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Local News

  • Experts warn of risk of sinkhole in popular New Mexico area

    By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press

    Experts are painting a dire picture about the impending collapse of a giant cavern under a highway interchange that serves as a gateway to two national parks and the heart of New Mexico's oil and gas country.

    They told lawmakers Tuesday during a legislative meeting that new cracks are developing at the site on the edge of the city of Carlsbad, indicating that things are beginning to move underground.

    "It is happening right now. It is happening in slow motion," said George Veni, executive director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute and a member of a group that has been working on possible solutions.

    Lawmakers are seeking more than $40 million in state funding to prevent a massive sinkhole, which could take with it the busy intersection, including a highway that leads to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park, just across the state line in Texas. Nearby, there's also a church, trailer park, businesses and an irrigation canal that provides water for more than 30 square miles of agricultural lands.

  • Can 3 business titans cure the US health care system?

    By MARLEY JAY, AP Markets Writer

    NEW YORK (AP) — Can a legendary investor, the king of on-line retail and a Wall Street financier find a cure for what ails America's health care system?

    The trio of Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Jamie Dimon have had enough success in their respective industries that they are at least being given the benefit of the doubt.

    They have announced they're forming a new company to address health care costs for their U.S. employees, and possibly for many more Americans. The news was enough to rattle investors in established health insurers and trigger a sell-off in their stocks.

    Their announcement Tuesday didn't include many specifics, but based on their very different business backgrounds it's possible to see what each of the three business titans might contribute toward tackling the health care problem.

    For starters, they're heads of huge operations: Their three companies — Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, Bezo's Amazon.com and Dimon's JPMorgan Chase — have a combined market worth of $1.62 trillion.

  • Train carrying GOP lawmakers hits truck, 1 on truck killed

    By ALAN FRAM and HEIDI BROWN, Associated Press

    CROZET, Va. (AP) — A train carrying dozens of Republican members of Congress to a policy retreat in the countryside slammed into a garbage truck in rural Virginia on Wednesday, killing one person in the truck and sending several lawmaker-doctors rushing to help the injured.

    No serious injuries were reported among those on the train, an Amtrak charter that set out from the nation's capital with lawmakers and staff for the luxury Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. At least two people in the truck were reported seriously hurt.

    The collision took place around 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, about 125 miles southwest of Washington, tearing the truck in two, crumpling the nose of the locomotive and scattering trash alongside the tracks.

    Authorities gave no details on the cause of the wreck, which took place at a crossing protected by gates, flashing lights, bells and warning signs. The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to investigate.

    Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma, said he felt "a tremendous jolt" nearly two hours into the trip, and the train stopped quickly.

  • Fed leaves key rate unchanged at Yellen's final meeting

    By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer

    The Federal Reserve has left its benchmark interest rate unchanged but signaled that it expects to resume raising rates gradually to reflect a healthy job market and economy.

    At Janet Yellen's final meeting as chair Wednesday, the Fed kept its key short-term rate in a still-low range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent. It said in a statement that it expects inflation to finally pick up this year and to stabilize around the Fed's target level of 2 percent. In its previous statement, the Fed had predicted that inflation would remain below its target rate.

    The Fed also indicated that it thinks the job market and the overall economy are continuing to improve.

    "Gains in employment, household spending and business fixed investment have been solid," its statement said.

    The central bank said it expects the steadily strengthening economy to warrant further gradual increases in its benchmark rate. Those additional rate hikes would likely lead, in time, to higher rates on some consumer and business loans.

    Yellen has led a cautious approach to rate increases in her four years as chair, and Jerome Powell, who will succeed her next week, has indicated he favors a similar approach.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Bipartisan plan would alter how univ. regents selected

    BY ANDREW OXFORD
    The New Mexican

    The governor of New Mexico gets to appoint members to all manner of government boards and committees but among her most influential picks are her nominees to lead the state’s public universities – major institutions that are big employers and big health care providers.

    A Senate committee on Monday approved a bipartisan proposal that would take away a bit of the governor’s power to pick university regents.

    Senate Joint Resolution 1 seeks to change the state constitution to create nominating committees to vet and recommend applicants for seats on university boards of regents.

    And the amendment would require the governor to nominate regents based on those recommendations.

    The sponsors, Sens. Mark Moores, a Republican from Albuquerque, and Jeff Steinborn, a Democrat from Las Cruces, argue the amendment would help depoliticize what can be hyper partisan process with a big impact for organizations that combined are responsible for billions of dollars.

    Leadership positions at the state’s universities should go to the most qualified candidates “instead of just being the political plums,” Moores told the Senate Rules Committee during the measure’s first hearing.

  • Record high temperatures for winter strike New Mexico

    CLAYTON (AP) — Record high temperatures for winter are making their way to New Mexico.

    The National Weather Service said Clayton, New Mexico, reached 78 degrees on Tuesday. That's a record high for the northeastern New Mexico community in winter.

    Much of New Mexico has seen temperatures above normal in recent days.

    Temperatures in Arizona also are heating up to near-record marks.

    National Weather Service meteorologists say Phoenix's high Monday was 83 degrees, tying the record for the date set in 1935.
     

  • 2018 State Legislature: Bill to fund new Code Talkers museum passes Senate committee

    BY ROBERT NOTT
    The New Mexican

    The Navajo Code Talkers were not so much the silent warriors of World War II as they were the indecipherable heroes of the Japanese theater of combat.

    The Code Talkers, many of whom were from New Mexico, used their native language to confound the Japanese in planning battles, calling for reinforcements and transmitting requests for food, ammunition or medicine.

    Many military historians credit them with helping to win the war.

    “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would have never taken Iwo Jima,” Marine Maj. Howard Connor once said of a famous and pivotal battle. He served as a signal officer for the Marines’ Code Talker unit during the Iwo Jima campaign.
    Now one of few Code Talkers still living, state Sen. John Pinto, D-Gallup, wants to honor their legacy with a museum.

    On Tuesday, he moved one small step closer to that goal after the Senate Indian and Cultural Affairs Committee unanimously voted for a bill asking the Legislature to allocate $1 million to build a Navajo Code Talkers museum and veterans center in New Mexico, near the Arizona border.

  • New Mexico lawmakers seek to protect net neutrality

    SANTA FE (AP) — Two Democratic state lawmakers in New Mexico have proposed consumer protection legislation in response to the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net-neutrality rules, urging the state's Republican governor on Tuesday to allow a vote on the measure.

    Gov. Susana Martinez has discretion over whether non-budgetary bills can be heard during a 30-day legislative session and has not responded.

    The FCC last month repealed Obama-era rules and gave internet services providers a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit or charge more for faster speeds.

    Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City and Rep. Bill McCamley of Mesilla Park said Tuesday that their bill would prohibit paid prioritization of internet traffic as an unfair and deceptive trade practice under the state's Unfair Practices Act, and provide funding to state prosecutors for enforcement. They say the legislation would protect small businesses, schools and families from price gouging and unequal internet access.

    Several states have introduced bills to protect net neutrality, while the FCC's order bars state laws from contradicting the federal government's approach.

  • LA resident Keller killed in traffic accident

    Many friends are mourning the loss of Zach Keller, a Los Alamos resident who died in a car crash on State Road 30 Jan. 24 at around 7 p.m. Just 29 years old, Keller was traveling south on State Road 30 when his Toyota Corolla vehicle drifted over into the northbound lane into oncoming traffic.

    A GoFundMe page was set up by his sister-in-law, Ashley Keller, and a memorial page on Facebook has been established.

    In an email, Ashley Keller recounted what a great uncle and brother-law  he was.

    “Zach was the best brother in law I could have asked for. He had a warm and loving nature; taking his compassion, and warm smile's with him everywhere he went. He was always able and willing to help those in need, helping with anything from yard work, to one of his famous hugs,” Ashley Keller said. “He was a silly and loving Uncle always taking the time to toss his Nieces and Nephew in the air, or cuddling on the couch with a good movie. He filled the short time he had with the children with joy, laughter and love.”

    Ashley Keller said she was also thankful all the outpouring of donations and support the family has received since his passing.

  • 2018 State Legislature: New Mexico state spending plan heads to House floor

    SANTA FE — A plan to boost spending on roads and provide pay raises to top New Mexico elected officials, state workers and teachers is headed to the state House of Representatives for a vote.

    A House budget writing committee endorsed the $6.3 billion general fund spending plan on Tuesday. Amendments can be made as the bill moves toward House and Senate votes. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez can veto provisions line-by-line.

    A boom in local oil production and rising petroleum prices are bolstering state government finances. Government income is expected to surpass current annual spending obligations by $292 million during the coming fiscal year.

    The plan would provide a 10 percent pay increase to statewide elected officials including the governor, attorney general, state treasurer, state auditor and secretary of state, as well as members of the Public Regulation Commission who regulate investor-owned electric and gas utilities. Those pay raises would take effect January 1, 2019.

    Democratic House Finance and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Patricia Lundstrom of Gallup said surging state income is being channeled toward compensation for state workers. She highlighted $80 million in proposed spending on road construction and maintenance, with one-quarter of that funding designated for local projects.