Swickard: The age’s most uncertain hour

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “We come on a ship they call the Mayflower, we come on a ship that sailed the moon. We come in the age’s most uncertain hour and sing an American tune.” Paul Simon
     In these most uncertain hours some Americans wonder how our nation got to this point politically and as a society. They wonder with concern where America is headed. The question is: are things in our country going to get better or worse? The problem is even agreeing on what is better or worse.
      One definition of better or worse involves the freedom of citizens to make their own decisions. This measures the intrusive reach of government into our lives. Some citizens give up their personal freedoms in trade for being in the care of our government. Others are afraid that at some point the government will have no more use for them. The Government might literally kill those citizens who do not allow the government to get stronger. It has happened in other societies.
     So there is a divide in our country of citizens very worried and other citizens, in fact, most citizens who seem to be paying no attention at all to the desperate clouds on our horizon. They pray to the God Media and do not believe anything the propaganda Media does not endorse.
     It is a most uncertain hour for America. I personally have been through decades of uncertain hours but these hours seem very dangerous. When I was a child our whole world was minutes away from everyone perishing in a nuclear cloud of debris. We practiced nuclear attack drills in schools: under our desks.
These concerns are not as pernicious a threat as complete annihilation. But if I had died decades ago, I would have died a free person. Is it better to die young and free than live long and enslaved? Optimism seems out of place in a society that controls neither its borders nor its currency.
     Perhaps what makes this the most uncertain hour is there are no leaders of either party who grasp the dangers to our country. They are still jousting with each other for their own political power and do not face these potential disasters unless they can use the potential disasters as a political stick to strike their opponents. Read column

Tim Keller for State Auditor in 2014, not Governor

From Capitol Report New Mexico - You can count state Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, out as a potential rival to Gov. Susana Martinez in 2014.
     The 35-year-old who won a second term in what’s known as the International District in north-central Albuquerque in 2012, told New Mexico Watchdog Thursday afternoon (May 30) he’ll run for State Auditor in 2014.
     “I think it’s a good fit for my background,” Sen. Keller, who earned a master’s in business administration from Harvard. “I think that I have enough experience that I know where to look” to investigate agencies and oversee the audits the office mandates that entities who accept and/or receive state dollars turn in each year.
     Keller had flirted with the idea of challenging Gov. Martinez, a Republican who will run for a second term next year and has enjoyed poll numbers showing her at 60-plus percent approval ratings.
      “I think the biggest issue is timing,” Keller said, citing the fact that his wife is eight months pregnant with the couple’s first child.
     “To run for governor, you have to be ‘all in’ yesterday,” Keller said. “The timing is not right.” Read more

Census: more people leaving NM than coming in

According to the latest census numbers, more people are leaving New Mexico than moving in. 
This might be a result of fewer jobs in the state. Those same census numbers show that a number of recent grads are heading to cities in Texas such as Austin, Houston and Dallas, all of which had a surge in population last year. 
Between July 2011 and July 2012, 5,200 people moved out the Land of Enchantment, nearly the entire population of Tucumcari, per census data.
 Paralleling the overall decline is what officials call a “very slow growth.” Jobs from the oil industry and newborns have contributed to this growth. 
New Mexico has lost 43,000 jobs since the recession began six years ago, according to a local economist.  


New meeting notice and agenda law to take efffect

School boards, city councils, state agencies and other governmental groups must soon start giving New Mexicans greater notice of scheduled meetings and their planned agenda. 
A state law taking effect on June 14 requires governmental organizations to make their meeting agendas available to the public 72 hours in advance and post it on their web site. Current law requires a 24-hour public meeting notice. 
For governmental groups that meet more than once a week, a draft agenda must be provided 72 hours in advance and the final agenda has to be posted at least 36 hours before a meeting. 


New NMSU pres. wants other finalists for provost

Garrey Carruthers
New Mexico State University President-designate Garrey Carruthers may hire one of the other finalists for president of the university as its next top academic administrator.
 The NMSU Faculty Senate on June 6 will consider allowing Carruthers to waive normal search procedures if he hires one of the finalists as provost. 
Faculty Senate Chair Dennis Clason says the finalists were carefully vetted during the presidential search process. 
Carruthers was named NMSU president May 6 and officially begins those duties Saturday. 
The other finalists were Guy Bailey, David Ashley, Elsa Murano and Daniel Howard.


Hospital considering Las Cruces Country Club location

Part of the site of the former Las Cruces Country Club is being proposed as the site for a new hospital that would specialize in cardiac medicine.
  If rezoning of the 30-acre site is approved, the 42-bed Park Ridge Medical Center project proposed by Galichia Hospital Group LLC would help fill an area that is the largest open space within the city limits of Las Cruces
The entire former country club property is 110 acres, and other development could include a hotel, a small office park, multi-family housing and a combination assisted-living center and rehabilitation hospital.


Alamogordo judge resigns to avoid disciplinary action

Judge William Brogan
New Mexico's highest court has allowed a state district court judge in Alamogordo to resign to avoid disciplinary action for alleged misconduct and failing to carry out his duties. 
District Judge William Brogan resigned Friday under an agreement approved by the state Supreme Court, which released a copy of its order on Tuesday. 
The Judicial Standards Commission had started disciplinary proceedings against Brogan for violating the Code of Judicial Conduct since 2011, including repeatedly failing to follow rules for handing criminal cases. 
The commission said the judge "failed to maintain competence in the performance of judicial duties" or was "unable to perform judicial duties competently and diligently."


Meteorologist replies to Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on the Moore, OK. tornado

Commentary by Bob Endlich, News New Mexico - On 20 May 2013 a devastating tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma with the loss of 24 lives, including 10 children, injuring hundreds of victims, and with damage estimates over $1.5 Billon.
     Within hours Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse was on the floor of the US Senate with a placard, “Time to Wake Up,” in a theme stating the cause of the wildfires in Texas, and tornadoes, was directly tied to man-caused CO2-fueld Global Warming. Sen. Sheldon’s speech included the phrase “the damage that your polluters and Deniers are doing…”
     He would include me on the list of “Deniers,” but I would like to include in this note some Science, where Senator Whitehouse desperately needs education.
     First, CO2 is not a pollutant, it is absolutely essential for life as we know it, because it is plants which turn CO2 into the food upon which we and all animal life on this planet depend for our sustenance. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere today, some 400 parts/million, is precariously low when compared over geologic time. During the previous glacial, the Wisconsin, 22,000 years ago, deciduous tree life collapsed in Georgia, and pine trees collapsed from CO2 starvation during the latter part of the Wisconsin as evidenced at the La Brea Tar Pits in California. 
     Second, the 2011 fires in Texas and the accompanying drought were caused by the large multi-year climate fluctuations over North America, El Nino-La Nina, also called ENSO, El Nino - Southern Oscillation, not CO2. Sen. Whitehouse should see the map at
from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, which shows the dry conditions from Arizona to Florida during La Nina conditions.Read column


Specialists addressing high rate of preschool expulsions in NM

From KOB-TV.com - By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - New Mexico has one of the highest rates of preschool expulsion in the country. Specialists in UNM's Department of Psychiatry say there are several reasons for that. One, there's a high percentage of parents or caregivers with a history of substance abuse or mental illness. Two, there's a high number of immigrant families with one or both parents missing. Specialists are working on intervention and say it starts in the womb.
     Rocio Quintana and her husband have their hands full with four daughters. She says being a mom is rewarding, but it's not easy. "I don't know how to be a mom, I don't know if I'm doing a good job or not," Quintana said.
     Concerned when her 7-year-old started becoming more withdrawn, she brought her daughter to UNM's Young Children's Health Center in Albuquerque. "She started working closely with Dr. Anilla Del Fabbro. Quintana added, "At first it was really hard for both of us and now the help they've given me, it's teaching her how to do it and teaching myself how to do it."
     "Really child psychiatry should start as early as, when moms are pregnant." Dr. Del Fabbro says that's because, whether she knows it or not, a mom can harbor emotions from her childhood and pass them down. She says behavior modification is sometimes needed, but mostly she observes and teaches parents that they already have the tools they need to make their children happy.
     Dr. Del Fabbro received a grant through UNM. This summer she's establishing a group for moms and caregivers, for both support and parenting education. Read more

N.M. senators want expanded hours at Santa Teresa port of entry

From the Alamogordo Daily News - New Mexico's U.S. senators are requesting that hours at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry be expanded to an around-the-clock operation.
     Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, both Democrats, sent a letter Friday to Janet Napolitano, U.S. secretary of homeland security, asking for extended hours. Commercial hours of operation at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry now are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
     "The additional capacity would help increase bilateral trade, grow our economy and create jobs," the senators said.
     Heinrich, in his first year in the Senate after representing the Albuquerque area in the House of Representatives, toured the Santa Teresa port this month. Read more

Vandals take down APD surveillance unit

From KRQE-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE  - Two vandals had to have known they were being watched by a clearly marked Albuquerque Police surveillance camera set up at a park. But that didn't stop two brazen criminals from walking right up and committing a crime. The mobile video surveillance trailer has cameras that stand roughly 30-foot in the air. Officer Robert Gibbs, of Albuquerque Police Department, said in this case, police were trying to capture an alleged flasher at the park.
     However, vandals sent that expensive surveillance tool to the ground Saturday. It's a camera that catches criminal activity when no one else appears to be watching. Video from APD's mobile surveillance trailer shows two vandals approaching the unit around 3:30 Saturday morning. The suspects check it out, then apparently try to knock it down.
     "This trailer is clearly marked with Albuquerque Police decals and markings," explained Gibbs. "These individuals had no regard to this property knowing that it belongs to the police, essentially the taxpayers. Also, it was set up for public safety."
     Although it took them several minutes, checking each side of the trailer, even climbing on top of it at one point, the two suspects eventually knocked the surveillance trailer down, causing thousands of dollars in damage. The mobile surveillance unit is worth nearly $70,000 and can be monitored 24-hours-a-day from APD's real time crime center. Read more

Thanks and Devotion This Memorial Day

Commentary By Jackie Gingrich Cushman - If you were to suddenly appear this weekend at the numerous barbecues or pool parties, without any knowledge of our nation's history, it might be hard to understand the real meaning of Memorial Day. Is it a day to sell cars, clothes and mattresses? Is it a day off of work, a time to join with family and friends, and grill out?
     For our family, Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer. School is out, and we transition from the school year to summer activities. 
But, oh, it is so much more.
     Memorial Day can be traced back to John Logan, who served as an Illinois congressman prior to the Civil War, then volunteered as a Union soldier and was promoted during the war to general. He issued an order in 1868 to honor those who died in the war. At that time, he was serving as commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of former Union soldiers.
     "The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country," stated the order. "We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance," it said, adding that their deaths were "the cost of free and undivided republic."
     The Civil War was the most deadly war for Americans. More than 600,000 American soldiers died. 
That first year, approximately 5,000 people gathered at Arlington Cemetery to decorate the graves with American flags. Since then, the custom has grown and spread.
     Arlington Cemetery, located in Virginia, across the Potomac from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, is today the military graveyard of hundreds of thousands of United States soldiers. On a recent visit to our nation's capital, I had the opportunity to walk through the cemetery and visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
     Walking through the cemetery, surrounded by thousands of small, white gravestones, perfectly aligned, row after row, it is easy to remember the sacrifice that has been made on our account. Soldiers have died. Families have lost sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends. There are miles and miles of trails through the cemetery.
      At home, at the beach or at the pool, taking time to reflect on the importance of Memorial Day may prove difficult to do amid the sales and BBQs, the day off from work. But we should all pause and remember -- to honor those who have given their lives for our country and to dedicate ourselves to living in a way that ensures their sacrifices were not in vain.Read full column


Mescalero Apache leaders suspended

Fredrick Chino, Sr.
From the Alamogordo Daily News - by Dianne Stallings - MESCALERO -- Mescalero Apache Tribal President Frederick Chino Sr. and Vice President Sandra Platero were placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday by the tribal council. No wrongdoing is alleged.
     The action was taken to facilitate an operational and programmatic review of the tribe's activities over the next month, according to information from Acting President Alfred La Paz, who is a member of the tribal council and was serving as council secretary.
     "While the vote to place the president and vice president on leave was not unanimous, the tribal council will be working unanimously over the next month to ensure the smooth operation of tribal government," La Paz stated. "It is my understanding that a number of council members had concerns about the level of communication that existed between the president and the council."
     Frederick Chino Sr. took the oath of office as president in January 2012. He recently spoke of plans to provide future employment for tribal members. Those plans included allowing exploratory drilling in the Pajarito Mountain area for possible future mining of rare earth elements, as well as acquisition of U.S. Forest Service land to bring all of Ski Apache Resort into the reservation.
     Removal of tribal administration figures is not without precedent. After the death of longtime President Wendell Chino in 1998, his successor Paul Ortega and Vice President Oliver Enjady were removed months later. In that case, Sara Misquez, who had served as administrative assistant to the elder Chino, was installed as president.
     La Paz retired as a captain from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Law Enforcement division after a 30-year career. He has served on the tribal council since 2001. Read more

State unveils new reading initiative

New Mexico children could win a trip to Disney's Animal Kingdom or ride in a hot air balloon with Gov. Susana Martinez under a program that state officials hope will encourage students to read when they aren't in school. 

The governor is to announce several reading contests on Wednesday in Albuquerque

The state is partnering with private and public organizations, including the city of Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico and the Albuquerque Isotopes. 

The governor's office says the goal is to prevent a drop in the reading proficiency of students during the summer months. 

Among the top prizes for winning students is an expense-paid family trip to Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida, throwing a pitch at an Isotopes baseball game and serving as a junior zookeeper at Albuquerque's zoo.


Gov. named to health care task force

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has been named to a National Governors Association task force on health care. 

The organization announced Tuesday the panel will consider how states can improve the delivery of quality health care while controlling the costs of Medicaid, a program jointly financed by states and the federal government to provide medical services for the needy. 

Other members of the task force on health care sustainability are governors from Oregon, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, California, New York, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Maryland and Nevada

The Martinez administration has asked the federal government to approve an overhaul of New Mexico's Medicaid program, which provides health care for a fourth of the state's population. 

One goal is to better coordinate medical care in hopes of making New Mexicans healthier.


Oil production up in NM

Oil production in New Mexico has increased by nearly 50 percent over the last three years, making it one of five western states that have helped boost national production over the last three years. 
Statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show onshore oil production increased nationally by more than 2 million barrels a day — or nearly two-thirds — between February 2010 and February 2013.
North Dakota and Texas have been the driving forces, but New Mexico along with Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah account for 15 percent of the growth.


NM's potential for twisters higher in eastern plains

From KOB-TV.com - By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Tornadoes are not as common in New Mexico as they are in Oklahoma, but they do happen here. A severe tornado ripped through Clovis about six years ago, but still remains one of the most destructive tornadoes the state has ever seen, killing two people.
     Jennifer Palucki with the National Weather Service said, a tornado like that can, and probably will, happen again somewhere in our state. The eastern plains of New Mexico are considered the on-ramp to tornado alley. "The fact that we haven't seen it recently tends to take people by surprise," Palucki said.
     Since 1955 there have only been 9 years without a single reported tornado, according to weather experts. Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said he remembers the last tornado to hit Albuquerque, back on July 14th, 1990. That is one of four to reportedly touch down in the city since 1985. "We didn't know until after the fact, but there was some noise involved as there always is with tornados and then we came out and found out the property across the street on San Pedro had been damaged severely," Berry said.
     Radar has improved tremendously since then. "We can tell the difference, whether it's hailing or raining or snowing, we can also see things like tornado debris balls," Palucki said. Without the moisture like in the midwest, it is unlikely to see a large magnitude tornado in New Mexico. Read more

Swickard: Give until it stops hurting

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  A friend in college was in a discussion group when someone said, “You must give until it hurts.” My friend corrected it to: “You must give until it stops hurting.” My, that is much better. With the tornado damage to Americans this week there is a divide in the discussions between: “Oh, just let the government take care of people in need because that is why we pay taxes,” and, “Here, my friend, I will help you.” 
Government, as it gets bigger, wants to be the entity that helps because it gives government a solid mission but we Americans were born to help each other. At least my generation was born that way. I am not saying there is not a place in a disaster for government. Goodness, there are always the needs of the many at the moment of disaster, but I am thinking of all the people in New Orleans and with Hurricane Sandy that sat and sat and sat waiting on the government. When Hurricane Katrina hit a friend of mine watched for a couple of hours on television and then, because he has a restaurant background, got a big truck and lots of supplies along with a generator. He and a couple friends headed down to New Orleans and parked in a closed Wal-Mart parking lot. For a week my friend served coffee and pancakes to the great relief of the people in the area. After a while the government got going but at the time of the disaster there was a schism between the Republican President and the Democrat Governor and Mayor of New Orleans. They initially told the president that they did not want help so when they changed their minds it was several days into the crisis. But in the middle of all that politics my friend made coffee, gave out bottles of water and served up pancakes to the grateful citizens. Then, with the big truck empty, he and his friends came home. On the way home they prayed that others would help because that is what we do, we give until it stops hurting. Read column


Small Fla. city wonders who won Powerball jackpot

From KOB-TV.com - By TAMARA LUSH and BARBARA RODRIGUEZ - (AP) ZEPHYR HILLS, Fla. - Some lucky person walked into a Publix supermarket in suburban Florida over the past few days and bought a ticket now worth an estimated $590.5 million _ the highest Powerball jackpot in history.
     Whoever has the ticket had not come forward as of Sunday afternoon. "This would be the sixth Florida Powerball winner and right now, it’s the sole winner of the largest ever Powerball jackpot," Florida Lottery executive Cindy O’Connell told The Associated Press. "We’re delighted right now that we have the sole winner."
     Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said that there are a lot of rumors about who won, but the store doesn’t know. "We’re excited for the winner or winners," she said. O’Connell said Florida has had more Powerball winners than any other state but did not give any indication whether anyone had stepped forward with the winning ticket in Saturday’s drawing.
     But plenty of people in Zephyrhills _ population 13,337 _ are wondering whether it’s someone they know. Zephyrhills is a small city in Pasco County, about 30 miles northeast of downtown Tampa. Once a rural farming town, it’s now known as a hotbed for skydiving activity, and the home to large retiree mobile home parks and Zephyrhills bottled water.
     And now, one lucky lottery ticket. Read more

US Interior Department sets new rule for ‘fracking’

From Capitol Report New Mexico - The new boss at the U.S. Department of the Interior has established a new rule for hydraulic fracturing (commonly called “fracking”) on federal lands that seems to have pleased neither environmentalists nor oil and gas producers. According to the Associated Press, new Interior secretary Sally Jewell and the Obama administration announced Thursday (May 16) that companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands will be required to disclose publicly the chemicals used in fracking operations. Not surprisingly, oil and gas producers complained about the ruling, saying it’s unnecessary.
     But at least one environmental group complained too, saying the decision is a watered-down version of an earlier proposal. “It is clear what happened: the Bureau of Land Management caved to the wealthy and powerful oil and gas industry and left the public to fend for itself,” Jessica Ennis, a spokeswoman for the environmental group Earthjustice told AP. A big reason for the complaint from environmentalists hinges on the ruling calling for disclosure of chemicals to go to a group called FracFocus, a voluntary site where companies self-report.
     According to the Interior Department, domestic production from more than 92,000 oil and gas wells on public lands accounts for about 13 percent of the nation’s natural gas production and 5 percent of U.S. oil production. In an Interior report last year, oil and gas activity on BLM-managed lands in New Mexico was linked to 47,807 direct jobs and $10.9 billion in direct output. Read more

The IRS wants YOU — to share everything

From the Politico.com - by David Nather, Tarin Parti and Byron Tau - The Internal Revenue Service asked tea party groups to see donor rolls. It asked for printouts of Facebook posts. nd it asked what books people were reading.
     A POLITICO review of documents from 11 tea party and conservative groups that the IRS scrutinized in 2012 shows the agency wanted to know everything — in some cases, it even seemed curious what members were thinking. The review included interviews with groups or their representatives from Hawaii, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere. The long-awaited Treasury Department inspector general report released Tuesday says the agency itself decided some of its questions to conservative groups were way over the line — especially the one about donors.
     The report shows that top IRS officials put a stop to some of the questions in early 2012, including the ones that asked tea party groups who their donors were, what issues were important to them and whether their top officers ever planned to run for office. And they told the investigators they planned to destroy the donor lists that had already been sent in.
     But interviews with members of the groups paint a more dramatic picture than the bland language of the report, which just says the IRS “requested irrelevant (unnecessary) information because of a lack of managerial review, at all levels, of questions before they were sent to organizations seeking tax-exempt status.”
      “They were asking for a U-Haul truck’s worth of information,” said Toby Marie Walker, the president of the Waco Tea Party. Some groups even gave up in the face of the IRS questions. Several of the groups were asked for résumés of top officers and descriptions of interviews with the media. One group was asked to provide “minutes of all board meetings since your creation.”
      Some of the letters asked for copies of the groups’ Web pages, blog posts and social media postings — making some tea party members worry they’d be punished for their tweets or Facebook comments by their followers. Read more

NTSB wants to lower legal BAC levels

NewsNM Swickard - I'm with MADD - zero point zero is the only reading that makes sense. From KOB-TV.com - by Joseph Lynch, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Right now if you get pulled over with a .08 Blood Alcohol Content or higher, you go to jail.
     But the NTSB wants to drop that limit even lower. If it was up to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a point zero- zero behind the wheel is the would be the only acceptable blood alcohol level. The group said what the NTSB is proposing is a step in the right direction. The agency would like to see the national standard point .08 brought down to .05, but it's just a recommendation. Sonia Lopez of MADD New Mexico says it's never easy.
     "Every time that we do some type of legislation or policy we always get - We always get opposition from the alcohol industry and from the restaurant association."
     To become law, the recommendation would have to be passed by New Mexico Lawmakers and signed by our governor. Rio Rancho Police Seargant Nichlaus Onkyn says a lower BAC will lead to more arrests at DWI checkpoints. And even if you blow less than a .05, that doesn't mean you're off the hook.
     "If we are able to determine that an individual is truly intoxicated and that they are impaired due to their consumption of alcohol or drugs, it doesn't matter the amount of alcohol or drugs in their system."
     According to the DWI Resource Center in Albuquerque, the average person who is arrested for DWI has a BAC of .16 Read more


ABQ makes list of best mid-sized cities

Albuquerque is on another top ten list and unlike some, this is one you want your town to be on. 
The city is among the Top Ten Mid-sized American Cities of the Future. The list is the product of analysts from Foreign Direct Intelligence (FDI), with an international list of business and banking clients.
Albuquerque is ranked ninth not too shabby for a city that’s still struggling to recover from the recession. 
FDI analyzes cities all over the western hemisphere and ranks them for economic potential, human resources, cost effectiveness, infrastructure, business-friendliness and foreign direct investment potential. 
Other cities in the top ten include New Orleans, Louisiana, Richmond, Virginia, and Quebec City, Canada.


Pearce introduces bill to expand WIPP mission

New Mexico Republican Rep. Steve Pearce has introduced legislation to expand the mission of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.
 Pearce says that because the plant is only tasked with handling radioactive waste generated by the Department of Energy as part of a defense mission, it is running out of material to process. And that will mean a loss of jobs. 
Pearce says that under his bill, there would be no change in what type of waste WIPP handles. The site currently processes exposed materials like gloves, clothing and tool, from federal facilities like Los Alamos National Laboratory. But it would be allowed to accept transuranic waste from the federal government as a whole.
 Pearce says WIPP has demonstrated great success, safely removing more than 85,000 cubic meters of waste from Department of Energy sites around the country.


Las Cruces surpasses 100,000 mark

According to statistics maintained by the City of Las Cruces, the city’s population surpassed the 100,000 mark as of April 1. 
The milestone was reached during the period between July 1, 2012 when the population estimate was 99,665 and April 1, when the population was estimated at 100,984. 
According to Tom Murphy, MPO Officer for the Metropolitan Planning Organization they estimate population by tracking building permits for housing units. Housing units are identified as single family, multi family, townhouses and triplexes. 


America’s forever unsuccessful war on drugs

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “The only justification is always in terms of the existence of innocent victims. In the case of drugs, the major effect of drug prohibition is to multiply the number of innocent victims, not to reduce it.” Milton Friedman 1991
     The prohibition against alcohol took most of a hundred years to reach its final stage in the 1930s. Then the society gave up on prohibition and settled for alcohol regulation. A surprising thing happened when the same forces of the society who pushed alcohol prohibition applied the same prohibition logic to recreational drugs. Sadly they have gotten the same result from drug prohibition as they did from alcohol prohibition.
     Albert Einstein contended the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So how long do we intend to be insane?
     When I arrived at college in 1968 even my cow college had people doing illegal drugs. It was common knowledge that recreational drugs were readily available at “reasonable” prices. Today, at the same college, drugs are still readily available at “reasonable” prices after more than forty years of the War on Drugs.
Many people over the decades looked at the results and recognized the efforts were not effective and did more harm than good. Yet the efforts continue unabated. The sticking point is the principle that society should not allow people to hurt themselves. So we incarcerate millions of American citizens, “For their own good.”
     Like alcohol prohibition, the Drug War has had three results: first, crime organizations have grown large and influential. Secondly, police enforcement and incarceration has become an industry. Finally, more people take drugs than before. More people started drinking during prohibition than before. Prohibition made our nation a nation of drinkers. The Drug War seems to have increased the number of drug users.
     So why not stop the Drug War? Two reasons: first, no politician wants to face reelection accused of being soft on drugs. Secondly, the Drug Wars are an industry for our government.Read full column

Monday Guest wrote Ranch Horses

Note - we will interview Steve Monday at 7 a.m.. 
From The Westerner - by Steve Wilmeth -
     Bailey nickered at me through the 4:30 dark silence. They had all come to me as I switched the lights on to start to feed. Three bays and a seal brown chestnut that live over the corral fence with us in Mesilla. I worked through the routine keeping them quiet and settled as they got their morning feed.
     I stood there and listened to them eat momentarily before I climbed through the fence and turned the lights off. I went to get ready before I saddled and loaded. We were going to gather.
First light
      Leonard had called to tell me he had nine riders that could start on Friday morning rather than Saturday. That would give us a head start and make Saturday, when the bigger crew would arrive, more efficient.
“Good deal … let’s do it.”
     When I came out onto the back porch at 5:30, no horses were seen. They were all standing in the far corner of the arena when I found them. They know what feeding at 4:30 brings.
     I decided to take Tom. Since we were only going to pen enough cattle for Leonard and me to start sorting early Saturday, we would be finished by midday. One horse would do.
     Tom’s a dark bay horse that weighs 1250 pounds. He’s tall at 16 hands and somehow that kind of horse has become taller for me. He is a big mover and can cover country. At times he can be timid, but he is very versatile. He watches a cow with instinct but he tends to work too fast if allowed. When he’s fresh he’ll get faster and faster.
     I now match saddles to our horses. Good horses, like pickups, are too expensive to hurt. Paying thousands of dollars for a horse with a one size fits all saddle is no longer preferable. Tom gets his own saddle and I will even swap that out to reposition pressure points if he works days in succession.
     He stood there as the gentleman he is as I saddled him. He only disagreed when I brushed his mane too hard. He lifted his head and backed his ears. I reminded him he was going to endure that bit of grooming. If the trailer gate is open I can throw the lead rope over his withers from 25 feet away and he’ll load himself. All our horses have pretty much come to that point. As ranch horses, they know the difference in a ride versus a long trot anywhere. They’ll ride.
     In the trailer, you can’t feel him. He’s quiet as a church mouse and will drop his head and doze as we drive to the ranch. As I unloaded him, he was interested briefly in one of the other horses that would start with cowboys from that point of the gather. He knows them but doesn’t spend much time with them other than during times of work.
      We scattered, set our spacing, and started our drive. Tom was relaxed. He worked as he always does in the open. Stay out of his mouth, get lighter and lighter with pressure, and move him laterally with your legs. He does the rest and he does it well.
     I let the rest of the world go away. The morning was a joy. Read full column


Wolf attacks on humans in North America

From the Tucson Citizen.com - by Jonathan DuHamel - I have often heard the claim by environmentalists that there has never been a documented attack on humans by wolves in North America. That claim is untrue as I will demonstrate. Wolf attacks on humans are rare as are attacks by mountain lions and bears, but they do occur. Somewhat more common are apparent “stalkings” by wolves, especially of children in rural areas (see here and theCatron County Wolf Hotline for incidents involving the Mexican Gray Wolf in New Mexico).
A sampling of documented wolf attacks on humans:
  • I begin with Alaska Department of Fish & Game Technical Bulletin 13 (2002) entitled “A Case History of Wolf-Human Encounters in Alaska and Canada.” That study was precipitated by a wolf attack on a 6-year-old boy near Icy Bay, Alaska, in April, 2000.
  • PIERCE, Idaho – A North Idaho grandmother considers herself lucky to be alive after she was able to shoot and kill a wolf as it tried to attack her on a recent hunting trip.
  • Daily News-Miner, Fairbanks, Alaska Dec 17, 2012A wolf attacked a Tok trapper on his snowmachine last week about 30 miles off the Taylor Highway, biting through the man’s parka and three layers of clothing to put a 3-inch gash on his arm. Lance Grangaard, 30, said he was “putting along” on his Ski-Doo Tundra on Thursday afternoon, coming down a frozen creek, when he saw the wolf out of the corner of his eye.
  • Wolf Crossing, Chignik Lake, Alaska, December 7, 2011At least two wolves chased down and killed a teacher who was jogging on a road last year outside a rural Alaska village, according to a report released Tuesday by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The body of Candice Berner, 32, a special education teacher originally from Slippery Rock, Pa., was found March 8, 2010, two miles outside Chignik Lake. The village is 474 miles southwest of Anchorage, on the Alaska Peninsula. Biologists ruled out reasons for the attack other than aggression. Investigators found no evidence that the wolves had acted defensively or that Berner was carrying food. They found no kill site that wolves may have been defending, no indication that the wolves had become habituated to people, and no evidence of rabies. Read more


Bingaman appointed to Santa Fe Institute board

Jeff Bingaman

A prestigious nonprofit research and education center in Santa Fe has tapped former U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman to serve as its newest trustee. 
The Santa Fe Institute announced Wednesday that Bingaman has been elected to a three-year appointment on the Board of Trustees. The board has fiduciary responsibility for the institute and oversees its operation through biannual meetings and committees that offer advice and support to the institute's leadership.
 Bingaman's tenure in the Senate spanned three decades, making him one of New Mexico's longest serving senators. He announced in 2011 that he would not seek re-election. From 1979 to 1983, he was New Mexico's attorney general. 
Bingaman was also recently appointed as a fellow at the Stanford law school's Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance.


Senate Pres. Pro Tem Papen criticizes Gov. veto

Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen on Wednesday sharply criticized Gov. Susana Martinez for vetoing a bill aimed at providing outreach to the mentally ill and called an administration program that oversees behavioral health “ineffective and unproductive.”
 Papen also wrote that “as is too often the case, the governor has discounted the collective judgment of the Legislature in favor of her own” when she vetoed the bill that passed both houses with only one dissenting vote. 
Papen, who has a schizophrenic grandson, is a longtime advocate for the mentally ill. 
A spokesman for Martinez on Wednesday declined to respond to Papen, saying the governor’s comments were contained in last month’s veto message.


Federal raid in Anthony

Federal officials say 22 people were arrested on drug trafficking and other charges during a Wednesday raid around the New Mexico border town of Anthony
Residents of the town, which straddles New Mexico and Texas just north of El Paso, woke to the sounds of helicopters, bangs and screaming as federal and local agents conducted an early morning sweep on homes. 
New Mexico U.S. Attorney Ken Gonzales says 22 people were arrested in New Mexico and Texas, with most of the arrests in Anthony. A total of 29 people are charged with distributing cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana in and around southern Dona Ana County


Senate leader shuns Domenici over affair

From KRQE-TV.com - by reporter Kayla Ayres - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Former New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici's extramarital affair decades ago is a national media story again. This time it's because one of his longtime colleagues, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., appears to have shunned Domenici. 
     Reid and Domenici, 81, were on opposite sides of the political aisle, but they were still friends. In fact, Reid had high marks for Domenici when Domenici announced his retirement in 2007. "I like him very much. I have great admiration for him," Reid told the press then.
     It's a different story now because of the affair Domenici acknowledged in February in which he fathered a child. Domenici's affair was with Michelle Laxalt, who's more than two decades his junior and the daughter of a former Nevada U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt . Domenici had a reputation as a family man who had eight children with his wife, to whom he's been married for more than 50 years.
     Reid was elected to Laxalt's Senate seat in 1987 when Laxalt retired. Reid and Domenici then served together for 22 years before Domenici retired at the end of his sixth term in 2008.
     In an interview with Las Vegas Review Journal , Reid says he refused to meet with Domenici last week because of the affair. Reid's statement came about during an interview about mental health care, which is a passionate issue for Domenici. "I don't mention Domenici's name anymore because of what he did to Michelle Laxalt," Reid told the newspaper. "I wouldn't let him come and see me. But anyway, that's another story." Read more


Branco Cartoon


Gila Regional Medical Center cuts employee hours

Gila Regional Medical Center has downgraded 70 full-time hospital employees to part-time status as part of new cost cutting measures. 

The Silver City Sun-News reports that the hospital says the measures were needed after it saw an increase in the numbers of uninsured and underinsured patients. The hospital also is facing a cash crunch because of the shift from inpatient care to outpatient care, and reduced reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid.

In addition to the employee changes, the hospital is halting plans for the nearly $40 million expansion project and postponing the conversion to a new health information software system. 

The employee status changes are expected to save the hospital around $3.1 million.


SpaceX coming to Spaceport America

  Governor Susana Martinez has announced that Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, has signed a three-year agreement to lease land and facilities at Spaceport America to conduct the next phase of flight testing for its reusable rocket program. 

The company will be a new tenant at Spaceport America, the state-owned commercial launch site located in southern New Mexico

 SpaceX has completed its first series of successful, low-altitude tests of the “Grasshopper” vehicle in McGregor, Texas and is proceeding to the next phase of development that includes testing in New Mexico

With Grasshopper, SpaceX engineers are creating technology that will enable a rocket to return to the launch pad intact for a vertical landing, rather than burning up upon reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere.


Teenagers having a hard time finding work

From KOB-TV.com - By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - It’s hard to be a teenager looking for work in New Mexico these days. The teen unemployment rate here is almost 19 percent, more than twice as bad as the jobless rate for grownups.
     We paid a visit to Rain Tunnel Car Spa at Central and Rio Grande in Old Town, expecting to find some teenage workers. Wrong. You don’t find many teenagers working in the car wash industry now, with some notable exceptions. One of them is working at Rain Tunnel. Xavier Rojo is 18, and he’s a stud at Rain Tunnel – the drive-off man. But just about everybody else is over 21. Owner Buck Buckner says teenagers, especially high school teenagers, just aren’t a good fit. “Because we’re a daytime business those hours are very limited for the teenager,” Buckner told us during a very busy lunch hour at the Rain Tunnel. “He has to come in and report at 3, and probably by 5:30 winter hours we close, and 6 o’clock summer hours we close. He’s off the clock, so it shortens his hours.”
     Xavier is a student at CNM, where he’s studying automotive technology and design. His job fits his school schedule. “They were hiring and I just kept coming back and trying my hardest,” Xavier said while wipingdown a newly washed car. “You keep applying yourself and you go out there and look for jobs and you can find one. We’re in a tough economy but I believe you can really find a job if you really work hard, no matter what job it is.”
     New Mexico’s 19 percent teenage jobless rate is actually way better than most states. The national average is just over 24 percent. In California and South Carolina it’s 33 percent! So for once we’re not in the bottom ten! Read more

It is now President Garrey Carruthers

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. A few weeks ago my column looked at what some said was already a decision by the New Mexico State University Regents to hire Garrey Carruthers as the next President of New Mexico State University. The Regents by law had to go through the open hiring process and so they did with five finalists. But I suspect they were already leaning toward Carruthers. I wrote:
    “The Regents … must select someone who reflects and will defend NMSU’s tradition and missions. Unless the Regents want to change that mission in the future, the next president needs to know his or her way around the Ag Barns.”
     It became official when the Regents announced this week that Dean of the NMSU College of Business Garrey Carruthers is the next NMSU President. I applaud the decision for three reasons: first, he will hit the ground running and not take a year to get up to speed. Secondly, he understands NMSU’s mission and traditions. Finally, he is well liked and respected on the campus and around the state.
     Other than one president in the 1950s who was only in Las Cruces a couple of years I have known all the NMSU presidents back to Hugh Milton who was selected before World War II. Most have been extraordinary.
     Several, however, were not good and the chaos they caused was regrettable. Having the wrong person in charge as was shown with the last president caused lots of turmoil and intrigue. The last president did not like the smell of the Ag Barns. It is regrettable she was selected in the first place.
     Carruthers does know his way around the Ag Barns and especially understands the Land-Grant mission. In the coming years those parts of the university that make NMSU unique will receive the priority they deserve. Further, Higher Education is changing and it takes a visionary to navigate the changes, holding on to what is important and taking advantage of the new opportunities. Read column