4 On Your Side producer looks to kick smoking addiction

NewsNM: Swickard - Peter has been a guest on NewsNM. We wish him the best of luck - From KOB-TV.com - KOB Eyewitness News 4 On Your Side told you about one man's triumph over cigarettes. In the process, 4 On Your Side reporter Gadi Schwartz found another man, very close to us here at KOB, who is struggling with the same addiction. 4 On Your Side looks into tackling smoking addiction> Peter St. Cyr's blog: Quit Smoking for Pete's Sake

Feds propose allowing wind-farm developer to kill golden eagles

From MSNBC.com - By James Eng, msnbc.com - The federal government is proposing to grant a first-of-its-kind permit that would allow the developer of a central Oregon wind-power project to legally kill golden eagles, a regulatory move being closely watched by conservationists. The Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday released a draft environmental assessment that would allow West Butte Wind Power LLC to kill as many as three protected golden eagles over five years if the company fulfills its conservation commitments. It’s the first eagle “take permit” application to be received and acted on by U.S. Fish and Wildlife under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. (“Take” means to kill, harass or disturb the birds, their nests or their eggs.) “Our goal is to maintain stable or increasing populations of eagles protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act," said Chris McKay, assistant regional director for Migratory Birds and State Programs in the Fish and Wildlife Service's Pacific Region. "Regulations under the Act allow us to issue permits for activities that are likely to take eagles provided the activity is otherwise lawful and the taking is not the purpose of that activity, the take is unavoidable even though advanced conservation practices are being implemented, and the take is compatible with eagle preservation," McKay said in a press release. California-based West Butte Wind Power LLC is proposing to build a 104-megawatt wind energy generation facility on ranchland in Oregon’s Deschutes and Crook counties, consisting of up to 52 wind turbines. Read more

Former N.M. Tourism Secretary Mike Cerletti Has Died

Mike Cerletti
From bizjournals.com -Former New Mexico Tourism Secretary Mike Cerletti has died. Cerletti, 72, died on Tuesday evening, said the New Mexico Tourism Department. He had been battling brain cancer since 2010.  Cerletti became the state’s first tourism secretary in 1991 when he was appointed to the position by then-Gov. Bruce King.  More News New Mexico

Former Sandia Labs Scientist Was Making Bombs

From washingtonpost.com -A retired Sandia Labs scientist was apparently busy building bombs and possibly a new type of explosive at a rural eastern New Mexico home before he died.
Torrance County Sheriff Heath White tells KOB-TV  David O’Keefe, 81, spent his retirement on the outskirts of Estancia, 60 miles east of Albuquerque, continuing his work up until his death a few months ago.  More News New Mexico

ICE Mistakenly Deports Dallas Teen Who Speaks No Spanish to Colombia

From ColorLines.com - An 14 year old African-American girl who speaks no Spanish was mistakenly deported to Colombia by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in April of 2011. And now Colombia isn’t releasing her. Jakadrien Turner was 14 and distraught over the loss of her grandfather and her parents’ divorce and ran away from her Dallas home, according to KHOU. Somehow she ended up in Houston, where she was arrested by Houston police for theft. She gave authorities a fake name and when police ran that name, authorities learned it belonged to a 22-year-old undocumented immigrant from Colombia who had warrants for her arrest. Read more

Al Unser Jr. DWI Charges are Serious

KOB TV - Retired Indy car racing legend Al Unser Jr. is now facing more severe DWI charges after a court hearing Wednesday morning. The prosecution is asking that the DWI charges against Unser be changed to aggravated charges because Unser has a prior DWI conviction in Las Vegas, Nevada. The judge granted that motion. Unser was not at the court hearing because his appearance was waived. Read full story here: News New Mexico

"Dead Voters"


Robert Frank Selected to Lead UNM

Robert Frank
According to KOB TV the University of New Mexico Board of Regents has chosen Robert Frank to be the new president of UNM. Frank was formerly provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Kent State University in Ohio. UNM announced the decision early Wednesday morning.
Frank will replace UNM president David Schmidly, who is leaving UNM in June.
A selection committee offered the regents a list of five candidates last month and Frank seems to have been the consensus choice.

Redistricting Judge Picks Susana's Plan

Gov. Susana Martinez
From capitolreportnewmexico.com -Republicans and Gov. Susana Martinez picked up a big win Tuesday evening as a retired district court judge in charge of redistricting New Mexico’s political boundaries sided with the governor’s attorneys in choosing a map for the state’s House of Representatives for the next 10 years. Judge Jim Hall picked a plan drawn up by the governor’s legal staff over maps devised by five other plaintiffs, including one headed by the Democratically-controlled state legislature that Martinez vetoed after a special session of the legislature was convened back in September.  More News New Mexico


Judge’s ruling means a more competitive N.M. House

From NM Pollitics.net - by Heath Haussamen - A judge’s decision to side with Gov. Susana Martinez in redistricting of state House seats is certainly a win for Republicans, but it’s arguably more significant as a loss for Democrats. The Democratic judge, James A. Hall, ruled Tuesday in favor of Martinez’s plan, saying it’s better because it protects Native American-majority districts while changing districts less than other plans. The critical quote from Hall’s ruling about the Democratic-controlled Legislature’s plan, which Martinez vetoed and Hall rejected, states that it “contains significant population deviations between districts which are not justified by historically significant state policy or unique features.” Hall wrote that Martinez’s plan, on the other hand, “properly places the highest priority on population equality and compliance with the Voting Rights Act as required by law.” Republicans gained significant ground in the state House in 2010. The current makeup is 36 Democrats, 33 Republicans and one independent, making it the closest Republicans have been to political balance in the House in more than eight decades. The Legislature’s redistricting plan would have shifted the advantage back toward Democrats. Martinez proposed a plan that shifts things more to the right, but not as much as the legislative plan shifted things in the other direction. So Hall backed Martinez’s plan. Imagine if Democrats had proposed a plan that shifted the balance in their direction less than Martinez’s did toward the GOP. Read more

Fed Will Probably Keep Interest Rates Low for Years

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Federal Reserve officials will begin to spell out plans for short-term interest rates later this month. There is a wide held belief that the central bank's easy-money policies will remain in place for several years. The excuse for low interest rate returns paid to savers is that the near zero rate policy will give the economy a boost.
Tuesday, in minutes of the Fed's December policy meeting it was disclosed that the Fed is still leaning towards an extended era of low rates. What the Fed did not admit or elaborate on was how the policy confiscates the interest income that could be earned by savers and transfers it to the Federal Government in the form of virtually free financing for the $1.5 trillion budget deficits.


Rejected by Obama Canada Doing Business With China

Stephen Harper
Wall Street Journal - CALGARY—Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. said it was selling a 40% stake in one of its oil-sands prospects to PetroChina Co., a move that for the first time will give full ownership of such a project to a Chinese company. Athabasca is selling its remaining interest in the MacKay River project in northern Alberta to PetroChina for 680 million Canadian dollars, or US$666 million. In 2010, Athabasca sold 60% stakes in MacKay and a separate development, Dover, to PetroChina for C$1.9 billion. Chinese oil companies PetroChina, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. known as Sinopec, and Cnooc Ltd. have all invested heavily in Canada's oil patch. Chinese firms have typically sought to buy into minority stakes in projects or companies. But last year, interest in buying whole companies ratcheted up.
China's Hu Jintao
Oil-sands output has grown quickly, and Alberta and Canadian officials have sought out new markets. That has particularly been the case after the U.S. State Department late last year delayed a decision on a pipeline proposed to carry oil from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said it would actively market its oil to Asian buyers, including China. The Canadian government has said it backs the construction of another pipeline running from Alberta to the Pacific, where oil could be loaded onto tankers bound for Asia. Read full story here (subscription required) Read full story here: News New Mexico


New Mexico's role following Iowa Caucus

From KRQE-TV.com - New Mexico's primary is June 5th, one of the last primaries of the election cycle. Utah holds the final primary on June 26th. In recent years Republicans have picked their nominee by March. Usually following Super Tuesday which this year falls on March 6th. That's when 10 states cast their votes and after that, New Mexico's primary doesn't count for much. This year Republicans officials see things differently. A spokesperson for the party explained because so many people are battling for the party's nomination, and because there is so much indecision in the polls, this year the race could come down to the wire and actually run into June. Making New Mexico's vote crucial. State Republicans could vote to move New Mexico's primary up, but some say they like having the final stamp of approval before sending a candidate to the White House. They also say if the race does stretch all the way to June, New Mexico GOP voters will have the extra benefit of taking their time to cast the most educated vote possible.

USS New Mexico Helps Celebrate State's 100th Birthday

From KOAT-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico celebrates 100 years of statehood this Friday. And just in time for the big event, the USS New Mexico sent a special birthday wish. The USS New Mexico is based in Connecticut, and since it can't sail down to the Land of Enchantment, they thought a video greeting would be the next best thing. "From the officers and crew of the most powerful warship in the Navy, happy 100th birthday, New Mexico," said the crew. The Navy says they've even made the ship New Mexican-themed, complete with pictures of the New Mexico landscape, hot air balloons and hundreds of red and green chili-shaped lights. Read more

Susana proposes $5.5 million for A-F school grades

From Capitol Report New Mexico - Gov. Susana Martinez announced on Tuesday (Jan. 3) a proposal that would funnel more than $5.5 million to New Mexico public schools that are about to take part in an A-through-F grading program Martinez managed to get passed into law during last year’s legislative session. The A-F system is designed to get a clearer idea of the progress (or lack thereof) in the state’s individual schools. “This isn’t simply throwing money at the schools,” the Republican governor said during a news conference at Agua Fria Elementary School in Santa Fe. “This will target schools that need the most help.” Under the proposal, $4.3 million would be assigned to struggling schools that end up getting D’s or F’s while $1.25 will go to the top 25 performing schools, who will receive rewards of $50,000 each. Gov. Martinez said the $5.5 million proposal will go before the state legislature as part of the budgeting process when the Roundhouse convenes its upcoming 30-day session starting Jan. 17. Martinez said the money will come from new revenue the state is expected to receive from its most recent fiscal estimates. The Public Education Department says it will release preliminary grades for all New Mexico public schools some time next week and official numbers and grades will come out this summer, the first of a three-year evaluation in a statewide school system that has consistently finished near the bottom in many national surveys. “I cannot imagine any parent is satisfied with being 48th or 49th in the nation in education,” Martinez said, adding, “we need to move on.” Read more

Virtual Dead Heat in Iowa

Rick Santorum
Quad Cities Times - Mitt Romney is moving on from Tuesday’s narrow victory in Iowa to next week’s primary in New Hampshire, and anticipating sharper criticism from his rivals. The former Massachusetts governor was declared the winner of the leadoff Republican presidential caucuses early Wednesday by a mere eight votes over Rick Santorum. Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, declared “Game on” after emerging as Romney’s foremost conservative rival for the primaries yet ahead. Texas Rep. Ron Paul ran third and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was fourth, and both men vowed to carry the fight to New Hampshire and beyond. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Virgin Galactic Running Help Wanted Ads

Richard Branson
The Republic - Virgin Galactic is beginning to ramp up activity in southern New Mexico in a sign of preparation for future space flights from Spaceport America north of Las Cruces. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports some British-based staff has relocated to Las Cruces, Virgin Galactic has advertised some new jobs and the company has announced it's leasing office space in the city.
New Mexico Space Grant Consortium director Pat Hynes says the relocation of Virgin Galactic staff to Las Cruces is significant because it means Virgin Galactic head Richard Branson is following through on his commitment to base operations from New Mexico. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Are Feds Ignoring Fraud in Visa Examinations?

Janet Napolitano
The Daily - One-quarter of the USCIS officers surveyed said they have pressured to approve questionable cases. One-quarter of the USCIS officers surveyed said they have pressured to approve questionable cases. Higher-ups within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are pressuring rank-and-file officers to rubber-stamp immigrants’ visa applications, sometimes against the officers’ will, according to a Homeland Security report and internal documents exclusively obtained by The Daily. A 40-page report, drafted by the Office of Inspector General in September but not publicly released, details the immense pressure immigration service officers are under to approve visa applications quickly, sometimes while overlooking concerns about fraud, eligibility or security.
Alejandro Mayorkas
One-quarter of the 254 officers surveyed said they have been pressured to approve questionable cases, sometimes “against their will.” The report does not call out any particular officials and indicates that the agency has had a problem with valuing quantity over quality since at least the 1980s. But high-ranking USCIS officials said the pressure has heightened after the Obama administration appointed Alejandro Mayorkas as director in August 2009 during an effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform, bringing with him a mantra of “get to yes.” Read full story here: News New Mexico