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August 20, 2015

Six new cases of West Nile confirmed in El Paso areaEl Paso Times

While the monsoon season continues to hit El Paso — creating exceptional breeding conditions for mosquitoes — officials are urging residents to take precautions after six new West Nile cases were reported by the El Paso Department of Health.

People who get ill from the virus could experience fever, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, muscle aches, nausea, rashes, vomiting and swollen glands, officials said. Some people could suffer through more severe symptoms which include severe headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, decreased level of alertness, muscle weakness, tremors, paralysis, convulsions or even going into coma, officials said. - - 8/20/15


Navajo farmers reject water delivered by EPA contractorLas Cruces Sun News

Navajo farmers in northwestern New Mexico have rejected a water delivery to tribal communities meant to sustain crops after a mine spill, saying the tanks holding the water appear unclean.

The water in about a dozen tanks set up on the reservation was trucked in from Bloomfield, New Mexico — a water supply unaffected by the Aug. 5 leak of toxic waste from the abandoned Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado. The water meets all federal and state water quality standards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said. - - 8/19/15

August 14, 2015

New Mexico green chile growers want new guest worker programSanta Fe New Mexican

Ed Ogaz and his family have farmed for decades in New Mexico’s famed Hatch Valley — an area known internationally for its green chiles. But in recent years, Ogaz has watched helplessly as the spicy staple has seen a decline because of drought, increased competition and a lack of chile pickers.

Ogaz and other New Mexico growers say a new guest worker program is needed to provide temporary immigrant laborers in order for farmers to survive the decline.

“I think we need a new Bracero program. I honestly do,” Ogaz said, referring to the temporary guest worker program that allowed millions of Mexican immigrants to toil on U.S. farms from 1942-64. “We just don’t have a lot of young people getting into the business, and it’s hard to find workers.”

New Mexico Chile Commission chairman Rick Ledbetter said the federal government’s limited guest worker program doesn’t provide enough labor to do the hand-picking required to avoid bruising green chiles.

“I don’t even grow green chile commercially. I can’t,” said Ledbetter, who operates a farm in Portales.

Last year, New Mexico saw a 10 percent decline in acres of red and green chiles harvested. That decline marked a 43-year low in the state, according to federal numbers.

Despite marketing efforts and the desirability of New Mexico chiles to national suppliers, federal numbers show the value of New Mexico red and green chiles was estimated at $38.7 million in 2014, compared with $49.5 million in 2013. – 8/14/2015

For More Information on New Mexico Chile Pepper production, recipes and statistics:

New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute

New Mexico Chile for Dummies


August 11, 2015

Governor Martinez Declares State Of Emergency For River Spill -- KUNM

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has declared an emergency that frees up state funds to address a massive spill of wastewater from a Colorado mine into the Animas and San Juan rivers.

Federal officials say more than 3 million gallons of water tainted with lead, arsenic and other heavy metals contaminated the rivers following last week's spill.

Under the governor's order, $750,000 in state funds will be available for well testing, long-term studies and other efforts.

The amount is in addition to $500,000 in emergency funds the New Mexico Environment Department requested and received Friday. -- 8/11/2015


Google to pay $1M as Titan leaves NM -- Albuquerque Journal

Google Inc. will repay the state nearly $1 million in economic assistance funds – the full amount the computer giant owes after pulling subsidiary Titan Aerospace out of Moriarty, New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela said Monday. -- 8/11/2015

August 7, 2014

1M gallons of waste in Animas River threatens New Mexico water supply -- KRQE

A mine waste spill inadvertently caused by environmental cleanup work spewed about a million gallons of orange-colored discharge into a tributary of the Animas River on Wednesday.

New Mexico towns such as Farmington and Aztec are taking precautionary measures to protect their water supplies as the contamination makes its way downstream.

The Bureau of Reclamation said they will begin at 7:00 a.m. releasing water from the Navajo Dam to dilute the water and sediment that will be entering the San Juan River from the Animas River.

Although the area has not been shut done, officials discourage people from getting in the water until the slug of sediment and discoloration passes the Farmington area.

According to a spokesman for Governor Martinez, Chris Sanchez, the spill occurred Wednesday morning, but the state of New Mexico was not notified until the following day. The news was provided by an official from the Southern Ute Tribe, not by the Environmental Protection Agency. -- 8/7/2015

August 6, 2015

Local Impact Of Clean Power Plan Not Cut And Dry-- KUNM

The Obama Administration released details this week on the Clean Power Plan which calls for power plants across the country to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

New Mexico is set up to comply with the new regulations, state Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn told the Associated Press this week, because of an existing plan to shut down two coal-burning units at a power plant in the northwestern corner of the state.

But that Public Service Company of New Mexico plan for the San Juan Generating Station has not been approved by state regulators. -- 8/6/2015


State to seek clawbacks with Google -- Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico will impose clawback provisions to recover as much of the state’s investment as possible in Titan Aerospace , a subsidiary of Google Inc. that has been developing a solar-powered drone for the Internet search giant at the Moriarty Municipal Airport.

Google announced on Tuesday that it would pull Titan out of New Mexico, possibly relocating operations near Google headquarters in California’s Bay Area. But the company gave no explanation for its decision, and state officials are now exploring how much money can be retrieved from the economic development assistance it provided to Google to establish operations in Moriarty.

State investment included nearly $1 million for infrastructure improvements at the Moriarty airport to pave the way for Google to build new facilities there, plus about $141,000 in Job Training Incentive Program funds granted to Titan in 2013.

“Google has said it intends to shut down, although the time frame is in flux,” said New Mexico Economic Development Department Secretary Jon Barela. “Google’s decision is a disappointment, and the state intends to work with the company in having clawback provisions enforced. We expect that a very sizeable portion of the state funds will be paid back to the taxpayers of New Mexico.”

The state will also work with any Google employees laid off in Moriarty to  find new job opportunities that match their skill sets, Barela said. About 45 people are currently employed at Titan, and it’s not clear how many of them would relocate to the Bay Area. -- 8/6/2015


Hiroshima Commemorates 70th Anniversary of Atomic Bombing -- The New York Times

Every year on Aug. 6, Hiroshima becomes a city of mourning. And one full of reminders — some delivered politely, some pointedly — of the most extreme dangers of modern warfare.

Seventy years ago, the city was incinerated by an atomic bomb, its population halved by the new and terrifying American weapon nicknamed Little Boy.

On Thursday, political leaders, aging survivors and ordinary citizens gathered at 8:15 a.m. to mourn the moment when the city unwillingly became part of the world’s introduction to the nuclear age. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima, together with another that hit Nagasaki three days later, killed more than 200,000 people, most of them civilians. -- 8/6/2015

August 5, 2015

NM offers amnesty for unpaid child support scofflawsLas Cruces Sun News

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration again is offering temporary amnesty for parents facing possible arrest for unpaid child support. The governor's office announced this week an enforcement crackdown will start at the end of the month targeting those who don't take advantage of the program.

State officials say individuals can visit a state Child Support Enforcement Division office without fear of arrest and pay a bond to cancel outstanding bench warrants for not paying child support. -- 8/5/15


Officials delay reopening of New Mexico nuclear waste site -- Reuters

The planned March 2016 reopening of an underground nuclear waste dump in New Mexico has been pushed back indefinitely because of unanticipated challenges, U.S. officials said.

A radiation leak at the U.S. government's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant that originated in a disposal chamber half a mile (1 km) below ground at the center near Carlsbad, New Mexico, exposed more than 20 workers to small amounts of radiation in February 2014, officials have said.

The accident led to the suspension of key operations at the site, the Energy Department's only permanent underground repository for certain types of radiological waste tied to U.S. nuclear labs and weapons sites.

Dana Bryson, acting manager for the Department of Energy's Carlsbad Field Office, said in a statement on Friday: "We are disappointed that we will not meet the original target date for beginning waste emplacement."

He did not provide a date for reopening the facility.

"While the WIPP recovery program continues to make significant progress, the original target date of March 2016 for resuming waste emplacement operations is no longer viable due to a variety of unanticipated issues," said a news release from the U.S. Department of Energy that contained Bryson's statement. – 8/1/2015

July 31, 2015

NIST explores new tech for tattoo recognition -- GCN

Forensic analysis of tattoos is important to law enforcement activities such as solving crimes, identifying victims and gathering intelligence on gangs, according to NIST.  The goal of the Tattoo Recognition Technology-Challenge (Tatt-C) is to advance research into automated image based tattoo recognition technology that focuses on retrieving and matching tattoos from still images captured by law enforcement agencies.  In a preliminary trial of existing tattoo recognition software, the FBI’s Biometric Center of Excellence (BCOE) provided thousands of images to NIST.  Government researchers have been working on automated tattoo recognition technology since 2012 when BCOE issued a request for information on the best way to build a tattoo database. -- July 2015


FEMA launches visualization tool for disaster data -- GCN

Thanks to a new tool from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), citizens and local emergency managers can get a better understanding of the relative risk and impact of a variety of disasters.  The interactive tool maps historical data to help communities plan for disasters and gain insight into how assistance funds are allocated.  Users can view disaster declarations by hazard type, location, year (back to 1953) and the financial support provided through an easily viewable and clickable interface, while maintaining access to raw datasets for research and analysis.  The data can also help governments more accurately anticipate the financial impact of a disaster.  FEMA’s motivation is simple and powerful.  “By providing this information in a way that is visual and easy to understand, people will be moved to action to prepare their families and communities,” said Tim Manning, FEMA’s Deputy Administrator of Protection and National Preparedness.-- July 2015