Swickard: Surprise, you’re in the Army now

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Last week two young college men were in front of me in a grocery store line. I asked them, “What do you think about the conflict in Syria? Is America about to get embroiled?” One student shrugged, “I don’t know or care since it doesn't concern me.”
     “Really,” I exclaimed, “Did both of you register for the Selective Service when you turned eighteen? They both nodded a bit puzzled. I continued, “The whole reason for Selective Service registration is so they can draft you if our country needs you to serve in the military.”
     After a pause, one said, “You can’t get college financial aid unless you register.”
     “So you had a good reason to register with Selective Service,” I said. “That’s the same Selective Service I registered with in 1968. They registered me so that later then President Richard Nixon sent me greetings.”
      I had their attention. “Didn't it occur to you that if our country gets into a big shooting war young men like you are just what our Army needs?”
     One student protested, “No that is not right. Our country has an all-volunteer military. Our country does not conscript people against their will into war.”
I smiled, “Then why did your country need you to sign up for Selective Service in the first place? They spent years pushing you to do so when you turned eighteen. They made sure you knew bad things would happen if you did not. The way I see it, our country has two more draft eligible soldiers if needed.”
      Panic crept into their eyes and I went on. “I’m 63 so they do not want me. They need young men.” I sang a verse from long ago, “You’re in the Army now, you’re in the Army now… you’ll never get out, you’ll never get out, you’re in the Army now.”
     Two geezers behind me laughed loudly. They sang that same verse again.
      Finally I asked, “Did you vote in the last election?” Both shook their heads no, “We not registered.”
      I could not help observing, “Then there is no political reason for any politician to save your butts.”
They paid at the register and hurried out. The geezers behind me laughed, “Bet they now pay attention to the world news.” Read full column

Helicopter rescues Artesia residents from flood

From KOB-TV.com - By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Rain flooded SKP RV Park south of Artesia, leaving the people living there with no way out. Local runoff from storms caused the camp to be surrounded by water on all sides.
     Sixty residents were airlifted from the camp, three at a time. Altogether, 73 people were evacuated. KOB Eyewitness News 4 was there when the residents arrived on safe ground. One evacuee said it was an uncomfortable journey. "My husband had surgery last weekend. They evacuated the medical people first. He would have rather stayed in our rig, laying on the bed. He's quite uncomfortable in the bus now," Marg Schinke said.
     The evacuees were placed on buses and sent to Carlsbad, where the Red Cross has set up an evacuation center. More

NM Law Enforcement Academy changes rules

The board that oversees the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy has adopted a new curriculum that will mean trimming the academy to 16 weeks for basic police officer training. 

It was a unanimous decision by the boarding during a meeting Wednesday in Santa Fe to approve the new curriculum and trim six weeks from the current program. Officials say the new academy will feature more dynamic training and less redundancy to create a more fluid learning environment for cadets. They say this will help agencies around the state get their officers trained and on the street in a more efficient manner. 

The next basic training academy will begin in January. Classes are limited to 50 cadets.


Railrunner ridership is down

Ridership on New Mexico's commuter rail system dropped last year, and officials attribute part of that to the weak economy and job losses reducing the pool of passengers. 
Rio Metro Regional Transit District Director Terrence Doyle told a legislative panel Tuesday that Rail Runner Express ridership declined by about 9 percent in 2012, but fare revenues grew 10 percent because of higher ticket prices. He said lower gasoline prices and the higher fares contributed to the ridership decline. 
About 1.1 million riders boarded the train last year and 734,000 through August of this year.  
Rail Runner officials said they're looking for ways to boost ridership, such as shortening travel times.


NM reaches settlement with Chevron

New Mexico officials say Chevron Corp. will pay $5.2 million to settle the state's claims that the energy company improperly applied for money from a state environmental cleanup fund. 
The state says the company allegedly said it didn't have and didn't collect on insurance to pay for cleaning up petroleum contamination from Chevron's leaking underground storage tanks at gas stations around the state. 
According to the state, those statements were untrue because the company got payments from insurers through secret settlements and didn't tell the state. The state says it paid $4 million to Chevron. 
The settlement was announced Wednesday by the offices of Gov. Susana Martinez and Attorney General Gary King and by the state Environment Department.