NMSU Scientists Developing Drought-Tolerant Alfalfa

From sfgate.com - Scientists at New Mexico State University are trying to help by using genetic analysis and traditional plant breeding practices to come up with more drought-tolerant varieties of alfalfa. The research is important because two-thirds of hay produced in the U.S. is grown in drought-prone areas of the Great Plains or the western U.S., said Ian Ray, the professor who runs NMSU's alfalfa breeding and genetics program.  More News New Mexico

N.M Rep Wants Criminal Statute Reform

Rep. Bill Rehm
From newswest9.com - A New Mexico lawmaker wants to eliminate the state's statute of limitations for second-degree murder and extend time limits for prosecuting other felonies. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that State Rep. William "Bill" Rehm says he will introduce legislation that would scrap the six years statute of limitations for second-degree murder. The Albuquerque Republican's bill also would lengthen the time in which underlying charges of conspiracy and tampering with evidence could be prosecuted.  More News New Mexico

Heart Attacks Kills N.M. Guardsman in Afghanistan

From therepublic.com -A New Mexico Army National Guard soldier based in Afghanistan has died of an apparent heart attack. Thirty-three-year-old Specialist Pernell Johnnie Herrera of Espanola died Saturday while performing physical fitness training.  A news release says Herrera enlisted in the New Mexico National Guard in May 2006 and served honorably over the last 5 and 1/2 years.  He was serving in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan.  More News New Mexico

Iranians Issue "Warning" to U.S. Carrier Stennis

Iranian Navy Ships
Bloomberg - The U.S. rebuffed Iran’s demand not to return an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, a “warning” from Tehran that helped send oil prices to the highest in almost eight months. The U.S. said it will continue to protect freedom of navigation in the region. The Pentagon doesn’t announce future ship movements and declined to say when the U.S. may send a carrier back to the Gulf following the departure of the USS John C. Stennis last week.
“We usually don’t repeat our warning, and we warn only once,” the head of Iran’s army, Ataollah Salehi, was cited as saying yesterday by the state-run Fars news agency. “We recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf.”
Air Craft Carrier John Stennis
He didn’t say what action Iran might take if the U.S. ignores the warning. His statement follows threats from other Iranian officials in recent days to block oil shipping through the Strait of Hormuz in a conflict over new economic sanctions.
While Iran has the military capability to disrupt shipping at least temporarily, it would hurt itself by doing so because it is dependent on the waterway for its oil-export revenues, according to analysts such as Ali Nader of the RAND Corp. research institute. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington last week called recent threats “an exercise in rhetoric.”
The Stennis, which Iran said it spotted during naval exercises, passed eastward through the Strait of Hormuz on Dec. 27 on a routine voyage and was operating in the northern Arabian Sea, according to the U.S. 5th Fleet, which has a base in Bahrain.
“We are not seeking a confrontation,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said yesterday at a briefing in Washington. The U.S. military will continue to play a role in ensuring freedom of navigation, she said.  Read full story here: News New Mexico

Governor Seeks More Transparency

Susana Martinez
Governor Susana Martinez will be supporting legislation in the upcoming legislative session that will increase government transparency by requiring all final public-meeting agendas to be available 72 hours in advance and posted online, along with all related documents. The bill, which will be sponsored by Rep. Jim Smith (R-Sandia Park), is also backed by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. “In the spirit of open government, this is a simple yet important step toward increasing transparency that should receive wide bipartisan support,” said Governor Martinez. “Legislation requiring public meeting agendas to be posted online three days in advance will set a uniform standard across government and allow more access for all interested New Mexicans. I’m pleased to work with NMFOG and Rep. Smith on this measure and I hope to see it passed into law during next month’s legislative session.”
Currently, New Mexico law requires agendas to be posted within 24 hours of a public meeting, which can make it difficult for those interested in the public body's work to know the items that the committee will be discussing and make the decision on whether to travel to the meeting and participate.
"Democracy can't work unless citizens are informed about what their policy makers are doing," said Sarah Welsh, Executive Director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. "That is what this bill is all about; it gives New Mexicans a much better opportunity to inform themselves and to participate in government."
“This is an opportunity to increase and standardize transparency across state and local governments,” said Rep. Smith. “Given the technology available, it only makes sense to make these materials available so New Mexicans can see well in advance the business that their elected and appointed officials are addressing.”


Silver City a Commuter's Dream

Silver City
NM Business Journal - Which small town's in New Mexico are a commuter's dream? Silver City (population: 10,277) in southwest New Mexico enjoys the smoothest traffic flow of any community in the state with a population between 10,000 and 50,000, according to a new On Numbers study. More than 70 percent of Silver City's workers (the national average is 28.7 percent) take 14 minutes or less to drive from home to their jobs. Just 1.55 percent of the workforce in Silver City, on the other hand, faces a daily commute of 45 minutes or more. The U.S. average is 15.5 percent. The runner up in New Mexico is Deming, also in the southwestern part of the state. The small town with the longest commute is Los Lunas, in Valencia County just south of Albuquerque. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Rail Runner Offering a Quiet Car

KOB TV - A peaceful ride on the New Mexico Rail Runner is now an option. The train is launching a pilot program to see if people prefer a quieter car. Only certain early morning and evening weekday trains will offer a Quiet Car: Northbound morning trains #504 and #506, departing Belen at 5:22 a.m. and 6:43 a.m. respectively…and southbound trains #515 and #517, departing the Santa Fe Depot at 4:10 p.m. and 5:25 p.m. Signs will be posted inside the Quiet Car, and it will always be the car closest to the locomotive of a designated train. Customers will be asked to speak in subdued voices, as well as refrain from cell phone use. Read full story here: News New Mexico

UNM President Salary Will Fall

Albuquerque Journal - UNM regents say the trend of ever-higher presidential packages is about to come to an end. As UNM prepares to hire its next president on Wednesday, officials say the salary offered will not exceed Schmidly’s and that some benefits – like a housing allowance – could be eliminated. “In the last 10 (to) 15 years, those things have escalated, and a lot of them unreasonably. I believe that this next contract will be considerably less than Dr. Schmidly got,” Regent Jamie Koch said. Read full story here (subscription required) : News New Mexico

Iowa in Today's Spotlight

Washington Times - DES MOINES, Iowa — Four years after a second-place finish in Iowa’s caucuses mortally wounded his campaign, Mitt Romney is counting on the state to write a different story on Tuesday - a win here could go a long way toward sewing up the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. But Mr. Romney, who made his first campaign trip to Iowa more than six years ago, still has not sealed matters with voters here, and their search for an anyone-but-Romney candidate has defined the 2012 campaign. “We’re going to win this thing with all of our passion and strength,” Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, said Monday night, setting a high bar for himself.
Five opponents are competing in Iowa to beat him, and for much of the year, they have jockeyed for the mantle of the non-Romney candidate, trading the lead in the polls in what may well be the most volatile campaign in Iowa history. Now, in a final twist, the one person who has never held a lead, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, may have the best shot at topping Mr. Romney and becoming the candidate who unites conservatives. Read full story here: News New Mexico

XL pipeline—a line in the sand for America’s future

Marita Noon
Ask people about the future of energy, and you’ll probably hear mention of “solar,” “wind,” and “ethanol.” These developing energy technologies have been invested in, loaned to, subsidized, and mandated—yet they’ve repeatedly fallen short.
If the vaunted renewables aren’t yet ready for prime time, what will we do if, for example, Iran makes good on its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz and blocks a significant supply of the world’s energy? Just the fear of a supply disruption bumped up the price of oil.
The geopolitics provide a perfect backdrop for pushing the pipeline that will boost the economy through more jobs and price stability, provide energy security, and help balance the trade deficit. Opponents see building the Keystone XL pipeline as a flashpoint for the struggle between old and new energy paradigms—yet with the failure of so-called future energy, the pipeline is representative of our energy future.
Untold billions of taxpayers’ dollars have been spent trying to force renewables into an unnatural economic timeline with the expectation that the laws of nature will bow to the laws of politicians. Yet, not one of them produces a significant percentage of our energy needs. If we lost 20% of our renewable energy, we’d never feel it. If we lost 20% of our oil supply—the amount that goes through the Strait of Hormuz, we could be back to the rationing and gas lines that are reminiscent of the Carter administration.
“President Obama repeatedly assured the American public that a slew of taxpayer-funded projects in his 2009 stimulus package were ‘shovel-ready.’ Yet few of these projects ever got off the ground, and the jobs they produced were negligible,” says National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow, Bonner Cohen. “By contrast, the Keystone XL project really is shovel-ready. And even though it would produce jobs and energy quickly, he refuses to give it the green light.”
In a time of economic war, the Keystone XL pipeline is a job creator that requires no new technology or research, no taxpayer funding while generating new tax revenues, and no new infrastructure—all with virtually no risk (financial or environmental). Read rest of column here: News New Mexico