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Today's Opinions

  • Ways to save money on a last-minute summer trip

    If you, your partner or your family want — or need — to get out of town right now, how do you improvise a great last-minute trip without breaking the bank?
    Planning is essential. Embrace travel as a hobby — look for tricks, techniques and current online resources to keep abreast of the best last-minute deals.
    Compromises will be necessary. You’ll likely need to travel at off-peak hours (either the first flight out in the morning or the last one at night, usually on weekdays) and stay at hotels or venues off the beaten path.
    Here are some quick tips to save money on last-minute travel:
    Travel light, move fast. Traveling last-minute isn’t for the indecisive. Dedicated travelers are minimalists — they know what to pack, organize their paperwork and payment options and have the mental preparation to deal with problems and challenges along the way.
    Also, realize that last-minute travel can increase risk and other costs. If you’re planning a trip that requires travel insurance, you may not get coverage approval in time.

  • By doing nothing, Congress sides with taxpayers, basic market principles

    After more than three-quarters of a century, the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) could close its doors on June 30.
    Ex-Im was created by Executive Order in 1934 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. With the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, Congress made Ex-Im an independent agency and required that Ex-Im be reauthorized every 4-5 years. Ex-Im’s current authorization expires at month’s end.
    Ex-Im has historically enjoyed bipartisan support. However, the need to cut spending — coupled with watchdog reporting — brings reauthorization into question.
    Under the Obama Administration, Ex-Im lending has increased 248 percent. Taxpayers now hold nearly $140 billion in Ex-Im exposure.
    The Ex-Im website states, “EXIM Bank is more critical than ever to small businesses.” However, a recent report from American Transparency (AT), the Federal Transfer Report — Export-Import Bank found that while 90 percent of Ex-Im loans do go to small businesses, 85 percent of the money goes to big business — 10 percent of the transactions get 85 percent of the money.
    The AT report, released on May 30, analyzed the $172 billion in Ex-Im loans, guarantees, and activity since 2007.
    Boeing is Ex-Im’s number one customer.

  • Five counties gain from movers over four years

    New Mexico’s population picture has improved.
    In the year from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014 six counties had more people move in than moved out. The improvement: just five counties gained from movers during the four years to 2014 from the census in 2010.
    A further cloud on any smiling about our population is that Taos and McKinley, two of the counties with a one-year move-in gain, added between them 16 people.
    The Census Bureau released the numbers in March.
    That this change in movement of New Mexicans into and out of the state could be called “improvement” is a backhanded way of saying that “dismal” is the real description.
    “Migration” is the census geek term for people moving. “International migration” means moving into or out of New Mexico to (or from) another nation. “Domestic migration” refers to another state.
    Over the four-year period, 2010-2014, just four counties had positive domestic migration — more people moving in than left for other states.
    Sandoval County attracted 3,073 people. In terms of really growing the state, I suggest Sandoval doesn’t count because the history has been that Rio Rancho, by far the largest Sandoval community, attracts hordes of people from Albuquerque, which is in the same metro area.

  • Pet Talk: Symptoms of West Nile virus in horses

    The image of a cowboy riding off into the sunset on a palomino pony after a long hard day of rescuing a damsel in distress has reached the point of a cliché.
    A cowboy’s partner will forever be his trusty horse, and as long as his horse is healthy, he can continue riding off into the sunset. But what happens when a cowboy’s horse is infected by a deadly virus? Will there be a happy ending to that story?
    West Nile virus is defined as zoonotic, which means it can be transferred between animals and humans.
    The virus is mosquito-borne and spreads through intermediate hosts like blue jays and black birds. For this reason, the virus is more common in the summer or fall when birds are migrating from the north. Both humans and horses can be infected by West Nile; however, they are both considered “dead-end” hosts, meaning they cannot transmit the disease to others.
    West Nile virus first infected horses in 1999 with a case in New York. Since then, the United States has seen more cases of West Nile in horses, as well as humans.
    The year 2012 was the most deadly for humans with 286 deaths nationwide.

  • Celebrate Juneteenth with a heavy heart

    Washington, D.C. – Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District released the following statement recognizing the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

    “On this day 150 years ago, Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, bringing word that slavery had come to an end. While this day came two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, it stood as a momentous occasion that slavery was no more. Since that day, Juneteenth, as the day became known, has been a time of celebration and a time to reflect on the struggle for equality and freedom.
    As we celebrate Juneteenth, we do so with heavy hearts, mourning the tragic loss and senseless violence in Charleston, South Carolina. While this heinous crime has shaken our nation, we have seen a community shine a ray of light through this dark time by pulling together to support and comfort one another.

  • Dante and the way of love

    Dante, a serious rival to Shakespeare as the world’s greatest literary genius, was born in Florence, Italy, 750 years ago.
    Italy properly celebrated the birthday of its national poet (indeed he who virtually invented the modern Italian language) on May 4 and Pope Francis has encouraged Dante to be read as a “prophet of hope” and spiritual guide. And so he should be. Just as he has for three-quarters of a millennium.
    Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” written at the beginning of the 14th century during his permanent exile from Florence, is at once the crowning literary achievement of the Middle Ages, as well as the announcing angel of the Renaissance.
    Every true epic poem offers a totalizing vision of its age — its philosophy, science, theology, and history are all distilled to dramatize how humanity, the world and the divine struggle together.
    In Dante’s epic allegorical dream vision of a journey through the afterlife that devotes equal sections to Hell (“Inferno”), Purgatory (“Purgatorio”) and Heaven (“Paradiso”) one sees all that was thought and felt by Saints Augustine and Aquinas, but never so well expressed.
    Thus, Dante is the utmost medieval philosopher, theologian and poet.

  • Caregivers thankful for newly passed law

    Thanks to Gov. Susana Martinez and the New Mexico Legislature, as of June 17, New Mexico unpaid caregivers have a new resource that will now formally keep them included in the process when their loved one is admitted into a hospital.
    On April 9, Martinez signed into law the Lay Caregiver Aftercare Training bill, House Bill 139. AARP New Mexico led the effort to get this bill adopted.
    Under the law, patients can now formally designate a caregiver when they are admitted to the hospital — this can be a family member, a friend or even a neighbor. The hospital must notify the designated caregiver before the patient is discharged or transferred to another facility and provide consultation to caregivers on how to care for the patient when they return home.
    This could include explaining how to dispense medicine, give shots or dress wounds. A patient does not have to designate a caregiver.
    The tasks required of family caregivers go beyond assisting with meals, bathing and dressing. AARP New Mexico staff has heard stories from caregivers who provide much more medically involved tasks — wound care and medication management.

  • Letters to the Editor 6-19-15

    Take action against pancreatic cancer

    By 2020, pancreatic cancer is projected to become the second leading cause of cancer-related death. The average five-year survival rate is just 7 percent.
    Clearly, we must take action. This year, almost 49,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Without increased funding for research, they have little hope for the future because there are no early-detection methods or effective treatment options.
    We are ready to wage hope against this deadly disease. Please join me on Tuesday for the National Call-In and ask Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Representative Michelle Luján Grisham, Steve Pearce and Ben Ray Luján, to make cancer research a priority by increasing federal funding for the National Cancer Institute.
    Cancer research is not a partisan issue. It is an issue that unites us all.
    For more information, visit pancan.org/nationalcallin.

    Cheryl Vaughn
    Albuquerque