Bad time for movie center, senator says

From - Gov. Bill Richardson's Hollywood connections run deep. In June, he presided over the marriage of actors Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart at the governor's mansion in Santa Fe, and he has been rumored to be a front-runner to take over the Motion Picture Association of America after he leaves office Dec. 31. And last year, with actor Robert Redford by his side, Richardson announced a partnership between the state of New Mexico and Redford's Sundance Institute to train Hispanics and Native Americans for jobs in the film industry. The partnership is set to be headquartered at a historic ranch the state purchased in 2008 for $2.5 million north of Española. Now, the governor is spending $1.75 million of federal stimulus funds to renovate the property, known as Los Luceros, for the Sundance project. The renovations will include a new 2,000-square-foot meeting room, an expanded catering kitchen, a communal bath house and new sleeping quarters. State records tout the project as a way of "building and strengthening the film industry in New Mexico" and "stimulating the economy through the arts." But state Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, isn't sure now is the time to spend scarce funds on such a project. "We certainly appreciate the film industry here, but the bottom line is how much can we afford to subsidize it?" he said. "We are now giving a tax credit of $79 million to the film industry. "In addition, they get interest-free loans. In addition to that, they're getting assistance on a studio right here in Santa Fe, N. M. So the question is: Where does it end?" Read more

Wilderness Big Green Payoff

From the Before the 2010 mid-term elections, three affiliated Big Green groups considered their post-election strategy. The Pew-supported Campaign for America's Wilderness and its paid public communications contractors -- The Wilderness Society and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance -- realized things did not look good for their Democrat allies. By Election Day, they had prepared to make the most of the debacle's fallout. On November 10, after weeks of busy orchestration, William H. Meadows -- president of the Wilderness Society and chairman of Pew's Campaign for America's Wilderness -- led a carefully selected coalition of 172 environmental groups from 41 states in writing a letter to the U.S. House and Senate leadership asking Congress to use its Lame Duck session to pass an omnibus land law. One of the groups signing the letter was the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. Two days later, New Mexico Democrat Senator Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, confirmed that he was bundling more than 60 of his committee's bills to create new national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and wildlife sanctuaries into an omnibus measure for Senate passage before the 111th Congress adjourns. More here

Cuckoo in Cancun: Global Warming Causes Obesity

From Environmentalism: Still think those who continue to push the idea of man-made climate change are well-grounded and rational? Think again. Consider Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. She opened the U.N's global warming conference last week with a prayer to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of the moon. This mythological supreme being of fertility is supposed to be good for sending rain for crops. Maybe that's the sort of blessing Figueres had in mind when, from Cancun's — no joke — Moon Palace, she called Ixchel "the goddess of reason, creativity and weaving" and hoped delegates would be inspired by her. More here

UN:Illegal Immigration is Caused by Global Warming?

From Just when you think you've heard everything, we're told that impoverished Mexicans are fleeing north to escape global warming. Despite the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), vast natural resources and bright, hard-working people, the host country for the Cancun climate summit remains impoverished. Wealth and power are still concentrated in relatively few powerful Mexican families. Employment and economic opportunities are few. The government is plagued with corruption. The state-owned oil company Pemex cannot keep even its best fields operating efficiently. Remittances from the US remain a major part of Mexico's economy. Impoverished millions are deprived of access to energy and forced to eke out a bare living through backbreaking subsistence farming. More here


Bill Gross
From PIMCO Investment Outlook - The global economy is suffering from a lack of aggregate demand. With insufficient demand, nations compete furiously for their share of the diminishing growth pie. In the U.S. and Euroland, many policies only temporarily bolster consumption while failing to address the fundamental problem of developed economies: Job growth is moving inexorably to developing economies because they are more competitive.
Unless developed economies learn to compete the old-fashioned way – by making more goods and making them better – the smart money will continue to move offshore to Asia, Brazil and their developing economy counterparts, both in asset and in currency space. Well we’re living here in Allentown - And they’re closing all the factories down - Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time - Filling out forms - Standing in line - And we’re living here in Allentown – Billy Joel, 1982 Read full commentary here:


La Cueva High School Put on Probation

According to a story in the Albuquerque Journal the Albuquerque Public Schools has placed La Cueva High School's athletic department on probation and banned Head Football Coach Fred Romero from coaching. According to the journal report, APS is "prohibiting Fred Romero and assistant Mike Tixier from coaching anywhere in the district for the foreseeable future after Romero, Tixier and one other coaching staff member allegedly failed to stop players from drinking alcohol on a bus ride home from Las Cruces on Nov. 26." The journal also says that APS put La Cueva's athletic department on probation through 2012. Apparently APS Superintendent Winston Brooks trumped a recommendation from the district's disciplinary committee and applied his own versions of discipline for the men. La Cueva lost its state semifinal game against eventual state champion Las Cruces-Mayfield on Thanksgiving weekend 21-17.


Juarez Extortionsists and Killers Target: Kindergarten

From the El Paso Times - Extortionists are suspected of setting fire to a Juárez kindergarten Monday as the wave of violence continued. The school in colonia San Antonio was supposedly torched because school staff refused demands for payment made by extortionists recently. There were no reported injuries. Classes were canceled indefinitely. As the drug cartel war has raged, extortionists have demanded schools, businesses, medical professionals and others pay for protection. Teachers have also been threatened to hand over their aguinaldo or annual Christmas bonus. There were five murders by Monday evening, including the street ambush of Erika Elizabeth Silva Rivera, 31, a state police investigator. Silva had been assigned to a unit investigating sex crimes. Officials reported 25 homicides Friday through Sunday, including a pair of deadly attacks on drug rehabilitation centers. Four people were killed, seven people wounded and nearly 500 rounds were fired in separate attacks on a pair of drug rehab centers on Sunday night, Chihuahua authorities said Monday. Read full story here:

Hassett: U.K. Takes Medicine, Greece Doesn't

Kevin Hassett
From Bloomberg - The best medicine can taste awful. The governments of the U.K., Ireland and Greece have embarked upon ambitious, sometimes painful efforts to restore their economies to sustainable growth paths. Of the three, the U.K. and Ireland took their medicine, following the lessons of past efforts to pull national economies away from spiraling debt. Greece decided the taste was just too awful, and its irresponsibility threatens every euro-zone country. 
Greek Parthenon
The history of the modern welfare state is replete with examples of fiscal calamities. In good times, politicians expand government spending as far as soaring revenues will let them. In bad times, when the bubble bursts, countries find themselves in a ditch. Numerous fixes have been tried over the years, and economists have created a cottage industry studying them. What has emerged is a consensus about what works, a consensus that is about as strong as any in the macroeconomics literature. Read full column here:

Governance by the Minority

Jim Harbison
Have you ever considered how our local government works? Are you one of those who still believes that the majority rules and that the City Council represents the wishes and needs of the majority of the citizens? It might come as a surprise to you but this is not happening. We are, in fact, governed by a City Council controlled by a very small minority of non-elected individuals. The policies and regulations within the City of Las Cruces that impact you every day are created by special interest groups and a small vocal minority. I offer the following examples.
Red light cameras were installed at several major intersections in the city. Did the majority of Las Crucens demand that they be installed or was it the Council who wanted the revenue? There was no overwhelming citizen petition or initiative in support of them. However, Redflex who provides the cameras was excited about installing them because they receive 50% of all revenue from them. The actual number of people who contacted the Mayor and City Council to request these be installed was probably less than 500. Five hundred people out of a population of nearly 100,000 are less than half of one percent. That means 99.5% of the population had no opinion, were not consulted, or were considered unimportant by the City Council.
The Cell phone ban was enacted because the Mayor read somewhere that texting was 20 times more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol. Did Las Cruces have a problem with cellphone use that required this ban be enacted? No, it was the personal passion of the Mayor. Again, there was some public input but I would contend that there were probably less than 500 individuals who actually contacted our City Council to enact such legislation. Here we are again with one-half of one per cent of our population making the rules that impact the other 99.5% of the residents.
Beginning in January we will have forced recycling. Recycling has been proposed before and met with significant opposition from the community. With input from some environmentally concerned citizens the City Council imposed mandatory recycling upon all of us. How many people actually contacted the City government to demand this? It would be doubtful that as many as 3,000 people contacted the Council and demanded this be imposed. Even if this were true, it equates to 97% of the citizenry not expressing an opinion for or against recycling or demanding this action.
Those who own recreational vehicles will be faced with new restrictions on where they can park their RV, how long it can remain on a City street, how long someone can occupy it, etc. From the discussions at the Council meeting it is apparent that none of the Council members has ever owned an RV or understands anything about them. The bottom line is that again less than 100 people or one-tenth of one percent of the population are driving the policies of the City.
The minority is setting the rules. We, who represent the majority, must take the initiative to regain control over our elected officials at all levels and reinforce the principle that the elected officials work for us. They need to respect the values and beliefs of those of the larger group that elected them. Perhaps we should demand polices or legislation that require clear support of the majority of the citizens for any particular initiative, resolution, restriction, or law rather than on the whims of the members of the City Council or the demands of the special interest groups that control them.


Bernanke's 21 Month U-Turn

Caroline Baum
From Bloomberg - by Caroline Baum He probably wishes he hadn’t said it, the part about the Federal Reserve not printing money and his 100 percent confidence in his ability to raise interest rates at the appropriate time to prevent an acceleration of inflation. But he did. The Fed does (print money). And nothing is 100 percent certain in this world, except death and taxes. So what on earth was Ben Bernanke thinking when he talked to Scott Pelley on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Sunday night? It was a different Bernanke than the one who sat down for an interview with the same correspondent on the same TV news magazine on March 15, 2009. That Bernanke was humble. Viewers responded positively to him.
Here was arguably the most powerful man in the world who hadn’t forgotten his small-town roots. A creature of neither Wall Street nor Washington, Bernanke inherited a financial system on the verge of collapse and, as he put it, he was forced to bail out Wall Street to save Main Street. Sunday’s Bernanke was different, defensive. He was responding to his critics, both domestic and foreign, who are opposed to the second round of quantitative easing as either unnecessary, a case of overreach or dollar-debasing and therefore inflationary. Read full column here:


Intelligent Stimulus

From Bloomberg - President Barack Obama’s agreement to prolong Bush-era income-tax cuts may reduce pressure on the Federal Reserve to extend its $600 billion bond-purchase program while spurring U.S. economic growth. Obama’s deal with congressional Republicans may raise gross domestic product next year by as much as half a percentage point to about 3.1 percent, said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. Tom Porcelli, a senior economist at RBC Capital Markets Corp. in New York, is raising his growth forecast for 2011 by one point, also to 3.1 percent. The agreement goes beyond what economists were expecting by including a 2 percent cut in payroll taxes, which fund Social Security and Medicare. The proposal also sets the estate tax at a top rate of 35 percent, extends aid for the long-term unemployed by 13 months and would allow companies next year to deduct the full cost of investments in equipment. Read full story here:

Huge Bonanza - Not Taxing the Dead

From Bloomberg - Senate Republicans won one of their top priorities in tax-cut negotiations with President Barack Obama by securing what would be the second-lowest U.S. estate tax in 80 years. That victory has now become a focal point for House Democrats, who are venting over what they say is a poor deal that gives a disproportionate amount of benefits to the very rich while padding deficits. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California described the estate tax plan yesterday as “a bridge too far,” and one of her lieutenants, Maryland Representative Chris Van Hollen, called it a “huge bonanza.” “The estate tax has really put people over the edge,” said Representative Allyson Schwartz, a Pennsylvania Democrat and a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Democrats as diverse as Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who belongs to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, cited the estate tax as a factor in their decisions to oppose Obama’s proposal. Read full story here:

President Being Forced to Defend Himself

From Bloomberg - President Barack Obama defended the tax-cut deal he reached with Republican leaders as a pragmatic compromise grounded in the realities of families who otherwise could have seen their taxes rise or jobless benefits halted. Obama, confronting complaints from Democrats in Congress that he gave too much ground by keeping lower rates for the wealthiest Americans for two more years, made no apologies. He said he was unwilling to risk a broad tax increase on Jan. 1 that would have made middle-class families and the economic recovery “collateral damage” in “a political fight.”  “This isn’t an abstract debate,” Obama said at a news conference yesterday. “This is real money, for real people, that will make a real difference in the lives of the folks who sent us here.” Read full story here:

Why The Need for Health Plan Waivers?

Obamacare Architect
From Washington Insider - The Obama Administration has quietly granted even more waivers to one provision of the new federal health reform law, doubling the number in just the last three weeks to a new total of 222. One of the more recognizable business names included on the newly-expanded list of waivers issued by the feds is that of Waffle House, which received a waiver on November 23 for health coverage that covers 3,947 enrollees. Another familiar name was that of Universal Orlando, which runs a variety of very popular resorts in the Orlando, Florida area. Universal was given a waiver for plans that cover 668 workers. These waivers deal with limited health benefit plans, sometimes referred to as "mini-med" policies, which companies as large as McDonald's use for some its employees.
The plan have limits on how much can be paid out in coverage, limits which would be phased out under the new health reform law. The feds though have granted waivers from that law, amid concern that certain groups would drop their health insurance programs entirely. Those waivers are good for one year, and can be considered for renewal. Read full story here:


Stossel: Why Do the Poor Stay Poor

From - Of the 6 billion people on Earth, 2 billion try to survive on a few dollars a day. They don't build businesses, or if they do, they don't expand them. Unlike people in the United States, Europe and Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, etc., they don't lift themselves out of poverty. Why not? What's the difference between them and us? Hernando de Soto taught me that the biggest difference may be property rights. I first met de Soto maybe 15 years ago. It was at one of those lunches where people sit around wondering how to end poverty. I go to these things because it bugs me that much of the world hasn't yet figured out what gave us Americans the power to prosper. I go, but I'm skeptical. There sits de Soto, president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Peru, and he starts pulling pictures out showing slum dwellings built on top of each other. I wondered what they meant.
As de Soto explained: "These pictures show that roughly 4 billion people in the world actually build their homes and own their businesses outside the legal system. ... Because of the lack of rule of law (and) the definition of who owns what, and because they don't have addresses, they can't get credit (for investment loans)."  They don't have addresses? Read full column here:


Sowell: Walter Williams Memoir

From - Walter E. Williams is my oldest and closest friend. But I didn't know that his autobiography had just been published until a talk show host told me last week. I immediately got a copy of "Up from the Projects," started reading it before dinner and finished reading it before bedtime. It is the kind of book that you hate to put down, even though I already knew how the story would end. The first chapter, about Walter's life growing up in the Philadelphia ghetto, was especially fascinating. It brought back a whole different era in black communities-- an era that is now almost irretrievably lost, to the great disadvantage of today's generation growing up in the same neighborhoods where Walter grew up in Philadelphia or where I grew up in Harlem. Read full column here:

Malkin: Who Pays for Jobless Benefits?

Michelle Malkin
From - There is no such thing as a "free" government benefit. Ask small-business owners who are footing skyrocketing bills for bottomless jobless benefits. While politicians in Washington negotiate a deal to provide welcome temporary payroll, income and estate tax relief to America's workers, struggling employers wonder how long they'll have to pay for the compassion of others -- and whether they can survive. The Beltway deal hinges on extending federal unemployment insurance for another 13 months. This would mark the sixth time that the deadline has been extended since June 2008. State unemployment benefits last up to 26 weeks. Bipartisan-supported Washington mandates have raised that to 99 weeks. The current proposal would raise the total to 155 weeks. The cost of the joint federal-state program is borne by employers who pay state and federal taxes on a portion of wages paid to each employee in a calendar year. (At the federal level, employers must pay 6.2 percent of the first $7,000 of income to keep the system afloat.) Read full column here:

David Corn: Tax Deal a Win for Politics Not Policy

David Corn
From Politics Daily - Okay, tea partiers, is this what you really wanted? Republicans holding middle-class taxpayers and unemployed Americans hostage so the well-to-do get budget-busting tax cuts that will be less efficient in generating jobs than other economic initiatives? On Monday, the GOPers succeeded in hammering out a compromise with President Obama that will extend the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers for two years, including the well-to-do. For caving on the tax breaks for the rich, Obama won a 13-month extension of unemployment insurance, a 2-percent payroll tax credit, $40 billion in tax breaks for families and students, and quicker write-offs of business equipment. The deal includes a compromise on the estate tax that is also of benefit to the wealthy. Though Obama yielded on the upper-income tax cuts, he and his White House aides will argue they got a decent deal, given that the unemployment insurance, middle-class-targeted tax credits and other programs add up to about $215 billion for two years, while the tax-cut bonuses for the rich total about $95 billion for two years. Read full column here:

Martinez Responds to Job Killers

Susana Martinez
From Capitol Report New Mexico - In the wake of the Environmental Improvement Board’s decision Monday (Dec. 6) to pass a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions, Danny Diaz, the spokesman for Governor-elect Susana Martinez released this statement to Capitol Report New Mexico:

“Governor-elect Martinez believes passing yet another cap-and tax-regulation will do nothing to create jobs and get New Mexicans back to work. She said during the campaign that these regulations make New Mexico an island in the middle of a sea of states that do not have similar job-killing regulations. Governor-elect Martinez and her team will review all regulations and will make recommendations concerning each in the future.”
The EIB passed the statewide emissions cap by a 4-1 vote early Monday evening. The measure was introduced by the environmental group the New Energy Economy, with the EIB amending a number of provisions so that the measure acts as a kind of “backstop” should the EIB’s earlier vote to have New Mexico take part in a regional cap and trade agreement get rolled back by the incoming administration. Read full story here:


President Feeling Heat from SORE LOSERS

From the Washington Times - Facing a backlash from Democrats over the tax-cut deal he struck with the GOP, a fiery President Obama lashed out at members of his own party Tuesday, telling them not to let a partisan fight scuttle the chance to keep taxes low for middle-class Americans. Many Democrats have revolted against the deal — which would combine a two-year extension of the Bush-era income-tax cuts and a renewed estate-tax cut with a payroll-tax holiday and an extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless — saying it marks a retreat from Mr. Obama's campaign promise to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire. They had pressed for the president to fight down to the wire. Read full story here:

Lou Dobbs to Appear on NewsNM Wednesday

Lou Dobbs
Former CNN television host Lou Dobbs will appear as a guest on News New Mexico Wednesday morning in the second hour. Dobbs anchored CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight until November 2009 when he announced on the air that he would leave the cable network. Dobbs was born in Texas. After graduating from Harvard University, he worked in government and banking before becoming a news reporter for several local media outlets. Dobbs was a CNN original having worked with CNN since its founding in 1980. He was the host and managing editor for CNN's Moneyline, which premiered in 1980 and was renamed Lou Dobbs Tonight in 2003. Dobbs resigned from CNN in 1999, rejoined in 2000, and resigned again in November 2009. He co-hosts a syndicated radio show, Lou Dobbs Radio and has written several books since 2001. For his reporting, he has won Emmy, Peabody, and Cable ACE awards.