5.2 quake strikes New Mexico

No, this is Japan, New Mexico was fine
From KOAT-TV.com - A 5.2-magnitude earthquake rocked parts of New Mexico on Saturday night. Officials said the quake struck about 10:59 p.m. Saturday
     The KOAT-TV newsroom was flooded with phone calls from people who felt the earthquake.
     Residents in Silver City, Truth or Consequences, Tucson, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas, said they felt the tremor.
     The epicenter was located about 31 miles northwest of Lordsburg.
     Officials said there were no reports of injuries or serious damage.

Swickard: Job is not a four letter word

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. The most important job young people will ever get is their first job. It may not pay well; but it leads to their second job. They cannot have a second job without a first job. Without the all-important first job, many young people will flounder and never get into the job market therefore wind up living on the street.
     Our society has put up many barriers to young people working. So many young do not get a no-brainer job and learn to work. They must learn to work as the boss says and to not quit until they have another job lined up. There is nothing wrong with working and going to school to get that first job. The key to my success over forty years was to get that first job and learn from it so I could get the next job and so on. Today many young people are in their middle twenties and still have not had a first job. I say to them that job is not a four letter word.
     There are three reasons many young people have not had their first job: first, they have not valued the things to learn from a first job. Secondly, many are not being forced by the economics of their life to get a job as long as they do not mind going in debt with student loans. Finally, many young people have not gotten that first job because the job market has collapsed.
     Many jobs are not open to young people because these young people do not have any job skills so employers are reluctant to hire young people who must be paid the minimum wage while they cannot return that productivity for the employer.
     In this tough economy many employers are slimming down their workforces and paying more to productive members of their staff while not hiring young people. There is a national push to make this worse by raising the minimum wage further. No one is speaking out for these young unemployed.
     Know this: they cannot get a second job without getting their first job. Further, they cannot get productive skills if employers will not hire them because of the minimum wage.
     There should be a waiver that if someone has never had a job previously then they can make any deal with an employer for a first job. Suddenly, they would be attractive. Read full column

Española councilor charged with pistol-whipping man, shooting at truck

Espanola City Councilor Eric Radosevich
From KOB-TV.com - By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com - The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office confirms an Española city councilor is behind bars on charges of aggravated battery and assault.
     Councilor Eric Radosevich, 43, is accused of pistol whipping a man and shooting at his vehicle two times.  On June 21, the victim told the sheriff's office he was at a gas station when an unknown male approached his pickup truck to speak to his wife.
     The man said he confronted the stranger and then got into an argument. While trying to leave the gas station, the victim said the man followed him in a white Chevy pickup with other men inside.
     When he drove to the Roadrunner Cafe in Pojoaque, the victim said the stranger came out of his truck and struck him several times with a black handgun. The stranger then allegedly fired two rounds toward the victim while driving away--striking the victim's truck.
     Through the investigation, the sheriff's office learned the white Chevy pickup belonged to Radosevich. He was arrested on Wednesday and remains in custody at the Santa Fe County Detention Facility. More

Lack of imagination: a fatal flaw

Commentary - © 2014 Pat Temple - A lack of imagination can make life worse than death, in ways. And, sadly, the way human beings are made, they simply can't think ahead when it comes to certain specific areas. They're pretty good at laying out fields and irrigation systems. 
      They can picture a pecan farm twenty years in the future, and the way the house might look, with rich hardwood floors, high ceilings, and hand-created tile counter tops, but they are nearly hopeless at combating "common folklore" such as "the hook doesn't hurt the fish," despite the fact that the fish appears to be trying desperately to get off it.
     H. L. Mencken wrote, about 100 years ago, that people hadn't bathed until the last 75 years. He did that deliberately to see how many people would believe it. My father said he was thinking about that statement (and believing it) standing in front of a Roman bathtub in the Pliny Gardens in Florence, Italy. 
      He said the dichotomy almost did not occur to him. He was standing directly in front of proof that people bathed 2,000 years ago while thinking "I believe that people did not bathe until 75 years ago … and yet, here I am, standing in front of a bathtub that was hand-carved out of marble 2,000 years ago."
     It must have helped us survive, somehow, to have this ability to believe a certain set of facts that aren't facts at all, but it might not be so good for us as individuals. I know that for years the school system has said that children have to go to public schools "because they have to learn to get along with these people; they will be with them when they grow up." 
      It's not true. Getting along is among the most natural of any human qualities. Any two people sitting next to each other on an airplane can adjust to each other's differences in minutes, and find grounds for a first-rate conversation. Read full column


State sets aside money for special education dispute

The State Board of Finance has approved $26 million as a safety net if New Mexico loses a dispute with the federal government over special education funding. 

The board on Tuesday agreed to a transfer of the money from this year's budget accounts. The Legislature provided the money as part of a contingency plan for an ongoing fight over whether New Mexico met requirements for federal aid since 2010. 

Federal officials contend New Mexico has improperly trimmed state funding available for special education. The state disagrees.

 Deputy Public Education Secretary Paul Aguilar said up to $18 million could be needed if the federal government rules against the state for this year's budget.

 The board's bookkeeping move makes up to $26 million available if it's necessary when the dispute is resolved.

Information from The Associated Press. 


State working to eliminate feral pigs

State and federal wildlife managers in New Mexico are making progress in their fight against feral pigs. 
They say they have eliminated the majority of invasive porkers from 10 counties and progress is being made in another seven counties where pigs have taken up residency. 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Service Division says federal hunters tracked down and eliminated about 700 pigs last year as part of a $1 million pilot project. Most of the work was done across New Mexico's eastern plains. 
Officials say most of the pigs removed were female, which should put a dent in the population's ability to multiple again.
 Officials will be targeting two counties in New Mexico's Bootheel region next. 
Information from The Associated Press. 


Judge says Ruidoso can't ban negative opinions

Ruidoso Village Council
A federal judge has come down hard on Ruidoso officials who tried to ban residents from saying anything negative at council meetings. 
 U.S. District Judge James O. Browning issued an injunction Monday finding that the village of Ruidoso's rule or policy barring speakers from being critical is "an unconstitutional burden on free speech."
 Under the village rules, a speaker could praise personnel, staff or the village council, or could make a neutral comment, but could not voice criticism.
 In an 89-page opinion, Browning granted summary judgment to lawyer William Griffin, who sued after the council refused his request to speak at a meeting. Browning said limits can be placed on time and topic, but not on the speaker's opinion.


Rep. Garcia challenges primary election results

Mary Helen Garcia
Attorneys for the campaign of Rep. Mary Helen Garcia have formally a filed a motion challenging the results in the June Primary Election. 
Specifically, the attorneys cite irregularities in the signatures associated with absentee voting in the primary election for New Mexico House District 34. Rep. 
Garcia said. “The fact that Sunland Park has been marred by election fraud in the past, most recently in the 2013 municipal elections, and that the fact that similarities exist in this election, is more than a coincidence."
  Attorneys for Rep. Garcia submitted information by a forensic handwriting analyst, citing at least 17 cases of signatures not matching voter rolls. 
Third Judicial District Judge  Jim T. Martin set August 12 as the trial date for the election challenge. 
Information from The Associated Press. 


Photos show challenges battling Assayii Lake Fire

From KOB-TV.com - By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com - A new look at the Assayii Lake Fire shows what firefighters see and experience up close to the flames. Neil Damon, a crew boss with the Navajo Scouts, said they have been fighting the fire for more than a week. Damon took several pictures near the fire lines.
     At one point, he said the flames were so bad his crew had to back away. "When a fire blows up that basically just means that the fire takes off to a bigger extent, and our rule of fire: If the fire is more than four feet, higher than four feet, we can't fight it. It has to be four feet or less. If it's more than that, they just pull everyone off the line. These flames were from four feet to thirty feet," he said.
     Federal officials and a minority-owned medics group have also released photos from behind the fire line. Christina Nicole with Wilderness Medics captured a photo of firefighters hosing down fire fuels. She also shot a photo of a helicopter making water drops.
     Brandon Oberhardt with the U.S. Forest Service also snapped up-close photos of areas where the fire was low intensity. See more and the photos

Climate change–less of a scientific agenda and more of a political agenda

Commentary by Marita Noon - Those who don’t believe in climate change are “a threat to the future,” says the Washington Post in a June 14 article on President Obama’s commencement address for the University of California-Irvine. Regarding the speech, the Associated Press reported: “President Obama said denying climate change is like arguing the moon is made of cheese.” He declared: “Scientists have long established that the world needs to fight climate change.”
      The emphasis on a single government policy strays far from the flowery rhetoric found at the traditional graduation ceremony—especially in light of the timing. While the president was speaking, all of the progress made by America’s investment of blood and treasure in Iraq was under immediate threat. And, as I pointed out last week, what is taking place right now in Iraq has the potential of an imminent impact to our economic security. Instead of addressing the threat now, why is he talking about “a threat to the future” that might happen in the next 100 years?
     The answer, I believe, is found later in his comments. In his speech, Obama accused “some in Congress” of knowing that climate change is real, but refusing to admit it because they’ll “be run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate science is a liberal plot.”
     Perhaps he’s read a new book by a climatologist with more than forty years of experience in the discipline: The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science by Tim Ball, PhD—which convincingly lays out the case for believing that the current climate change narrative is “a liberal plot.” (Read a review from Principia Scientific International.) In the preface, Ball states: “I’ve watched my chosen profession—climatology—get hijacked and exploited in service of a political agenda.” He indirectly calls the actions of the president and his environmental allies: “the greatest deception in history” and claims: “the extent of the damage has yet to be exposed and measured.” Read full column

Asayii Fire 60 percent contained

From KRQE-TV.com - ALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) – Crews continue to make progress with the Asayii Fire burning in the Chuska Mountains near Gallup. On Sunday morning, officials reported the fire, which has burned more than 14,000 acres, is 60 percent contained.
     Nearly 600 personnel continue to fight the blaze which sparked Friday, June 13, when a man burned weeds in the area. On Sunday, crews planned to continue to improve and complete fire lines, and mop up the outside perimeter.
     Highway 134 and all areas to the north reopened around 8 a.m. Sunday, however, five access roads south of the highway remain closed.
     According to a news release, access to the east of Highway 491 will be open and specific ares to the west of Highway 491 will reopen, but the area around the fire remains closed. Officials released the following information:
     The public may enter the 6690 road south of Highway 134, but cannot travel west of the 708 road. They may travel back east to Highway 491 and also travel east of the 6690 road.
     The 705 and 714 roads are open to the beginning of the Ponderosa Pines, but not beyond. Firefighters are working in the area, so no further access will be allowed.
     The 691 road is open. The 701 road is open until it intersects the 720 road. At the intersection, travel is allowed south to the 703 road, but not west on the 720 road. Travel is prohibited west of the 701 road on the 703 road. The public can travel the loop back east to the 491 road. All roads east of these locations are open to homeowners only. More

Swickard: Good teaching is rare in our schools

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. The most important question in education: what is good teaching? Perhaps defining good teaching is impossible, but we know good teaching when we see it. On the other hand many celebrated teachers may not know how to teach but are great at educational politics.
       Example: what many “Good” teachers are good at is playing political games in their school. They know how to play the games and therefore their students get good scores on tests regardless of how the students get their scores or even if the scores reflect their student’s abilities.
     These “Good” teachers are high achievers who make their schools look good. They are given awards while other teachers go about the teaching with no hoopla at all. One of my former students went through the cumulative folders for her incoming class and found they were on grade level.
     But when the kids came into her class they had forgotten everything. She struggled all year. In March of that year the mystery was solved. She told me, “When I gave them the end of year tests they said, ‘Miss, aren't you going to give us the answers like the teacher did last year?’”
     The best way to get at great teaching is to say what it is not. First, it is not mean. There is a notion that rigor is good so the harder the teachers are on the students, the more the students will thank them in their prayers. Not so. It seems to me that some of the mean teachers are mentally unbalanced and prey upon students.
     A former student wrote that one of her kids came to school very sad. Her grandfather had died suddenly the day before. The class was scheduled for an accountability test that day. My former student contacted the office and said that this student could not take the test.
     The principal came fluttering into the classroom at the notion of a student not taking the test and said, “We need you to take this test.” The girl, with tears running down her face said, “My grandpa died yesterday.” The principal looked mad and said, “You have to take this test” and stomped off.
     My former student’s coworkers said she must sit the student with a test. Instead my former student took her student to the library and let her sit with the librarian and hold a stuffed toy. She did get in trouble.
     At the end of the year this former student quit education, saying she would not hurt children regardless of politics and pressures. It is best she left public education since there is no room in the field for someone who realizes a child who lost a loved one the day before is not in proper condition to do accountability tests.Read full column

More school districts raise concerns over new teacher evaluations

From KOB-TV.com - By: Kai Porter, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - More school districts are coming forward with concerns about the state's new teacher evaluation system, saying the results may not be entirely accurate.
     The Pojoaque, Los Alamos and Moriarty-Edgewood school districts testified before a legislative committee yesterday. The districts said they found dozens of data errors that resulted in some teachers getting lower scores than they deserved.
     We asked the superintendent of the Moriarty-Edgewood School District, Tom Sullivan, to grade the state's new teacher evaluation system. "I think it has potential,” he said. “As far as the kinks that need to be ironed out I wouldn't give it more than a C at this point."
     Sullivan said his district found data errors on 40 teacher evaluations the state released last month. That's 26 percent of his teachers. Initially, 86 percent of his teachers were rated “effective” or above, but after the data is corrected he thinks it’ll be more than 90 percent.
     “I think there were some hurt feelings and some professional harm done,” he said. So where did the data errors come from?
     “I think with the number of errors it's certainly fair to assume there were some at each end,” he said. “I don't know if trying to affix blame on whose end is very productive. I would just like an acknowledgement that it was premature to release data that hadn't been reviewed more thoroughly."
     The state wasn’t quick to point the finger either. "I don't think it's appropriate to say who's at fault,” said Hanna Skandera, Secretary of Education. “I will say the data comes from the districts and we look to them to get accurate data and the evaluations are dependent on accurate data from our districts."  More

Twitter chatter ranks ABQ as meth capital

From KRQE-TV.com - LBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - There are plenty of bad jokes about Albuquerque’s meth problem, and Breaking Bad likely didn't help. Now, a new study is calling Albuquerque the meth capital of the country based on what people around the country are tweeting about.
     When it comes to sin cities, a new social media study places Albuquerque on the map. According to an analysis posted on the Daily Dot’s website, the Duke City is the capital for meth based on Twitter chatter. “No I don’t think so, I strongly disagree with that,” said Krista Salt. “It’s probably just all about the whole TV show Breaking Bad.”
     Some locals speculate the reason the combination of “meth” and “Albuquerque” is mentioned so often on Twitter, is because of the show’s popularity. The study claims it looked at nearly half-a-million tweets about sex, drugs and alcohol to determine the country’s “vice capitals.”
     According to their data, Denver is pot city, Pittsburgh is known for booze and New Orleans and sex go together. While everyone knows meth is a problem in Albuquerque, is it really the meth capital?
     Albuquerque’s film office said fans of the show know the storyline doesn't glorify meth, but instead highlights the problems associated with the drug. One thing is certain, the show and the topic have spread beyond city limits.
     Albuquerque’s film office insists Breaking Bad has garnered lots of positive response from fans. They fly to Albuquerque from around the world, not to buy meth, but to visit the show’s local locations, like Walter White’s house. More

Can the U.S. fill the gap of potential oil losses from Iraq?

Commentary on RedState by Marita Noon - While we weren't paying attention, post-war Iraq grew into a major force in the global oil market. Reaching a 30-year high, its production and exports have climbed steadily since 2011—making Iraq the second largest producer in OPEC, the seventh globally. The International Energy Agency (EIA) has forecast that Iraq has the fifth-largest proven oil reserves.
     Just one year ago, Iraq was celebrating its increased production. At a ceremony in Baghdad, Thamir Gladhban, Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Commission on Energy, touted expected production of 4.5 million barrels per day by the end of 2014. Earlier this year it was announced that “thanks to a small group of international oil companies developing oil fields and infrastructure,” Iraqi oil exports “shot up.” Iraq’s deputy Prime Minister for energy, Hussain Al-Shahristani, reported that average production, including exports, exceeded 3.5 million barrels per day—which he called “unprecedented.”
     Iraq’s newfound ability came just in time. Last week, the EIA predicted that global oil demand will rise from 91.4 million barrels per day in 2014’s first quarter to 94 million during the last 3 quarters. Iraq has been able fill in the production gaps caused by violence in Libya and sanctions in Iran. Crude oil prices have been stable. Rebecca Patterson, chief investment officer at Bessemer Trust in New York, said: Iraq “is more important for the oil market than it has been for some time.”
     The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) states: “crude volatility recently had ground down to multi-year lows.”
     But that low volatility level was before rapid gains by extremist insurgents in northern Iraq put all that progress in jeopardy, raised gasoline prices, and sent “shudders through financial markets.” A barrel of oil is now trading at its highest level since September. WSJ calls the increase “an unwelcome development for the U.S. and other major economies struggling with tepid growth.” Read full column

Medical pot program overhaul draws criticism

From the Santa Fe New Mexican - By Phaedra Haywood - As the state Department of Health prepares to hold a public hearing Monday on proposed new rules for New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program, feedback already is pouring in from a variety of sources — much of it criticism.
     The Legislative Health and Human Services Committee this week sent a letter to Health Secretary Retta Ward, asking the department to hold off on adopting the proposed rules until the department has gathered more input from stakeholders and consulted its Medical Advisory Board.
     The legislative panel also wants the department to wait until the committee has had a chance to hold its own public meeting on the topic in July. “Our constituents have raised many concerns about these rules,” says the letter, signed by the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee chairman, Rep. James Roger Madelena, D-Jemez Pueblo, and Vice Chairman Gerald Ortiz Y Pino, D-Albuquerque. After hearing the concerns, the letter says, committee members voted unanimously to register written comments opposing the adoption of the proposed rule changes “until the DOH has engaged in further consultation with stakeholders and experts.”
     The proposed overhaul of the Medical Cannabis Program’s rules includes changes to almost every aspect of the program, from the numbers of plants a patient can grow — six instead of 12 — to what kind of testing nonprofit producers would be required to perform. more

Swickard: Only administrators left in public education

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “Every good teacher is just one bad administrator away from quitting teaching forever.” Jim Smith
     In 2002 the Las Cruces School Board members looked surprised when New Mexico Teacher of the Year Jim Smith made the above statement. It never occurred to them that the central problem in public education was administrators. In the years since Smith’s statement administrators have gotten worse, not better.
     I do know some good administrators who fight to let teachers teach but it seems the system works to throw those administrators out and replace them with administrators who “Play the game” the way their superiors demand. Today, it is never ever about the students, it is always about adults.
     This year the New Mexico teacher evaluations make no sense and are not uniformly applied. More so, it is obvious no one in a position of leadership in the schools has the faintest idea or interest in good teaching. They think great teachers excel at filling out accountability forms and administering tests.
     Many teachers this last year said they were no longer teachers; instead, all they did was administrator tests. All administration, no teachers. They spent the entire year on something to which the students have absolutely no interest whatsoever: taking tests. The good teachers are beaten down for suggesting that students do something other than prepare for tests, take tests, review tests and prepare for more tests. Read full column

Educators questioning governor's teacher prep reforms

From the Las Cruces Sun-NewsBy Lindsey AndersonLAS CRUCES >> Local educators are already raising concerns about new programs for teachers and principals that Gov. Susana Martinez announced Tuesday.
     The programs include a new ranking system for the state's six education schools that bases ratings on how much alumni's student test scores improve, among other measures. Graduates who increase their students' achievement will increase their alma maters' rankings.
     The ratings will also include classroom observation; how many alumni teach science, technology, engineering or math; how they progress in their careers; how long they stay teachers; and how many pass the state licensure exam, Education Secretary Hanna Skandera said. The state has not yet finalized the calculation, she said. "The first few years for teachers in the classroom are linked to how well they're prepared," she said.
      But educators are questioning the fairness of judging teachers and their colleges on how well graduates' K-12 students perform. "On its face, it appears that the metrics they're using are too narrow," local teachers union president Patrick Sanchez said. "There are so many factors involved in what we call success."
     The announcement is the latest effort to use students' standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, schools, colleges and more, Arrowhead Park Early College High School teacher Amy Simpson said.
     Much of a public school's A-F grades and the new teacher evaluation are based on growth in students' standardized test scores.
     "The reason there's so much emphasis on this (student test scores) is it's easy, it's a simple measure," Simpson said. "That's a lot easier than measuring life-long learning. Single numbers are an easy thing to cling on to, but they are just that; they are just a number." More

Judge orders city pay $6M officer-involved shooting

Christopher Torres
From KOAT-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —A district court judge has ordered the city of Albuquerque to pay more than $6 million for the wrongful death of Christopher Torres.Tort claims would cap the case at $400,000, so the city would not have to pay the full amount of the ruling. However, the family could receive more than the $6 million because of a pending federal court case.
     Torres was shot and killed by Albuquerque police in 2011. He was the son of a county official, and his death was a focal point in the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation into Albuquerque police.
     Officers claimed that when they went to the home to serve a warrant, Torres, who suffered from schizophrenia, became agitated. Officers said Torres grabbed one of their guns and pointed it at them, forcing an officer to shoot and kill him.
     His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, and has been waiting three years to hear a ruling. The trial started in May, and that ruling was handed down Tuesday. The family was seeking $4 million in damages.
     The ruling also said the city did not breach any duties in hiring, training or supervising the officers involved in the shooting. Family members said this disappointed them. The district attorney found no basis for criminal charges against the Albuquerque police officers.
     The family still has a civil case against the city, claiming the officers used excessive force. That is set to be heard in federal court this September. The family said it doesn't know if the civil case will settle between now and then, and that it depends whether the city changes its policies regarding officers' use of deadly force. More

Executive power: overreaching, overzealous, dream-dashing

From Conservative Action Alerts - by Marita Noon - President Obama is in trouble with his usual allies, not to mention his ever-ready opponents, over two recent acts of excessive executive power: the Bergdahl prisoner swapand the new CO2 regulations announced on Monday, June 2.
     Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, has been publicly critical of the administration’s decision not to adhere to a law requiring 30 days’ notice to Congress before releasing detainees from the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba. Bloomberg reports: “she’s not convinced there was a ‘credible threat’ against the life of freed Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl that motivated the White House to keep its plans secret.”
     Regarding the CO2 regulations, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman, has come out against the president’s approach, saying: “This should not be achieved by EPA regulations. Congress should set the terms, goals and timeframe.”
      Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV), who, like Landrieu is in a tough reelection fight, has come out with even stronger opposition to the president’s plan calling it: “Overreaching, overzealous, beyond the legal limit.” Rahall says the actions of the EPA “have truly run amok.”
     Both stories have dominated the news cycle for the past week. Yet, just a couple of weeks earlier, another story of executive overreach got little coverage and the affected allies stood by the President’s side as he signed an order creating, what the Washington Post called: “the largest national monument of the Obama presidency so far.”
     After years of heated local debate and despite polling that shows the people are not behind the president, on May 21, Obama declared the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region of New Mexico, nearly 500,000 acres, a national monument—his eleventh such designation “so far.” Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and Representative Ben Ray Lujan, (all D-NM) were present at the signing ceremony. The official Department of the Interior photo shows each of them with big smiles as they look on.
     They should be happy. Udall and Heinrich had previously proposed similar federal legislation. Praising the president’s effort, Udall said: “The president’s decision finally puts into motion a plan that began with the people of southern New Mexico, who wanted to ensure these special places would continue to be available for local families and visitors to hike, hunt and learn from the hundreds of significant historic sites throughout the area for generations to come.”
     But not everyone is smiling. The Las Cruces Sun-News (LCSN) reports: “Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, whose congressional district covers the region, issued a statement taking issue with Obama’s use of the 1906 U.S. Antiquities Act, saying monuments created under it are supposed to cover only the ‘smallest area compatible’ with the designation. He contended the approval ‘flies in the face of the democratic process.’” Pearce’s statement says: “This single action has erased six years of work undertaken by Doña Ana County ranchers, business owners, conservationists, sportsmen officials and myself to develop a collaborative plan for the Organ Mountains that would have preserved the natural resource and still provided future economic opportunities.” More


Rep. Lujan Grisham holds town hall for veterans

From KOB-TV.com - By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4 The ongoing scandal concerning the Department of Veterans Affairs has dominated headlines for weeks. Investigators are looking into allegations that employees falsified records and had secret lists to cover up wait times. Many New Mexico politicians have weighed in on the issue but Saturday Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham held a town hall to put veterans’ opinions front and center.
   More than 100 veterans packed the auditorium to speak up about problems with the VA hospital, with benefits and with their health care options. “We're producing so many veterans with so many wars that the VA can't keep up,” Charles Powell of Veterans for Peace said. “So much post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, this is a burden on an inadequately funded VA.”
     There were horror stories of waiting months for a simple doctor’s appointment and of endless red tape at the benefits office. But there were also those who pointed out bright spots. “We have been one of the lucky ones that has gotten really good health care and gotten good doctors, we're seen on a fairly timely basis,” Odetha Hill said.
     Hill, a veteran and caregiver, says she feels for veterans who say they've been burned by the system. She says if one wants quality care, it takes time and work. More


Maximum unemployment with the minimum wage

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Nobel Prize winner in Economics Milton Friedman not only opposed raising the minimum wage, he opposed the very concept of a minimum wage. There was not any government program of mandated wages that he embraced. The reason he gave for his opposition was that the notion of a government mandated wage violated economic principles and would harm the very people said to need it.
     In his 1980 television series, Free to Choose, Friedman says, “The minimum wage law is most properly described as a law saying that employers must discriminate against people who have low skills… The law says here’s a man who has a skill that would justify a wage of $5 or $6 per hour (adjusted for 2014), but you may not employ him, it’s illegal, because if you employ him you must pay him $9 per hour.”
     Friedman continues, “So what’s the result? To employ him at $9 per hour is to engage in charity. There’s nothing wrong with charity. But most employers are not in the position to engage in that kind of charity. Thus, the consequences of minimum wage laws have been almost wholly bad. We have increased unemployment and increased poverty.”
     When the minimum wage was first proposed the effect on the least skilled workers was understood by those politicians. Only recently have the media been able to obscure these outcomes. The political opportunities were such that politicians and labor unions could prosper while the least productive members of our society paid a dreadful price.
     The minimum wage debate is almost entirely from the side of the person without adequate productive skills. That person must exist on very little money. I worry about someone else. What about those least skilled citizens who do not have a job and cannot get one? They are now less likely to be employed.
     This is especially so for young people who have never had a job. Getting that first job is a problem because they have no job history and unless they come from a technical high school or college, they do not have the productive skills such that the employer can make a fair trade.
So most of these young people sit at home, mostly in their parent’s home and they do not gain skills while the politicians and unions talk about raising the minimum wage even higher. Alas, the unemployed cheer for a higher minimum wage without realizing a higher minimum wage puts jobs even further out of their reach.
     The unemployed have a much harder road to live than anyone employed. Read full column

Court declines to hear Navajo water dispute

From KRQE-TV.com - By Kim Vallez - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – New Mexico high court says it will not intervene on a dispute over allocation of San Juan River water rights to the Navajo Nation.
     Open court documents show the court denied a petition from three legislators including a San Juan County farmer who had claimed the Navajo water settlement should be invalidated because it had never gone before the legislature for approval.
     The agreement approved back in August gives enough water to the Navajo farming operation to irrigate about 40,000 acres of farmland. That’s six times the amount Albuquerque gets for a population a third of the size.
      An agreement in 1948 gave a large amount of San Juan River water to New Mexico based on the argument that the water was needed to meet the needs of the Navajo Nation living here in the state.
     State officials pointed out that the ruling in August stated that legislative approval was not required. More

Marita Noon: Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool

Commentary by Marita Noon - America is poised to become the “no pee” section of the global swimming pool and the useless actions will cost us a bundle—raising energy costs, adding new taxes, and crippling the economy. Even some environmentalists agree. Yet, for President Obama, it’s all about legacy.
      On June 2, 2014, the EPA released its new rules for CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electricity generating plants—which the New York Times (NYT)states: “could eventually shut down hundreds of coal-fueled power plants across the country.” (Regulations for new plants: the New Source Performance Standard rule, requiring carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) that buries emissions in the ground to meet the emissions limits, were released September 20, 2013. 
     The 2013 regulations virtually ensure that no new coal-fueled power plants will be built. Bloomberg Businessweek reports: “Considering the one carbon-capture plant being built in the U.S. is massively over budget and widely considered not ready for commercial use, it seems likely that the new rules will significantly erode coal’s share of power generation down the road.” Politifactsays CCS is: “new and expensive.”)
     These new rules, reportedly 3000 pages long (300 pages longer than the healthcare bill), are so important, it is believed that the President will make the announcement himself. Supporters seem gleeful. USA Today cites the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress’ Daniel J. Weiss as saying: “No president has ever proposed a climate pollution clean up this big.” 
     In the Washington Post (WP), advocacy group Clean Air Watch’s director, Frank O’Donnell is quoted as saying: “This is a magic moment for the president—a chance to write his name in the record books.” The NYT claims the plans, “the strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change,” could: “become one of the defining elements of Mr. Obama’s legacy.”  Read full column


Motel guests question movie production

From KOB-TV.com - By: Jen Samp, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Peter Lauton says as a retired economist with a PHD, he's all for a movie production in Albuquerque. “I'm sure its great for the economy and we all get excited when a big star and a film crew moving around,” he said.
     But as a guest at The Desert Sands Motel, he has his doubts. “I need my sleep and I know that's not going to happen for the rest of the week,” he said.
     Earlier this week the production "Blood Father" starring Mel Gibson posted a film notice on Lauton's door. Hotel visitors will have to move their vehicles and keep them away until next Friday. Long-term residents who have disabilities say they don't know what to do.
     A location manager with Blood Father productions says the landlord requested to handle the tenants himself, but when they got the feeling nothing was communicated, they sent out the notices. The location manager says The production paid the motel for filming there, but not to move the tenants to a new location and when they expressed concern for the tenants they were told by the motel owner “I’ll take care of it.”
     The Academy award winning movie No Country For Old Men used the motel for one of the final scenes. More