While Arizona struggles, New Mexico found a better path

Entering New Mexico from out-of-state

Arizona reopened rapidly in defiance of a novel coronavirus. It’s quickly become a canonical example of how not to respond to a pandemic. And you don’t have to look far for the tortoise to Arizona’s hare: New Mexico, its close neighbor in the Desert Southwest, has taken a more deliberate approach.

The two states start in a similar place, seen through early virus exposure. They end in a similar place, seen through levels of economic activity. But the slower, steadier path New Mexico followed differed in crucial ways. As did the human cost.

You can see it all in one statistic: Arizona has seen almost three times as many coronavirus cases as New Mexico, after adjusting for its much larger population. It’s one of the worst rates in the nation; a grisly illustration of the cost of reopening the economy without containing the coronavirus.

Our governor, here in New Mexico, starts off by being defined by bigots like Trump and his Trumplets…by three qualities they hate to deal with:

1. Michelle Lujan-Grisham is a Democrat.

2. She is a woman.

3. She is Hispanic.

The 4th quality is equally obvious. She’s smarter than Trump and his claque of dodo-birds.

Social Distancing…with feathers


Burrowing owls
Amateur category/Andrew Lee/Audubon Photography Awards/2020

Click to enlarge

In my neck of the prairie, burrowing owls are about the most common owl there is. Yes, I have other favorites. But, burrowing owls are critters you might bump into most any owl-time you’re wandering around rural New Mexico. Though, not in numbers like this.

RightWing militias get to work with real coppers

In late February, the self-proclaimed commander of a rightwing militia group based in northern New Mexico issued an urgent proclamation to listeners of the group’s YouTube radio show.

“We have 2,500 people getting ready to come across at [the] El Paso-New Mexico state line,” said Larry Mitchell Hopkins, speaking under the alias Johnny Horton Jr., of the United Constitutional Patriots. “They are from South America, and MS-13, a very large group. … We are deploying men right now through the border, and we need more boots on the ground, we need all the help we can get, folks.”

In another radio broadcast days later, after Hopkins relocated to the state’s southern half, he bragged that the militia was working directly with Border Patrol agents: “We are working with the Border Patrol. They are working great with us. All their supervisors have been here. They check on us. They’ve given us a sector of work with them, and they’re really doing a good job.”…

In at least a few videos, militia members are shown speaking with Border Patrol agents, who allow the group to film their apprehensions of would-be immigrants. Hopkins told his radio listeners on March 1 that his group was working “hand-in-hand” with Border Patrol

…A network of local humanitarian charities and volunteers in El Paso, Las Cruces, and Albuquerque are coordinating to welcome hundreds of asylum seekers passing through daily. And as these efforts go forward, the local right seethes with resentment, buoyed by a white nationalist president who legitimizes and indulges their worst impulses on a near-daily basis.

Coercion, intimidation by threats of violence by gun-toting fools are the stock in trade of bigots and reactionaries for decades. They’re even wrongly characterized as vigilantes. More like lynch mobs would be closer to accurate.

Shooting at protest supporting removal of Conquistador statue

UPDATES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST

Gunfire broke out during a protest Monday night in Albuquerque to demand the removal of a statue of Juan de Oñate, the despotic conquistador of New Mexico whose image has become the latest target in demonstrations across the country aimed at righting a history of racial injustice.

As dozens of people gathered around a statue of Oñate, New Mexico’s 16th-century colonial governor, shouting matches erupted over proposals to take it down and a man was shot, prompting police officers in riot gear to rush in.

The man, who was not identified, was taken away in an ambulance, and the police took into custody several members of a right-wing militia who were dressed in camouflage and carrying military-style rifles. It was not clear whether any of them had fired the shot, or whether they were merely being questioned…

Earlier in the day, authorities in the northern town of Alcalde removed a different statue of Oñate, whose brutal rule as provincial governor put into motion centuries of Spanish rule in the region…

Oñate’s period as governor was marked by a violent repression considered severe even by the standards of his time. He killed 800 Indigenous people in Acoma Pueblo and ordered his men to cut off the foot of at least 24 male captives. Spanish authorities convicted him on charges of excessive violence and cruelty, permanently exiling him from New Mexico

The statue in Alcalde that was removed on Monday gained notoriety decades ago when the right foot of the statue was cut off in a secretive act of protest…

At one point during the protest, Oñate’s foot even made a surprise appearance. Three men wearing masks carried the bronze foot, taken all those years ago, to the entrance of Tiguex Park near the statue, and briefly held the foot aloft.

Yup. That’s the Oñate foot. [Photo from anonymous source] I’ll update this as we get more info about who’s been arrested, etc..

UPDATE:

APD reports they have arrested 31-year-old Stephen Ray Baca in connection to the shooting. Baca is being booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on a charge of aggravated battery. APD reports the shooting is an active investigation. It remains unclear if Baca was a part of the armed militia group…

Witnesses at the scene tell KRQE News 13 dozens of individuals called APD for help before the shooting as tensions rose but police arrived after the protester was shot…

The clown show vigilantes calling themselves the New Mexico Civil Guard were there with long guns to – in their own words – “defend the statue”.

Western Farm Life — 1940


Click to enlargeFarm family after evening meal. Pie Town, New Mexico.
Photo by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. October, 1940.

A lovely historic photo. A wonderful example of why so many contemporary photographers prefer to return to black-and-white.

Our lives now

Searchlight photographer Don J. Usner is traveling around New Mexico, documenting life as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds. Each day, look for a new image.

No separate link for the daily photos; so, click the link up at the intro and that will get you to the current issue…which includes recent selections, as well.

NO WAR WITH IRAN

There’s a demo, tomorrow at noon, against Trump’s criminal politics. The focus is on the Middle East, Iran and Iraq. If you have the opportunity, come to the intersection of St, Francis and Cerrillos to make your voice heard.

That’s Thursday, 9th, at noon.

Click on the sponsoring groups for parking suggestions a block away from traffic

State of New Mexico grants water rights to keep water in the river


Bloomgal

” The Office of the State Engineer awarded the state’s first water rights permit to keep water in a river. The office granted the permit to Audubon New Mexico for a stretch of the Gallina River near Abiquiu.

Riparian areas, including rivers, streams and wetlands, account for just 1 percent of the New Mexico landscape, and have been stressed by decades of drought and a warming climate. A recent World Resources Institute study ranked New Mexico as the most water-stressed area in the United States.

Surface water rights in the state are typically granted to individuals for diverting water from streams and rivers to irrigate crops and support food production.

Paul Tashjian, director of freshwater conservation at Audubon New Mexico, called the permit acquisition historic, and said it enables private water rights holders to lease or sell water for conservation purposes.

Truly historic. Best thing I read online in my morning news. Overdue.

Nuclear Colonialism in New Mexico

❝ A proposal for New Mexico to house one of the world’s largest nuclear waste storage facilities has drawn opposition from nearly every indigenous nation in the state. Nuclear Issues Study Group co-founder and Diné organizer Leona Morgan told state legislators last week the project, if approved, would perpetuate a legacy of nuclear colonialism against New Mexico’s indigenous communities and people of color.

❝ Holtec International, a private company specializing in spent nuclear fuel storage and management, applied for a license from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to construct and operate the facility in southeastern New Mexico.

❝ The proposal, which has been in the works since 2011, would see high-level waste generated at nuclear power plants across the country transported to New Mexico for storage at the proposed facility along the Lea-Eddy county line between Hobbs and Carlsbad. Holtec representatives say the facility would be a temporary solution to the nation’s growing nuclear waste problem, but currently there is no federal plan to build a permanent repository for the waste.

No Plan, BTW, for permanent storage ANYWHERE ELSE!