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Today's News

  • House revisits crackdown on false water quality data

    By Andrew Oxford
    The New Mexican

    It was not necessarily a crime under New Mexico law for a utility in the Four Corners area to tell regulators its water was fine even as turbid, odorous liquid flowed to customers' taps.
    But a measure to make lying to state regulators about water quality a fourth-degree felony is a step closer to becoming law. A committee in the state House of Representatives revived the issue under a new bill with a new sponsor and narrower scope, ending an impasse that had prompted finger pointing over the influence of special interest groups and had upended the usual tough-on-crime dynamics at the Capitol.
    On Saturday, the new House Bill 511 won bipartisan support in the House Judiciary Committee, which elected 10-2 to advance it to a vote by the full House.
    Republicans blocked a similar bill last month, even though it was sponsored by a GOP colleague and had the backing of the state Environment Department. GOP members of the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee said the bill was far too broad.

  • Proposal to bring death penalty back to New Mexico stalls

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A proposal to bring back the death penalty in New Mexico for those convicted of certain violent crimes has stalled.
    The Albuquerque Journal reports that the legislation by Republican Rep. Monica Youngblood of Albuquerque was tabled Sunday on a party-line 3-2 vote in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.
    Lawmakers abolished the death penalty in 2009 and replaced with life in prison without the possibility of parole.
    Similar legislation to reinstate the death penalty was approved five months by the state House, but that proposal was never acted on by the Senate.
    There appeared to be little appetite for bringing back the death penalty after Democrats reclaimed a majority in the House in November's general election.
     

  • History On Tap moved to March 21

    To accommodate the speaker, History On Tap has been rescheduled and will be from 5:30-7 p.m. March 21.  
    The speaker will be Ray Monk, author of “Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center.” He has also written award-winning biographies of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell. He is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southampton, with research interests in the history of analytic philosophy, the philosophy of mathematics, and philosophical issues arising from the practice of biography.
    History On Tap is part of the On Tap series presented by the Los Alamos Creative District and hosted by the Los Alamos Historical Society. It takes place at UnQuarked, 145 Central Park Square.

  • Local student makes dean’s list

    Emily Martens of Los Alamos, a freshman at the College of Liberal Arts has been named to the 2016 fall semester dean’s list at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, the university announced last week.
    To qualify for the Dean’s List, a student must complete 12 or more letter-graded credits while attaining a 3.66 grade point average.

  • RTD to run on weekend schedule

    In recognition of Spring Break, the North Central Regional Transit District RTD 255 Mountain Trail bus to Ski Santa Fe will be operating on its weekend/holiday schedule each day throughout the Spring Break period from Monday through March 17.
    The weekend/holiday schedule provides seven roundtrips per day to Ski Santa Fe, rather than the normal weekday schedule that provides three roundtrips per day.
    The fare is $5 each way, exact change required.

  • South of the border, down Mexico way

    Last week I drove from Palomas, the Mexican town opposite Columbus, all the way west to Agua Prieta, the twin to Douglas in Arizona. The highway first swings south to skirt the Bootheel and then strikes back north to within a few miles of the border, where it claws its way up the northernmost slopes of the formidable Sierra Madre.
    Two narrow lanes squeezed between sheer cliffs and precipitous canyons, the road climbs a half mile in fewer than 10.
    There are neither shoulders nor guard-rails; only the little roadside shrines warn of the perils beyond the next hairpin turn.
    The blacktop is battered daily by the passage of hundreds of heavy trucks, some of them pulling double trailers up the steep grades. Bad as it is, this is one of just two highways over the mountains for hundreds of miles to the south.
    At the top of the pass you cross the Continental Divide at 6,500 feet. From there you can look down and see the black line of the border fence running ruler straight across the plain far below.
    The drive back from Douglas on the American side is a cruise-controlled siesta compared to the crossing from Chihuahua to Sonora. On NM 9 you follow the old railroad bed for mile after mile of gentle curves and long, level straightaways.

  • Sherlock wakened forensic science

    Sherlock Holmes, the fabled stalker of clues, was a charismatic spur to science in the cause of catching wrongdoers and clearing the innocent.
         His popular intrigues taught methods of close observation and simple physics. See the hidden footprint there. So how could this speck of blood land here? ... Elementary, my dear Watson.
         Sherlock Holmes readers delight in how the master sleuth and his doctor friend used their specialized fields of knowledge to solve dark mysteries. Two of their specialties were exotic poisons and animal behaviors. Any full-blooded Holmes fan can name classic cases of each.  
         Ballistics, fingerprints and handwriting bring other facts to bear that can weigh for or against a crime suspect. Newer tools include DNA evidence and a range of smart cameras and phones.
         All such advances for probing and proving the story are now known as “forensic science.”
         The term “forensic” itself tells a story. Forensic is from the Latin
    forensis, meaning “of or before the forum.” In history, Romans decided
    whether an accused person was guilty or not guilty by speeches made before the forum. 

  • Amazon to collect sales tax in New Mexico starting in April

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Online retail giant Amazon will soon begin collecting taxes on purchases being sent to New Mexico addresses.
    Officials with the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department confirmed Monday that the new sales tax will begin in April.
    The tax will combine state and local rates to total about 7 percent.
    Department spokesman Ben Cloutier says the revenues generated by Amazon's collections will be significant, likely in the tens of millions of dollars.
    Some of the revenue will go into the state's general fund and the rest will be allocated to the cities where the item was purchased.
    As New Mexico looks to fill a budget gap, lawmakers are considering measures to force internet vendors without a physical presence in the state to collect gross receipts taxes.
     

  • GOP’s Senate leader expects deal on revenue, budget

    BY BRUCE KRASNOW
    The New Mexican

  • Senate confirms Carson, Perry for housing, energy

    WASHINGTON — Two of President Donald Trump’s former rivals for the GOP White House nomination won Senate confirmation Thursday to join his administration.
    Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was confirmed as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on a vote of 58-41. A few hours later, the Senate backed former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to be energy secretary, 62-37.
    Carson and Perry are the 17th and 18th of Trump’s 22 Cabinet and Cabinet-level nominations to win Senate approval.
    Carson has never held public office and has no housing policy experience. Republicans have praised the life story of a man who grew up in inner-city Detroit with a single mother who had a third-grade education.
    Perry, who once pledged to eliminate the department, has repeatedly promised to be an advocate for the agency and to protect the nation’s nuclear stockpile. Perry also pledged to rely on federal scientists, including those who work on climate change.
    Perry, who served 14 years as Texas governor, has said he will seek to develop American energy in all forms, from oil, gas and nuclear power to renewable sources such as wind and solar power.