NM town swamped in corruption abolishes police department

Former police chief, Angelo Vega

Columbus has abolished its police department and will now fully depend on the Luna County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement within the village…”We’ve always been down there,” Sheriff Raymond Cobos said. “We will shift our assets.”

“We are entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Luna County Sheriff’s Office to maintain adequate coverage for the municipality,” Columbus Mayor Nicole Lawson said.

On Monday, sheriff’s department officials were going over the inventory and vehicle list from the village’s former police department. In a vote prior to abolishing the department, the trustees also abolished the village’s code enforcement and animal control components. In New Mexico, licensed law enforcement officers are allowed to enforce code enforcement and animal control standards…

In another twist for the village, incarcerated former trustee Blas Guitierrez submitted his letter of resignation on Friday, July 8. He is one of 12, including former Mayor Eddie Espinoza and former police chief Angelo Vega, who were arrested for their alleged roles in a gun smuggling ring

Espinoza submitted his resignation in late May following the March 10 early morning raid that led to the arrest of the village officials. Vega is still on paid leave pending his resignation or a guilty verdict.

Lawson said it is too soon to tell just how far in the red the village is, a reflection on how disorganized the books were when Lawson took over earlier in July.

An typical example of how the corruption of Mexican drug gangs and Mexican officials and law enforcement — easily extends into the United States side of the border. The mayor and chief of police of Columbus, New Mexico used their standing in local government to run guns across the border for months before capture.

Did you celebrate Odd Day over the weekend?

An odd number of pandas

Ron Gordon would like you to take a moment or three to think about what an odd day Saturday was.

Why? Because 7/9/11 is one of only six dates this century that features three consecutive odd numbers. Next up, 9/11/13.

Gordon, a retired teacher from Redwood City, Calif., has set up a website to celebrate “Odd Day,” and offers some ways to celebrate: Do odds ‘n ends, root for the odds-on-favorite or watch the “Odd Couple.”

Gordon has been fascinated with curious dates since some 30 years ago when he noticed the upcoming date 9/9/81 while writing a check. That, Gordon saw, was a Square Root Day – one in which the day and the month are the same number and, when multiplied, yield the year as it’s expressed in one or two digits.

It led Gordon to begin thinking about Odd Days, which he has continued to do through the years…

After 9/11/13, the next Odd Day will be 11/13/15 – and that will be it until next century.

Though we still have 4/4/16 to look forward to – the next Square Root Day.

I love this. I’m marking my online calendar right now.

US still refuses to live up to international law on torture

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Witness Against Torture outside FBI headquarters

The US is violating UN rules by refusing unmonitored access to the Army private who is accused of passing secret documents to WikiLeaks, the UN’s chief torture investigator has said.

UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez said the US had has broken rules by insisting on monitoring conversations with Private Bradley Manning.

Mr Mendez says he needs unrestricted access to Private Manning to do his job…

After being confined alone in a cell for 23 hours per day in a detention facility in Quantico in the state of Virginia, Private Manning was transferred to Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas in April.

Mr Mendez said the US had told him Mr Manning was being treated better now than when he was in Quantico.

But the UN investigator said the US must allow him to determine whether the conditions at Quantico that Pte Manning experienced amounted to “torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

“For that, it is imperative that I talk to Mr Manning under conditions where I can be assured that he is being absolutely candid,” Mr Mendez said in a statement.

Mr Mendez said that because the US is a “strong supporter of the international human rights system“, the country’s actions “must seek to set the pace in good practices that enhance the role of human rights mechanisms, ensuring and maintaining unfettered access to detainees during enquiries”.

Living up to the standards we help set might actually prove we are a nation of law and justice – instead of the hypocrisy our government so often practices. A history shared by Republicans and Democrats, libertarians and liberals – so different in reality from pieces of paper and campaign slogans.

Allergy-free dog is probably just a legend

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Dog lovers with a pet allergy have a big problem when it comes to having a dog in the home. But the usual solution — getting a breed known to be hypoallergenic — may not be a safe bet. In fact, there may be no such thing as a low-allergy or allergy-free dog, according to a new report. The study found that the quantities of dog allergens in homes with supposedly hypoallergenic breeds are no different from those in homes with dogs widely considered non-hypoallergenic.

It is not even clear how a hypoallergenic breed earns the title. There is no single “official” list of them. Various breeds, often dogs that shed little hair, appear on lists posted on the Internet, and the American Kennel Club suggests 11 “hypoallergenic canine candidates,” including poodles, soft-coated wheaten terriers, schnauzers and the Portuguese water dog, made famous two years ago when the Obama family adopted one.

“I have no idea where this whole concept came from,” said Christine Cole Johnson, the senior author of the study, to be published online in The American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy. “It’s been around for a long time, and maybe people associated it with shedding. I think it’s just a legend…”

The numbers of dogs of each breed were not large enough to allow for analyses by individual breed, but the researchers compared quantities of allergens found in the samples using various categories of purebred and mixed-breed hypoallergenic and non-hypoallergenic dogs. No matter how they did the comparisons — even comparing dogs identified as hypoallergenic by the A.K.C. against all other dogs — they found no statistically significant differences in levels of the major dog allergen, Canis familiaris 1…

Dr. Cole, an epidemiologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, said: “You can’t be assured that some breed is going to produce less allergen than another. Allergists, based on their experience, really think that it’s just individual dogs who have some variations based on genetics or behavior, who produce more allergens than others. But it’s not going to be a breed classification that predicts that.”

In our family, let’s face it, it’s the dog that makes the decision who gets adopted. Give us the right tail-wagging and “let’s go play outside together” look — we’re already locked in.

CIA’s fake vaccination drive found bin Laden’s DNA in Pakistan

Anyone mind if I pick some ganja from the field next door?

The CIA organised a fake vaccination programme in the town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from the fugitive al-Qaida leader’s family, a Guardian investigation has found.

As part of extensive preparations for the raid that killed Bin Laden in May, CIA agents recruited a senior Pakistani doctor to organise the vaccine drive in Abbottabad, even starting the “project” in a poorer part of town to make it look more authentic, according to Pakistani and US officials and local residents.

The doctor, Shakil Afridi, has since been arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) for co-operating with American intelligence agents…

The vaccination plan was conceived after American intelligence officers tracked an al-Qaida courier, known as Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, to what turned out to be Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound last summer. The agency monitored the compound by satellite and surveillance from a local CIA safe house in Abbottabad, but wanted confirmation that Bin Laden was there before mounting a risky operation inside another country…

Pakistani intelligence became aware of the doctor’s activities during the investigation into the US raid in which Bin Laden was killed on the top floor of the Abbottabad house. Islamabad refused to comment officially on Afridi’s arrest, but one senior official said: “Wouldn’t any country detain people for working for a foreign spy service?”

The doctor is one of several people suspected of helping the CIA to have been arrested by the ISI, but he is thought to be the only one still in custody…

I love the outrage from sleazy Pakistan bureaucrats when their purported standards are breached. We’re supposed to accept the myth of inviolable comradeship from Ferengis who would sell their nation to the highest bidder in any war fought with gold pieces. And also the second-high bidder, the third, etc…

Engineering a billion-pixel camera to map the Milky Way

At approximately one billion pixels, it’s the largest digital camera ever built for a space mission. Over a five-year period, the “billion-pixel array” will be used aboard the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, to map upwards of a billion stars. While it will be focusing mainly on our own Milky Way galaxy, Gaia will also be mapping other celestial bodies, including galaxies and quasars near the edge of the observable universe.

The array is made up of 106 charge coupled devices (CCDs), which are an advanced type of image sensor. Made by the UK’s e2v Technologies, each rectangular CCD is a little smaller than a credit card in area, although thinner than a human hair in thickness. Throughout the month of May, technicians at Astrium France precisely joined the CCDs together into a 0.5 x 1-meter (1.6 x 3.3-foot) seven-row flat mosaic. While 102 of the sensors are assigned to star detection, the other four will check the image quality and angle of the Gaia spacecraft’s twin telescopes, used to obtain 3D stereoscopic images of the stars…

When launched in 2013, the Gaia spacecraft will end up parked at the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange point, which is a spot 1.5 million kilometers behind the earth, when viewed from the sun. At that location, the earth’s orbital motion balances out gravitational forces to form a stable point in space. The spacecraft will then spin, in order to take in the view through its telescopes. Along with mapping the location of the stars, the array will also record their color, composition and intensity.

Cripes, I love this stuff. I await the photographs with beaucoup anticipation.