News Nuggets: 27 July 2009

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MUST READ: The Gazette unfurls a gripping two-part series examining a rash of murders — and other crimes — committed by soldiers from a Fort Carson unit that has seen some of the most disturbing fighting in the Iraq war. Drawing from months of interviews, the lengthy articles by Gazette reporter Dave Philipps take a close look at 10 soldiers who fought with the 4th Infantry Division, 4th Brigade Combat Team and have been arrested for murder, attempted murder and manslaughter back home.

This isn’t your usual newspaper fare — the series includes an editor’s note warning readers about the graphic battle descriptions and profane language.

The Gazette posts audio of an interview with 24-year-old Kenneth Eastridge, a decorated veteran serving 10 years for accessory to murder after he and two fellow soldiers killed another member of their company in 2007.

The newspaper also posts online a 126-page report issued this month by the Army looking into questions about the unit’s crimes. Philipps summarizes:

They concluded that the intensity of battle, the long-standing stigma against seeking help, and shortcomings in substance-abuse and mental-health treatment may have converged with “negative outcomes,” but more study was needed.

KEEP THOSE CARDS AND LETTERS COMING: The Moffat County clerk is forwarding to the governor comment cards from residents angry over late fees instituted last month as part of an increase in vehicle registration charges. It’s not because she’s a Republican giving residents a chance to bash the state’s ruling Democrats, she says. But state GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams called to thank the clerk for “standing up.” Calling the postcard protest a “petty use of tax money,” The Denver Post editorial board says the clerks ought to knock it off.

WRONG NUMBER: A federal agency is probing how Colorado could have improperly granted telephone subsidies to 10,000 residents since 2005. The Colorado Department of Human Services discovered the problem earlier this year when it found more than one-third of those getting the $16.50-a-month subsidy didn’t qualify. The state agency said its computer system won’t let it cross-check welfare rolls with those getting the dial-tone break.

RANKINGS, WE’VE GOT RANKINGS: The University of Colorado at Boulder climbs a couple notches to No. 11 among the nation’s best party schools, according to the Princeton Review’s annual rankings list released Monday. But that’s not all — CU Boulder also lands the No. 5 spot for “reefer madness,” only barely beating liberal arts haven Colorado College, which comes in at No. 7 on the ganja list. CC also scores in 10th place for happiest students. Up the highway from CC, the Air Force Academy finishes in 4th place for schools where it’s least likely to smoke marijuana. Zoomies also made the list as No. 16 among least-happy students. Coincidence?

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