In summer of LeBron, what’s No. 1 goal in free agency for the Nuggets? Don’t get worse.

While LeBron James decides if he would rather own the Liberty Bell or be Magic Johnson’s boss at the conclusion of free agency, the best the Nuggets can hope for during the NBA’s silly season is that somebody will answer their “Manimal, free to a good home” advertisement.

The Nuggets failed to make the playoffs for the fifth straight season, face luxury-tax woes and have been unable to bribe any team in the league to take Kenneth Faried and his $13.7 million contract off their hands.

In any other NBA city, the masterminds (president of basketball operations Tim Connelly and general manager Arturas Karnisovas) behind this mess would be sharing a very hot seat.

In Denver, it’s called progress.

OK, some folks might find that comment a little snarky.

Of course, they might be the same folks who believe if Earl Boykins were in charge of the front office and George Karl had been retained as coach, James would already be hunting for a house in Cherry Hills Village and the Nuggets, not the Warriors, would be the reigning league champions.

Truth be told, if Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris played for the Lakers rather than the Nuggets, there would be zero suspense as to what uniform James would be wearing next season. He would text Paul George or one of his other NBA buddies with the order to hop the next flight to LAX and form a super team that could take down Golden State.

But basketball isn’t any fairer than the rest of life. And the reality in Denver is this: It was bad enough Connelly bid against himself to give Paul Millsap a $31 million salary to be the 13th-best power forward in the league last season, based on Real-Plus Minus analytics. It’s worse that Wilson Chandler, Darrell Arthur and Faried are three players who combine to make $34 million in salaries, when their cumulative trade value is dangerously close to a net zero.

The next chapter in this rather unsettling narrative is Will Barton. At age 27, he is valuable to this team in many ways, from providing a spark off the bench to scoring 15 points per night to running the offense on a Denver roster decidedly lacking in natural point guards. I like Barton best because he brings a fiery competitive edge to a team that sometimes also lacks — how does one delicately put it? — guts. In a player projection model calculated by the number crunchers at FiveThirtyEight, Barton has greater market value going forward than does Millsap.

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The Latest: Former publisher says she took threats seriously

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – The Latest on the Annapolis newspaper shooting (all times local):

5 p.m.

A former publisher at a Maryland newspaper says she treated threats from a man charged with killing five employees “incredibly seriously” after he first made them several years ago.

Jarrod Ramos is charged with murder after police say he opened fire Thursday at The Capital in Annapolis.

Patricia Richardson was the publisher when Ramos sent menacing tweets five years ago. Authorities say Ramos has a grudge against the paper, suing it in 2012 after it wrote about him pleading guilty to harassing a woman.

Richardson is now publisher of The Day in New London, Connecticut. The paper reported Friday that Richardson said she was advised “we were doing all we could do” in response to Ramos’ threats.

Richardson said she made staff aware and got law enforcement involved. Anne Arundel County police records show a detective concluded Ramos wasn’t a threat to employees. The detective wrote the paper didn’t want to press charges for fear of “putting a stick in a beehive.”

___

4:15 p.m.

Court records show a man charged with killing five people at a Maryland newspaper was fired from a government IT contractor because of concerns about his “suitability.”

Jarrod Ramos is charged with murder after police say he opened fire Thursday at Capital Gazette offices in Annapolis.

District of Columbia Superior Court records show Ramos sued Virginia-based Enterprise Information Systems in 2014 over lost wages.

In a letter to the company’s president filed in court records, Ramos said the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics requested he be removed from his job.

Ramos wrote he was only told there was a “suitability” concern. A panel of judges wrote that the prime contractor “demanded” Ramos be fired for unspecified reasons.

Ramos won $1,200 in the suit for a bonus he said EIS had denied him.

EIS officials did not respond immediately Saturday to a request for comment.

A U.S. Labor Department spokesman said Ramos worked on IT contracts for the labor statistics bureau from 2007 to 2014.

___

3:15 p.m.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is expressing sympathy for the families and friends of those killed at the office of The Capital, which he calls his “hometown newspaper.”

Though born in Tennessee, Belichick was raised in Annapolis. His father was an assistant football coach at the U.S. Naval Academy. Belichick graduated from Annapolis High School in 1970.

A gunman opened fire Thursday at the newspaper’s office, killing five people.

In a tweet, Belichick says: “For my entire life, The Capital has been my hometown newspaper. My family and I have enjoyed special relationships with many great people who have worked for the newspaper. My heart goes out to the victims, their families and the entire Annapolis community for this terrible and senseless tragedy.”

___

2:45 p.m.

The historic state capital of Annapolis is draped in grief from the attack at the local newspaper that killed the journalists who chronicled soccer games, art exhibits and the fabric of small-city life.

Mary Adams owns The Annapolis Bookstore and knew two of the five people killed. She said Saturday that the tragedy “feels so personal.” She says a sign outside her store sums up the depth of grief. It reads: “There are no words.”

Annapolis is a quaint waterside town of about 40,000. With its weekly sailboat races and picturesque downtown, residents were settling into the rhythms of summer when the shooting shattered the town’s usual tranquility.

Caitlin Walls works in an interior design shop. She says it’s sad to see such violence “in places that you thought were the safer places.”

___

10:52 p.m.

More than 1,000 people have streamed through Maryland’s capital to honor five people slain in a newspaper office, quietly clutching candles or hoisting #AnnapolisStrong signs.

Those who gathered Friday night remembered the employees of The Capital newspaper as a crucial piece of their tight-knit community.

David Marsters worked at the newspaper from 2008 to 2016 and said the outpouring of grief is a testament to the special bond the newspaper has with its readers.

Killed Thursday were Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters, John McNamara and Rebecca Smith.

Jarrod W. Ramos has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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World Cup 2018: Kylian Mbappé Bends Time and Space, Leads France Past Argentina

Kylian Mbappé is fast. This requires some clarification: most professional soccer players are fast, in the sense that they move more quickly than the average person. Some are fast in a more impressive sense, in that they move more quickly than the average professional soccer player. The World Cup features many players who can cover a given distance swiftly, and a few players who can cover a given distance so swiftly that their speed approaches the upper limit of human athletic potential. This is generally what we mean when we say a player is fast.

Mbappé is fast in a different way altogether. The nineteen-year-old French forward, who scored two goals in France’s chaotic 4–3 win over Argentina in their World Cup knockout match on Saturday, does not merely play soccer more quickly than other people play soccer. He often seems to play soccer more quickly than other people can watch soccer; he pushes play to a point that seems to run slightly ahead of your ability to perceive it. Watching another fast player—Theo Walcott, say—you might excitedly think, Look at him run! Watching Mbappé, your brain lurches and you think, This isn’t happening—he shouldn’t have gotten there already.

Eleven or so minutes into Saturday’s match, Mbappé came up with a loose ball near the edge of the French area, about eighty yards from the Argentine goal. He tore forward. For a split second it appeared as though he might be going on a good run, the way a conventionally fast player might do. Then you realized he’d skipped through almost the entire Argentine defense in about two long strides, and your brain partially caught up, and you saw that he was already bearing down on the Argentine area, moving in a way that you now recognized less as running quickly than as teleporting slowly, so that by the time Marcos Rojo pulled him down for a penalty the truly surprising thing was that Rojo managed to touch him at all—that they occupied the same plane of existence.

The greatest soccer players all seem to have this ability to alter your perception of time. I’m speaking metaphorically and mystically here, of course, but that’s what it feels like to watch them: think of the way, when Lionel Messi touches the ball, the game radically slows down, or the way, when Cristiano Ronaldo touches it, it skips a beat. My favorite thing about watching old videos of Pelé is the way he seems to roll time around with the ball, luring defenders into a slowed-down otherworld and then leaving them there while he rides the next light beam toward the goal. Mbappé, who joined Pelé today as one of only four teen-agers ever to score at the World Cup, is the second-youngest player at the tournament, and still unfinished. Already, though, he has that quality of temporal magic; the ball finds him and the lights in your head do the stretchy hyperspace thing that the stars outside the windows of the Millennium Falcon do.

Argentina and France can be exhausting teams to follow, because their wealth of individual talent is so often undermined by baffling infighting and self-defeating factionalism. Saturday’s match seemed doomed to be engulfed by the same weary rumors and narratives. The Argentine players were in rebellion against their manager. Messi—possibly playing in his last World Cup, if you hadn’t heard—still hadn’t won a major tournament with his national team. France had looked drab and disappointing in its three group-stage matches, raising questions about the legacy of 1998 and . . . yawn. What a thrill, then, in a game where most of the grownups seemed to be battling the weights of ancient legacies and unbearable stakes, to see things decided by a kid who ran as if he were out to remind the world what magic is.

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HHS Secy says it’s easy to find migrant kids in its care; parents disagree

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Journalist murdered in southern Mexico before Sunday’s elections

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A Mexican journalist was murdered in the southern state of Quintana Roo, authorities said on Saturday, in the latest case of a reporter being killed before a presidential election riddled with violence.

Jose Guadalupe Chan Dzib was killed in the village of Saban, in the municipality of Jose Maria Morelos, the state government said in a statement. Local media reported that he was shot dead in a bar around 10 p.m. on Friday.

“We condemn this incident and ask that the state attorney general’s office investigates,” the statement said. “We reiterate our commitment to guaranteeing a peaceful election on Sunday, July 1.”

Voters head to the polls on Sunday, with leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador widely seen as the likely winner. Mexico’s 2018 election has been one of the most violent in modern history, with dozens of politicians killed across the country.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists – 45 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992 according to the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Quintana Roo was previously one of Mexico’s safest states, full of tourists and Caribbean resorts, but security has deteriorated rapidly in recent years as gangs have fought over lucrative drug markets.

Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; editing by Grant McCool

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Engagement can happen without “nagging” – The Denver Post

Dear Amy: This summer, my boyfriend and I will be celebrating our seventh anniversary as a couple.

We have been living together for a year. He’s 32, and I’m turning 26.

I am ready for the next step: engagement. While he says he wants to be engaged, too, he doesn’t seem to be taking any steps to get us there.

It seems like everyone around us is getting engaged or married, and taking their next steps, while I feel like we’re not progressing further.

Can I get him to propose without nagging him?

— Unengaged Upstate Woman

Dear Unengaged: You were quite young when you and your guy first got together, and you are now at an age where many people feel pressure to tie the knot.

As emotionally loaded as the prospect of marriage is, the ability to discuss marriage openly and with comfort now will predict other important conversations later — about sex, money, children, work and family responsibilities. A therapist once told me, “People ‘nag’ when they don’t feel heard.”

Having a conversation is not the same as nagging, as long as both of you talk and listen and feel heard and understood.

If you want to create a timeline for engagement, you should say so. You could say, “I’m feeling a strong pull toward getting engaged. You say you want this, too — how do you feel about setting a basic timeline for taking this step?”

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‘Stuttering John’ says he was visited by Secret Service after Trump prank call

A shock jock comedian who was patched through to President Trump on Air Force One after impersonating a Democratic senator claimed on Saturday he was visited by the Secret Service after his prank went public.

Comedian John Melendez of “The Stuttering John” podcast posted audio on Thursday of his conversation with the president, where Melendez claimed to be Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. The two appear to have spoken while Trump flew back from North Dakota on Air Force One.

A senior White House official declined to comment to Fox News about the call, citing security issues.

But on Saturday, Melendez tweeted that he had been visited by the Secret Service, though he said he didn’t answer the door.

“Secret Service at my door. I guess my old friend Donald wants to continue this,” he tweeted. “Stay tuned.”

He later said he was at an undisclosed location.

The alleged visit comes as Politico reports that the White House is scrambling to figure out how the prank caller got Trump on the line. 

During the podcast, Melendez played audio of his call to the White House switchboard, where he claimed he needed to talk to the president immediately about pending legislation.

He reached several White House operators before being told the president would call him back. According to the comedian, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner returned the call, connecting him to Trump.

“Hi, Bob!” the voice identified as Trump is heard saying as he picks up the phone, apparently from Air Force One.

He referenced last year’s mistrial in the high-profile bribery case against Menendez, indicating he sympathized with the Democratic senator’s case.

“Congratulations on everything,” he said. “We’re proud of you. Congratulations. Great job. You went through a tough, tough situation. And I don’t think a very fair situation, but congratulations.”

The pair also discussed issues from illegal immigration to the replacement of Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Trump told Melendez that he was planning to make a decision “over the next two weeks.”

On his Twitter account, Melendez blasted Trump for allegedly being more concerned with going after him than the staffers responsible for the botch.

“Alright I guess Donald is more concerned with pursuing this legally as opposed as to firing his screening staff,” he tweeted

Fox News’ Alex Pappas and Matt Leach contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a reporter covering U.S. and European politics for Fox News.. He can be reached here.

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Protesters across U.S. call on Trump to reunite immigrant families

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of protesters marched in cities across the United States on Saturday to demand the Trump administration reverse an immigration crackdown that has separated children from parents at the U.S-Mexico border and led to plans for military-run detention camps.

Outside the White House, protesters waved “Families Belong Together” signs and chanted “Shame!” as religious leaders and activists urged the administration to be more welcoming of foreigners and to reunite families.

“The way they treat families, the way they treat immigrants, that’s not America,” said protester Aneice Germain of President Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration, a cornerstone of his 2016 election campaign and his presidency. Trump was out of town at a golf club he owns in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Trump says illegal immigration fosters crime and he implemented a “zero tolerance” policy in May to prosecute all immigrants apprehended for entering illegally. That led to the separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents, causing an outcry this month, even from some allies of the Republican president.

In a rare retreat on an issue that fires up his conservative base, Trump on June 20 ordered officials to detain families together.

Thousands of protesters in New York marched across the Brooklyn Bridge bearing signs with slogans like “Make America Humane Again” and “Immigrants Are Welcome Here.” On the U.S.-Mexico border, demonstrators partially blocked a bridge connecting El Paso, Texas with Ciudad Juarez in Mexico.

In Chicago, thousands gathered to march toward the offices of federal immigration authorities. “I’m here because families belong together,” said Cindy Curry of Westchester, Illinois.A federal judge has ordered families be reunited and the administration asked the military to house immigrant families, leading the Pentagon to mull the construction of soft-sided camp facilities.

Demonstrators are seen during a national day of action called “Keep Families Together” to protest the Trump administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Monica Almeida

Organizers estimated 30,000 people had gathered in central Washington. The peaceful protest appeared to be the largest pro-immigration demonstration in the U.S. capital since at least 2010, when activists rallied to pressure then-President Barack Obama and Congress to overhaul the U.S. immigration system.

A splinter group of several dozen protesters in Washington went to protest at what they said was the residence of Stephen Miller, a White House adviser known for his hardline views on immigration. It was the latest in a string of public protests against Trump administration officials.

They held up a sign saying “Stephen Miller, We Know Where You Sleep.”

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has overseen an increase in arrests of people suspected of being in the country illegally. His administration is also approving fewer family visas.

Immigration has been on the rise in America and across much of the developed world for decades, roiling politics in recent years in Germany, Britain and the United States.

Immigrants made up about one in 20 U.S. residents in 1970. By 2016, their share rose to about one in seven, according the U.S. Census Bureau.

On Twitter on Saturday, Trump criticized the handful of Democratic politicians who have called for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency known as ICE to be eliminated.

“You are doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe by eradicating the worst criminal elements,” he wrote in part of the post addressed to ICE employees.

Slideshow (28 Images)

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Jason Lange; additional reporting by Bob Chiarito in Chicago, Miesha Miller in New York, and Sue Horton, Kevin Fogarty and Greg Savoy in Washington; Editing by Susan Thomas and Grant McCool

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Fear turns into joy: Rescue boat saves 60 in Mediterranean

The full moon was the only light as a terrified 9-year-old boy from Central African Republic climbed into a rubber dinghy held together with duct tape, risking death in the dark waters off Libya along with his parents and 57 other trafficked migrants.

After a long night on the Mediterranean Sea, a Spanish rescue boat spotted them on the horizon after dawn.

“People were screaming, I was afraid,” said the boy, Krisley Dokouada. “But after seeing the rescue boat, I knew there was no more danger.”

Their savior Saturday was the Open Arms, which became the third rescue ship run by humanitarian aid groups to draw the ire of Italy’s anti-migrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini. He has vowed that Italy’s new populist government will no longer allow such rescue boats to dock in Italy, which has taken in hundreds of thousands of migrants rescued at sea in the last few years.

Malta then angrily rebuffed Salvini’s claim that the tiny Mediterranean nation was closest to the rescue ship and should give it safe harbor.

By nightfall Saturday, Spain agreed to let the Open Arms dock in Barcelona, where the humanitarian aid group which operates the vessel, Proactiva Open Arms, is based, the Spanish government said.

The Open Arms and its companion ship, the Astral, will likely need four days to reach Barcelona, said the Astral’s captain, Riccardo Gatti.

Also on Saturday, in an unrelated rescue much further west of the central Mediterranean where the Open Arms rescue took place, Spanish authorities reported saving 63 migrants trying to reach the country’s southern coast from North Africa.

While European politicians bickered about where the migrants should go, those rescued by the Open Arms were jubilant — jumping, chanting and hugging their rescuers.

Krisley’s tensions melted when he was allowed to sit for a few minutes in the captain’s seat. With sparkling eyes, the only child among the migrants smiled shyly after the rescue crew called him “captain.”

For months, his family had lived in Libya, while they awaited their chance to make the Mediterranean crossing. His mother, Judith Dokouada, said she never left the shelter for fear of being kidnapped or sold as a slave, a fate many African migrants have spoken of to human rights advocates.

“There is war at home. They kill people, they beat people, they rape women, they kill boys,” said Dokouada, 32. “We don’t have peace.”

She and her husband want to raise Krisley in a safer place. She expressed hope the family could apply for refugee status and settle in Spain.

Another of those rescued, Bitcha Honoree, said he knew the risk he was taking when he boarded the dinghy in the middle of the night.

The 39-year-old man from Cameroon said that he was sold twice as a slave, kidnapped and tortured in Libya while awaiting his chance to get aboard a smuggler’s boat. His brother sold his home in order to pay the ransom demanded by his captors in largely lawless Libya.

“It’s better to die than to continue being treated this bad,” he said.

Many have died on the dangerous crossing. The U.N. refugee agency says 1,137 migrants are estimated to have died on Mediterranean so far this year. And that does not include the 100 migrants reported missing and feared dead at sea Friday off the coast of Libya.

A few hours after the Open Arms rescue Saturday, Salvini declared that the Spanish rescue boat “can forget about arriving in an Italian port” and claimed it should go to Malta.

“Quit spreading incorrect news, dragging Malta into it for no reason,” Maltese Interior Minister Michael Farrugia tweeted, claiming the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, south of Sicily, was closer.

Even though the number of migrants arriving in Europe is sharply down this year from 2017, migration issues have deepened political divisions in the European Union, fueled in part by the demands of anti-migrant nationalist parties.

But cracks showed Saturday between the two coalition parties in Italy’s new populist government over Salvini’s hard-line approach. Roberto Fico, a leading figure in the 5-Star Movement, the senior partner in Italy’s ruling coalition, told reporters after inspecting a migrant reception center in Sicily that “I wouldn’t close the ports.”

Fico described Libya as unsafe and praised the humanitarian aid ships for doing “extraordinary work” in the Mediterranean.

Salvini contended Saturday on Twitter that the Open Arms had taken on the migrants before a Libyan boat in Libya’s search-and-rescue zone could intervene.

But the Open Arms’ captain said he told the Rome-based Maritime Rescue Coordination Center about the migrants and was instructed to call Libyan maritime authorities, who didn’t answer. The captain said officials in Rome then told him it was up to him to decide whether to carry out the rescue.

“I took the decision to save these human beings,” the captain, Marco Martinez, told an Associated Press journalist who viewed the rescue from a dinghy belonging to the Astral.

The AP journalist saw a Libyan coast guard vessel approached the Open Arms and the Astral as the rescue was being concluded, but it made a U-turn and left, ordering both boats to return to Spain. Also witnessing the rescue were four European Parliament lawmakers.

———

D’Emilio reported from Rome. Stephen Calleja in Malta and Aritz Parra in Madrid contributed.

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Colorado among leading states nationwide for current wildfires, July 4th fireworks fuel concerns.

More than a half-dozen wildfires are burning in Colorado, torching thousands of acres from the Wyoming border to the San Juan Mountains. The state is a hot spot nationally for wildfires as the potentially combustible Fourth of July holiday approaches.

The fires, in part, have been fueled by several days of scorching heat across the state, with temperatures climbing over 100 degrees in widespread areas on Thursday. Weekend weather brings a cool down with a chance for showers and thunderstorms in northeastern and north central Colorado, but that weather system will move on quickly and its back to sunny skies and heat.

In southwestern Colorado, where the stubborn 416 fire has been burning since June 1, chances of a brief, cool, moist reprise is not likely anytime soon. The 416 fire, 13 miles north of Durango, has burned more than 41,600 acres and was 37 percent contained on Friday.

“The southwestern corner of the state is looking continually dry,” said Kyle Fredin, a meteorologist and spokesman with the National Weather Service.

The Spring fire, in Costilla County, has burned more than 28,000 acres and the blaze shut down U.S. 160 on Friday for safety precautions as well as to beef up fire suppression efforts along the highway, using a stretch of asphalt as a containment line.

A relatively dry fall and winter in Colorado, especially in southwestern Colorado, has helped to set up tinder box conditions in the state. Combine ongoing summer heat with the dry fuels and wildfires can breakout with the slightest of sparks.



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