My first walks of the day this time of year tend to be just before dawn. My little iPhone SE is always with me…and I couldn’t pass up recording this. A truly beautiful morning.
Jeremy Danielson is a Los Alamos National Laboratory employee who was on his way to Washington, D.C., on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of 9/11, to present a mock-up of some sort of technical apparatus at a Department of Energy conference.
He never got past the security checkpoint at the Albuquerque International Sunport and his final destination for the day was the Metropolitan Detention Center.
Airport officials shut down the Sunport for hours and Danielson was carted off to jail by police, who apparently believed the device was a fake bomb.
Danielson, 40, is now facing a fourth-degree felony of having a facsimile or hoax bomb or explosive, according to court records. He has no criminal history and Los Alamos National Laboratory confirmed he was an employee traveling on business.
His attorney, Dan Cron, said Danielson, who has a Ph.D., knew the Transportation Security Administration is sometimes concerned by the mock-ups, so as he was putting his carry-on bag on the conveyor belt, he told TSA workers that they would need to look at it…
Cron said Danielson has taken technical mock-ups on business trips in the past.
TSA said, blah, blah, blah.
Sunport said blah, blah, blah.
Albuquerque police said blah, blah, blah.
A spokesman for the FBI, which is helping in the investigation, said it is ongoing and wouldn’t comment further.
A LANL newsletter says Danielson was part of a “radiography source development team” that won a 2014 Defense Department award of excellence. He also is listed as an author of various research papers and a participant in scientific conferences.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Since the advent of the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA, I fly nowhere. I will only visit any place I can get to in my 22-year-old pickup truck.
❝ Here’s something all of divided America should be able to agree on: Smart infrastructure investment works. For evidence, look at Colorado, where elected officials of both parties trace an economic boom to a decision 27 years ago to spend more than $2 billion on a new Denver airport.
❝ The Denver International Airport was the brainchild of Federico Pena, who was elected mayor in 1983 and who would become the Secretary of the Transportation and Energy departments in the Clinton administration. It was assailed as a boondoggle by some local businessmen in a campaign led by Roger Ailes, then a Republican media consultant and later the impresario of Fox News.
❝ The airport was financed by revenue bonds, which proved to be among the best performers in the market for state and local government debt. Today it is the linchpin of Colorado’s transition to a global 21st-century economy flush with high-paying jobs and enhanced by daily nonstop flights to Asia, Central America and Europe.
Colorado has many economic advantages, from shale to ski resorts and beyond, but state officials say the new airport was the catalyst needed to set off the boom. “It’s foundational,” Governor John W. Hickenlooper said in an interview last month in his statehouse office. “I mean we look at infrastructure” as the central element “to build our new economy around.”
❝ The airport’s…annual economic impact today exceeds $26 billion, more than eight times [the old airport] Stapleton’s in 1984…It has generated more than 270,000 jobs, almost twice the comparable figure for Stapleton 32 years ago, and $295 million in concession gross revenue, compared to $45 million for Stapleton in 1994…Passenger traffic was a record 27.5 million for the six months through June, up 6.8 percent from 2015. Stapleton had 33.1 million passengers in all of 1994…
❝ Colorado’s economy, meanwhile, is leaving behind its reliance on mining and energy. Since 2012, the accommodations and food services industry grew 22.5 percent, faster than in any other state except Texas and California, according to Bloomberg data. Health care and social assistance companies expanded 17.4 percent, the most for any state. Wholesale trade grew 17.7 percent, the fourth best in the U.S. since 2014, and finance and insurance grew 7.4 percent, bettered only by Utah and Nevada. Today, material and energy make up less than 30 percent of the total market capitalization of Colorado’s publicly traded companies, down from 53 percent in 2010.
And that’s the killer for me. Living in New Mexico, everything that was backwards about Colorado in the 1980’s is still alive and well in New Mexico. Our Republican governor has only one response to a budget defined by oil and gas production in a downturn. Austerity, cut the budget for everything from education to social welfare. Infrastructure upgrades started by the previous Democrat governor are still incomplete – mostly because she hates to admit a Democrat did something useful.
And I’m not confident the likely return to a majority Democrat state legislature is going to change our reliance on extractive industries and military subsidies.
Denver Post file photo
❝ Battles over electricity rates and rooftop solar have raged across the country, with at least 28 utilities in 18 states attempting to boost customer charges and change the rules of the game. But in Colorado a settlement reached last month could offer a model for the nation…
How Xcel’s new approach will play out is still not clear. Some pilot programs will need to test the new model, but it appears the settlement is good news for Colorado’s investment in renewable energy, particularly for solar. However, while the settlement deals with rates and renewable energy, it will also be dependent on another Xcel initiative to upgrade its grid and to install 21st century meters in homes at a cost to customers of $500 million.
These moves are part of Xcel’s efforts to chart a path through an environment in which the utility industry faces greater technological change and financial uncertainty than it has in more than a century. Given the popular appetite for renewable sources, such infrastructure upgrades appear well-suited to that mission, so we look forward to seeing what the pilot programs tell us, and obviously hope the findings suggest a way to keep rates low for hard-working families.
❝ The settlement lays to rest the battle over rooftop solar and net metering, the credit that owners of solar arrays get for putting kilowatt-hours on the grid. Xcel had sought to pare the credit, but under this agreement, net metering stands and Xcel has made a commitment to expand rooftop installations and shared community solar gardens. Both the solar industry and advocates understandably see this as a victory.
Xcel also agreed to abandon an attempt to add an extra fixed charge to every bill and focused instead on pilot programs that charge users according to when or how they use energy throughout the day. Critics of the plan noted that a fixed charge provided little incentive for conservation, and tying price to use tends to make sense — at least for those who work the day shift.
❝ Xcel says that the average household will see about a $1.70 drop in their monthly bill for now. But down the road, time-of-use rates that are anticipated to supplant the current rates could lead to big changes.
Time-of-use rates in theory allow for better management of the electricity system and the ability to avoid building excess generating capacity. There is, however, little experience nationally with residential time-of-use charges. Before the PUC approves a wholesale rate change, a careful assessment of the impacts and unintended consequences must be made.
Time-of-use rates fit nicely into the concept of smart homes. And doesn’t require pain-in-the-butt rewiring in the age of wifi. Secure systems? Yes.
Xcel has a reputation for being more forward-thinking and modern than their peers in the Rockies and the Southwest. Compared to our so-called public utility here in New Mexico, they are a combination of Buck Rogers and Bernie Sanders. Do they deserve the credit? Damned if I know. PNM is my only choice at the moment.
What can I look forward to from the new standards set? Dunno. In New Mexico we still rely on a state commission to negotiate with public utilities. Generally from a kneeling position. Oversight provided by the Roundhouse – our state legislature which has at least a half-dozen principled, knowledgeable members out of a much larger number of drones divided into the usual two factions of the same old uninspiring anthill.
Poisonally, I’m counting on continued technological advancement in both solar panels and batteries to allow us to switch affordably into solar and off the grid entirely. Sooner or later.
❝ Five state employees testified in federal court Thursday that New Mexico Human Services Department officials falsified income information on emergency applications for people seeking welfare benefits, resulting in wrongly denied food assistance to the poorest citizens in the state.
❝ At a daylong hearing in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Carmen Garza that stretched into the evening, the state workers said they sometimes entered false asset information on emergency requests for food assistance as a part of a state policy created just as Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration came under federal scrutiny for its high rates of denying emergency requests for aid.
❝ The New Mexico Human Services Department is required to fulfill emergency food requests within seven days of receiving an application for such assistance. Yet the employees, testifying under oath, said they sometimes altered the requests to reflect that those applying for the assistance had up to $400 in assets that did not exist, leading to the applications being denied or delayed…
❝ Margaret Vasquez-Padilla, a family assistance analyst with the Human Services Department who processes applications for benefits, said her superiors changed her case notes on an application for emergency food assistance by putting down that the applicant had $400.
“This has happened before,” she said when asked why she had copied her original case notes. “I needed to keep copies for myself to make sure I was not implicated.”
She and other employees said management with the department’s Income Support Division pressured them in April 2015 to make sure the state’s data on emergency food requests did not reflect that the department was failing to fulfill the requests within seven days.
The employees called themselves whistleblowers, saying they fear retaliation for speaking out about the practice.
Governor Susana Martinez is the delight of Establishment Republicans who want to run her as Vice-Presidential candidate alongside the Trumpet. Presumably to prove the GOP doesn’t wage war on Hispanics, women, who make up a significant portion of New Mexico’s poor.
In practice, her War on the Poor is all-inclusive. Republican class warfare doesn’t need much specialization. Political opportunism just naturally lends itself to discrimination.
❝ One of the last singles by the late Merle Haggard was a fun little tune he sang with his old crony, Willie Nelson, and younger country star, Jamey Johnson, called “It’s All Going to Pot.” With obvious glee radiating from their weathered voices, Hag and his pals sang, “It’s all going to pot / Whether we like it or not…”
Yep, it looks like they do smoke marijuana in Muskogee after all…
❝ …The message of “It’s All Going to Pot” rang loud and clear in New Mexico at the revelation that House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, had taken in at least $13,500 from marijuana businesses. According to a report by New Mexico In Depth, Gentry reported that the lion’s share of that amount was from Ultra Health LLC, a medical marijuana producer and its founder, Duke Rodriguez, a former Lovelace Medical Center executive. Rodriguez also served for a year or so as secretary of the state Human Services Department under then Gov. Gary Johnson in the mid-1990s.
Rodriguez spoke at a news conference during this year’s Legislature in which Albuquerque pollster Brian Sanderoff announced a new poll for the Drug Policy Alliance showing 61 percent of those interviewed support legalization of marijuana for adults 21 or older.
Some were surprised that the House Republican leader was getting contributions from the marijuana industry. But I wasn’t. It’s true that Gentry is a strong ally of Gov. Susana Martinez, probably the most prominent anti-marijuana drug warrior in the state. But back in 2013, he was one of two Republican House members who voted in favor of a bill that would have drastically reduced criminal penalties for marijuana possession…
❝ I think as laws against marijuana continue to crumble and the demand grows for product, you’re going to be seeing a lot more Republicans getting into the business and a lot more GOP politicians getting money from marijuana producers.
Take it from Merle and Willie: “It’s all going to pot / Whether we like it or not. …”
There’s more meat in the whole article. Read it here.
If you’re a New Mexican you already know Steve Terrell as the primo political reporter in the state. If he says there’s is progress being made in the minds and wallets of state Republicans, my cynical heart has to take his word.
❝ By the late 1800s and early 1900s communities such as Kelly, Dawson, Madrid, Pinos Altos, Golden and Hanover/Fierro proliferated throughout the state, providing the silver, gold, lead, coal and zinc that helped to fuel the industrial western expansion taking place in America. These boom towns, composed of a diverse mix of foreigners, would fundamentally change the demographic character of the state, arising from the dust and often abandoned in equal haste.
❝ In the former mining towns of Hagan, Kelly and Dawson next to nothing remains. In Kelly, a mining head frame stands surrounded by flattened earth; there are remains of the once numerous houses located at the base of the Magdalena mountain.
In Hagan, only skeletons of a large coal mining town remain, its adobe and concrete structures mirroring the orange and white of the New Mexico landscape. In Dawson, a lonely graveyard commemorates the hundreds of now deceased coal miners who travelled from Greece, Italy, Mexico and China to the remote high plains of northern New Mexico.
❝ In places such as Hanover, Fierro and Golden, a different pattern of decline prevails. Melting couches, tattered curtains, ornate peeling wallpaper, all indicate different periods of abandonment and decay.
Some former ghost towns have been repopulated. Mining villages such as Madrid and Pinos Altos have found a second life, repopulated by artists and professionals attracted to these unusual spaces.
❝ Today, throughout the state, these often haunting and intimate ruins stand as monuments to the patterns of migration and abandonment in rural New Mexico, a glimpse into a rich history and the people who helped to shape the region.
Please RTFA. A solid, educational essay on a piece of Southwestern history. Accompanied by stunning photography. Some of the best you’ll ever see.
Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal
❝ Several times a week, Amy Kettleson pulls up to a home in Albuquerque to check in on the resident. Kettleson is a paramedic for Albuquerque Ambulance Service, but she drives a sport utility vehicle, not an ambulance, and instead of taking patients to an emergency room, she’s there to make sure they stay out of one.
❝ Scheduled house calls may seem like a throwback to an earlier era, but they’re an essential part of a small, mobile health care effort called the Community Paramedicine pilot program, which was launched in January by Blue Cross Blue Shield New Mexico. The goal is to reduce use of 911 calls and emergency departments, and foster better care and follow-up for certain patients.
❝ The insurer has contracted with Albuquerque Ambulance and American Medical Response to care for high-utilizing Medicaid patients in their homes as part of an initiative to curb unnecessary hospitalizations and health care costs. About 50 Medicaid recipients received visits from paramedics in the past month, ranging from a person suffering from congestive heart failure to a baby recently discharged from a neonatal intensive care unit…
❝ Dr. Duane Ross would not say how much the program costs or how much it might save but said Blue Cross Blue Shield will evaluate its effectiveness over the next three to six months.
“It’s partnerships like this that will improve health care in the community well into the future,” said Ross.
❝ ER visits have skyrocketed with the expansion of the Medicaid program in New Mexico. “It’s a (bad) habit built up over time” by many Medicaid recipients, especially those with chronic medical problems, Ross said.
The ideal benchmarks for the program will be fewer visits to the ER and hospital readmissions, said Ross. “We’ll know within a few months if we are meeting or falling short” of these goals, he said.
AFAIC, if it works, it’s worth it. The dollars and cents can be worked out. Seems to me a better lifestyle, a longer, happier life has to result from care and contact for housebound folks.
William Laurence on Tinian Island before the Nagasaki bombing
❝The most recent episode of MANHATTAN features the arrival of a character based on one of my favorite real-life Manhattan Project participants: William L. Laurence, the “embedded” newspaperman on the project. The character on the show, “Lorentzen,” appears in a somewhat different way than the real-life Laurence does, showing up on the doorstep of Los Alamos having ferreted out something of the work that was taking place. That isn’t how Laurence came to the project, but it is only a mild extrapolation from the case of Jack Raper, a Cleveland journalist who did “discover” that there was a secret laboratory in the desert in 1943, and was responsible for one of the worst leaks of the atomic bomb effort.
William Laurence, however, was solicited. And he was the only journalist so solicited, invited in to serve as something of a cross between a journalist, public relations expert, and propagandist. (When a character on the show hisses to Lorentzen that they “don’t give Pulitzers for propaganda,” she is, as the show’s writers all know, incorrect — the real-life Laurence did receive a Pulitzer for his reporting on the Nagasaki bombing, and it was a form of propaganda, to be sure.)
❝William Leonard Laurence was born Leib Wolf Siew, in Russian Lithuania. In 1956 he gave an interview to the Oral History Research Office at Columbia University, and, well, I’m just going to let him tell his own “origin story,” because there’s no way I could capture his “flavor” any better than his own words do:
❝I was born in Lithuania, in a very small village. You know Lithuania was one of the strange never-never-lands, you might say, in a certain culture, because it was there that the Jewish intellectual, the Hebraic scholarly centers, were gradually concentrated.. …
The Lithuanian villages were out of space and time, because you know, a life there, in the ghetto, you might say — because that was the only place where the Russianized government permitted Jews to live — they lived there in the 19th century when I was born and the early part of the 20th century in a way that might have been the 15th century, the 16th century. It made no difference. They wore the same type of clothing. They lived the same kind of life, because it was the same culture, you know.
RTFA for another piece of important history you’re not likely to bump into elsewhere. I only posted the bare bones beginning above.
Some of it makes me chuckle. The last couple of firms I worked for before retirement had me up on the hill – so to speak – every once in a while. There are a couple of folks in today’s Los Alamos community I respect for their personal honesty and scientific acumen. Per capita, it is the wealthiest little town in America. Death and destruction pays very well in the Free World.
I met Dr. Oppenheimer a couple times in NYC. Both times, at public forums dedicated to nuclear disarmament and the struggle for peace in the Cold War. Though he was just trying to be part of the audience, he received a standing ovation when spotted.
The TV series is entertaining, BTW. The line between historic record and fiction is pretty well blurred. The flavor, the conflicts between the US military and folks who actually believed in constitutional freedoms as much as scientific freedom of inquiry is well represented. Then – as it is today.
❝If you really are only as old as you feel, then audio released today by Santa Fe police regarding a little hotel pizza party that got out of hand indicates that New Mexico governor Susana Martinez is… maybe 17 years old.
The tapes (via the NM Political Report) capture calls placed to 911 about a loud party early Sunday morning at the Eldorado Hotel & Spa in the state’s capital. In one call, a front desk clerk asks a dispatcher to send officers to the hotel to remove the noisemakers from the premises. The other two calls feature Martinez, who identifies herself as the state’s governor, interrogating various officers, dispatchers and hotel employees about why police had been sent to respond to the noise complaints.
❝According to one dispatcher, the hotel had requested officers after being told that people in Martinez’s room were throwing bottles off of a balcony. The problem as far as Martinez saw it was that her party was merely “eating pizza,” a story she repeats with increasingly fanciful diction across the tapes…
❝Martinez: Okay. So we’re just sitting in there, I’m the governor of the state of New Mexico, and we’re in there with my sister who’s disabled along with six other people who are having pizza…
❝Martinez: We’re all in a room, eating pizza.
Dispatcher: Okay, well that wasn’t what was reported to us.
Martinez: What was reported to you?
Dispatcher: That there was a party and people were throwing bottles off the balcony.
Martinez: I’m sorry there’s no one on the balcony and there’s no one throwing bottles off the balcony, and if there were it was about six hours ago.
❝In one of the other conversations, Martinez says she had only gotten to the room two hours prior, which wouldn’t explain her specificity regarding when something might or might not have happened on the balcony. Per the Santa Fe New Mexican, Martinez was celebrating her annual staff holiday party at the hotel the night of the incident, which probably explains why she sounds kind of drunk.
Click the link in the post to listen to the 9-1-1 recordings.
She sounds like the imperious Queen of Fiesta, e.g. she-who-must-be-obeyed. That’s who her buds in Republican Party “leadership” think she is – with her kissy-kissy fundraising from the Oil Patch Boys.
Meanwhile, the only classifications where our state tends to lead the nation are school dropouts, low grades, teen pregnancy – oh, and unemployment. 6.8%. We’re number one, we’re number one.