Thinking about man-made global warming

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Albert Einstein changed our world without getting into data. He used a notebook and pencil to think his way through issues of theoretical physics. He sat thoughtfully dreaming questions. Early in life Einstein imagined chasing after a beam of light. That physical question brought about his theory of relativity.
      Others before and after Einstein were data-centric researchers trying to make data answer questions. They thought mathematically while he thought physically. We can all learn from Einstein’s approach.
     For the last forty years we have been pummeled by doomsayers about man’s role in the climate of our planet. First, in the 1970s it was man-made global cooling that was set to kill us all. Then in the 1980s it suddenly shifted to man-made global-warming. Now we are menaced by man-made global climate change.
     Throughout 45 years the data has remained stable while the arguments have been all over the place. We Americans were all supposed to be dead by the year 1980; then 1990; then 2000; then 2010. Now we are told we have just ten years and then worldwide catastrophe. ...what we are really asking is: what is the correct temperature for our world? If we are intervening based on temperature it must be wrong, but what is right?
If slabs of ice descend over North America it will cancel the running of the Indianapolis 500. Still, if the new danger is global-warming, Canada becomes the garden spot of North America instead of the icebox.
In the 1980s when man-made global warming was going to kill everyone on the planet by the year 2000, my question about attempting to reverse it was: how will you know when you have gone too far reversing the ravages of man-made global-warming? There was never an answer to that question.
This leads to the question: what is the best overall temperature for Earth? Would the seven billion people be better off if the temperature was a smidge hotter or colder? How could we make that determination? If the temperature of the Earth goes up or down, which regions of Earth win or lose. If the Earth cools, the Russians and Northern Europeans are in the frozen hurt locker. If it goes up, they will dance in the streets.
With a perspective of four decades man-made global change seems a political belief system providing financial and political advantage to the proponents. I do not need data to know that the essential questions of an intervention were and are never addressed. Read full column

Climate Change Editorial by the Washington Post contains misstatements, half-truths, and omissions

Commentary by Robert Endlich, co-host, News New Mexico
The recent editorial by the Washington Post “Humans’ complicity in climate change can’t be ignored,” begins describing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, as, “arbiter of the scientific consensus.” Scientific Consensus is an oxymoron. Science is not done by consensus, it is done using the scientific method: Propose a hypothesis, carefully observe the results, and determine whether the observations match the results. If the results don’t confirm the hypothesis, the hypothesis is wrong.
The claim, increasing greenhouse gases humans have emitted into the atmosphere as chief driver of the warming of the planet over the past half-century, a finding to which they ascribe 95 percent confidence, is without merit or foundation. There is no technical basis for such a claim, if there were, the IPCC would trumpet it loudly; it is simply bloviation.
Since the Post mentions greenhouse gases, we have a considerable number of observations of the temperature, made by NASA satellites since 1979, to validate or falsify the IPCC claims. Measured temperatures from the lower troposphere are determined by the microwave emission from O2 molecules, and are published by two world class organizations, the University of Alabama at Huntsville, UAH, and Remote Sensing Systems, Inc, or RSS, from California.
Observations of greenhouse temperatures by UAH are available monthly on the Internet at These data show that the latest temperature a mere 0.17C above the 30 year mean 1981-2010. Look at the data; there is no CO2 signal. Read entire column

Animal Control confiscates about 24 boa constrictors

From - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —Two dozen dangerous snakes have been confiscated by Animal Control. The snakes were being sold illegally on the side of the road and on Craigslist. Albuquerque’s Animal Control found two dozen red-tail boa constrictors someone was breeding.
     “He had three boas of his own, one male and two females,” said Sharen Westhoff, an Animal Control officer. “(He) ended up with them in the same tank together, which created boa babies.” That is against permit laws. In Albuquerque, private citizens can’t sell boa constrictors.
     A "for sale" sign stuck in the middle of the sidewalk was used to advertise the snake sale. They were sold at $70 per snake. Had all the snakes been sold, the owner would have made close to $2,000.
     Animal Control found more "up for sale" signs among couches and collectibles on Craigslist. The person selling the snakes has yet to be caught. “Snakes of any variety can be incredibly dangerous,” said Westhoff. “They will bite, especially when feeling threatened.”
     The snakes were confiscated and are at an aquarium. They are headed for a reptile rescue. More

Santa Fe bans plastic bags

Santa Fe has become the latest in a growing number of cities to ban plastic grocery bags. 

The ban, which covers carrier bags thinner than 2.25 mils, will take effect in six months. Ron Trujillo was the sole dissenter on the council, which passed the measure by a 7-1 vote. 

 Paper bags, containing 40 percent recycled materials, would still be available, but shoppers would have to pay 10 cents for them. The fee would be waived for people who receive food assistance such as food stamps. 

The ban will not apply to restaurants or food banks, and grocery stores will still be able to supply smaller plastic bags for bulk items such as meat, produce and bakery goods. And they will still be able to sell garbage bags. 

The measure also allows the Environmental Services Division to provide reusable bags to low-income families.


ABQ abortion ban will likely go to vote

Albuquerque voters could, and likely will, vote on an abortion ban by November. 
The city clerk verified that anti-abortion protestors collected enough valid signatures – a little more than 12,000 – on a petition that prevent women from having an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
 In the last month, protestors from all over the country have criticized the city and the State of New Mexico for not having any bans on abortion.  Some protestors compared the city to Auschwitz – a concentration camp that existed during the Holocaust.
 Organizer Elisa Martinez said nearly 27,000 people signed the petition. 
Amy Bailey, Albuquerque’s city clerk, said city council members have two weeks to vote on the legislation as written, or they could turn it over to voters. She said a special election could cost roughly $600,000.
 If the mayoral election in October leads to a runoff in November, Bailey said the abortion issue could end up on the November ballot.


More counties begin to issue same sex marriage licenses

Following the actions of three other counties in the state, the Valencia, San Miguel County and Taos county clerks have decided to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. 
San Miguel County Clerk Melanie Rivera confirmed she ordered new licenses from the printer, but said she is now issuing "Spouse and Spouse" licenses that have been manually altered starting on Tuesday. 
According to Valencia County Clerk Peggy Carabajal, paper stock for the licenses have already been ordered. They plan to change software to print "Spouse and Spouse" instead of "Bride and Groom" as soon as the paper arrives tomorrow morning. 
Taos District Judge Jeff McElroy said the county clerk will likely not contest the decision in court and will begin issuing same sex marriage licenses soon.


Albuquerque ranks below average in safe driver survey

From - By: Joseph Lynch,  KOB Eyewitness News 4 - What's one word you would use to describe Albuquerque drivers? According to the Allstate Insurance Company, two words describe us: Below Average. In a survey of 200 cities, looking for the best drivers, Albuquerque comes in at 121. No argument from people KOB Eyewitness News 4 talked to on the road today.
     No, Albuquerque isn't at the bottom, but the city has dropped from last year's position of mediocrity. The Duke City is now 121 out of 200 on Allstate's survey. Allstate's survey looked at data like crash fatalities and number of collisions. It even factored in "big city vs. small city" driving. No shortage of common mistakes made here by drivers. 121 out of 200 leaves a lot of room for improvement. There is always next year's survey. A closer look shows, according to Allstate's numbers, drivers in Albuquerque are involved in an accident every nine years. Local drivers are 13 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than the national average.
     The safest drivers in America are in Fort Collins, Colorado. The most dangerous? Washington D.C. More

We can drill our way out of this problem

Commentary by Marita Noon - Perhaps you read the USA Todayeditorial on August 19 that concludes with: “the most important gains could come from radical shifts that are as unanticipated as was North America's emergence as an oil and gas powerhouse.” It points out “that free enterprise has a way of solving problems that is beyond the capabilities of government.” And continues: “The surge in domestic oil and gas production—spurred on by such new techniques as hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking’) did not come about as the result of government energy polices, but largely in spite of them.”
     Other oil producing countries are taking note. Mexico has huge oil-and-gas reserves— estimated at 115bn barrels of oil equivalent, comparable to Kuwait’s—but lacks the technology to develop non-conventionals, such as shale gas and deep-sea crude. President Pena Nieto is looking to make reforms that would allow foreign companies to partner with the state-owned oil company, Pemex, to bring the wealth to the surface.
     The reality of North America becoming an “oil-and-gas powerhouse” threatens more than just OPEC nations. In response to the USA Today editorial, Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), wrote an “opposing view” proclaiming: “Increasing domestic oil and gas production is no panacea for our nation's energy needs or economy.”
     Apparently, she is not aware that regions with oil-and-gas development have some of the lowest unemployment in the country—states with resource extraction such as Texas, Montana, Oklahoma, and Wyoming all have unemployment rates below the national average and North Dakota has the lowest in the country at 3.9%. My home state of New Mexico shares the rich Permian Basin with Texas. There, they tell me: “Anyone who can pass a drug test can get a job.”
     Friday, August 23, was the deadline for public comment on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) draft rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt and attorneys general from four other states sent a letter to the BLM, objecting to the agency’s intent to duplicate the state’s long-standing regulation of hydraulic fracturing. “States have been regulating hydraulic fracturing for more than 40 years with great success. This proposed rule is just another layer of unnecessary regulation that will cause significant delays and hinder natural gas production,” General Pruitt said. “The Supreme Court has made it clear that regulation of water and land use is a state and local power, and no law gives an agency such as the BLM the authority to pre-empt state regulations.”
     Environmentalists’ hyperbole about the use of hydraulic fracturing would lead the general public to believe that the practice is new. In fact it has been successfully used to extract oil and gas for more than 60 years—and, over the decades, it has been refined and made giant technological leaps. Attempts to link fracking to water contamination have repeatedly been disproven. Read full column

BearWatch group worried about upcoming hunt

NewsNM:Swickard - I do not want to dwell on the obvious but yes a bear hunt will hurt bears. - An archery bear hunt in New Mexico is set to begin in one week. Game and Fish says the hunt helps them manage the bear population, but a local group argues too many bears have already died this year and that killing more of them could be devastating to the population.
     New Mexico Game and Fish says they have captured nearly 50 bears in the Albuquerque area and another 20 have been put down or hit by cars. Statewide, the number of bears killed this year is 145. That is just one fewer than the bears killed in the entire year last year and that is not including bears that are hunted.
     This has the founder of Sandia Mountain BearWatch worried. "The Sandia bear population is going to be destroyed if it isn't already,” said Jan Hayes. She is especially concerned as Sunday, Sept. 1, approaches, the day that marks the start of a bow-and-arrow bear hunt across the state.  In previous years, the state would take into account how many bears have already been put down or killed from accidents to help put a limit on the number of bears hunters can kill. That is not the case this year.
     Game and Fish admits the bear deaths have been high this year, but they say it is not the worst the state has seen. They say the bear population is actually on the rise and it is their job to keep it at a sustainable level.  Game and Fish said it believes the population statewide is in the thousands, but the state is spending more than $100,000 to work on getting an accurate estimate. More

Swickard: Our missing incentives for success

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. A friend likes to say, “If you do not get what you want, check the incentives you are using.” That is great advice. Everything in life is tied to incentives and we must use correct incentives to be successful. 
     B. F. Skinner contended we humans are conditioned to do more of what we like and less of what we dislike. If what we like leads us to success, then we are successful. Since this is not rocket science, all humans should be happy. However, for the most part many Americans are not happy.
      One explainer is that humans are noted for their contradictions. Doing wrong things and expecting successful outcomes is a contradiction. Worse, people continue doing wrong things even though they never get success. Buying Lottery tickets and expecting to win comes to mind.
     Does that mean the incentive factors do not work? No, they work all too well. Our missing incentives for success condemn most of us to not achieving the success we want. But it can change in an instant when we realize that we must use the right incentives.
     Most of us wish to live in a society where our children and grandchildren live better lives than us. It was the wish of my grandparents and my parents that I live a better life. The rub is that this generation has spent the last forty years spending our money and our children’s money and our grandchildren’s money.
     The national debt is around Seventy Trillion dollars which works out to about a quarter million dollars of debt for every man, woman and child in our nation. And it is getting worse. More Americans are riding in the cart and fewer are pulling the financial cart. Will my children and grandchildren live a better life than me? Not if my generation leaves nothing but debts.
     Of course it could all change if our energy policy was such that America was energy independent and our private sector was going strong. This assumes politicians not spend that extra bounty. With the extra revenue America could reign in the runaway spending and leave a fine world for our children.
     This leads me to wonder: what incentives have we Americans put in place for our economy to zoom and dispense with this overwhelming debt? None, we are still printing money. We have turned off the engine of prosperity for political reasons. Politicians passed a healthcare law that takes the private sector to its knees. Read full column


KOB investigates private plane funded by the public

Garcia's plane is similar to this plane
From - By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - 4 On Your Side has learned public dollars have been spent on the use of a private plane. In the simmering controversy over New Mexico non-profits and alleged Medicaid fraud, Governor Susana Martinez has singled out Roque Garcia, the CEO of Southwest Counseling in Las Cruces.
     An audit conducted by the State’s Human Services Department redflagged Garcia. It showed Garcia is paid $107,000 annually, but he gets an additional $16,500 each year to put toward use of his plane. “That is a lot of money for being a non-profit organization," Gov. Martinez told 4OYS during an interview.
     Southwest Counseling is one of 15 behavioral health companies in New Mexico accused of defrauding the state out of $35 million in Medicaid reimbursements by double-billing, overbilling, and giving their CEO’s excessive pay and benefits. In Garcia’s case, 90 percent of his company’s funding comes from Medicaid.
     Flight records pulled by 4OYS show the plane in question has flown to the Jersey Shore; Mexico; Las Vegas, Nev.; and all around New Mexico recently. Garcia doesn’t apologize for using his single engine 4-seater.
     Garcia said he believed it would cost less to fly his own plane to business meetings and return the same day. The cost saved time and saved on hotel stays, Garcia said. But the governor said there’s no real way to know if flying was a cost saving measure because Garcia never kept track of his travel, business or pleasure.
     "That's the problem when you give lump sums and you give no accountability back to the board,” Gov. Martinez said. “You don't have an itemized travel expenditure sheet that says I went, I traveled, and I spent this much for this one trip and this trip was related to my work associated with Southwest Counseling Center."  More

Santa Fe inn #4 on top 'pet-friendly' hotels list

NewsNM:Swickard - What a win-win situation when I can take my dog with me when I travel. Yes, cost a bit more but is worth it to me. I have several Comfort Inns in New Mexico who take Conrad in and make him and me feel at home. From - By: Elizabeth Reed, - Animal lovers who bring their furry friends on vacation voted a Santa Fe inn to the list of best "pet-friendly" hotels in America.
     The Inn of Five Graces was picked number four on the top ten list by Trip Advisor. Survey respondents said the inn perfectly accommodated their four-legged companions while also providing an exotic atmosphere for the human guests.
     "Waiting in the suite were treats and stuffed animals for the animals," one respondent noted about the Inn of Five Graces. There is a $75 per night fee for pets 50 pounds or less.
     Beachside Village Resort in Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida, was named the top pet-friendly property in America. Olea Hotel and Bardessono, both located in California, followed in the number two and three spots. More

Pre-K students not allowed on Santa Fe school bus

From - By: Joseph Lynch, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - It was a big day, the first day of school for some pre-K kids in Santa Fe. One little girl was ready to go, standing at the bus stop, but her father called KOB Eyewitness News 4 because of what happened next.
     Today was four-year-old Laney Roberts' first day at Turquoise Trail Charter School in Santa Fe. That first day didn't start out the way she or her father were expecting. Albert Roberts is a single dad, raising Laney and her six-year-old sister on his own. He was really counting on being able to send Laney to pre-K on the bus this morning. But she wasn't able to get on.
     Santa Fe District Transportation Officials told Roberts it's state law. Students have to be at least 5 years old to ride a school bus. That means pre-K kids like Laney have to find their own way to school. KOB asked Laney if she wanted to ride. "Mmm hmm, because my sister rides on the bus."
     Albert said it's not just a seat on the bus. This could be a road block for his daughter's education. "It forces me in the position of either not being able to work or me pulling my child out of school until she's old enough to ride the bus," Albert said. "A seat on the bus. Not asking for a special bus, I'm not asking for a special route, I'm not asking for a special stop. All I want is a seat on the bus for my youngest."
     The State's Public Education Department told KOB district superintendents have the final say on the issue. They say if there's an open seat, the Santa Fe Superintendent can give the okay for Laney to ride with her sister. A Santa Fe Public Schools spokeperson told KOB the district doesn't receive funding for kids under the age of five. They'll have to look into the issue. More

County considers home based food processing

NewsNM:Swickard - Do I not have a right to buy from my neighbors what they produce, even if there is some risk to me? I think it is my right to trade with my neighbors without a government nanny. If they want to warn me of risk, do so, but allow me to decide who I wish to buy from and for how much. From - By: Jeffery Gordon - Local farmers wanting to sell homemade jellies and candy at farmers markets and craft fairs can speak up on Monday.
     Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley is considering bringing forward legislation that would change the county’s home-based food processing ordinance. Farmers are currently not allowed to sell homemade foods at the farmers markets and fairs.
     It is because of restrictions related to health concerns. There is a meeting scheduled for Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the South Valley Economic Development Center. More


Swickard: All we get from our goldmine is the shaft

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Most people in New Mexico care about a lot of things. They have the requisite concern about the endangered species along with a clean and fertile Mother Earth. They signed on to Earth Day when Global Cooling was the concern, and then signed on to the Global Warming alarmists.
     What we know for sure is that the solution to everything from Global Cooling to Global Warming is to put the government in charge and stop doing as much capitalism. America hears loud and clear when the voices of environmentalism shout, “Whatever you do, stop making money to save the planet.”
     Most Americans are unaware that the millions upon millions of dollars wasted in environmental causes come in one form or another from their pockets. Each wolf, owl, lizard and New Mexico jumping mouse takes money from each American, regardless of if we agree to the theft.
     Know this: our nation is a lesser nation because it cannot be energy independent and still comply with all the political agendas. We need not import another drop of oil or gas if we so desire. Take New Mexico for example: it is rich in potential for oil and gas. However, while some of the oil and gas is being harvested, much of that potential is not being used. This is thanks to lots of political action which seeks to shut down oil and gas rather than expand it.
     More so, it is not obvious that if the oil and gas production along with other extractives was to increase significantly New Mexico could match Alaska with a dividend paid to citizens instead of New Mexicans paying state income taxes. We could get a check rather than send a check. Read full column


APS discusses transgender guidelines

Wednesday evening, The Albuquerque Public Schools school board discussed a rough draft of possible guidelines for managing issues involving transgender students enrolled in the district. 
APS says right now, there are 12 transgender students in the district of nearly 90,000. 
APS Policy Analyst Carrie Menapace proposed initial guidelines. Those guidelines were based off insight from the district’s Transgender Task Force, as well as research on decisions made in other associations. 
The guidelines include requiring a court order to change a student’s name in school records, and a birth certificate to change the student’s gender in school records. 
They also suggest providing an alternative, gender-neutral bathroom and locker room for students. 
APS says the guidelines are a work in progress. 


Navajo Nation gets wireless internet

The Navajo Nation has opened an $8 million data center that will make wireless Internet available to 70 percent of the reservation's population. 
The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority has partnered with a wholesale wireless provider to upgrade telecommunications services on the Navajo Nation. The tribe has majority ownership of the venture, NTUA Wireless LLC., while Commnet Wireless owns the rest. 
The Farmington Daily Times reports that the data center in Shiprock opened on Tuesday, with officials opening up a laptop and quickly connecting to the Internet. 
NTUA spokeswoman Deenise Becenti says the broadband project is in the final testing phases and Internet service should be available to residents later this year.


NM chile industry stabilized after years of decline

From the Carlsbad Current-Argus - By Diana Alba Soular - In the early '90s, chile was king in New Mexico. The state's favorite crop, in its many varieties, hit an all-time high in 1992 of 34,500 acres harvested. But that was before a landmark international free trade agreement, NAFTA, took effect, gradually slashing tariffs on products moving between the United States and its closest neighbors.
     New Mexico chile farmers and experts recall that the state's once-robust jalepeƱo industry took a sharp nosedive in the late '90s, as farming of the crop shifted to Mexico. Some of the fresh green-chile farming, too, followed, though the decline hasn't been as severe, experts said.
     About a decade ago, chile's future in New Mexico seemed especially bleak, said Stephanie Walker, Cooperative Extension specialist at New Mexico State University. "We had chile flooding the market from all parts of the world," she said. "Those were probably the darkest days." Other competitors, such as China, ramped up farming of red chile, which has a much longer shelf life and hence can be shipped farther than green chile with no problems, experts said.
     The declining acreage in New Mexico continued throughout the 2000s. Last year, acreage harvested totaled about 9,600 -- about a 70 percent drop from the record high.But some experts and farmers say the industry appears to have stabilized in recent years and may even be on the uptick. But some farmers of the crop said they still face a spectrum of hurdles, such as a shrinking pool of field laborers and continued pressure from foreign competitors, that create uncertainty about the future. More

USS New Mexico submarine returns from deployment

From - GROTON, Conn. -- A Navy submarine named for New Mexico returned from deployment Monday after conducting national security operations abroad.
     Under the command of Commander George Perez, USS New Mexico transited more than 34,000 miles over the course of six months while conducting national security operations in the European region.
     "New Mexico's performance on her inaugural deployment was exemplary," Perez said. "I could not be more proud of the way the crew, families, friends and supporters of New Mexico came together over this last year to make this first deployment a success."
     This was the first deployment for more 70 than percent of the boat's crew members.
     New Mexico was commissioned March 27, 2010 and is the second Navy vessel to be named for the 47th state. More

NMSU gets algae research funding

Research into the potential of algae-based fuel is getting a $5 million boost from the U.S. Department of Energy.

New Mexico State University recently announced the funding, saying it will go to a research effort aimed at improving fuel that's compatible with existing refineries.

 NMSU is working on the project along with Los Alamos, Argonne and Pacific Northwest national laboratories, Washington State and Michigan State universities and four companies. 

Key goals of the project are to improve the yields and stability of algal biomass and cultivation systems while also improving oil content at harvest. 

NMSU officials say the award follows other federal funding announcements for the university's algal bioenergy team, including money for the algal cultivation test bed at the Fabian Garcia Science Center.


Catwalk trail reopens

A scenic tourist attraction in southwestern New Mexico has reopened after repairs required by a rock fall. 
The Gila National Forest says the Catwalk Trail underwent repairs required by damage from a June 2 rock fall. The repairs included blasting to remove an outcrop and then removal of rock debris. 
The Catwalk is a trail within Whitewater Canyon. Part of the trail is suspended on the side of a cliff in the canyon The trail is only open until 1 p.m. daily. 
Forest officials say that's because of the continued threat of unpredictable monsoon thunderstorms causing flooding of low crossings of New Mexico Highway 174.


First human plague case this year

The New Mexico Department of Health has confirmed the first human case of plague this year. 
State health officials said Monday a 15-year-old boy from Torrance County currently is hospitalized in stable condition. His name hasn't been released. 
Health officials say an environmental investigation will take place at the teen's home to look for ongoing risk to others in the area.
 Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents and is generally transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas. It can also be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, wildlife and pets. 
There was one human case of plague in New Mexico last year, a 78-year-old man from Torrance County.
 There were two cases in 2011 and none in 2010.


Marita Noon - Ronald Reagan: The Sagebrush Rebel

Commentary by Marita Noon - “An economy in distress, vast natural resources locked up with no plans to put them to use, and a regulatory regime that inhibits the development of resources and the creation of jobs.” Sound familiar? These words were written by William Perry Pendley, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy and Minerals at the Department of the Interior under Ronald Reagan. They describe the America that Reagan encountered when he became president in 1981. But, they could just as well be about 2013.
     In his new book, Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s battle with environmental extremists and why it matters today, Pendley points to the similarities of the economic climate that both Reagan and Obama had to take on at the start of their presidencies—but their approach to addressing the problems have been very different, as have been the results.
     The campaigning Senator Obama had it right. In a January 15, 2008, interview, Obama said: “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America ... He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. …government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”
     In the same interview Obama said he shared personal similarities to Reagan. While he does like to compare himself to Reagan (just search: “Obama compares himself to Ronald Reagan”), the contrast on energy policy couldn't be more stark. Pendley explains that Reagan adhered to the “human exceptionalism paradigm”—which asserted that “human technological ingenuity can continually improve the human situation.” Coming before Reagan, Carter embraced an “environmental paradigm”—that placed environmental limits on growth. Carter’s America is the one about which Obama stated: “…we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.” Yet, Obama has followed Carter’s direction, not Reagan’s and the results are Carter’s, not Reagan’s.Read full column

NM hunters must pay child support

From - Millions of dollars are owed to New Mexico children for child support, and a new system is making it easier for children to actually see that money. If parents don't pay up, they will now be denied hunting and fishing licenses in the state. New Mexico is a hub for big game hunting and fishing. And for many, the incentive to hunt may be enough to help make good in supporting their kids.
     Applying for a hunting or fishing license is now easy online. "Now they can just go directly to our website, and they can fill that all out by themselves and then they can also print their license right there in real time," said Rachel Shockley, spokesperson for New Mexico Game and Fish.
     The process may be simple, but those who haven't paid child support will come across a screen blocking them from doing so because their names have been flagged. Matt Kennicott of the New Mexico Human Services Department believes this system will help kids receive the help they deserve.
     "I think it would definitely serve as a good incentive knowing how much people like to go out there and hunt to get their child support paid off so they can receive their licenses. It would definitely be a motivator," Kennicott said.  According to the Child Support Enforcement Division, more than $17 million is owed for child support across the state. In one case, someone owes more than $321,000 in child support.
     A long list of bench warrants show the number of cases outstanding. "We've got I think just over 600 outstanding warrants right now," said Kennicott.  Friday was the last day of amnesty week, where people could take care of delinquent payments and get their bench warrants cleared. Soon law enforcement across the state will begin warrant round-ups and start making arrests.
     Game and Fish officials said this is the second most effective way of bringing in collections, next to the New Mexico Department of Motor Vehicle's license suspension program. More


Swickard: Our special kind of stupid

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. I was listening to an Immigration “Expert” on a radio program who was giving the audience his take on what the Immigration Reform legislation in Congress will do if passed. A question occurred to me so I called into the show, “Could you tell me what the Congress got wrong in the Immigration Bill of 1986 that the Congress today wants to reform?”
     The “Expert” paused and then blurted, “No, I know nothing about the law they are trying to reform.”
I said the next day on my talk radio program that it takes a special kind of stupid to reform a bill that no one has read with a bill that none of the legislators will read because it has too many pages. Yep, a special kind of stupid has taken over our country.
     So everyone is arguing about the Immigration reform bill of 2013 without anyone actually reading it. Much like ObamaCare, which also was not read because it had too many pages, this legislation will have to be passed to see what is really in it and what it all means. That is a very bad way to do government.
     Of the people in our country, some are legal and some do not have legal status. In 1986 a stab was made at dealing with immigration because at least three million people were in the United States illegally. So they were given Amnesty and the 1986 act made it illegal to hire people without legal status. Further the act mandated intensification of the Border Patrol so that no new people could come into our country illegally.
     So now we have a reform of that legislation to mandate making sure people can no longer come into our country illegally and to give amnesty. Wait, how is that reforming the 1986 bill? There is exactly no reform, that is what the 1986 legislation mandates. So is the problem that we did not have the right law or that we did not enforce the law?
     The issue before the Congress is to decide if the failing of the Immigration Act of 1986 that people today want to reform is a failure of law or enforcement. If the failure was enforcement then passing new laws will have no effect on the problem.
     I like people from other countries. Americans need them in our country. We also need to uphold our laws.Can we do both? Read full column


HS students forced to take classes at elementary

From - By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - In one New Mexico district, this year high school students are being put in the elementary school with the much younger kids. The Capitan School Superintendent said a wall will be separating the elementary school students from the high school students, but some parents say that's not enough.
     Rita Dickinson has a child at the high school and middle school. She said she’s concerned about her daughter being peer pressured. “We try to obviously raise our kids right at the house and tell them wrong from right and smoking, and drugs, and sex and everything else so that introduces another new peer pressure to these younger kids," said Dickinson.
     The renovations to the high school won’t be completed until next August. Until then nearly two hundred high school students will take classes in the elementary school. “It will be interesting to see how teachers are going to handle that and handle the noise from high school students being in the elementary and keeping the elementary kids focused because they’re not very focused at that age," said Dickinson.
     Superintendent Shirley Crawford said they are just trying to make it work. “You move, you make do. If you've ever been involved in a renovation in your own home you know it makes you want to pull your hair out and you always run into things you didn’t think we’re going to happen, but we're doing our best to keep it safe and make the best of the situation," said Crawford.
     The Superintendent said the district looked into buying portables for the high school students but decided to use that money for the renovations. More

Group wants to feed bears in Sandia Mountains

From - Members of the Sandia Mountain Bear Watch want to put out food in the mountains to help the animals survive. — An organization is calling the bear population in New Mexico a crisis situation. "We've got a big problem. I think we are on the verge of losing our bear population in the Sandia," said Jan Hayes, of Sandia Mountain Bear Watch.
     Hayes believes the drought plays a big role. "When it gets to this point, we don't believe there is anything here for them to eat. That's why everyone is seeing bears," said Hayes.
     Hayes is going straight to the governor and asking that the Department of Fish and Game start giving the bears supplemental food. "What will help is diversionary feeding. That means to divert them away from the homes, and just to feed them to get them over this starvation hump," said Hayes.
     The Department of Fish and Game does not support supplemental feeding of wildlife. Officials said they are concerned that supplemental feeding is not a long-term solution. Read more

ABQ Mayor looking into homophobic bus incident

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Albuquerque’s mayor is ordering an official inquiry into a strange incident on an airport shuttle bus involving a driver who ordered a gay couple to sit in the back of the bus. 
The story is getting national attention. The couple’s offense? They were holding hands. Now the two men, from Portland, Oregon, are considering legal action.
 It happened June 28 aboard a Standard Parking shuttle bus at the Sunport. The driver told the Alibi weekly newspaper that he didn’t want women and children to see the couple’s “inappropriate” behavior. 
Mayor Richard Berry says the driver was the one who was inappropriate.
Berry says this does not reflect Albuquerque, New Mexico, and as the mayor he’s upset about it and wants to make sure they get to the bottom of it. 
Standard Parking is a private business working under a vendor contract with the city. The company has issued a public apology to the gay couple. 
The driver has been suspended since early July.


State to see food assistance cuts

This fall, hundreds of thousands of New Mexico residents could see a cut in their food assistance benefits. 
The USDA released data showing 442,000 residents would be impacted when a temporary boost to a supplemental nutrition assistance program, known as SNAP (formerly food stamps), expires this fall. 
Across the country, an estimated 47 million Americans will see a reduction in their benefits. 
According to New Mexico Voices for Children, 42 percent of the state's children are on food stamps. The news comes on the heels of another report by Feeding America that found New Mexico has the highest rate of child hunger in the nation. 
When the benefit boost expires on Oct. 31, NM Voices for Children says a family of three would see a reduction of $29 a month, averaging less than $1.40 per person per meal.


NMSU Pres. wants alcohol at Pam American Center

New Mexico State University President Garrey Carruthers is voicing support for the possibility of selling beer and wine during sports events at the Las Cruces school's Pan American Center
According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, that possibility is expected to be up for discussion this fall. 
Carruthers says selling beer and wine at the center would be a good revenue-maker for NMSU and shouldn't have a downside if handled appropriately.
 On the other hand, Carruthers says he'd oppose alcohol sales at Aggie Memorial Stadium. He says that's because the university would be liable if people who drink while tailgating before the game purchase a single drink inside the stadium. 
The Pan American Center is the venue for NMSU home basketball and volleyball games as well as special events.


NM health providers lose appeal

Behavioral health providers under investigation for possible overbilling, mismanagement and fraud have lost an appeal of a court ruling that allows New Mexico to continue to withhold Medicaid payments.
 The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Monday dismissed the appeal by eight nonprofit providers. A federal judge in Albuquerque last month denied the providers' request for an order stopping the state from freezing payments for mental health and substance abuse services.
 A lawyer for the providers said the lawsuit against the state remains pending in district court. 
A legislative committee last week sent a letter to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department seeking assurances that New Mexico won't lose Medicaid funding.


Marita Noon: Please Don’t Frack

Commentary by Marita Noon - Regular readers of my weekly column may be shocked at my suggestion: “please don’t frack.” But, bear with me. The terms “frack,” “fracking,” or “frack job” have become a part of the vernacular. “Frack” is short for “fracturing.” It generally refers to the process used in drilling for oil and gas known as hydraulic fracturing—a process where pressure is applied to crack rock. Fracking is responsible for America’s newly found abundance of oil and natural gas—hence, the opposition from environmentalists. As the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas website states, this abundance “displaces the market for renewables.”
     Displacing the market for renewables is bad news for the Obama administration—which has allocated nearly 100 billion taxpayer dollars for so-called green energy projects. Obama’s EPA—under the direction of Lisa Jackson—has repeatedly, unsuccessfully, attempted to tie fracking to water contamination. If fracking can be found to be unsafe, and therefore banned, America’s domestic oil and gas will be kept in the ground, jobs will be lost, energy costs will soar—and renewables can come in as the solution with newfound cost parity.
     But, it is not just about oil and gas. Coal was the first target of the Obama administration’s attack on energy. Using the now discredited ruse of manmade climate change caused by CO2 emissions, the White House pushed for a cap-and-trade bill that would have artificially raised the price of energy. Even with Democrats in control of both houses, thanks to an uprising of the American public in the Summer of 2009, cap and trade never passed. Undaunted, the Administration has continued to push crippling energy policies through executive order, regulatory action, and bureaucratic bumbling. The result has been thousands of jobs lost in coal country where the real unemployment rate hovers around 20%.
     Americans are beginning to wake up. On July 10, Iraq war veteran and coal miner Jimmy Rose captured the national spotlight and became an overnight sensationon America’s Got Talent with his heartfelt song “Coal Keeps the Lights On.” Rose poignantly sings about the benefits of coal and in verse two brings it home: “They went plumb crazy in Washington. They’re talking about closing the mines. They’re gonna bleed us all dry from the inside out. They don’t care that much about the little man or the calloused hands. It’s a way of life ‘round here, just like it’s always been.” The crowd went crazy. The video went viral. Read full column

Oh no, Balloon Fiesta loses world record

From - By: Jeffery Gordon, - Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta no longer holds a world record.The record for launching the most hot air balloons within an hour was set in 2011.
     That is when 345 balloons lifted off at Balloon Fiesta Park. The Lorraine Mondial Festival in France has set a new record with 408 balloons.
     Balloon Fiesta organizers are saying they might not try to break the record at this year’s upcoming fiesta. More

Who really discovered Carlsbad Caverns?

NewsNM:Swickard - last week we were talking about the discovery of Carlsbad Caverns. August 4, 2013 the Carlsbad Current Argus came out with that story. - By Valerie Cranston
     Carlsbad Caverns, once known as Bat Cave, has been referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Many claimed to be its discoverer, but no one knows for sure who really discovered this magnificent underground world. One fact no one will dispute is that the Indians who roamed this area many years ago knew of this huge hole in the ground long before any white man.
     In May of 1968, then Carlsbad Caverns park naturalist Neal R. Bullington compiled and edited a document of recorded claims and counterclaims of discovery of the Bat Cave. One specific account in the document titled "Who Discovered Carlsbad Caverns?" tells of unfolding events at a barbecue in the early 1920s at Washington Ranch.
      "For years many have credited Jim White with being the discoverer. To the best of our knowledge, Jim White made no active claim to discovery, although neither did he go out of his way to stop others from claiming it for him," Bullington wrote noting, in no way should any claims tarnish White's reputation as explorer and promoter. 
     Dr. Willis T. Lee, head of the National Geographic Expedition in the cave March 20 to Sept. 15, 1924, wanted to promote the cavern following his underground visit. He invited a crowd of newspaper people and dignitaries to join him in a free tour of the cave followed by an invitation to the barbecue."We are indebted to Carl Livingston (Lee's expedition assistant) for recording what followed," wrote Bullington.
     Livingston, cowboy, attorney, amateur archaeologist, geologist, public official and writer recalled and wrote about the barbecue events for the March 1934 issue of New Mexico Magazine. The title of his story was "The Eighth Wonder; A Saga of 'Baloney' told Link by Link in which Discoverers of the Great Carlsbad Cavern are Thick as Flies." Read full story


Swickard: Our lovable corrupt New Mexico

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. We have lovable rogues in our state. One had a sign on his office, “If I ain’t in, shove the money under the door and go away.” Everyone looked at the sign and laughed. Me, I was pretty sure that the sign meant exactly what it said. I never saw anyone in the media print a picture of the sign. Go figure.
     New Mexico, known as the Land of Enchantment, is a land of corruption. Many New Mexicans are enchanted with our loveable corrupt rogues. The only thing we ask is that they act with panache. We do not like people who bash suckers in the head and scurry away with their wallets.
     No, we want great schemes that leave us breathless as to the audacity. We want to laugh at the way that these rogues shred the laws by knowing which Judges are up for a bribe and which Judges are not. These Robin Hoods make a good living and make us glad that they came to our little slice of heaven to enliven the environs.
     I do not know why people look surprised when they metaphorically turn over a government rock and find night creatures. That is just the way many New Mexico leaders operate. As is the habit of little dogs to bark and bite, many of our leaders enrich themselves as did their parents and their grandparents. Their cousins all have government jobs.
     The problem for most corrupt leaders involves the idea that the media is watching. Most of the time the media is only watching a little bit because there are too few journalists working in each organization to spend the thousands of hours it takes to bring down these corrupt politicians. Most media are just getting by financially. In fact, it is the great hope of many journalists to get a government job with a pension.
     As for the authorities who are supposed to catch the crooks, what of them? Many are political animals who know how far to go and which of the “Fixers” to leave alone. There is a price politically to be paid if someone starts sticking their neck where it does not belong. Read full column