Record-breaking 23-mile skydive rescheduled

From - ROSWELL, N.M. — A daredevil skydiver will have to wait until Sunday before he has a chance to free fall from the edge of space. Felix Baumgartner and a team of more than 200 will take a few days off, waiting for weather to pass through. "We want him to kind of get away from everything, calibrate and get some rest," said director Andy Walshe.

On Wednesday, the crew spent more than eight hours in a weather delay. Meteorologists will begin tracking weather patterns Saturday evening, to determine the best launch window Sunday at dawn. Baumgartner plans to jump from 120,000 feet, about 23 miles high. Scientists hope he can position himself to break the sound barrier, a feat not accomplished before by a human without the use of a vehicle. Read more

Officials foil student-planned massacre at Belen Mid School

Superintendent Ron Marquez
From - Belen School Superintendent Ron Marquez says school officials have diverted a plan by several students to commit a massacre Friday at Belen Middle School. It is believed that up to seven "disgruntled' students were involved in the plot to commit violence at the school, he said.

Four students have been suspended - and two of those students have also been arrested, he said. The other three are still being questioned. The administration learned of the plot late Monday, he said. Because schools are only allowed to suspend students for 10 days, the administration will seek long-term suspension of the students through the hearing process. Read more

Finding great leaders in New Mexico

© 2012 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. The number one thing I tell educational leaders in New Mexico: rent, don’t buy. There are so many ways to end a job and only a few ways to hold on. Most public school superintendents and college presidents are lucky to serve three years before some political fight, usually not of their making, scoops them up and out of the job. And then there are the sports coaches who leave frequently.

UNM recently went through a change in presidential leadership and NMSU just lost their president. They have had eight people in the president’s office in just sixteen years. That said from the 1920s to 1980s both the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University had stable leadership. In fact, both institutions had a run of forty years with just three presidents each.

NMSU’s first president was fired when the political makeup of the board changed by one member out of five. Hiram Hadley was one political vote on the wrong side and only served four years from 1890 to 1894. But my personal favorite “interesting” president was UNM’s Bud Davis. Read column

What Susana’s letter to Homeland Security means

From Capitol Report New Mexico - New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has sent a letter to US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asking for clarification about the Real ID Act. But the letter sent on Wednesday (Oct. 10) is also a political move aimed at trying to put a few notable state Democrats on the hot seat as Election Day nears. Here’s the deal:

Part of the rationale for Gov. Martinez’s insistence that state legislators repeal the New Mexico law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants is that should the current law remain on the books, New Mexico citizens theoretically could see their driver’s licenses rejected when boarding a plane because a federal law called the Real ID Act called for enhanced security and identification after the 9/11 terror attacks. Instead, New Mexicans would need a passport.

In the letter to Secretary Napolitano, Martinez asks the Homeland Security boss to confirm that the Real ID Act will go into effect January 15 — in little more than three months. From the letter:

It is my understanding that only a driver’s license and identification card issued by a state that has received a compliance determination by DHS may be accepted for official federal purposes, including entrance to our national labs and other federal facilities, as well as boarding airplanes. I support the goals of the Real ID Act and its role in promoting our national security. I will once again be asking our legislature to bring our driver’s license laws into full compliance during our upcoming legislative session.

Martinez and supporters of her bills to repeal the law have brought this up before and defenders of the current law have responded by saying that the Real ID Act was supposed to go into effect back in 2008 but each time the deadline comes, it gets extended.

But the political reality is that by writing the letter, the Martinez administration focuses on Democrats who have opposed repealing the New Mexico driver’s license law or have supported a compromise bill – such as the one sponsored by Democrat and Senate pro tem Tim Jennings, who just so happens to be locked in a heated re-election race against a Republican strongly in favor of repealing the law. Politically, repealing the law is a winner for Martinez since polls repeatedly show that New Mexico voters want to dump it. Last month, a poll released by the Albuquerque Journal showed 71 percent in favor of changing the law. Read more

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta floats on

From the Santa Fe New Mexican - Randy Rogers, of Albuquerque, ties the top onto his 250,000 cubic foot balloon as he prepares to launch during day four of the 41st annual Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.  After a balloon ride at the fiesta when he was 29, Rogers knew he wanted to be a balloon pilot.  He has been flying at the fiesta for the last 33 years.  Today, his basket was filled to capacity with 12 passengers for a one-hour flight. During the 10-mile trip, the balloon reached an altitude of 2,600 feet with a top speed of 22 miles per hour, according to the app on Rogers' iPhone. See more

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Remember that video?....Well forget about it

Commentary by Jim Spence - Yesterday, to the utter outrage of their water carrying buddies in the mainstream media, the Obama administration officials retracted their incredibly tall tale about a "video" sparking a spontaneous riot that got out of hand in Libya. Finally in the face of overwhelming evidence, administration officials conceded that the raid that killed the first U.S. Ambassador on foreign soil in more than thirty years (and three of his colleagues), was the result of an orchestrated terrorist attack by radical Islam. Amazingly, the White House actually questioned the turthfulness of Libyan president Mohammed Magarief when he said rather unequivocally that the video story, which was made up by the White House, had nothing to do with the attack. In fact, it is now clear that those dead embassy official’s pleas for better security went completely ignored by the White House. Oh what tangled webs we weave.
Jim Spence (left)
The amazing thing about this incredible story is that the Obama administration spun this lie because it believed it needed to protect something else that wasn’t true. Administration officials had managed to convince themselves that somehow a na├»ve America believed now that Barrack Obama had engaged radical Islam and the wonderful Arab Spring was well underway, the hatred of Americans in the Middle East had been diffused. In short, unlike things when Bush was in charge, their new truly enlightened foreign policy was working like a charm. Well, not quite.
The flag burnings all over the Middle East continue to suggest otherwise. And so does that brazen murderous assault on a U.S. embassy. Ironically, it was the most disturbing attack on American diplomats since…….well......since Jimmy Carter.
So there you have it. As four caskets carrying the dead bodies of American diplomats serving in the Middle East were being unloaded back on American soil last week, the Obama administration was still clinging to their original lies about an obscure video. It was all done to protect their precious political imagery on foreign policy.
On a seemingly unrelated note last week, feigned outrage was on full display when the Obama administration floated an unemployment number that could not be reconciled with all other economic reports. Suddenly the administration’s defenders in the financial press, much like those covering the State Department the week before, were incensed that some people who follow the economy closely, immediately suggested the latest jobs figures smelled like political book cooking instead of real unemployment stats. Would people in this administration actually be capable of lying about something like jobs numbers? Let me get back to you on that.


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Swickard thoughts on interim NMSU president

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. – New Mexico got the loss with Couture. The rule is if you get a loss you should also get the lesson. Did the Regents of New Mexico State University get the lesson? Perhaps not.

The appointment of Dr. Pacheco as the Interim NMSU President would be excellent for any university in New Mexico EXCEPT New Mexico State University. He has no experience with a Land-Grant institution other than he was the Interim President of NMSU just before President Couture, who was not equal to the task of being a Land-Grant President.

Understand that Dr. Pacheco seems a fine person and he obviously knows universities and budgets and personnel, etc., but NMSU is unique in New Mexico because of its focus on Agriculture and Engineering along with Military Science, Education and Business Administration. These are the five legs of a land-Grant institution.

The new Interim President of NMSU better acknowledge and support the Land-Grant mission in every speech he makes. To the NMSU Regents: the next president must have a true Land-Grant pedigree. The NMSU Regents made a mistake selecting Couture, one mistake we will allow, but not two.


NMSU names Dr. Manuel Pacheco interim president

Audio story here:

Dr. Manuel Pacheco
Dr.Manuel Pacheco will spend the next year serving as interim president of New Mexico State University.

Regent Isaac Pino-“I move approval of the appointment of Dr. Manuel Pacheco as interim president of NMSU.”

The NMSU board of Regents met behind closed doors on Monday morning followed by a public meeting to make the announcement. Speculation was focused on the possible appointment from a pool of three contenders including former New Mexico Governor Gary Carruthers and former NMSU president William B. Conroy.

The appointment of Pacheco follows weeks of speculation and controversy around the departure of Dr. Barbara Couture. Earlier this month, Couture and the Regents acted on a mutually agreed upon separation resulting in a severance payout of over $454, 00 for Couture.

The Regents imposed a strict two week deadline for a replacement and called upon Pacheco for the second time to fit the bill. Pacheco served as interim president at NMSU in 2009 before Couture’s tenure.

Regent Javier Gonzales says he is very optimistic for the future of the university as Pacheco moves forward.

Pacheco-“Dr. Pacheco is certainly more than a credentialed president. He is a New Mexican who loves New Mexico and who has demonstrated that over and over again when he has come back to the state whether it’s to serve as an advisor of education or come back to his alma mater and assist in a difficult transition.”

Pacheco, 70 is a former president of the University of Arizona and the University of Missouri. He also served as interim president at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, from which he graduated in 1962.

Pacheco-“The reason I’m excited to be here is that last time I was here 3 years ago it was a wonderful experience. You have a faculty that is to be lauded, you have academic leadership that is excellent, there is support t from the community which needs to be further cultivated and recognized and you have a land grant institution that has a responsibility throughout the state in many respects.”

Pacheco’s annual salary is set at $360,000. A contract with Pacheco will be ratified at an upcoming board of regents meeting in Carlsbad.

For Newsbreak New Mexico, I’m Vanessa Dabovich. 


Gov. Martinez campaign numbers

Susana Martinez
Gov. Susana Martinez reports raising more than $800,000 in the past six months for her 2014 re-election campaign. 

According to a finance disclosure filed Tuesday, the governor's campaign committee had a cash balance of $1.2 million as of Oct. 1. The re-election campaign collected $828,100 in contributions and spent about $62,200 since April. 
Among those contributing $10,000, the maximum amount for the primary and general elections, were Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway; Mosaic Potash, BEPCO, a Fort Worth, Texas-based oil and natural gas producer and Sundance Services.  


UNM looks to increase graduate enrollment

University of New Mexico President Bob Frank wants to increase the number of graduate students attending his school.
 Frank told the university's Faculty Senate recently that he was concerned about a drop in graduate enrollment. The number of new graduate students dropped 10 percent from 2009 to 2012. But that figure isn't entirely indicative of graduate student enrollment because the 2009 figure was unusually high.
 Still, there was an 8 percent drop, from 1,089 new students last year to 1,002 this year. UNM has a total of about 4,500 graduate students this year.


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Attorney General's office launches voter investigation

Gary King
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King says he has launched an investigation into allegations of voter suppression. King says his office has received a number of complaints about efforts to discourage some state residents from voting.
 Last week, a Democratic-leaning political group criticized poll challenger training by an Albuquerque-area Republican official, saying there was misinformation about voter identification requirements and provisional ballots that could be used to suppress turnout in the general election. 
New Mexico doesn't require a photo ID to cast a ballot. Voters need only to state their name, address and birth year at a polling place.


Skydivers NM free fall postponed

Extreme athlete and skydiver Felix Baumgartner canceled his planned death-defying 23-mile free fall into the New Mexico desert because of high winds. 

The 43-year-old former military parachutist from Austria hoped to become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier and shatter three other world records. But the weather on Tuesday forced his team to cancel his planned ascent in a 55-story, ultra-thin helium balloon that was to take him to the stratosphere. 
Because the balloon is so delicate, it could only take flight if winds were 2 mph or below.