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Opinion

  • Governor Susana Martinez and Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela established the Office of Business Advocacy (OBA) in January 2011 and have been extremely pleased with its success.
    Since then, the OBA has saved or created more than 2,000 jobs by helping businesses navigate the sometimes complicated processes of permitting and licensing that can slow job creation and business growth. Now the OBA is expanding its mission.
    “The Office of Business Advocacy has done remarkably well helping small businesses that may not have the time or resources to sift through the regulatory, licensing and permitting process or address policy issues affecting their operations,” Barela said. “As a result of regulatory reforms, leading to less bureaucratic red tape than when the governor first took office four and half years ago, we’re expanding the OBA’s role to include proactively helping entrepreneurs start businesses and grow.”

  • Ripples of events in Europe almost a quarter of a century ago reverberate in New Mexico today.
    After the celebrations occasioned by the fall of Berlin’s infamous wall on the evening of Nov. 9, 1989, U.S. and European officials hardly knew what to make of the dramatically altered political landscape that quickly emerged to challenge them.
    Bellicose cold war bombast that had served western politicians so reliably (“Mr. Gorbachev! Tear this wall down!”) was suddenly no longer serviceable and entrenched Eastern European political elites that had governed with iron fists since the end of World War II were on the run.
    Old eastern bloc “defense alliances” dematerialized. The once mighty Soviet Union lost dominion over neighboring polities and started calling itself the “Russian Federation,” where the decrepit communism of yore was transmogrified into corrupt, crony capitalism and yesterday’s commissars were swept aside by new cadres of oligarchs adept at profiting from the resources of the state.
    Proclaiming the Cold War to have been “won,” the first President George Bush hailed the promise of a “New World Order,” thus demonstrating how statesmen can come to rue glib pronouncements.

  • For many of us, the connection we share with companion animals extends beyond just friendly company, our pets are considered a part of the family.
    The truly unique love between an owner and their pet is something one has to experience to understand. Although a pet may be a very loved and important family member, it is important to be sensitive and aware of your pet’s needs as they age.
    Sometimes owners are faced with difficult decisions when their pet reaches an age or health condition that no longer allows them to enjoy daily activities. Dr. Sarah Griffin, lecturer at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVM), explains that euthanization is never an easy choice, but in some cases, it may be the best option for your pet.
    “One of my professors in veterinary school told us that she tells clients to pick the pet’s three favorite things,” Griffin said. “When two out of three of those things are gone, it’s time to let them go. Many pets will continue to eat and drink even when they are in pain. Keeping a daily record of good vs. bad days sometimes helps you see the quality of life they are living.
    Some of the emotional struggles owners face when dealing with their pet’s death may be guilt and loneliness.

  • Who in the world is Bernie Sanders?

    Some think of Bernie Sanders as an old curmudgeon with young ideas. He is actually a presidential candidate who promotes ideas like diverting money from war to repairing infrastructure, fair trade rather than free trade, tough action on drug prices, a real minimum wage, help with the cost of education, Medicare for all, paid sick leave and other labor benefits that could help American workers catch up with what their Western European counterparts already enjoy.
    This all sounds like an interesting platform, but whether Bernie can hold his message together during a tough presidential campaign remains to be seen.

    Richard Foster
    Los Alamos

  • It depends upon the definition. Would we be a Christian nation defined by a legislative fiat? No! That is expressly forbidden by our Constitution in the first amendment to it. Lawmakers shall make no law with respect to religion.
    There are 13 countries that do have an official state religion where the church is an integral part of their government. We have no national religion. In fact, one of the reasons the pioneering people who came to America was to escape such a mandated system of beliefs, faith and practices.
    Freedom of religion is a basic right of all citizens under our Constitution with the Bill of Rights. Some protestant colonies, early on, assessed taxes upon their citizens to support their churches, a practice that ceased with adoption of the constitution.
    We are free to believe what we wish without government interference.
    It was the practice of religious faith in Christianity that carried our national forefathers to achieve the basic values and moral courage to write and propose the basic form of government that we have.
    Though those of our countrymen who are not Christian still benefit from those basic tenants that give us the core of our national ethos.


  • Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.” —Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, June 19, 1815
    The Battle of Waterloo — a series of bloody encounters between French, Anglo-Dutch, and Prussian armies fought over four days — culminated with Napoleon’s final defeat on June 18, 1815.
    It was a major historical event, and yet its bicentennial has come and gone essentially without notice.
    From 1789 until 1815, wars of the French Revolution and the era of Napoleon wrested Europe from the era of “limited warfare” (from 1648 until the French Revolution) into a modern era of enormous bloodletting intensified by the rise of nationalism and the Industrial Revolution. It was a historical perfect storm unleashed in full fury a century later in two global wars.
    The aftermath: the terror-stricken world of today.
    Anglo-Dutch forces under Sir Arthur Wellington suffered 15,000 casualties. Napoleon’s army lost twice that number, including 7,000 captured. England’s Prussian ally suffered 7,000 dead. Napoleon, declared an international outlaw by the Congress of Vienna, finally was consigned to the remote south Atlantic rock of St. Helena, where he died in 1821.

  • It was June 17, 9:05 p.m. — an insignificant .095 inch diameter metal rod strikes a metal casing. Within minutes, the airwaves and Internet pipes are inundated with the news.
    It was a .45-caliber firing pin and its repeated impact on cartridge casings ensured the deaths of nine parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
    Cameras clicked furiously as Governor Nikki Haley “struggled through her tears as she urged communities across the state to come together and heal.”
    Struggled through her tears?
    There is the same miscreant who defended flying the Confederate flag at the Statehouse. (She recently flip-flopped and said, “maybe we should revisit this.”)
    The same Tea Bagger who supported laws allowing citizens to carry firearms without a permit.
    The same hypocrite who boasted her love of guns by posting a Facebook video of her at gun manufacturing plant, shooting at their range, then bragging that she did it in high heels.
    Once again, the nation is immersed in another debate over firearm rights.

  • When will a New Mexico tribe go to pot?
    It’s likely only a question of time until a New Mexico tribe jumps into the marijuana trade, straining the always delicate relationship between our state and local governments and the “domestic dependent nations” within our borders.
    The federal government set the stage for that conflict last year, when the Department of Justice issued its “guidance” on the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana on tribal lands: As long as the business is properly regulated, the feds will keep hands off.
    That opened the door to a lucrative new business opportunity for the tribes at the same time gaming is becoming less profitable.
    Here in New Mexico, the tribal “net win” (the amount wagered in the casinos less the payout to lucky bettors) has declined nearly 4 percent over the past three years.
    Those numbers reflect a long-term nationwide trend. The industry has reached maturity, with little room for additional growth.
    The pot business, in contrast, is just beginning to take off. Reliable national figures are hard to come by, but by one estimate the legal marijuana industry grew by 64 percent last year, to more than $2 billion in revenues.

  • A report shows a gender pay gap at the University of New Mexico to the tune of an almost $15,000 difference between male and female professors.
    According to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education, during the 2013-2014 academic year, the average full-time female professor at UNM earned a salary of $87,417, while the average, full-time male professor made $99,855 — a difference of $12,438.
    Although the gender pay gap is smaller between men and women in the associate professor and instructor positions, male associate professors still earned approximately $2,300 more per year at the school than their female counterparts.
    Chaouki Abdallah, provost of UNM, said the numbers don’t tell the entire story.
    “The most important reason for male professors (having higher average salaries) is that there are colleges and departments with higher salaries. For example, there are more male engineering professors. The lowest paid professors are where females are a majority such as education or the arts. The other reason is that females may delay careers or promotions because of family. Males will also negotiate for more money and females generally don’t,” he said.

  • It’s so small!
    When State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced that he was bringing back a pump jack to replace the sculpture in front of the State Land Office, I figured he’d bring a real workhorse. But no, the cute, colorful device installed last week is a diminutive version of the muscular equipment that keeps oil and oil revenues flowing.
    Dunn missed an opportunity.
    In 1979, when Commissioner Alex Armijo made his statement — and riled Santa Fe city officials — he planted a pump jack donated by Mobil that had produced more than 20 million barrels of oil from state trust lands.
    Both men, Armijo a Democrat and Dunn a Republican, wanted to honor the contributions of the oil industry to state coffers and educate the public about where that money comes from.
    It’s a worthy goal. Most people don’t know that the oil and gas industry has been paying for the state’s schools for decades.
    It would have been more educational to install an old piece of equipment with a history, which then would have allowed the Land Office to explain in exhibits how it worked and how the process has changed through the years.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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, 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.

  • 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.

  • There’s an old saying about one’s literary skills: Some people have a way with words, and some do not have a way.
    I was one with not much way at all, and being a math nerd I took a perverse pride in my inability to properly connect a verb to a noun.
    Back then, it was an unstated expectation that a student who was strong in either math or English had to be feeble in the other (and I more than exceeded expectations).
    I was content to play the part of the linguistically challenged, always running from the grammar police as I squinted my modifiers, split my infinitives, and dangled my participles.
      Strangely enough, no one seemed to really care.
    When all you want to discuss is obscure theorems on spherical geometry, you quickly find yourself talking to an empty room.
    But conversing with myself had its advantages. I would only get interrupted now and then, and I never lost an argument.
    Well, almost never.
    Math is quite rigid in its adherence to rules. If you break a simple rule like dividing by zero, then up becomes down, positive becomes negative and the universe explodes.
    Math is quite unforgiving.
    English, on another hand, seems to take mistakes for granite.
    That’s an eggcorn.

  • Empowerment is the core of Mira Rubiano’s mission-driven life.
    After graduating with a degree in economics from Mount Holyoke College, the Minnesota native worked at the State Department and the World Bank, specializing in efforts to reduce poverty and increase social inclusion.
    Now she and her husband, freelance photographer Eduardo Rubiano, are taking charge of their own financial destiny by opening a yoga and fitness studio that helps clients build their energy and well-being. Santa Fe Thrive opened in the Solana Center at the end of May with a commitment “to providing inclusive, community-conscious empowerment in the spirit of holistic health and vitality.”
    “I always felt I had to tackle things at a macro level,” Rubiano said of her aid work, which included time as a Fulbright scholar teaching English in impoverished Brazilian neighborhoods. “But I kept being drawn to the individual — the empowerment of the individual — (and wanting) to let that flourish outward.”
    That self-assurance proved essential when the Rubianos began planning their business in 2014 and discovered the obstacles that fledgling entrepreneurs can face.

  • Due to recent economic realities, multi-generational living has been on the rise for many families.
    A 2014 Pew Research Center analysis showed that a record 57 million Americans, equal to a little over 18 percent of the U.S. population, lived in multi-generational family households in 2012 — double the number in 1980.
    The major driver was young adults aged 25-34. According to Pew, nearly 24 percent of these older millennials lived in multi-generational households, increased from nearly 19 percent in 2007 and 11 percent in 1980.
    It’s possible the “boomerang” family trend will remain in place for some time to come.
    For homeowner parents who may also be juggling the “sandwich” responsibilities of caring for older relatives, paying attention to the financial and behavioral details of taking in family is critical. Here are some suggestions to consider:
    Your finances come first. Operating a full house means higher utility and food costs and additional wear and tear on the property. Taking in family also shouldn’t derail a parent’s career goals or retirement planning, nor should it diminish other necessary financial objectives like maximizing savings or eliminating debt.