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V.21 No.29 | 7/19/2012
Chaly / CC by-S.A. 2.0


Bone Dry

Southwest farms bite the dust as “megadrought” becomes the new normal

In a dirt parking lot near Many Farms, Ariz., a Navajo farmer sold me a mutton burrito. He hasn't used his tractor in two years, he told me, and he’s cooking instead of farming because "there isn't any water." He pointed east at the Chuska mountain range, which straddles the New Mexico border. In a normal year, water coming off the mountains reaches his fields, he said.

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Party down with your cylindrical fountains

And keep a hose nearby

Sparklers rule. And they’re legal.
Sparklers rule. And they’re legal.

We are in yet another extremely dry and dangerous fire season here in New Mexico. Because of this, Bernalillo County and Albuquerque officials restricted the use of fireworks. But they can’t ban them completely. Read about why in this week’s NewsCity.

The Albuquerque Fire Department announced that the sale and use of aerial fireworks and ground audible devices are prohibited within city limits. It is illegal to use any fireworks in the Bosque or any Open Space area. AFD advises that fireworks should only be used on paved or barren areas and with a readily available water source.

The only permissible fireworks are ground and handheld sparkling devices, cone fountains, crackling devices, cylindrical fountains, flitter sparklers, ground spinners, illuminating torches and wheels.

In 2011, AFD responded to more than 945 illegal fireworks calls during the Fourth of July weekend. Albuquerque Fire Chief James Breen says, “Any one of these incidents could have turned into a deadly fire just because somebody was acting carelessly.”

Bernalillo County issued fireworks restrictions for all unincorporated parts of the county. Bernalillo banned the sale and use of fireworks that shoot sparks or pieces higher than 10 feet or further than a 6-foot radius, or are louder than a cap gun.

Last year, both Gov. Martinez and Mayor Richard Berry became frustrated with their inability to ban fireworks completely. They both lobbied the Legislature unsuccessfully to pass a bill that would allow local authorities to completely ban fireworks during extreme fire danger.

Two major wildfires have already destroyed large areas of the state. The Whitewater-Baldy Complex in the Gila Wilderness is the largest fire in size in state history. The Little Bear fire in Lincoln County near Ruidoso destroyed hundreds of homes.

Stay updated about blazes in the state at NMfireinfo.

    V.21 No.26 | 6/28/2012
    Julia Minamata


    Rockets’ Red Glare

    In the glow of wildfires, officials stare down the Fourth of July

    Under state law, no one can ban fireworks completely. Not a city council or county commission, not a mayor or the governor. Not after the largest blaze in New Mexico history or the Bosque’s been charred.

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    The Daily Word in $3 gas, dirty veggies and peaceful Iceland

    Firefighters gain the upper hand in the Bosque.

    Taliban attacks a hotel in Kabul.

    Gas might go back down to $3 per gallon.

    The Sandusky jury deliberates without hearing accusations from his foster son.

    The highest temperatures on record in the U.S.

    Dirty dozen list shows fruits and veggies with the most pesticides.

    Police officers in Santa Fe who lie or participate in sexual misconduct can be fired immediately under a new policy.

    What has come true from Blade Runner?

    Find out where the rich keep their private islands.

    Denham Fouts inspired his lovers and benefactors with cool disinterest.

    Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world.

    Cat shreds despite earthquake.

    Science. It's a girl thing. Like sexiness and makeup.

    The British Monarchy is hiring.


    The Daily Word in depraved penguin sex and Gordon Ramsay self-destruction

    Military suicide rate at highest level in ten years.

    Is the Obama administration using leaks to bolster the President's image?

    Small town murder rates are climbing.

    It's not gonna happen, Jeb Bush.

    Fire at the the downtown Hyatt overnight.

    How prepared is the military for the eventual alien invasion?

    Georgia widow wins $3 million lawsuit after husband dies during three-way.

    "We're not racists, we just want to be with white people." said racist KKK member while defending the group's Adopt-A-Highway application.

    Self-destruct with Gordon Ramsay.

    Dead toddler comes back to life, then doesn't

    The most shoplifted items are …

    Trees reveal mysterious 1,200 year old radiation burst.

    ATTN sinners: Introvale birth control pills recalled.

    Depraved penguin sex scandalized uptight polar explorers.

    Don't worry Israel, those weird lights in the sky are just the Russians testing their ICBs.

    115 years together is enough for these tortoises.

    Fiona Apple has a new album.

    Pizza Hut getting into the gross sandwich business.

    Happy Birthday, Peter Dinklage!!!


      The Daily Word in fiery semi, unchicken, stripper database

      Minority births are the majority in the U.S.

      A semi truck carrying lighter fluid just combusted on I-40.

      If you're wondering why there are throngs of people in Albuquerque on Sunday, it's the eclipse.

      Will drones spy on us?

      Council plans for a stripper database delayed.

      Tape dress. Neat.

      The world's oldest yoga teacher is 93. And she's a badass.

      Republican Super Pac plotting extreme attack ads about President Obama.

      Limbless man attempting to swim between five continents.

      Coffee drinkers live longer, says my new favorite study.

      Fake chicken meat-maker promises new nonflesh will be even better than the real thing.

      Gale-force wind in yo face.


        The Daily Word in AK-47s, sex workers and Darth Vader

        Judge stops Gov. Martinez' license verification effort.

        MVD didn't issue a driver's license to a teen who had his birth certificate and Social Security card.

        Did BernCo put out this recycling plant fire in Southwest Albuquerque fast enough? And why is it always on fire?

        Corrections secretary's boyfriend accused of shooting a gun on prison grounds.

        PRC tech says he was fired after reporting employees were browsing online porn at work.

        Man shot and killed by APD this week held a loaded AK-47, says Chief Schultz.

        Those who profited off 9/11.

        August was the first month since 2003 without the death of a U.S. solider in Iraq.

        Darth Vader: Noooooooooo!

        Justice Department sues to stop AT&T from buying T-Mobile.

        George R. R. Martin is creepy, rape-y and racist, writes hilarious blogger.

        Prosties and strip clubs in Tampa prep for the GOP convention in 2012.

        Toddler wears fake T&A for pageant.

        Did you hear about the guy with the $16 house?

        It's OK if you think parenting is miserably hard work.

        V.20 No.27 | 7/7/2011
        The helicopter used by wildland firefighter Jessica Hall’s team, Sandia Helitack. Behind the chopper, the Monument Fire burns.
        Jessica Hall

        News Feature

        Flame Wars

        A year unlike any other

        “At this point the fire behavior is like nothing we've ever seen,” says Jessica Hall, 31, a wildlands firefighter. “Although we know how to fight fire really well, and we've gotten really good at it, this type of season is so intense and unpredictable. A lot of our methods that would work another year are really ineffective.”

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        Another reason not to smoke

        Elise Kaplan

        Yesterday, the Arby's on Tulane and Central added a new scent to the olfactory bouquet of hash browns, bacon and coffee.

        Charred wood and smoke, with a hint of atmospheric heat to alight all senses.

        Happily, the building didn't burn down and no one was hurt.

        The smell originates from a case of local carelessness after a woman in her twenties flicked her cigarette butt into the shrubs, says Jeffrey Baca, the general manager of the Nob Hill Arby's.

        “The whole thing went up in such a roar it wasn't even funny,” he says. “It burned up in a matter of seconds.”

        Employees of the nearby Starbucks and Staples called the fire department, and the blaze was quickly extinguished.

        Baca says rather than flee the scene the woman stayed to watch events unfold. While she took in the sights, she smoked another cigarette, he adds. The police deemed her liable and brought her to jail.

        The only casualty, a rectangular Arby's sign, costs at least $1,200, Baca says, plus expenses for the wiring.

        “It sucks because now we have to get new landscaping,” he says.


          A fire as big as ...

          Las Conchas fire

          Las Conchas fire

          Maybe it's just me, but acres don't mean a whole lot to me. Numbers and statistics fly over my head, and what I really want is for someone to say “that means HUGE.”

          The Las Conchas fire, 12 miles south of Los Alamos, is HUGE. Almost twice as HUGE as the Cerro Grande fire in 2000. It's grasping at the coattails of the 2003 Gila National Forest fire to become the HUGEST fire in New Mexico history.

          HUGE adds up to 92,735 acres of wildfire.

          One acre is roughly the size of a football field, including both end zones. There are 640 acres in a square mile. The Las Conchas fire covers at least 145 square miles. Albuquerque is only 181 square miles.

          Winds can reach 40 mph. That's faster than you can drive on Central with a cop watching.

          The firefighters have the area 3 percent contained. “Contained” in firefighter-speak means they've cleared areas ahead of the fire, hoping it will run out of fuel and burn itself out. Three percent is the sip of beer you leave at the bottom of your pint glass when you slide it across the bar for a refill.

          Evacuations cleared out Los Alamos and surrounding areas. Thirteen homes have fallen prey to flames, and three more were damaged. Although a small football-field-size fire broke out at Los Alamos National Laboratory it was quickly extinguished without causing any damage.


          The Daily Word: Killer Clown For President, Baby Jumping, UFO over London

          Former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez will run for congress.

          Air quality alert issued for Albuquerque, so don't breathe between 4 and 8 tonight.

          The Las Conchas fire is 3% contained.

          Taliban attack luxury hotel in Kabul.

          Hackers expose Arizona police officers personal info.

          No one likes dollar coins.

          Albuquerque named one of America's most sedentary cities.

          Michelle Bachmann and John Wayne Gacy have a lot in common.

          The company behind FarmVille and Mafia Wars is preparing for an IPO.

          Some sort of devil jumping over babies party in Spain.

          Read all about the first meteorite recorded in Egypt.

          This Princess Diana issue of Newsweek is not at all weird.

          Bill Clinton: Brony.

          The Daily Beast could only think of eight appalling things about The Bachelorette.

          Finally, a combination elliptical machine/office desk chair, and it's only $8,000!

          Do gay bars make money?

          Florida fishermen catch a 23-foot squid.

          Your 4th of July menu.

          Hipster Lord of The Rings is awesome.

          One hundred mummies from the 16th century found buried in an Italian church.

          Should we dig up Shakespeare to see if he smoked pot?

          What is ganache?

          The mothership is in London.

          Happy Brithday Gary Busey!!!


          Las Conchas fire update: Cochiti evacuation, boycott fireworks, pet haven

          Cochiti is prepping for a mandatory evacuation. Los Alamos was evacuated this afternoon.

          A Facebook event is circulating that invites people to “boycott fireworks of any kind this year in New Mexico!” The guest list has grown exponentially throughout the day. As of right now, almost 6,000 people are attending and about 400 are not.

          The Española Valley Humane Society is taking in animal evacuees from the fire. From the news release:

          We are accepting dogs, cats and caged pets from evacuees and serving as a staging location for poultry, horses, donkeys, goats and sheep in small numbers. If you or someone you know is evacuating, please have them call us, so we can give them important information about the evacuation process for pets. Call 505-753-8662 or 470-1278.

          Donations of cash, dry food, non-clumping cat litter, paper bowls, crates, cat litter boxes and towels are appreciated. The shelter is seeking people who may be able to temporarily house an animal. If you’re willing, send an email to

          Updates from the shelter are also available on Facebook.


          LANL: Nuclear material not in danger from wildfire

          UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: The town of Los Alamos is being evacuated.

          Lab officials assured that radioactive materials are being protected from the almost 50,000-acre Las Conchas fire.

          The fire has closed in on Los Alamos National Laboratory property—within a mile—but hasn’t reached the lab yet.

          Spokesperson Kevin Roark said in an interview with the Alibi that there are a variety of nuclear facilities at LANL and several metric tons of uranium, plutonium, americium and others. These materials are kept in the most secure facilities at the lab, he said—deep inside vaults within concrete and steel buildings. “There is no threat from wildland fires,” he said.

          During the Cerro Grande fire eleven years ago, the blaze ate up 7,500 acres of LANL property, Roark added, and there was no release of nuclear or hazardous material.

          The Cerro Grande fire raged for more than a month in 2000, burned Bandelier National Monument and left 400 people in Los Alamos without homes.

          There were concerns after the fire about the airborne release of contaminants, but Roark says monitoring showed that Cerro Grande was no more or less radioactive than any forest fire. Read a full assessment of the aftermath by the Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety and the Nuclear Policy Project.

          The fire also caused erosion and runoff, and contaminants threatened the Rio Grande. But Roark assures: “There were not appreciable levels of radioactivity in the runoff.” After the Cerro Grande fire, LANL installed structures to prevent heavy runoff in the future, he added.

          Comparing the two fires to try and predict impact is highly speculative, he pointed out. “The [Las Conchas] fire has not reached lab property.”

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