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Kathleen Parker column: Trump won — again

WASHINGTON — Watching the Democratic presidential debate Thursday night left one clear impression: Donald Trump won.

Please don’t shoot the messenger. My left index finger recoiled a bit as it reached for the “T” on the keyboard. But it’s true for this reason: Democrats are too earnest. They care too much. They’re too smart. They know too much.

Whoever says, as California Sen. Kamala Harris did, “The American people are so much better than this” needs to get out more.

This isn’t to recommend that primary candidates should be more like Trump, not that they could. But as a panel of candidates, they’re missing a key element essential to voter interest. Not brilliant policies or the rote delivery of statistics but a clear and firm message as well as that other thing that Trump had in 2016 — “it.”

We’re used to saying “it girl,” but boys have “it,” too. And it isn’t necessarily good. In fact, in men it’s probably just a little bit bad. Bad enough to attract attention, to convey toughness, to seduce with dazzle or at least bedevil those around him. Love him or hate him — or just wish him away — Trump had the X-factor in spades and jokers.

Yes, yes, many Americans are surely ready for something different. But a Trump-like figure in the mix gives everyone a point of reference for contrasts and pivots.

As elder statesman and Democratic front-runner, Joe Biden was the obvious person to serve this role, but he’s the opposite of the brooding, sarcastic, hunkering Trump from the 2016 campaign. Whereas Trump was the impudent scoundrel, dominating the field with the aloof self-confidence of an undefeated bully, Biden is the welcome guy at Walmart who wants to give everybody a great, big ol’ hug.

Three years ago, Trump knew nothing, of course, but he made certain that viewers would not be bored. He hurled glib insults and tagged better men with insulting (but largely accurate) nicknames — and the crowds loved him. Today, Democratic contenders are so busy trying to demonstrate how un-Trump they are that they risk putting everyone to sleep. Be honest. Did you make it to the end of Thursday night’s three-hour affair?

Also missing from the mix is a jester to the king. For Republicans in the 2016 cycle, it was South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Barely registering in the polls, Graham was so liberated by the impossibility of his nomination that he said only true things, including that Trump was a “race-baiting, xenophobic bigot” and “jackass.” We watched the “kids table” GOP debates prior to the top guns just to find out what Graham would say. Miss that guy.

On Thursday, the zany Andrew Yang did offer some comic relief when he said, “I’m Asian, so I know a lot of doctors,” thus supposedly making him an expert on health care. Otherwise he was plainly auditioning for a game show of his own. He offered to give $1,000 a month to 10 families for a year to show how his guaranteed minimum income policy would work. He also suggested giving all Americans $100 “democracy dollars” to spend on political causes.

Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro was laughable if not funny when he tried to make Biden look little. Fuming mad in that studied, must-show-passion way, Castro jabbed Biden for “forgetting” what he had just said, which wasn’t true, but Castro was brandishing his narrative as the Latino, new-generation tough guy. It backfired.

Honorable mention goes to former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who broke out with his strongest stand yet on gun control: “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he intoned, sounding very fierce. Also noteworthy, Biden earned a new voter bloc among the incarcerated population when he said, “Nobody should be in jail for a nonviolent crime.”

In sum: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was very Bernie. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was A-plus perfect. Harris was prosecutorial. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was bookishly faithful to his narrative. Biden was grown-up. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was emphatically moderate. And South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the Mr. Rogers of American politics, would make everything tidy.

Entertainment value, obviously, should play no part in a voter’s calculation. But as all public speakers know, audiences don’t remember what you said; they remember how you made them feel. Trump made people feel excited, if for all the wrong reasons. This crew? Serotonin on the rocks without a twist.

Kathleen Parker’s email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

#Postsnaps September 15

New picks every Sunday!

27th Street Bridge will not reopen to traffic Monday as previously anticipated

During the removal of the concrete slabs of the existing 27th Street Bridge deck, crews encountered unanticipated structural elements that require additional time to safely deconstruct.

As a result, the bridge will not be ready to open for traffic on Monday, project officials said Saturday.

The temporary closure of the 27th Street Bridge, South Grand Avenue intersection, Atkinson Trail and the Roaring Fork River will remain in effect until crews are able to safely reopen to traffic.

An update for the construction schedule will be announced on Monday.

“Deconstruction is highly technical and we encountered unknown site conditions that require additional precaution in the removal of the bridge deck on the existing bridge. Crews will continue to work day and night on this intricate operation to ensure a safe and quality bridge is constructed for the community,” said Bryce Jaynes, Colorado Division Manager for Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction.

Detours and Travel Impacts

Motorists should continue to use the 8th Street detour. There is no through access at South Grand Avenue and 27th Street.

Project officials continue to advise that significant traffic delays are anticipated. Pedestrians and bicyclists should continue to use Old Cardiff Bridge or the 14th Street Bridge as alternate routes for 27th Street Bridge and Atkinson Trail. Local business and residential access will remain open with detours.

After the existing bridge deck and girders are deconstructed, Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction will set up for the bridge slide process in which the new traffic bridge staged just south of the existing bridge will be moved laterally into place. After deconstruction is complete, the project team will be able to provide additional details on the schedule.

“Plan plenty of extra travel time, especially during the morning and afternoon traffic peaks,” said 27th Street Bridge public information manager, Bryana Starbuck. “City of Glenwood Springs Police will be at the Eighth Street and Midland Ave. intersection as needed to help facilitate traffic flow. We will allow through access on the river as soon as it is safe to do so.”

River Access

Until it is safe for passage under the 27th Street Bridge construction area, there is no through river access at 27th Street. All river users must eddy-out at or before 3-Mile Creek or put-in downstream of the 27th Street Bridge. Through access on the Roaring Fork River will reopen concurrently with the bridge. Call before you float to hear the latest river status, (970) 618-5379.

Safety Reminders

For safety reasons, individuals are asked to avoid the area during these operations. Motorists are reminded to always move over for emergency service vehicles. Schedule and routes are subject to change and are weather dependent. Updates or changes to the schedule will be announced via ConeZone and will be updated on the project information line, 618-5379.

Project Information

Webpage: cogs.us/27thStreetBridge | Email: 27thStreetBridge@gmail.com | Phone (call or text): 970-618-5379

To receive the ConeZone email updates, contact the project team or subscribe to the “Glenwood Springs News” list via cogs.us/NotifyMe.

Sting operation catches nine accused child predators in Garfield County

A sting operation in Garfield County involving federal, state and local law enforcement resulted in nine arrests of accused child predators.

The arrests included a Glenwood Springs antiques dealer, Scott Fetzer, in a case previously reported by the Post Independent after his Thursday arrest.

Working undercover in cooperation with state prosecutors and local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security created posts online where potential predators visit to advertise sex with children, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario told the Post Independent.

From Thursday to Saturday morning, nine individuals communicated with the undercover agents and allegedly negotiated prices to purchase sex with children. When the individuals showed up to allegedly engage in sex with a child, they were arrested.

“It’s pretty graphic and disgusting,” Vallario said.

Vallario credited Carbondale Police Chief Gene Schilling with bringing the idea up to law enforcement partners.

“Solicitation for child prostitution is common and victimizes the most innocent and vulnerable of all, our children,” Schilling said in a press release. “We are glad we were able to arrest these people before they had the chance to further their criminal actions.”

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” Vallario said. “We’re glad we can make these arrests, but we’re sad this exists in the community in the first place,” he added.

On the first night of the sting, only one person, Fetzer, showed up and was arrested.

Seven more suspects showed up allegedly seeking sex with children on Friday evening, and one arranged to meet Saturday morning, Vallario said.

Most of the nine people arrested are from Garfield County, and are being held in custody.

One person, Shekeyah Jackson, 26, of Aurora, is charged with prostitution and was released on a summons.

The sheriff’s office noted that all accused persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The following eight people will be charged with soliciting for child prostitution, and are being held in the Garfield County jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

  • Scott V. Fetzer, 60, of Glenwood Springs 
  • Brian Alvarez, 29, of Glenwood Springs
  • Luis M. Noj-Pich, 33, of Rifle
  • Jose G. Cardenas, 39, of Rifle
  • Guillermo Carreon-Salinas, 31, of Rifle
  • Manuel Nava-Mauro, 26, of Carbondale
  • Mingma O. Sherpa, 51, of Avon
  • Jan Blewett, 35, of Crested Butte

Vallario said Garfield County has done similar stings in years past, and arrested some accused of seeking sex with children. Similar stings could occur at any time, Vallario added.

“We could do another one next week, next year, or two years down the road,” Vallario said.

Vallario noted that while nine people were caught in this operation, an unknown number of crimes against children occur without being prosecuted.

“It’s eye opening, heartbreaking. The average person out there in the community doesn’t think this happens, but it does,” Vallario said.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Former Carbondale mayor, head of CMC vet-tech program Randy Vanderhurst remembered

Randy Vanderhurst, who helped create the Veterinary Technology Program at Colorado Mountain College and saw Carbondale through a period of growth as a two-term mayor in the late 1990s and early 2000s, has died.

Vanderhurst died Sept. 7 at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver shortly after being diagnosed with pneumonia and a malignancy, according to his wife, Charlotte Vanderhurst. He was 79.

A full obituary appears in the Sunday Post Independent and online.

Vanderhurst moved to Carbondale in 1973 to join the CMC-Spring Valley Vet-Tech program in its infancy, building it into one of the most respected programs in the region before retiring in 1995.

Already two years into a stint as a Carbondale town trustee at that time, he was appointed to fill the vacant mayor’s seat after town voters upheld a decision to allow a controversial golf course development — today’s River Valley Ranch — to proceed.

It was a contentious time in Carbondale growth politics. The town saw a change in town manager, the buildout of RVR, including Garfield County’s first affordable housing units, and a vigorous debate over the future development of a large piece of commercial property at the town’s main entrance.

Vanderhurst went on to serve until 2002, when he lost the mayor’s seat to Michael Hassig amid the heated debate over a big-box development that had been proposed for the Crystal River Marketplace property along Highway 133.

A new City Market store and a mix of commercial and residential is just now being built on that site, after two previous development proposals were shot down by voters.

“It was a pretty contentious time,” recalled longtime former town planner Mark Chain.

“But Randy was always a stabilizing influence at town hall,” Chain said. “He showed leadership and kept a level head.”

Vanderhurst’s scientific knowledge even came in handy when the town dealt with a case of cryptosporidium, a parasite that can cause gastrointestinal distress, in the municipal water supply.

As a teacher of animal science, Vanderhurst became a sort of internal expert on the matter, Chain said.

“And, he always had a pretty good sense of humor about things,” he said.

His wife of 55 years, Charlotte, observed that, despite disagreements among townsfolk, there was “good energy” in Carbondale during that era.

“When we’d be out in town, people would thank him for being the mayor and appreciated what he did,” she said. “He was really more of a full-time mayor, because he was retired and had the time.

“He didn’t have an agenda, he wasn’t a developer and he didn’t own a business that wanted to make some connection.

“There’s kind of a purity in that,” she said. “It was just a chance to give back, and that’s really what drove him.”

The Vanderhursts became immersed in the community immediately upon arriving in Carbondale in 1973. Randy was part of a group of business leaders that served as a predecessor for today’s Carbondale Chamber of Commerce. He was also involved with the Carbondale Community United Methodist Church, and later helped to start the Senior Matters organization.

Vanderhurst earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of California Davis in the early 1960s.

He was later drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Stationed at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C., he developed the Army’s formal veterinary technician program. 

“Randy was one of the originals in the country in that field, and brought a lot of suggestions to CMC,” Charlotte said. “He knew his stuff, and really made it soar.”

Randy was also an accomplished musician, and enjoyed playing the guitar and harmonica, she said.

In recent years, she said much of their time was spent traveling around the world, including a special trip to Australia earlier this year.

There will be a celebration of life for Randy Vanderhurst at 1 p.m. Sept. 21 at The Orchard in Carbondale.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Police arrest Glenwood antique dealer for soliciting child prostitution

Glenwood Springs Police arrested local antiques dealer Scott Fetzer, 60, for allegedly soliciting child prostitution Thursday, according to public court records.

Details of the arrest and charges were unavailable Friday because of an ongoing law enforcement matter, according to a court order.

Magistrate Susan Ryan read the order in Fetzer’s advisement hearing Friday before closing the courtroom to the media.

“The Districts Attorney’s Office did file a motion to seal the affidavit in support of warrantless arrest,” Ryan said. Ryan signed the order Friday morning.

In a letter to the Aspen Times in 2016, Fetzer said he has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for 30 years.

Fetzer organized the Aspen Antique, Jewelry and Fine Arts Show for at least 15 years.

He runs a website called Fetzer’s Auction House, and posts about antique sales on his Facebook profile.

Fetzer is associated with Fetzer’s Fine Antiques, which lists an Aspen Glen residence as the business address. That home was formerly owned by Fetzer, but was sold at a foreclosure auction in October 2018.

Fetzer was formerly a real estate broker with Aspen Sotheby’s, but has not worked there for two years, a company employee said.

According to the Colorado Division of Real Estate, Fetzer received an associate level broker’s license in 2012. The license expired at the end of 2018.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Local missing after walking away from Glenwood nursing home

A missing person alert has been issued for a 67-year-old longtime New Castle resident who apparently walked away from a Glenwood Springs nursing home earlier this month.

Authorities say Dale Lynn Loper was last seen Sept. 3 on the 2300 block of Blake Avenue after he left the Glenwood Springs Health Care nursing home where he had been a resident.

Police say Loper suffers from a cognitive impairment. He was last seen driving a 2008 Maroon Jeep Liberty with Colorado plate YQZ883.

A statewide missing senior citizen alert has been issued. Glenwood Springs Police officials could not be reached Friday for additional information.

Loper has been a noted musician in the area for several years, having played in the band the Rock Dogs until recent years, according to friend and bandmate Tom Mercer who shared the missing person information on Facebook.

“A lot of people are very concerned about him,” Mercer said.

According to family members who have posted on Facebook, Loper has no cell phone to make contact with anyone.

Loper is described as a white male, 5-feet 6-inches tall, weighing 185 pounds with green eyes and short brown hair.

Anyone who may have information about Loper’s whereabouts is asked to call 970-625-8095.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Weekend Dish column: The golden goodness of hash browns

Potatoes are a beloved food staple across the world. They come in many different varieties, including julienne, mashed, scalloped, diced, sliced, boiled, steamed, and so many more. I have even devoted previous columns to those beguiling French fries that we all love.

Potatoes are more interesting than most of us realize. They are tuber roots found on the potato plant and are part of the nightshade family. Some nightshades are toxic, but we still eat or smoke them. Tomatoes and tobacco are also in this family.

Potatoes with skin contain potassium, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin B6. They are mostly carbs but also have fibers and some protein. They are a good source of lutein, which is excellent for eye health.

They thrive in many placed including here in the Roaring Fork Valley. Woody Creek ranchers have raised them for over 100 years. The famous Woody Creek Distillers vodka uses these local potatoes today.

Potatoes can be simple to cook. The most basic recipe calls for boiling, baking or even microwaving them while they are still in their skins. More elaborate methods involve mixing or mashing them while adding additional ingredients.

Hash browns are one such dish and are an American favorite. The name refers to the fried small pieces of potatoes that are golden brown. They can be mixed with onions, peppers, garlic and cooked in shortening, vegetable or olive oil.

Like so many recipes that I profile, the origins of hash browns are slightly unclear. The Idaho Potato Commission, surely a reputable source, provides some vague information about their history. 

Pressing the soaked and pat-dried potatoes into an even layer in the frying pan.
Jordan Callier

Hash browns first appeared on breakfast menus in New York City either in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. They closely resemble Swiss Rösti, which is a potato fritter that dates back to the Middle Ages. Chefs would use the odd ends and scraps from French fries in their hash brown preparation.

The idea of “hashing” leftovers has been around for centuries. Potatoes keep well in a cool or dark place, but they will eventually spoil. Hashing them up, adding some salt and frying them in oil makes a lot of sense.

Hash browns began to rise in popularity in the United States during the 1950s. Coincidentally, they rose to fame as many fast-food chains took off. It makes sense that such burger joints would have extra fries lying around to use.

Processed hash browns also appeared around this time for mass-production. They can be kept frozen for months, and they are incredibly simple to make. They are a popular staple at American diners and fast food joints.

Depending on which part of the country you are in, hash browns are called country fried potatoes or home fries. They can even contain more exotic ingredients like hot peppers, ham or green chile.

Hash Browns

Serves four to six people

Ingredients

6 Russet potatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)

Directions

  1. Rinse potatoes and dry them. Grate them into a large bowl.
  2. Add water to bowl until potatoes are submerged. Soak for about five minutes.
  3. Microwave potatoes for about six minutes or until water starts to boil.
  4. Gently rinse potatoes until water turns clear. Carefully drain and place on a clean kitchen towel.
  5. Roll up towel and firmly squeeze out water over sink. Continue to ring towel until most of the water and starch have been squeezed out.
  6. In a large skillet or frying pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, carefully add potatoes, garlic and any other ingredients, and salt or other seasonings to taste.
  7. Smooth potatoes into an even layer with a spatula. Cook for about 10 minutes until the bottom side turns golden.
  8. Either flip or stir the potatoes to cook the other side. Continue to fry until potatoes are cooked as desired. Serve immediately.

Preparing hash browns can be very simple, but a little extra care makes the difference between crisp and golden versus chewy and soggy textures. There are a few tricks to achieve optimal results. Choosing the right potato makes a difference, too.

The higher the starch content of a potato, the crispier it gets when fried. Russet potatoes are best, but Yukon Golds and White potatoes work, too. Avoid waxy, low-starch potatoes like Red, New or Fingerling varieties.

Excess starch and moisture can also interfere with the final results. Most hash brown recipes suggest rinsing then soaking potatoes in water to remove excess starch. If you rinse them, it can be difficult to contain all of the tiny pieces.

Once you soak and rinse the potatoes, you should also squeeze out extra moisture. Place them in a clean towel and then ring them out over a sink.

Placing the sliced and soaked potatoes in a towel for ringing.
Jordan Callier

If you have extra time and ambition, you can also parboil or cook them in the microwave. Parboiling works best for larger chunks of potatoes, as it helps prepare them so that they will fry more quickly in the pan.

If you do not have the time nor patience for these preps, then it is OK to grate them and fry in oil. Results may vary, but they should still be delicious.

The type of frying oil can also make a difference. Since these are cooked at high heat, make sure to choose an oil with a high smoke point such as canola or extra virgin olive oil, and even clarified butter or vegetable shortening (at lower heats).

Season them with salt and pepper, or add more flavor with onions, garlic, peppers or a splash of hot sauce. The trick to frying them is cooking them thoroughly on one side for at least five minutes or until golden brown. From there, stir or flip them like a pancake or omelet.

Try any or all of these approaches above. Serve these with eggs, bacon, sausage, and toast. I used Morningstar Farms vegetarian bacon with mine. Don’t forget the coffee and orange juice, too, for the quintessential American breakfast.

This a forgiving breakfast to make, and hash browns go well with so many other foods. While potatoes are widespread across the world, hash browns are indeed an American creation. Their unique varieties reflect the fabric of this country.

The golden goodness of hash browns are part of a complete breakfast.

Jordan Callier is an avid foodie and business owner in Glenwood Springs.

Crime briefs: Drug sting and needles for ‘insulin’

TRIDENT stings snag suspected heroin dealer

Officers with the TRIDENT drug task force used a confidential informant and undercover officers to catch a 60-year-old man allegedly selling heroin in Rifle.

The first attempt at the sting occurred on Jan. 9, when a task force officer asked a confidential informant to contact the suspect and ask for heroin. The suspect agreed, and arranged to meet the informant.

Using $200 provided by TRIDENT, the informant went to the suspect’s Rifle home and purchased a 1.4-gram package that tested positive for heroin.

The undercover officer observing the sale could not positively identify the suspect, but the informant confirmed it was the man.

Just over a week later, on Jan. 17, the suspect contacted the informant offering to sell more heroin. This time, the suspect wanted to meet at City Market in Rifle.

The task force again gave the informant $200, and an undercover officer was stationed at the scene.

The suspect approached the informant’s car, and got in. The suspect received the cash and gave the informant a package that later tested positive for heroin, and told the informant to drive him to the other side of the store.

A judge signed the warrant Sept. 12, and the suspect was arrested the same day.

Man arrested for theft, claims needles were for insulin

A New Castle man was arrested for theft, possessing a weapon as a felon and having drug paraphernalia Sept. 7, after trying to elude police and toss his ID across the road.

A New Castle Police Officer spotted a car veering toward the shoulder, and back across the center line going down Main Street around 9 p.m.

The officer pulled the car over, and recognized the driver from previous interactions. The man appeared slow and responses were delayed, the officer wrote in an affidavit.

The officer observed prescription bottles, which the suspect said were for anti-withdrawal medication. The officer asked if the man had any needles in the car.

The man said yes, but the needles for a diabetic condition. He said he did not have any insulin or blood-sugar testers on him when the officer pressed.

A K9 unit arrived, but the dog didn’t show handlers a positive alert to the presence of drugs. One of the officers then noticed an uncapped syringe under the driver’s seat, and a piece of tin foil with brown residue.

The officer said he would conduct a probable cause search, and asked another officer to escort the suspect away.

“I turned my back on them briefly and heard a scuffle begin,” the officer wrote. The other officer grabbed the suspect and they tumbled. Once they got him in the back of a police car, they asked for his ID, but he attempted to throw the card across the road.

A search of the car did not turn up any more drugs besides the residue in the syringe, but officers did find a stolen Smith and Wesson handgun in a backpack.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Rifle resident skips sentencing after manslaughter conviction

Cody Christopher, convicted by jury of vehicular manslaughter in June, failed to appear for his sentencing hearing Friday and is now wanted on $50,000 cash-only bond.

Christopher, 41, was out on bond throughout his trial.

“I’m disappointed the defendant did not appear. I sincerely hope he is alright,” Ninth District Judge John Neiley said Friday.

At 9:15 a.m., Neiley entered the courtroom and noted Christopher’s absence.

“Obviously, we can’t proceed without him here,” Neiley said.

Ann Roan, an attorney representing Christopher at the hearing, said she thought Christopher was going to be there. Roan also said she didn’t know where her client was.

Neiley said he would give him some more time to arrive, in case Christopher was stuck in construction traffic.

“I don’t think that should be a valid excuse,” Ninth District deputy prosecutor Sarah Nordgaard said.

Christopher was likely coming from Rifle, Nordgaard said, and would not be affected by ongoing construction in south Glenwood Springs.

“There are plenty of people who made it here,” Nordgaard added, referring to more than 20 of Christopher’s friends and supporters, many of whom attended the trial.

Neiley reconvened the hearing at 9:40, and issued the bench warrant for Christopher’s arrest.

Christopher was convicted of vehicular homicide for crashing a Ford Excursion while intoxicated Dec. 29, 2017, killing Matt Smith, then 41, and Trent Johnson, then 36.

Johnson’s son, then 10 years old, was severely injured in the crash.

In his testimony at the trial, Christopher maintained that he was not drunk at the time of the crash, but drank heavily after hiking from the site of the crash, along Puma Paw Road north of Rifle, to a ranch house with the 10-year-old survivor.

Christopher also suffered a head injury in the crash.

Christopher’s sentencing hearing was initially scheduled on a docket day, Aug. 22, where there would be limited time for the hearing.

Christopher’s defense attorney requested an “off-docket” hearing, because they wanted to schedule more time to present evidence at sentencing.

Neiley noted that he was willing to listen to any and all friends or family of Christopher who wanted to speak regarding the sentencing.

Defense attorney Roan declined further comment, as did several friends of Christopher.

tphippen@postindependent.com