”

Scott Walker is the star of the first major Iowa 2016 GOP confab, at least according to the Hill.

Also in Iowa, Sarah Palin says she’s “seriously interested” in running for president. No, she isn’t, writes Chris Cillizza. Of course, we know which one to believe. Via the Washington Post.

It’s 2016, not 2008, and an old question must be asked anew: Does Iowa still heart Huckabee? Via Politico.

Rand Paul says more than half the people on disability are either “anxious” or “their back hurts.” Not even close, says the Washington Post Fact Checker, which gives Paul three Pinocchios out of four.

The measles virus is threatening to make a comeback, thanks to the anti-vaxxers. Colorado is one of the leader danger states. Via the Atlantic.

Shock: Even Fox News is critical of the plan by Netanyahu and Boehner to undermine Obama. No, really. Via Fox.

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It’s deja vu all over again, but in reverse: A Colorado baker now faces a discrimination complaint for declining to decorate a cake with an anti-gay message. Last year, Colorado made national news when a cake baker refused to make a wedding gay for a gay couple. Cake crazy Colorado! It began this time around when Bill Jack of Castle Rock placed an order at Azucar Bakery in Denver for a Bible-shaped cake, which owner Marjorie Silva happily made. Then, as she put on the finishing touches, Jack asked her to write “God Hates Gays” in frosting on the cake and stick two groom figurines on top covered with an “X”. Silva gave Jack a pastry bag of frosting and told him he could do that kind of decorating himself. Did Jack really want the cake or did he want something else? He filed a formal complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, saying on KUSA-TV that he believes he “was discriminated against by the bakery based on [his] creed.” Neither Jack nor Silva can comment on the case before the CCRD releases its findings. Via the Gazette.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 6.43.03 PMFrank Gale, one of the most decorated officers at the Denver Sheriff Department, was laid off on Wednesday — for the third time. The former second-in-command in the department who once oversaw the Downtown Detention Center was also fired in 1991 and 2000, both over allegations that he assaulted an inmate, intimidated deputy witnesses and lied about it. Both times, he appealed the termination and was reinstated. This time, his firing comes after he gave preferential treatment to a department captain who was facing criminal charges. Gale is the third high-ranking official in the Denver Sheriff Department to be fired or demoted this year. Will it stick? His attorney says Gale will appeal his latest termination. Via the Denver Post. (Photo of Gale via DPTV.)

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 6.44.37 PMA 55-year-old Colorado Springs man is recovering in the hospital after being shot in the leg by a Colorado State Patrol trooper. According to Sgt. Joel Kern of the Colorado Springs Police Department, which is investigating the incident, the man resisted arrest and assaulted the trooper during a traffic stop. The CSPD won’t say whether the man was armed. The trooper, who suffered minor injuries in the scuffle, is on administrative leave. Via the Gazette. (Photo by Kassondra Cloos.)

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 6.46.25 PMMore colleges and universities in the West are starting to offer more classes on environmental philosophy, perhaps in response to a “real hunger” among students to question the ethical framework in which the civilized world marches onward toward ecological disaster, according to Colorado State University philosophy professor Philip Cafaro. High Country News‘s Alex Carr Johnson walks through some of the West’s most cutting-edge programs charting the new course. (Photo from Prescott College archive.)

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You may not have thought it possible, but things have gotten even more chaotic in the Middle East. The American-backed government in Yemen has fallen, and the strongest group in the unstable country seems to be Iranian-backed rebels. It’s also home to Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, which recently claimed responsibility for the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah has died at age 90. By Saudi standards, Abdullah was a reformer. He was also considered an ascetic, or, as the New York Times notes, “as ascetic as someone in the habit or renting out entire hotels can be.” Abdullah’s brother, Crown Prince Salman, says he has assumed the throne.

The new king is thought to be in poor health at age 79, and some think he is suffering from dementia. Via the Washington Post.

What the Saudi king’s death could mean for oil prices. Via Vox.

“The Royal Land Rovers,” an Abdullah story via John Flowers:

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Republicans get back to their war on Obamacare with a hearing on insurance and the 40-hour work week. Let’s just say it didn’t go so well. Via Slate.

How the House GOP’s abortion bill fell apart. Via the National Journal.

The real problem in American education: The wisdom deficit. Via the Atlantic.

Anti-vax deniers stick together, which just makes it harder for everyone else. Via the Washington Post.

Ian O’Connor writes in ESPN that no one seems to believe Tom Brady’s version of Deflategate.

Amy Davidson goes to the movies and finds that “Selma” is more than fair to LBJ. Via the New Yorker.

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The Gazette ran through some Colorado politicians’ reactions to Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. Here’s a highlight: Conservative Colorado 5th Congressional District Rep. Doug Lamborn, who boycotted the SOTU in 2012, was unimpressed with the speech this year. He likened the president to Santa Claus (Because of government spending, apparently.)

Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly reported that Lamborn had boycotted this year’s speech. The congressman attended the speech. The text above has been altered to reflect that fact.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 4.41.22 PMFour suspects are being charged with the theft of several pieces of Dale Chihuly artwork from the Denver Botanical Gardens this summer. Thornton police announced that they recovered a glass orb and found several glass cattails smashed in a cornfield in Strasburg. Court records show that police identified the suspects based on a tip from confidential informants. Via the Denver Post, photo via Denver District Attorney’s office.

cashMBank, an Oregon-based bank, will be the first financial institution to start doing business with the Colorado marijuana industry. “It’s a bold maneuver and not one for a lot of folks to take on,” president and CEO Jef Baker said Tuesday, “We looked to regulators, both state and federal, to help us come to the conclusion that we can do banking in this sector.” Via the Daily Camera.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission sent a “show cause” letter to Black Hills Colorado Electric. The letter says the company may face a $165,000 fine for charging customers who generate their own electricity with solar panels a $5 monthly meter fee. Around 850 customers could be entitled to refunds totaling more than $45,000. Via the Pueblo Chieftain.

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Why did House Republicans suddenly drop their 20-week abortion-ban bill. Was it because moderates in the party insisted? Or because the bill would be a disaster for whoever runs against Hillary Clinton? Or because they got hooked by their own bait and switch?

Dana Milbank at the Washington Post on the bait and switch that hooked House Republicans.

David Frum writes in the Atlantic that Barack Obama’s State of the Union had one target in mind — Hillary Clinton, who can’t ignore the liberal agenda that Obama laid down.

Jon Stewart on the crowd of competing GOP/Tea Party responses to the State of the Union address. “How many people are at this f&*#ing tea party?”

Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are scheduled to meet this week. The question: Will one of them step aside in his quest for the GOP nomination? Via the New York Times.

Jeb Bush is the latest Bush who wants to be the education president. But what does his record show? Via the New Yorker.

Sen. Jim Inhofe’s climate-change hoax denial is, of course, a hoax. Via the Washington Post.

Leslie Gelb says that Obama has no choice but to finally makes a deal with Assad. Via the Daily Beast.

Why should we raise the gas tax? Gail Collins says we should ask the nearest walrus. Goo goo g’joob. Via the New York Times.

If you want to know why the Selma director was snubbed by Oscar, check out Entertainment Weekly and be surprised.

Win or lose, the Patriots have lost. Via Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe.

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Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech was about turning the page. It has been a long six years of bad economic news. Did Obama convince you that the crisis is over and that it’s time to move on to tackle issues facing the middle class?

Ezra Klein writes in Vox that this is the first time that Obama has been able to suggest policies that don’t reflect crisis mode.

James Oliphant writes in the National Journal that the new page looks remarkably like the same old story.

Peter Baker asks in the New York Times whether the speech was a bold vision of liberal ideas or simply a waste of time.

Jonathan Chait writes in New York magazine that Obama’s speech marks the new era of post-recession Democratic politics.

Peter Beinart writes in the Atlantic that while Obama’s domestic-policy narrative hits a climax that his foreign-policy narrative collapses.

Michael Crowley writes in Politico that Obama is leading from the front again.

The GOP’s response to Obama’s policy agenda? The New York Times says, in a word, “No.”

And: GOP House Speaker John Boehner wore the perfect face all night. Here he is after the president celebrated gay rights advances, via Mother Jones.

State of the Union? Yes. Of course. But please, it was not “gritty” prose. It wasn’t even very good prose, and you know exactly why, and Gawker agrees with you: “No one currently involved in speechwriting is ever going to craft a Lincoln’s Second Inaugural or a Washington’s Farewell Address, because speeches of that nature are not considered effective political communication in the 21st century. Modern speechwriters are certainly not doing anything comparable to writing deathless fiction about the realities of the American experience, because it would be weird if a politician delivered stark observations on the human condition instead of trying to make himself appear more acceptable than his political opponents to people who pay attention to presidential speeches once a year.”

In other news, Paris mayor plans to sue Fox News over false reports on Muslim no-go zones. No, seriously. Via New York Times.

So… should we be Charlie Hebdo? Save the Enlightenment from its fundamentalists! Via the Guardian.

The NSA wants all our phone records. Is that really the best way to catch a terrorist. Via the New Yorker.

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Nearly 200 people gathered before the Weld County Courthouse to ask for more compassion, accountability and transparency from law enforcement in the wake of a handful of fatal officer-involved shootings. No police officers have been charged in the incidents. The rally was organized by Police Accountability in Weld County, a recently formed local advocacy group. That the protest was held on Martin Luther King Day was no accident, an organizer told the Greeley Tribune‘s Joe Moylan, “[King] talked about peace and participating in peaceful demonstrations to effect change. We wanted to come here as a community and let the DA know that there are concerns about how things are done.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 3.39.46 PMOut of more than 100 bills introduced so far this session, Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, has signed his name to a couple of the more controversial ones, including a bill to repeal of universal background checks on gun sales and another that would make it a felony to perform an abortion. The newly elected representative — also known by his televangelist moniker “Dr. Chaps” — also introduced a bill of his very own, called “the unelected, dead bureaucrats don’t make rules act.” Legal experts have had mixed reactions to the legislation, which would require the legislature get involved in the administrative rule-making process that has gone unexamined for decades: Some praise it as a win for accountability and democracy; others fear it’ll leave agencies in a lawless limbo. Either way, everyone can be relieved the notoriously incendiary representative is talking about administrative law, rather than comparing Congressman Jared Polis to ISIS terrorists because he’s gay (or whatever it was.) Via the Gazette.

The federal Department of Veteran Affairs said it’s forming an investigative board to look into alleged mistreatment and mismanagement at the VA Medical Center in Aurora. “Our obligation is to ensure VA doesn’t allow such an outcome to occur again by learning all we can from past mistakes and put in place corrective actions to improve future performance,” read a press release sent out Monday. “Veterans and taxpayers also expect a thorough review be completed and those responsible are held accountable.” The VA also asked the Army Corps of Engineers to review an ongoing construction project at the hospital after the original contractor walked away. Via the Denver Post.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 4.15.21 PMThe jury selection process for the Aurora movie theater shooting case began on Tuesday, as thousands of prospective jurors flooded the Arapahoe County Courthouse. Reading prepared remarks, Judge Carlos Samour, Jr. implored the group to refrain from discussing the case, as difficult as that might be. During the first session, defendant James Holmes sat quietly, reclined in his chair. Via the Aurora Sentinel.

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Barack Obama delivered his seventh State of the Union speech to Congress and the nation last night. He’s a long speech-giver, his State of the Union speeches second in length to only Bill Clinton. The National Journal reports that this one was his second shortest, coming in just as the shot clock ticked down, at 59 minutes and 57 seconds.

Here’s the video.

Here’s the transcript.

Here’s a Glenn Kessler/Washington Post factcheck.

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A handful of Colorado Springs citizens protested outside of the local chapter of the NAACP on Martin Luther King day, declaring that the organization has lost its relevancy and, as one sign read, deserves a failing grade in matters of civil rights. The organizer of the small rally said that their actions have nothing to do with the recent bombing at the NAACP office, labeling that attack a “distraction.” Via the Gazette, photo by Lisa Walton.

 
Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 5.31.20 PMThe Denver Post has been tracking the story of the Denver Freedom Riders, an activist group formed in the wake of Mike Brown’s death at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The Post interviewed group founder, Anthony Grimes and covered the group’s dialogue with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock about youth issues. Grimes’s own documentary about the Denver Freedom Riders is also posted on DPTV. Movie still from DFR’s film. Grimes is seated in the middle.

 
Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 5.23.31 PMGeorge Brauchler, the district attorney in the Aurora movie theater shooting case, has raised eyebrows for insistently pursuing the death penalty for clearly disturbed defendant James Holmes. “That insistence upon the death penalty certainly seems politically motivated,” Denver defense lawyer Dan Recht told AP reporters Sadie Gurman and Nicholas Riccardi. “[Brauchler] may well believe that his insistence on trying to execute Holmes would shore up his conservative base.” Brauchler recently caught the eye of conservative politicos in 2013 for his public skewering of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s decision to forego the death penalty in a shooting case from the 1990s. “Everyone was just blown away by how well Brauchler did at being the voice of opposition,” commented former chairman of the state Republican party Dick Wadhams, “That created a real buzz among Republicans.” This past election cycle, Brauchler decided he couldn’t make the leap to electoral politics while the high-profile movie theater case was ongoing, but a senate campaign next year or a gubernatorial one the year after doesn’t seem out of the question. Nine-thousand prospective jurors will flock to the Arapahoe County criminal justice complex Tuesday morning for what’s shaping up to be a lengthy and costly trial. Via the Durango Herald, photo by David Zalubowski (Brauchler on the left).

 
Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 5.35.15 PMFalse alarm: the U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 3.0 earthquake near Fountain reported early Monday “wasn’t real.” The report was the product of a new analyst misunderstanding a faulty sensor that likely picked up on a series of temblors in south-central Kansas and north-central Oklahoma. There was no physical damage from the phantom quake. Via the Gazette, image of fake quake via USGS.

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We already know the big news from tonight’s State of the Union speech. Barack Obama will propose to modestly tax the rich in order to modestly cut taxes for the middle class and the working poor. With Republicans running Congress, John Cassidy writes, the proposal obviously won’t go anywhere – not now. But Cassidy says that since income inequality is likely to a critical part of the 2016 race, Obama’s plan may just be the starting point in a campaign that doubles as a bidding war on tax cuts. Via the New Yorker.

Some liberals are worried that Obama will be too willing to trade in his State of the Union. Via the National Journal.

According to the polls, it is the economy. And in the latest Washington Post-ABC poll, Obama finally gets back to 50 percent.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes at Time that Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is most threatened by those who admire him.

Bill Moyers talking about ‘Selma’ says it’s a powerful but flawed film. He said it underlines the “obscenity of the Republican Party as it has piously but insidiously taken up voter suppression as a priority.” And Moyers recalls that Pres. Johnson “never suggested Selma as the venue for a march but he’s on record as urging King to do something to arouse the sleeping white conscience, and when violence met the marchers on that bridge, he knew the moment had come: He told me to alert the speechwriters to get ready and within days he made his own famous ‘We Shall Overcome’ address that transformed the political environment.”

Rep. John Lewis, a participant of the Selma protests, on the movie. Via the LA Times.

Not everyone loves the low gas prices. If you want a look, take a trip to Midland, Tex., where they’re moving on to Plan B. Via the New York Times.

It turns out Republicans do have various plans to replace Obamacare. Philip Klein wrote a whole book about them, called Overcoming Obamacare. But Ezra Klein — no relation — writes in Vox that the real question is whether conservatives care enough about health care to take on the pain of trying to change it.

Speculation about George Brauchler’s political future raise questions about the Arapahoe County DA’s prosecution of Aurora movie killer James Holmes. Via ABC News.

Christopher Dickey asks in the Daily Beast whether Iran has gone back into the international assassination business in the death of an Argentine prosecutor.

You’ve seen the protests, but polling says cops are still incredibly popular. Via the Atlantic.