Giant Antennas In New Mexico Search For Cosmic Discoveries, Enrollment At UNM Down

Sep 19, 2017

Giant Antennas In New Mexico Search For Cosmic DiscoveriesThe Associated Press

Astronomers are using an array of giant dish antennas in the New Mexico desert for a yearslong project aimed at producing the sharpest radio view ever made of a wide swath of the sky as they search for new cosmic discoveries.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory announced the project this week, saying the Very Large Array on the San Augustin Plains west of Socorro will make three scans of the sky visible from its latitude. That means about 80 percent of the sky will be scanned.

The director of the observatory, Tony Beasley, says the results will be a valuable tool for a range of fields in astrophysics.

The survey is expected to turn up supernovae, gamma ray bursts and other things that are typically obstructed from visible-light telescopes.

Enrollment Continues To Fall At University Of New MexicoThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

The University of New Mexico's student population has dropped for the fifth straight year.

The Albuquerque Journal reports New Mexico's largest university is reporting 26,278 total students for the fall 2017 semester. That's 782 fewer than fall 2016.

The university has declined 2.9 percent in population from 2016 and 9.3 percent since its 2012 peak.

The university's chief enrollment official cited multiple factors, including the shrinking value of the New Mexico Legislative Lottery Scholarship, which as many as one-third of its undergraduates use to help cover tuition costs.

New Mexico State University, the state's second-largest school, has had a more dramatic slide, dropping 22 percent since its peak in 2010. That includes a 2.8 percent decline from 2016 to 2017, much of it in continuing undergraduates.

Science Teaching Guidelines Trigger Criticism In New MexicoAssociated Press

Environmentalists and some educators are objecting to proposed changes to teaching standards for science in New Mexico that substitute references to rising global temperatures and climate change with statements about climate "fluctuations."

New objections were raised Monday to science standards drafted by the New Mexico Public Education Department. The agency has suggested several additions and deletions to a set of science standards developed by a consortium of states.

New Mexico Sierra Club Director Camilla Feibelman said the standards were supposed to be tailored to New Mexico's unique natural history but instead would inhibit the accurate study of modern climate change.

New Mexico Deputy Secretary of School Transformation Debbie Montoya says her agency will listen and respond to input from all of New Mexico's stakeholders when writing content standards.

AP Analysis: 7 Albuquerque Officers Earned $124k Or More - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

Records show seven Albuquerque beat police officers were among the city's top 25 salary earners last year and made more than the mayor thanks to overtime.

An analysis by The Associated Press of the city of Albuquerque's top earners found that seven police officers took in at least $124,000 in 2016. Mayor Richard Berry earned $104,000.

Officer Ramiro Garza was the city's seventh top earner, taking home nearly $147,000 in salary and overtime. Records show he was followed by Officer Brian Johnson who earned $145,100 last year.

Former Albuquerque Public Safety Director Pete Dinelli says the salaries show that certain officers know how to manipulate the system to gain overtime.

But Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Shaun Willoughby says the figures highlight that the department is understaffed amid rising crime.

New Mexico School District Eyes Immigrant ResolutionHobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

A southeastern New Mexico school district is considering a resolution that promises support for students and employees who may face deportation amid possible Trump Administration changes.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the Lovington School Board has drafted a resolution aimed to assure immigrants in the country illegally who have temporary protective status.

The Trump Administration recently announced it would rescind the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program putting around 800,000 young immigrants at risk of deportation.

School board President Greg Maxie says the district is simply pushing for the state's congressional delegation to resolve the issue quickly.

Maxie says those who came out of the shadows and registered with DACA are the people who need the district's support.

US Senators Call For Lower Tariffs On Pecan Exports To IndiaAssociated Press

Several U.S. senators are urging federal trade officials to take action to lower tariffs on pecan exports to India in hopes of helping growers in a number of pecan-producing states.

The bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter recently to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, saying the high tariffs are affecting American farmers and have created a trade barrier not imposed on other tree nut producers.

The lawmakers said a key part of strengthening the nation's relationship with India will be reducing the tariffs that are impeding U.S. agricultural exports.

According to the letter, the pecan industry contributes over $3.75 billion to the rural economies of more than a dozen pecan-producing states that stretch from the Carolinas to California.

The top producing states include Georgia, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.

Artesia Schools Close After Second Boil Water AdvisoryKOB-TV, Associated Press

Artesia public schools will be closed through Tuesday in response to a second boil water advisory sent out by the state in two months.

KOB-TV reports Artesia residents are advised to boil their drinking water after E.coli was detected in the water supply. It's the second boil water advisory issued by the New Mexico Environment Department's Drinking Water Bureau since July.

According to the statement, the city is working to chlorinate and flush the water system. Water should be safe to drink within a week.

The school district needs to meet with the City of Artesia and the Department of Health to determine whether classes can resume Wednesday.

New Mexico Theater Decides Not Play 'Gone With The Wind'Associated Press

Albuquerque's cultural services department called off a weekend screening of the classic movie "Gone With the Wind" at a city-owned theater because of concerns that it celebrated the Confederacy.

KOB-TV reports the department planned to play the movie as part of its series featuring movies adapted from Pulitzer Prize-winning books.

KiMo Theater Manager Larry Parker says they feared playing the movie would get the theater, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary, tangled in heated national debates on Confederate symbols. A Memphis, Tennessee theatre cancelled their long-running screening of "Gone With the Wind" in August for similar reasons.

The KiMo Theater opted to play "Ben-Hur" instead.

Hotline Service Aims To Help Abused Native American WomenKRQE-TV, Associated Press

A new hotline has launched in New Mexico meant to provide assistance to female Native American tribe members who have experienced domestic violence or sexual abuse.

KRQE-TV reports 56 percent of Native American women are physically abused by an intimate partner.

Native Americans make up 10 percent of New Mexico's population.

Deleana Otherbull, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native American Women, says advocates from the new StrongHeart Native Helpline are familiar with native culture and tribal sovereignty. The advocates will guide women through steps to get away safely from their situation.

The StrongHeart hotline's phone number is 1-844-762-8483. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. People who call after hours will be transferred to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

AGs Want Health Insurers To Review Policies In Opioid FightAssociated Press

Attorneys general from 35 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, including New Mexico, are urging health insurers to review their policies for pain management treatment to spark higher use of alternatives to opioid prescriptions.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Monday announced the bipartisan coalition's efforts in the ongoing fight to end opioid addiction.

Morrisey says in a news release that the coalition wants health insurers to avoid contributing unintentionally to the deadly problem.

Other co-sponsors of the effort are attorneys general from Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Utah and Virginia.

West Virginia has the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States at 41.5 per 100,000 residents — more than twice the national average.

College Students To Work On Trails At Carlsbad Caverns ParkAssociated Press

A group of college students will be working over the next three months to improve trails at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

The park announced its partnership with the Student Conservation Association on Monday, saying the five-member trail crew will be clearing overgrown vegetation, installing trail markers and building cairns.

The crew will focus on Yucca and Juniper Ridge trails as well as trails in Rattlesnake and Slaughter canyons.

As part of the program, the students will camp in tents and live on small stipends.

Carlsbad Caverns hosts a half-a-million visitors annually with hundreds enjoying backcountry trails. Officials are expecting more hikers thanks to the newly established Guadalupe Ridge Trail, which connects the caverns to Guadalupe National Park and crosses miles of national forest and property managed by the Bureau of Land Management.