Swickard: Burning up with road-rage

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Road-rage has been all the rage to talk about these last few weeks. Someone did a survey of what causes road-rage. The top cause was people who drive too slowly. For cranky people susceptible to road-rage driving too slowly are all those people going slower than them.
     The best way to understand these cranky people is to see them change a light bulb. They hold the bulb steady and let the world revolve around them. 
      In the 1950s humorist Brother Dave Gardner told about a guy behind a truck he could not pass. There was a sign on the back of the truck: I may be slow but I am ahead of you. The guy flips out and wrecks. It is a funny story, to a point.
     Two hundred years ago humans could only go as fast as a horse could run. Those early 19th century humans could only go the speed of Romans two thousand years earlier. Perhaps there was road-rage then for slow horses. Then technology increased speed. We now can go hundreds of miles in a day in air-conditioned comfort listening to music coming from space.
     But some people act like being slowed for a few moments makes the whole journey like riding in a German cattle-car in the early 1940s. Impatient people feel everything on the road purposely tries to make them mad. Ultimately, they pay the price for their maladaptive coping mechanism, though innocent people also pay.
     Out in the country where I am from we generally smile and wave. We drive friendly even with strangers. There is a reason for our civility. In small towns everyone knows everyone else so bad behavior is remembered more than sin and is often punished by the offender being shunned by town folks.
      Contrast that with big cities where people are mostly anonymous. Many unnecessarily aggressive drivers count on being able to disappear into a cloud of strangers after their intentionally bad moments. But there is a change brought to us by technology: car video systems.Read full column


Union Pacific unveils $400M Santa Teresa rail facility

From the El Paso Times - By Vic Kolenc  - New Mexico politicians showered Union Pacific officials with accolades Wednesday during the official christening of the railroad's new, $400 million, 2,200-acre rail facility in Santa Teresa, which officials expect to bolster economic development in this region for years to come.
     New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez even had the more than 700 people, who were assembled underneath a huge white tent on a hot, sunny morning at Union Pacific's new facility, give railroad officials a standing ovation.
     The facility includes one of Union Pacific's largest fueling facilities and the railroads's largest intermodal freight terminal along the U.S.-Mexico border. The 300-acre, high-tech intermodal terminal opened April 1 and is expected to process more than 170,000 freight containers this year, and many more in the future, from West Coast ship ports and inland terminals in Chicago and other metro areas.
     Union Pacific Chief Executive Officer Jack Koraleski said the new facility is making Santa Teresa "a strategic focal point for goods movement in the Southwest United States." The new intermodal facility will allow the railroad to grow its freight business in this region because its old El Paso facilities could not be expanded, Koraleski said.
      A steady stream of trucks haul the containers in and out of the facility via the new, six-mile state-built Strauss Road. The trucks can get through the mostly automated intermodal terminal in an average one to two minutes, he said. The national average for intermodal truck processing is five to six minutes, he said.
     The old El Paso intermodal facility in East Central El Paso and its Downtown El Paso freight yards are not going away as some people have thought, Koraleski said. The El Paso facilities will be used to expand Union Pacific's traditional box car freight business in this area, he said. More


Fire at southern NM biofuel facility contained

From KOAT-TV.com - By Devon Armijo - ANTHONY, N.M. —Emergency crews have contained a fire that sparked Tuesday morning at Rio Valley Biofuels near Anthony, N.M. The fire sparked around 9 a.m. Evacuations were ordered for about 1,200 people, but those evacuations have been lifted.
     Authorities said there were a series of small explosions at the facility. The cause of the fire is unknown. The facility has large quantities of methanol, glycerin and sodium methylate, as well as vegetable oil, hydrochloric acid and bio-diesel fuel.
     It is now a Hazmat situation, and crews are working to assess and contain the damage. More

Marita Noon: Obama admin hides use of bad science

Commentary by Marita Noon - Six years later, we know that President Obama’s pledge to run the most transparent administration in history was merely acampaign promise, a White House talking point, and not a statement of management style. We’ve seen a series of highly publicscandals—Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS, NSA, and now, the VA—where Oversight Committees have fought to pry information out of the Obama White House only to receive stacks of redacted documents.
      Most recently, we’ve seen court-ordered information provided to nonprofit government watchdog groups in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that have made it very clear why the Administration wanted to keep specific contents hidden. Emails that revealed direct White House involvement in the Benghazi scandal are behind the creation of the new Select Committee. IRS documents show the Tea Party targeting wasn’t a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati, as the Obama administrationclaimed—instead, now we know it was orchestrated out of DC. Briefing materials point out that the Obama administration has known about problems with VA hospital wait times since 2009.
      FOIA requests must be the bane of the “most transparent administration in history.” Upon his signing of the FOIA legislation in 1966, former President Johnson stated: “This legislation springs from one of our most essential principles: A democracy works best when the people have all the information that the security of the Nation permits. No one should be able to pull curtains of secrecy around decisions which can be revealed without injury to the public interest.”
     As shameful as each of these scandals are, they directly impact only a comparative handful of people. We grieve the loss of life, but unless you are a family member or friend of the four brave men killed in Benghazi or of the dozens of veterans who risked their lives for our country only to die unnecessarily due to bad policy at the VA hospitals, your life goes on without consequence. Read full column
News New Mexico is live and in studio today with veterans


Flooding closes State park entrance

From KOB-TV.com - By: Mike Anderson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - The main entrance to Bottomless Lakes State Park on Highway 409 is closed due to flooding, and will remain closed for the foreseeable future. Officials say the only way to enter the park is through Dexter, NM.
     “Although we are thankful for the rain, we regret this inconvenience,” said State Park Division Director Tommy Mutz.
Directions to get into the park from Roswell:
     Take Highway 285 south to Junction of State Road 2. Take State Road 2 to Dexter, and at the Allsups in Dexter turn left on Shawnee Road and follow it to where it ends at Wichita Rd. Turn left on Wichita Rd until it ends at Highway 409, which is the loop road around Bottomless Lakes State Park. Turn left to get to the Lea Lake Campground. The Visitors Center is 1.5 miles past Lea Lake.
Directions to get into the park from Artesia:
      Travel north and turn right on to State Rd 2 and follow until Dexter. In the center of Dexter turn Right on Shawnee Rd and follow to where it ends at Wichita Rd. Turn left on Wichita Rd and take until it ends at Highway 409, which is the loop road around Bottomless Lakes State Park. At Whichita Rd and Highway 409 turn left to get to the Lea Lake Campground and the Visitor Center is 1.5 miles past Lea Lake. More

Swickard: Accessing truth is the problem

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. The first victim of the Information Age is truth. Specifically, it is having access to the truth because there is so much false clutter that no one can be sure the media or Internet is really true.
     Often truth has been hijacked for political or anarchist reasons. There are hundreds of false reports each day that make it into the media. These false reports are either called out or assimilated into the culture of our society. Often they live as slogans, “Bush lied and people died.” Or, “America did not land on the Moon.”
     It is now possible to “prove” or “disprove” any fact or theory. There is probably a blog chronicling that Elvis is alive and playing golf with Michael Jackson who is also alive. If not, wait a minute, it will be up shortly.
     My first connection to a wider world was in 1988 when I was a tester for Prodigy while living in California. At first it was opinions and advisories and in the 1990s it changed to data repositories.
     In 1992 I was using email at NMSU such that I was on a project with a women in Jamaica and a man in New Zealand. We never met face to face but worked a year together. The data we sent back and forth stayed true on the worksheets and it was great.
     Certainly I was aware in 1998 of the Y2K scare which came from the Internet to the media and back. Now it seems mildly humorous that so many people believed that life on this planet was going to end due to a programming problem when the clock strikes the year 2000.
     Well, not everyone was freaked out and worried including myself, but the media played the concern to the hilt. People started stocking up on food, water and generators. However, I did not stock up or hoard above my normal two weeks or so of stuff.
      In 1999 I wrote a column asking: how were these hoarders going to deal with their neighbors when they have the only warm house in the neighborhood? It was going to get ugly, especially when the lights came back on. Neighbors will have long memories of you shoving a gun in the faces and telling them to scram. Read full column

Court rules Ortiz recall petition can continue

From KOB-TV.com - By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com The New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously affirmed a lower court's decision in the recall effort of Bernalillo County Treasurer Manny Ortiz.
     The ruling allows the recall petition process to continue. If the petition gets 82,000 signatures, Ortiz will face a recall election.
     In January, local attorney James Dory went before a judge to ask permission to start a petition to recall Ortiz. The Bernalillo County commissioners have accused Ortiz of mishandling county finances, saying his investments may have cost county taxpayers around $23 million.
     Oritz has maintained his innocence. He previously said in court that he paid every bill that came into his office. More

Sundowner Motel renovated as apartment units

From KOB-TV.com - A Route 66 landmark is reborn – with a new lease on life in Albuquerque. Not long ago the Sundowner Motel at San Pedro and Central was ripe for the wrecking ball – a motel that was swanky in the Sixties but slid into hard times in later decades. Now it’s back, in the form of 71 apartments for low income, middle income and disabled people. They seem to dig the restored Sixties style.
      Architect Garrett Smith designed the makeover – vintage Vegas. Smith also designed the rebuilding of the Luna Lodge a couple of miles east on Central Avenue. The developer of both projects is New Life Homes – a nonprofit with a mission to provide affordable housing for people with special needs. The price tag on the Sundowner project was $9.2 million, with state and local governments chipping in for the public/private partnership.
       Here’s one of the worst-kept secrets of the Sundowner: back in 1975 a couple of guys lived there for a brief time, writing computer programs and trying to start a company. One guy named Paul Allen. Another guy named Bill Gates. A little company named Microsoft. They couldn't acquire financing here and moved on to greener pastures. More

Marita Noon: the liberty and energy connection

Commentary by Marita Noon - Following my appearance on the Daily Show, I’ve received emails and phone calls from people who don’t agree with my views about energy and the advantages America’s energy abundance provides—benefits that drive both progress and prosperity.
      I've spent the past couple of days at a conference on “Energy, Economics and Liberty.” There discussions took place on the energy debate, government’s role, market solutions, and the geo-politics of energy. About twenty men—all experts in various aspects of energy—attended. I wasn’t just the only female I was the only energy advocate. The topics brought Greg’s request to mind and the conversations helped form the answers.
     One of the participants, Jim Clarkson, wrote an article titled: “The Shale Gas Paradigm,” in which he states: “Increased access to energy is a key to economic progress in the undeveloped world.” Similarly, in my book, Energy Freedom, I quote Robert Bryce, author of Power Hungry, who says: “Electricity is the energy commodity that separates the developed countries from the rest. Countries that can provide cheap and reliable electric power to their citizens can grow their economies and create wealth. Those who can’t, can’t.”
     Senate Major Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) once said: “Oil and gas are making us sick.” But I contend that they—along with coal—are the very things keeping us well. In Energy Freedom’s introduction, I point out: “Energy saves lives. When fire strikes or hurricanes are bearing down upon a city, it is energy—in this case in the form of gasoline—that allows people to drive away and escape death. … When weather is extreme, it is energy—usually in the form of electricity (most frequently from coal or natural gas)—that keeps people alive. Air conditioning allows people to live in comfort in Arizona in the summer. Heating keeps people from freezing to death in Alaska in the winter. Energy keeps us well. Energy makes us comfortable.” Read full column

Zozobra debate takes to social media

From KRQE-TV.com - SANTA FE (KRQE) – The battle over which day to burn Old Man Gloom in Santa Fe this year is sparking a fight on social media.
     This year, the burning of Zozobra will take place Friday, Aug. 29. That’s sparked a fight between the group organizers, the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe and downtown business who want the event to take place on its traditional Thursday.
     The merchants have the backing of city councilor Patty Bushee who’s taken the concerns to the city manager and mayor.
     Now the Santa Fe New Mexican is reporting the club plans to put pressure on Bushee with a social media blitz and phone bank. They’re calling on people to pepper Bushee with the message that they support the Friday date.
     An event organizer says if the date is changed, it could hinder the event all together. More

Swickard: Who is really in charge?

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. It is possible for someone in New Mexico to get hurt or even killed. Why? There is an ambiguity among our local, county, state and national agencies as to who has the final police authority in New Mexico. No one knows and each thinks they do. Let me illustrate: it is legal for New Mexicans who comply with regulations to have medical marijuana. There is no ambiguity in New Mexico’s laws.
     However, the federal government considers medical marijuana an illegal substance subjecting the person to the full fury of the federal government. The State of New Mexico says it is legal while the Federal Government says it is not.
     There should never be a time in a nation of laws for something to be legal and illegal concurrently. But that is not as big a problem as the question: who ultimately is in charge in police matters?
The second example came recently when Otero County Commissioners asked Otero Sheriff Benny House to open a gate in Otero County that was shut by a federal authority. The feds insists on a closed gate, Otero County wants an open gate. They told the Sheriff to open it. Neither side intends to give an inch.
     Imagine if I legally possessed medical marijuana. And imagine if Governor Martinez was in my truck as we were stopped by the Border Patrol. They would detect marijuana and attempt to confiscate it even though I showed my paperwork.
     Whether I was with Governor Martinez or my own County Sheriff we would have a difficulty. How would it play out? We do not know because it is not clear who is the final authority in New Mexico. Our New Mexico Constitution says it is the Sheriff of that county. Would the feds listen?
     So let’s say I asked Governor Martinez to protect my legal property. Perhaps she would tell her State Police bodyguards to protect us from the feds. Well, friends, it could get dangerous. Who would back off? The federal government has become a military of their own with tanks, planes and guns galore. Read full column


Lawmakers, Bill Richardson near boiling point over Navajo water deal

From KOAT-TV.com - SANTA FE, N.M. —Lawmakers are trying to stop what they call an illegal deal made by a former New Mexico governor regarding water, and the case might make its way to the state Supreme Court. “Water is life,” said Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe. “Every year (the situation) seems to be getting more and more dire.”
     In 2010, Gov. Bill Richardson signed a contract with the Navajo Nation. The contract agrees to give huge amounts of New Mexico’s water to the tribe. The water comes from the same source that reaches the Rio Grande and provides water for places like Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
     “There are many people who are affected here, and as we all know, this drought situation that we're in, we don't know what the new norm is,” said Trujillo. Lawmakers are saying the contract is invalid and illegal because the Legislature didn’t pass it, which legislators say is their constitutional right.
     “Make sure we get this process correct,” said Trujillo. “This is to preserve the people's voice, their right.” Lawmakers are asking the Supreme Court to ban the state engineer from giving away the water.
     Instead they want the Legislature to be able to vet, debate and vote on an agreement with the Navajo Nation. Richardson disagrees with the arguments in the lawsuit. He said he didn’t need the Legislature’s approval for the contract.
     Lawmakers make it clear that they are not opposed to an agreement with the Navajo Nation. They just want to be able to control the deal. The state engineer said the Legislature has supported the settlement by appropriating money over the years and as a result is providing safe, clean water in homes. More

Big state purchase collecting dust

From KRQE-TV.com - by Kim Holland - SANTA FE (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) spent thousands of dollars to replace its older phones with new, high-tech ones but four years later hundreds of them are still in their boxes, collecting dust.
     In 2010 NMDOT purchased 1,384 Internet based Cisco phones for $117,640 so districts across the state could keep connected. According to NMDOT’s Cabinet Secretary Tom Church, the new phones use the Internet for calls eliminating expensive landline long distance costs. “They have a camera feature so you can do video conferencing, other than that they’re just a regular phone, only they use a different wiring system or internet system,” says Church.
     All government entities are required to use the Department of Technology’s phone system but, four years ago when the previous administration purchased the phones for $85 each they didn’t realize the new system violated state statute.Today, 850 phones sit in their original boxes waiting to be installed in the Santa Fe office – more than $72,000 worth of new technology unused.
     KRQE News 13 asked Church what’s taken so long. Church replied that the transferring of all the equipment is complicated, “We just haven’t gotten there yet. Ya know, phones don’t go bad.”
     Others however like Republican Senator Mark Moores of Bernalillo County, say taxpayer money is not being put to good use. “When we spend taxpayers’ money we need to make sure it gets out there and used for taxpayers’ benefit,” he said. “It can not collect dust, if it can’t be used at this department we need to make sure it’s used somewhere else.”
     Unfortunately, NMDOT’s Cabinet Secretary said there’s no timeline when the new phones will be installed. More

Gov. Martinez appears in new Weh ad

From KOB-TV.com - by Stuart Dyson - They are the odd couple of New Mexico politics – old rivals who appear together for a brief but memorable moment in a brand new Republican ad in the race for U.S. Senate.
     It is a warm and fuzzy moment for Susana Martinez and Allen Weh in Weh’s first ad. Up until now it’s been mostly rock salt and rusty nails between these two – and that goes back to something that happened on KOB Eyewitness News 4 four years ago.
     Back in 2010, during the Republican primary for Governor, Martinez crashed a Weh interview with reporter Stuart Dyson. Martinez, then the Las Cruces District Attorney, flourished a manila envelope at Weh and challenged the retired Marine colonel to release his tax information.
     "I’m happy to show you my taxes any day to prove I pay them," Martinez says. "If you’re willing to present yours in an honest way, as early as tomorrow." "Is this part of the interview, Stuart? "asks a clearly confused Weh."No," the reporter replies, equally surprised at the intrusion.
     "Well, I work in the private sector," Weh tells Martinez. "There will be an appropriate time to present our taxes but I don’t think that’s germane at the moment."
     It was a defining moment in the campaign. Martinez whipped the pants off Weh and the rest of the pack in that primary and went on to her historic victory over Diane Denish in November. There was no love lost between Weh and Martinez, to say the least. During rare public appearances at the same events the hostility was palpable. You could cut it with a knife – maybe.
     Now the new Weh ad features just a smidge of a quick embrace with Martinez on some stage at some event somewhere, while the ad narrators says "Allen Weh will protect our federal facilities." Gov. Martinez is not exactly the poster girl for federal government – but what the heck – cue the violins! They’re together again!
     The 30-second ad features Weh’s military record and his commitment to job creation. He faces Las Cruces lawyer David Clements in the primary. The winner will take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall in the general election. More

Burrowing Owls delay Aggie Memorial turf installation

From the Las Cruces Sun-News - By Lindsey Anderson - Small avian residents are delaying New Mexico State University's plan to replace Aggie Memorial Stadium's grass field with artificial turf. A family of Western burrowing owls have dug into a corner of the field, while two other pairs nest just below the Stan Fulton Center.
     Officials are waiting for the birds' hatching period to end before fully installing turf, NMSU President Garrey Carruthers said Friday. In the meantime, the university has erected fencing around the birds, and signs — "BURROWING OWL NEST, DO NOT DISTURB" — to warn visitors to stay away while the eggs hatch.
      The birds have nested across town and at Aggie Memorial for more than 20 years, Desmond said. They have been spotted at spring football practices this year, enjoying the quiet that off-season brings.

Crews battle wildfire north of Silver City

From KOB-TV.com - By: Steve Mieczkowski, KOB.com Crews are responding to a wildfire along Highway 15 north of Silver City in the Gila National Forest. Authorities advise that the Cherry Creek and McMillan campgrounds are being evacuated, and Highway 15 is closed at Pinos Altos north of Silver City.
     Officials said an estimated 1,200 acres are currently burning. Approximately 100 firefighters are responding to the blaze. Aircraft are on order but due to windy conditions in the area they may not be able to fly. More

Violating the Constitution with Affirmative Action

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. The Supreme Court of the United States recently made a bad ruling in a Michigan case, but at least it was not a horrible ruling. By a 6-2 vote the Court ruled that voters in Michigan could decide if Affirmative Action would be used in their universities.
     What makes this bad is that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution is clear: …nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
     There is no wiggle room, “…the equal protection of the laws.” It does not say that United States citizens can be denied equal protection of the laws for a good cause.
     The creatures of evil in our society immediately started trying to undo the guarantee of this Amendment to the Constitution. In fact, in 1868 when the Fourteenth Amendment was passed the United States nationally and each of the states should have allowed all women of age to vote since they have an equal protection of the laws. Sadly the male citizens of that age did not nor did any court affirm the Equal Protection.
     In the 1896 Supreme Court case, Plessy versus Ferguson, petitioner Homer Plessy, a successful Louisiana businessman did not consider himself African-American since he was an octoroon, which means he had one grandparent who was of African-American heritage.
     Mr. Plessy was one-eighth African-American but considered himself white. He refused to sit in the segregated area of a train therefore he was arrested and fined. This went through the courts in Louisiana to their Supreme Court and then to the U. S. Supreme Court. In the worst ruling by the Supreme Court of all time the Court said that segregation was legal as long as the segregation was separate but equal.
     Further, they did not even rule what percentage of ancestry made someone an African-American which might have been of some use. Finally almost sixty years later a much better Supreme Court undid the harm.
       Things were looking up and then something equally harmful happened. Years later the forces of evil made a ruling that to end discrimination it was imperative to discriminate against some Americans. That is like ruling to end murder we must kill some innocent people. This ruling also ignored the “Equal Protection” afforded all citizens. The idea of Affirmative Action has always been tragically flawed by it being a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Read full column

Is Sagebrush Rebellion 2 Moving to Otero County?

From Errors of Enchantment by Paul Gessing, Rio Grande Foundation - Rather than describing the story at length on my own, this article from the Alamogordo Daily News really explains the situation.
     The key is that a conflict between the Federal Government’s US Forest Service/Department of Agriculture and Otero County, NM. The Sheriff of Otero County, Benny House has been instructed to unlock/open four fences that are limiting access to water by cattle on Forest Service lands in the County. Again, the specific issues and jurisdictions are complex, but it is another disagreement over who should manage resources in the West, the federal government in Washington or state and local governments. 
     Ultimately, we at the Rio Grande Foundation have endorsed state control as per the 9th and 10th amendments to the US Constitution, but it will take the intervention and activism of local government officials to spur the discussion and ultimately drive the shift in land management away from a far-off bureaucracy to the states.
     It will be interesting to see if Sheriff House unlocks those gates and how the Forest Service responds. More


Changes planned for next Albuquerque council meeting

From KOB-TV.com - By: Jen Samp, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Albuquerque City Councilors say they have never seen this happen. “Very disturbed by the protest. I don't think it was appropriate,” Councilman Isaac Benton.
     Protesters took over their meeting. “The word has to be disgusting,” Council Vice President Trudy Jones said, “It’s disgusting.” The protesters waved signs against APD’s officer involved shootings. They shouted at councilors demanding the recall of Mayor Richard Berry and the arrest of Police Chief Gorden Eden.
     Council President Ken Sanchez ended up adjourning the meeting. “This is their forum, this is their venue but they need to respect the people who are there,” Sanchez said.
     David Correia, an Assistant Professor at UNM, was the one who drafted a citizens arrest warrant for Chief Eden. “The families of victims and activists decided it’s time to seize our government back,” Correia said.
     Councilors argue there were two charter amendments on the agenda that addressed how APD's chief would be selected. They say protesters stopped a vote from happening.
     A special meeting is now set for this Thursday. Councilman Sanchez says there will not be any public comment unless it relates to specific agenda items. There will also be penalties for interrupting the meeting. That could include up to a $500 fine and jail time.. More

Marita Noon: To be successful, solar combines taxpayer dollars with deceptive practices

From Redstate.com - by Marita Noon - The Spain-based company, Abengoa Solar, claims to be “a global leader in solar thermal energy.” Its website boasts: “Abengoa Solar is the largest solar plant operator worldwide.” Abengoa went public in October 2013, and since, its stock price has doubled. With the support the White House gives to solar energy and the mandates for renewable energy present in the majority of states, Abengoa sounds like a solid investment. 
     And, that’s the image Abengoa has burnished with full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal to encourage investment. However, rather than a “buy,” Abengoa should be a “sell”—sell quickly—as its American run could be coming to a close.
     For nearly two years, with researcher Christine Lakatos, I have covered Obama’s green-energy, crony-corruption scandal. Our collaborative efforts have resulted in the biggest single body of work on the topic. I’ve written more than 30 columns on it and Lakatos’ blog: The Green Corruption Files, contains a book’s worth of research. The message has been magnified due to frequent citations by many media outlets and commentators including Rush Limbaugh andMichelle Malkin.
     Funding for our green-energy work has always been a challenge but has been nonexistent in 2014. However, when, based on previous coverage, a whistleblower from Abengoa contacted me, we went into overdrive. With hundreds of combined hours of researching, interviewing, and writing, Abengoa became our grand finale—with the hope of leading to its not-so-grand end.
     With the help of connections, such as board member and former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and investor and former Vice President Al Gore, Abengoa received $2.8 billion in loan guarantees from Obama’s 2009 Stimulus Bill and then another $818 million grant from the Department of Energy—making them one of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA) single largest recipient of taxpayer dollars.
     Despite the largess, they couldn’t be successful within the confines of the rules. As I’ve addressed thoroughly in my Abengoa exposé published by the Daily Caller, and, with the help of additional whistleblowers who’ve since come out with their stories, documented by Lakatos, we show that Abengoa cheated its unwitting American investors. It broke immigration and employment laws, engaged in discrimination and favoritism, used expensive and/or outdated technology, and took cost-saving but dangerous shortcuts in design and construction.
     Abengoa is now under an Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation. It is out of compliance with Davis Bacon regulations—which requires that employees receive “prevailing wage” and that the certified payroll is submitted weekly. And, the Department of Energy has just suspended disbursements of ARRA loan guarantee funding until a full audit can be done and Abengoa is found to be in complete compliance with all laws, regulations, and stipulations. Based on our work on Abengoa and our knowledge of the arrogant, above-the-law way it operates, an audit will likely uncover far more violations than those that we’ve discovered. Read full column


Cheech Marin shares his artistic passion with Las Cruces

From the Las Cruces Sun-News - by By S. Derrickson Moore - LAS CRUCES >> Cheech Marin had a busy day in Las Cruces. The actor and comedian, best known for his improvisational comedy, television and movie roles (most famously his "Cheech & Chong" routines with Tommy Chong), numerous cartoon voices and his stint as a police detective in "Nash Bridges," was celebrated for his role as an art collector who has nurtured and promoted emerging artists for decades.
     On Friday, Cheech Marin lunched with artists, museum leaders, arts advocates and educators at the north Las Cruces home of Dr. Kent Jacob and Sallie Ritter, met with Alma d'arte Charter High School students and welcomed the public at the opening of "Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection" featuring 70 paintings by 29 noted Chicano artists, at the Las Cruces Museum of Art.
      Along the way, he revealed that a new, long-awaited Cheech & Chong movie soon could become a reality. "Chong and I are talking about it, but then we've been talking about it for a long time. Probably within the next year. We've been touring together and trying to stay alive. I'm a Chicano. We have to have at least three jobs," Marin quipped.
     He said he will soon travel to Bordeaux, France, to open an exhibit featuring another group of artwork in his extensive collection, and will continue to visit sites on the "Chicanitas" tour. His book about the collection, also titled "Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection" was published in September and is available on Amazon.com. More

Swickard: Paying Americans too much or too little

2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Question: when is the notion of “any” considered not enough? And, when is the notion of “much” considered too much? Answer: when the government decides the compensation for American workers.
     Lately, along with the push to increase minimum compensation, there is now a push to impose a maximum wage. Some Americans are getting too much compensation so the government must stop them.
     I cannot lay my finger on the part of the United States Constitution that says the government can make me pay someone more or less than I desire. The founders thought that emancipated adult citizens had the right to make any deal for compensation if both sides agree. If they do not agree, they do not have to trade.
     Economist Milton Friedman wrote, “There is one and only one social responsibility of business, to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”
     All of the horror stories about workers being abused involve times in America’s past that are no longer germane to the argument. If someone is not making any money right now and wants to work for less than the minimum wage it is wrong to keep them unemployed. Further, they are not gaining productive skills. Read full column