Rail Runner bears name of Gov. Richardson

From KOB-TV.com - SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Four Rail Runner locomotives have been quietly named after current or former state officials, including one named for Gov. Bill Richardson. All had a hand in getting the service between Santa Fe and Albuquerque rolling in 2006. The other three include former Gov. Toney Anaya, State Transportation Commission Chairman Johnny Cope of Hobbs and former New Mexico Rep. Dan Silva. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that each man has his full name painted on a metal plate on the front of the locomotives and his first name painted on the side. Sidings have also been named after Richardson and Silva, while two others are named for former Department of Transportation secretary Rhonda Faught and William E. Herzog, who heads a construction company that worked on the project.

China, Russia quit dollar

From ChinaDaily.com - By Su Qiang and Li Xiaokun - St. Petersburg, Russia - China and Russia have decided to renounce the US dollar and resort to using their own currencies for bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced late on Tuesday. Chinese experts said the move reflected closer relations between Beijing and Moscow and is not aimed at challenging the dollar, but to protect their domestic economies. "About trade settlement, we have decided to use our own currencies," Putin said at a joint news conference with Wen in St. Petersburg. The two countries were accustomed to using other currencies, especially the dollar, for bilateral trade. Since the financial crisis, however, high-ranking officials on both sides began to explore other possibilities. The yuan has now started trading against the Russian rouble in the Chinese interbank market, while the renminbi will soon be allowed to trade against the rouble in Russia, Putin said. "That has forged an important step in bilateral trade and it is a result of the consolidated financial systems of world countries," he said. Putin made his remarks after a meeting with Wen. They also officiated at a signing ceremony for 12 documents, including energy cooperation. The documents covered cooperation on aviation, railroad construction, customs, protecting intellectual property, culture and a joint communiqu. Details of the documents have yet to be released. Putin said one of the pacts between the two countries is about the purchase of two nuclear reactors from Russia by China's Tianwan nuclear power plant, the most advanced nuclear power complex in China. Read more

Magic Mushroom Ride Cut Short

From the Rio Grande Sun - An Española man allegedly took mushrooms Sunday and realized God gave him powers to run from the cops. But God must have missed the memo because Española officers Jose Martinez and Moises Peña ended up spraying 20-year-old Adrian Maes with pepper spray and charging him with felony aggravated fleeing of an officer and reckless driving. Those charges were joined by additional charges from State Police of reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and driving under the influence, according to an online inmate database. Maes is being held on $8,000, or 10 percent, bond in Santa Fe County Jail, staff at Rio Arriba Magistrate Court said. State Police Capt. Daniel Lovato said he was not sure if a blood draw was taken from Maes. State Police officer Anthony Jaramillo brought the second set of charges from a 2:14 p.m. hit-and-run crash on State Road 76 near the Holy Cross Church, Lovato said. The problems began around 12:30 p.m., according to call logs. Martinez, in his probable cause statement, said he was patrolling Fairview Lane near the intersection with North Riverside Drive when he saw a gray Chevrolet Cavalier run a red light proceeding north. He tried to stop the vehicle, chasing it at speeds of 60 mph. His commander canceled the pursuit when they reached the city limits. Martinez turned around to drive back toward the city, but the driver of the Cavalier cut in front of him and drove south as well. The pursuit was canceled again. When Peña found the car blocking traffic and approached, Maes told Peña he had permission from God to run from the cops and he wanted Peña to chase him, call logs state. Peña didn’t, according to Martinez, and the car left. Lovato said the car then hit a van on State Road 76. He said the report was pending and he didn’t know if the driver of the other vehicle was hurt, but he said an ambulance did not take anyone to the hospital. Peña and Martinez located the car by Valley Drive and Riverside Drive, Martinez states. They pulled their cruisers in front of and behind Maes and tried to get Maes out of the vehicle. He resisted and they pepper-sprayed him. Read more

German magazine: Obama Has Lost His "Superpower"

From Spiegel Online - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US President Barack Obama: Never before in history has a superpower lost control of such vast amounts of such sensitive information. 251,000 State Department documents, many of them secret embassy reports from around the world, show how the US seeks to safeguard its influence around the world. It is nothing short of a political meltdown for US foreign policy. What does the United States really think of German Chancellor Angela Merkel? Is she a reliable ally? Did she really make an effort to patch up relations with Washington that had been so damaged by her predecessor? At most, it was a half-hearted one. The tone of trans-Atlantic relations may have improved, former US Ambassador to Germany William Timken wrote in a cable to the State Department at the end of 2006, but the chancellor "has not taken bold steps yet to improve the substantive content of the relationship." That is not exactly high praise. And the verdict on German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle? His thoughts "were short on substance," wrote the current US ambassador in Berlin, Philip Murphy, in a cable. The reason, Murphy suggested, was that "Westerwelle's command of complex foreign and security policy issues still requires deepening." More here

Swickard Commentary: Intentional mistakes by sports officials drive fans away

Years ago a rather petty moment came and a sports official changed a high school game which took the victory from one team and gave it to another. I was standing right there watching and saw the smug smile on the official’s face as he stole our victory. It was the first time such had happened to me so I was confused. My coach said, “Forget it, it is just the way things happen.” I could not then and have never had the ability to ignore injustice.
What brought this to mind is that three times this fall I have had the distinct feeling an official took victory from one team intentionally. And nothing can be done since there is no mechanism to correct such injustices. More later.
At a national table tennis tournament years ago I was far ahead of my opponent. My opponent did not take the realization that I had the match well in hand very well. He called me foul names several times and was incredibly rude. In tournaments I never showed any emotion. People could not tell by looking at me if I was winning or losing. Inside I was not taking a cussing well.
The third time my opponent used a bad word upon me I turned to the referee and protested that I would not accept that kind of language used upon me. It involved words that cannot be said on the radio. The referee was from that same town as my opponent and shrugged, “Play on.”
My opponent continued using four letter words. I continued winning. The fifth time he unleashed a string of nasty words upon me I walked away from the table, got my bag and went to the tournament director to tell him I would not be verbally abused. He also shrugged. It was my last match in that sport where I was fairly good but would not take the dishonor of verbal abuse. The long drive home from Lubbock to New Mexico gave me time to reconsider but I resigned from the sport as soon as I got home and have never competed again.
A few years ago New Mexico State University joined the Western Athletic Conference and the first year or two officials took several football and basketball games away from NMSU in what I considered “intentional mistakes.” I am not an expert but have attended college games for decades. I was left sputtering each time angered that the replays showed these “Intentional mistakes” by the officials. The WAC even apologized but nothing otherwise was done.
After several times of being mad, my reaction to the WAC not caring about the integrity of their sports was for me to likewise not care about their sports. I do not go to college games often. Some people say, “Oh, well, it is his loss.” Perhaps so, but these sport depend on fan support which I no longer provide.
This brings me to this year in New Mexico high school football. In three games this year it appeared to me that “Intentional mistakes” gave the win to the other team. The first two times I just sputtered and muttered and tried to hope that this could be excused by a mantra of “Win a few, lose a few” with the hope that the “Intentional mistakes” by the officials would balance out by season’s end.
Saturday in Albuquerque there was a high school football playoff game where the contest did not rest upon the actions of the student athletes, rather, upon one official. In this world of YouTube videos it is now obvious that an “Intentional mistake” was made and the game given away. And, there is no mechanism to correct this injustice.
The integrity of the sport is under the direction of the New Mexico Activities Association which did not perform their duty to have a mechanism for integrity. So I will turn my back upon that sport because they do not have integrity.
The NMAA may be glad to see me go like the Western Athletic Conference is glad I do not care any longer about them. If enough people join me, where will these sports be without fans?


Hill: Federally Funded Islam?

Austin Hill
From Townhall.com - It’s disturbing that we even need to have this conversation. It’ll be more disturbing if the Obama Administration doesn’t intervene and stop the process.  The people behind the controversial “Park 51” Islamic mosque project in Lower Manhattan have apparently applied several times for federal grant money with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. LMDC is officially a New York state agency, but the money that this agency doles-out for the purposes of “reconstructing New York city” in 9-11’s aftermath is nonetheless federal tax money. The money is administered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, while “HUD” itself is overseen by President Obama’s hand-picked cabinet officer, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Thus, it is accurate to say that President Obama and his Administration have a very direct connection with this project – and somebody from the Administration needs to take a stand, do the right thing, and put a halt to it. Read full column here:

Juarez School Teachers Threatened

From the El Paso Times - CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico—Authorities are beefing up security at schools in this border city after graffiti threatening attacks on students and teachers was scrawled on school grounds, state and local officials said Friday. Officials have increased police patrols and are installing security cameras to prevent a repeat of last week's spate of threats that targeted five or six primary and secondary schools, said Claudio Gonzalez Ruiz, head of public safety in Ciudad Juarez. In the messages, extortionists threatened to harm teachers and students if school administrators, or in some cases the teachers themselves, failed to pay up. At the Rafael Velarde Elementary School, extortionists demanded to be given the 50,000-peso (about $4,000) prize of a fundraising raffle, administrators said. At other schools, messages demanded teachers fork over their Christmas bonuses. Read full story here:

Tom Udall Vows to Weaken Filibuster

Tom Udall
From the Wall Street Journal - The Hill reports that a trio of "progressive" Democrats in the Senate say they'll seek to weaken the filibuster: Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa), Mark Udall (Colo.) and Tom Udall (N.M.) all told The Hill this week they are not backing down from their effort. The Senate's rules--which are based on tradition, not the Constitution--have frustrated Democrats for the past several years as GOP leaders have required a 60-vote majority even for procedural motions. Sen. Tom Udall said he will force a motion on the first day of the next Congress to have Vice President Joe Biden adopt new rules for the two-year session. Then, Udall said, he will seek consensus among senators from both parties to lower the 60-vote threshold for procedural motions. Only a simple majority of 51 votes would be necessary for such a move, and Udall said he expects support from some Republicans. "Many analysts believe nothing will come of the effort," the report adds. The Udall cousins were both elected in 2008, so they have experienced the filibuster only as members of the majority. Still, some "veteran lawmakers," who have been in a position to use the filibuster as well as been frustrated by it, back the move, including New York Democrat Chuck Schumer. Republican Dan Coats, the former and future junior senator from Indiana, has also urged colleagues "to remove the 60-vote rule for bringing a bill to the floor," in an interview with "The Journal Editorial Report." More here


Feds vs. Bill Richardson and SIC

Bill Richardson
From businessweek.com - Federal prosecutors have asked a court to force Gov. Bill Richardson's office and the State Investment Council to provide documents for a continuing investigation of New Mexico investments. At issue is whether certain records are protected by executive or attorney-client privilege, which would shield them from disclosure to federal investigators, according to State Investment Officer Steve Moise. Moise revealed the dispute over documents during testimony to a legislative committee last week when a lawmaker asked whether the agency had finished providing materials subpoenaed by a federal grand jury and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Moise said the council, in its filing in a sealed court proceeding, did not take a position on whether the documents are covered by a legal privilege that makes them confidential and beyond the reach of prosecutors. More here

Pictures and Videos are Worth a Thousand Words

A nice afternoon of football was severely tarnished by a blown officials call on the last play of the game in the 5-A state football semi-finals in Albuquerque yesterday. And of course in this digital age that we live in, a picture is worth tens of thousands of hours of hard work by a countless number of people. The referee (pictured at left) in the game winning touchdown photo, wound up providing a remarkable life lesson for the young men playing football for Las Cruces High School this season. The teachable moment came at Wilson Stadium in Albuquerque on the final play of the game. LCHS's Geoff Segovia (#41) had just caught a pass in the end zone to win the game. The official on this play, who had a perfect look at the catch, curiously refused to acknowledge what everyone else saw when he inexplicably ruled the the pass incomplete. The governing body for these events, (the New Mexico Activities Association) which goes to the trouble of marketing the streaming videos of these games, does not have a review process to correct the error. Viewers can actually watch the excruciating slow motion video of the touchdown catch on Youtube by clicking the following link:
And if you are a glutton for injustice, watch the body language of Segovia on this other video. He did not find it necessary to wait for confirmation. He simply bounced up and ran off the field jubilantly knowing his team had just won the game. It was a sad ending for the Las Cruces Bulldawgs season and a curious extension of the Manzano season. The state championship final will again to be played in Albuquerque at Wilson Stadium next weekend when Las Cruces Mayfield travels to the Duke City to take on Manzano. And what exactly is the valuable life lesson to be learned from this experience? The lesson is simple. Sometimes in life scores of people can work very hard for a long period of time only to see a system of government sneer at the use of technology and other tools that will lead to best practices. In the real world every single day, faceless unnamed bureaucrats, appointed to positions of incredible power, often for dubious reasons, take away what has been earned by one person or one group of people, and gives it to someone else.  


Sen. Bingaman's Big Mistake

Jeff Bingaman
From the washingtonexaminer.com - Sen. Jeff Bingaman is being called our worst border security threat. Angry Dona Ana County residents have branded the New Mexico Democrat's Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act as "Bingaman's Bandit Boulevard" for proposing a 50-mile-long safe haven for Mexican drug runners -- and worse. John Hummer, former chairman of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, reminded his community of the no-motorized-vehicle clause in wilderness laws. The Border Patrol can't patrol. Wilderness laws allow our own park and forest rangers to keep the cops out. That's supposed to protect nature, but ends up protecting drug cartels, illegal immigrants -- and terrorists. Steve Wilmeth, fifth-generation New Mexico rancher, told me that Bingaman's north-south strip and two mountain clusters don't worry him for the inevitable Mexican intruders, but for the OTMs -- Other Than Mexicans.
A U.S. Border Patrol document obtained by The Examiner shows the nationality and number of OTMs arrested last year. A few samples: Afghanistan (12); Indonesia (95); Iran (42); Iraq (42); Jordan (52); Saudi Arabia (6); Somalia (70); Yemen (22). Members of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers say they weren't smuggling drugs. Retired Border Patrol Officer Zack Taylor said Bingaman's wilderness boundary is just a stroll from violent Juarez and El Paso. Terrorists want terror, said Taylor -- unexpected targets with severed body parts and dead babies. A dozen relays of three sunburned hikers carrying big backpacks could trek unmolested up Bingaman's Boulevard, stockpiling materials to obliterate the balloon festival, the state Capitol, the Acoma Pueblo -- anything we treasure. More here


Homeland Security Shutting Down Websites

Janet Napolitano
From the hill.com - The investigative arm of the Homeland Security Department appears to be shutting down websites that facilitate copyright infringement. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has seized dozens of domain names over the past few days, according to TorrentFreak. ICE appears to be targeting sites that help Internet users download copyrighted music, as well as sites that sell bootleg goods, such as fake designer handbags. The sites are replaced with a note from the government: "This domain named has been seized by ICE, Homeland Security Investigations." For instance, 2009jersey.com, 51607.com, and amoyhy.com have each been seized. One of the site owners told TorrentFreak that his site was shut down without any notice or warning. The effort come as Congress considers the Combatting Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). Critics, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) say it is too heavy-handed. He has vowed to put a formal hold on the bill. Read full story here: