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November 23, 2015

Federal official says N.M. licenses are fine for U.S. travel -- Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexicans need not rush to buy a passport in order to board domestic flights. A state driver’s license is just fine for identification, an official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Friday.

If the federal government ever ordered the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to not let people from a particular state board a domestic plane with a driver’s license for identification, it will provide at least 120 days’ notice.

The fact the federal government didn’t give New Mexico an extension on Real ID compliance means that secure federal facilities in New Mexico will have to have stricter policies in the type of identification they accept. Starting Jan. 10, people won’t be able to use a New Mexico driver’s license to enter a military base or a federal installation such as the Los Alamos National Laboratory. -- 11/20/2015


Environment Department Shares Progress and Plans for Cleanup of Kirtland Air Force Base Fuel Plume -- New Mexico Environment Department News Release

The New Mexico Environment Department is soliciting public comment on the draft 2016 Strategic Plan for Kirtland Air Force Base fuel plume cleanup. Public comment period ends at 5 p.m. January 15, 2016. -- 11/20/2015


Searching for Work in the Digital Era -- Pew Research Center

The internet is an essential employment resource for many of today’s job seekers, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center. A majority of U.S. adults (54%) have gone online to look for job information, 45% have applied for a job online, and job-seeking Americans are just as likely to have turned to the internet during their most recent employment search as to their personal or professional networks.

Yet even as the internet has taken on a central role in how people find and apply for work, a minority of Americans would find it difficult to engage in many digital job seeking behaviors – such as creating a professional resume, searching job listings online, or following up via email with potential employers. -- 11/19/2015

November 17, 2015

Mouse protection closures in Santa Fe National Forest to stay -- Albuquerque Journal

A federal judge has thrown out most of a lawsuit filed by New Mexico ranchers seeking to reopen areas in the Santa Fe and Lincoln national forests that have been closed to cattle grazing in order to protect the endangered New Mexico meadow jumping mouse.

The decision by federal District Court Judge Robert C. Brack leaves in place the Forest Service’s October 2014 closure of about 224 acres in the Jemez Mountains, barring both grazing and recreational activities. The stretches of mouse habitat are along the Rio Cebolla and San Antonio Creek, with 188 acres fenced off to keep cattle and people out. -- 11/17/2015


State Gives First Public Updates On Chemical Spill -- KUNM

The state’s Environment Department gave an update on the toxic plume of dry-cleaning solvents beneath downtown Albuquerque to neighbors and Bernalillo County’s water protection board last week. The meetings were the first time the plume’s risks to public health have been publicly discussed by the state.

Groundwater Bureau Chief Michelle Hunter told the audiences there is a risk that the chemicals in the shallow aquifer are evaporating into toxic gas and making their way into people’s homes—and that the concentration of chemicals are several hundred times higher than the threshold for recommended air testing. -- 11/16/2015

November 16, 2015

Spaceport America opens north, east campuses -- Las Cruces Sun News

 Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, announced on Monday the launch of a master development plan opening up additional build-to-suit parcels within the north and east campuses at the 18,000-acre facility in Sierra County north of Las Cruces.

The $218.5 million taxpayer-funded spaceport is transitioning from a construction phase to an operational stage, while trying to diversify the businesses that use the spaceport — from the primary tenant, Virgin Galactic, to educational launches, unmanned aerial vehicle testing, tourism events, business meetings, and photo and video shoots on site, New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson recently told the Sun-News.-- 11/16/2015

November 12, 2015

Report: More insured means less costs for indigent care -- Santa Fe New Mexican

A new report by the Legislative Finance Committee shows that for the first time, hospitals are spending less money on indigent care because more and more patients have some type of private insurance or government-issued Medicaid coverage.

It is the first look at the issue of indigent health care costs since the requirement that most people have health insurance or pay a fine became federal law.  -- 11/12/2015


Supreme court says state can't buy textbooks for private and religious schools -- Santa Fe New Mexican

The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Public Education Department can’t use tax-payer money to buy textbooks for private and religious schools because it violates the state constitution.

The high court’s ruling reversed a state court of appeals ruling that said that the education department was allowed to buy textbooks for private and religious schools as it does for public schools. -- 11/12/2015


Museums and Libraries Step-Up Efforts to Tackle Economic Distress in Poor Communities, Says New Report from IMLS and LISC -- IMLS Press Release

A new national report finds that many museums and libraries are leveraging their prominent local positions to help rebuild troubled neighborhoods, driving economic, educational and social efforts that help raise standards of living.

Museums, Libraries, and Comprehensive Initiatives: A First Look at Emerging Experienceis part of a collaborative research effort by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) examining the ways that museums and libraries are helping fuel successful comprehensive community revitalization efforts and offer best practices for other institutions to follow. -- 11/9/2015


The Festival of the Trail comes to historic site -- El Defensor Chieftain

El Camino Real Historic Trail Site marks one of New Mexico’s most important cultural artifacts, the historic El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the Royal Road of the Interior Lands. The 1,500 mile historic trade route that extends from Mexico City to Ohkay Owingeh is one of the oldest thoroughfares in the United States.

On Saturday, Nov. 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the historic site celebrates its 10th anniversary with the Festival of the Trail. -- 11/6/2015

November 10, 2015

New Mexico GOP leader eyes criminal justice reformsLas Cruces Sun News

House Majority Leader Nate Gentry wants state lawmakers to take up new criminal justice reform measures amid a string of high-profile crimes involving repeat offenders (HB 453).

The Albuquerque Republican is scheduled Monday to unveil proposals aimed at requiring harsher penalties for intentional child abuse and developing a criminal database to help judges. Gentry also wants a bill to allow cities to pass curfews laws targeting minors. -- 11/10/15

November 9, 2015

Obama Starts Personal Facebook Page -- New York Times

The leader of the free world now has a personal Facebook page, and more than 45,000 people clicked “like” on it in the first hour it was live on Monday.

It seems unlikely that a man whose daily schedule often includes meetings with world leaders and briefings on national security will have much time to post pictures of his meals or comment on pet photos. But as The Times reported this week, Mr. Obama now has a 20-member social media team at the White House that aims to bring more spontaneity and accessibility to the presidency, a position that has become highly choreographed and constricted in modern times. -- 11/9/2015


Final Environmental Impact Statement Issued For Electric Transmission Line South Of Las Cruces -- KRWG TV/FM

The Bureau of Land Management and Western Area Power Administration today announced the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Southline Transmission Line Project, a 360-mile electric transmission line proposed to run from New Mexico to Arizona.

The Final EIS is the result of a major collaborative project that involved multiple state, local and federal cooperating agencies from Arizona and New Mexico, and the public. Of particular note is an agreement that provides the Arizona Game and Fish Department with upgraded habitat for a wide variety of wildlife  and in particular the sandhill cranes near the Willcox Playa in southern Arizona. -- 11/9/2015


Interior, Energy Departments To Sign Agreement Establishing Manhattan Project National Historical Park -- Los Alamos Daily Post

Tuesday, Nov. 10, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz will sign a Memorandum of Agreement at the Department of the Interior South Building Auditorium, to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

The park will have three locations: Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tenn. and Hanford, Wash. National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis will attend the ceremony along with Senators Martin Heinrich, Lamar Alexander and Maria Cantwell, who represent each of the park’s locations. -- 11/9/2015


New Mexico receives low marks in integrity assessment -- Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico scored only 61, a letter grade of D-minus, and landed tied for 34th place in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, an assessment of state government accountability and transparency conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. Behind the score: widespread and systemic weaknesses in overseeing ethics, campaign finance and lobbying. -- 11/8/2015

November 6, 2015

President Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline Plan -- NPR

Ending a process that has lingered for much of his time in the Oval Office, President Obama announced Friday that the U.S. has rejected TransCanada's application for a permit to complete the Keystone XL pipeline.

The president said that "after extensive public outreach" and consultations, the State Department determined that the proposal "would not serve the national interests of the United States." He added, "I agree with that decision."

Back in February, Obama vetoed congressional legislation that approved the project. The Senate failed to override that veto in March. The first application for approval of TransCanada's plan was filed in September of 2008. -- 11/6/2015


Rocket blows up during test launch -- Albuquerque Journal

An experimental rocket being tested by the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space Office, based at Kirtland Air Force Base, blew up just seconds into its debut mission Tuesday after lifting off from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii, the Air Force has confirmed.

The three-stage Super Strypi rocket, based on designs developed by Sandia National Laboratories as part of nuclear testing programs dating back to the 1960s, carried 13 small experimental satellites, SpaceNews reported the day after the failed launch.

The Operationally Responsive Space Office, set up at Kirtland in May 2007, is charged with rapidly developing and fielding smaller and cheaper satellites that can be of immediate use to combat commanders. One such effort, ORS-1, fielded a satellite that aided military commanders in Afghanistan in 2011. -- 11/6/2015


N.Y. Attorney General Investigates Whether Exxon Mobil Lied On Climate Change -- NPR

New York's attorney general would like to know: Did Exxon Mobil lie to you about the risks of climate change and to investors about how those risks might reduce profits?

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's office confirms that a New York Times story is correct in reporting that an investigation has been launched into Exxon Mobil. That story said Schneiderman issued a subpoena on Wednesday, seeking financial records, emails and other documents.

Recently, Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times reported that in fact Exxon Mobil's own scientific research had long ago proved that climate change posed big risks. The company was even using that research to guide its own long-term planning for drilling in the Arctic, according to the reports. -- 11/5/2015


Ag vendors sought for holiday market -- Las Cruces Sun-News

Individuals and companies in New Mexico that produce food and other agricultural items are invited to be vendors at a two-day event happening in Las Cruces later this month.

The second annual "HomeGrown: A New Mexico Food Show & Gift Market" happens Nov. 21 and 22 at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, 4100 Dripping Springs Road.

Companies that sign up or are already signed up as members of New Mexico Department of Agriculture's NEW MEXICO—Taste the Tradition/Grown with Tradition® logo program can participate as HomeGrown vendors at no cost. Companies interested in selling at HomeGrown should call Rachel Banegas at the museum at 575-522-4100. -- 11/4/2015