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Columns

  • Trying to make sense of it

    Amid the news of Osama Bin Laden’s killing, and the extreme public reaction in Pakistan, it is worth asking, “Do all Muslims support jihad killing of innocents?” and “What human rights do Muslim majority nations allow?”
    We regularly read about the denial of voting rights, civil rights, public education or free speech for women and minorities in Muslim nations, such as Iran’s killing of members of B’nai Brith, an offshoot sect of Islam that many Muslims consider a heresy.
    But how much of this repression of basic human rights is due to the “culture” of national governments and how much is due to the religion of Islam?

  • Board actions questioned

    The LAPS Board ultimately decides which community organizations can rent the Duane W. Smith Auditorium (DWSA) and what these organizations can perform. This is reasonable.
    The board should not, for example, allow performances that go against the LAPS policy on temporary/long-term use of school facilities (1330-3270), which states that school facilities such as the theater are for the educational benefit of the people of Los Alamos and that “district buildings and facilities should be available, subject to reasonable conditions, to ... organizations for activities that foster the educational, cultural .... or social development of the community.

  • Playing games for sustainability

    I call the computer the bringer of prospects. A few odd souls will think of computing. Most think of video games, texting, or e-books.
    Environmental thinkers may think of smart cars and paperless records. Rare is the breed hooked on sustainability games, a many-pronged teaching tool.
    Who knows? Games may be the best hope that the world’s youth will work out the problems we pass to them.
    “Sustainability games” are computer games that test a player’s skill at prolonging the world’s use of natural resources and the environment. The games take many forms.

  • Martinez hits some turbulence with state plane fiasco

    SANTA FE — Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration has been taken to task for misuse of a state airplane. The basics of the situation sound reasonable for the state to have undertaken.
    A production crew shooting a pilot for at TV series was stuck in Las Vegas, N.M., and needed to take a look at the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad in Chama.
    They called the head of the state film office who offered to get a state plane to fly them up. She checked with the state transportation director, two cabinet secretaries, two top state lawyers and the governor’s office.

  • Letter grades better than AYP

    Making AYP.
    This bit of education jargon has hung like a sword over schools and educators since the Bush administration introduced No Child Left Behind in 2001. In an attempt at accountability, the yardstick called Annual Yearly Progress was supposed to push schools and students toward improvement. But in design and implementation, it guaranteed that most schools would eventually not make AYP.
    So it’s hard to get excited about the new initiative, letter grades for schools. The governor considers it one of her education reform planks, and it won support from Democratic education leaders in the Legislature. Sen. Cynthia Nava, chair of the Senate Education Committee, supported the idea because it recognized growth and not just the watermark of proficiency.

  • Of gasoline and golf balls

    At the gas station, the customer tried to squeeze a few more drops into his tank and in doing so, some gas spurted out onto the pavement. And a little onto his pants.
    He screwed the gas cap back on, patted down his pants, and then demonstrated why there should be a test given to people before letting them vote.  He lit up a cigarette.
    I readied my cell phone for video mode. You know, just in case the police asked about the ball of fire running down the road. Either that, or to make a few bucks by selling the video to CNN.
    Yeah, you guessed it. I’m talking once more about the epidemic of stupid in this country.

  • Martinez testing her powers

    Perhaps it is inexperience. Or perhaps she’s simply insensitive to the give and take required in a system of state government where the authority to govern is apportioned between three separate branches of government, legislative, executive and judicial.
    Whatever it is, New Mexico’s neophyte Gov. Susana Martinez’s use of the line-item veto to accomplish legislative ends she sought but failed to achieve at the 2011 legislature has key state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle talking about hauling her into court for exceeding her authority under the state Constitution.
    There have been a number of instances where her veto practices have struck seasoned observers as constitutionally dubious.

  • NM eases through financial crisis

    State government has gotten through its financial crisis reasonably intact. Revenue is showing some growth. There may be a little money left after the 2013 session of the Legislature. Huge challenges loom.
    This was the overall message from David Abbey, director of the Legislative Finance Committee, to the conference of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute. Abbey spoke in Santa Fe May 12 to about 75 of the state’s tax and policy professionals

  • Be prepared if 'The Big One' hits

    As events in Japan this past March showed us, Big Ones really do happen. Richter 9 is about as large as they come, an event so enormous it takes away the breath of even a geologist like myself.
    It’s no comfort to think that quakes of that same general size are likely along the western boundaries of the Lower 48 and also in the region where Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee come together. In short, major quakes here in the U.S. simply must be expected.  
    And there are other “big ones,” too. As we’ve seen this spring, tornadoes and flooding are most unfortunately a natural part of our world. And electrical outages sometimes shape the man-made landscape in which we live.

  • Insurance that doesn't insure

    We New Mexicans dearly love to take advantage of one another’s ignorance. It’s how many of us make a living.
    Title insurance, for example.  You are required to purchase title insurance when you buy a house. Since you probably buy a house once or twice in your lifetime, it’s understandable that you are not an expert on the legalities.
    You’re probably relying on your real estate agent and the other professionals who are supposed to be acting in your interest.  
    You may have thought that you were buying an insurance policy that would, well, insure you.