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Opinion

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    If you find oil or natural gas on your property, the value goes up. If you find an endangered species, your land becomes virtually worthless — resulting in the half-jest, half-serious advice: “shoot, shovel and shut up.”

    The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was signed into law in 1973 by President Richard Nixon to preserve, protect and recover key domestic species. Though well intentioned at the start, the ESA has since been used as a tool to hinder or block economic activity from logging and farming to mining and oil-and-gas development.

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    As the legislative session winds down and the final budget is crafted, I can’t help but reflect on one of the great tragedies of current state government. With every tax break, education program, special interest and critical line item being accounted for, it is easy to forget that our state government is awash in cash.

    There are hundreds of millions of unused tax dollars — excess bonding capacity and thousands of unfilled jobs — tucked away throughout state government. 

    Meanwhile, critical government services, water projects, ‘big idea’ education and economic development investment proposals fall to the wayside. We have the resources to move New Mexico forward but they remain unused. 

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    Column as I see ’em …

    It’s rare these days when proponents of the 2nd Amendment have a reason to celebrate, and rarer yet when that reason emanates from a state like California.

    With little fanfare and a begrudging attitude from gun control advocates disguised as reporters, news broke Thursday that the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned restrictions on carrying concealed handguns.

    No, that doesn’t mean gun owners no longer need to apply and be approved for concealed carry permits, but pending future and inevitable appeals from gun control zealots, it does strike a blow to local municipalities that place unrealistic restrictions on those who apply for a permit.

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    As the world turns its attention to the Sochi Olympic Games, Environment New Mexico revealed a summary of global warming impacts on Winter Olympic sports, and highlighting the need to act urgently to reduce the carbon pollution fueling global warming.

    “When it comes to the future of winter sports, global warming has us skating on thin ice,” said Dominick Lawton, field associate with Environment New Mexico. “There’s still time to keep from sliding off the edge by going after the biggest sources of the carbon pollution fueling global warming.” 

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    In  the United States Constitution, the Founding Fathers took great care with the inclusion and exclusion of various topics. Many aspects of what defines America are explicitly enumerated.

    And many other aspects were purposely avoided. For instance, they made no effort whatsoever to define a national language.

    Standing on avant-garde political terra firma of the times, these colonial guerrillas forged a joie de vivre mentality that gave birth to a nation. The omission of declaring a national language was, de facto, evidence of their compos mentis and a sense of Realpolitik.

    Then again, maybe this exclusion was per se, a faux pas? 

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    Let’s bring the spirit of Christmas to Congress. The last time the minimum wage went up was in 2009, and, as the owner of a Christmas tree farm and other businesses, I think it’s time for another raise.

    Today’s $7.25 an hour minimum wage befits Scrooge — before he saw the error of his ways. It amounts to just $15,080 a year for full-time workers.

    Workers shouldn’t have to depend on food stamps, or food banks to put Christmas Dinner on their tables.

    In my state, Louisiana, which is not a high-cost state, a single adult needed income of $19,256 to afford basic expenses such as food, housing, transportation, health care and taxes in 2012, according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator. That’s $9.26 an hour at 40 hours a week year-round, which is $2 more an hour than the current minimum wage.

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    International trade supports about 218,000 jobs in New Mexico — about one in five jobs — at companies of all sizes, according to the New Mexico-based Business Roundtable. While exports bring money to New Mexico producers in an obvious way, imports also bring money to the state by supplying materials that keep the state’s manufacturers and retailers competitive.

    In 2010, 1,056 New Mexico companies imported products to sell or use in manufacturing. Nearly 64 percent of these importers were small businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

    Businesses new to importing can save money by using the services of trade professionals and learning the lingo of international trade.

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    Traveling over the holiday season is a tradition that many families uphold. Whether you’re going to visit out-of-town family members, or embarking on your annual Colorado ski trip, escaping from the hustle and bustle of everyday life can be quite the holiday treat. For your furry family members, however, this is not the case. Being left alone at home while the people you love are away can be an unsettling experience, so here are some tips for keeping your pets comfortable and happy while you’re gone. 

    There are many viable options to consider if your pet is not accompanying you on vacation. Hiring a pet sitter, boarding your pet at your veterinary clinic or doggy care facility, or even asking your animal-loving neighbors if Spot could stay with them for the week are all good possibilities. It is your animal’s personality and preferences that determine which of these options will work best. 

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    Pets seeking forever homes

    Friends of the Shelter would like to thank Pet Pangaea for sponsoring the colorful holiday full-page ad, Dec. 15, for animals in the Los Alamos Animal shelter. 

    We appreciate the ongoing support of Pet Pangaea and the Los Alamos Monitor for the goals of Friends of the Shelter. We are always looking for wonderful homes for all of our shelter pets and we appreciate everyone who helps them find their way to their “forever home.”

    Friends of the Shelter

    Los Alamos

    LAPS Board thanks LANB

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    Back in high school, I disliked poetry. Well, “dislike” isn’t really strong enough, but “hate” implies more effort than your typical high school student is willing to invest in a course.

    Let’s just say I had a strong aversion to reading drivel like e.e. cummings (whose typewriter was missing the cap key). I got neck aches from nodding my head in iambic tetrameter to Kilmer’s “Trees” (A mime to chime a rhyme in time).

    And seriously, what guy in his right mind would use a Shakespearean love sonnet as a pick up line? “Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle’s compass come!”

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    Support teen
    community

    As we begin this week please keep in mind those who have been working so closely with the youth and families impacted by Tyler Van Anne’s death. We as a community need to take care of our caretakers. There is no way you can compensate someone enough for the heart-rending task of comforting a teen who has just lost their best friend.

    If you know one of the counselors, teachers, school administrators or volunteers who has been hands on with the teens take a moment to thank them. Or even better offer to babysit so they can take an evening with their spouse, or debrief with a co-worker. Get them a gift certificate for a massage. Show up at their door with a casserole and a hug. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

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    By Jason Alderman

    Year after year, Congress keeps kicking meaningful income tax reform down the road. Consequently, taxpayers continue to be stuck with an archaic, overly complicated mess that pleases no one — except perhaps some tax accountants who charge by the hour.

    A prime example is the dreaded alternative minimum tax (AMT). Enacted in 1969 to close loopholes that allowed wealthy taxpayers to avoid paying income taxes, the AMT has been tinkered with so much over the years that millions of middle-income taxpayers now get snared as well.

  • Between January 1961 and Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy fundamentally changed U.S. national security policy. These changes resulted in structures and doctrines that enabled American forces to fight in Vietnam in a new way that ultimately defined Kennedy’s national security legacy.

    Shortly after taking office in 1961, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara began reforming the Department of Defense. At the time, the Air Force, consuming the lion’s share of DOD’s budget, was rigidly focused on the doctrine of massive retaliation adopted in 1954 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration. In the event of war, the Strategic Air Command’s Single Integrated Operational Plan called for the delivery of 3,200 nuclear weapons on 1,065 targets in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China. In February 1965, when McNamara asked SAC commander Gen. Thomas Power if implementing that plan would have ended human life on earth, Power responded, “If three people survive and two of them are Americans, we win.”

  • As some of you may know, I am a proud daughter of a World War II Veteran. My father’s service overseas and later back home helped shape my siblings and me. My Dad made sure I understood the value in dedicating one’s life to service, to protect and respect the rights of all Americans. My father and the millions of other men and women who willingly sacrifice for our rights are a driving force behind my determination to be a voice for the people in public office. 

    One of the things I enjoy most about being a state representative are the opportunities to recognize and honor individuals who make New Mexico and this country a better place to live. This past week, I was privileged to participate in the Los Alamos Veterans Day Ceremony at the VFW and a dinner at the American Legion honoring the Boys and Girls State sponsors and students. There was a resounding message I took away from each of these events, we must do more for our youth who feel called to serve our country, and treat every day as Veterans Day.

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    This month marks the 10th anniversary of the historic Goodridge decision in Massachusetts that granted marriage to its gay and lesbian citizens. That decision remains one of the most eloquent tributes to the institution of marriage and why government cannot deny that fundamental freedom to loving same-sex couples.

    It also captures so much of what my nearly 40-year marriage has meant to me, my husband and our family and I am not alone. Passages from the Goodridge decision have become one of the most common readings at weddings — gay and straight — across the country. 

    Here’s part of what Margaret Marshall wrote in the court’s decision:

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    More and more news articles are addressing bullying in the workplace, including sports. Ritchie Incognito (whose true nature is anything but incognito) was recently accused of bullying a teammate, harassing him with racial slurs.

     Miami Dolphins (very) offensive lineman Incognito was suspended for using the N-word against Jonathan Martin. This isn’t the first time Ritchie has been noted for bullying others.

     Ritchie defended himself, saying “I’m not a racist and to judge me by that one word is wrong!”

     Really? Then I can call you an idiot and not be judged for saying that?

     How about three or four words? How about you’re a moronic xenophobic bigoted donkey’s behind?

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    For something whose nickname sounds so innocent, the “kiddie tax” certainly can wreak havoc on unprepared taxpayers’ yearly returns.

    Congress first introduced the kiddie tax as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 to discourage wealthy parents from sheltering their investment income in accounts under their children’s names, thereby avoiding paying taxes on the amounts. The rules have been tweaked periodically ever since.

    Although the kiddie tax once applied only to the unearned income of children under 14 (hence the nickname), it now impacts all children under age 19 (as well as full-time students under 24), provided their earned income does not exceed half of the annual expenses for their support.

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    This fall, Congress has an important opportunity to create jobs and grow the economy by passing a long-term, comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. The Farm Bill impacts every American, every day by providing a wide range of programs that strengthen our nation.

    The Farm Bill is crucial to maintaining a strong agriculture sector and an abundant food supply that benefits all Americans. 

    Over the past two years, producers have faced a multitude of disasters — from drought, to flooding, to blizzards. These events demonstrate how important the safety net is to keeping producers going strong. 

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    Last year, my friends and I were talking about news stories which bludgeoned the ears (and minds) of the American public throughout the year of 2012. 

    Of course, the Presidential election was high on the list. It was like watching a comedic version of Eraserhead dubbed over with the soundtrack from “Xanadu.” I must admit though, it was entertaining to see Clint Eastwood argue with a piece of furniture (and losing the argument to it).

    Psy’s Gangnam Style infected the airwaves with K-pop and bad dancing. Trayvon Martin’s murder piqued the nation’s curiosity as to what brand of shoes Zimmerman wore. 

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    Employment discrimination is toxic for the employer, the perpetrator and the victim. It cripples productivity, creates a hostile work environment and hurts employee morale. 

    If allowed to continue, it can lead to costly lawsuits and damage a business’s image, reputation and brand.

    The best way an employer can avoid being found liable for employment discrimination is to make equal opportunity the company standard — from recruitment to promotions, pay, benefits and training opportunities. Employers should know enough about employment law to recognize discrimination and the potential for discrimination when they see it and to ask for expert help if they are unsure.