2014 The Year Of the Horse


Global warming scientists had to be rescued from ice

From UK Mailonline.com - They went in search evidence of the world’s melting ice caps, but instead a team of climate scientists have been forced to abandon their mission … because the Antarctic ice is thicker than usual at this time of year.
     The scientists have been stuck aboard the stricken MV Akademik Schokalskiy since Christmas Day, with repeated sea rescue attempts being abandoned as icebreaking ships failed to reach them.
     Now that effort has been ditched, with experts admitting the ice is just too thick. Instead the crew have built an icy helipad, with plans afoot to rescue the 74-strong team by helicopter.The expedition is being lead by Chris Turney, a climate scientist, who was hoping to reach the base camp of Douglas Mawson, one of the most famous Antarctic explorers, and repeat observations done by him in 1912 to see what impact climate change had made.
     It is thought that the group, which includes scientific researchers and a journalist, will now be able to escape by air after two sea rescues failed.
     Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis was unable to reach them because it was not strong enough to break through. A top-of-the-range Chinese icebreaker, the Snow Dragon ('Xue Long'), was deployed earlier in the week, and hoped to reach the ship by saturday. However just after midnight on Friday it too got stuck just six nautical miles from the ship. More

Swickard: Happy New Year, we made it to 2014

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Years ago one of my fears was growing old and feeble. Yes, it seemed so awful to become an old fool who cannot remember his friends and family. Then one year I lost that fear. It was completely gone. Instead I wonder each year if I can make it to the next year.
     The change came when I found out that I had cancer. Everyone who has cancer has that one moment when the enormity of our mortality chokes them. My first thought was that I did not mind dying but I did not really want to be there when it happened.
     While going through the cancer treatments my thoughts focused on making it to the next Christmas and New Year. Next year and the New Year took on a whole new meaning. And I have not lost that perspective.
     Almost every day there is some moment when I recognize that this world would go on quite fine without me. Not to say that I have anything against living. I am enjoying being here so I hope I am still alive and well at the end of 2014. That is my resolution.
     When people say that for their New Year resolution they wish to lose weight or read more books, frankly, I am not interested. I am still day to day, week to week appreciating life. It also helps to tolerate watching Congress, The Cowboys and Miley Cyrus, Me, I am just glad to be here, who cares about them? Read full column


Apollo 8 commander reflects on historic Christmas Eve moon mission, photo

Former Las Cruces NM resident, Frank Borman
From the Billings Montana Gazette - by Zach Benoit - On Christmas Eve of 1968, three men captivated the American public as they became the first humans to orbit the moon and snapped what would become one of the most iconic images of the modern era.
     Tuesday marked the 45th anniversary of "Earthrise" — a dramatic color photo of the Earth rising over the lunar surface, with the blackness of outer space as a backdrop — which was taken by astronaut Bill Anders and beamed back to Earth as he and the other two astronauts on the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission took turns speaking to an enthralled, spellbound nation.
     One of those astronauts, and the mission's commander, lives in the Billings area and said on Tuesday that it's still tough to describe the feeling of what he and the two others — Anders and Jim Lovell — on the mission saw.
     "We were coming around on the revolution on Christmas Eve and we looked up over the lunar surface and there was the Earth," said Frank Borman. "The Earth was so beautiful with all of the different colors. I think all three of us were totally enraptured."
     While the moment wasn't expected, the mission's success was. Borman said that, while the three astronauts blasted off on Dec. 21 before circling the moon 10 times three days later and heading home, the week-long mission was the culmination of years of hard work, planning and preparation.
     Fueled by competition with the Soviet Union and a challenge from President John F. Kennedy to land on the moon by the end of the decade, America threw huge amounts of resources into its space program.
     Being the first to orbit the moon with Apollo 8 was the product of much of that work. "Four hundred thousand Americans worked on that project," Borman said. "The three astronauts got most of that credit but a lot of people worked on it and deserve most of it. Everything worked perfect. They made our jobs easy."
     It was also the first time live TV images of the lunar surface were shown to the public. After sharing the images, the crew took turns reading aloud from the Book of Genesis before Borman closed with one final message. "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth," he said. Read entire story

Christmas wishes to all who celebrate Christmas

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. To all who celebrate their connection to a religion now or at any other time of the year, I bid you good cheer. It does not matter which religion, I am happy for you. Within my circle I say Merry Christmas. It is not said to be aggressive toward other religions, I am simply celebrating Christmas.
We who celebrate Christmas must defend Christmas because some in our country would remove it. Example: A few years ago I wrote my annual Christmas column and was surprised when a local legislator publically called me an anti-Semite because I wrote favorably about Christmas.
I do not step back from my Christian beliefs despite name calling. That column brought up an interesting question: Congress declared the Christmas Holiday more than a hundred years ago. They specifically used the word Christmas. It seems Congress indicated this country is a Christian nation by such a designation.
People of other faiths can protest that our country has no business celebrating Christmas. Perhaps we should put it to a vote. Once and for all let Congress vote Christmas or not. Then no one could destroy Christmas if Congress affirms.
Yes, I know that our political leaders will not put it to a vote because they have no guts. While I am not trying to force this view upon anyone, I am just stating the obvious. This is a Christian nation that is very tolerant of all religions.
In other countries there is not much religious tolerance. In the Middle East you would get your head cut off for our Christian beliefs. My issue is to tolerate other beliefs but not let those beliefs take over my country. I do not want to force my religion on anyone any more that I want to be forced into another religion. Read full column

NM ranks among top for animal abuse

New Mexico once again tops an undesirable list. The latest: being named one of the best five states to be an animal abuser. 

The rankings are made in a report by the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund, which does an annual analysis of animal protection laws. 

According to the report, New Mexico, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Kentucky are among the states where animal abusers get off easy. 

Among other weaknesses, the group says New Mexico has inadequate felony provisions for neglect, no felony provisions for abandonment, no provisions on sexual assault, no increased penalties when animal abuse is committed in front of children and no provisions for veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse.

Information from Associated Press. 


Two bars in NM fined and given liquor license suspension

Two bars in New Mexico have been fined and had their liquor licenses suspended for over-serving patrons who went on to cause fatal drunken-driving crashes. 

The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department's Alcohol and Gaming Division announced the penalties Tuesday. 

The Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery in Santa Fe was fined $10,000 and had its liquor license suspended for 15 days spanning two weekends. Authorities say bar officials pleaded no contest to over-serving an intoxicated man who then caused a crash that killed two teenage girls and severely injured family members and bystanders.

 El Alto Bar and Station in Las Vegas paid a $2,500 fine and ceased serving alcohol for eight days. An administrative citation was issued for over-serving a customer who caused a fatal crash in March 2010.


PNM announces new solar plant in southern NM

The state's largest electric utility has unveiled its newest solar power plant in southern New Mexico

PNM says the Otero County Solar Energy Center in La Luz is capable of producing enough electricity to meet the needs of about 2,400 average residential customers. The 7.5-megawatt plant marks a $17.5 million investment by the utility. The plant spans 70 acres and includes more than 101,000 solar panels for converting the sun's energy into electricity.

 In all, PNM says it has made a $180 million commitment to solar energy. That includes eight solar plants that are now online and three new centers that are proposed for next year. PNM says more wind-generated power will be added in 2015, and customers will begin getting geothermal-generated power from a plant near Lordsburg next year.


Advocates want applicant information privacy

The identities of applicants for top jobs in New Mexico local governments could be kept secret under legislation being supported by an advocacy group for cities. 
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the New Mexico Municipal League is endorsing a proposal to allow names and applications of applicants to be withheld from the public at the applicants' request. 
League Executive Director Bill Fulginiti says publicly releasing the names of applicants for city manager and other top posts means some people are reluctant to apply because they don't want to lose their current jobs. 
A group that advocates for government transparency opposes the idea. President-elect Greg Williams of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government says the public has a right to know who applies for jobs funded with public money.
Information from the Associated Press. 


Pojoaque Pueblo sues the state

One of New Mexico's American Indian tribes is suing the state over failed negotiations concerning its gaming compact. 
Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. George Rivera says the agreement being sought by Gov. Susana Martinez's administration would further restrict tribal gambling operations and would increase taxes, fees and other charges. Rivera says such a compact would not help New Mexico's gaming industry compete with other states, especially since casino revenues have been flat since 2008 and government funding for tribes has diminished.  Pojoaque's current compact expires in June 2015. 
The lawsuit was filed Friday in state district court.  Rivera said Tuesday the pueblo intends to continue negotiations with the governor's office.


NM copying other states' job creation models

KOB-TV 4, Eyewitness News photo
From KOB-TV.com - By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Call it "stealing" if you want to--"borrowing" sounds nicer. Either way, state lawmakers are looking at what other states are doing while they grapple with New Mexico's ongoing jobs crisis. The idea is to see what's working elsewhere and give it a try here, where the economy lags behind most of the nation when it comes to job creation.
     One bill already drafted for the legislature's 30 day session that starts next month would give huge tax rebates to businesses that expand or relocate here, but only after they create secure new jobs. New Mexico has seen more than its share of companies that cut and run, leaving taxpayers holding the bag.
     "This is a new twist on making sure the performance is there first, before they get the valuable tax rebates the state gives out," said Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, a Sandia Park Republican who is co-sponsoring the bill with Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, a Democrat from Las Cruces.
     Fred Nathan, head of the Think New Mexico public policy think tank, admits he swiped the idea from one of New Mexico's neighbors. "This idea came from Utah, where it's been very effective and it's created over 25,000 high-paying jobs in five years," Nathan said.
     Another idea, borrowed from several states, is to offer in-state college tuition to foreign students majoring in STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and math. Lawmakers think this would encourage entrepreneurs to take advantage of opportunities here.
     One more idea, borrowed from Delaware originally and now about 17 other states: create a single Internet portal where businesses can go to quickly and easily file forms and pay fees and perform all the other red-tape tasks the state requires. Nathan calls it "one stop shopping". More

Marita Noon: Death by Renewables

Commentary by Marita Noon - “Even green projects impact their surrounding environment.” Green energy, specifically so-called renewables, has been sold to the American public as the answer to a host of crimes against the planet. 
     But, as Lex Berko points out in her post on Motherboard, “even green” has its downside. Biomass may be “renewable,” but burning it releases CO2. 
     Then, it’s expensive: “A 100% renewable-energy mix from in-state sources could cost up to five times more,” reports Wall Street Journal. .And, energy from wind and solar kills birds.
     Wind turbines chop up bald and golden eagles, and other endangered species, like a Cuisinart—the taller turbines with longer blades (which produce more energy, and, therefore, is where the trend is heading) have a predicted annual ten-fold mortality increase. 
     The authors of a new study on bird collision mortality at wind facilities concludes: “Given that we found evidence for increased bird mortality with increasing height of monopole turbines along with a move toward increasing turbine size, we argue that wildlife collision risk should be incorporated with energy efficiency considerations when evaluating the ‘greenness’ of alternative wind energy development options.” 
     If the Department of Energy were to meet its 2030 goal of having 20 percent of the nation’s electricity generated from wind, they project: “a mean annual mortality estimate of roughly 1.4 million birds.”
     Hundreds of acres of photovoltaic solar panels confuse migratory water birds,such as the “once-critically endangered brown pelican whose lifestyle involves fishing by diving into open water,” to veer miles out of their way to dive toward what they perceive are lakes or wetlands—only to die from “blunt force trauma.” At the largest solar thermal plant in the world, Ivanpah, owned by Brightsource Energy, the 170,000 reflecting mirrors—designed to “superheat liquid in boilers”—literally fries feathers. 
     The USA Today reports that the intense radiation—called solar flux—has singed some birds, melted feathers, and denatured the protein in their wings as they fly through the intense heat. Unable to fly, the injured birds drop out of the sky and die. Read full column


New rule extends life of state lands permits

Ray Powell
From the Carlsbad Current Argus - by By Zack Ponce - CARLSBAD >> Outdoor adventurers are receiving an early Christmas gift. The New Mexico State Land Office announced on Friday all newly-purchased recreational and educational access permits on state trust lands are valid for a full year, effective immediately.
     The revision to Rule 19 repairs a flaw in the permitting system in which prior permits expired at the end of the calendar year, regardless of the date of purchase. "That just didn't make any sense, it wasn't fair," said land commissioner Ray Powell. "These rule revisions will make some of our state trust lands more readily available to the public for hiking, photographing and other recreational activities, as well as outdoor education. We encourage people to take advantage of these opportunities to enjoy and learn in New Mexico's great outdoors."
     Additional rule changes include the expanding of educational permits. Now those group permits allow for up to 50 people to visit state trust lands for up to three days, as opposed to 25 people for a one-day trip. Annual recreation permits cost $25 and educational permits are $5 for each visit. Most of the state trust land in Eddy County is scattered about the region, away from the cities of Carlsbad and Artesia. More

Swickard: The urgent need for urgency

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. While I am painting with a broad brush, there does not seem to be much urgency in our nation and especially in our young people for anything. Americans are lollygagging along going trillions of dollars further in debt and only being concerned about which politician promises the best plunder for their vote.
     Americans show no urgency about our national debt which if you combine the on-book and off-books debt, it is more than half a million dollars for every man, woman and child in America. This means that every American must stop taking from the government chest and they must repay all of that money or that debt will be passed on to the next several generations.
     Being that far in debt should make every American kick the wall. But most citizens want even more debt so they can continue doing what they have being doing for years, ignoring the debt entirely. Their plan is to take the bounty from government now and leave the pain of repayment to their children.
Speaking of their children, the young people also show no urgency about this debt being laid on them. I would have to assume the lack of urgency on the debt is either out of ignorance or they, themselves, plan to leave the debt to their children. 
     These citizens think if we do not look at the national debt, it does not exist. And politicians smilingly say, “You are right, vote for me and I’ll give you more stuff from the public funds than my opponent.”
     I was talking to a college president recently. He mentioned that college students today routinely take a four year degree and turn it into six years or more of lollygagging around the campus while acquiring thousands of dollars of student loans. His concern was their lack of urgency about getting done with college and getting out into the workforce to start repaying the loans.
     I like the word urgency. It is only used in some aspects such as sports but not much in legislatures and Congress. For our legislators and leaders there is always tomorrow. Further, no matter the crisis we must wait until after the next election to fix any problems. But then there is an election after that election so no movement. Read full column


Taos Ski Valley to be sold

Blake family, left,  Peter Blake, Ernie Blake, Rhoda
Blake, Mickey Blake and Wendy Blake Stagg
From the Taos News - Robin Martin - Taos Ski Valley will be sold to a billionaire conservationist. “Our net revenues are not sufficient to fund the improvements needed,” said TSV Chief Executive Officer Mickey Blake. He said construction of a new lift up Kachina Peak would have “eaten up all our cash reserves.”
     Blake said that buyer Louis Bacon has the capital to purchase new lifts, rebuild the base area and construct a hotel, all necessary improvements. “They're definitely going to do higher-end stuff,”
      Blake said.No employees will lose their jobs, he said, “it will be seamless.” Blake will step down as CEO to be replaced by Gordon Briner, now chief operations officer. Bacon said Blake will retain his seat on the company's board of directors.
     During the holidays, the ski area will be at peak employment levels, with 415 full- and 200 part-timers. Blake said 120 employees have more than 20 years of service. Bacon is founder and CEO of the hedge fund company Moore Capital Management and a resident of New York State.
     The decision to sell TSV was not sudden. “We had long discussions early in the summer that what's needed to be invested is beyond what we can come up with,” Blake said. He approached Bacon and negotiated with the investor himself.
     Included in the purchase is the Forest Service use permit for about 1,200 acres, the base area of about 100 deeded acres, 20 acres uphill at the Phoenix Restaurant, lifts, snowmaking and grooming equipment, subdivision lots at the Pioneers Glade, “and our fancy parking lot shuttles,” Blake said.
     He said the parties have signed a strict confidentiality agreement and will not disclose the price.More


2013 Sun Bowl: UCLA, Va. Tech fans ready to travel

From the El Paso Times - By Aaron Bracamontes  - The buzz for the 80th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl is off to a good start. This year's representative from the ACC, Virginia Tech, has a winning record and its fans are known for traveling with the team. Last year Georgia Tech came in with a 6-7 record.
     The Pac-12 representative, UCLA, is ranked in the top 25 and, unlike USC last year, the Bruins appear to be looking forward to the game. And while fans of both schools admit that it was their goal to see their teams play in a Bowl Championship Series game, they do not want to take the Sun Bowl, or their opponents, for granted.
     Roger McKee, vice-president of the UCLA Alumni-Arizona Network, wants his team to win the Sun Bowl and build on it. "We're disappointed we're not going to the Rose Bowl, but we are getting over it," he said. "Now we are looking forward to being in the Sun Bowl."
     UCLA's Den, student cheering section, has plenty of songs and traditions during games including the 8 Clap and dislike for red shirts. They even made a YouTube video to encourage students to participate. "There is a lot of talk of UCLA making a run to win the National Championship next year."
     And if Metallica's "Enter Sandman" is played before the game, Virginia Tech fans will begin to make the entire stadium jump up and down, Rippey said. "They have to play it," she said. "I've never been to a game at home or away where they didn't play it. So it is a must-play."
     Of course there is the game itself. More

Harry Reid's Personal Green Goldmine

Commentary by Marita Noon - We are weeks away from being fully immersed in the 2014 election cycle. Predictions abound, likening the 2014 cycle to 2010—when the House flipped from Democratic to Republican. Only this time, it is the Senate that has the potential to change. Twenty of the 33 seats up in 2014 are currently held by Democrats—more than half of whom are in trouble.
     In 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was up for reelection—for his fifth term—and he was facing “a ferocious challenge.” He was “in trouble.” Remember, 2010 was the year of Tea Party victory. In light of the mounting government debt, pork barrel spending was no longer vogue. But Senator Harry Reid, apparently, didn’t get the memo. “The 71-year-old one-time boxer touted his ability to bring federal money to his home state—no one could do more,” said the HuffPost coverage of his “surprise” win.
    A May 2010 internal email addressing the need to expedite Department of Energy (DOE) green-energy loan approvals for projects in Reid’s district says: “Reid is constantly hit at home for not bringing in the federal dollars.” In the email, reported Obama bundler and former Clinton Administration staffer, Jonathan Silver, who was, at the time, the executive director of the Loan Programs Office, was to assure Reid that he anticipated “a good number of projects to be approved in the coming months.”
     Reid saw the potential in green-energy dollars before anyone else. He laid the foundation to allow him to bring home the “federal dollars.” The White House and DOE insiders helped Reid secure green-energy stimulus funds for his home state of Nevada—which he touted in his 2010 campaign. He is tied to more than $3 billion of taxpayer money—currency that created just over 200 permanent jobs. Read full column

People march in support of fired NMSP officer

From KOB-TV.com - By: Jeffery Gordon, KOB.com - A fired New Mexico State Police officer is getting support from some people in Taos.
     Elias Montoya was fired for shooting at a minivan that was occupied by a mother and her children during a traffic stop. Montoya’s supporters marched from Taos Plaza to the State Police Office in Taos on Sunday.
     On Saturday, Governor Susana Martinez backed up the State Police chief’s decision to fire Montoya. Martinez says the three shots Montoya fired at the minivan were too risky.
     However, not everyone agrees that the fired officer should have lost his job. A Facebook page is calling for Montoya to get his job back and a support rally has been planned for next Thursday in Taos. More

Swickard: Bet you don’t win the lottery

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. In our world it is a good bet that more education leads to more wealth. And, math education seems to bring wealth the best. Certainly the lack of math ability leads to less wealth. Being numerate, as the literacy of numbers is called, is lacking in our population.
     Many of our fellow citizens have no savings for the future, no investments; rather, their plan for old age is to win the lottery. While I agree with the adage, “No dreamer too small, no dream too big,” there are limits.
     Numerate people do not make the mistake of believing in the lottery any more than they believe that one day in Wal-Mart a movie producer will stop and point at them, “Him, I want him to star in my next movie.” This is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute with the intention of landing on something soft.
     The New Mexico Lottery, under the guise of raising money for education, preys on math challenged people. Their advertisements suggest riches will shower upon you if you buy a lottery ticket. Unlikely.
     Currently there is concern in New Mexico that not enough fools, er, dreamers are buying lottery tickets and there is not enough money for college students. This is entirely the fault of the institutions of higher learning in New Mexico who doubled and tripled their tuition so that the money from the lottery is not enough.
     But I have a solution. The proceeds from this tax on people who don’t understand math at this point goes to college general education, in fact, anything the student wants to study. Remember, the tobacco settlement funds anti-smoking campaigns. You want to know what I think? The New Mexico Lottery should go directly and entirely to math education in New Mexico.
     Every dollar should be channeled to making New Mexico students the envy of the nation when it comes to math. If people can buy lottery tickets with the expectation of winning, they are showing their lack of math education. We should take their obvious lack of numerate ability and use it constructively so future generations in New Mexico do not end up in the same condition. Read full column


55th racing season at Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino

From the El Paso Times - by Felix Chavez - The 55th season of horse racing begins at Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino begins on Friday.
     The 76-day meet will have a total of $20 million in purses and a daily average of $250,000. The meet will be highlighted by the 12th running of the Grade III, Sunland Derby on March 23. The race serves as a prep for the Kentucky Derby.
     Other big races during the meet include the Mine that Bird Derby, the West Texas Futurity and the Sunland Park Handicap.
     Racing will take part mostly on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a few exceptions. Parking and admission are free.
     "We feel we well have a great season ahead of us," said Director of Racing Operations Dustin Dix said. "We expect strong fields for our races. We have a lot of the top trainers and jockeys back from last year."
     Among some of the top trainers at Sunland this year are Henry Dominguez and Justin Evans, while top jockeys include Ry Eikleberry and Enrique Portillo Gomez. More

NM ranked last in private sector job study

From KOB-TV.com - By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - New Mexico is at the bottom of yet another list, and this is one where you don't want to be anywhere near the bottom.
     Our state is dead last in the percentage of private sector jobs in the workforce – and number one in the percentage of government jobs and government contractor jobs in the workforce. Economists and political leaders agree – this is no way to grow your economy.
     Only about two thirds of our jobs in New Mexico are true private sector jobs. That may sound like a lot, but it's a much smaller share than most other states.
     Meanwhile, 31.9 percent of New Mexicans work in government or government contract jobs. The national average is 19.2 percent, according to a study from George Mason University. The lowest is Rhode Island at 14.3 percent. In New Mexico, many of those government and contractor jobs are at our two national laboratories or four military bases--where funding cuts are a constant threat.
      "We're going to continue to fight for our labs and our military bases," said Gov. Susana Martinez. "But we can't rely on that federal dollar because it's so unreliable right now. We've got to grow the private sector, that doesn't have to get a check from the federal government in order to survive."
     Even Democratic leaders agree with the Republican governor. Coming up with a plan is the task of the legislature's new Jobs Council, which says the state needs to grow 16,000 new jobs every year for the next ten years. That's 160,000 jobs. Read more

Report says NM needs more job growth

A report to lawmakers says New Mexico needs to create about 16,000 jobs annually over the next decade to keep pace with population growth, reduce unemployment and offset future jobs losses if the state wants to return to 2007 pre-recession employment levels.

 The Legislature's Jobs Council was given the assessment Monday by a private consulting firm that outlined possible job creation proposals for lawmakers to consider, including increased spending on marketing by the Economic Development and Tourism departments and creating a "closing fund" for economic development projects. 

The consulting firm told lawmakers that New Mexico is capable of creating 160,000 jobs during the next decade, but not enough is being invested currently in job creation.


NM SUPCO gives leeway in warrant-less arrests

New Mexico's highest court is giving police more leeway to make arrests without a warrant in domestic violence cases.

 The state Supreme Court on Monday ruled that police can make a warrantless arrest when it's reasonably close to scene of the domestic violence. State law allows a warrantless arrest at the scene of a domestic disturbance, and the justices broadened that to include a location near the place where the incident happened. 

The ruling overturned a state Court of Appeals decision that found Daniel Almanzar had been improperly arrested in 2007 across the street from the state fairgrounds in Albuquerque where he alleged kicked his girlfriend during a quarrel. 

The justices said the arrest was lawful, allowing cocaine found during a search of Almanzar to be used as evidence.


Gov. wants more funds for telemedicine

Gov. Susana Martinez will ask the Legislature to provide $600,000 next year for telemedicine services to help provide access to medical specialists for patients and primary care providers in rural areas. 
The governor proposed Monday that the money be used for buying and installing equipment and computer technology, such as teleconferencing video systems.
 If the money is approved by lawmakers, Martinez said, health care provider organizations could apply for grants. 
The governor said telemedicine programs, such as Project ECHO at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, can provide medical care to patients in rural areas without the need to travel long distances to Albuquerque or other urban areas where most health care specialists are based.


High number of police shootings prompts reform

A rash of police shootings across New Mexico has prompted renewed calls for reform of law enforcement procedures. 
Albuquerque police on Sunday shot and critically injured a man after a domestic call — the fourth shooting involving police in the state's largest city in just over a month. Albuquerque police are already under federal investigation for shootings and excessive force claims. The shooting comes on the heels of four shootings in a similar time period by state police officers, including an officer firing at a minivan full of children. 
Jewel Hall, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center Board in Albuquerque, says the past four weeks have been like a Wild West movie. She blames training and police culture for the shootings.


U.N. climate change talks: it’s really all about the money

Commentary by Marita Noon - “Rich countries are still not pledging enough money to begin financing a shift to a cleaner global economy,” reports the Financial Times (FT) in its coverage of the United Nations climate talks in Warsaw that ended with little more than a “vague road map on how to prepare for a global climate pact they’re supposed to adopt in two years.”
     Leading into what has now been called an “unsatisfactory summit,” predictions suggested the “talks could collapse because of a lack of financial support from rich nations.” Delegates from developing countries, such as Ecuador’s lead negotiator Daniel Ortega, believe “an effective 2015 emissions reduction agreement has to be based on a clear financial package.”
     Ortega stated: “I’m not personally expecting any commitment by Warsaw. What we need to have is a clear roadmap of how the discussions of financing will allow us to have a clear idea of commitments by 2015.”
     Even low expectations like Ortega’s were dashed when, on the opening day of the climate talks, November 11, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government produced a document, outlining its position at the Warsaw conference, which boldly stated: “Federal cabinet has ruled that Australia will not sign up to any new contributions, taxes or charges at this week’s global summit on climate change.” The Australian points out: “This rules out Australia playing any role in a wealth transfer from rich countries to developing nations to pay them to decrease their carbon emissions.” But, perhaps, the most dramatic line in the government document is: Australia “will not support any measures which are socialism masquerading as environmentalism.”
     A few days later, November 15, Japan announced that “its emissions would increase slightly rather than fall 25 per cent as promised in 2009.” Japan was struggling to meet its previous emissions promises—which were the most aggressive of any big developed country—even before the Fukushima accident prompted the shutdown of its 50 still-operable nuclear reactors and its corresponding rise in the supplemental use of fossil fuels. Read full column

Merry Christmas: Shoplifters busted on Black Friday

From KRQE-TV.com - By Gabrielle Burkhart - The Black Friday deals drew huge crowds at stores across the country, but some of those shoppers in Albuquerque weren't there for the sales. Police said some shoplifters got violent, while some even used their kids to help snag loads of stolen merchandise.
     Store employees have had an eye on the crowds, many claiming they've caught several people red-handed trying to sneak their own five-finger discount.  Case after case, a metro court judge saw multiple accused shoplifters for their first appearances on Saturday, all of them arrested on Black Friday.
     And, police said one suspect got violent with employees at Hobby Lobby on Juan Tabo, when workers approached him about stealing.  A judge instructed 20-year-old Max Teufel to not return to Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby employees told police Teufel threatened them with a knife after he admitted to shoplifting a pocket watch for $11.99.  Police said store workers held Teufel to the ground, prying a knife from his hand before police got there. 
     Most of the arrested shoplifters from Black Friday have criminal records. Read more


Happy Thanksgiving

 Thanksgiving 1942 - Office of War Information Photograph Collection


Thanksgiving for a dog who has lost his bite

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “I’m accustomed to a smooth ride or maybe I’m a dog who’s lost its bite.” Paul Simon Thanksgiving looks different to me with miles and age upon my eyes. The splendor of Thanksgiving to me is always tempered by the realization these gifts are not always deserved. For my undeserved gifts I am thankful and mindful of my life made better.
     Our nation has changed in my lifetime from these feelings of thankfulness to the point that some people feel entitled to Thanksgiving. They forget being thankful. Rather than pleased, they are bored since they are supposed to get everything they want.
     Our nation has gone from some who look at their glass to see if it is half full to those who are stuck just looking for a glass. The majority do not dialog the glass half empty or full, they maintain they are entitled to the glass so hand it over.
     Some will spend time on Thanksgiving remembering Thanksgivings past when glasses were held by loved ones who are long since gone. It is the consequence of age to live beyond people we have loved. In my lifetime so much has been gained in our society and so much lost.
     Like Paul Simon there are times when I think I am a dog who has lost his bite in today’s world. That is a common thought to those over the age of sixty in a world that worships youth. When I was young old people were revered. No longer. Knowledge is not even revered, only political advantage.
     It is Thanksgiving week and as usual I am thankful. However, none of what I really hold close to my heart is material. There was a time when I was younger that all I could think of was Martin guitars. Forty some years later I still have those two guitars, a six string and a 12 string Martin. They have traveled with me for decades and they mean less to me than a granddaughter’s smile.
     While I do occasionally have a smooth ride in life, compared to others, I have never become accustomed to a smooth ride. No, this life of mine has always been stormy, just as I have liked it to be. Early in my life I found that a placid ride held no interest for me.
     In the storms of life I am captain of my ship, though I cannot control the weather. So I must adjust to the changing weather of life. While I habitually am not much to worry, the future of this nation does worry me because of the challenges, not to me, but to the next generations.
     In fact, I am worried not because of what our leaders are doing, rather, because of what my fellow citizens are not doing. This Thanksgiving is a good example of this change in America. Years ago we got down on our knees to give thanks to Almighty God for that which we were given despite being flawed humans. We were honestly and completely thankful. It was not just a photo-opportunity, it was what we felt.
     Today many Americans rise from their Thanksgiving table saying, “I certainly deserve this and more.” Rising from the table with the butter from the rolls still on their lips many citizens do not see the thanks in Thanksgiving. For these modern American citizens the holiday does not resemble what it has been in the past.Read full column


Green Energy: The Rotary Dial Phone of the Future

Commentary by Marita Noon - The whole idea of green energy—renewable resources—grew out of an energy reality that was much different from today’s. It was in the 1970s, following the OPEC Oil Embargo thatsolar panels began popping up on rooftops and “gasohol” subsidies were enacted. It was believed that green energy would move the U.S. off of foreign oil and prevent oil from being used as a weapon against us.
     Today, that entire paradigm has been upended and OPEC’s power has been virtually neutered by increasing domestic oil production and decreasing gasoline consumption.
     Jay Lehr, Heartland Institute science director, likens continuing “as though our new energy riches did not exist” to “ignoring our telecommunication revolution by supporting operator-assisted telephones with party lines.”
     Instead of growing our gas, we need to be growing food that can feed a hungry world and balance out the U.S. trade deficit.
     In a November 17 editorial, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) perfectly sums up the current renewable resource status: “After 35 years of exaggerations about the benefits of renewable fuels, the industry has lost credibility.” Similarly, on the same day, the Washington Post (WP) went a step further, stating that ethanol “has been exposed as an environmental and economic mistake.”
     It seems that ethanol is an idea whose time has come—and gone. Read full column

Storm makes driving a challenge in Grants area

From KOB-TV.com - By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Along Interstate 40 westbound, the closer KOB Eyewitness News 4 got to Grants, the icier the roads became.
     Semi-tractor trailers weaved in and out of traffic trying to stay on the road. KOB found near white-out conditions near Laguna and snow packed icy-roads near Cubero. State Police and road workers helped a semi-tractor trailer that ended up stuck in the median.
     "I’m coming from the west from Shiprock. It's been pretty good til I got here. It's starting to sleet and getting windy here,” said one truck driver. Before long, Grants cleared up a bit.
     But the howling winds did not let up, which forced drivers to take a break. "It’s hard (laughs) to keep control of your car especially if you go under the bridges and stuff,” one woman said.“It wips ya. We almost saw a semi jack-knife in front of us."
     This might just be the beginning of more wind and snow coming to the area over the next couple of days. More

Swickard: What do you believe in the news?

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Sometimes in newspaper stories the truth of what happened in the story is easy to see. At other times it is not. To deal with this ambiguity I have always wanted to enable readers to give a confidence rating to these more ambiguous stories. It would be a way of showing which stories, well, smell fishy.
     So some stories are just a matter of facts. An example would be: Bif Largecrash drove his rust colored 1986 Ford truck off the side of a hill last Saturday. He did so while trying to tune the radio to a different station because he said the song playing reminded him of his ex-wife’s lawyer.
     He was thrown from his truck and rescuers found him still clutching the aforementioned radio knob. An ambulance took him to the Emergency Room where he received 17 stitches and a stern lecture. Police chief, Al L. Blanks said, “It sure was good thing that the ground broke Bif’s fall or he could have been hurt.”
     Others stories contain more conjecture. Example: At the recent Town Council meeting Town Councilor I. M. Shady called Mayor Dee Power a cheater and stupid. “Am not,” replied Power. “Which one?” asked Shady. “Let me think,” said Dee.
     In the second example there is a conflict of opinions. We all have had those conflicts of opinion. It would be nice in the newspaper to have a section where the “conjecture” stories were all listed so that readers could indicate if the person is a cheater and stupid or just one. We need to know this.
     Here are some examples of facts and conjectures. Rate your confidence in the statements from 0 to 100. A rating of 100 means you are completely confident of it being true, like something your mother told you, whereas 0 means you do not believe it at all, like something politicians promise on the campaign trail.
1 - President Richard Nixon was a crook. _____
2 - Americans did land on the moon. _______
3 - Aliens crashed a space ship near Roswell. ______
4 - The police arrive quicker than pizza delivery. _____
5 - Van Gogh was an artist because he had no ear for music. ______
6 - Eight out of every five people cannot do math. _____
7 - Outlaws are more interesting than in-laws. _____
8 - Elvis is still alive. _____
9 - Japanese remember Pearl Harbor better than Americans. _____
10 - If taxes are outlawed, only outlaws will have taxes. _____
11 - The Marquis de Sade is an ObamaCare Administrator. _____
12 - 81% of American schools are below average. _____
13 - The number 13 is unlucky. _____
14 - If two wrongs don’t make a right, try three. _____
Read entire column

NMFA hires new CEO

The governing board of the New Mexico Finance Authority on Wednesday approved Robert Coalter as its CEO. 

Coalter has been executive director of the Texas Public Finance Authority since 2012, and worked for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts from 1991 to 2011. 

Former state budget director John Gasparich has been interim CEO since last year when Rick May was fired after the discovery that a financial audit had been faked. NMFA ex-controller Greg Campbell pleaded guilty to forgery and securities fraud. 

The New Mexico authority uses bond proceeds to provide low-cost loans to cities, counties, schools and other governmental organizations for capital improvements. 

Coalter's starting date and salary is to be negotiated.


Lawrence Rael announces gubernatorial candidacy

From KOAT-TV.com - by Pat Holmes - SANTA FE, N.M. —Joined by his wife, Kim, and their three children, Lawrence Rael announced his candidacy for governor of New Mexico in 2014. Rael currently serves as the president of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce.
     “I’m running for governor because, with the right leadership, I believe we can turn potential and possibility into real opportunity for every New Mexican -- by growing quality jobs, investing in quality education and ensuring access to quality health care for citizens in every corner of our state. I believe I can be that leader for the state that has given me and my family so much already,” Rael said.
     Rael was born in Santa Fe and raised in the town of Sile. He has served in local, state and federal government as well as spending time in the private sector.
     “Over the next year, I am going to fight to earn the vote of every New Mexican -- to win the Democratic primary next June and defeat Susana Martinez next November,” Rael added. “But my promise to the people of New Mexico is that I will fight just as hard for your future if I have the honor of being your next governor.”
     He has been chief administrative officer of Albuquerque, deputy secretary of Transportation for the State of New Mexico and director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments, serving Bernalillo, Valencia, Torrance and Sandoval counties.More

Gov. Martinez proposes $112 million capital investment to NM water infrastructure

Gov Susana Martinez
From KOB-TV.com - By: Jorge Torres - The governor spoke today at the Rio Grande Nature Center to propose a capital investment in New Mexico's water infrastructure.
     The total proposal would be $112 million, which amounts to 60 percent of the outlay funding that will be available when the legislature convenes in January. 
     With many communities in New Mexico on the brink of a water shortage, the governor says the time to act is now.
     "While we cannot dictate the duration or the magnitude of the drought that we face, we can dictate our response. I'm proposing one of the largest investments ever made as a state in water infrastructure projects throughout New Mexico."
     Governor Martinez says the money should be used to improve state watersheds, provide repairs for communities that may go dry, and make critical repairs to dams.
     She considers water security a critical need for New Mexico communities, which is why she says that capital funds should be used to address those needs. More


Sec. of Education happy with stipend program

New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera says the state is "off to a good start" with 15 teachers each approved to receive a $5,000 stipend for transferring from a top-graded school to a low-graded one. 

The teachers worked for the Las Cruces, Taos, Las Vegas City, Espanola, Estancia and Gallup school districts. 

Teachers qualifying for stipends must have worked full-time at schools with A or B grades last year and they must now teach full-time at schools with D or F grades. And they have to stay at the D-F school through the 2014-2015 school year. 

The state began the program in September but Skandera says all the teachers receiving the stipends had transferred before the announcement.


Gov. Martinez in AZ for GOP meeting

Gov. Martinez
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez plans to travel to Arizona this week for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association. 

Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey said the governor leaves Tuesday for Phoenix and will attend a fundraiser that afternoon to benefit the Arizona Republican Party. 

The meeting of Republican governors ends Thursday, but McCleskey said the governor may stay longer to spend time with her husband, Chuck Franco, and his seriously ill aunt, who lives in Phoenix. 

The governors' group is paying for Martinez's travel. She serves on the executive committee of the organization, which helps elect GOP governors. 

The RGA was the top contributor to Martinez's 2010 campaign, giving about $1.3 million. 

A new RGA chairman will be elected at the meeting.


Officials question firing of Lottery CEO

Tom Romero
State lawmakers are questioning the sudden and mysterious firing of state lottery chief Tom Romero – and the golden parachute that seems to be coming his way in the form of severance pay. 

$265,000 is the amount the state still owes Romero under his contract that runs until August 2015. Lottery officials say they don’t owe that whole amount, but they won’t say how much Romero will get. 

Republican State Rep. Bill Rehm of Albuquerque has tried to ban golden parachutes like this one for years. 

Romero ran the lottery for eight years. He is a former police officer with the state Department of Public Safety.


ABQ abortion goes to vote today

Today voters in the city of Albuquerque will decide whether or not to ban late term abortions. 

It’s the first municipal election in the nation on abortion rights, and it's getting plenty of attention all over the country. National leaders on both sides of the issue have their eyes on Albuquerque, because cities may be the next battleground after decades of debate in Congress and state legislatures. 

Voting starts at 7 a.m. today at 50 voting locations around the city. Registered Albuquerque city voters with a photo I.D. will be able to vote at any of those locations.