Today's Opinions

  • Scapegoating immigrants is not the answer

    About three years ago, my dad was driving the truck he uses for his landscaping business in Phoenix when he was pulled over. Two patrol cars cornered him for making a wide right turn.
    Yes, you read that right: Multiple police officers went out of their way to stop my dad for supposedly making a right turn too wide.
    The traffic cops grilled my dad and his co-worker about their immigration status. They let my dad, a Mexican immigrant and U.S. citizen, go on his way without even issuing a warning. Then they arrested his coworker, who happened to be an undocumented immigrant.
    What seemed like a normal drive to work turned into a nightmare.
    Traffic stops that often begin with this kind of racial profiling, along with parking tickets and other minor offenses, have led to two-thirds of the record 2 million deportations during the Obama administration. These daily expulsions have instilled a culture of pain and fear among all our nation’s immigrant communities.
    When some of those communities urged their local governments to do something about it, about 300 cities responded by becoming something called a “sanctuary city.”
    Maybe you’ve heard about these places, but don’t know what a sanctuary city is.

  • Legacy mines, not the EPA, are the root of Animas spill

    Nobody who saw the Animas River will soon forget the sight of the orange waters flowing our way from the spill at an old Colorado gold mine.
    The odd color increased fears of what was now in those waters.
    I grew up with that color.
    Orange tailings spilling from old shafts in Colorado’s mountains remind us of the state’s colorful, boomtown past. Now we call them “legacy” sites, a word that’s all too familiar in New Mexico. Our legacy mines are mostly uranium, but the mess, the issues and the costs are the same.
    As often happens, the reporting by small, local media has been the best — and in this case, the least hysterical.
    Samantha Wright, of southwestern Colorado’s online news site San Juan Independent (sjindependent.org), wrote that Cement Creek, an Animas tributary and first recipient of the Gold King Mine’s three million gallon spill, runs orange every spring.
    The Gold King is one of many mines honeycombing those mountains. Colorado has 22,000 abandoned mines because back then, there were no environmental laws. Some of the worst are around Silverton.

  • EPA to start regulating water in your own backyard

    Unless a federal judge issues a preliminary injunction, the definition of the “Waters of the U.S.” will change, as of today — giving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate the water in your backyard. Even, according to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, “any area where agencies believe water may flow once every 100 years.”
    Thirty-one states, in four districts, have filed motions with the federal courts to block the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) from beginning to enforce the new “Waters of the U.S.” rule (WOTUS), which represents a new interpretation of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
    WOTUS was published in the Federal Register on June 29 and will become effective today.
    The CWA used to apply to “navigable waters,” which now, as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently said, “include almost any piece of land that gets wet and puddles.”

  • Getting your home ready to sell

    As the economy improves, today’s sellers are facing a very different environment than they were before the housing market stumbled in 2006.
    Today’s housing market features new procedures and standards, not the least of which are continuing borrowing hurdles for prospective buyers. If you are thinking about a home sale in the coming months, it pays to do a thorough overview of your personal finances and local real estate environment before you put up the “for sale” sign.
    Here are some general issues to consider:
    Make sure you’re not underwater. You may want to buy a new home, but can you afford to sell? The term “underwater” refers to the amount of money a seller owes on a house in excess of final sales proceeds. If what you owe on the home — including all selling costs due at closing — exceeds the agreed-upon sale price, then you will have to pay the difference out of pocket. If you’re not in a situation where you absolutely have to sell now, you may want to wait until your financial circumstances and the real estate market improves.
    Evaluate your finances. Before you sell, make sure you are ready to buy or rent. Making sure all three of your credit reports are accurate is an important part of that process.

  • How about saving the endangered hunter?

    The state Game Commission meets Aug. 27 to consider trapping cougars, hunting bears and saving wolves.
    Not on the agenda is another endangered species: the New Mexico Hunter.
    According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the number of hunters nationwide declined slightly over the 20 years from1991-2011, even as total population rose by nearly a quarter.
    Here in New Mexico, the number of hunting licenses issued fell about 9 percent between 2004 and 2013.
    That may be a reflection of changing demographics. As the Baby Boom enters our creaky and overweight “Golden Years,” more and more of us are reluctant to trade the comforts of the man-cave and a warm bed for the pleasure of tramping the mountains on a frosty fall morning.
    Another factor may be increasing urbanization, with more of us living in the city rather than in the small town farm-and-ranch country where hunting is traditional.
    Whatever the cause, a decline in hunting participation is bad news both for the state’s economy and the wildlife we share the land with.
    New Mexico’s 87,000 hunters spent more than $265 million on their sport in 2013 and contributed another $61 million to the state’s economy in labor, income and taxes, according to Game and Fish.

  • Pesticides are destroying some of Earth's creatures

    “What’s past is prologue,” Shakespeare said. How many times do we have to combat the use of pesticides?
    Rachel Carson’s lessons in “Silent Spring” must be revisited today. The chemical industry has become stronger in protecting and increasing its use of pesticides and poisons.
    Now, two of the agro giants, Dow and Monsanto, are battling each other’s products to kill super weeds, which were created by the use of pesticides in the first place.
    Hummingbirds, as well as other pollinators, are vital to our ecosystem. Bees, butterflies, bats, wasps, beetles, the air and some mammals help pollinate our flowers and plant foods.
    Their disappearance from the Earth is monstrous and is due in large part to the use of pesticides.
    Because some Los Alamos residents are reporting the absence or dwindling numbers of hummingbirds, it is important to do what we can to reduce pesticide use.
    Mary Deinilein, an education specialist at the Smithsonian National Zoo Migratory Bird Center explains how these chemicals affect non-targeted pests.
    These are some possible direct effects on survival and/or reproduction:

  • For critics of the Iran nuclear deal…

    For critics of the Iranian nuclear deal: I worked for years (1980-1988) at the IAEA in Vienna and a total of 15-plus years overseas in, guess what? Uranium resources, exploration, development and mining, as well as other focus areas in the nuclear fuel cycle, including nuclear waste management and decommissioning.
    To place this in context, it has been 35 years since I first sat down at a table with an Iranian counterpart. I cannot dismiss the safeguards challenges, but I believe that they are manageable.
    I’m quite familiar with the nuclear capabilities of most countries in that area, including Iran.
    Every president except Barack Obama since the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 has been a badly misguided because you do not cut off communications with an enemy or potential enemy because it drives them deeper into a certain desperation that results in the worst outcome. Are you not familiar with the street riots against the mullahs in Teheran during the last election?
    The Iranians are ready to negotiate; their people want to reintegrate into the world society. So why tell ’em “Stuff it!?”
    Had we done that with the former Soviet Union, I think most of the world would be a cinder by now.

  • You can trust scientific research reports … we hope

    A recent story in the Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that Michael LaCour, a UCLA graduate student, has fabricated data for another journal article.
    Science magazine has retracted the article, due to “the misrepresentation of survey incentives, the false sponsorship statement, and LaCour’s inability to produce original data.” Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a long string of integrity issues in research publications.
    The scary reality, though, is not the articles that have been found to be questionable, but the possibility of many other fabricated articles that have not been discovered and retracted.
    Meanwhile, John Bohannon intentionally published some weak and questionable findings related to chocolate just to demonstrate how quickly non-refereed journals will snatch up research. He claims, “I fooled millions into thinking chocolate helps weight loss.” Sign me up!
    The Office of Research Integrity oversees integrity on behalf of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. They are currently investigating 50 cases of research misconduct.
    Granted, the vast majority of published research is carefully reviewed and published with full integrity (we think). Nevertheless, one should be properly skeptical of the scientific claims. How can we be more informed consumers of research claims?