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Today's News

  • Why I care about education and health care

    BY PETE SHEEHEY
    Los Alamos County Councilor, Democratic candidate for NM House of Representatives, Dist. 43

    I have written about the importance of scientists like myself playing a role in government. I will work to make sure that facts and sound science are included in lawmaking. I was honored recently that the National Education Association-New Mexico has recommended my candidacy, because I also feel strongly that good affordable public education and health care for all are the keys to a strong society and economy.

    My life experience has taught me this. I grew up in a working class family. My parents were well-read, intelligent people, but were only able to get a year or two of college because of the Great Depression and World War II. From an early age, they took my sisters and me to the public library and encouraged our curiosity, so we looked forward to starting school.

    We had access to good affordable public education, and this served us well. One sister became a librarian, the other an English and Creative Writing teacher.  

  • Los Alamos Middle School’s ‘D’ Grade from an Education Czar

    BY LISA SHIN
    Republican candidate for NM House of Representatives, Dist. 43

    The Los Alamos Public Schools rank among the best in our State, if not our Nation, when it comes to student reading and math proficiency. This, of course, is the natural result of our highly skilled and educated workforce.

    Los Alamos has one of the country’s highest concentrations of Ph.D.s. Our community puts a high priority on education, and it shows. So why then, did our Middle School, receive a D grade last year? At the League of Women Voters’ event earlier this month, Dr. Kurt Steinhaus explained. Even though our students demonstrated a high 83 percent academic proficiency, it was down from a 85% proficiency the previous year. Another school in New Mexico demonstrated a 14 percent proficiency, but received an “A” grade because it was up from a 7 percent proficiency the previous year. A school in Artesia was a National Blue Ribbon School one year, a prestigious designation for high achievement, but received a D grade.

  • Are new corporations  bigger bad wolves?

    The name “Big Bad Wolf” rings scary alarms in voters’ heads. The left and the right reply to fears with fears about big corporations, a big army, big unions, big government and big donors to big campaigns. Metaphors of politics picture Big Bad Wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing or lying in Grandma’s bed. Small wonder that big corporations incite voters to cry, “Grandma, what big teeth you have.”

    Big corporations indeed need a thorough look to figure them out. Big companies have grown through the centuries and brought society hoped-for benefits and unwanted side effects.

    The first Industrial Revolution began in the 1760s in Britain, evolved through the 1840s and came later to the US.

    Many histories come to mind. People produced copper, steel, oil and aluminum and, with them, crafted faster reapers, tractors, cars, trucks and airplanes, later on with radios in them and radars at airports. With these products, people grew and shipped better produce at good prices for more people. Jobs grew. Corporations grew – Big Farming, Big Finance, Big Pharma.

  • Trump to announce decision on Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday

    By ZEKE MILLER and CATHERINE LUCEY, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is set to reveal his decision on whether to keep the U.S. in the Iran deal on Tuesday, a move that could determine the fate of 2015 agreement that froze Iran's nuclear program.

    The announcement is set to cap more than a year of deliberation and negotiation that has at time pitted Trump against some of his closest aides and key American allies. Trump is facing a self-imposed May 12 deadline over whether to uphold the 2015 nuclear agreement, which he long has criticized. The president has signaled he will pull out of the pact by the deadline unless it is revised, but he faces intense pressure from European allies not to do so.

    "I will be announcing my decision on the Iran Deal tomorrow from the White House at 2:00pm," Trump tweeted Monday.

    The president has been the subject of an intense lobbying effort by American allies to maintain the agreement, with British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson making a last-ditch appeal to the administration in a visit to Washington this week. European leaders say that they are open to negotiating a side agreement with Iran, but the existing framework must remain untouched for that to happen.

  • Atomic City Update: Adaptive Sports Program helps make dreams come true

    This week, I had the privilege of spending some time with the Adaptive Sports Program of New Mexico as they invited individuals with disabilities from Aspen Elementary School to the YMCA to have some fun at the climbing wall. 

    For many of these kids, having access to the harness chair attached to the wall is the only way they will be able to climb up and experience that type of adrenaline rush, and it is amazing to see them experience that. 

    For more than two hours, those kids got to have an amazing time, either going up the wall in the chair, or on their own with the help of one of the amazing leaders. Douglas Lewis, Jason Cline and Camille Romero were on hand Tuesday morning to help the kids in any way they could. It is clear that this is a life passion for all of them, and they were having just as much fun as the kids were having. 

  • Microsoft launches $25M program to use AI for disabilities

    By MATT O'BRIEN, AP Technology Writer

    Microsoft is launching a $25 million initiative to use artificial intelligence to build better technology for people with disabilities.

    CEO Satya Nadella announced the new "AI for Accessibility" effort as he kicked off Microsoft's annual conference for software developers. The Build conference in Seattle features sessions on cloud computing, artificial intelligence, internet-connected devices and virtual reality. It comes as Microsoft faces off with Amazon and Google to offer internet-connected services to businesses and organizations.

    The conference and the new initiative offer Microsoft an opportunity to emphasize its philosophy of building AI for social good. The focus could help counter some of the ethical concerns that have risen over AI and other fast-developing technology, including the potential that software formulas can perpetuate or even amplify gender and racial biases.

    The five-year accessibility initiative will include seed grants for startups, nonprofit organizations and academic researchers, as well as deeper investments and expertise from Microsoft researchers.

  • US oil prices top $70 a barrel for the first time since 2014

    DALLAS (AP) — U.S. oil prices crashed through the $70-a-barrel mark for the first time since late 2014, foreshadowing costlier gasoline and consumer goods.

    It's not clear that pricey crude will slow down the economy, however. The stock market moved higher in midday trading Monday, as investors bet that companies and consumers can cope with the increase.

    Benchmark U.S. crude is up 74 cents, more than 1 percent, to $70.46 a barrel on the futures market in New York. The international standard, Brent crude, is up again, to nearly $76.

    Analysts are citing concern that Iranian oil exports will fall if the U.S. withdraws from a 2015 deal that eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. And U.S. stockpiles of crude are down.
     

  • In the Lab: Constructing a unique laser application for research

    From his wallet, Paul Dowden produces a photo of his daughter, then about four years old. She is perched in the driver’s seat of a 1,400 horsepower, alcohol-fueled dragster he built from scratch.

    Dowden has applied his skillful hands to cars for decades. He has worked as an auto and diesel mechanic and as a hot rod enthusiast, doing his own fabrication, electronics and engine and transmission building.

    That same tinkering streak serves him well today as he oversees all pulsed laser deposition (PLD) operations for the

    Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) at Los Alamos. Innovation drives his contributions to a range of projects, from chemical lasers to the R&D 100 award-winning flexible superconducting tape.

    The inspiration to apply his talent for building hot rods to building lasers happened during freshman orientation at Indiana’s Vincennes University.

    Dowden walked out of the school’s mechanical engineering department mid-orientation and happened upon the laser and electro-optics department. One professor had worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which led to Dowden’s discovery of the Department of Energy-funded Antares Laser Research program, a large laser system built to achieve fusion.

  • NEA-NM’s nod confuses Dist. 43 candidates

    Democratic candidates running for House District 43 had to clear up confusion last week over which candidate received the endorsement by the National Education Association of New Mexico.

    On May 1, Christine Chandler sent out an email touting the endorsement of the NEA of New Mexico in her race against Pete Sheehey for the seat being vacated by Rep. Stephanie Garcia.

    Even though the NEA-NM has endorsed Chandler, a subsequent email showed the largest educational lobbyist group in the state had actually endorsed both candidates.

    The group in the endorsement letter did not mention Republican candidate Lisa Shin.

    The confusion may have come from the fact the original letter didn’t divulge that the other candidate was also being endorsed.

    According to an email sent by Charles Goodmacher, dated May 2, the NEA said the group believed either candidate would be a good selection to advance the priorities of the NEA-NM.

    Goodmacher, the government and media relations director for the NEA, wrote: “ … in the case of your district we were delighted that both answered your questionnaires very well, and NEA-NM EdPAC recommends either one of you for the general election.”

  • Drones a growing issue for fire fighters

    Drones are becoming more of a problem for firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service as the remotely manned vehicles have become more affordable and popular.

    The service reported that a drone grounded air tankers trying to fight the Chicoma Peak Fire this week near Española, forcing crews to use other strategies to extinguish the fire, which grew to 42 acres over a two-day period before being contained and extinguished.

    “Drones over fires risk firefighter safety, interrupt our air operations and compromise our ability to suppress wildfires,” Forest Supervisor James Melonas said. “Through great efforts, firefighters were able to make good progress to contain the Chicoma fire the last two days, but as we get hotter and drier, the impacts of stopping air operations during a fire will increase significantly.”

    Though they’re small in size in comparison to aircraft the Forest Service uses to fight fires, they are still capable of taking down an aircraft.