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Today's Opinions

  • Cost of keeping LA a green community

    Fourth of a series
    One of the major issues in this town is water: do we have enough to keep this a green community, at an affordable cost? Since I was elected to County Council two years ago, I have been gathering facts about water in Los Alamos. Much of this information is in the “2006 Long Range Water Supply Plan for Los Alamos County”, on the county website at losalamosnm.us/utilities/Documents/Reports/Long-RangePln_8-06_for%20Web%20posting.pdf.
    If we can agree on the facts and the uncertainties, I think the citizens of Los Alamos are likely to agree on good plans and policy regarding water. Here, I will discuss our water supply and demand, threats to our water supply, possible future water needs, and some ideas on responsible water policy for Los Alamos. I welcome any additional facts and thoughts on the subject.
    Responsible Water Plans and Policy

  • American intervention will only heighten already-present violence

    Nearly a century ago, after four bloody years of World War I, British colonialists created the state of Iraq, complete with their hand-picked monarch. Britain and France were authorized — or, more precisely, authorized themselves — to create states in the Arab world, despite the prior British promise of independence in return for the Arabs’ revolt against the Ottoman Turks, which helped the Allied powers defeat the Central powers. And so European countries drew lines in the sand without much regard for the societies they were constructing from disparate sectarian, tribal, and ethnic populations.
    Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations declared that former colonies of the defeated powers “are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world.” These included the Arabs (and others) in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and the Levant (today’s Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine/Israel). Because they were not ready for independence and self-government, the covenant stated, their “well-being and development” should be “entrusted to advanced nations who … can best undertake this responsibility.”

  • Pet Talk: Minutes in a hot car can do Fido harm

    If we find the scorching summer temperatures unbearable outside of our cars, imagine how our furry friends feel when trapped inside. Dog fatalities from extreme heat in cars are avoidable and all-too common.
    Although leaving your pet in the car while you run a few errands may seem harmless, dogs can suffer from heatstroke in a matter of minutes, even if parked in the shade with the windows cracked.
    “One study in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that cars parked in the sun showed an average of 40 degrees increase in internal temperature,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “This means, in 100 degree temperature, the car could reach 140 degrees.”
    Although rolling the car windows down may seem like a workable solution, this is not the case, even if you only plan to leave Fido in the car for a short period of time. Exposure to extreme heat for less than 20 minutes can still cause internal damage and be extremely harmful in the long run.
    “That same study in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that the rate of temperature rise was slower if the car window was rolled down, but still remarkably dangerous and reached the same levels after 60 minutes,” Barr said. “So just rolling the window down is not sufficient.”

  • Startup accelerator welcomes applicants

    New Mexico is home to the first United States startup accelerator aimed at entrepreneurs in creative industries. That Albuquerque-based business, Creative-Startups, is accepting applications through the end of the month for its inaugural class of startup candidates.
    The new accelerator aims to bring business sensibilities and savvy into fields dominated by “creatives,” including the fields of advertising, architecture, crafts, design, film, music, the performing arts, photography, publishing, game and app creation, television and radio.
    Taken as a whole, these sectors of the economy are among the most vibrant, judging by a 2013 United Nations report, which found that global trade in creative fields grew at an average rate of 8.8 percent each year between 2002 and 2011 and that the annual growth rate of creative exports from developing countries in that period was12.1 percent.
    Until now, few resources existed for startups in these professions to get the mentorship they need to start and sustain commercial enterprises based on creative products or services.

  • Medical marijuana program should come before legalized recreational use

    Returning from a long drive through Marijuanaland, also known as Colorado, I can report that there is no massive transformation. No potheads loitering in the streets. And citizens are still earnestly debating the subject.
    Proponents of legalized cannabis in New Mexico weave tales of vast riches from tax revenues, but it’s not entirely working out that way.
    Colorado’s law has a local option provision, so each county gets to decide whether it wants marijuana dispensaries. Some counties have voted it down, and others have yet to vote.
    As for tax revenues, a youthful source told me the taxes are so high it’s cheaper to buy it on the street. Recreational users pay a 2.9 percent state sales tax, a 10 percent special marijuana sales tax and a 15 percent retail excise tax.
    Because it’s legal to grow six plants, 40 percent goes untaxed, according to the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division. The projected $48 million in marijuana taxes for the fiscal year ending in June withered to $12 million.
    One of my friends complains that Mary Jane’s tax revenues can only be used to build schools — the excise tax’s first $40 million is earmarked for school construction — but some communities don’t need to build a school. They need to improve the schools they have.

  • Credit 101 for the college freshman

    To parents with a freshman entering college this fall: You’re probably expecting to shell out major bucks for tuition, room and board and a million other necessities over the next few years. But before you send your kid off, make sure you share one gift likely to steer him or her along the road to financial security — a sound understanding of how credit works.
    You probably learned the hard way yourself that young adults encounter many unfamiliar expenses — and temptations — upon entering college or the workforce. So it’s important to help your kids avoid early financial missteps that could damage their credit for years to come.
    The first step in managing personal finances is mastering the basic checking account and debit card. A few tips you can pass along:
    • Look for a bank or credit union that charges no monthly usage fee, requires no minimum balance and has conveniently located ATMs so you don’t rack up foreign ATM charges.
    • Enter all transactions in a check register or in a budgeting tool like Mint.com and review your account online at least weekly to verify when deposits, checks, purchases and automatic payments have cleared.

  • Pecos league completes fourth year of independent baseball

    Professional baseball continues in New Mexico through Labor Day with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes and spillover into the lower Mesilla Valley from the first-year El Paso Chihuahuas, also a Triple-A team.
    New Mexico had other baseball, organized and professional, during the summer of 2014 and it is that effort that this column pauses from all the state government matters of recent weeks to honor and applaud.
    Wait. The question might come from much of the state, “What other baseball?”
    Answer: The Pecos League of Professional Clubs.
    If the Pecos League seems a little obscure, that’s because in the grand world of baseball, it is. The Pecos League is one of eight independent baseball leagues. “Independent” means not tied to major league baseball, unlike the 20 leagues Wikipedia tells us are “affiliated.”
    Since I paid any attention to this as a kid 55 years ago or so, the old Triple-A, Double-A, A, B, C and D structure has turned into Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, Low-A, Short Season A, Advanced Rookie, Rookie and the Arizona Fall League.
    The Madison (Wisconsin) Mallards of the Northwoods League is the only one of the many minor league teams with which I have the slightest acquaintance other than the Albuquerque Isotopes.

  • Seducing Independents

    Early this year Gallup pollsters released a survey showing fully 42 percent of American voters either “lean,” or are registered as Independents.
    Only 31 percent of those responding to the poll said they are registered Democrats. Even fewer, 25 percent, were registered Republicans.
    Much has been made of these numbers.
    Some political onlookers find it ironic that members of Congress from a political party with only a quarter of nation’s registered voters are consistently able to block key legislation to the point of nearly shutting down the government. Others wondered how, in congressional elections two years ago, a mere 25 percent of registered voters managed to get enough of their fellow Republicans elected so as to have an outright majority in the U.S. House capable of blocking such legislation — especially since analyses of 2012 election returns reveal that fully 1.1 million more voters nationally cast their ballots for Democratic congressional candidates than Republican candidates?
    Questions of that sort vex politicians and strategists in both parties and the answers vary. Some say Republicans are more apt to vote than Democrats, and that may be the case — especially in off-year elections.