Immigration, defense, Washington gridlock headline NMSU’s 2014 Domenici Conference

The issues that dominate today’’s news – the debate on immigration reform, the legislative stalemate in Washington and the future of our national defense strategy – are among the pressing state and national policy topics set to be discussed at the 2014 Domenici Public Policy Conference.

Experts including former U.S. Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director Leon Panetta, former U.S. counterintelligence head and inspector general of the National Security Agency Joel Brenner and national political strategists Donna Brazile and Charlie Black are among those scheduled to appear.

Set for Sept. 17 and 18 at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave., the Domenici Conference is now in its seventh year. The Domenici Institute, which hosts the conference each fall, is named after New Mexico’s longest-serving U.S. senator, Pete V. Domenici. The institute was established with the goal of continuing Domenici’’s legacy of service to the state of New Mexico and the nation by providing unique learning and policy research opportunities.

“The slate of topics this year couldn’’t be more timely, and the caliber of speakers scheduled to attend is a testament to the premier status of this conference in our region,” said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers, who also serves as director of the institute. “The Domenici Institute and New Mexico State University are extremely pleased to bring these expert perspectives to our conference, thanks to the personal involvement of Sen. Domenici.”

Panetta will open Wednesday’’s sessions with his perspective on U.S. defense priorities over the next five years. He served as U.S. Secretary of Defense from 2011 to 2013, overseeing the final removal of American troops from Iraq as well as the beginning of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan. Panetta also served as director of the CIA from 2009 to 2011, where he oversaw the operation that resulted in bringing Osama bin Laden to justice.

Wednesday’’s second session will be a panel discussion on the bipartisan challenge in Washington, D.C. Panelists will be Dan Glickman, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and a former congressman from Kansas; Frank Keating, former governor of Oklahoma and president and CEO of the American Bankers Association; and Mary Wilson, former president of the League of Women Voters of the United States.

Glickman, a Democrat, served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1995 to 2001, following an 18-year career representing Kansas’ 4th congressional district in Washington. From 2004 to 2010, he served as chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, and he’s currently a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center – a nonprofit Washington think tank founded in 2007 to promote politically balanced policymaking – where he focuses on public health, national security and economic policy issues.

Keating was Oklahoma’’s governor from 1995 to 2003, the only Republican in the state’’s history to serve consecutive terms. As governor, he oversaw the state’’s response to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Keating serves as a member of the Debt Reduction Task Force and Housing Commission at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Wilson, who served as president of the League of Women Voters of the United States from 2006 to 2012, is an attorney with 38 years of experience in diverse fields of practice including estate planning, regulatory compliance, commercialization and privatization, corporate and environmental law. Prior to starting her own Albuquerque law firm, she served as an attorney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as an assistant chief counsel with the U. S. Department of Energy, and as general counsel for EG&G Mound Applied Technologies Inc.

Wednesday afternoon’s three sessions will focus on immigration reform, with views from Randel Johnson, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Angela Maria Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress; and Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

The conference’s second day will open with a session on cyber espionage and the digital battleground, featuring Joel Brenner, former head of U.S. counterintelligence for the director of national intelligence and former senior counsel and inspector general of the National Security Agency. Brenner is the author of “America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare” and “Glass Houses: Privacy, Secrecy, and Cyber Insecurity in a Transparent World.”

The cyber security discussion will continue with a presentation by John Zepper, director of computing and network services at Sandia National Laboratories. Zepper is an expert in high-performance computing, having developed a number of supercomputing and institutional computing platforms at Sandia, a National Nuclear Security Administration lab.

Finally, the conversation will turn to the upcoming elections, with analysis from Democratic political strategist and commentator Donna Brazile and Republican political strategist and presidential adviser Charlie Black.

After lunch, the New Mexico gubernatorial candidates – incumbent Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Gary King – will each have an opportunity to present their platforms.

The 2014 Domenici Public Policy Conference costs $50 to attend. Online registration for the conference began July 28 at domenici.nmsu.edu. The event is free to university students. For more information or to receive an invitation by mail, call the Domenici Institute at 575-646-2066.

This project is partially sponsored by the Department of the Army, Office of the Surgeon General. The content of the information does not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the U.S. government and no official endorsement should be inferred.


The Day This Land Was Our Land

Posted May 26, 2014

Thomas Wark
The Organ Mountains overlooking my home town, Las Cruces, N.M., have the absolute capacity to mesmerize. They did so the first time I laid eyes upon them two decades ago. They did so again  a few days ago, when something very good happened in Barack Obama’s United States.
We celebrated the designation of these mountains by Mr. Obama as the nation’s newest National Monument, embracing not just the Organs but also their neighboring desert, lesser peaks, volcanic holes in  what was once a prehistoric sea, canyons rich with the art and sacred relics of earlier native civilizations—nearly 500,000 acres of stark natural beauty and wonder.
Most of the hundreds gathered on a high school soccer field with a stunning view of the Organs had fought for a decade or more for a more protected status for these public lands. As waves of new development swept over the area, their struggle became more urgent, and took on the classic form of public discourse in our divided nation. On one side. petitioning for monument status, were The People — hikers, picture-shooters, scholars, horsemen, hunters, scientists, bird-watchers, petroglyph and pictograph admirers, wildlife fanciers, tribal councils and native American culture preservers, a spectrum of ordinary Americans as wide and deep as our rainbow race itself.  On the other side, the money people: makers of off-road machines, ranchers whose hooved locusts graze our lands for pittance fees, a congressman wedded to the interests of oil and gas extractors who made him rich, NRA kooks who think this natural paradise is theirs to shoot up at will,Tea Party nuts accusing the federal government of stealing land it already owned.
One would think that protecting something so beautiful, so sacred, so valued by so many would be a simple task in a democratic nation.  But it wasn’t. Money, greed and corruption wield vast power in this country against even the most noble of goals. Bill after bill to protect the lands languished in Congress.
Finally, last Wednesday, Mr. Obama invoked his powers under an Antiquities Act signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt more than a century ago. He proclaimed the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area of southern New Mexico to be a National Monument.
Only two days later, on a grassy field, where the spring sun and shifting clouds made the Organs dance to the wind’s song, The People gathered for their brief, shining Camelot moment.    A native American tribal leader invoked blessings upon them and the sacred lands they came to celebrate. Leaders — three U.S. senators, the Secretary of the Interior, a mayor, state legislators, commissioners, councilors, heads of large and small organizations — thanked themselves and the President for the gift of perpetuity for our magnificent lands, but unanimously decreed that the greatest gratitude should go to those who truly brought it about — The People.
There were tents with cold drinks and hot New Mexican food. A mariachi band with a tireless tenor and a trumpeter who improvised a full octave higher than the score. A fine high school choir singing real good the perfect song for the occasion, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” There was, my companion said, “a lot of love out there today.”
In our  moment, I felt fleetingly the sense of serene excitement I had when the nation elected its first black President, the man I thought would lead our country to a new birth of freedom, who would launch it on a path to equality, with truth and justice for all.
Barack Obama failed terribly in the great tasks we imagined for him.  But just a few days ago he did a good thing. For that brief shining Camelot moment, this land was my land.


Seed share, harvest share

Weed Pulling Party MVM Farm 2653 Snow Rd, Mesilla Saturday, August 2nd 8:00 – 10:00 am Our vegetables are doing great, the farm is lush and green and growing, growing, growing! BUT SO ARE OUR WEEDS! Please join us August 2nd. We are looking for some people to “pull” together!

Harvest Share by Better Future Foods Community Garden at Spruce and San Pedro, Las Cruces Sunday, August 3rd 4:00 pm All items that are freshly picked, home made, or preserved (canned, dried, frozen, etc) are welcome. The RSVP page can be found at this link:  http://www.betterfuturefood.com/harvest-share-sign-up/  Everyone should RSVP so that we don’t have 20 people showing up to swap zucchini. Also, this lets us know how many people we should “pack” items for.  I also want to encourage everyone to bring their own “packing” materials (like tupperware) in order to minimize the use of plastic bags. Feed ‘n Seed Mountain View Market Co-op in the Cafe Tuesday, August 26th 5:30 – 7:30 pm Learn how to save seeds and taste test heirloom fruits and vegetables.

During this informal workshop, we will discuss and demonstrate the basic process of saving your own seeds, including planting, selection, harvest, cleaning, and storage. We will process seeds from tomatoes, chiles, squash, lettuce, melons, and cucumbers.

If you can, bring some of your harvest to show off during Veggie Show-n-tell. We will use these in the tasting and seed processing demo.

Enjoy an optional potluck with fellow growers. Please bring some food to share if you would like to participate. Free event.



SWEC: Wolves, butterflies, groundwater, Rio Grande planning

Can wolves help butterflies, frogs, and trees survive?

Want to watch a movie that could change your life? Join us for a special screening of Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators to learn how wolves change landscapes in surprising and amazing ways. You have two opportunities:

  • Tonight, July 31, 7 pm at SWEC, with refreshments provided by Andele’s Restaurant
  • Thursday, August 7, 7 pm at the Elephant Butte Inn in Truth or Consequences, with refreshments provided.

Click here to see the trailer. A special status update on the Mexican gray wolf, the Southwest’s own native top predator, will be presented at both events. USFWS is currently considering changes to the reintroduction program of the Mexican wolf that could result in wolf recovery or push wolves in the Southwest back to the brink of extinction. Call Tricia at 575-522-5552 for more information.

Groundwater Supplies Disappearing in the West

Who knew that satellites could measure how much water is underground? They can, and the results are definitely not good. Everyone can see rivers such as the Rio Grande drying up, but it turns out that underground water sources are dwindling at a much faster rate. A new study reveals that nearly 80 percent of water losses in the Colorado River Basin over the past nine years has taken place beneath our feet. The study did not look at the Rio Grande basin, but USGS data collected the old fashion way (from monitoring wells) indicate that groundwater levels have dropped in Dona Ana County in recent years. (One of the reasons SWEC’s La Mancha Wetland Project has been on hold for more than three years is that the State Engineer has been inundated with emergency well drilling applications, as existing wells go dry at an alarming rate.)

SWEC Involved in Regional Water Planning for Lower Rio Grande

The State Engineer’s Office is coordinating a statewide effort to update regional water plans, and SWEC is getting involved at the very early stages. SWEC’s executive director Kevin Bixby is part of a team that is helping to coordinate public participation in the process to ensure that the community’s concerns are addressed in a meaningful way. The current water plan for the Lower Rio Grande, completed in 2004, was completed with little public input and virtually no consideration of environmental concerns. We’re determined to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

SWEC Board Openings

SWEC has two openings on its board of directors. We are looking for candidates who support the organization and are passionate about saving nature. Nonprofit board experience is a plus but not required. If interested, please send resume and brief letter of interest to kevin@wildmesquite.org.



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    The Day This Land Was Our Land

    Posted May 26, 2014 Thomas Wark The Organ Mountains overlooking my home town, Las Cruces, N.M., have the absolute capacity to mesmerize. They did so the first... Read more »

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    July 18, 2014 | Leave a Comment


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