'Fast and Furious' report slaps 14 at Justice, ATF

Report on Holder does not ask why he did not know anything.
From CNN.com -- More than a dozen Justice Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials faced punishment Wednesday after a long-awaited report on the botched gun probe known as "Operation Fast and Furious." That probe and a previous investigation were marked by "a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment and management failures" that allowed hundreds of weapons to reach Mexican drug cartels, the Justice Department's independent inspector general concluded. Within minutes of the report's release, Justice announced rthat former acting ATF chief Kenneth Melson was retiring and another official, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, had resigned. Weinstein and Melson were among 14 people who "bore a share of responsibility for ATF's knowing failure in both these operations to interdict firearms illegally destined for Mexico, and for doing so without adequately taking into account the danger to public safety that flowed from this risky strategy," the report states. Weinstein failed to pass along key information about the flawed tactics being used in Fast and Furious, while Melson and other ATF officials didn't properly supervise the probe, the report states. The controversy fueled Republican accusations of a cover-up by the Obama administration and led to an unprecedented vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. The report found that Holder was not informed of the controversial ATF operation until 2011, after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed. In a written statement on the findings, Holder said the inspector-general's report upholds "what I, and other Justice Department officials, have said for many months now" -- that the tactics used pre-dated the Obama administration and that Justice Department leaders didn't try to hide the facts from lawmakers. Read more
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Fast and Furious billboard draws fire

NewsNM: Swickard - the best I can tell people are using the term "Racial" when they do not know what else to say about something that attacks their elected politicians. This Fast and Furious scandal still is being hidden from us, the people by President Obama. It would seem we will not get the truth about the scandal while Obama is in office. From KRQE-TV.com - A controversial billboard in Clovis is causing a lot of talk about possible racial wording. The message advertises the website MurderedMexicans.org. The man behind the board, Charles Abernathy of Odessa, Texas, says it's a grassroots effort to hold those responsible for the Fast and Furious fiasco. During what was supposed to be a sting operation federal agents lost track of weapons being illegally ship to Mexico. Some of those guns were later recovered at crime scenes including the killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Abernathy says he chose Clovis to advertise because he wants people to be aware of this operation outside of Texas. Read  more
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House passes water leasing act for Mescalero Apaches


From the Alamogordo Daily News - By John Bear, The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Mescalero Apache Tribe Leasing Authorization Act on Wednesday, according to a press release issued by Congressman Steve Pearce's office. The legislation, designated H.R. 1461, authorizes the Mescalero Apache tribe to lease, contract or transfer adjudicated water rights. It was cosponsored by Congressmen Lujan and Heinrich and matches the legislation from Senator Jeff Bingaman. Mescalero Apache tribal president Frederick Chino Sr. thanked Pearce for his work on the legislation, saying the bill allows the tribe to better manage its water and work with neighboring communities on water usage. A 1993 New Mexico court decision authorized the tribe to make soveriegn decisions with regard to its water. Revenue gained from leasing water enables the tribe to invest in services for their reservation, such as infrastructure improvements, elder care and scholarship programs. Read more
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Poker fans finally dealt a fair hand

NewsNM:Swickard - W.C. Fields Movie, My Little Chickadee has this exchange: Zeth spreads his money on the table, he excitedly asks, "Is this a game of chance?" "Not the way I play it, no," comes the reply.
Commentary by Diane Dimond - The Great American pastime isn’t just one thing, it is lots of things. There is the game of baseball. There’s eating apple pie. And, there is poker. It’s the card game played by millions of Americans in nearly every community in every state of the union. The first two activities are perfectly legal, but poker? Well, that depends on where you play the game – at a card table or via the internet – and the state in which you live. I have such fond memories of playing poker I can’t imagine why some states still have laws labeling it as illegal gambling. When I was a kid growing up in Albuquerque my cash-strapped parents often had friends over for a rousing poker game. They threw modest New Year’s Eve parties where two-bit limit poker games were the centerpiece. After I moved out on my own, playing poker was a fun and inexpensive way to make new friends and interact with colleagues outside work.
Well now, for the very first time, a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York has ruled on the legality of poker and come down squarely on the side of card players. Hooray for Judge Jack Weinstein who ruled that poker is a game of skill not a game of chance. Therefore, he proclaimed in a lengthy opinion, it cannot be considered illegal gambling. I hope the word spreads far and wide. Judge Weinstein wrote. “Expert poker players draw on an array of talents, including facility with numbers, knowledge of human psychology, and power of observation and deception.” And, as if equating continued poker playing to on-the-job training Weinstein pointed out, “Players can use these skills to win, even if chance has not dealt them the better hand. The most skillful professionals earn the same celestial salaries as professional ballplayers.” Weinstein’s decision stemmed from the case of Lawrence DiCristina, 33, who hosted regular “Texas Hold ‘Em” poker games in a space in Staten Island, New York. He was convicted of operating an illegal gambling house because he took 5% off the top to cover his expenses. (Rent, staff salaries, etc.) Judge Weinstein overturned DiCristina’s conviction saying that the defendant’s activity was simply not covered by the federal anti-gambling law. He added that the nation’s gambling statutes were aimed at organized crime rings, not a Mom and Pop operation like DiCristina’s. Think of it like another game of skill – chess – where the winner gets to take home an upfront bet. The chess player doesn’t win because they got lucky. They win because they have the experience and expertise to beat their opponent. It’s all about the skill. Read full column

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APS workers face insurance increases

At Wednesday's Albuquerque Public Schools board meeting, board members are expected to approve increases to APS employee health insurance costs. The plans could increase premium costs about 2 percent for Presbyterian customers, and between 8 and 9.5 percent for Lovelace customers. Co-pays are where employees will really see the changes with emergency room costs, outpatient surgeries and urgent care visits slated to go up. It's the first time in three years health care costs will go up, according to APS. But some teachers are upset, pointing out it's been years since they got any pay increases. The head of the APS teachers' union applauds APS for going years with no health increases but says the combination of everything teachers are dealing with makes this news hard to swallow.  
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Santa Fe Councilors take fluoride issue off ballot

A group of Santa Fe city councilors who said they want voters to decide whether the city should add fluoride to drinking water no longer plans to put the issue on a ballot, Councilor Bill Dimas said Tuesday. But it’s still not clear what the next step in the city’s decision-making process will be. The city Finance Committee on Tuesday recommended approval of the most recent proposal from Councilor Chris Calvert, which would continue fluoridation for a period of three years. But the committee also voted Tuesday to stall a planned Oct. 30 public hearing so that the full City Council can also consider a proposal to stop adding fluoride immediately. Whichever decision is made, Calvert noted, most of the city’s water comes from a joint city/county Rio Grande diversion that is governed by a board of directors. That board would also have to vote to stop fluoridating water before the practice could be dropped. Dimas and Councilors Chris Rivera, Carmichael Dominguez and Ron Trujillo said two weeks ago that they wanted to put the issue before voters during the next municipal election in 2014. Dimas said at Tuesday’s committee meeting that the idea was no longer on the table. Councilors never formally introduced the ballot proposal in writing.


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Endeavor to fly over Las Cruces Thursday

Across southern New Mexico, where America's rocket program was born, space shuttle Endeavour will "thank" White Sands Missile Range, White Sands Test Facility, and Las Cruces for years of support to the space program. Endeavour, atop a 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), will fly across Las Cruces skies sometime between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Thursday as part of its final flight from Kennedy Space Center to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The shuttle and SCA will fly at a low level, some where between 1,500 to 2,000 feet above the ground to give Las Crucens one last glimpse of the shuttle. "I'm definitely keeping my eyes open. (It will) be cool to see," said Jeremy Acosta, in a post on the Sun-News' Facebook page. Many Las Crucens are also making plans to watch the fly-over, even if it means taking an early lunch or a break from work. "I'll be working but (I'm) gonna keep an eye out for it," Emmanuel Gutierrez said. Carol Winnebago added, "We should have an awesome view of it on the East Mesa. I remember when it flew over a couple of years ago. What a surprise that was! This time I'll remember the camera." Jada Witmer is also eager to see Endeavour. "I just hope I can see it," she said. "And, I am hoping that the schools make an effort to get the kids out of the classrooms to see it." Endeavour and the SCA leave Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility today. The flight will leave Florida sometime between 4:45 and 6 a.m., and the departure can be seen on NASA TV. The shuttle and SCA will leave Houston early Thursday morning and fly to El Paso, where the SCA will refuel at Biggs Army Airfield. From there, Endeavour and the SCA will fly to WSMR's main post, White Sands Test Facility, and then over Las Cruces, before turning west and heading to California. "It should be visible from just about all points in Las Cruces," said WSMR spokeswoman Monte Marlin. "Just about everywhere in Las Cruces, folks should have a reasonable view."...

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ABQ council to weigh in on zoo fees

Mayor Richard Berry’s administration now acknowledges that it should have sought City Council approval before launching a plan to boost BioPark admission prices and use the money to tackle a maintenance backlog. John Soladay, Albuquerque’s chief operations officer, said the city budget ordinance requires a council-approved “appropriation” before proceeds from the fee increase can be spent. The administration had originally contended it didn’t need council approval for the plan, which Berry says is necessary to repair the BioPark and avoid laying off maintenance workers. The position change was disclosed this week after City Councilor Ken Sanchez demanded to know what authority the mayor had to change the fees unilaterally. He and Councilor Debbie O’Malley are proposing to roll back part of the fee hike. “I’m not sure who dropped the ball on their end,” Sanchez said, “but they should have read what’s required.” Soladay says the higher fees — $10 for basic admission, rather than $7 — will remain in place until the council takes formal action, probably next month. The administration, he maintains, has authority to set the admission prices. It just can’t spend revenue from the increase without council approval, Soladay said.

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Martinez responds to Romney video

 Republican Gov. Susana Martinez says the "47 percent" mentioned by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a video made public this week represents an important voting group. Martinez, the nation's only Latina governor and once mentioned as a vice presidential candidate, was asked Tuesday about the video during a stop in Albuquerque. The video shows Romney telling wealthy donors that almost half of all Americans "believe they are victims" entitled to extensive government support. Romney has said the comments weren't "elegantly stated" and they were spoken "off the cuff." Asked if she was offended by the comments, Martinez said New Mexico has many people who are living at the poverty level and their voters count just as much as anyone else. She says it's "a good thing" her state provides a safety net for those in poverty.

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Corrections Department revamps inmate work program

The New Mexico Department of Corrections is revamping its division that puts inmates to work. The department and the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management announced Tuesday a new partnership aimed at retooling the Corrections Industries Division. The division allows inmates to participate in public works projects, teaches inmates jobs skills and trains them to make furniture and textiles. Under the partnership, Anderson school students and professors will help corrections officials develop a business model for the division. The partnership is part of New Mexico Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel's broad efforts to reform the state's prison system. The department currently is conducting an audit of inmate records after a handful of inmates were mistakenly released early.

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State short money for general election

 The secretary of state's office says it's facing a $1.4 million budget shortfall because of unexpected general election costs, but the financial squeeze won't prevent New Mexicans from casting ballots in November. Secretary of State Dianna Duran came up empty-handed Tuesday in asking the state Board of Finance for emergency funding for the costs of leased equipment that will print ballots at about 180 "voting convenience centers" in 15 counties. Those allow voters to go to a consolidated polling location most convenient to them rather than their traditional precinct-based voting site. A 2011 law allowed counties to establish the new voting locations but the state must pay for systems to print paper ballots on demand. Duran plans to ask the Legislature next year to cover the additional election costs.

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Pot plants cleared from land in Torrance County

Torrance County Sheriff's deputies continue their search for the people they said are responsible for a massive pot operation, one the team spent all day Tuesday uprooting. Four hundred marijuana plants were uprooted and seized from a property in Torrance County after it was found by two people hunting Monday. The men told investigators that four men with assault rifles shot at them trying to protect the plants. "Where this plantation was very far away from anywhere a local could go or wander off to," said Torrance County Sheriff Heath White. And to stop another potentially volatile situation, officials spent the entire day clearing out all 401 plants from the area. "Today we just went up to the property, cleaned up all the plants, the root systems, irrigation, everything that was left on the property from the operation," said White, adding that it was quite an expensive, intricate operation. "These plants were cared for. There is a whole drip system, water system. Very intricate and a lot of money (was) spent on these plants. So right now we're breaking someone's heart by taking all these plants," said White. White didn't give any details about who the pot farmers are but did say there is still an active search for them.
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New Mexico poorest state in the nation

It's a list no one wants to top, but New Mexico is. New Census numbers show the state is officially the poorest state in the country, with one out of every four families living in poverty. "I don't think this is a surprise to people in New Mexico. I think the problems are problems they live with every day," said Gerry Bradley of New Mexico voices for children. According to the US Census, in 2011 22 percent of our families were living in poverty compared to the national level which was 15 percent. Gerry Bradley researched the state's poverty numbers and offered one big reason why New Mexico is performing so poorly. "Everything that happens in the area of poverty it's going to ultimately be traced back to the labor market. If we're losing jobs, we're not going to be improving in our poverty standings," said Bradley. Bradley said before 2008, that 50th ranking was actually around 45th to or 44th. He also said the state's education budgets are being cut and public sector jobs are suffering. Bradley said the only way to fix the low rankings is to get the government to step in. So Action Seven News asked Gov. Susana Martinez to weigh in on the rankings and she sent in this response. "Reforming our education system to make it more accountable and responsive to struggling students must be the cornerstone of reducing poverty over time. And particularly given the stagnant national economy we currently have, New Mexico must be a state that is willing to reform our tax code and compete for jobs."
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Free admission at State Fair today

The New Mexico state fair is offering free gate admission all day Wednesday, Sept. 19.

State Fair General Manager Dan Mourning says the goal is to make the fair affordable to everyone.
"We want every New Mexican to be able to enjoy the event we've worked so hard to put together, and we understand that the economy is still pretty tough out there for most people in our state," said Mourning.
Regular price admission will be in place on Thursday, Sept. 20, but they are offering half-price all-day ride wristbands on that day only.
Parking is free everyday throughout the State Fair.
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Martinez to Speak at Domenici Conference Today

Today Governor Susana Martinez will speak at the 2012 Domenici Public Policy Conference in Las Cruces. The conference is hosted by the Domenici Institute at New Mexico State University. The institute is named after Senator Pete Domenici, New Mexico’s longest-serving United States Senator. Governor Martinez will discuss the significant recent economic development in the border region as well as the state’s efforts to improve New Mexico’s business environment at 10:00 a.m. Martinez will make her remarks at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 East University Ave., Las Cruces
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Never Get Caught Telling the Truth

Jim Spence (left)
Commentary by Jim Spence - We have addressed this issue dozens of times on this website and on our daily radio show. We have also expressed disappointment over the fact that no politician on either side of the aisle has been willing to step forward and tell the truth about it. This week we found out why telling the truth about our nation's finances is so hard. The facts regarding deficits and debt are pretty simple.
The U.S. government runs up trillions of dollars in national debt because it spends more money than it takes in federal income taxes from the people.
President Obama has talked repeatedly about how important government is. Let’s take him at his word. If something is important you have to pay for it. Currently the top 25% of income earners in the U.S. pay 87% of all federal income tax. The second 26% of all earners pay just 13% of all income taxes. The remaining percentage of Americans, a whopping 49%, pays no federal income taxes. Supposedly we all benefit enormously thanks to all that government does for us.
Earlier this year Mitt Romney was secretly videotaped by a progressive while he was talking about how difficult it is to change the direction of America when almost half the nation is getting a free ride. He suggested that people who are getting so much in the way of goods and services that are paid for by others were unlikely to be responsive to his message that questions a culture based on entitlement and government dependency. Over the last two days the media has been playing this video of Romney telling the truth over and over. Perhaps we now know precisely where we are as a nation. Any politician caught telling the truth about the data will be crucified. The numbers don’t lie. But if you are seeking office, don't you dare talk about what the numbers mean. The media doesn't care about the numbers. What the media does care about is never allowing anyone seeking a leadership position to go over accurate data and speak honestly about what it means. If you look at the terrible problems our country has which are verified by the data..........you are not a nice guy and you don't......care about people. Let's all pretend the numbers don't exist or blame the numbers on those paying the bills.

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