Two vastly different stories from Mexico

Both stories are from the El Paso Times - 1st story - Mexico's President Felipe Calderon becomes TV adventure guide MEXICO CITY (AP) - President Felipe Calderon is figuratively going out on a limb - and literally down a sinkhole, up a river (with a paddle) and over the top of a few pyramids - in an attempt to boost Mexico's flagging tourism industry. The balding, 49-year-old leader is personally trying to change his country's violent reputation by appearing as a sort of adventure tour guide in a series of TV programs to be broadcast starting in September on Public Broadcasting Service stations in the United States. Analysts blame the drops on the world economic downturn hitting many countries' travel industries, but also pointed to Mexico's drug violence, which has claimed between 35,000 and 40,000 lives since Calderon took office in late 2006. While foreign tourists have not been targets of the violence, a point Calderon is eager to make, it has had some undeniable effects. For example, the border highway that many U.S. visitors once used to travel to the Huasteca region where Calderon went cave-diving is now considered so plagued by highway holdups and shootings that the U.S. State Department has issued warnings about traveling there. Read more Second story: Man shot to death, 4 women wounded outside elementary school in Juárez - A man, fleeing gunmen, was shot to death and four women were seriously wounded at an elementary school. The shooting took place Wednesday around noon at Ricardo Flores Magón Elementary School in the Anapra area in Juárez, across Sunset Heights and UTEP in El Paso.
According to a Juárez official, the unidentified man was being chased down by gunmen and sought refuge at the school, at Congrio and Raya Streets. "The men opened fire against their target and he died on the scene," the source said. "Four women were seriously wounded."
The incident happened just when students were exiting the school and parents were waiting outside to pick them up. It is still unclear whether the women were there to pick up their children. State police shut down the school during the investigation Read more


Inspector General: Army Improperly Tested Body Armor

NewsNM - Swickard: if I had a loved one in harm's way I would be frantic. We need the facts right now about the safety issues. From National Public Radio - A report from the Department of Defense's Inspector General details flawed quality assurance inspections of the body armor used by troops to stop bullets. The investigation, which was requested by Congress, looked at seven Army contracts worth $2.5 billion and awarded between 2004 and 2006. What it found is that in some cases, the Army skipped some tests altogether, while in others it used inconsistent methodology. The report points out for example that The Army Program Manager Soldier Equipment (PM SEQ) "did not always use the correct size ballistic insert" or "use a consistent methodology for measuring the proper velocity, or enforce the humidity and temperature requirements." In other cases, in order to expedite delivery, the PM SEQ skipped "the weathered and altitude" tests. The bottom line, says the Inspector General, is the "the Army lacks assurance that 5.1 million ballistic inserts acquired through the seven contracts provide appropriate protection." The report says, however, that investigators did not conduct their own tests so, "we could not conclude whether the deviations affected ballistic performance." Read more


Gibson Guitar plant in Nashville, Memphis raided

NewsNM: Swickard - I'm a Martin owner from the 60s. Still, Gibsons are fine guitars. With all of the other problems in our country of immigration, terrorism, debt, energy, etc., it seems a bit too much. U.S. Fish and Wildlife must have too many agents. From The Tennessean - Written by Anita Wadhwani - Federal agents are in the process of raiding the offices of the Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corporation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents began executing search warrant this morning on guitar factories and corporate headquarters in Nashville and Memphis, according to Nicholas Chavez, special agent in charge with the Fish and Wildlife. The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported tourists arriving to a Gibson Guitar factory in downtown Memphis this morning to find the doors locked and agents inside. No arrests have been made, he said. Chavez said the raid stems from a Texas case, but declined to offer more details. Gibson was also raided in 2009 for possible violations of the Lacey Act, which bans the importation of endangered plants and wildlife. Federal officials seized ebony and other woods they said were prohibited under the act. Read more


Pearce Explains Importance of Town Hall Meetings

Steve Pearce
Representing New Mexico’s Second District is an honor, and I am in office to serve you. Town hall meetings allow me to listen to your concerns and hear examples from your daily lives. The meetings also give constituents what they deserve—government accountability, a voice in state and national matters, and a strengthened democracy. Constituent interaction has continued to be my top priority this August. I have held thirteen town hall meetings throughout New Mexico this month, and still have more constituent meetings planned. At each of these meetings, I address issues like Social Security, Medicare, the debt ceiling, and New Mexico jobs and then take questions and ideas from audience members. Thank you to all who have come to our town hall meetings and participated in the discussion. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Additionally, I am very grateful to my constituents who serve in law enforcement. While it is always highly unlikely their assistance will be necessary, their presence provides attendees peace of mind and allows for the focus to be on the issues at hand.
Many of my colleagues have not held any town halls during Congress’ August district work period, and some have asked me why I would keep such a strenuous schedule when Congress isn’t in session. The answer is simple: because I know how important it is for our government to be accountable to the public. It is time to regain the responsibility that has been vanishing from our government by addressing issues with open, honest discussion.
Pearce in Roswell
Although specific concerns have varied slightly from place to place, the underlying sentiment remains the same—New Mexicans are ready for solutions to the debt crisis and unemployment. This effort will take everyone working together to put our state and our nation back on the track to economic security. The simple truth is that New Mexicans want fewer hassles from the government and more secure jobs. Jobs are my top priority in Congress. I know that Washington must focus on job creation and spending cuts to establish economic freedom for individuals and the nation as a whole. This is the only way to solve America’s debt crisis.
In each town, New Mexican families have been telling me how they have reduced their spending and tightened their belts. I know that Washington must follow suit. Additionally, I have heard from small business owners who have recounted their struggles due to excessive government regulation. I have talked to constituents who are worried about government raising taxes. I also received very pointed questions about why I would not agree to raise taxes. Senior citizens have expressed concerns about the longevity of Medicare and Social Security.
Pearce in Las Cruces
I was able to reassure senior citizens that there is no plan in Washington to stop their Social Security and Medicare payments. When questioned about my approach to unemployment and our economic crisis, constituents in town hall meetings heard about small business legislation I have cosponsored and about my plans to renew the timber industry in New Mexico and create jobs. These meetings provided a successful forum for me to tell you about my work in Washington, and for you to tell me about your concerns. They also gave me the chance to hear from those who opposed my views. In a few of the meetings, some attendees expressed strong opinions that we should raise taxes to solve the debt crisis. I listened to this point, but I could not agree with it because tax increases on job creators mean fewer jobs. With 9.1% unemployment, this is not something we can do.
Pearce (second left) in News New Mexico studio
Throughout the course of these meetings, I have heard from many different groups of people, and I will continue to work toward addressing your concerns when I return to Washington after the district work period. The American people are speaking up, and they have strong ideas. It is time for Washington to listen to those ideas and formulate real, common-sense solutions.
This month has already been highly productive. I have enjoyed meeting with my fellow New Mexicans and look forward to more meetings in the future.


More Scrutiny of Center for Biological Diversity?

Inside Tucson Business - Recently, environmental writer Ted Williams had a commentary in the Tucson Weekly about how the Center for Biological Diversity generates lots of legal fees from suing the federal government. Williams' take: By harassing the feds to make a profit, the Center for Biological Diversity makes environmentalists look bad. He wrote that in 2009, the Center for Biological Diversity reported income of $1,173,517 in "legal settlement." Further, "The center also shakes down taxpayers directly from Interior Department funds under the Equal Access to Justice Act, and for missed deadlines when the agency can't keep up with the broadside of Freedom of Information Act requests." Read full story here: News New Mexico


White House Urged to Speed Up NM Clean Energy Development

From Nearly a dozen New Mexico business leaders have written to the White House advocating that President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and quickly transition to clean energy using public, private and tribal lands.  One - David Melton, chief executive officer of Sacred Power Corp., - delivered the letter and the message in person. Switching to solar, Melton says, would be good for the environment and add thousands of jobs to New Mexico's rural economy through the entire development process. The Interior Department is finalizing its plan for siting solar energy projects on public lands in six Western states. It has identified three study areas which encompass more than 100,000 acres as potential solar energy zones in New Mexico.  More News New Mexico

McCain Raises Money for Wilson in Senate Race

John McCain
From Arizona Sen. John McCain is helping Republican Heather Wilson raise money for her Senate campaign in New Mexico. Wilson's campaign manager Bryce Dustman says McCain is the featured guest at a fundraiser Wednesday evening in Albuquerque.  More News New Mexico

Group to File Suit Against Martinez

From -A national civil rights group will file a lawsuit today against Gov. Susana Martinez's administration, claiming it unlawfully has tried to force 10,000 people to verify their residency. The suit is being bought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. The organization said it is filing the case in state court on behalf of certain New Mexico legislators and residents.  More News New Mexico

Udall and Heinrich Have Absolutely No Time for Town Hall Meetings, Just Fundraisers

Capitol Report New Mexico - Earlier this month we posted a story about how three of the five members of the New Mexico congressional delegation are skipping town hall meetings during the summer recess for the US House of Representatives and the Senate. It turns out they are part of a larger effort — coordinated or uncoordinated — of congressmen and senators who are avoiding meeting their constituents in a town hall format in the wake of some meetings in 2009 and 2010 that got confrontational (the most publicized example came at a town hall meeting hosted by then Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania).
The non-profit political group No Labels just released a survey showing that just 40 percent of all House members are hosting open town hall meetings during the August recess. The party breakdown shows that 67 percent of House Democrats and 50 percent of House Republicans are skipping town hall meetings. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Williams: Legal Obedience

Walter Williams
Townhall - Suppose there's widespread popular support for a church-going mandate and the U.S. Supreme Court rules it constitutional; do Americans have a moral obligation to obey the law? You might say, "Williams, while there are gray areas in the Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court would never brazenly rule against clear constitutional prohibitions!" That's nonsense. The first clause of Article 1, Section 10 mandates that "No State shall ... pass any ... Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts." During the Great Depression, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Minnesota law that restricted the ability of banks to foreclose on overdue mortgages, thereby impairing contracts made between lender and borrower. To prevent this kind of contract impairment -- routinely done under the Articles of Confederation -- was precisely why the Framers added the clause.
Another, perhaps more egregious example of the Supreme Court's impairing contracts came during President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, when the government nationalized gold and made it a felony for any American to own gold. Not only was gold ownership made illegal but it nullified all "gold clauses" in private and government contracts. Writing contracts in gold was a way people protected themselves against government theft, namely inflation. The Supreme Court upheld federal nationalization of gold and nullification of gold contracts in the famous Gold Clause Cases. Today many Americans have turned to gold, driving its price to an all-time high, as a safeguard against what they see as pending inflation. Here's my question to you: If Obama and Congress enacted a law demanding that you turn in your gold, would you be morally obligated to obey such a law? Read full story here: News New Mexico


Noon: Turn Your Head and Cough

Marita Noon
Townhall - In reaching to remain relevant, the environmental movement has had to change tactics. Back in the seventies, when America looked like China does today, environmental issues needed attention. But then we cleaned up the air and water. The skies and rivers went from brown to blue. As Greenpeace cofounder Patrick Moore explains, in order to stay relevant, environmentalists had to find new issues. For most of the last decade global warming has been their cause, and carbon—or burning fossil fuels—was vilified as the cause. This gave way to a whole new industry: green. Green energy would replace fossil fuels. Wind and solar would replace coal as the source fuel for electricity and ethanol, or other fuels generated from biomass, would replace liquid fuels. Green energy would provide new “green” jobs. The world would be a beautiful place.
This all sounded nice. It felt good. But that was before data began to be show how much more all of this was going to cost and the urgent need to save the planet passed. The polar bears were not drowning. The measurements were found to be falsified. Consensus science didn’t work. The seas did not rise and the world seemed to adapt to whatever the various changes have been. Read full column here: News New Mexico

Jay Miller: Is Media Piling on the PRC?

Jay Miller
Inside the Capitol - Is the media piling on Jerome Block, Jr. and the Public Regulation Commission? That's what PRC commissioner Ben Hall says. He notes that in America people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Granted, a day seldom goes by without a new charge against Block making headlines. First I will note that all media are very careful to use words like alleged, charged and faces when talking about accused lawbreakers. It allows company lawyers to sleep better at night. There has been one recent exception. For a brief period between jobs, former state public safety chief Darren White was the crime reporter for an Albuquerque television channel. Station management reportedly joked that during his brief stint, White convicted more people than the district attorney by not being careful to use language presuming innocence.
Ben Hall
But care in use of language aside, the media have found a fertile source of news in headline stories about daily revelations of Block's missteps. Hall suggests that we report on good actions the PRC takes. The question is whether you would read it. Local newspapers go in and out of business based on the belief that people want to hear good news. That is what they say. But do they mean it? Those "good news" papers usually don't stay in business long. It's like negative campaigning. No one likes it but it works. Political consultants wouldn't use it if it didn't work. Read full column here: News New Mexico