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Today's Opinions

  • Save the plastic bag and our rights

    In the last month there have been some very emotionally charged letters to the editor published in various media outlets here in town, by Jody Benson, a member of the Sierra Club, demanding a ban on plastic shopping bags in Los Alamos County.
    Understandably, this topic is going to generate a lot of discussion because it concerns how people choose to shop and live their lives.
    Before we ban plastic bags and allow needleless government intrusion into a private transaction let’s look at some facts regarding plastic shopping bags.
    • Plastic bags are made of No. 2 (high-density polyethelyne, HDPE) or No. 4 (low-density polyethelyne, LDPE), both of which are 100 percent recyclable through the “Bag-2-Bag” program Smith’s participates in.
    • Smith’s also recycles its own cardboard and other waste, thus not impacting the county’s solid waste system.
    • Ninety percent of plastic shopping bags are reused in households. The most common reuse is to line trashcans and to dispose of pet waste.

  • Streamline regulating, too

    Engineers aim to streamline everything to work better, faster and cheaper.
    Over the years, countless techniques for doing this have been launched and proved valuable. More come every year.
    Almost every process works better, faster and cheaper than it did 10 years ago. A dusky exception is the vital process of regulating.
    Regulating has built up a backlog of inefficiencies that have remedies on hand in other fields.
    This is not surprising for a system like regulating that works, not by design, but as shaped by a long chain of votes cast on a tangle of super politicized issues.
    The system of regulating emissions has four main steps: rule-setting, permitting, inspection and enforcement. Each step affects all the other steps and each affects the efficiency of the regulating system as a whole.
    Yet, the steps are designed separately, with barely a glance at the thriving engineering field of systems analysis.
    Systems analysis comes in forms that range from very complex to common-sense simple. Systems analysis in the 21st century can use information theory and game theory to shape high-level math problems run on computers.

  • Pet Talk: Probiotics for pets on the rise

    Probiotics, or “good bacteria,” can be defined as living microorganisms that, when administered in adequateamounts, can offer multiple health benefits to the host. Though they have been gaining popularity amongst humans in the past decade, the possibility of similar probiotic supplements for your pets’ health is on the rise.
    “Essentially, we are trying to give live bacteria in supplement form that have beneficial properties to ananimal in order to improve their digestive health,” said Dr. Jan Suchodolski, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “It is imperative that bacteria are alive once they reach the gut and that they are also delivered in high amounts. That’s why a high-quality product is needed.”
    In order to fully understand how probiotics work, it’s important to know that the beneficial effects of probiotics are bacterial strain specific, meaning every bacterial strain has a potentially different effect. Some probiotic strains, for instance, stimulate the immune system, while other strains produce anti-inflammatory biomolecules or antimicrobial molecules to combat pathogens.

  • LAPS in compliance with immunization regulations

    There has been a great deal of conversation in the community and the media about immunizations against certain communicable diseases.
    In fact, one recent story (lamonitor.com, Feb. 6) noted Los Alamos County was “… second in the state for the number of vaccination exemptions at 3.1 percent for children ages 4 to 18….”
    For Los Alamos, the number of parents who requested vaccination exemptions (immunization waivers) amounted to about 100 students out of the more than 3,500 enrolled in school. The vaccination exemptions requested by parents were primarily based on religious or medical reasons, which are allowed by state law.
    Our community will be pleased to know Los Alamos Public Schools is in compliance with the New Mexico Department of Health rules and New Mexico School Manual regarding immunizations and exemptions.
    Michele Wright RN, LAPS Nursing Team leader stated, “Either students have completed their vaccines, are following a schedule to catch up on missing vaccines, or have valid religious beliefs or medical conditions for not receiving their vaccines.”

  • Some people really need a hobby

    Earlier this week, millions of people wasted their time watching the Oscars.
    With so many other things happening in the world, you’d think people would demand more variety. It’s the same old thing year after year.
    But on the same day as the Oscars, in Daytona, Florida, Matt “Megatoad” Stonie (world class eating champion) consumed 182 slices of bacon in five minutes (a little more than six pounds). Watching someone gulp down 28,000 milligrams of sodium is true entertainment.
    And they know how to do it right in Guadalajara, Mexico, too. With 2,600 pounds of pork, 2,400 pounds of tortillas and enough hot sauce to kill a Roman Legion, 130 people constructed a 2-mile long chain of tacos! Yes, this is entertainment with a bite!
    Whether its a competition to see who can squirt milk the furthest from their eyeballs, or attempting to break the world record for spit distance (currently at 7 feet), humans know no bounds on the extents of pure sport and merriment.
    It took a while for people to realize that the true value of setting a record is that it offers someone the opportunity to break it.

  • Consider a minor’s circumstances before changing parental notification

    Parental notification on abortion, an issue I hoped had been put to rest years ago, is back with New Mexico, thanks to House Bill 391, sponsored by Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Valencia.
    The bill requires that if a minor is seeking an abortion, her parents must be notified first. The requirement is notice, not consent.
    The bill provides exceptions, including so-called judicial bypass — a way for the minor to get approval from a judge instead of her parents in certain circumstances. It also requires statistical reporting by all doctors who perform abortions (not limited to minors) — a provision that might be seen as a prelude to more restrictive legislation.
    Should the law require girls under the age of consent — or the healthcare providers who want to help them — to notify parents before they can get an abortion? This question is not just about abortion. It’s about parenting and the precious protective relationship between parents and children.
    Except sometimes the relationship is not protective.
    How you react to this question depends on the point of view you take when you think about it. Some people take the issue personally. They relate the legislation to their own children, grandchildren, relatives or other favorite kids.

  • Things parents should know about PARCC testing

    Los Alamos Public Schools will soon begin testing students in third through 11th grade on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC). This will mark the first year this test has been administered in our community.
    The purpose of the assessment is to help determine our students’ understanding of the Common Core State Standards in reading, language arts and mathematics, as well as provide data about our students’ college and career readiness. For example, a fifth grade student who demonstrates proficiency on the PARCC assessment is viewed as on a path to college and career ready.
    In the past, the annual assessment was known as the New Mexico Standards Based Assessment (SBA), which was administered over a two-week testing window.
    In contrast to SBA that students took in the past, the PARCC will be taken online. Students in Chamisa and Mountain Elementary Schools will be the first to participate in the PARCC testing. Other schools in the district will soon follow.
    PARCC will be administered in two phases. As such, students in grades 3-11 will be assessed in three tests in English Language Arts and two tests in mathematics in March. In April, students in grades 3-11 will take two end-of-year tests in English Language Arts and two end-of-year in mathematics.

  • Letters to the editor 2-25-15

    R-T-W attacks middle class

    Right-to-Work is an attack on the middle class. It is unfair, unnecessary and hides the bill’s true goals.
    Our legislators need to be focused on issues that strengthen the communities of their constituents by closing tax loopholes that only benefit the wealthy, raising salaries for public school teachers that help raise our youth and cutting taxes for small-business owners.
    Our focus should be on strengthening New Mexico’s economy from the core and making sure all of our children get the education they need and deserve to lead us into the future.
    Facts show that Right-to-Work laws such as House Bill 75 law will not stimulate growth and increase jobs in New Mexico. In fact, such laws lower wages and negatively effects workers’ safety and security in northern New Mexico at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    As a member of The International Guards Union of America local 69, I, along with our membership, do not support the passing of HB 75. It is clear to see the long-term agenda and effects will be negative for all workers.
    Supporters of HB 75 have promised that the law would create jobs, yet not a single company has come forward to make a statement that is a factor in selecting New Mexico for a site. Why didn’t we hear any of this during the election?