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State Briefs 08-28-12

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By Associated Press

NM universities may get state’s supercomputer

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The state’s $11 million supercomputer could be transferred to New Mexico’s three research universities.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the transfer is pending a plan that would allow the universities to run it in a way that’s economically feasible and without additional cost to taxpayers.
State Information Technology Secretary Darryl Ackley told the Journal he expects to see a joint proposal from the universities within a couple of weeks.
“I’ve told the universities I would certainly entertain that option if they do a proposal, but there can’t be a budget increase,” Ackley said. “I need something that shows they can take it on and sustain it.”
The decision whether to sell the supercomputer to private bidders or turn it over to the universities will depend on the best return for the state, which paid $11 million in 2008 to buy the machine. It’s no longer in the top 100 fastest in the world, its hardware is showing some age and its market value has slipped to a few hundred thousand dollars — even though it can do 172 trillion calculations per second.
The state also provided nearly $9 million to the New Mexico Computing Applications Center, a nonprofit that has managed it since 2008, to maintain and operate the machine and to set up gateways for public colleges and universities to access it for research and educational programs.
“The state has already sunk a lot of money into it, and we shouldn’t do more,” Ackley said. “But if they (the universities) can propose something that’s reasonable and demonstrates some type of return, we’ll certainly consider it.”

Police: NM kidnapping suspect hid under clothes

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Police say a man suspected of holding his 4-year-old son hostage was caught hiding from authorities under a bizarre place — a pile of clothes.
KOAT-TV reports that Albuquerque police recently arrested James Stephens after officers found him and his 4-year-old underneath nearly two feet of pants and shirts at a northeast Albuquerque apartment complex.
Police were called to the scene following neighbors’ complaints of fighting and screaming. After police forced their way inside, police video showed a bloodied woman telling officers that her boyfriend was in the bedroom.
Stephens was arrested and charged with child abuse and kidnapping. The woman was also arrested on two felony warrants.
It was unclear if either had attorneys.

NM Medicaid to cover methadone treatment

SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico is expanding its Medicaid program to cover the costs of using methadone to treat people addicted to heroin and painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine.
A Human Services Department official says the change in policy should help in fighting a drug addiction epidemic. New Mexico has the nation’s highest death rate from drug overdoses.
The Drug Policy Alliance said Monday that New Mexico joins about 30 other states in reimbursing outpatient methadone treatment.
Department spokesman Matt Kennicott says Medicaid already covers the prescription drug Suboxone to treat opiate addicts and it makes medical sense to have methadone available as another form of treatment.
Medicaid provides health care to low-income New Mexicans and covers about a fourth of the state’s population.