Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On the heels of city, El Paso County finalizes MMJ fees

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 7:08 PM

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While the Colorado Springs City Council decided on Tuesday night to charge only a $2,200 application fee to center owners and study the accuracy of its remaining proposed fees — look for more in Thursday's Independent — the county went ahead and finalized its own fee schedule. Weirdly enough, they're based on city amounts at the same time the city is studying its own amounts to make sure they're right.

This didn't sit so well with former City Councilor and now County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, reports Debbie Kelley at the Gazette.

What commissioners approved: $1,800, $3,000 and $4,200, respectively.

“They seemed so arbitrary,” said Glenn, who voted against the resolution. “The voters have stated they want this to be treated as a business, and with any business, there’s a rational basis for determining fees. I haven’t seen enough information to give me a conclusion I can justify yet.”

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Upgrades at Marmalade

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 3:19 PM

This Friday, Marmalade at Smokebrush will host a series of mini-parties for its (as per usual) multitude of projects. But director Don Goede is especially excited about one of the more permanent additions Marmalade is making to its new home.

With the help of Concrete Couch, the Smokebrush crew has adorned the outer columns of the Trestle Building with mosaic tiles. It's making other improvements as well, Goede writes in an e-mail.

"We are trying so hard to get fences down, bushes trimmed; in short, we are trying to make our side of the tracks a true arts district."

Goede also sent along some photos of the project in progress:

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And to see the finished product, head to Marmalade this Friday between 5 and 9. (Click here for a rundown of activities.)

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Hospice opens new facility

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care held a ribbon cutting for its new facility at Penrose Hospital on Monday.

The new facility, relocated from its former permanent home at St. Francis Hospital on East Pikes Peak Avenue, has 11,000 square feet of space. It's on the 6th floor of Penrose Hospital's west tower, 2222 N. Nevada Ave.

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During the ceremony, officials unveiled the Tree of Life fine art print donated by the Lou Smit family. Smit, a well-known homicide detective, died last August while in hospice care.

According to a press release:

The new Pikes Peak Hospice Unit at Penrose Hospital is just one component of PPHPC’s broader vision of integrated community partnerships and collaborations with other healthcare systems and providers. The organization ultimately envisions a regional hub of care and support services for patients and families facing decisions about the final stages of life.

With the opening of this new hospice inpatient unit, Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care expands local partnerships to optimize end-of-life care, providing patients with life-limiting illnesses — along with their families — this unique continuum of care.

There is a growing trend of people choosing how they live out the end of their lives with the support of specialized hospice and palliative care services. Hospice care focuses on making people comfortable rather than curing their disease. Forty-one percent of people who died in the United States in 2009 were under the care of a hospice program at the time of their death, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), and it has been increasing steadily every year. This year, 1.5 million people will have received hospice care, according to the national organization. The increase is continuing as the knowledge of hospice is increasing in the health-care industry.

Designed and equipped to manage the most serious care needs, the new unit at Penrose Hospital presents exceptional advantages for all patients in the community who need specialized hospice inpatient care. The opening of the inpatient unit marks a fresh and vital approach for hospice care in the region as more people, and their families, turn to hospice to optimize end-of-life care. As the oldest hospice provider in Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care has continued to evolve during the past 31 years, adding services in response to community needs and advances in hospice care. This new inpatient unit is the next evolution, but not the last, as the organization continues to be the region’s peak source for hospice and palliative care.

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Earth almost hit by asteroid

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Space rocks: Scary stuff.
  • Howard Dickens
  • Space rocks: Scary stuff.

You know, I hate to be so dramatic with my headlines. I really do. But in this case, it's justified.

Yesterday, while everyone was busy reading about Michele Bachmann and Rod Blagojevich, an asteroid came within 7,500 feet miles of the Earth's surface, before slingshotting around Earth's atmosphere. You can read about it here.

The asteroid was closer to Earth than some satellites! Apparently, it wasn't that big (16 to 66 feet wide), and probably would have burned up before it had a chance to envelop humanity in flames. But still.

That's not all. In February, an asteroid came within 3,400 miles of the Earth's surface. That was the closest call humans have ever recorded.

Sort of seems like a big deal. Maybe even worth a few headlines. Not that the Bachmann story isn't hot and all. It just doesn't seem quite as hot as a molten fireball.

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Mistaken-identity victim wants to tattoo city

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Joseph Martinez
  • Joseph Martinez

Joseph Martinez, the young man who spent 40 days in jail due to some seriously flawed investigative work, has filed a lawsuit against the city and the police department.

We wrote about him in March:

Martinez was booked into the county's Criminal Justice Center on Jan. 12, 2010. For the next two weeks, he says, he didn't know why he was being held. Turns out he was facing two charges: one for dealing meth, and the other for dealing within 1,000 feet of a school building. He was looking at a mandatory eight years in prison.

In September 2009, Colorado Springs Police Detective Chace Passanante made an undercover meth buy from a man who identified himself as "Casper." Passanante described Casper as having "a tattoo on his left shin" with no reference to the man's size, height or eye color.

Martinez has no tattoos on his shins.

The lawsuit, which was submitted to the court by his attorney Daniel G. Kay, alleges that the police "failed to do the most minimal amount of work to determine whether the person in the warrant was in fact the person who committed the crime" when they arrested Martinez.

Martinez, who said he lost his roofing job during his incarceration, is seeking "a monetary judgment ... in an amount sufficient to compensate him for the damages suffered as a result of Defendants violation of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff seeks any further relief as deemed appropriate by the Court including costs, attorney fees, expert witness fees, and prejudgment, and post judgment interest."

You can read the lawsuit for yourself: Martinez_lawsuit.pdf

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Curious how MMJ patients are liking the new rules?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Here's a Facebook post from Audrey Hatfield, the director of Colorado Springs-based patient advocacy group Coloradans 4 Cannabis Patient Rights (click to enlarge):

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Are you on board with some flippin' o' the bird?

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Benefit of the sick

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 5:14 PM

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The New York Times published an interesting article that is certain to ring the alarms among certain conservative circles.

In it, the Times details a program that the Obama administration has implemented that would use "mystery shoppers" — people who do not identify their hidden agenda — to call doctors' offices and claim that they are in need of medical care. The goal is to discern if there is a difference between how a person is treated when they say that they will be using private insurance as opposed to those who say that they will be using Medicaid.

Washington-based internist Dr. Raymond Scalettar reportedly told the paper: “I don’t like the idea of the government snooping ... It’s a pernicious practice — Big Brother tactics, which should be opposed.”

The administration says the survey will address a “critical public policy problem”: the increasing shortage of primary care doctors, including specialists in internal medicine and family practice. It will also try to discover whether doctors are accepting patients with private insurance while turning away those in government health programs that pay lower reimbursement rates.

Federal officials predict that more than 30 million Americans will gain coverage under the health care law passed last year. “These newly insured Americans will need to seek out new primary care physicians, further exacerbating the already growing problem” of a shortage of such physicians in the United States, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a description of the project prepared for the White House.

Plans for the survey have riled many doctors because the secret shoppers will not identify themselves as working for the government.

What the survey has found in Illinois, as the Times had reported a couple days ago, is that "children with Medicaid are far more likely than those with private insurance to be turned away by medical specialists or be made to wait more than a month for an appointment, even for serious medical problems."

The New England Journal of Medicine has published the findings.

We completed 546 paired calls to 273 specialty clinics and found significant disparities in provider acceptance of Medicaid—CHIP versus private insurance across all tested specialties. Overall, 66% of Medicaid—CHIP callers (179 of 273) were denied an appointment as compared with 11% of privately insured callers (29 of 273) (relative risk, 6.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.3 to 8.8; P<0.001). Among 89 clinics that accepted both insurance types, the average wait time for Medicaid—CHIP enrollees was 22 days longer than that for privately insured children (95% CI, 6.8 to 37.5; P=0.005).

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Merger instead of independence for Memorial?

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Memorial North
  • Memorial North

Might city-owned Memorial Health System change its request from seeking independent nonprofit status to becoming a partner in a larger health system?

That topic may emerge on Thursday when Dr. Rulon Stacey, CEO of Fort Collins' Poudre Valley Health System, speaks to a Colorado Springs task force studying a new form of governance for Memorial in preparation of possibly placing a ballot measure before voters in November.

Poudre Valley switched from a public hospital to a community nonprofit, and has developed into a resounding success story.

Stacey speaks to the task force, comprised of City Council members and Memorial trustees, at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Pikes Peak Room in City Hall.

Memorial's spokesman Brian Newsome will blog the meeting at thefutureofhealthcare.com

According to Newsome:

Poudre Valley Health System converted from a Larimer County hospital to an independent nonprofit in the 1990s. The county held onto the assets, but the nonprofit took over operations through a lease arrangement. Since then, the health system has become one of the best in the country. For example:

Jobs grew at a rate five times faster than the population.

PVHS grew from a $100 million a year hospital serving Fort Collins to a $1.2 billion a year health system serving northern Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.

It earned a Baldrige Award, one of the highest honors for quality in health care.

It has been repeatedly named one of the 100 best places to work in health care.

It has not only become one of the highest quality health systems in the country, but its cost are lower than most other places in Colorado.

Then, last week, Poudre Valley announced it will form a partnership with the University of Colorado Hospital.

The Denver Post reported on the proposed merger, which was driven by the evolution of health care brought about by health insurance reform.

Stacey, who is currently the chairman of the American College of Healthcare Executives, spoke last year to the City Council-appointed Citizens’ Commission during its evaluation of ownership models of Memorial.

At that time, he said Memorial will “die” as a city hospital, based on the dramatic changes in the industry. The Citizens’ Commission ultimately recommended a model similar to Poudre Valley’s.

Now, the task force, composed of City Council members and Memorial board members, is evaluating that recommendation and considering whether to put it before voters.

But with Poudre Valley's recent merger announcement, it begs the question of whether Memorial should jump into that kind of arrangement, becoming the partner that would strive to dominate the southern part of the state while enjoying the benefits of connecting with a university hospital and staff.

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A word about Word Wednesdays

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Editor's Note: This blog has been updated with current information on Word Wednesdays.

Every Wednesday, Speak Easy Vape Lounge (2508 E. Bijou St.) hosts Word Wednesdays, where local poets, comedians, battle rappers, singers and dancers share their talents from 9:30 p.m to midnight.

This is not your typical spoken-word venue. No graffiti walls, ear-piercing music, or sea of people with piercings. Instead, the V Bar offers a posh, lounge feel with its low-hanging lights, blood red walls and ambience that would suggest a square piano might be in the corner — with a small man in a bowtie ready to crescendo lightly on white keys. I was definitely caught off-guard.

But as I found earlier this month, it would be foolish to mistake the bar's mellowness for a lack of soul. Around 9:30, the DJ begins heating up, and a buzz fills the air as people began approaching the dance floor, where the mike's positioned. And from there, comedians, blues singers, freestyle rappers, gangster rappers and more form an eclectic nucleus, fitting well into the model that Patrick James wants.

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James began Word Wednesdays a year ago to “change the perception of hip-hop culture in Colorado Springs, provide a consistent outlet for local artists to share their material and perfect their crafts, and bring something new to downtown."

"Being new to Colorado Springs," he says, "I heard so much complaining about not having anything to do here. Where I'm from, there are events like this. So why not have it here?”

People interested in hearing the performers typically sit up close near the stage, and those relaxing at the bar tune in and out at will. But during the 2 1/2-hour show I saw, which had a few breaks sprinkled in, there was one performance that got everyone's attention.

A middle-aged woman rocked the crowd with an out-of-the-blue stand-up routine, showing just the right amount of self-loathing. Everyone in the bar could giggle confidently at their status in the world scheme without feeling complete pity towards her character.

The final piece of the puzzle came courtesy master of the boom-boom-pow, Michael Dewitt. Better known as DJ Gravity, Dewitt has served as the host DJ at the V Bar for the past five years and calls it "a DJ’s dream, [where] you can play what you want as long as it’s not crap.”

All this said, you know what I'm getting at: Word Wednesdays are worth your attention. For more information, call or text 581-WORD (9673). Potential performers must sign up before 9 p.m.

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State Parks board OKs Over the River

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 11:30 AM

In the ongoing battle for Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude's Over the River project, another potentially helpful milestone for the pro-OTR side: The Colorado State Parks board has given its stamp of approval for the project.

As reported by OutThereColorado.com today, the board of directors met in Eagle last Friday to talk about Over the River, deciding unanimously that the installation would be a good addition to the state, despite worries about the environmental impacts.

As part of the Parks board memorandum, the state and the Over the River corporation struck a deal for $550,000 — an amount that will be given to the state to offset administrative fees and environmental costs should the project go forward.

Ultimately, this nod means nothing if the Royal Gorge field office of the Bureau of Land Management refuses the project. And according to a June 21 post on the official "Over the River" website, word from the BLM is that a record of decision will be announced in the near future. Or rather, the BLM "continues to indicate" as much.

Stay tuned.

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UPDATE: Classy: ICE raids Daddy's Day celebration

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 10:47 AM

It appears this blog is in need of a few clarifications.

First, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition has issued a correction to its press release, stating that the arrests took place over the Father's Day weekend, but not on Father's Day.

Second, ICE has contacted the Indy, stating that the arrested men were gang members. However, the Indy received no response to our questions when we e-mailed ICE back. The Indy wanted to know what evidence ICE had that these men were gang members. Also, we wanted to know why only one of the arrestees was being criminally charged if they were all dangerous criminals.

But listen, from this reporter's perspective, the story changes very little even if all these dads are gang members. The point here is that the kids didn't need to be involved. And if these men are dangerous, then this point seems more valid, not less valid.

Are we to assume these "gang members" were armed? If so, ICE agents still felt the most appropriate place to take down these guys was at a festival packed with families and kids? Nothing could go wrong there, right?

——- ORIGINAL POST, 11:38 A.M., WEDNESDAY ——-

The ruined festival.
  • Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition
  • The ruined festival.

While you have to keep in mind that the following release is from the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, an advocacy group for immigrants, it's still a jaw-dropper.

Nothing says American decency like arresting dads on Father's Day while they wait for their kids outside the bouncy castle. Or being so rude and crude to a pregnant lady that she has to be hospitalized for the stress.

Way to go, ICE. You make us proud.


ICE Raids the Strawberry Days Festival in Glenwood Springs, Two Fathers Detained While Waiting for Kids at the Bouncy Castle.

Father’s Day Festival Raid by Local Law Enforcement and ICE Chills Relations with Latino/a and Immigrant Communities; Hurts Business and Safety.

Glenwood Springs, CO — The Strawberry Days Festival in Glenwood Springs is usually remembered as a treasured summer family event. This year, some children will also remember it as the day their family was ripped apart by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

As the Alvarez family was waiting for their children to come out of the Bouncy Castle, they were approached by a couple of Garfield County Sheriffs deputies who led the men away behind the carnival rides. While there, 2 plainclothes ICE agents approached, checked, and detained both men. Brothers Cesar and Julio Alvarez were then taken to an ICE van in the back of the fair, while their 4 children waited with their aunt and mother.

Lorenza Alvarez, Julio’s 7-months pregnant, US born wife, came looking for her husband and her brother-in-law and was treated poorly by agents as she explained that Cesar was the only caretaker of twin 11-year-old girls. Following an extended conversation, Cesar was released but Julio was taken away for processing at an ICE detention center in Glenwood Springs. The stress was almost too much for the pregnant Mrs. Alvarez, and she had to be taken to Valley View Hospital for emergency care.

Teaming up with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department, undercover ICE agents conducted this dragnet operation at a family fair on Father’s Day, in violation of their own operating regulations — which call on them to “refrain from conducting enforcement actions or investigative activities at or near sensitive community locations, such as schools, places of worship... and venues generally where children and their families may be present.”

“This operation has revealed the Glenwood Springs ICE office to be a rogue agency operating outside of clear ICE directives to not conduct operations in “sensitive locations.” said Brendan Greene, Rocky Mountain Coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition,“ The fact that ICE and local police went after dads at the carnival on Father’s Day has been spreading throughout the immigrant community. This has the potential to negatively impact the success of Strawberry Days for years to come; not to mention erode what little trust remains between the immigrant community and the Garfield Co. Sheriff’s office.”

Adds Greene, “The local ICE office and the Garfield Co. Sheriff, by irresponsibly targeting the city’s flagship summer event, has hurt not only the City of Glenwood Springs, but also any other town in the Valley that is hoping to have a successful festival this summer. They should be ashamed of themselves for hurting the Valley’s businesses in this way.”

Local Spanish language DJ, Axel Contreras, heard about ICE’s presence at the carnival and went to investigate. “I have lived in the Valley and attended Strawberry Days for 20 years…in all of my years here, even when there were terrible storms, I have never seen Strawberry Days as empty as it was on Sunday after word had spread in the community that ICE was conducting an operation.”

This type of enforcement operation is often extremely disruptive to small towns like Glenwood Springs, where the Latino/a community has grown to become a major supporter of the Festival over the last decade.

CIRC has been receiving complaints from the immigrant community about how the Garfield County Sheriffs Departments has been closely collaborating with, and in the case of last weekend’s raids at the carnival, taking the lead in ICE enforcement operations.

“I can’t think of a better way to ruin community policing than having local law enforcement troll for undocumented workers at community events like Strawberry Days.” said attorney Ted Hess, who is representing one of the detained men, “ This unholy alliance of ICE and local cops destroys trust between the community and the police.”

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Bonus CineFiles: Gimmick westerns, Irish clown posses and xenophobic truckers!

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here on the IndyBlog.

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The Long Riders / Posse (Blu-Ray) (Rated R)
MGM/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Probably the hardest genre to create a “high-concept” gimmick around is the Western. Most people want their westerns to be mostly by the book — cowboys and Indians, thank you very much — so most filmmakers have to dip their toes in the water before they can just dive in. The funny thing is that some of the most memorable westerns do revolve around a gimmick of some sort, particularly in the casting. MGM has released two of the best on Blu-ray, starting with 1980s superb The Long Riders, starring Stacy and James Keach as Frank and James, as well as all the Carradines and Quaids as outlaws trying to make a name for themselves. Just as entertaining is the modern blaxpoitation western Posse, a 1993 effort from director Mario Van Peebles, who also stars as Spanish-American war infantryman hell-bent on revenge. If that wasn’t enough, it co-stars old-school rappers Tone Loc and Big Daddy Kane. And that’s all I need!


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The Boondock Saints: Truth & Justice Edition (Blu-Ray) (Unrated)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Even though I tend to use it as a punchline whenever trying to describe a movie that fratty douchebags would cream their jeans over, I haven’t ever seen The Boondocks Saints. I figured that the black-and-white posters that adorn the wall of every date-rapist’s dorm room told the whole story, but, upon an actual viewing. I have come to find I was a bit wrong. You see, the actual idea of Saints isn’t a bad one — two brothers, anointed by God to kill any and all evildoers in their vicinity — but it’s executed with such ugly, comical ineptitude from director Troy Duffy that it’s ultimately an off-putting, dull flick that would appeal to only the most uneducated of proletariat imbeciles. If this special edition Blu-Ray truly had any balls, it would have included the amazing documentary Overnight, a no-holds-barred look at Duffy’s quest to make Saints.


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IRT: Deadliest Roads: Season One (Blu-Ray)
History Channel/NewVideo

I have never seen Ice Road Truckers, but the concept is intriguing enough: a reality show that follows truckers hauling freight on some of the slickest frozen roads in North America. The spin-off series, IRT: Deadliest Roads, takes the same concept, but instead of ice and snow, we’ve got the truckers braving the impossible roads of India’s mountainside Himalayan highways. Now this is all well and good, but then you meet the truckers: loud, xenophobic, foulmouthed white trash who take every opportunity to exert their boorish will over their Indian hosts. Well, not all of them. The lone saving grace is the female trucker, Lisa, who is the most likable part of the show and the only one who doesn’t spend her free time complaining and swearing. She’s gets in that truck and gets the job done. You get the feeling that the show would have been more entertaining and more impactful if the series focus had been solely on her adventures.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Chinese art coming to the DAM

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Recently, the Denver Art Museum took viewers to the opulent world of Renaissance Italy. This, after remodeling its extensive collection of Native American art and garnering widespread kudos for its artist-centered — rather than the usual anthropological — approach.

This fall, the DAM will debut two new shows of Chinese art, both organized in-house. The first is a survey of Xu Beihong's paintings; the second, an exhibition of silk clothing and decor from the Qing (or Manchu) dynasty.

Xu Beihong: Pioneer of Modern Chinese Painting reveals many works never before seen in United States, and the first comprehensive Xu show in the country. Xu, born in 1895, did what few Chinese artists of his time could do: study art overseas. He learned to incorporate European techniques and tools (include oil paint) to the Chinese tradition of art, and brought it all back to his home country, where he'd instruct students later on. Considered to be the father of modern Chinese painting, Xu also had many students grow into accomplished and well-recognized artists.

Threads of Heaven: Silken Legacy of China's Last Dynasty features about 100 specimens of elaborate silk garments and hangings. Swatches of exquisite embroidery were worn by members of the imperial family and civil servants, depicting auspicious creatures such as dragons and cranes, of flowers like peonies. The image changed with one’s rank.

The Qing dynasty (which was not technically Chinese in origin, but Manchurian), ended with the dramatic fall of the Emperor Puyi and after years of war and strife, came under the control of the Communists.

For more on these shows and some corresponding programming, read the press release:

Chinese_Exhibitions_at_the_DAM_release_final.pdf

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Jehovah's ho!

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 2:38 PM



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  • whologwhy.


There are 30 Jehovah's Witnesses from the Western Slope of Colorado and Colorado Springs? Never would have guessed that.

Well, there are, and apparently they will soon be trekking to Pueblo, to the Colorado State Fairgrounds, for their own “Let God’s Kingdom Come!” Convention.

If you're interested in what this whole witness thing is all about, you're invited to join them in their celebration:

Jehovah’s Witnesses are inviting all in the area to attend a program focusing on a government that millions, perhaps billions, pray for. God’s Kingdom government, which is requested in the world-famous model prayer taught by Jesus Christ, will be the focus of the 2011 “Let God’s Kingdom Come!” District Convention to be held at Colorado State Fair Events Center in Pueblo, Colorado.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the request for God’s Kingdom in the model prayer, recorded in the Bible at Matthew 6:10 (also known as the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father), has profound meaning. They also believe that the answer to that prayer will bring significant changes to the earth and mankind. The Witnesses’ convention program promises intriguing details from the Bible’s explanation of such developments. Starting June 16th, and continuing for the next couple of weeks, Jehovah’s Witnesses will put forth extra effort to extend a personal invitation to everyone from Aspen, Carbondale, Grand Junction, Montrose, Norwood, Hotchkiss, Gunnison, Falcon, Fountain, Colorado Springs, and Woodland Park to attend the convention with them. The three-day event to be held in Pueblo, Colorado will begin Friday, July 1, 2011, at 9:20 a.m. The daily themes are based on passages of Scripture including Matthew 4:17, Matthew 6:33, and 2 Peter 1:11. Strengthening one’s faith in the reality of that Kingdom will be the focus of the program. There is no admission fee. Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses are supported entirely by voluntary donations.

Locally, the area’s 30 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be supporting the activity of distributing printed invitations to the convention. An estimated 3,400 people will come to the Colorado State Fair Events Center in Pueblo, CO for the Bible-based program.

Throughout the United States, there will be 381 conventions in 98 cities. Worldwide, there are over 7,500,000 Witnesses in more than 107,000 congregations.

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Weekending in Vail?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 1:30 PM

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If you happen to be in Vail this weekend, or want an excuse to go to Vail, and you really don't like those capitalist, wunderkind political meddlers the Koch brothers, this is for you.

From ProgressNow Colorado:

Dear Neighbor,

Two of the biggest right-wing money men in America have organized a secret conference of top conservative donors, pundits, and elected officials this weekend near Vail. In January, more than 1,500 people protested a similar event held in Palm Springs, California—just before the Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, launched their war on teachers and public employees in Wisconsin.

The Koch brothers are major funders of right-wing fringe groups who make up the so-called Tea Party, and wield tremendous influence in conservative politics. The Koch brothers have provided millions of dollars to fund recent attempts to privatize Medicare and Social Security. Previous Koch conferences have featured a virtual "who's who" of right-wing politics, from Ann Coulter to Justice Clarence Thomas. And after the unexpected and lively protest of their last conference, you can understand why they tried very hard to keep the latest one quiet.

This Sunday through Tuesday near Vail, the Koch brothers will host an invitation-only discussion between wealthy funders and right-wing elected officials to develop their plans to spend tens of millions of dollars of corporate money on the 2012 elections. Many Colorado conservative officials and donors can be expected to attend. In the aftermath of the Citizens United decision, unprecedented amounts of corporate money is expected to be funneled into the political process next year.

On Sunday, let's show them we mean business too.

Colorado Common Cause, ProgressNow Colorado, and progressives throughout the state are quickly organizing a protest of the Koch brothers' secret conference near Vail. Meet in Avon, Colorado right below the Ritz-Carlton at Bachelor Gulch on Sunday from 11 AM to 1 PM to speak out against their corporate assault on the middle class. We’ll meet up at Nottingham Lake Park located at 1 Lake Street, Avon (click here for a Google Map). An RSVP is not necessary, but you can get important details and updates on the event at this Facebook event page.

Please bring signs, and be prepared for a peaceful and family-friendly protest event. Some sign suggestions from our friends at Common Cause include “UnVail the Kochs”, “Corporations are not people”, “Koch + Thomas = Supreme Conflict”, “Reverse Citizens United”, “Money does not equal speech” and “Stop the War on the Middle Class.” Or come up with your own—you get the theme, we're all living it right now.

Thanks—beautiful weather is forecast for Avon on Sunday! I know this is short notice, but the Koch brothers tried very hard to suppress information about this event, in hopes of avoiding the protest and public exposure they received in January. No one outside the few conservative insiders attending knew about it before Wednesday. But now, we need everyone who cares about our nation's future to speak out.

We'll see you there!

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