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Today's News

  • US says $400M payment was contingent on release of prisoners

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Thursday that a $400 million cash payment to Iran seven months ago was contingent on the release of a group of American prisoners.

    It is the first time the U.S. has so clearly linked the two events, which critics have painted as a hostage-ransom arrangement.

    State Department spokesman John Kirby repeated the administration's line that the negotiations to return the Iranian money — from a military-equipment deal with the U.S.-backed shah in the 1970s — were conducted separately from the talks to free four U.S. citizens in Iran. But he said the U.S. withheld the delivery of the cash as leverage until Iran permitted the Americans to leave the country.

    "We had concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release," Kirby said, citing delays and mutual mistrust between countries that severed diplomatic relations 36 years ago. As a result, he explained, the U.S. "of course sought to retain maximum leverage until after the American citizens were released. That was our top priority."

    Both events occurred Jan. 17, fueling suspicions from Republican lawmakers and accusations from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump of a quid pro quo that undermined America's longstanding opposition to ransom payments.

  • Green chile peels causing messy roads in New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — It's harvest time for New Mexico's green chile. And some residents say peels from the state's staple crop are creating a hot mess.

    The KOAT-TV in Albuquerque reports that some trucks transporting green chile are dropping peels in Albuquerque's South Valley. Residents say the peels are sloshing and are spilling out of the trucks and onto roads.

    Drivers say one intersection even is covered in green chile.

    Andres Garcia says the wet peels are dangerous. He told KOAT-TV he recently had to hit his brakes at a stop sign because his truck kept sliding.

    The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office says it is a misdemeanor crime for any truck to spill loads.

  • New Mexico student scores up, but less than 1/3 proficient

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico student tests scores are up across the state, but less than a third of students remain proficient or better in reading and math, according to results released Thursday.

    The new numbers show around 20 percent of students tested this spring are proficient or better in math and about 28 percent are proficient or better in reading. Both results are slight improvements from the 2014-15 school year when officials first gave assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

    The tests, administered by New Mexico and 10 other states, are designed to show how well schools helped students from grades 3 to 11 meet Common Core standards.

    State data show all grades tested except third saw small increases in the percentage of students scoring proficient or better in reading. All grades except 11th saw an increase in the percentage testing proficient in math, the results said.

    Albuquerque Public Schools, the state's largest school district, had decreases in some categories. For example, only around 21 percent of the district's third-graders scored proficient or better in reading. That's a 10 point decline from the previous year.

  • Comp plan will not address accessory apartments

    During its Aug. 6 work session on the comprehensive plan update, the Planning and Zoning Commission spent considerable time discussing accessory apartments and short-term rentals such as Airbnb, but decided those were development code issues that should be addressed at a later date.
    According to Chair Philip Gursky, the current development code “favors the broadest range of accessory and multiple unit housing. It’s a function of the history of the town and the history of the time when the ordinance was adopted.”
    The board rejected the idea of including accessory dwelling units in the comp plan by restricting them in certain neighborhoods. According to Gursky, that would be the only way to address the issue in the comprehensive plan, which deals with permanent land use.
    “The question is, do we recommend, as part of the changes to the comp plan, that we provide some more restrictive or more explanatory discussion about where they ought to be allowed,” Gursky said.

  • Today in history Aug. 18
  • Baer clarifies accessory dwelling units

    The Los Alamos Monitor followed up with Community Development Department Principal Planner Tamara Baer about how accessory dwelling units are dealt with in the current development code.

    The first question was regarding Baer’s statement to the Planning and Zoning Commission that an accessory apartment and a primary dwelling unit are classified as one dwelling unit.
    The Monitor asked what section of the code defines that.
    “It’s not spelled out in the code,” Baer said. “But it’s always been the assumption that an accessory apartment doesn’t count towards density, because if it did, it wouldn’t be listed as an accessory apartment, it would simply be two primary dwelling units on a single lot.
    “So if you have two primary dwelling units on a single lot, then you have to meet all the code requirements for size and density.”
    Baer contends that the current code is at fault for not being clear, but that codes in other municipalities clearly define an accessory unit differently than a primary dwelling unit.
    “And I think when we get around to making other code revisions we need to do that: an accessory dwelling unit does not count toward the density,” Baer said.

  • Parade rolls down Central
  • Ahrens gets experience with policy making in D.C.

    Los Alamos resident Daniel Ahrens had an awesome summer.
    In April, Ahrens learned that he was accepted into the White House Internship Program, a program that introduces young people to the world of policy-making, research and other aspects important to the White House’s day-to-day operations.
    Ahrens, a junior at the University of California, Berkeley, who is studying environmental science, was assigned to the White House’s Domestic Policy Council’s Native American Affairs team. Every day, from May until August, Ahrens reported to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, located next to White House’s West Wing.
    The DPC makes sure that not only is domestic policy carried out, but it is in accordance with the president’s priorities and goals.
    Ahrens said he was a little overwhelmed on his first day, but he quickly got the hang of things.
    “Luckily, I had an amazing team I was working with… They really made me feel at home and that I was team player,” he said.
    Much of what Ahren did with the DPC was practical, day-to-day things that helped move the president’s initiatives forward.

  • Action-comedy set to film in Santa Fe, Albuquerque

    SANTA FE (AP) — The New Mexico Film Office says an action-comedy starring Oscar-winning actors is being filmed through the end of September in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
    The film, “Villa Capri,” features Tommy Lee Jones as an ex-military operative and Morgan Freeman as a former lawyer. The two must put aside a petty rivalry to defend their resort community.
    Publicist Diane Slattery says production will spend about six weeks in New Mexico.
    The state film office says the movie includes about 120 crew members, 12 main actors and 650 background actors from new Mexico.

  • Safety reminder for Thursday

    The Los Alamos Police Department has issued a reminder to Los Alamos motorists to be careful Thursday, the first day of school for all students.
    On Thursday, police estimate there will be about 3,000 students taking buses and driving or walking to school on their own.
    “Los Alamos Police Department would like to take a moment and remind motorists that school returns Thursday,” said LAPD Spokesman Cmdr. Preston Ballew. “Officers will be out in school zones for traffic enforcement to ensure that all students, parents and staff return from summer break safely and that they have an enjoyable school year.”
    The LAPD also advised parents whose children will ride the Atomic City Transit to know how the bus system works, and what their particular route is to and from school.
    “Please ensure that your children are aware of the bus routes they are supposed to take,” Ballew said. “Last year, at the start of the school year, several children were reported missing because they were confused about the different bus routes and got off at the wrong destination.”
    Ballew encouraged parents should ride the route with their children as a practice run.