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Opinion

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.  

  • Ya gotta have money to make money. So it is said. That’s not always true, but a quick review of my past entrepreneurial ventures confirms that it is far more difficult to start a company without money.

    Still, money must be around for the society to function. Retailers must do something with the non-electronic cash at the end of the day. People trade money for stuff. Banks, mostly, are not in the venture business.

    Without a bank in a community, these societal basics get more complicated. The retailer must drive 20 miles to deposit cash. That costs time and gas money.

    These financial basics aren’t wealth. In New Mexico when we think “wealth” the tendency is to think Los Alamos, the county with the state’s highest per capita income in 2017. Each person in Los Alamos County earned, on average, $68,053. Santa Fe was second at $55,553.

    For some reason, in writing about county incomes in New Mexico, I never thought to look at counties in nearby states until recently. Oops.

    Real wealth is found in Teton County, Wyoming, home to the Jackson Hole valley, traffic jams and two national parks.

  • By Lisa Shin
    Guest Editorial

    On May 23, 2017, five recreation projects were put together in a package and voters were asked to let council pass a $20 million general obligation REC bond to build them. Before the election, councilors told citizens that it was an “all or nothing” proposal.

    They said that if the REC bond was voted down, then CIP funds would be used towards non-recreation projects. Right after the election, councilors changed their story, and said that we had $13.9 million in CIP funds to spend on recreation projects. Now, we finally learn the truth: the REC Bond Election was a “bait and switch” tactic. They were really after the $20 million recreation center. Even though we had more than $10 million in the budget to pay for the other projects, they had to include those to get citizens to vote for the $20 million recreation center.

    Tax payer funded elections should be definite “yes” or “no” questions, not subject to bait and switch schemes. Citizens should clearly understand what council’s specific actions will be, given a “YES” or “NO” election result. The council should have just put the $20 million recreation center up for a citizens vote, and not included the other four projects.

  • Lawmakers in New Mexico have listened. A poll conducted by the Albuquerque Journal about two months before last year’s election found voters identified crime, education and homelessness as some of the top problems in need of solutions in our state.  

    The Legislature responded to these concerns by allocating $64 million – a 63% increase from last year’s sum – to local projects, including money to update our first responders’ communication system, for city police and for a new homeless shelter. This pot of money, for Albuquerque only, is in addition to the more than $500 million lawmakers added to the statewide education budget.

    Lawmakers listened this session, but it remains to be seen whether they will listen to our priorities in the future.

    If non-spending legislation supported by the governor and several members of the Legislature is enacted, we cannot expect such generosity in the future. That’s because the movement in the statehouse to pass radical energy legislation to delay or end natural gas production is growing, even though that production provides the single largest source of revenue for our public schools, higher education institutions, and health care, accounting for one-third of total funding.

  • BY KELLY FAJARDO
    R-Los Lunas, New Mexico House of Representatives

    Sometimes, New Mexico can’t help but snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

    Three years ago, New Mexico won a national competition to bring Facebook to our state. Facebook agreed to build its new data center in Los Lunas, and in exchange, New Mexico promised the company that the state would upgrade its electric grid to power the complex with 100% renewable energy.

    The agreement was a victory for everyone involved, especially New Mexico. Facebook would get the best deal possible for its new data center and invest $1 billion in the project. New Mexico would gain millions in tax revenue from the economic activity spun-off from the data center. And everyone would benefit from upgraded transmission infrastructure that would bring more renewable energy online.  

    Facebook delivered on its side of the deal and more. In 2017, it announced it was tripling the size of the complex, creating hundreds of long-term jobs for New Mexicans and spurring an economic boom in Valencia County. 

  • Every year, the Legislature divides up a pot of money known as capital outlay, for one-time expenses such as construction, repair, and purchases of equipment. This year the total has approached a billion dollars.

    The process of dividing the money is done behind the scenes, out of public view. Open government advocates have been ranting about this secrecy for the last few years.

    Since New Mexico’s capital outlay structure is designed largely to provide bragging rights to legislators, the secrecy seems absurd.

    But more absurd, and far more important, is the method used to divide up the money, which has received national recognition for its stupidity.

    The process goes like this: legislators submit wish lists of projects to be considered for funding. Each legislator’s list is probably longer than what can realistically be funded. Legislators know some of their requests will be chopped off.

    Meanwhile, the finance committees are calculating how much money in total will be available. When the numbers are crunched, the projects selected for final approval are packaged into one or two long and detailed bills. This year the main bill was Senate Bill 280.

    You can read every legislator’s original list on the Legislature’s website (nmlegis.gov).

  • BY BOB MOOS
    Southwest Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

    Medicare wants to help you use prescription pain medications safely.

    Prescription opioid medications – such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and codeine – can help treat pain after surgery or after an injury, but they carry serious risks, like addiction, an overdose and death.

    Those risks increase the higher the dose you take or the longer you use the pain medications, even if you take them as prescribed. Your risks also grow if you take certain other medications, like benzodiazepines (commonly used for anxiety or sleep), or if you get opioid medications from many doctors or pharmacies.

    More than 11 million Americans misuse prescription opioids every year. In fact, opioid misuse has become so prevalent that the government has declared it a public health emergency. Opioid overdoses accounted for 47,600 deaths in 2017, and 40 percent of those deaths involved a prescription opioid medication.

  • BY LAURA MULLANE
    Vice President, Pajarito Riding Club

    As the weather becomes warmer and many of us head outside to enjoy the county’s excellent trail system, now is a good time to talk about how best to share the trails with horses.

    It’s good to start with a basic understanding of how horses see the world. Horses are prey animals. This means they’re ruled by one primary fear: the fear of being eaten. Never mind that most domesticated horses today have never known anything but safe, comfortable lives. Millions of years of evolution tell them that a mountain lion could be hiding around every bush or rock, ready to pounce. This is why seemingly innocuous things such as cyclists, hikers, mailboxes, balloons, umbrellas, tarps, etc. can be the stuff of equine nightmares.

  • Dr. T. Douglas Reilly
    Columnist

    The 1986 accident that destroyed Unit-4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in Ukraine was indeed the worst nuclear accident at that time. The effort of the station staff to extinguish the fire caused by the fuel meltdown was truly heroic.

    I saw satellite photos of the burning reactor in a colloquium at LANL shortly after the explosion and fire occurred. Two workers in Unit-4 died from physical injuries caused by the explosion; 28 workers and firemen died from acute radiation doses after flying in helicopters over the reactor to drop sand and fire retardant chemicals.

    These volunteers were told beforehand that the time over the fire was only a few seconds and that there was a high probability they might receive a lethal dose. They were awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously.

  • Even the casual observer realizes the accusations against Donald Trump which brought on the Mueller investigation had to originate from forces deep within the previous administration. We now know the Trump campaign was wiretapped as a counterintelligence operation and the Steele dossier was contrived and paid by the Clinton campaign and presented unverified by the FBI before a FISA Court. Former FBI, CIA and national intelligence directors have speculated publicly

    Trump could well be a Russian agent and media outlets played the message relentlessly, all to convince us it was true. All this does smack of a soft coup to overthrow the Trump administration.

    The Mueller Report is now complete and no conspiracy found, the Democrats and progressives of the new-left refuse to acknowledge President Trump is exonerated. They must keep up the message of corruption to keep their narrative going.

    The deep state has existed before and not by the penetration of foreign nationals, but by Americans. As an ideological 25-year-old, Whittaker Chambers joined the Communist Party of the USA.  

  • The assortment of snow, rain and sunshine that splattered through the area last week resembled more of a wintry mix than anything resembling springtime. But seasonal construction is on the way, whether or not spring will get over this stage fright and make its grand entrance.

    The latest Cone Zone reminded me Friday that this season’s traffic congestion and road troubles could test a lot of our nerves. Commuters in Los Alamos are facing several road projects on Central Avenue and NM 502 this year, and I am hoping that we can all use a bit more patience with each other during this time.

    I started years ago writing my first column for a small community newspaper in northern Nevada. The column was called Moped Mamma and I wrote about my daily journeys riding my newly purchased moped from my home in one county to work 20 miles away in another county.

    The drive included a small stretch along a highway, a few back roads, a small jaunt past a neighborhood and church parking lot and a dreadful end run along a bypass that required me to try to keep up with cars that were traveling about 55 miles an hour. I called it my own “death ride.” The whole idea was for me to try to save money on gas at the time while raising my kids.

  • BY TOM WRIGHT
    Columnist

    A 2017 poll conducted by the American Culture and Faith Institute, among adults 18 and older showed what National Review described as a “tectonic shift” in American politics. Four out of ten adults polled preferred socialism over capitalism. If you are a capitalist who believes in smaller government, lower taxes and the values that built this country, you better pay attention to the current trends.

    Those of us who lived through the end of the Cold War remember the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (aka the USSR, the Soviet Union or Russia for the younger set) and the general collapse of socialist ideology. Socialist ideology actually went underground in the ‘90s and made roots in the fertile fields of academia and the environmental movement.

    While working in the Soviet Union before, during and after their transition to the Commonwealth of Independent States, I saw the stark reality was a lack of most everything, except for the very privileged. Socialism is definitely about equality of the common man, all live in an equal state of deficiency. Today, socialism is more popular in the US than in the countries where it is the economic system.

  • BY VERNON KERR
    Guest Columnist

    The Governor and our Democratic controlled Legislature have given away New Mexico’s sovereignty and right to select our choice for president with the Electoral College. They have entered into a compact with other states, unconstitutionally going around the Electoral College, by using the national popular vote which is dictated by the most populous states.

    The Electoral College system was set to have each state make its choice and cast its votes as a sovereign state. By using the popular vote to elect the president, New Mexico citizens will be an insignificant ripple in the process and the only vote that matters will be that of the largest, most populous states. The presidential candidates will not need to come to our state or even ask for our five electoral votes. We will certainly be that poor little rural state that is “missing”.

    This is one result of not teaching civics as a whole course in our public schools. How is one to know what the purpose and the job of the Electoral College is if it is never examined and taught. In my days in public schools in New Mexico (in the “olden days”), we had a full semester of civics. The topic of the Electoral College is covered in the Federalist Papers for anyone who dares to dig it up.