• Iran acts like a Persian Gulf hegemon because it can. Tehran’s military, while capable of making a less-than-concerted attack costly, would be overmatched by the armed forces of the United States and those of the Persian Gulf states and crumble quickly along with its regime
    The window of opportunity is closing with Russia’s announced intention to deploy S-300 anti-aircraft, anti-ballistic missiles. Furthermore, if Tehran bamboozles Washington into a nuclear arms deal involving the lifting of economic sanctions look for Russia, China and some European defense companies to provide a cornucopia of modern arms. Nevertheless, it takes time to develop a defense system capable of thwarting U.S. “hyper-war” capabilities.

  • A young adult’s first months out of college are about personal freedom and finding one’s path as an adult. Building solid money habits is a big part of that.
    Most grads are managing money alone for the first time — finding work, places to live and if they’re in the majority, figuring out how to pay off college loans. For many, these are daunting challenges. If you are a young adult — or know one — here are some of the best routines to adopt from the start:
    Budgeting is the first important step in financial planning because it is difficult to make effective financial decisions without knowing where every dollar is actually going. It’s a three-part exercise — tracking spending, analyzing where that money has gone and finding ways to direct that spending more effectively toward saving, investing and extinguishing debt.
    Even if a new grad is looking for work or waiting to find a job, budgeting is a lifetime process that should start immediately.
    A graduate’s first savings goal should be an emergency fund to cover everyday expenses such as the loss of a job or a major repair. The ultimate purpose of an emergency fund is to avoid additional debt or draining savings or investments. Emergency funds should cover at least four to seven months of living expenses.

  • It costs nothing to tell someone that you love them, but FTD would rather you say it with flowers.
    Cadbury wants you say it with chocolate. And Oscar Mayer says, “Yell it with bacon!”
    But shouldn’t speech be free?
    A few years ago, an Oxford student told a mounted police officer, “Excuse me, do you realize your horse is gay?” He was arrested for violating the Public Order Act, which prohibits homophobic remarks.
    A judge with more sense than the officer (whose intelligence bordered on that of a sea slug) threw the arrest out. Free speech outweighed free stupidity.
    Speech may be free, but it often presents itself as a painful reminder of the maxim, “You get what you pay for.”
    Recently, a school district hosted a “Draw Muhammad” art contest, promoting itself as a “Free Speech Exhibit.” Of course, it was in fact specifically designed with one intent in mind — to incite hatred.
    And it succeeded. Two radical Muslims arrived, started shooting, and were quickly killed by the heavily armed Garland, Texas “Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out” SWAT team.
    Was this art contest really free speech? Yeah, it was. Here in America, you have the right to criticize most anyone and most anything.

  • Entrepreneurs are naturally passionate about providing a service or product, but many avoid digging into the financial aspects of running a small business — perhaps because they don’t have simple tools that can help them understand their finances.
    This avoidance can cost a business dearly, because financial success requires that the owner understand the target customer, how to price a product or service and how to keep track of cash flowing in and out of the business.
    It all begins with understanding who — if anyone — wants the product or service the business is selling.
    “Businesses can’t take a shotgun approach to marketing,” said Kim Blueher, vice president of lending at WESST — a nonprofit lender and small-business development and training organization with six offices in New Mexico. A marketing strategy needs to be based on “a realistic picture of how many
    people want their product.”
    At WESST, Kim and Amy Lahti teach business clients how to identify that customer. They also introduce clients to simple spreadsheets that help them compute how many products or services the business needs to sell to cover expenses and make a profit.

  • Your local Boy Scouts and Letter Carriers (NALC-4112) would like to thank the community for their generosity in supporting the LA Cares Food Bank with your donations of food and supplies during last weekend’s Spring Food Drive. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank RE/MAX Realty, Knights of Columbus No. 3137, Smith’s Foods, Los Alamos Monitor, Los Alamos Daily Post, KRSN 1490, TRK Management, Retired and Senior Volunteers, and Los Alamos County for providing a variety of resources that support the food drive.  
    Additional donations of non-perishable food and personal care supplies to LA Cares are accepted year-round at the aquatic center and at Los Alamos County Social Services at 1505 15th Street, Suite A, during regular business hours. Monetary donations can be sent to: LA Cares, P.O. Box 248, Los Alamos, N.M. 87544.
    Thank you for helping to battle hunger in our community and mark your calendar for our next food drive that will be this fall on Nov. 21.
    Bill Blumenthal
    Northern New Mexico District – Boy Scouts of America
    Food Drive Coordinator
     Terry Jones
    National Association of
    Letter Carriers – 4112
    Food Drive Coordinator

  • The next time you see an out-of-state plate on the road this summer, you might take a moment to thank the National Park Service.
    According to an NPS study, visitors to New Mexico’s national parks and monuments make an important contribution to our state’s economy.
    In 2014, park visitors spent an estimated $88.8 million in local communities while visiting NPS lands in New Mexico, according to the Park Service. That spending supported 1,400 jobs paying $36.9 million in wages and salaries to local workers, and generated $107.7 million worth of economic activity in the state’s economy.
    Nationwide, the NPS estimates visitors to its parks, monuments and historic sites spent an estimated $15.7 billion in the nearby “gateway” communities, supporting 277,000 jobs paying $10.3 billion in wages, salaries and benefits, and producing $29.7 billion in economic activity.
    The lodging sector saw the highest direct contributions with 48,000 jobs and $4.8 billion in local economic activity attributed to the park visitors, while restaurants and bars benefited with 60,000 jobs and $3.2 billion in economic activity.

  • From the surprising number of tourism-related features, I assumed they had government help.
    In this poor, but well-established Mecca for adventure travelers, the hiking trails were well developed, nicely painted signs directed hikers to the different hotels, English was widely spoken and everybody had business cards.
    But when I asked one young hotelier about help from the government, he laughed and said something like: Are you kidding? The government collects taxes, but does nothing for us.
    This was Nepal in 1998. We were visiting our son in the Peace Corps and meeting our future daughter-in-law, and when in Nepal, you trek.
    As a business editor, I was fascinated by the entrepreneurism I saw. When trekkers first started to show up in the early 1970s, the citizens of remote villages clinging to impossibly steep mountainsides knew an opportunity when they saw one.
    Beginning by making an extra bed in the kitchen for travelers, they had bootstrapped themselves into enlarging a room and then building an addition or tea room. Some eventually created stand-alone hotels.
    It was all done with non-existent resources. One young man admitted to my son that his children were malnourished because he needed to buy building materials to enter the hospitality business. Now that’s sacrifice.

  • Late last month, the County Council, county staff and members of the public spent about 16 hours examining and approving the county’s 2016 budget.
    I learned some important things about the process that I’d like to share with you. Please remember, these are my views as an individual councilor and they don’t necessarily reflect the views of the other councilors.
    First, I want to compliment the talented and dedicated professionals on the county staff. They’ve significantly cut operating expenses over the past five years to address a 29 percent decline in the Gross Receipts Tax revenues that the county relies on for most of its funding; and they’ve done a great job of minimizing the impact to citizen services in managing those cuts.
    They’ve achieved this by decreasing county staff by over 20 positions through attrition since 2014 and by cutting other operating costs and delaying projects. The staff’s dedication to meeting the service needs of our community is noteworthy.
    When I was running for the council, I campaigned with a goal of improving the alignment between strategic goals, citizen needs and resource allocation.

  • Take a glance at any contemporary parenting blog, website or social media group and you’ll see the “mommy wars” playing out.
    The battles range from helicopter parenting versus free-range kids to sling versus stroller and cloth versus disposable diaper.
    While the battles (and the guilt that comes with them) are real, they are keeping our attention from the real mommy wars: the abysmal lack of national policies to protect new mothers in the workplace.
    Almost three-quarters of mothers are in the labor force and they are the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households. Still, the U.S. is one of the few nations on the globe that does not ensure that new moms have paid maternity leave. In fact, we have no federal policies on paid leave of any kind and our policy on unpaid leave does not protect enough working women.
    This Mother’s Day we need national policies that reflect our nation’s true family values.  
    Every country except the U.S., Suriname and Papua New Guinea provides paid maternity leave according to the World Policy Forum. Even in countries with poor civil rights records, such as Somalia, Iran and North Korea, women get at least some paid maternity leave.
    Women receive 12 weeks in India, 16 weeks in the Netherlands, and almost 70 weeks in Sweden.

  • As the Chair of the County Council, one of the biggest concerns I hear — and am also concerned with — is the idea of expanding beyond being a “one-horse town.”
    As a local government, there are several ways to try to encourage that. Some are harder than others.
    The first is to have policies that support the local businesses here now. This is a high priority for this council, and the staff knows and is working on that. Another is to have policies that encourage lab spinoffs; this has a lot of complications, but there are efforts towards this as well.
    A third is to be known as a great small town to relocate to and as a great place to visit.
    There are many businesses that can “live anywhere,” and the owners both support themselves and often hire others. They might even be small restaurant and shop owners.
    The current branding initiative is an effort by the County Council to work on the last two; becoming known, outside our community, as a great place to live and a great place to visit.
    There are few things branding is not. Branding is not about a slogan for our town, or how we feel about ourselves, or what we do here.

  • Every homeschooling parent has been asked the S-Question: “What about socialization?” The implications (real or imagined) of the question are less than flattering:
    • Students who attend schools outside the home are socialized better because they spend so much time with their immature peers, whereas students who attend school within the home are poorly socialized because they spend so much time with their mature parents.
    • Home school families do not interact with one another.
    • Socialization that occurs on the soccer field, during debate rounds and in church doesn’t count (or is somehow inferior).
    • Students who attend school outside the home are always well socialized.
    • Your kids are so weird.
    I would like to put the S-Question to rest by summarizing research I conducted along with my colleagues.
    We surveyed 223 families (asking questions of one teen and one parent), 95 of whom were schooling at home. The results point to three important observations: homeschooling teens socialize more than other teens, they socialize differently than other teens, but both of these observations miss the point. Socialization is not a home schooling issue; it is a religious phenomenon.

  • It’s easy to annoy teachers.
    Tell them that they’re overpaid. Or that you wish you had a cushy job like they have. Or that it’s all their fault when students perform poorly.
    But if you really want to provoke them, just say the word “PARCC.”
    Actually, PARCC isn’t a word. It’s an acronym, or perhaps more accurately an acrimoniousym. Over time, an acronym can become a word. If this happens for PARCC, it’ll probably be used as a curse word (kind of like ‘frack’).
    PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
    The “partnership” refers to corporate partners of Pearson LLC who are making billions in profits off the backs of teachers and students (and taxpayers).
    But I do love acronyms. One of my favorites when discussing PARCC is FUBAR. I forget what that means, but it’s in the same general ballparcc.
    OK. I should mention that I signed a security confidentiality agreement promising not to discuss the content of the PARCC assessments.
    I did not, however, sign anything prohibiting me from saying that the test is a politically motivated pile of yak droppings. Of course, I wouldn’t say that. It’s not my style.

  • Many innovators wouldn’t dream of launching a business without a plan and a pile of money, but that’s precisely the “lean startup” approach that advocates say is revolutionizing and democratizing entrepreneurship.
    The methodology, introduced in 2011 by serial entrepreneur and startup coach Eric Ries, shuffles the traditional deck by putting the cart (the product or service idea) before the horse (the business organization), “selling” the wares before investing time and money building something that customers don’t really want.
    If it sounds counterintuitive, it’s because the conventional business development template begins with a business plan, followed by a search for financial backing and recruitment of a core management team. After months or years spent quietly developing and building the product, the creation is introduced to consumers through advertising and marketing.
    But many businesses fail after all this investment in product development and capital expenditure because people just don’t want the product being offered.
    The lean startup path seeks to avoid such waste of time and money by “selling” products before building them.
    Feedback first

  • The hard work of many dedicated volunteers resulted in a successful Northern New Mexico Spring Arts and Crafts Fair. It was a fantastic spring day with nice weather, although storm clouds lingered in the area. People had the opportunity to visit with friends and mingle among the booths. The art classes from Los Alamos schools had its work on display inside Fuller Lodge showcasing the many talented students in our school district.
    The fair benefited from the efforts of RSVP members who posted flyers around Los Alamos before the fair. We also wish to thank Los Alamos County Parks Department for mowing and trimming the grounds around Fuller Lodge, as well as cleaning up trash during the fair. Many people commented about how nice the area looked for the fair. It truly was beautiful.
    As always, a big thank you goes to our board members and volunteers who spent many hours in preparation, as well as time staffing the fair. This includes Emily Mercer and Irene Kwon from LAHS National Honor Society, volunteers Bill Hamilton, Lisa Lloyd, Tadg Woods, Michael Donnelly, Mitch Pfaff and Adam Joseph. The Arts Council appreciates the time you give to our organization.

  • After surfing through the Legislature on a rare wave of bipartisan support, the debate over civil asset forfeiture now moves to local communities, as defenders of the controversial practice hope to preserve county and municipal ordinances as a tool in the ongoing war on drunk driving.
    In the Legislature, where a discouraging word can almost always be heard on even the most Mom-and-Apple-Pie issue, the question of whether the government should be able to seize your property without actually proving you guilty of a crime seems to arouse the libertarian in even the staunchest law-and-order advocate.
    The bill, sponsored by Ruidoso Republican Rep. Zachary Cook, passed both House and Senate without a single dissenting vote despite dire warnings from the Department of Public Safety that ending asset forfeiture absent a criminal conviction of the property’s owner would have an “indeterminate but substantial” negative impact on law enforcement statewide.
    And, although her former colleagues in the law enforcement community urged Gov. Susana Martinez to veto, she signed the bill in April.

  • In our public and personal discourse, there are some words that must be used only with the utmost care.
    One is “Nazi.” Another is “slavery.” Both refer to horrific historic chapters in human history that called into question our humanity.
    Unfortunately, we sometimes carelessly inject these words into our conversations in reference to something else entirely. By corrupting the meanings of these words, we disrespect those who suffered under fascism and slavery.
    I read that the Los Alamos Republican Party has recently elected a new leadership team. I was shocked to find in “The Adopted Principles of the Republican Party of Los Alamos” a call for “leaders who will refocus governments on executing their legitimate tasks well instead of enslaving and bankrupting us.”
    Americans rigorously debate the proper scope and function of government at all levels, but this claim that Los Alamos Republicans experience repression akin to what slaves in this country experienced for 250 years goes beyond the boundaries of truth and into the realm of the worst possible hyperbole.

  • The column by Cal Thomas in Wednesday’s April 22 edition of the Albuquerque Journal highlights a growing problem with our citizenry in understanding and living with our form of government.
    Civics is no longer a must for public school students. In the 1940s, civics was a semester course in New Mexico. Somewhere along the line civics as a discrete separate course was dropped and the topic was meshed with social studies where one-thirteenth of it was incorporated in each class from kindergarten through 12th grade (see New Mexico Public Education Department social studies teaching standards).
    Jay Leno’s popular program segment, “Jay Walking,” Interviewed people on the street about government and current affairs. They could not identify civic office holders nor could they define pieces of the Constitution or government processes.
    Similar instances were cited by Thomas in his article. One wonders why some people go to the polls. I am sure that most people who voted for a recent constitutional amendment did not understand what they were voting for.

  • Dear Residents of Los Alamos County:
    Local Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Venture Scouts are prepared to help the Letter Carriers and LA Cares to collect, sort and store your donations of food and supplies during the 23rd annual National Food Drive on Saturday. The event is sponsored by the Letter Carriers. All we need is your help to “Stamp Out Hunger.”
    It may be surprisingly to learn that even in our well-off community there are dozens of families, many with young children or elderly, who need help, in addition to those in our neighboring communities. In fact, one in six Americans struggle to get enough to eat. So what can you do to help?
    Go to your pantry and fill a grocery bag (double it for strength) or a box with non-perishable food and other necessities. Then on Saturday morning place it near your mailbox and soon your Letter Carrier, a Boy Scout or an adult leader will pick it up and take it to be sorted, stored and distributed by LA Cares.

  • Storefront lenders can still charge their low-income borrowers any interest rate they see fit because legislators didn’t fix the problem.
    These companies, called “predatory” by their many critics, are the bottom feeders of banking. They exist because there’s a need.
    A lot of people never have enough money left after expenses to make a deposit and they don’t have credit cards either.
    The term for them is “the unbanked.”
    Storefront lenders make small loans at triple-digit interest rates (or more) to the unbanked. When borrowers can’t repay, lenders roll over the loan and fees and interest spiral.
    Predatory lending is the flawed answer to a problem. Banks and credit unions are practiced in sizing you up to decide if you’re credit worthy before they loan you a dollar and the complaint is usually that they’re too strict.
    Storefront lenders make loans to anybody. There’s the rub.
    As I discovered when I wrote about them recently, storefront lenders don’t care whether you’re credit worthy or not. They expect to get burned on a large number of their loans, so they charge high fees and interest rates. They make their money from the people who do attempt to repay their loans.

  • Research and development (R&D) is the good genie that improves every technical tool important to society and business.
    Few tools have more troubling defects than the tools of regulating. We know so by the heated reactions they spark in every interest group.
    Why then is R&D used so little to improve these tools? Our lack of R&D ignores the lush fields of opportunity for improving regulatory tools.
    R&D projects can be mapped to show where they fit with the four distinct steps in the regulatory process, namely, (1) rule-making, (2) permitting, (3) inspection and (4) enforcement.
    Politics and publicity focus on rule-making, which also involves science and engineering. Yet, most of the day-to-day work is in implementation — permitting and inspecting. Here is where many tasks could be done better, faster and cheaper if aided by 21st century technology. Indeed, this is the founding vision of R&D.
    In broad terms, environmental voices are not fond of swift permitting. By the same token, industrial voices are not fond of swift inspection and enforcement.
    Over time, each side tweaks certain parts to make them clumsy. Both sides conclude that a clumsy part is a fair reason to add more unwieldy parts. Both sides and all taxpayers suffer the cost of this contest.