Over $400,000 seized at El Paso Bridge of the Americas

From the El Paso Times - Times staff report - Customs and Border Protection agents seized more than $400,000 in cash Monday during a check of cars headed into Mexico. Officials said $420,440 were confiscated from a pickup truck being driven into Mexico at the Bridge of the Americas about 9:30 a.m. The driver, Jose Felix Vizcarra, 46, of Juárez, was taken into custody, officials said. He was booked into the El Paso County Jail with bond. CBP officials said agents were checking cars headed into Juárez and pulled the pickup for additional inspection. A weapons and cash sniffing dog named "Enzo" alerted agents, and they found the cash in 16 bundles hidden in the pickup's seats. People can take cash into Mexico, but amounts more than $10,000 must be declared. Read more

KRQE: APS votes no on suing state

From KRQE.com - by reporter David Romero - The issue of Albuquerque Public Schools suing the state of New Mexico for cuts in money to education is over. APS board members voted in a special meeting on Friday morning with three in favor and three against pursuing the legal action. A lack of majority in a roll call vote killed the potential lawsuit. Board president Marty Esquibel abstained because of a conflict of interest. For months APS had debated whether to sue the state over repeated cuts in funding. For the fiscal year 2012, APS is preparing for another $10 million in cuts of state money, which is what Gov. Susana Martinez is proposing. APS says those cuts and $31 million in cost increases in the district will prompt layoffs, furloughs and cuts to programs. APS lawyers said there are several questions that needed to be answered before a lawsuit could have been filed. They say it could cost the district up to $1 million in litigation and fees, and nothing would likely be resolved for two years. Some are glad to see the issue gone; others say it'll be brought up again. Read more

Six reasons America is only the ninth-most free economy in the world

From the Daily Caller.com - The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based free market think tank, along with the Wall Street Journal, released its 17th annual Index of Economic Freedom. While the report contains a lot of good news for less-developed nations with emerging economies around the world, the picture isn’t so good for the United States. For the second year in a row, the U.S. has actually fallen in economic freedom, from a score of 78.0 to 77.8, at a time when more than half of the countries around the world experienced an increase in their economic freedom ranking. The U.S. currently ranks as the 9th freest country economically, but its score puts it in the “mostly free,” only the second best category to be in. According to the list, the U.S ranks behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland and Denmark, in that order.According to the study’s authors, America’s response to the economic downturn is responsible for the U.S.’s poor performance. Below are six specific reasons the study cites for America’s decline in economic freedom.

1. Government Spending: As of November 2010, the national debt stood at about $14 trillion. Most of the increase in America’s debt level can be attributed to unprecedented levels of spending in recent years and government efforts to resolve the financial collapse of 2008.

2. Healthcare reform: “President Obama’s new health care law calls for massive new spending and vastly expanded regulatory powers for the federal government,” noted Terry Miller and Kim R. Holmes, both editors for the Index.

3. The Frank-Dodd Act: Widely hailed as the “sweeping Wall Street reforms” needed to prevent another financial meltdown, it is ironic the bill has actually contributed to the nation’s economic decline, at least according to the Index of Economic Freedom.

4. Bureaucratic Regulations: The study’s authors specifically cited regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for America’s economic ranking decline.

5. Corporate Tax Rate: The study goes on to warn that the U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. And because of reforms in Japan, that could change to the U.S having the highest rates.

6. Failure to pass free trade agreements: Read more

When Rising Food/Energy Prices Begin to Wreak Havoc

From the Daily Reckoning - By Addison Wiggin - This morning, we see Britain’s consumer price index grew in December to an annualized 3.7%. Fuel prices are growing at their fastest pace since July, and food prices are zooming at a rate last seen in May 2009. Like the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England has an inflation “sweet spot” of 2%. But Britain’s CPI has been above 3% for 13 months now. Unlike in the United States, even the “core” rate of inflation in the UK is rising at an alarming 2.9%. “If history is any guide,” Chris Mayer contends, “inflation will likely get much worse. Everyone seems to know the US inflationary story of the 1970s. The official inflation rate hit nearly 14% by 1980. “In other countries, it was worse. In the UK, inflation topped out at 27%; in Japan, 30%. “The year 2011 is the year when inflation will play the role of wrecking ball,” Chris declares. “Emerging markets have been a vital part of the investment story of the last decade, for sure. Yet rising food and energy prices pose a big risk to them. “In India, food prices are at their highest levels in more than a year, rising 18%. The dabbawalla, when he is done delivering lunchboxes, trots off to the market and finds that the price of onions has doubled in only a few months. Even the basics, like potatoes, have become expensive to the average Indian. “In China, the typical Chinese also faces rising prices for nearly everything. The official inflation rate recently hit a 28-month high. But it’s the surging price of coal that may prove to be China’s Achilles’ heel, at least in the short term. Coal is what powers the great boom in China. And coal is at two-year highs. Read more:

On This Day in New Mexico History - January 19

On this day in New Mexico History, by Michael Swickard.

Writer Eugene Manlove Rhodes was born on 19 January 1869, at Tecumseh, Nebraska, the son of Hinman and Julia Manlove Rhodes. His father served with Company H, 28th Infantry Regiment Illinois (Full Colonel) during the Civil War. After the war he served in the Nebraska Legislature and later was superintendent of the Mescalero Indian Reservation in New Mexico. Gene Rhodes bought his first saddle as a teenager with soap coupons his family had saved. Between 1884 and 1886 he worked on cattle ranches like the Bar Cross on the Jornada del Muerto in central New Mexico. After attending the University of the Pacific, San Jose for two years, Rhodes tried prospecting and hauling freight before he started his own 6,000 acre ranch in Sierra County, New Mexico. The ranch was nestled in the San Andres Mountains within a valley that would later bear his name. In 1899 Rhodes married May Davison (1871-1957) a widow from Appalachian, New York. A few years later the couple moved to New York after May's father, Louis Davison, became ill. There Rhodes farmed and began writing about his beloved New Mexico. His stories were first accepted by McClure's Magazine and later The Saturday Evening Post. Book List. Rhodes and his wife returned to New Mexico in 1926, living first in Santa Fe, then Alamogordo and finally at White Mountain near Three Rivers in a house provided by former Senator Albert Bacon Fall. In 1930, ill health forced Rhodes to move to Pacific Beach, California where he died of a heart attack on 27 June, 1934. His last request was to be buried in the San Andres Mountains near his old ranch. For many years groups of his admirers would gather by his gravesite on the anniversary of his passing. Many considered Rhodes as the most accurate of the chroniclers of the old Southwest. He had 16 movies and an episode in 1958 of a western series based on his writing. See list here The 1948 movie, Four Faces West from his book Paso Por Aqui is still available to be seen. Rhodes Hall on the campus of New Mexico State University is named in his honor. Rhodes is out of copyright, therefore, Project Gutenberg has some of his books as free ebooks. My favorite is, Bransford of Rainbow Range


The Blame is Within

Rachel Pulaski
Only a few hours after Ben Lujan won the vote to retain his position as New Mexico Speaker of the House, the Progressives started spewing their usual political filth and finger pointing by blaming the Tea Party for Joseph Cervantes’ loss. Let’s take a look at the facts. First, Cervantes was unable to use his “suave” personality or popularity to receive a nomination from his party for fear that a Republican may win the vote. Second, the Republicans had no obligation to vote for someone outside of their party especially for someone who does not meet any of their core values. Lastly, the New Mexico Tea Parties formed a coalition to persuade their party and representatives to stay true to their values and principles by asking them to nominate a candidate from their own party. The Democrats and Progressives can play the blame game, but ultimately they only have themselves to blame. If the Democrats felt that Ben Lujan was suddenly an unacceptable speaker then where was their grassroots effort to support Joseph? Ben Lujan has been speaker for 10 years and NOW the Democrats finally feel he is a corrupt politician and an unfit choice for speaker? One can only assume that they just did not care about Lujan’s actions for the past ten years or the Democrats were just too lazy to do anything about it until now. What has happened in New Mexico politics recently to make the Democrats have such a change of heart?  If it was not for the industrious effort of Andy Nunez, Joseph Cervantes would have been just another name in the New Mexico House. Let me make it clear, if the members of the Democratic Party had done their job and made their voices heard by contacting their representatives and forming their own public coalition then Cervantes would have been the new speaker. Don’t blame the Tea Party for the lack of the Democratic Party’s grassroots skills. Finally, to those of you who continue to attack and slander the Tea Party, we thank you. Your actions only inspire us, fuel our momentum and expand our parties. While our opposition wastes their time predicting our demise, we will continue influencing politics right under their nose.


The Great Depression 2

From americanthinker.com - The Great Depression's harshest rebuke is not that it was relentlessly bad; it's that periodic good news always ended up turning worse again, like a false summit. The persistent reappearance of bad news in the 1930's directly correlates with investor uncertainty created by Roosevelt's incessant meddling. In short, it took a disastrous and transformative presidency to make a "depression" out of "recession" -- even if not all months, quarters, and years were uniformly bad. Today, just as then, almost one in four working-age Americans (or non-citizens, who also must be counted since they are part of the available work force) are unemployed. This 25% estimate includes those who previously were not in the workforce but who are looking now, presumably out of hardship. Tending to confirm this, a recent household survey found 22% unemployed. Conversely, the latest United States Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS) report puts the number at 9.9%. The disparity arises because the BLS number counts individuals receiving unemployment checks. No check? Not counted. More here

Obama 2.0: The Reinvention Begins

From americanthinker.com -Barack Obama will adapt even more, altering his image so he can again appeal to the great center of American voters: the jackpot that every candidate must win to enter the White House. Will Obama be able to connect with voters, as every politician must, on a personal level? Conservatives should not count Obama out yet. He may be cold-blooded, but he is a chameleon who can change the way people perceive him. Indeed, he has already begun to do so. The premiere of Obama 2.0 took place in Tucson, where his speech was warmly received and a new, more emotional Obama was on display (the voice cracking brings to mind the lip-chewing of a thoughtful Bill Clinton). And the road show has only just commenced. A clue to Obama's ability and willingness to adapt can be found in the words of his book Dreams from My Father. There he mentioned only one book, Malcolm X's autobiography, and wrote that Malcolm X's "repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me." Therein lies the clue to Obama's plan to rebrand his own image. A man who can fake a Southern accent, the story of how his father came to America, and the story of his parents' being inspired by the Civil Rights march in Selma to conceive him has no problem morphing for political purposes. We are about to watch the extreme makeover of Barack Obama in real time. More here

Martinez: Let's Get to Work

Governor Martinez
Governor Susana Martinez delivered a no nonsense “state of the state” address in a packed Roundhouse in Santa Fe this afternoon. Conspicuously, her speech was delivered shortly after huge drama in the House of Representatives ended with Ben Lujan retaining the speaker’s position. In her first major address since her inaugural, Martinez echoed many of the same philosophical themes that catapulted her out of the GOP primary last June and through the general election and Diane Denish in November. Martinez takes over the governor’s mansion in the Land of Enchantment as the state’s first female governor.
And Martinez wasted little time with niceties before chiding any who might be comfortable with an attitude or returning to business as usual in Santa Fe. She warned of those who will surely descend on the state capitol in the hours, days, and weeks ahead with ideas suggesting the state’s citizens are under-taxed. She promised these types will encounter vetoes should they be successful in the legislative branch. Martinez also discarded the notion that there is no waste left to be carved out of state government.
State Jet
In addressing the life of luxury including the two chefs employed by former governor Bill Richardson, and recently fired by Martinez, the governor drew attention to her husband Chuck Franco saying, “He makes a mean baloney sandwich.” No doubt there is a new sheriff in town in Santa Fe. Martinez promised to sell the symbol of her predecessor Bill Richardson, the state's luxury jet. Martinez closed her speech by saying “Let’s get to work.” In the House of Representatives it appeared to be another story.
Andy Nunez
Shortly before Governor Martinez arrived to begin her address, New Mexico Democrats in the House sent an unmistakable message. Essentially Democrats appeared to challenge conventional interpretations of the November election. In that chamber, it will be business as usual……or at least almost business as usual. Though Democrats will be minus eight seats that were lost to the GOP eleven weeks ago, they returned speaker Ben Lujan for yet another term. Representative Andy Nunez had recently characterized the prospect of reinstating Lujan as akin to returning Nancy Pelosi to power in Washingon. 


Ben Lujan Retains Speaker Post

Ben Lujan
After much behind the scenes wrangling and a snag created by New Mexico Tea Party opposition to a coalition that would have paved the way for Joseph Cervantes to replace him, Ben Lujan retained his position as Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives. More details to follow on News New Mexico.


On This Day In New Mexico History - January 18

On This day in New Mexico history by Michael Swickard

In 1847, first territorial governor Charles Bent was assassinated during the Taos Revolt, an insurrection by Mexicans and Native Americans. He had been appointed first territorial governor in September 1846. Though his office was in Santa Fe, Bent maintained his residence and store in Taos.

Born in Charleston, WV he attended West Point. Leaving the army, he and younger brother William in 1828 took a wagon train of goods from St. Louis to Santa Fe. They we able develop mercantile contacts over the Santa Fe Trail establishing a series of "forts" to facilitate trade with the Plains Indians, including Bent's Fort outside La Junta, CO, It has been restored and is now a National Historic Site.

Just four months after being appointed governor He was assassinated. The women in the Bent home escaped to safety through a hole in the parlor wall. Bent and renowned frontier scout Christopher "Kit" Carson married sisters. Maria Ignacia Bent outlived her husband by thirty-six years. The Bent house is now a museum.

Governor Bent Elementary School in NE Albuquerque is named in his honor.

What To Look For in Upcoming Session

Brigette Russell
Capitol Report New Mexico - On Tuesday (Jan. 18), the Legislature convenes for a 60-day session. In years past, I followed the session from the vantage point of a concerned citizen. This year, I’ll follow it from inside the Roundhouse – not as a legislator, having failed to unseat Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) in last November’s election, but as a bill analyst for the House Republicans. It looks to be a busy session, since the state faces a sizeable budget deficit; legislative districts need to be redrawn; the governor has an ambitious agenda including education reform, reducing the film subsidy and possibly consolidating departments; a nasty fight over the speaker’s chair is brewing; and legislators will introduce enough bills to bog down a full-time legislature. Read full story here:

President Has New Operating Principle

ABC News - President Obama today will sign an executive order to make clear the operating principle of the US government is to strike the right balance with regulations, neither "placing unreasonable burdens on business—burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs" nor failing to "protect the public interest." The president made the announcement in an oped in the conservative opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, in yet another sign his move may be based in part in moving towards the political center (or at least being perceived as doing so.) The administration, the president writes, is "making it our mission to root out regulations that conflict, that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb." Read full story:

Sowell: Budget Crisis Rhetoric

Thomas Sowell
Townhall - Government budget crises can be painful, but the political rhetoric accompanying these crises can also be fascinating and revealing. Perhaps the most famous American budget crisis was New York City's, back during the 1970s. When President Gerald Ford was unwilling to bail them out, the famous headline in the New York Daily News read, "Ford to City: Drop Dead." President Ford caved and bailed them out, after all. The rhetoric worked. That is why so many other cities and states-- not to mention the federal government-- have continued on with irresponsible spending, and are now facing new budget crises, with no end in sight. What would have happened if President Ford had stuck to his guns and not set the dangerous precedent of bailing out local irresponsibility with the taxpayers' money?ead full column here:

Apple's Steve Jobs Takes Another Leave

Steve Jobs
L.A. Times - Steve Jobs' decision to take a medical leave from Apple Inc. was probably triggered either by an infection, a rejection episode related to his recent liver transplant or, most likely, a recurrence of his pancreatic cancer, experts said Monday. But all cautioned that these are just educated guesses because so few details about his medical condition have been made public. "If we don't know more, it is all speculation," said Dr. Heinz-Josef Lenz, a gastrointestinal oncologist at USC's Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. "But we worry the tumor is back." Jobs' cancer, diagnosed in 2003, is known as an islet cell, or neuroendocrine, tumor. That is a much rarer form of pancreatic tumor than the type suffered by actor Patrick Swayze, who died in 2009, but also a much more survivable form.
If caught early, it is usually treated successfully by surgical removal of the tumor. However, the cancer frequently spreads to the liver, and Jobs' apparently did so without being initially detected. When doctors finally identified it there, "there must have been too many tumors within the liver" to permit surgical removal, said Dr. Gagandeep Singh, chief of hepatobiliary surgery at City of Hope in Duarte. Read full story here:


China's President Hu Jintao Headed for America

Hu Jintao
BEIJING, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao left Beijing Tuesday afternoon for a state visit to the United States. As a guest of U.S. President Barack Obama, Hu will be in the United States from Tuesday to Friday. During his four-day trip, Hu is to hold talks with Obama and attend a welcome ceremony and a state dinner in Washington. Hu is also scheduled to meet with some U.S. Congress members and other groups.
Hu will also visit the midwestern city of Chicago. "China and the United States should act in the fundamental interests of our two peoples and uphold the overall interests of world peace and development," Hu said in a written interview with the U.S. press prior to the visit. "We should rise up to challenges, remove disturbances, work for shared goals and promote continuous growth of our relations," Hu said. U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman has said Hu's state visit was "a very exciting and historic time in the U.S.-China relationship." Read full story here:


Lujan Speaks on Eve of Session

Ben Lujan
Capitol Report New Mexico - On the eve of an expected race that could topple him as New Mexico Speaker of the House, Rep. Ben Luján (D-Santa Fe County) is playing it close to the vest. On Tuesday (Jan. 18), the legislature convenes for its 60-day session and one of the first orders of business will be determining whether Luján will retain his speakership that he has held for 10 years or whether an expected challenge from Rep. Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces) might see the speakership change hands. Read full story here: