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Oct. 31 First News: Los Alamos National Laboratory reports HIV vaccine progress. (Listen)

  Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory are reporting a major breakthrough in development of a vaccine against HIV. The research was conducted in monkeys and used what's called a "mosaic" vaccine, capable of recognizing the common parts among multiple strains of the virus.  The researchers observed an 87 to 90 percent reduction in monkeys’ probability of becoming infected each time they were exposed to the virus. The strain of virus used for the study was approximately 100-fold more infectious than typical sexual HIV exposures in humans. Clinical trials of the vaccine will begin next year.

Santa Fe City Councilors on Wednesday approved a number of amendments to the city charter that voters will decide upon in a special election next March. Among the proposals is one that would limit campaign contributions. Former City Councilor Karen Heldmeyer, speaking on behalf of the League of Women Voters, supports it:*****Heldmeyer  :10***** Another proposed amendment that broadens mayoral power will be considered by city hall next month.

State environment and Kirtland Air Force Base officials have begun the first large-scale test of a system for pumping and treating water contaminated by a huge underground jet fuel spill. Officials held a news conference Wednesday to showcase the system, which is set to pump 70-thousand gallons of contaminated water from the underground aquifer that feeds Albuquerque's water supply. That water will then be treated to comply with drinking water standards.

State higher education officials are proposing a new system for public funding of universities and community colleges. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the proposal was developed by New Mexico State University administrators and has widespread support among public colleges and universities. The plan would have state lawmakers provide higher-ed institutions with level budget funding, but adding incentive funding to reward the schools for performances, including student credit hours as well as total degrees and research funding.

The League of American Bicyclists has recognized Santa Fe as a silver-level “bicycle friendly community.” The national advocacy organization says, quote, “The city is investing in bicycling with good results,” noting the 20-million dollars spent in bike infrastructure and facilities since 2006. Councilor Patti Bushee accepted the award, thanking the city’s bicycle advocates: *****Bushee  :12***** Santa Fe now outranks Albuquerque and Las Cruces in bicycle friendliness.

Governor Susana Martinez appears in Albuquerque today with Comcast officials to announce the continuation of a program that provides low-cost broadband internet access to qualified families with school-age children.   The 3-year-old program is credited with helping some four-thousnd families in New Mexico bridge the digital divide.  On Wednesday, the governor proposed a new $1.2 million program that would enable teachers to engage parents in their kids' day to day school performance with a host of internet tools.

The Santa Fe Municipal Court is implementing a new case management system that will go live next week. However, because of the transition, the city says no court transactions, including payments, can take place from 3pm today until the start of business Monday morning. Additionally, online payments through the "cite-pay-usa" website will also not be available.

Just in time for Halloween, City of Santa Fe water customers are being offered a chance to "give their water bill a treat" by trading in their old shower head for a new EPA Watersense Environmental low-flow model. The swap, intended to improve water efficiency, takes place today from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.—as long as supplies last--at the City Water Division headquarters on West San Mateo Street.

New Mexico's Spaceport America is expected to ask state lawmakers to provide $7 million to help finish the road leading to the facility from Las Cruces.  That request is made necessary, in part,  by Virgin Galactic's announcement it won't begin space tourism flights until August of 2014, some six months later than anticipated. Virgin is Spaceport's anchor tenant and the delay means less revenue at hand for Spaceport.

Weather for Santa Fe – mostly sunny and cool today, highs in the low 50s.  Clear and cold tonight with lows in the upper 20s. Sunny tomorrow, highs in the mid 50s.