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Today's Opinions

  • Letter to the editor 3-5-15

    Numerous uses for plastic bags

    When I go to Smith’s, I take my reusable bags. My favorites are the two that I received free from Smith’s. They have box bottoms and wooden handles.
    They can’t be machine washed so I separate my groceries and request plastic grocery bags for the things that might leak.
    I have five wastebaskets and a garbage bin under the sink. I use plastic bags to line all of them. The only ones that get thrown away are the ones that line the garbage bin.
    When I was a volunteer at the library book store and the Jemez House Thrift Store, we used the plastic bags that people brought their books and things to be recycled in to pack things that other people were buying.
    On the rare occasions when it rains in Los Alamos, both libraries have plastic bags on-hand to place books in so they won’t get wet.
    The important thing about plastic bags is that they have handles. I usually walk to Smith’s. I use my backpack and plastic bags to carry my things home in. If I have more plastic bags than I need at home, I take a used plastic bag with me.
    Our Los Alamos Monitor comes in a plastic bag five days a week. I recycle them or use them for dog waste if our grand puppy is visiting.

  • How to navigate through the college aid maze

    If you’re worried about paying for your child’s college education, keep this statistic in mind: during the 2011-12 school year, the U.S. Department of Education reported that 85 percent of all full-time, four-year college students were receiving some form of financial aid.
    Consider planning way ahead of time to develop a college savings strategy that fits with your finances. If you need more resources to cover additional costs, get to know the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA (fafsa.ed.gov).
    FAFSA is the universal application for current and prospective U.S. college students to receive college financial aid. It is the gateway to grants, student loans and work-study programs on the federal and state level.
    If you have a kid headed for college, it’s a good idea to learn about the FAFSA as early as possible. The universal form is the first step for any current or prospective student who needs help paying for higher education. For the 2014-15 academic year, the College Board reported that annual tuition, room and board (trends.collegeboard.org) averaged $18,943 at in-state public universities, $32,762 for out-of-state students and $42,419 at private, nonprofit schools.

  • Pet Talk: There is a vast need for service dogs

    The first school for Seeing Eye Dogs was opened on Jan. 29, 1929 in Nashville, Tennessee.
    Following a short-lived program in Germany after World War I, this guide school trained dogs to assist those in need, and since then has influenced programs all over the world, including the Texas A&M’s Aggie Guide Dogs and Service Dogs (AGS).
    Today, service dogs are exposed to very thorough and extensive training, and their duties can extend much farther than assisting only the blind.
    “When people see a service dog in a vest, they automatically think it’s a guide dog. When in reality, a huge percentage of service dogs assist people with all sorts of other medical, physical and emotional things,” said Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, faculty advisor for AGS and Clinical Assistant Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.  
    Some examples include mobile assistance dogs, which help people who have trouble getting around due to cerebral palsy, severe arthritis or other conditions, and hearing dogs, which help the hearing impaired by responding to sound with a certain behavior.
    For instance, when they hear a knock at the front door, they might be taught to go sit in front of the person to alert them.  

  • What’s up with prices at the pump?

    After initially driving down the price of oil by increasing its production, which gave Americans a welcome drop in prices at the pump, could Saudi Arabia now be pushing them back up?
    Prices at the pump have gone up nearly 40 cents a gallon from the January low. Every year, at this time, refineries shut down to make adjustments from the “winter blend” to the “summer blend.”
    However this year, the increase is exacerbated.
    The unexpected extreme weather in the south has caused some of the refineries in the south to shut and restart, resulting in disruption for a couple of days. There was a California refinery explosion.
    Then we have the expanding steelworker’s strike — the first in 35 years.
    Opinions vary on why the United Steelworks chose now to strike — especially in a time when labor unions, according to the WP, “rarely exercise that right.”
    The paper explains, “There were only 11 strikes involving more than 1,000 workers last year, down from hundreds annually in the 1970s.”
    What if the union workers chose this time to strike because of outside influence — specifically Saudi Arabia? There are many coincidences that seem too obvious to ignore.

  • Luján Grisham offers platitude for the ‘War on Poverty’

    A legislative tradition is a speech by each member of our congressional delegation to a joint gathering of the two houses.
    The exercise is useful. It puts the people self-selected to live on airplanes flying between New Mexico and Washington, D.C., in front of a bipartisan political audience. A chance exists of something useful or revealing.
    From Albuquerque Rep. Michelle Luján Grisham, a Democrat, on Feb. 17 came the charge, “It’s time you declare a war on poverty in New Mexico.”  The comment was in an Albuquerque Journal story.
    The sentiments are noble. Questions arise, however. (I can hear the liberal knives sharpening. Gasp! Question a principle of pious liberalism?)
    It’s not that Luján Grisham is wrong. It would be nice to eliminate poverty. The trouble is that such words are easy to say and tough, if not impossible, to execute. This would be a state level war, I suppose.
    To talk of solving a social problem such as poverty, Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson once observed, is itself a problem. “‘Solution’ implies a perfect resolution, but many social problems do not admit to that.” Poverty is one of the “conditions with which we have to struggle, for better or worse.”

  • Letters to the editor 3-3-15

    Guaje signage hard to see

    The directional sign to Guaje Pines Cemetery is so low that it is hard for first visitors to see. In the summer, it is shaded, too.
    Could the sign be lifted for better view?
    Also, a little green and white sign on the other side of Diamond Drive would be helpful.

    Sue Y. Conner
    Los Alamos

    Casino not a place for teens

    Showering after a night at Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino helps wash away some of the smell of the smoking.
    Gambling is illegal for our high school students. Drinking alcohol is also illegal for them.
    Drinking alcohol helps them make bad decisions.
    Memories from the prom night.

    Anne Brinkley
    Los Alamos
     

  • Plastic bag bans are full of misconceptions

    I’m writing to voice my opposition to the idea of a plastic grocery bag ban that’s been going around lately.
    Bag bans have become the latest Eco-Fad for people that don’t have anything better to do than to punish everyone for the actions of a few. They are just a warm fuzzy feel good idea that’s completely ineffective.
    Most of the time I shop at Smith’s I bring my own cloth bags since they are sturdy, carry more, and I get bonus rewards points for doing so.  However, I don’t keep any cloth bags in my truck for various reasons, so if I’m driving my truck I need the plastic or paper bags available at the store. Today I rode with a friend to Smith’s to get some lunch. I don’t carry my cloth bags in my wallet, so used plastic provided by Smith’s.
    I re-use my grocery bags for many things. I’ve actually run out of bags at the house and had to intentionally leave my cloth bags in the car on the next shopping trip just so that I could obtain more.
    Plastic bags are likely the most re-purposed and reused product that people bring into their home! If there is a bag ban, I’ll just have to buy them from Amazon.

  • The high costs of Boehner

    As these lines are written the bumptious Republican majority that controls the U.S. House seems prepared to shut down the Department of Homeland Security or, perhaps, avoid a shutdown by funding its operations for only three weeks.
    It’s madness. By a large bipartisan margin, the Senate has already sent the House a measure funding the department through September. It is a straight-forward funding bill, no gimmicks, no distractions.
    But wingnuts in the Republican House are demanding a measure that includes language invalidating some of President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration reform. Slipping extraneous stuff like that into a bill is called adding a “poison pill,” something calculated to kill a proposal.
    House speakers who are serious about getting things done, especially where national security is concerned, usually knock heads of supporters who foster such nonsense and tell them to cool it. But the current House Speaker, John Boehner, acquiesced and tried to borrow three weeks to avoid an immediate shutdown.
    Boehner has accomplished little as Speaker, but he plainly likes the title.
    His latest caper began last fall when congressional Republicans joined Democrats in sending the president a measure funding the federal government, pending his signature.