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Today's Opinions

  • Campaign email raises questions

    I received an interesting campaign email from Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver Friday morning that made me question a few things.

    The email starts out: “Right-wing extremists in the legislature are attacking me for upholding the safety of New Mexicans and stopping their attempts to reduce background checks,” she says, before pleading for money to ward off these apparent attacks.

    Democrat Toulouse Oliver is running against Rep. Ben Ray Lujan in the primary, hoping to capture the party’s nomination for the seat that Sen. Tom Udall is leaving at the end of next year.

    Up until this email, I had agreed with Toulouse Oliver that she should remain as secretary of state while she campaigned for the Senate. I did not see any obvious conflicts, as long as she remained professional and followed the rules.

    However, this email calls into question whether Toulouse Oliver has denied the Republican Leader Rep. Jim Townsend’s referendum petition to overturn the gun background check law three times for petty reasons as a way to leverage her powers of office to raise campaign funds.

    She also recently rejected an additional seven referendum petitions for various other technical reasons. The petitions were filed in April by conservative-leaning groups in eastern New Mexico.

  • Cool heads needed in U.S., China talks

    The Japan Times published this editorial May 9 on the importance of calm demeanors when it comes to U.S.-China relations.

    The intensifying confrontation between the United States and China significantly amplifies uncertainties in the future of the global economy. Their trade conflict should be solved by thoroughly and repeatedly having cool-headed talks.

    U.S. President Donald Trump announced that, effective Friday, punitive tariffs on $200 billion (about 22 trillion) worth of Chinese goods will be raised from 10 percent to 25 percent.

    Trump seemingly aims to extract further concessions from China at ministerial-level trade negotiations between the two countries that will start Thursday.

    Optimistic views had recently been spreading in markets that an agreement would be reached soon during bilateral negotiations. The sudden announcement of tariff hikes reversed these views. Investor sentiment has quickly deteriorated and has caused a spontaneous, worldwide decline in stock values.

    In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average temporarily dropped nearly 650 points on Tuesday. On Wednesday in Tokyo, the Nikkei Stock Average also dove 321 points.

  • Doris Day was a domestic violence survivor; are there lessons?

    BY JOAN M. COOK
    Yale University

    Hollywood legend Doris Day died May 13, 2019 at age 97 at her home in Carmel Valley, California. The beautiful, blonde singer turned actress was viewed by many as America’s wholesome girl next door. In the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, Day was a guaranteed motion picture box-office and record-chart success, starring in romantic comedies with Rock Hudson and James Garner and dating Ronald Reagan.

    But, underneath all of this stunning beauty and chipper personality, there lay secrets and pain. In her 1975 tell-all, “Doris Day: Her Own Story,” she revealed herself to be a survivor of spousal violence at the hands of her first husband, whom she alleged beat her even while she was pregnant with their first child. Day’s disclosure revealed to the world that even the sunniest woman in America couldn’t escape violence.

  • US policies are major reason for Iran’s economic struggles

    Dr. T. Douglas Reilly
     

    We hear daily of increased pressure on Iran, more sanctions; threats to other countries, including some friends, if they purchase Iranian oil; etc. Of course, we’re told the sanctions are not targeted at the Iranian people; poppycock! The Iranian economy is poor and becoming worse. Our policies are not the only factor, but they are a significant part.

    The Iran Nuclear Deal, JCPOA, was excellent; Iran gave up more than I ever expected of them. The agreement blocked every possible way for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. It is my opinion that Iran was much further from producing a nuclear device than we were told. I base this on following the Iranian program for many years and extensive interaction with Iranian friends, including all the Iranian IAEA inspectors.This agreement relieved some of the sanctions on Iran.

    The USA returned billions of dollars that were Iranian funds a US court had ruled must eventually be returned to them. Our pull out from the JCPOA was ill advised and definitely harmed the Iranian economy.

  • NM legislation moves slowly toward recognition of animals

    Of all the bills that died in this year’s legislature, I thought surely the pet food tax would have passed.

    The pet food tax – excuse me, fee – passed comfortably last year and was vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez. I thought it deserved easy passage. Instead it died early in the session.

    The bill was House Bill 53, sponsored by Rep. Joanne Ferrary, who was a cosponsor last year

    The bill would have levied a small tax, or maybe a fee, on the manufacturers of pet food and earmarked the money for spay and neuter programs. The analysis last year estimated revenue of about $1.3 million.

    The bill was stopped by a newly discovered technical issue related to the difference between a tax and a fee. Co-sponsor Sen. Jacob Candelaria introduced a similar bill, SB 367, that was stopped for the same reason, Ferrary explained in a recent conversation.

    Ferrary is confident the issues will be reconciled during the interim and the bill brought back next year or in 2021.

    Ferrary also lost out on HB 52, which would have added household pets or companion animals to those protected in the definition of domestic abuse.

  • State’s energy workers deserve gratitude

    By Larry Behrens
    Director, Power the Future

    The men and women who work in New Mexico’s energy industry would be the last to stand up and take credit for all they have done for our state. Nonetheless, they deserve our gratitude.

     

    There are over 100,000 energy employees in New Mexico and we proudly stand with each one of them. 

    New Mexico’s energy workers deliver affordable and effective power that lights our cities and heats our homes. Our energy workers have made New Mexico a top producer in the United States and the energy they create delivers billions to our classrooms and makes every aspect of our way of life possible.

    Growing up in southwest New Mexico, I had the opportunity first hand to see the positive impacts of the extractive industry on our communities. The industry provided some of the best jobs in the area which allowed families to continue to live where they wanted and enjoy the small-town way of life they treasured. Sure, there were upswings and downturns, but the workers always found a way to make their industry and their livelihood viable in rural New Mexico.

  • Digitizing the social contract for safer roads

    By Erez Dagan
    Mobileye and Intel Corporation

    When Mobileye set out to design a safety concept for autonomous vehicles (AVs), we first had to examine the concepts and mechanisms that humans use to maintain road safety. We needed a framework fully compliant with the human road safety system so that AVs could share the same roads. We also needed something demonstrably safer, by design, for society to accept them on the roads.

    During development of this system, we discovered the same framework that solves this challenge for AVs is also capable of dramatically improving the safety of the road today via advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). The solution digitizes the mostly informal, hard-to-enforce social contract that governs road safety today. How this works was the subject of my keynote address today at SAE World Congress.

    The Gap in Our Traffic Rules

    The foundation of the existing road safety system is traffic rules: explicit, unequivocal instructions to the driver, coded through on-road and road-side signs and indicators such as traffic lights, stop signs, lane dividers, etc.

  • State leaders more concerned about soundbites than protecting the border 

    House Republican Leader

    James Townsend (R-Artesia)

    The situation on the U.S.-Mexico border is an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. In times like these, one’s character is revealed, which is why the response from New Mexico’s political leaders is so disheartening.  

    The headlines this past month have been alarming. More than 650 people crossing the border were taken into custody in just a couple hours during the early morning of April 30. 

    International trade through our points-of-entry on the southern border is being choked to a standstill. Meanwhile, interior checkpoints have been shut down because the agents that usually staff those security stations have been reassigned to the border.