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June 29, 2015

SpaceX supply rocket to Space Station blows up after liftoffLas Cruces Sun News

An unmanned SpaceX rocket carrying supplies and a first-of-its-kind docking port to the International Space Station broke apart Sunday shortly after liftoff. It was a severe blow to NASA, still reeling from previous failed shipments.

The accident happened about 2 1/2 minutes into the flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida. A billowing white cloud emerged in the sky, growing bigger and bigger, then fiery plumes shot out of where the rocket was supposed to be, and pieces could be seen falling into the Atlantic. More than 5,200 pounds of space station cargo were on board, including the first docking port designed for future commercial crew capsules. -- 6/29/2015


WSMR Wellness Program promotes healthier lifestylesLas Cruces Sun News

White Sands Missile Range's Wellness Program, which officially kicked off April 20, is in full swing with well over 60 participants signed up and participating in not only physical activities but health and wellness courses as well.

The six-month program has just reached its second month. The goal of the program is to provide participants with the tools to lead an all-around healthier lifestyle even after the program is over. The program is assisted by a NMSU exercise science intern who monitors the participant's progress throughout the program. Participants are required to take two resiliency classes a month to help reduce stress in their lives. The classes range from spiritual courses, arts and crafts courses, and wellness program courses. -- 6/29/2015

June 26, 2015

Supreme Court Declares Same-Sex Marriage Legal In All 50 States -- NPR

States cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize their unions, the Supreme Court says in a ruling that for months has been the focus of speculation. The decision was 5-4.

Comparing the ruling to other landmark decisions, NPR's Nina Totenberg says, "This is probably right up there with Brown v. Board of Education, and Roe v. Wade — if you like it or hate it — and today, Obergefell v. Hodges. This was a historic moment."


States Turn to Tech for Tracking Marijuana -- GCN

States with legal marijuana industries need technology to track plants from seed to sale and from doctors to patients.  The state of Washington now uses and New Mexico will soon use a system based on pharmaceutical distribution – BioTrackTHC.  BioTrackTHC is a marijuana traceability software, which is based on parent company Bio-Tech Medical Software’s products for tracking pharmaceuticals and preventing abuses.  The system uses barcodes to enable plant traceability with a quick scan.  The New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program issued a request for proposal last October, which included a requirement for the “ability to capture and maintain information on its Licensed Non-Profit Producers including seed-to-sale, inventory, cannabis-derived product tracking and dispensary history.”  In April, New Mexico signed a contract to implement the BioTrackTHC system for monitoring medical marijuana. -- May 26, 2015

June 19, 2015

New Mexico Officials Eye Illegal Sale Of Historic Documents -- KUNM / Associated Press

The New Mexico Commission of Public Records is worried some of the state's archival material dating back to Spanish rule may end up for sale online.

The state agency responsible for archiving New Mexico's past recently issued a warning that the sale of state public records is illegal and comes after officials have notice some documents being sold online.


June 18, 2015

Governor makes Las Cruces stop to sign $294M capital outlay billLas Cruces Sun News

Gov. Susana Martinez on Wednesday signed a $294 million capital spending bill at St. Luke's Health Care Clinic in Las Cruces.

Martinez called the measure, which passed by the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate last week during a nearly five-hour special session, a "job-creation bill."

The bill includes about $45 million for highway infrastructure projects. Before signing the bill, Martinez said fixing roads will aid the state in economic growth. - - 6/18/15


Ton of marijuana found in pipe shipment in New MexicoEl Paso Times

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers during the weekend found a ton of marijuana inside 20-foot-long steel pipes at the border crossing in Columbus, N.M., officials said Wednesday.

CBP officials said that the 2,095 pounds of marijuana were in steel containers hidden inside pipes on a flatbed trailer. The trailer arrived from Mexico late Friday. An inspection found marijuana in 108 containers inside 12 of 80 pipes in the shipment, officials said. CBP estimated the marijuana had a street value of $1,676,000. - - 6/18/15

June 5, 2015

FCC Chairman Pushes For Broadband Lifeline Expansion -- KUNM News

Among Americans who make less than $30,000 a year, about half of them have high-speed Internet at home, but a program might help narrow the digital divide.

The program is called Lifeline, and right now it allows people with lower incomes to have cheap—or sometimes free—phone service.

Emmanuelle Leal, an organizer with the Media Literacy Project, said expanding Lifeline to cover broadband will make a big difference for a lot of families in the New Mexico.

Now, Internet infrastructure doesn’t exist in many rural parts of the state. Leal said if more rural families are eligible for service that will spur local government to attract Internet providers to their towns. -- 6/4/2015


EPA Finds No Widespread Drinking Water Pollution From Fracking -- NPR

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has found no evidence that hydraulic fracturing — better known as fracking — has led to widespread pollution of drinking water. The oil industry and its backers welcome the long-awaited study, while environmental groups criticize it.

"We found the hydraulic fracturing activities in the United States are carried out in a way that has not led to widespread systemic impacts on drinking water resources," says Tom Burke, science adviser and deputy assistant administrator of the EPA's Office of Research and Development. "In fact, the number of documented impacts to drinking water resources is relatively low when compared to the number of fractured wells," he adds.

The EPA's draft assessment was conducted at the request of Congress. "It is the most complete compilation of scientific data to date," says Burke, "including over 950 sources of information, published papers, numerous technical reports, information from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports." -- 6/4/2015

June 3, 2015

Chains scramble as egg costs rise nationwide and in Las CrucesLas Cruces Sun News

The devastating bird flu that has wiped out flocks in the Midwest has come home to roost for some local restaurants that now must deal with a nationwide egg shortage and skyrocketing prices.

Avian influenza virus exists in various strains, and causes illness in domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese, guinea fowl and different varieties of other birds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As of December 2014, about 45 million birds in 15 states have been casualties of the virus, the USDA reports. - - 6/3/2015


Wildfire burning near Silver City continues to growLas Cruces Sun News

A wildfire burning near Silver City in southwestern New Mexico remains relatively small but continues to grow. According to BLM’s New Mexico Fire Information, the fire has consumed 65 acres. That's up from eight acres as of Monday. The fire is located in the Treasure Mountain area approximately six miles northwest of Silver City on federal Bureau of Land Management land. - - 6/3/2015


Official: New Mexico water debate to be shaped by transfersLas Cruces Sun-News

Drought has eased its grip on New Mexico, but the arid state still will be faced with having to weigh proposals that call for transferring water across basins to where it's needed most, a top water official said Monday.

State Engineer Tom Blaine told members of a legislative committee focused on water and natural resources that inter-basin transfers are going to become a hot topic.

He pointed to a plan to pipe billions of gallons of drinking water from rural western New Mexico to more populated areas.

The Augustin Plains Ranch application was first rejected more than two years ago after the previous state engineer determined the proposal was vague and its effects could not be reasonably evaluated. It was one of the most contested filings in the history of the state engineer's office. – 6/1/2015

June 1, 2015

Population growth makes Las Cruces one of the 300 largest cities in the U.S. – Las Cruces Sun News

U.S. Census estimates Las Cruces now has 101,408 residents. Las Cruces is still growing, albeit slowly, and has earned a spot on the Top 300 cities list, according the U.S. Census Bureau. Las Cruces now has an approximate population of 101,408. That's just a bit more than 101,378 the Census Bureau estimated a year ago.

But what is surprising to some longtime residents is that Las Cruces is one of the 300 largest cities in the U.S. The city's population now ranks Las Cruces 294 out of 752 U.S. cities that have populations of 50,000 residents or more. There are more than 19,000 communities in the United States that are designated as cities, towns or villages, according to the National League of Cities. –6/1/2015


Report knocks opposition to Clean Power Plan -- Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico environmental officials are among others in two dozen states pushing back against proposed federal restrictions on emissions from existing power plants. Without state support, the proposed Clean Power Plan won’t reduce carbon dioxide emissions the way the Obama administration hopes it will, according to a new report released by the nonprofit Brookings Institute. -- 5/31/2015


Report: Fracking pushes New Mexico’s natural gas production to 27th in worldSanta Fe New Mexican

Fracking and other drilling innovations helped boost New Mexico’s importance as a supplier of natural gas, an industry group says, though depressed prices recently have slowed production in the state.

Using data from 2012, the most recent year for which consistent international data are available, a new report from the American Petroleum Institute ranked the state 27th in the world and seventh in the United States as a source of natural gas.

A little more than 3 billion cubic feet a day of dry natural gas were produced in New Mexico that year, mostly from the San Juan Basin in the state’s northwestern corner. The state’s production was just slightly behind Arkansas, but well ahead of Oman and Venezuela. – 5/28/2015