Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico

Red Moon, Green Beam — Apache Point Observatory

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red moon, green beam
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This is not a scene from a sci-fi special effects movie. The green beam of light and red lunar disk are real enough, captured in the early morning hours of April 15. Of course, the reddened lunar disk is easy to explain as the image was taken during this week’s total lunar eclipse.

Immersed in shadow, the eclipsed Moon reflects the dimmed reddened light of all the sunsets and sunrises filtering around the edges of planet Earth, seen in silhouette from a lunar perspective. But the green beam of light really is a laser. Shot from the 3.5-meter telescope at Apache Point Observatory in southern New Mexico, the beam’s path is revealed as Earth’s atmosphere scatters some of the intense laser light.

The laser’s target is the Apollo 15 retroreflector, left on the Moon by the astronauts in 1971. By determining the light travel time delay of the returning laser pulse, the experimental team from UC San Diego is able to measure the Earth-Moon distance to millimeter precision and provide a test of General Relativity, Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Image Credit & Copyright: Dan Long (Apache Point Observatory) – Courtesy: Tom Murphy (UC San Diego)

Thanks, Ursarodinia

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Written by Ed Campbell

April 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Drone images reveal details of ancient village in New Mexico

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Click to see images taken by drone

Thermal images captured by an small drone allowed archaeologists to peer under the surface of the New Mexican desert floor, revealing never-before-seen structures in an ancient Native American settlement.

Called Blue J, this 1,000-year-old village was first identified by archaeologists in the 1970s. It sits about 43 miles south of the famed Chaco Canyon site in northwestern New Mexico and contains nearly 60 ancestral Puebloan houses around what was once a large spring.

Now, the ruins of Blue J are obscured by vegetation and buried in eroded sandstone blown in from nearby cliffs. The ancient structures have been only partially studied through excavations. Last June, a team of archaeologists flew a small camera-equipped drone over the site to find out what infrared images might reveal under the surface.

“I was really pleased with the results,” said Jesse Casana, an archaeologist from the University of Arkansas. “This work illustrates the very important role that UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) have for scientific research.”

Casana said his co-author, John Kantner of the University of North Florida, had previously excavated at the site and the drone images showed stone compounds Kantner had already identified and ones that he didn’t know about.

For example, the thermal images revealed a dark circle just inside the wall of a plaza area, which could represent wetter, cooler soil filling a kiva, or a huge, underground structure circular that would have been used for public gatherings and ceremonies. Finding a kiva at Blue J would be significant; the site has been considered unusual among its neighbors because it lacks the monumental great houses and subterranean kivas that are the hallmark of Chaco-era Pueblo sites…

The images also could guide archaeologists’ trowels before they ever break ground.

Modern imaging tech has been inspiring archaeologists for a spell. Data mining satellite photos has been used successfully working up a number of ancient sites around the world. Nice to see one more peaceful use derived from a technology much beloved of our government for spying on folks and occasionally killing them.

As usual, RTFA for a bit more detail.

Thanks, Mike

Written by Ed Campbell

April 11, 2014 at 8:00 am

States the most & least dependent on Federal Government

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Dependent states
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The extent to which the average American’s tax burden would vary based on his state of residence represents a significant point of differentiation between state economies. But it’s only once piece of the puzzle.

What if, for example, a particular state can afford not to tax its residents at high rates because it’s receiving disproportionately more funding from the federal government than states with apparently oppressive tax codes? That would change the narrative significantly, revealing federal dependence where bold, efficient stewardship was once thought to preside.

The idea of the American freeloader burst into the public consciousness when #47percent started trending on Twitter. And while the notion is senselessly insulting to millions of hardworking Americans, it is true that some states receive a far higher return on their federal income tax investment than others.

Just how pronounced is this disparity, and to what extent does it alter our perception of state and local tax rates around the country? WalletHub sought to answer those questions by comparing the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of three key metrics: 1) Return on Taxes Paid to the Federal Government; 2) Federal Funding as a Percentage of State Revenue; and 3) Number of Federal Employees Per Capita.

Folks living in New Mexico know even without looking where we fit into this picture puzzle. Yup, tied with Mississippi at the bottom of the heap.

Our Republican governor is often spoken off as the hope for moderate Republicans as President or Vice-President in 2016. Right now, our education system battles with Mississippi for the honors of being the worst, unemployment is still increasing while the rest of the country seem to be growing a few jobs and here we are at the bottom.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Written by Ed Campbell

April 10, 2014 at 8:00 am

NM Police academy instructors punished for whistleblowing

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KOB Eyewitness News 4 has learned former instructors at New Mexico’s Law Enforcement Academy say they were ostracized — three of them fired — after reporting superiors for illegal activity and for refusing to encourage cadets to cheat.

Those men are suing some of the biggest names in New Mexico criminal justice for whistle-blower retaliation…

The defendants include current Albuquerque PD chief Gorden Eden and LEA director Jack Jones.

All four plaintiffs have extensive law enforcement experience outside New Mexico — they were brought in to make the academy better.

But when they started asking questions and making changes they say they got into trouble.

Now they’re fighting back.

“When you have a 20 year veteran with a sparkling, clear, not a blemish on his resume — and then you get hit with this, because someone is trying to cover their ass, that’s wrong,” said Joe Campbell.

Campbell represents four men with similar stories…Their names are George Puga, Anthony Maxwell, Earl Voiles and a name that may sound familiar to KOB viewers — Phil Gallegos.

They were told they needed to teach the test,” said Campbell. “From the very beginning, my clients said, ‘We can’t do that…’”

Gallegos and his fellow instructors tried to do something…”They made the ultimate recommendation that the law enforcement academy be shut down, revamped from the beginning, so you’d miss a class,” said CampBell.

But Campbell says that cost Gallegos his job…

Gallegos and his former colleagues say orders to teach exam questions to cadets came from the very top — from former DPS secretary now Albuquerque police chief Gorden Eden…

Current DPS secretary Greg Fouratt sent KOB this statement:

“Neither the Secretary nor the Chief Legal Counsel of DPS nor the Director of the NM Law Enforcement Academy has seen a copy of the lawsuit. Nonetheless, the department intends to vigorously defend against the allegations and believes them to be entirely without legal merit.”

Meanwhile, I get to sit back and look at two sides of the same coin: New Mexico’s education sucks so bad folks who want to be coppers aren’t capable – apparently – of passing the courses without illicit help. Our corrupt bureaucrats – of the police variety – are prepared to teach the test to assure students pass. Get to join one or another police department around the state.

The saddest part is that this affects all the good cops who worked their butts off to get through the academy without special help. I’ve been to graduation ceremonies at the LEA. Applauded friends who worked 24/7 studying and training to get through courses at the highest possible standard – because they wanted to be good cops. They’re still out there because they believe that “Protect and Serve” still means what it says.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Tularosa downwinders fight for justice from first nuclear bomb test

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Trinity Tularosa
Tularosa survivors demonstrated for the first time at access to the Trinity Test Site
permitted by our government one day a year

Photo by Natalie Guillén/The New Mexican

Residents of the tranquil Tularosa Basin in the 1940s feasted on figs, apples, peaches and plums grown in their irrigated orchards. They ate eggs from their own chickens. Meat came from the cows and pigs they raised and the elk and turkey they hunted. Three dairies in the area supplied fresh milk. Rainwater was caught in cisterns for gardening.

But everything changed when the first atomic bomb was unleashed without warning at the Trinity Site, about 40 miles upwind from the town of Tularosa, on July 16, 1945.

No one knew just how much things had changed. No one had considered what effect the bomb’s significant radiation might have on the 19,000 people living in the shadow of the mushroom cloud, how that radiation might have seeped into the rainwater, the soil, the vegetation, the blood, the bone.

No one thought fresh milk might be poison.

“People down here started to get sick, started to die at alarming rates,” said Tina Cordova, an Albuquerque businesswoman born and raised in Tularosa. “And we knew it had to have been the bomb.”

We met Cordova in 2010 when her efforts to connect the 1945 atomic bomb test to the abnormally high rate of cancer she discovered among the residents downwind of the Trinity Site seemed close to bringing relief, recognition and a long-overdue apology from the U.S. government.

Three years later, relief, recognition and apology have yet to materialize…

Back in 2010, Cordova said it was hard to find anyone living within a 40-mile radius of the Trinity site who hadn’t known someone stricken with cancer. Six members of her own family had either died of or fought cancer, including herself and her father, who was 3 when the bomb turned the dark skies white and radioactive ash fell from the skies like snow.

Today, Cordova is a 16-year survivor of thyroid cancer. Her father successfully battled two forms of cancer in the past decade but lost his third bout last spring at age 71. As a child, he had loved milk and drank ample quantities, never imagining what it might contain, Cordova said…

Cordova can no longer quickly calculate how many family members have died of cancer, how many in the Tularosa Basin have suffered. There have been so many.

The National Cancer Institute is adding folks from the Tularosa Basin to their study of New Mexicans who may have been affected by the nuclear weapons programs so beloved of our government for decades. The Feds say it never occurred to them to check on radiation from that first and following atomic bomb tests. That’s probably a lie. There’s no doubt they wanted to have some idea what would follow use of these weapons on the wider population they were preparing to use the weapons on – in Japan.

All of this is part of the larger refusal to accept responsibility for contamination and poisoning of Americans associated often by virtue of where they lived – near mining, production and testing of nuclear weapons – in addition to direct employees of our rollout of weapons of mass destruction.

There is no legitimate reason for special laws having to be passed to include the healthcare of ordinary citizens affected by the radiation of our bigger and better bombs. There is no legitimate reason for Congress dragging their feet, turning their collective backs on American citizens damaged individually and generationally by the poisons and death visited upon them by our military death-industry.

We are a nation run by imperial thugs, represented by cowards and flunkies afraid to challenge official powers on behalf of the people who elected them to office. There are few exceptions. There is a greater number sharing guilt for the suffering that became part of the lives of the farmers of the Tularosa Basin after July 16, 1945.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 6, 2014 at 8:00 am

Finally got round to assembling this panorama

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First morning that felt like spring instead of late winter. About a week ago. Then I promptly forgot about it. Just realized I had some photos on my walking around camera – and went through the hassle of finding freebie software to assemble them into a panorama.

Somewhere along upgrades to computers I seem to have killed whatever it was I used to use for panorama stitching. I should get around to updating my photo editing software anyway, real soon new. Certainly, by the time of real flowers appearing down by the bosque.

Written by Ed Campbell

March 15, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Radioactive leak confirmed at nuclear storage site — UPDATED

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WIPP at night

Federal officials Thursday confirmed a leak of nuclear waste at a southeastern New Mexico repository, but it could be weeks before workers can safely access the underground dump to determine what happened…

The DOE on Saturday announced that it had shuttered operations in response to an underground radiation sensor. But it wasn’t until Wednesday night that DOE confirmed that radiation had also been released above ground, about a half mile from the plant. And it wasn’t until a Thursday press conference that Jose Franco, manager of the DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office, confirmed publicly that readings from the monitors matched materials from the waste that is stored there, indicating a leak…

Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said…”We will demand that federal officials share information with the public in real time. That’s the reason we are here…”

Flynn…said, “Events like this should never occur. From the state’s perspective, one event is far too many. Our primary concern continues to be public safety.”

“Even though the levels detected are very low,” he said, “radiation is simply not supposed to be released outside the building.”

The DOE is calmly issuing updates containing soothing noises. Carefully, cautiously, they’re working most of all to keep anyone from noticing they haven’t the slightest idea what is going on.

Thursday night they said they’d soon be able to identify the source of the leak of plutonium and americium — in about three weeks when they believe they’ll be able to re-enter the facility.


UPDATE: Thirteen employees of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant were exposed to radiation – americium-241 – according to test results taken the day a radiation leak was detected at the nuclear waste repository.

Next up? WIPP will have to test any employees who worked the same area – the following day.

Written by Ed Campbell

February 27, 2014 at 6:00 am

Meth-fueled Darwin Award – UPDATED

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A dead body found rotting in a freezer has Hobbs Police investigating. KOB Eyewitness News 4 talked to neighbors who said they noticed something was wrong.

Officers arrived at the abandoned house Tuesday night after a call about the stench. Neighbors said they could smell it inside their homes.

“It was a really strong stench; really, really strong. I’ve never smelled that before, and I would never want to smell it again ever,” said Camille Franco…

“Upon arrival, they located an unidentified body and the body was sent to Albuquerque for autopsy,” said Officer Mike Stone of the Hobbs Police Department.

Police could not identify the gender or identification of the body, leaving a whole lot of questions and not a lot of answers.

“For somebody to be in a freezer, and I mean for somebody to actually do something like that. No, that scares me, that frightens me. I’m actually really wanting to lock up my house more,” said Franco. “Like they say, you might think you might know your neighbors, but you never know.”

Hobbs police said they are waiting for the autopsy results to figure out the cause of death.

This was published back in September. The final results of the autopsy were published, today. Local newspapers haven’t caught up, yet; so, I don’t know if they identified the body. UPDATE: Everett Willford was his name. 22 years old.

According to 30 seconds of TV coverage, apparently, the dude overdosed on meth. With severe hot flashes, he must have climbed into the freezer to cool off. He didn’t freeze to death. It was the meth that killed him.

Somewhere along the timeline, the power was cut off to the abandoned house. Decomposition followed.

Written by Ed Campbell

February 7, 2014 at 8:00 pm

China’s Xinjiang bursting with an excess of green energy

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Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a major power supplier in China, has accelerated the development of green energy as it recorded higher installed capacity in 2013.

Statistics with the Xinjiang branch of the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) showed that by 2013, the combined installed capacity of wind power, hydropower and solar power stations exceeded 1,368 million KW, accounting for about one third of all installed capacity in Xinjiang….

A project to connect the Xinjiang power grid to the northwest China grid was launched in 2010 to transmit Xinjiang’s redundant electric power to other parts of the country. The money made from this is used for developing Xinjiang.

The SGCC Xinjiang branch has put an average annual investment of 500 million yuan towards green energy projects.

Total installed capacity is expected to reach 6,048 million KW by the end of 2014, and that of green power will exceed 2,200 million KW.

While this wee post may seem a bit foreign to many of my readers you have to understand I live in a part of the United States with many parallels to Xinjiang.

Aside from some historic political differences, the natural landscape is often similar. As is the potential. It’s been 20 or 30 years since the New Mexico state engineer’s office determined we had sufficient resources to be a net exporter of wind-generated electricity. We are equally capable of filling state needs and then exporting solar-generated electricity.

The technology for each of these alternatives has improved and become more cost effective over the decades – while the state, local power utilities and the federal government have accomplished little more than a sampling of what might be if they were as serious about non-polluting power generation as they all are about the crap coal mined and burned in the Four Corners.

Written by Ed Campbell

February 2, 2014 at 2:00 pm

What does growing pot in New Mexico have to do with the NSA?

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pot chopper

Fourteen marijuana plants and seven years later, a New Mexico high court has overturned a lower court opinion and ruled that a police helicopter search operation in rural Taos County was illegal and unconstitutional.

The subject of that search, who said he had the 14 plants for personal use to smoke to alleviate physical ailments, was elated when contacted on Friday.

“It has been a lesson in the slow progress of the legal system … I’m happy that justice was served,” said Norman Davis, now 78.

Davis’ home was one of several checked out during a 2006 operation dubbed “Operation Yerba Buena” – a joint State Police, National Guard, and state Game and Fish effort that was targeting marijuana plantations in the sparsely populated Carson area…

Davis had his privacy jarred when, on a summer day as he was sitting on his sofa and feeling a bit out of sorts, he “heard this helicopter overhead.

“It was loud. Very loud,” Davis said at the time. “And I looked out the window and see these guys hovering over me.” The drug raid by the New Mexico State Police, using National Guard helicopters, involved six or seven officers armed with semiautomatic weapons and at least five police vehicles…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ed Campbell

January 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm


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