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December 30, 2014

Poor federal evaluation costs LANL operators about $57M -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Los Alamos National Laboratory received a grade of “unsatisfactory” in key areas of its annual federal evaluation for the last fiscal year. The private consortium that manages the lab will receive a mere 10 percent of what it could have in performance fees and was stripped of one year of its multibillion-dollar annual contract, according to documents made public Monday. -- 12/29/2014

Related National Nuclear Security Administration documents:


December 19, 2014

Report: Radiation leak at WIPP was smallLas Cruces Sun News

A final report by independent researchers shows the radiation leak from the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico was small and localized. The report released Thursday by the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center also says no negative health effects are expected among workers or the public. 12/18/14


Middle-aged woman becomes first to die of the flu in El Paso this seasonLas Cruces Sun News

An El Paso woman who had tested positive for influenza virus has died. The El Paso Department of Public Health said the middle-aged woman, who was not identified, had several underlying medical conditions and had been receiving treatment at a hospital. She is the first flu-related death in El Paso this season, officials said. 12/18/14


President Obama Creates the Task Force on 21st Century Policing -- The White House Blog

Trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.

In light of the recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, and around the country, the Administration announced new steps to strengthen the relationships between local police and the communities they are supposed to protect and serve. One of the primary actions was the creation of a task force to improve community policing.

 President Obama signed an Executive Order to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and announced the members of the new task force. -- 12/18/2014


National Park Service to take over management of Valles Caldera Preserve -- Albuquerque Journal North

With a stroke of the President’s pen, management of the Valles Caldera National Preserve is expected to soon shift from a trust that has been overseeing the preserve since it was created by an act of Congress in 2000 to the National Park Service.

The management change is part of a Congressional compromise, embedded in the defense spending bill that has passed both chambers and awaits the President’s signature.

The bill also designates the Columbine-Hondo area within the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico as wilderness, and establishes the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Los Alamos and other sites. -- 12/19/2014


Manhattan Project memorialized -- Albuquerque Journal North

The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act passed recently by Congress and awaiting the president’s signature authorizes creation of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, with sites in Los Alamos, as well as in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Hanford, Wash.

Seventeen locations on the Los Alamos National Laboratory campus – including still-standing structures where bombs were built and, perhaps more significantly, where scientists figured out how to make them – are included, as well as 13 properties in Los Alamos itself.

Those include Oppenheimer’s house and the one-time home of Hans Bethe, the 1867 Nobel prize winner in physics, which are under control of the Los Alamos Historical Society, and other “Bathtub Row” homes, originally built for masters at the old Los Alamos Ranch School and prized during the Manhattan Project because they had their own bathtubs. -- 12/19/2014


Digital Life in 2025: The Future of Privacy -- PewResearch Internet Project Report

The terms of citizenship and social life are rapidly changing in the digital age. No issue highlights this any better than privacy, always a fluid and context-situated concept and more so now as the boundary between being private and being public is shifting.

This report is a look into the future of privacy in light of the technological change, ever-growing monetization of digital encounters, and shifting relationship of citizens and their governments that is likely to extend through the next decade.-- 12/18/2014

Don't Miss: Privacy in 2025: Experts’ Predictions


December 18, 2014

New York to ban fracking -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Handing environmentalists a breakthrough victory, New York plans to prohibit fracking for natural gas because of what regulators say are its unexplored health risks and dubious economic benefits.

Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens said Wednesday that he is recommending a ban, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, responded that he would defer to Martens and Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on the decision.

The Department of Environmental Conservation will put out a final environmental impact statement early next year, Martens said, and after that he will issue an order prohibiting fracking.

Document in the Spotlight:

A Public Health Review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas Development, New York State Department of Health, December 2014

December 17, 2014

Bye Bye Birdie? Climate Change And The Natural World -- KUNM News

The National Audubon Society was recently awarded Popular Mechanics’ Breakthrough Award for its comprehensive report linking climate change to a drastic reduction in future bird populations. Biologists and birders in New Mexico are already seeing drastic changes.

The National Audubon Society mined through 40 years' worth of data on hundreds of bird species. Scientists then modeled that information with global temperatures, humidity levels and precipitation. They found that more than half of the common bird species they studied are under threat of extinction by the end of this century. -- 12/17/2014

December 16, 2014

Archaeologists Worry As Drilling Approaches Chaco -- KUNM News

The oil and gas industry in New Mexico is a big deal. It supports the state budget with hundreds of millions of dollars each year. But there are impacts, too – on air quality, water, public health and even cultural sites. In the first installment of KUNM’s new series Drilling Deep, we explore northwestern New Mexico – and the Chacoan landscape.

Across northern New Mexico, there are important ancient sites: Chaco Canyon, Aztec ruins, and Salmon Ruins. And thousands of sites in between. They’re all a part of what archaeologists call the Chacoan Landscape. This was the cultural center of the Southwest where Puebloan people lived for hundreds of years until about AD 1250. They built roads, traded with communities as far south as Mexico and Central America, and they innovated a unique building style that’s still stunning today. -- 12/16/2014

December 15, 2014

Albuquerque gets Bloomberg ‘innovation team’ grant -- Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque is among 14 cities — ranging from Long Beach, Calif., to Jerusalem — that are getting up to $3 million from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation to create “innovation teams” to jump-start new approaches to poverty, public safety, job growth and other issues, the foundation announced Monday. -- 12/15/2014


GPO Releases The Official Digital & Print Versions Of The Senate CIA Report -- GPO News Release

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) makes available the official and authentic digital and print versions of the Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program, together with a forward by Chairman Feinstein and Additional and Minority Views (Senate Report 113-288).

This document comprises the declassified Executive Summary and Findings and Conclusions, including declassified additional and minority views. The full classified report will be maintained by the Committee and has been provided to the Executive Branch for dissemination to all relevant agencies.

The digital version is available on GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys); the print version is available for purchase at GPO's retail and online bookstore for $29. -- 12/15/2014


Launching Disasters.Data.Gov to Empower First Responders and Survivors with Innovative Tools and Data -- The White House Blog

Strengthening our Nation’s resilience to disasters is a shared responsibility, with all community members contributing their unique skills and perspectives. Whether you’re a data steward who can unlock information and foster a culture of open data, an innovator who can help address disaster preparedness challenges, or a volunteer ready to join the “Innovation for Disasters” movement, we are excited for you to visit the new site, launching today.

First previewed at the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative Demo Day, is designed to be a public resource to foster collaboration and the continual improvement of disaster-related open data, free tools, and new ways to empower first responders, survivors, and government officials with the information needed in the wake of a disaster. -- 12/15/2014


December 9, 2014

Senate Torture Report Condemns C.I.A. Interrogation Program -- The New York Times

A report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday found that the Central Intelligence Agency routinely misled the White House and Congress about the information it obtained from the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, and that its methods were more brutal than the C.I.A. acknowledged either to Bush administration officials or to the public. -- 12/9/2014


State levies $54M in fines over nuke repository mishaps -- The Santa Fe New Mexican

In a sharp rebuke of the U.S. Department of Energy, the state of New Mexico on Saturday levied $54 million in penalties against the federal agency and private contractors for a series of mistakes and violations that led to a radiation leak that indefinitely shut down the nation’s only underground repository for nuclear waste.


BLM Considering Oil Pipeline Proposal -- KUNM

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is considering a proposal to build a pipeline that would move oil to markets from northwestern New Mexico. The agency is accepting public comments through the end of this year.

The proposed pipeline would cross federal, state, private and Navajo tribal lands. The pipeline will end up at rail lines near Grants and transport up to 50,000 barrels of crude oil a day. -- 12/5/2014