140 New Mexico soldiers home for the holidays

NewsNM:Swickard - from all of us at News New Mexico we want to thank each and every member of the military and our National Guard in New Mexico for their service to our country and state. Thank you and welcome home. From KRQE-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - They are the last of New Mexico’s National Guard to return from Kosovo. Officials say 140 soldiers arrived at cutter aviation in Albuquerque Monday morning. They represent the 111th headquarters element from Rio Rancho, the public affairs detachment stationed in Santa Fe and 126th military police from Albuquerque.

Navajo-area coal plants weigh impact of EPA rules

From the Farmington Times - FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona's largest utility says federal rules aimed at limiting mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants factored into a plan to shut down three of five generating units. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is slated to announce the new regulations that will impact hundreds of plants that lack advanced pollution controls. Arizona Public Service says it will retire three units at Four Corners Power Plant in northwestern New Mexico in 2013, contingent on regulatory approval. The remaining two units have so-called bag houses that capture mercury emissions, but APS is planning further upgrades The plant is one of three on or near the Navajo reservation. The San Juan Generating Station says it's ready to meet the rules, while Navajo Generating Station says EPA regulations have presented some challenges. Read more

Large jet grounded at Farmington airport

From the Farmington Times - FARMINGTON — A Southwest Airlines 737 was grounded at the Four Corners Regional Airport Monday due to a severe winter storm shutting down Albuquerque's International Sunport. And then the plane broke down. An unusual sight, the large blue and red plane looked especially massive in comparison to the small regional prop driven planes that usually grace Farmington's airport. Airport manager Ben Trujillo was on the tarmac trying to figure out what was going to happen with the 139 passengers on board. After a half hour, Southwest officials decided to take the passengers off the plane. “We really don't want them to deplane because they will have to be rescreened,” Trujillo said. “The plane is a sterile environment.” As a rule, Farmington's airport doesn't have jet traffic because officials say that the 6,704-foot runway is too small. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Chilling 911 call, teen hides from home intruders under bed

NewsNM: Swickard - Twenty minutes from 911 call to arrival of police - only thing she could do was hide under her bed. Would it not been better if the girl had a firearm and was trained to use it? From WXYZ-TV.com - HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich., - A 13-year-old hid under her bed and called 911 to report that two intruders broke into her Harrison Township home. Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham reports that the incident happened at 2:17 p.m. Thursday. When police responded they found two men matching the description provided by 13-year-old Chloe Symington, The men were seen walking away from the house. When the suspects saw the deputies they ran off. One suspect was taken into custody after a short pursuit and the use of a K-9 track. After further investigation, the second suspect was identified and surrendered himself to police. Read more

Sarah Palin: Not Too Late to Jump into Republican Race

From The Blaze.com - JUNEAU, Alaska (The Blaze/AP) — Sarah Palin says it’s not too late for someone to jump into the Republican presidential race. Asked by Fox Business Network’s “Follow the Money” about the likelihood that she’d become a candidate, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee said it’s not too late for “folks” to jump in. Said Palin: “Who knows what will happen in the future.” The full interview is scheduled for broadcast Monday night. Palin told Fox News Channel over the weekend that she felt no enthusiasm for anyone in the current GOP field and that she needed to feel something before she would offer an endorsement. Palin said in October that she wouldn’t seek the GOP nomination. She said she could be more effective helping others get elected. Read more

Santa's new ride


NYT runs ‘Fast and Furious’ factual inaccuracy, favoring Holder

From the Daily Caller - In a New York Times interview with Attorney General Eric Holder, published Sunday, author Charlie Savage made use of a factual inaccuracy in what was — in effect — a defense of Holder from his chorus of critics. Savage wrote that there are no “documents or testimony” to support allegations that Holder knew of the “gunwalking” tactics employed in Operation Fast and Furious. “Mr. Holder has denounced the tactics used in the operation, known as ‘gunwalking,’ but said he did not know about them or sanction their use,” Savage wrote. “No documents or testimony have shown otherwise, but Republicans have pummeled him at oversight hearings and in news media appearances.” Savage made these statements without attribution. Despite those assertions, Holder’s office was provided with multiple briefings and memos about Operation Fast and Furious by top Justice Department officials. The memos contained intimate details of how Holder’s DOJ allowed guns to walk. “This investigation [Fast and Furious, which is named earlier in the memo] — initiated in September 2009 in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Phoenix Police Department — involves a Phoenix-based firearms trafficking ring headed by Manuel Celis-Acosta,” reads one such memo that was provided to Holder’s office with his name on it. “Celis-Acosta and straw purchasers are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug-trafficking cartels. They also have direct ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, which is suspected of providing $1 million for the purchase of firearms in the greater Phoenix area,” the memo continues. Though this memo has existed in the public sphere since early October and is the main drive behind a groundswell in calls for Holder’s resignation, Savage ignored this in his report. Read more

U.S. Bank Donates $500k to N.M. Non-Profit Groups

From marketwatch - Forty-six nonprofit organizations in New Mexico are being awarded $487,000 in grants and community affairs contributions by U.S. Bank and the U.S. Bancorp Foundation. Paul DiPaola, regional president for U.S. Bank in New Mexico, announced the affordable housing, artistic and cultural development, economic opportunity, education, health and welfare grants and other contributions. "The U.S. Bank team is delighted to wish our valued nonprofit partners happy holidays by providing nearly $500,000 in vital support," said DiPaola.  More News New Mexico

Fema Releases Federal Aid Programs for N.M.

From loansafe.com - Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s major disaster declaration issued for the State of New Mexico.  Assistance for the State, Tribal and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:  More News New Mexico

N.M. Centennial Radio Spots to Air

From alamogordonews.com -The New Mexico Centennial Steering Committee is preparing to a release a series of radio programs about many of the colorful characters, places and stories that have shaped New Mexico's history. Called Centennial Journeys, the weekly segment honoring the state's 100th birthday will be uploaded for broadcast by participating radio stations beginning Jan. 2, 2012. The series will feature famous figures like General Stephen Watts Kearny, Elfego Baca, Governor Charles Bent, Albert Fall and Pat Garrett, as well as lesser-known characters. The series also profiles New Mexico communities and events such as Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus and Reyes Tijerina's raid on the Tierra Amarilla. UFO's and tales of lost gold mines also get attention. More News New Mexico

N.M. Military Awaits Signature on $215 Million in Earmarks

From bizjournals.com -The omnibus spending bill that the U.S. Senate approved today includes $215 million in support and upgrades at New Mexico’s three military bases and National Guard facilities. The bill, pending President Barack Obama’s signature, also includes funding for the U.S. Department of Defense to increase military wages by 1.6 percent, said U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, in a news release.  More News New Mexico

The Gentleman on the 2nd Floor Speaks

Ben Lujan
Capitol Report New Mexico - In his first comments since House Majority Whip Sheryl Williams caused a furor by accusing a Republican state representative of “carrying the Mexican’s water on the fourth floor,” New Mexico Speaker of the House Ben Luján (D-Nambé) said he will not call for the Albuquerque Democrat to step down from her position as Majority Whip in the state’s House of Representatives. Capitol Report New Mexico talked to Speaker Luján on Monday (Dec. 19). Here’s the video: The day after making the comment while angrily confronting Rep. Nora Espinoza (R-Roswell), Stapleton issued an apology and said she would write a letter and meet personally with Gov. Susana Martinez — although, oddly, at the same news conference Stapleton would not confirm she was referring specifically to Martinez. When asked if she would volutarily relinquish the Majority Whip position, Stapleton said, “Absolutely not.” Read full story here: News New Mexico


Richardson Exits Kim Jong Il Interview Dodges Questions on Grand Jury Investigations

New Mexico Watchdog - Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson dropped by the state capitol building Monday (Dec. 19) for a satellite interview with PBS to talk about the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. Capitol Report New Mexico and Gadi Schwartz of KOB-TV waited outside the door of the studio to ask Richardson about the reports of grand jury investigations surrounding Richardson as well as the situation in North Korea.
But Richardson did not stop to take questions. When asked to respond to the reports in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Albuquerque Journal that a federal probe is looking into charges that an alleged mistress was paid off to keep quiet about an alleged affair, Richardson’s only response was, “Merry Christmas” before walking away with one of his staffers. Read full story and see video here: News New Mexico

Martinez Polling at 65% Approval Rating

Monty Newman
Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Monty Newman commented on recent polling data on Governor Susana Martinez as she approaches the end of her first year in office. According to a recent Public Opinion Strategies poll Martinez earned a remarkable 65 percent job approval rating from the people of New Mexico. The Governor’s job approval is up from an initial rating of 59 percent in March of this year. “Our Jobs Governor is keeping her promises to New Mexico families" said Newman. "Her integrity, work ethic and dedication to improving the lives of everyday New Mexicans are at the heart of her soaring job approval," he added. "We are proud of the work Governor Martinez is doing to empower job creators, improve education and reinvigorate our economy. We look forward to many great things for New Mexico under her bold leadership,” concluded Newman.
Susana Martinez
Public Opinion Strategies (POS) is a national public opinion research company. POS currently polls for 20 U.S. Senators, 6 governors, and more than 70 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. POS is also the Republican polling partner for the NBC/Wall Street Journal and two-time recipient of Pollster of the Year award by the American Association of Political Consultants. In New Mexico, POS has conducted more than 90,000 interviews with residents of the state.


"Holiday Favorite"


Sowards: Affordable Care Act: Repeal, Yes; Replace, No

Greg Sowards
Op-ed by Greg Sowards - The voters of New Mexico should realize that “repeal and replace” is a buzz phrase which translates to more of the same “hope and change” rhetoric. Most Americans find the thousands of pages of legislation in the Affordable Care Act objectionable. The individual mandate that compels Americans to purchase health insurance, even if they don’t want it, is unconstitutional. Physicians are already warning that the rationing of health care through ethics committees or “death panels” is a disturbing attack on the rights of the nation’s aging population.
Though many provisions of Obamacare are believed to be unconstitutional by scholars and judges, alike, there are no guarantees that the courts will throw out the law in its entirety.
In the race for the U.S. Senate here in New Mexico, the websites of my Republican opponents reveal their desire to repeal Obamacare, which I find commendable. Unfortunately, they both want to replace the law with some other federally mandated and regulated program administered from Washington, D.C.
Replacing Obamacare is not “a solution” to my way of thinking. Any way you slice it, bureaucratic intrusions by the Federal Government into one-sixth of the U.S. economy is a giant step toward tyranny.
Federal programs are constantly overreaching and their costly means seldom have an end. The Founding Fathers understood the problem of centralized power and human nature. In response, they built a federalist system, which clearly limits Congress to the specific set of powers enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. To leave no doubt as to their intentions, they reiterated that concept by adding it as the final item, the Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Read rest of column here: News New Mexico


Noon: Saving the Climate Change Circus

Marita Noon
The Economist Magazine has historically been a supporter of climate-change interventions such as cap and trade and carbon-emission reductions. Yet, they reported on the UN climate change talks in Durban as being more about “saving the circus” than “saving the planet.” But, just what is the “circus;” who are the performers; and how did they get into the ring? And, was it ever about “saving the planet?” My previous column postulated on China’s role in the climate change “circus.” I suggested that their apparent change of heart on the issue was really just a change of strategy.
Like The Economist, another leading European publication, The Financial Times (FT) has also been a believer in man-made climate change. FT carried extensive coverage of the 2011 UN climate change talks—even producing a twelve-page supplement: Climate Change Review, Durban 2011. Here in the US, the climate change talks in Durban were barely mentioned. Within FT’s reporting they state that the European Union (EU) “is pushing hardest among developed countries for a new global deal” and is “the greenest voice among wealthy countries at the talks.” Is the EU uniquely insightful, or like China, is their role in the ring also more about economic strategy? Read full column here: News New Mexico


Garcia Will Seek 7th Term

Mary Jane Garcia
State Sen. Mary Jane Garcia of Dona Ana Country announced late last week that she will seek a seventh term next year. Garcia was the victim of a wicked mugging last year in Albuquerque in which the attacker broke her right leg and stole $1,800 in cash and possessions. Despite polls running 3-1 in support of Gov. Susana Martinez's campaign to repeal a law that enables illegal immigrants to obtain New Mexico driver's licenses, Senator Garcia said she will oppose the Governor. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Predictable: Holder Accuses Critics of Racism

Eric Holder
Daily Caller - Attorney General Eric Holder accused his growing chorus of critics of racist motivations in a Sunday interview published in the New York Times. When reached by The Daily Caller Monday morning, the Department of Justice provided no evidence to support the attorney general’s claims. Holder said some unspecified faction — what he refers to as the “more extreme segment” — is driven to criticize both him and President Barack Obama due to the color of their skin. Holder did not appear to elaborate on who he considered to make up the “more extreme segment. This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” Holder said, according to the Times. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.” Read full story here: News New Mexico


Miller: How to Create Jobs

Jay Miller
Inside the Capitol - New Mexico must begin to pay attention to its small companies that already are here because they want to be here. It didn't take any money to get them here and it won't cost anything to keep them from moving. What we need to worry about is keeping them in business and helping them grow. If each of our state's thousands of small businesses could be helped to add one more employee, the effect would produce many times more jobs than bringing in big companies for a brief stay. The problem is that it isn't as sexy. It isn't as flashy for politicians and no one gets to take expensive trips or pick up the tab for big meals. For 10 years a non-profit group in Santa Fe called Santa Fe Economic Development tried to convince state and local governments that growing our own would prove to be more reliable for creating jobs than luring new companies. Its president, Catherine Zacher, and staff got out in the community and found out who needed help and what kind of help was needed. Training, networking and loans were arranged. Companies grew. But the recession brought added pressures. The economic development group's resources dwindled and no governmental agency was willing to help pick up the slack. The state must look for ways to help its loyal, home grown businesses with the level of financial resources it spends betting on strangers. Read full column here: News New Mexico


Listener Feedback: The Impact of Double Dippers

NewsNM note- Sometimes a listener will write to us and provide a unique perspective worth sharing. This piece came from NewsNM listener Charles Galt - As a former math teacher with an average student roster of 170+ students per year, it is staggering to me that the Albuquerque Public Schools allows employees to take paid leave of up to 100 days or more (only 182 days to begin with) per year. This is at the least is unfair and ethically repugnant. The education lobby is continually hiding behind "its for our future, it is all about the kids," but this hyprocrisy is blatant. The state pays a public employee for work not rendered and then gives compensation in another realm while the students and/or other employees are left holding the bag. The state then pays another person to do the job of the double dipper by hiring a "substitute." The substitute then follows a guide supposedly constructed by the absentee teacher and offers instruction of an inconsistent albeit not necessarily inferior nature. So the state (taxpayer) pays two people for a job done in a less than agreed upon fashion.
I doubt that the average parent would like to have their child taught half the time by a person not giving 100% of their attention and effort particularly in the areas where schools are being graded by a test that looks only at math and language arts. It saddens me to think that the school system in a state that typically ranks in the bottom 5% of Math and Language Arts skills can pay teachers for not doing their job 100%.
A doctor, or rancher, or farmer, or lawyer that becomes a legislator gives up their practice or their responsibilities that constitute their duty to a career and is not paid by the taxpayer for those days and that attention to client or business responsibilities. Why are teachers, administrators or any public employee treated as a more favored class of citizens. So much for CHARACTER COUNTS, so much for the rock ribbed tenets of citizenship, fairness, truthfulness and so on. That program, Character Counts, is paid only lip service while property owners, productive citizens,students, parents and society in general pay for all of the sycophantic pedagogues and those that sustain this corrupt system. If  "hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue" then at the least the good citizens and honest legislators should not allow anyone to get paid for a job they do not do. I am disgusted.


Christmas and Progressives

Jim Harbison
Initially, I thought I would write this editorial to address the zealous but misguided comments from our local progressives (or whatever socialists are calling themselves now days), who busily aim at remaking America into another European styled Socialist-Democracy. Many probably spend their holidays and energy devising ways to motivate the government to force their baseless moral certainty on the rest of us. Instead, I decided I would be politically incorrect and wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS. I am not embarrassed to say MERRY CHRISTMAS and I refuse to substitute HAPPY HOLIDAYS for it. The lessons and teachings of Jesus Christ continue to make the world a better place and were the founding moral principles in developing this great nation.
I know this will not sit well with our secular progressives who shun religious faith while they deny America’s exceptionalism and our Christian heritage. Progressives have long forgotten what significant world event is celebrated in December -- the birth of Christ. They are too busy trying to create a socialist society that is devoid of any religion. They would rather fight to remove Nativity scenes from public property than acknowledge the rights of Americans to practice their individual religious beliefs. Christmas is not about Winterfest, Festivus, Kwanzaa or some other socially designed holiday that fogs over the real reason for reflection and celebration. It is a revered religious holiday where Christians around the world have rejoiced in the birth of Christ for more than 2000 years.
Unfortunately, Christmas has become the season for commercial exploitation and profits rather than a period of sacred religious celebration. While I am not an openly and deeply religious person I do believe in God and think Christmas should be a time for serious contemplation and reverence. It is a time for rededication of our lives to God, our families, our community and society.
Christ practiced compassion and brotherly love and Christmas provides us with many opportunities to follow his examples and assist the less fortunate. As individuals, we need to show compassion for those who are ill, out of work, hungry or homeless. However, compassion isn’t about the government’s doling out benefits that keep people impoverished. Charity has been and should again be the proper province of individuals and churches. The government should be about providing an environment for equal opportunity, not guaranteeing certain outcomes.
Rather than giving a man a fish to eat, we need to remember that it is better to teach him how to fish so he can feed himself and his family. Progressives haven’t accepted this yet and continue to insist on creating a growing list of programs that seem generous but serve to keep the less fortunate dependent upon an increasingly intrusive government that offers them little opportunity to ever improve their economic status. Instead of proving benefits that maintain some level of poverty government should be offering them assistance to become productive citizens, who will foster self-respect and self esteem, rather than committing them to an existence of multi-generational economic dependence.
Unlike Marxist-Socialist societies we are still able to openly worship and to thank God for the many blessing we enjoy and to celebrate the birth of His son, Jesus Christ. Christmas provides us opportunities to acknowledge and reaffirm our faith in God and our Christian beliefs and to follow His examples of charity, compassion and virtue to improve our community. Let’s try to do this throughout the New Year.
Merry Christmas to all. May each of us find that place in our hearts that urges us to reverently remember why we celebrate this day each year.


Major winter storm takes aim at New Mexico

From KOB-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The National Weather Service in Albuquerque says a major wintry storm is headed toward the state. Blizzard-like conditions are possible in the northeastern plains and along the Interstate 25 corridor beginning late Sunday, with the heaviest activity expected Monday. Travel along Interstate 40 from Albuquerque to Texas could also be impacted. The weather service says travel along both routes could become difficult if not impossible. More than 6 inches of snow is expected over much of the northeast highlands, east-central and northeast plains and winds gusts could hit 40 mph. Read more

Rubel Recalls Stapleton Smear of Lee Rawson

Lee Rawson
Las Cruces Sun-News - by Walt Rubel - The first time state Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton grabbed my attention was during a committee meeting in 2005 when she used a phrase I had never heard before, and can't accurately repeat here, during an emotional rant seeking more funding for education. "Money is in Santa Fe like kiddiepoop. It's flowing down the river," the Albuquerque Democrat said during a Legislative Education Study Committee meeting, though she didn't use the word poop. More appropriately, she used the word that rhymes with fit.While I admired her passion, the whole thing was so over the top it was hard not to view it as anything but comical. There was nothing funny at all in 2008 when a similarly overheated Stapleton took to the House floor to accuse then-Senate Minority Whip Lee Rawson of racism. Read full column here: News New Mexico

U.S. Senate Reduces Tax Cut Extension to 60 Days

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill last week, extending the payroll tax cuts for a year only to see the Senate's revised version of the bill only extend the tax cuts for two months.
Steve Pearce
Congressman Steve Pearce had this to say about the Senate's version, "Washington must act to make sure that job creators are able to hire additional workers and Americans are able to put more money back in their pockets. The payroll tax cut extension works to do just that. Americans cannot afford for political games to tax them out of their hard earned money. Additionally, business owners, workers, and families deserve better than an environment of increased economic uncertainty, which the Senate bill will undoubtedly create. Washington must work to be more efficient and effective in reaching genuine solutions.
Jeff Bingaman
Senator Jeff Bingaman who voted for the Senate bill said, “I am disappointed that we were unable to come to an agreement to extend unemployment insurance, the payroll tax cut and Medicare reimbursements for full year. There are also various other tax provisions scheduled to expire in a few weeks, such as those related to renewable energy and efficiency, and in my view it is not responsible to let them expire,” Bingaman said.
Martin Heinrich, Ben Ray Lujan, and Tom Udall offered no comments on the Senate version of the bill. Neither Heinrich nor Lujan voted for the House version. The U.S. House of Representatives will be returning to the floor on Monday to continue seeking solutions and to continue working toward payroll tax cut extensions.