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Local News

  • LANL on regular schedule

    Los Alamos National Laboratory will operate without restrictions or closures Monday, regardless of what happens with the federal government shutdown, officials said Friday.

    “All DOE federal employees are expected to report to work on your next scheduled work day and subsequent work days unless you have previously approved leave or are given formal notice by your management not to report to work,” said DOE Press Secretary Shaylyn Hynes. “Similarly, contractors should continue to execute on contracts unless and until otherwise notified.”

    According to the Department of Energy’s Lapse of Appropriations Plan, in the event of a shutdown, the Los Alamos National Laboratory would continue its operations using fund balances from prior years, if they are available.

    If there are no available balances, only programs related to the safety of human life and the protection of property would continue.

  • Most of Bandelier shut down Saturday

    As of Saturday, January 20, most of Bandelier National Monument will be closed to visitor use due to the current situation with the budget of the federal government.  The closure is necessary for visitor safety and preservation of the fragile archeological and natural resources. The closure will last until the budget situation allows for park staff to return to duty.  Visitors are encouraged to respect signs and gates indicating areas that are closed, and use caution and care in areas that remain open.  There will be law enforcement rangers patrolling the park.

    The Frijoles Canyon area will be closed, including the Visitor Center, all trails below the canyon rim, and anything accessed from the Entrance Road.  The closure will also include Juniper Family Campground and Ponderosa Group Campground, as well as any use in the Tsankawi section of the park.  

    With the exception of Tsankawi, visitors will be permitted to use trails outside of Frijoles Canyon and the entrance road, including Burnt Mesa, Cerro Grande, the Upper Frijoles Canyon Overlook Trail, and the Sawyer Mesa Trail. The US Forest Service has gated Forest Roads 289 and 142 west of the park closed for the winter, so trails beginning along those roads are not available.

  • Government shutdown begins and so does the finger-pointing

    By ZEKE MILLER, ANDREW TAYLOR and ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans awoke Saturday to learn that quarreling politicians in Washington had failed to keep their government in business, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration.

    It was a striking display of Washington dysfunction, and the finger-pointing came quickly. Trump tweeted that Democrats "wanted to give me a nice present" to mark the start of his second year in office.

    The Republican-controlled Congress scheduled an unusual weekend session to begin considering a three-week version of a short-term spending measure and to broadcast to the people they serve that they were at work as the closure commenced. It seemed likely that each side would push for votes aimed at making the other party look culpable for shuttering federal agencies.

    Trump spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell early Saturday to discuss next steps, while chief of staff John Kelly also worked the phones. Top White House negotiators, legislative affairs director Marc Short and budget director Mick Mulvaney, went to Capitol Hill to meet with House Republicans.

  • LANS docked $3.1M for plutonium shipment blunder

    A letter released Jan. 4 by the Department of Energy shows Los Alamos National Laboratory operators were penalized $3.1 million from their management fee for improperly shipping radioactive waste in June 2017. 

    A few months later, in November 2017, the NNSA docked the operators, the Los Alamos National Security, or LANS, $2.7 million from its $8.8 million leadership performance evaluation fee. This is a separate fee, according to the report. 

    In the report, NNSA explains the reason for the fee reduction, citing the shipping event June 16, when the lab shipped three Type B container plutonium shipments by commercial air cargo. This reduced the lab operator’s total management fee from $47.6 million to $44.5 million.  

    Federal safety regulations called for shipping the material by ground transportation.

    The NNSA also cited LANL’s initial reaction to the event as a reason for the reduction. 

  • Weather service: Hazardous conditions expected from storm

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Forecasters say a storm this weekend may cause difficult to severe driving conditions in northern and western New Mexico and severe to damaging winds in other parts of the state.

    The National Weather Service says hazardous travel conditions will develop Saturday evening and continue into Sunday, particularly in higher terrain of mountains in northern and western New Mexico.

    Strong winds are expected Sunday for areas between the Texas border on the east and the Sandia, Manzano and Sacramento/Capitan mountains on the west.

    The weather service says the crosswinds may cause dangerous travel conditions along Interstate 40 and U.S. 285 and that icy road conditions are possible in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas.
     

  • US flu season gets worse, has 'lot more steam' than expected

    NEW YORK (AP) — The flu season in the U.S. is getting worse.

    Health officials last week said flu was blanketing the country but they thought there was a good chance the season was already peaking. But the newest numbers out Friday show it grew even more intense.

    "This is a season that has a lot more steam than we thought," said Dr. Dan Jernigan of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    One measure of the season is how many doctor or hospital visits are because of a high fever, cough and other flu symptoms. Thirty-two states reported high patient traffic last week, up from 26 the previous week. Overall, it was the busiest week for flu symptoms in nine years.

    Hawaii is the only state that doesn't have widespread illnesses.

    This year's flu season got off to an early start, and it's been driven by a nasty type of flu that tends to put more people

    in the hospital and cause more deaths than other common flu bugs. In New York, state officials say a drastic rise in flu cases hospitalized more than 1,600 this past week.

    The flu became intense last month in the U.S. The last two weekly report show flu widespread over the entire continental United States, which is unusual.

  • US stocks close higher as market sets latest record high

    By ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writer

    Investors shrugged off the potential for a federal government shutdown Friday, driving U.S. stocks higher and setting new milestones for several of the indexes.

    The Standard & Poor's 500 index, Nasdaq composite and Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks finished at record highs as the market bounced back from modest losses a day earlier. The S&P 500 has now posted a weekly gain in nine of the last 10 weeks.

    Retailers, banks and consumer goods companies accounted for much of the latest gains. Energy stocks fell along with crude oil prices. Utilities also declined as bond yields edged up to their highest level in more than three years.

    The market rally suggested that the possibility of a federal government shutdown this weekend wasn't worrying traders.

    "Looking back to some of the previous shutdowns, they weren't terribly extended in nature and didn't cause a lot of disruption by the time everything was done," said Tim Dreiling, regional investment director at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management. "I don't think it's going to disrupt growth or make much of an impact on GDP, for example."

  • Clues sought in crash that killed Zimbabwe opposition leader

    By P. SOLOMON BANDA and MARY HUDETZ, Associated Press

    RATON, N.M. (AP) — Andra Cobb was frantic when she called for help, telling an emergency operator that a helicopter she was riding in with her father, longtime partner and others had crashed in a remote part of New Mexico and that she was watching her "family burn."

    Police released 911 recordings Friday from the crash near the Colorado-New Mexico line that killed five people, including Zimbabwean opposition leader Roy Bennett, and his wife, Heather. Cobb, 39, was the sole survivor, escaping with broken bones before the helicopter burst into flames.

    Her father, Paul Cobb, the co-pilot, and her longtime partner, Charles Burnett III, a Texas-based investor who owned the ranch where the group of friends was headed, also were killed in the crash Wednesday, along with pilot Jamie Coleman Dodd.

    "I'm watching my family burn in a fire," Andra Cobb screamed on the call. "I don't know what to do. There's a big fire. I'm covered in gasoline."

    Dodd also called 911 before he later died. He told authorities immediately after the crash that there were three victims and three survivors — him, Andra Cobb and Roy Bennett, who was suffering from a head wound as authorities tried to determine their location.

  • Oil, gas spends big on campaigns, PACs

    BY STEVE TERRELL
    The New Mexican

    Oil and gas industry revenues pay a huge share of the money that goes into the state budget. And lobbyists for big oil companies pay a huge amount of campaign contributions to New Mexico politicians.

    An analysis of lobbyist expense reports filed in recent days with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office shows oil companies dominate the list of the largest donors to campaigns and political committees since last October.

    By far the biggest contributor among lobbyists in the new batch of reports was the Austin, Texas-based Stephen Perry, Chevron USA’s state government affairs manager for Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Perry listed $183,250 in contributions. That’s more than a third of the total of $521,164 in political donations listed in all the new reports.

    “Wow. That’s an incredible amount of money for the year before the election,” said Viki Harrison, executive director of Common Cause when told of the contributions by Chevron’s lobbyist. Referring to all the lobbyist money she said, “It keeps exploding every year.”

  • 2018 State Legislature: Legislative Roundup Jan. 17, 2018

    Days remaining in session: 27
    Hispanic caucus takes shape: Capitol Hill has got the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. But what about the Capitol in the state where nearly half of residents are Hispanic?

    On Thursday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers created the Legislative Hispanic Caucus, which will, as they put it in a letter, advocate on behalf of Hispanics and under-represented communities across New Mexico.

    The group comes the same week as Senate Democrats elected Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque to serve as their new whip – meaning not a single Hispanic member would be part of the party’s leadership in that chamber.

    But lawmakers insisted Thursday the new group is not a response to that vote.

    “The leadership is what the leadership is,” said Sen. Jacob Candelaria, a Democrat from Albuquerque who is one of the founding members of the new group and had been mentioned as a possible whip before Stewart’s election.

    Mentioning the educational achievement gap, poverty, health care and other issues marked by racial and ethnic disparities, Candelaria said the aim of the group is to provide a “coordinated, systemic way to address these issues.”
    The new caucus, which starts with 15 members, is open to members of both chambers, both parties and all ethnic groups.