Downhill skate champ zooms down Colorado slope at 70mph


Downhill skateboard champ Zak Maytum flies down one of the fastest runs in his home state of Colorado “with speeds approaching 70mph, and rough-ass pavement. Be ready to have your fuckin' face melted.” Read the rest

Six years after unprovoked beating, Denver cop finally fired

Denver Police Officers Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine maced four women without provocation and shoved them to the ground in 2009, then lied about it for years. Read the rest

Colorado bear with munchies breaks into pie shop, eats all pies but one

He did not like strawberry rhubarb. No. Not one bit.

Colorado achieved incredible reductions in teen pregnancy through free birth control

The six-year program has run out of foundation money and the state is unlikely to pick up the tab, despite the 40% drop in teen births and 42% drop in abortions achieved through the simple expedient of giving free IUDs and implants to teens who asked for them. Read the rest

FBI investigating Denver cops who erased citizen video of beatdown

Denver police were videoed savagely beating David Flores and his pregnant girlfriend by Levi Frasier, who had his tablet confiscated and the video deleted after one of the cops shouted "camera" -- but the video had already backed up to the cloud. Read the rest

Just look at this felonious banana charge.

Just look at it: "A man is facing a felony menacing charge after two western Colorado sheriff's deputies say he pointed a banana at them and they thought it was a gun. (Thanks, Libbi!) Read the rest

Colorado's booming legal weed economy

It's not just the $10M in taxes the state's earned in four months -- it's also the $12-40M in law enforcement savings from not busting and imprisoning pot smokers. Read the rest

What happens when you opt your kids out of standardized tests

Lisa T. McElroy is a law professor who's spending a year at the University of Denver with her two kids, one in high school and one in middle school. She learned that she could opt her kids out of the standardized tests the school administered. So she did. What followed was a total educational freakout, as the principal, vice-principal and administration alternately cajoled and guilted her over her kids' non-participation in pedagogically suspect, meaningless, destructive high-stakes testing.

McElroy's story is a snapshot of an educational system in the process of implosion, driven by the ridiculous idea that schools are factories whose product is educated kids, and whose employees must be made "accountable" by measuring anything we can put a number on -- attendance and test-scores -- at the expense of actual educational outcomes.

Despite the fact that the best-performing educational systems in the world don't treat teachers as assembly line workers and kids as standardized injection molds to be squirted full of learning, the west continues to pursue this approach, scapegoating teachers' unions and pitting parents against them when the real enemy is the doomed idea that schools are a specialized kind of industrial plant -- and the project of selling off public schools to privatized educational corporations that collect public funds to educate kids, but only to the extent that this can be done without undermining their shareholders' interests. Read the rest

Aurora shooting suspect's psychiatrist alerted colleagues of threat, but officials never contacted police

The University of Colorado psychiatrist who treated mass shooting suspect James Holmes was so concerned by his behavior, she alerted colleagues in June that he was potentially dangerous. CNN reports that "University officials never contacted Aurora police with Fenton's concerns before the July 20 killings." She "made initial phone calls" about engaging a university threat response team in early June, according to the report, but things "never came together" because Holmes began the process of dropping out of school around this same time. Once he was no longer a student, they "had no control over him." Read the rest

What can we learn from the Colorado shooting?

Bruce Schneier asks what lessons we can learn from the shooting in a Colorado movie theater, and answers the question with admirable good sense:

The rarity of events such as the Aurora massacre doesn't mean we should ignore any lessons it might teach us. Because people overreact to rare events, they're useful catalysts for social introspection and policy change. The key here is to focus not on the details of the particular event but on the broader issues common to all similar events.

Installing metal detectors at movie theaters doesn't make sense -- there's no reason to think the next crazy gunman will choose a movie theater as his venue, and how effectively would a metal detector deter a lone gunman anyway? -- but understanding the reasons why the United States has so many gun deaths compared with other countries does. The particular motivations of alleged killer James Holmes aren't relevant -- the next gunman will have different motivations -- but the general state of mental health care in the United States is.

Even with this, the most important lesson of the Aurora massacre is how rare these events actually are. Our brains are primed to believe that movie theaters are more dangerous than they used to be, but they're not. The riskiest part of the evening is still the car ride to and from the movie theater, and even that's very safe.

Drawing the wrong lessons from horrific events (via Interesting People) Read the rest

Where was God?

God here. I thought I would take the time to personally explain my absence in the Aurora shootings. While I was at it, I thought I would also explain my absence during every murder, massacre and crime that has ever taken place in World history, and in every war, in every famine, drought and flood.

You see, I do not exist. I never have. Did it really make sense to you that I would create an entire Universe with billions of billions of planets and wait about 13,700,000,000 years just so I could focus on a few Jews from Palestine about 2,000 years ago while ignoring the rest of the 200,000,000 people on the planet at the time?

- Comment on a CNN Belief Blog editorial explaining "Where God was" during the recent shooting at a Dark Knight screening in Colorado. Read the rest

A message for the media from an Aurora shooting survivor: "Give victims and survivors their space"

"Student, writer, and self-identifying geek" A.J. Focht, writing on a Suicide Girls blog, talks about the experience of surviving the recent mass shooting at "The Dark Knight Rises" premiere at an Aurora, CO movie theater— and, how a friend and fellow survivor was hounded by content-hungry television producers:

With only a small charge left in her phone one of the members of my group thought it best to send out a blanket distress beacon via Twitter so she could conserve her battery to call her parents and a ride home. Caitlin tweeted from her account @dingos8myTARDIS informing her family and friends of the chaos and that she was physically alright. Her tweets were some of the first online, and within the hour BBC, CNN, and others were broadcasting her messages on the news. The hundreds of media outlets that contacted her throughout the night were unexpected, but we could understand they were just trying to do their jobs. Once we had been released, Caitlin, not wanting the mass media attention, released these tweets:

dingos8myTARDIS: To the media: I was tweeting earlier because my phone was on 10%batt & I needed to let people know I was okay. I am (in) no shape for interviews.

dingos8myTARDIS: To rephrase: I have no interest in interviews at this time. I was merely sending an emergency beacon.

Despite her requesting to be left alone, she was perpetually bombarded by yet more media requests via Twitter from outlets including FOX News and The Huffington Post. As if the mass attention on Twitter was not enough, other news networks took it upon themselves to get her phone number and start calling her.

Read the rest

Forensic psychologist says mass killing is about culture, not mental illness

The story is familiar to us today: Somebody, usually a young man, walks into a public place, kills a bunch of people seemingly at random, and (usually) ends the murder spree with a suicide-by-cop.

But this story—at least, in Western culture—is startlingly new, relatively speaking. In fact, Paul Mullen, a forensic psychologist, says we can pin a date and place on the first time it happened. On September 4, 1913, in the German towns of Degerloch and Mühlhausen an der Enz, Ernst August Wagner killed his wife, his children, and at least nine strangers. He shot more than 20 people and set several fires during his killing spree. He ended up spending the rest of his life in an insane asylum.

But when we try to pin killings like these on mental illness, Mullen says, we're not quite hitting the right point. The people who go on killing sprees are mad, sure. But that's not the same thing as diagnosable, objective, physical mental illness. Only about 10% of the people ever arrested for crimes like this had actual mental illnesses. In fact, Mullen thinks these killings have more to do with culture than brain chemistry. His argument is interesting. And it might sound a little similar to the old "angry music made him do it!" trope. But what Mullen is talking about is different than that. Science journalist David Dobbs tries to explain the distinction:

I’m not saying the movies made Holmes crazy or psychopathic or some such. But the movies are a enormous, constant, heavily influential part of an American culture that fetishizes violence and glamorizes, to the point of ten-year wars, a militarized, let-it-rain approach to conflict resolution.

Read the rest

Uninsured Aurora shooting victims face financial devastation

Caleb Medley, an aspiring standup comic, YouTuber, total nerd, and enthusiastic fan of Batman, was shot in the eye at the Aurora movie theater mass shooting.

He is currently in intensive care in an induced coma. He lost his right eye and suffered brain damage. His wife Katie "is about to give birth to their first child," one floor away, according to this CBS News report.

Update: Katie, 21, just gave birth to their first child. Snip from Reuters update:

Katie Medley and her husband, Caleb, both wearing Batman apparel, were at a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in the Denver suburb of Aurora when a gunman clad in tactical body armor, helmet and gas mask opened fire during a midnight showing early on Friday. Twelve people, including a 6-year-old girl, were killed and 58 wounded.

Caleb is currently listed in critical condition at the University of Colorado Denver Hospital. He is showing some signs of progress. Like a number of people injured in the Aurora shooting, he is uninsured. His family has been told that the cost of his medical treatment may exceed $2 million.

There's a fundraising site here, where friends and family are gathering donations to help with his health care costs. America would be an even greater country if people didn't have to do stuff like this to get life-saving medical treatment.

Read the rest

Marilyn Manson's 1999 essay on Columbine mass shooting weirdly relevant again today

When the Columbine shootings happened in Colorado in 1999, many pundits and politicians blamed games, goth culture, and dark pop figures like Marilyn Manson. After today's shooting in Aurora, Colorado, Manson's "Whose Fault Is It?" essay from that same year is worth a read again.

When it comes down to who's to blame for the high school murders in Littleton, Colorado, throw a rock and you'll hit someone who's guilty. We're the people who sit back and tolerate children owning guns, and we're the ones who tune in and watch the up-to-the-minute details of what they do with them. I think it's terrible when anyone dies, especially if it is someone you know and love. But what is more offensive is that when these tragedies happen, most people don't really care any more than they would about the season finale of Friends or The Real World. I was dumbfounded as I watched the media snake right in, not missing a teardrop, interviewing the parents of dead children, televising the funerals. Then came the witch hunt.

Man's greatest fear is chaos. It was unthinkable that these kids did not have a simple black-and-white reason for their actions. And so a scapegoat was needed. I remember hearing the initial reports from Littleton, that Harris and Klebold were wearing makeup and were dressed like Marilyn Manson, whom they obviously must worship, since they were dressed in black. Of course, speculation snowballed into making me the poster boy for everything that is bad in the world.

Read the rest

Journalism cliché of the day

The Telegraph's swiftly-deleted article about the "curse" of Batman movies (still live here) is not, however, today's craziest coverage of the shootings in Colorado. That prize surely goes to Nikki Finke: "It is a very real possibility this terrifying tragedy may affect The Dark Knight Rises‘s opening box office today and this weekend." [Deadline Hollywood via Gawker. Read the rest

Gunman kills at least 12 in movie theater at "The Dark Knight Rises" screening in Aurora, Colorado

A Colorado gunman walked into a 12:30 a.m. showing of the The Dark Knight Rises, tossed a gas can into the crowd, then began shooting. At least 12 are dead, according to reports, with another 50 hurt.

The police took him into custody and are searching for explosives at his apartment. Redditor iteg3r collated an exhaustive timeline based on local police scanner broadcasts, tweets, and TV bulletins as the night unfolded.

In claimed video of the aftermath (right), a bloodied patron is seen leaving the theater amid confusion and chaos.

Update (830am ET): Local Colorado news provider has a live stream of coverage that's more informative and watchable than what the US cable news networks are doing.

At least 12 have been killed, and at least 38 are confirmed wounded, according to Colorado law enforcement. Victims include a 3-month-old baby. The shooter, according to eyewitnesses speaking to local TV news reports, ran in to the theater, lit a "gas can," shot into the ceiling, then into the crowd.

President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the First Lady have cancelled presidential campaign activities today. Obama: "This is a day of prayer and reflection for the victims."

A suspect is in custody: James Holmes, a 24yo white male who is said to have been wearing a gas mask, a bulletproof vest. According to law enforcement, at least four types of guns were used in the shooting, including an "AK-type" assault rifle, a shotgun, and two handguns. The suspect also used a canister of what is presumed to have been tear gas. Read the rest

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