In mid-2013, four federal nuclear safety experts brought an alarming message to the top official in charge of America’s warhead production: Los Alamos National Laboratory, the nation’s sole site for making and testing a key nuclear bomb part, wasn’t taking needed safety precautions. The lab, they said, was ill-prepared to prevent an accident that could kill lab workers, and potentially others nearby. Some safety infractions had already occurred at the lab that year. But Neile Miller, who was then the acting head of the National Nuclear Security Administration in Washington, says those experts specifically told her that Los Alamos didn’t have enough personnel who knew how to handle plutonium so it didn’t accidentally go “critical” and start an uncontrolled chain reaction. Such chain reactions generate intense bursts of deadly radiation, and over the last half-century have claimed nearly two dozen lives.
The Pentagon is considering ending a ban on transgender people from serving in the armed forces. The White House has pushed for an end to the ban, the latest in a move to open the military to more who wish to serve. In 2011, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law that ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the policy that forbid openly gay members of the military. New Mexico Political Report spoke to Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico (TGRCNM) executive director and co-founder Adrien Lawyer earlier this year about issues in the transgender community. New Mexico Political Report again reached out to Lawyer, this time about the Pentagon push for acceptance of transgender members.
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich signed onto a letter to the Secretary of Defense asking for the Pentagon to institute specific anti-discrimination policies applying to gay, lesbian and bisexual service members. “Doing away with the discriminatory military policy of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ brought us closer to achieving full equality for all Americans,” Heinrich told New Mexico Political Report in a statement. “However, current policies have not been updated to protect thousands of our heroic gay and lesbian service members who still face discrimination in the workplace. That’s unacceptable and it must change.” Buzzfeed News was the first to report the letter. The letter calls on Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to expand upon the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.