SELECT title FROM cont_articles WHERE id='' LIMIT 1 Santa Fe Reporter

Project Censored

Downplayed stories illuminate larger patterns in inequality, spying, the environment and corporate influence

FeaturesWednesday, October 26, 2016 by Paul Rosenberg

Throughout its 40-year history, Project Censored has covered a lot of ground that the corporate mainstream media has missed. Begun by Carl Jensen, a sociology professor at California’s Sonoma State University, shortly after Watergate in 1976, it’s become an institution involving dozens of faculty members and institutions working together to come up with an annual list of the top censored stories of the year.

The Watergate burglary in June 1972 “sparked one of the biggest political cover-ups in modern history,” Jensen later recalled. “And the press was an unwitting, if willing participant in the coverup.”

“Watergate taught us two important lessons about the press: First, the news media sometimes do fail to cover some important issues, and second, the news media sometimes indulge in self-censorship,” he said.

On the upside, it led to the creation of Project Censored.

As with the Watergate story, these aren’t censored in the overt heavy-handed manner of an authoritarian dictatorship, but in the often more effective manner reflecting our society—an oligarchy with highly centralized economic power pretending to be a “free marketplace of ideas.”

It may give people what they think they want in the moment, but it leaves them hungry for more, if not downright malnourished in the long run. The missing stories concern vital subjects central to the healthy functioning of our democracy. The problem is, we may not even realize what we’re missing, which is precisely why Project Censored is essential.

"Another way to think about it is as censorship of what the people as a whole can hear, rather than what any one individual can say."

Another way to think about it is as censorship of what the people as a whole can hear, rather than what any one individual can say. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes it very clear: Freedom of opinion and expression includes the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

This year, 221 students and 33 faculty members from 18 college and university campuses across the United States and Canada were involved. A panel of 28 judges comprised of media studies professors, professional journalists and even a former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission also participated.

News isn’t just created for individuals to consume, but for citizens to debate, discuss and then take action on. The real Project Censored, in short, includes you, the reader.

Project Censored has always dealt with specific stories, but on anniversaries like this one, the larger patterns those stories fit within are impossible ignore. Economic inequality, global warming, petro-politics, suppression of health science, government spying, corporate influence of government—these are all familiar themes that appear again on this year’s list. But a bit more ought to be said by way of introduction to this year’s top censored story, before starting the list proper.

Jensen began the preface to Project Censored’s 20th anniversary edition with the story of how John F Kennedy killed a detailed New York Times story which would blow the whistle on the planned invasion of Cuba. A shrunken, muted version ran in its place. Afterwards, Kennedy told a Times editor, “If you had printed more about the operation, you could have saved us from a colossal mistake.” This year’s No. 1 censored story is a direct descendent of the story JFK wished he hadn’t managed to kill.

US Military Forces are Deployed in 70 Percent of World’s Nations

The covert exercise of US military power is a recurrent subject of Project Censored stories. This year’s top censored story joins that long tradition. It deals with the massive expansion in the number of countries where the officially unnamed war on terror is now being waged by US Special Operations Forces—147 of the world’s 195 recognized nations, an 80 percent increase since 2010. This includes a dramatic expansion in Africa.

The majority of the activity is in “training missions,” meaning that this expansion is promoting a coordinated worldwide intensification of conflict, unseen at home, but felt all around the globe. Writing for TomDispatch, The Nation and The Intercept, Nick Turse exposed different aspects of this story and its implications.

Turse’s story for The Intercept focused on the development of a single base, Chabelley Airfield, in the East African nation of Djibouti. It’s an “out-of-the-way outpost” transformed into “a key hub for its secret war … in Africa and the Middle East.”

In The Nation, Turse tackled the question of mission success. Project Censored noted that “Turse [had] reported skepticism from a number of experts in response to this question,” pointing out that “impacts are not the same as successes.”

In Vietnam, body counts were mistaken for signs of success.

“Today, tallying up the number of countries in which Special Operations forces are present repeats this error,” Vietnam veteran and author Andrew Bacevich told Turse.

Sources: Turse, Nick, “A Secret War in 135 Countries,” TomDispatch, 2015; “The Stealth Expansion of a Secret U.S. Drone Base in Africa,” The Intercept, 2015; “American Special Operations Forces Have a Very Funny Definition of Success,” The Nation, October 26, 2015.

Crisis in Evidence-Based Medicine

The role of science in improving human health has been one of humanity’s greatest achievements, but the profit-oriented influence of the pharmaceutical industry has created a crisis situation. That research simply cannot be trusted. Burying truth for profit is a recurrent theme for Project Censored. The top story in 1981 concerned fraudulent testing from a single lab responsible for one-third of the toxicity and cancer testing of chemicals in America. But this problem is much more profound.

“Something has gone fundamentally wrong,” said Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, commenting on a UK symposium on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research: “Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. … The apparent endemicity of bad research behavior is alarming.”

Horton’s conclusion echoed that of Marcia Angell, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, who went public in 2009.

A classic case was Study 329 in 2001, which reported that paroxetine (Paxil in the United States and Seroxat in the United Kingdom) was safe and effective for treating depressed children and adolescents, leading doctors to prescribe Paxil to more than 2 million US children and adolescents by the end of 2002 before being called into question. The company responsible (now GlaxoSmithKline) agreed to pay $3 billion in 2012, the “largest healthcare fraud settlement in US history,” according to the US Department of Justice.

Nonetheless, the study has not been retracted or corrected, and “none of the authors have been disciplined,” Project Censored points out. This, despite a major reanalysis which “‘starkly’ contradicted the original report’s claims.” The reanalysis was seen as the first major success of a new open data initiative known as Restoring Invisible and Abandoned Trials.

While Project Censored noted one Washington Post story on the reanalysis, there was only passing mention of the open data movement. “Otherwise, the corporate press ignored the reassessment of the paroxetine study,” and beyond that, “Richard Horton’s Lancet editorial received no coverage in the US corporate press.”

Source: The Lancet 385, no. 9976, 2015; Cooper, Charlie, “Anti-Depressant was Given to Millions of Young People ‘After Trials Showed It was Dangerous,’” The Independent, 2015; Boseley, Sarah, “Seroxat Study Under-Reported Harmful Effects on Young People, Say Scientists,” The Guardian, 2015.

Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Threaten to Permanently Disrupt Kill Vital Ocean Bacteria

Global warming is a recurrent Project Censored subject. Systemic changes associated with global warming threaten human welfare and all life on earth through a multitude of different pathways. These remain largely hidden from public view. One potential pathway—directly dependent on carbon, not temperature—is through the catastrophic overproduction of Trichodesmium bacteria, which could devastate the entire marine food chain in some regions. It lives in nutrient-poor parts of the ocean, where it fixes atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium, an essential nutrient for other organisms—from algae to whales.

A five-year study by researchers at the University of Southern California and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found that subjecting hundreds of generations of the bacteria to predicted CO2 levels in the year 2100 caused them to evolve into “reproductive overdrive,” growing faster and producing 50 percent more nitrogen.

As a result, they could consume significant quantities of scarce nutrients, such as iron and phosphorus, depriving the ability of other organisms to survive. Or the Trichodesmium bacteria could drive themselves into extinction, depriving other organisms of the ammonium they need to survive.

“Most significantly, the researchers found that even when the bacteria was returned to lower, present-day levels of carbon dioxide, Trichodesmium remained ‘stuck in the fast lane,’” Project Censored noted, a finding that one researcher described as “unprecedented in evolutionary biology.”

Sources: Perkins, Robert, “Climate Change Will Irreversibly Force Key Ocean Bacteria into Overdrive,” USC News, 2015; Howard, Emma, “Climate Change Will Alter Ocean Bacteria Crucial to Food Chain—Study,” The Guardian, 2015.

Search Engine Algorithms and Hacked Electronic Voting Machines Could Swing 2016 Election

Social media has played an important role in recent social movements, from the Arab Spring to Black Lives Matter, but technology can potentially undermine democracy as well as empower it.

In particular, search engine algorithms and electronic voting machines provide opportunities for manipulation of voters and votes, which could profoundly affect the 2016 election.

Mark Frary, in Index on Censorship, describes the latest research by Robert Epstein and Ronald E Robertson of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology on what they call the Search Engine Manipulation Effect, or SEME.

Their study of more than 4,500 undecided voters in the United States and India showed that biased search rankings “could shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more” and “could be masked so that people show no awareness of the manipulation.”

In an earlier article for Politico, Epstein wrote that SEME “turns out to be one of the largest behavioral effects ever discovered. ...[W]e believe SEME is a serious threat to the democratic system of government.”

Because courts have ruled that their source code is proprietary, private companies that own electronic voting machines are essentially immune to transparent public oversight, as Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis documented.

In 2016, about 80 percent of the US electorate will vote using outdated electronic voting machines that rely on proprietary software from private corporations, according to a September 2015 study by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.

The study identified “increased failures and crashes, which can lead to long lines and lost votes” as the “biggest risk” of outdated voting equipment, while noting that older machines also have “serious security and reliability flaws that are unacceptable today.”

“From a security perspective, old software is riskier, because new methods of attack are constantly being developed, and older software is likely to be vulnerable,” Jeremy Epstein of the National Science Foundation noted.

On Democracy Now! and elsewhere, Wasserman and Fitrakis have advocated universal, hand-counted paper ballots and automatic voter registration as part of their “Ohio Plan” to restore electoral integrity.

While there has been some corporate media coverage of Epstein and Robertson’s research, the transparency and reliability advantages of returning to paper ballots remain virtually unexplored and undiscussed. (Note: New Mexico uses paper ballots.)

Sources: Epstein, Robert, “How Google Could Rig the 2016 Election,” Politico, 2015; Frary, Mark, “Whose World are You Watching? The Secret Algorithms Controlling the News We See,” Index on Censorship 44, no. 4, 2015; Norden, Lawrence and Famighetti, Christopher, “America’s Voting Machines at Risk,” Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law, 2015; Harvey Wasserman, interview by Goodman, Amy, “Could the 2016 Election be Stolen with Help from Electronic Voting Machines?” Democracy Now!, 2016; Fitrakis, Bob and Wasserman, Harvey, “Is the 2016 Election Already Being Stripped & Flipped?,” Free Press, 2016.

Anson Stevens-Bollen

Corporate Exploitation of
Global Refugee Crisis Masked as Humanitarian

The world is experiencing a global refugee crisis (60 million worldwide according to a June 2015 report, 11.5 million of them Syrian). This has been covered in the corporate media—though not nearly enough to generate an appropriate response. What hasn’t been covered is the increasingly well-organized exploitation of refugees, particularly those displaced in Syria.

An AlterNet article by Sarah Lazare—cited by Project Censored—warned of the World Bank’s private enterprise solution to the Syrian displacement crisis.

“Under the guise of humanitarian aid, the World Bank is enticing Western companies to launch ‘new investments’ in Jordan in order to profit from the labor of stranded Syrian refugees,” Lazare wrote. “In a country where migrant workers have faced forced servitude, torture and wage theft, there is reason to be concerned that this capital-intensive ‘solution’ to the mounting crisis of displacement will establish sweatshops that specifically target war refugees for hyper-exploitation.”

A World Bank press release touted “the creation of special economic zones or SEZs,” but Project Censored noted, “Myriam Francois, a journalist and research associate at SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, told Lazare that the development of SEZs in Jordan ‘will change refugee camps from emergency and temporary responses to a crisis, to much more permanent settlements.’”

"[World Bank] proposals are ‘less about Syrian needs and more about keeping Syrian refugees out of Europe by creating (barely) sustainable conditions within the camps.’"

The SEZ proposals, Francois said, are “less about Syrian needs and more about keeping Syrian refugees out of Europe by creating (barely) sustainable conditions within the camps, which would then make claims to asylum much harder to recognize.’”

Another story, by Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report, described a related agreement between Turkey and the European Union to keep millions of refugees from entering Europe as “a deal between devils,” adding that Turkey has “cashed in on the people it has helped make homeless.”

In addition to the $3.3 billion in EU money, Project Censored noted:

Turkey has also sought admission to the European Union, and, with this, the right for 75 million Turks to enter Europe without visa restrictions as a condition for controlling its refugee population.

Thus, according to Ford, Turkey has engaged in a “vast protections racket trap,” effectively agreeing to protect Europe from further incursions by “the formerly colonized peoples whose labor and lands have fattened Europe and its white settler states for half a millennium.

“...Europeans will never accept Turkey into the fold, because it is Muslim and not-quite-white,” Ford concluded.

Sources: Lazare, Sarah, “World Bank Woos Western Corporations to Profit from Labor of Stranded Syrian Refugees,” AlterNet, 2016; Ford, Glen, “Turkey and Europe: Human Trafficking on a Scale Not Seen Since the Atlantic Slave Trade,” Black Agenda Radio, Black Agenda Report, 2016.

More than 1.5 Million us Families Live on $2 Per Person Per Day

Even the working poor receive scant attention, but those living in deep poverty—less than $2 per day—are almost entirely absent.

Kathryn J Edin and H Luke Shaefer, sociologists and authors of the book $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, state that in 2011 more than 1.5 million US families—including 3 million children—lived in deep poverty at any given time.

Their depiction of what poverty looks like reads “like a Dickens novel,” Marcus Harrison Green wrote in YES! Magazine, while in The Atlantic, economist Jared Bernstein noted that their research highlights the problematic long-term consequences of President Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare reform initiative, with its “insistence on work without regard to job availability.”

Project Censored notes that Edin and Shaefer proposed three policy changes to address extreme poverty in the United States:

“First, policy must start by ‘expanding work opportunities for those at the very bottom of society.’

“Second, policy must address housing instability, which Shaefer described as both a cause and a consequence of extreme poverty. ‘Parents should be able to raise their children in a place of their own.’

“Third, families must be insured against extreme poverty, even when parents are not able to work.”

William Julius Wilson, a leading sociologist in the study of poverty, described their book as “an essential call to action” in a New York Times book review, but this was a rare recognition in the corporate press.

Sources: Green, Marcus Harrison, “1.5 Million American Families Live on $2 a Day—These Authors Spent Years Finding Out Why,” YES! Magazine, 2015; Bernstein, Jared, “America’s Poorest are Getting Virtually No Assistance,” The Atlantic, 2015.

No End in Sight for Fukushima Disaster

Five years after the Fukushima nuclear power plant was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, the nuclear disaster continues to unfold with the ongoing release of large quantities of radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean, in which turn affects ocean life through “biological magnification.”

Meanwhile the Japanese government has relaxed radiation limits in support of its efforts to return the refugee population—a move that younger people, prime working-age taxpayers, are resisting.

Project Censored cites a media analysis by sociologist Celine- Marie Pascale of American University. Pascale, covering more than 2,100 articles, editorials, and letters to the editor on Fukushima in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico, and the Huffington Post between March 11, 2011 and March 11, 2013, focused on two basic questions: Risk for whom? And from what?

She found that just 6 percent of articles reported on risk to the general public, and most of those “significantly discounted those risks.” She concluded, “The largest and longest lasting nuclear disaster of our time was routinely and consistently reported as being of little consequence to people, food supplies, or environments. … In short, the media coverage was premised on misinformation, the minimization of public health risks, and the exacerbation of uncertainties.”

In contrast, Dahr Jamail’s reporting for Truthout pointed out that the cooling process—still ongoing after five years—has produced “hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tons” of highly radioactive water, much of which has been released into the Pacific Ocean. Such nuclear disasters “never end,” Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Jamail.

Project Censored also cited Linda Pentz Gunter, writing for The Ecologist about the Japanese government’s ongoing coverup.

“In order to proclaim the Fukushima area ‘safe,’ the government increased exposure limits to 20 times the international norm,” Gunter wrote, in order to force refugees to return home, despite medical or scientific evidence to the contrary.

Sources: Jamail, Dahr, “Radioactive Water from Fukushima is Leaking into the Pacific,” Truthout, 2016; Pentz Gunter, Linda, “No Bliss in This Ignorance: The Great Fukushima Nuclear Cover-Up,” The Ecologist, 2016; Pascale, Celine-Marie, “Vernacular Epistemologies of Risk: The Crisis in Fukushima,” Current Sociology, 2016.

Syria’s War Spurred by Contest for Gas Delivery to Europe, Not Muslim Sectarianism

The Syrian war and its resulting refugee crisis have gained headlines over the past five years, but the origins of the conflict, control of oil and gas, are rarely considered—the politics of which have dominated the region since before World War II. The hidden influence of oil—from climate change to campaign finance and corporate lobbying to foreign policy—has been a recurrent subject of Project Censored stories.

Project Censored cites a single September 2015 story by Mnar Muhawesh for MintPress News, but that story cites others as well, notably an August 2013 story in The Guardian by Nafeez Ahmed.

“The 2011 uprisings, it would seem—triggered by a confluence of domestic energy shortages and climate-induced droughts which led to massive food price hikes—came at an opportune moment that was quickly exploited,” Ahmed wrote, as part of a broader strategy to undermine governments in the region, as well as manipulating social movements and armed factions for the purpose of maintaining control of oil and gas.

Muhawesh and Ahmed both point, in particular, to President Bashar al-Assad’s choice between competing pipeline proposals. He refused to sign a proposed agreement for a pipeline from Qatar’s North Field through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey in 2009, because it would have hurt his ally, Russia.

“The proposed pipeline would have bypassed Russia to reach European markets currently dominated by Russian gas giant Gazprom,” Project Censored notes. Instead, Assad pursued negotiations—finalized in 2012—for a pipeline through Iraq from Iran’s South Pars Field, which is contiguous with Qatar’s North Field.

Muhawesh cites US cables revealed by WikiLeaks as evidence that “foreign meddling in Syria began several years before the Syrian revolt erupted.” Ahmed came to the same conclusions by drawing on multiple sources, including a RAND Corporation document, “Unfolding the Future of the Long War,” which discussed long-term policy options (trajectories) dealing with the complex interplay of energy interests and ethno-religious-political manipulations.

There’s a whole deeper level of driving forces not being reported on behind the Syrian war and refugee crisis.

Source: Muhawesh, Mnar, “Refugee Crisis & Syria War Fueled by Competing Gas Pipelines,” MintPress News, 2015.

Big Pharma
Political Lobbying Not Limited to Presidential Campaigns

The pharmaceutical industry (aka “Big Pharma”) already appeared in story No. 2, “Crisis in Evidence-Based Medicine,” due to the destructive influence of its financing on the practice of basic science in testing and developing new drugs. But that’s not the only destructive impact of their spending.

Although they spent $51 million in campaign donations in the 2012 presidential election, and nearly $32 million in the 2014 midterms, Mike Ludwig of Truthout reported they spent $7 lobbying for every dollar spent on the midterms.

“The $229 million spent by drug companies and their lobbying groups that year was down from a peak of $273 million in 2009, the year that Congress debated the Affordable Care Act,” Project Censored noted. Legislation influenced involved all the industry’s top concerns, “including policy on patents and trademarks, management of Medicare and Medicaid, and international trade.”

The last item includes pressuring other countries to suppress the manufacture of life-saving generic AIDS drugs in India, to cite just one example.

“Pharmaceutical lobbyists also consistently lobby to prevent Medicare from negotiating drug prices,” Project Censored also noted. Coverage of their spending is scant, and virtually never tied directly to the issues that Big Pharma itself is lobbying on.

Source: Ludwig, Mike, “How Much of Big Pharma’s Massive Profits are Used to Influence Politicians?,” Truthout, 2015.

Anson Stevens-Bollen

Internet Surveillance Act No One is Discussing

In July 2015, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attempted to attach the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, as an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act. However, the Senate blocked this by a vote of 56-40, in part because, unlike an earlier version, it essentially enabled intelligence and law enforcement officials to engage in surveillance without warrants.

Yet, on December 18, 2015, President Barack Obama signed CISA into law as part of a 2,000-page omnibus spending bill, amid media silence—with notable exceptions at Wired and The Guardian. The act authorized the creation of a system for corporate informants to provide customers’ data to the Department of Homeland Security, which, in turn, would share this information with other federal agencies—the National Security Agency, FBI, Internal Revenue Service and others—without privacy-protecting safeguards.

In one sense it followed a familiar—if distressing—pattern, as The Guardian reported. Civil liberties experts had been “dismayed” when Congress used the omnibus spending bill to advance some of the legislation’s “most invasive” components, making a mockery of the democratic process. But this one was different, since censored stories usually do not stifle powerful voices, as Project Censored observed:

"DHS itself warned that the bill would ‘sweep away privacy protections’ while inundating the agency with data of ‘dubious’ value."

“[Andy] Greenberg’s Wired article noted that tech firms—including Apple, Twitter, and Reddit—as well as 55 civil liberties groups had opposed the bill, and that, in July 2015, DHS itself warned that the bill would ‘sweep away privacy protections’ while inundating the agency with data of ‘dubious’ value.”

In April 2016, Jason R Edgecombe reported for TechCrunch on the glaring inadequacies of interim guidelines to deal with privacy and civil liberties concerns, while the corporate media silence continued. And in May, Violet Blue wrote for Engadget about candidates’ positions on cyber issues. Only Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul opposed CISA, but it never became the subject of any broader media discussion.

Sources: Greenberg, Andy, “Congress Slips CISA into a Budget Bill That’s Sure to Pass,” Wired, 2015; Thielman, Sam, “Congress Adds Contested Cybersecurity Measures to ‘Must-Pass’ Spending Bill,” The Guardian, 2015; Edgecombe, Jason R, “Interim Guidelines to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act,” TechCrunch, 2016; Blue, Violet, “Where the Candidates Stand on Cyber Issues,” Engadget, 2016.

Paul Rosenberg is the senior editor for Random Lengths News at the Port of Los Angeles, California and is a contributing columnist for Terelle Jerricks is the managing editor who contributed to this article. Read more at



MetroGlyphsWednesday, October 26, 2016 by SFR

Russ Thornton is a Santa Fe local who has replaced his first passion, cooking, with a new love interest, the weekly SFR comic he's created called MetroGlyphs. Reach him at

7 Days


7 DaysWednesday, October 26, 2016 by SFR


Slogan idea—Elephant Butte: Home of That One Serial Killer.



We bet they were disappointed.



For a road that’s 600 years old, they sure do need to do a lot to it.



Fun fact: Construction of the pyramids began at roughly the same time as did Cerrillos Road construction.



We don’t even like when Netflix takes more than three seconds.



Now behind bars, he’s got even less hope of using the internet than Julian Assange.



At least he’ll win something.

Letters to the Editor


Letters to the EditorWednesday, October 26, 2016 by SFR

Food, October 19: “A Recipe for Cooking with Kids”

Keep it Up, Kids

I now teach in Texas, but while teaching in Santa Fe, [Cooking with Kids] was such a great experience for kids and I learned how important nutrition is to education. The results were amazing. My students were so well behaved and engaged on days after Lynn [Walters] and her staff led them. It’s such a great program that cultivates our youths’ minds to learn about other cultures and develop a life skill. The program is worthy of grants, accolades and praise for sure.

Adrian Nogales

Briefs, October 19: “Fill This Blank”


Thanks for this public service. I got a sample ballot and had no idea who to fill in the write-in [for Public Education Commission] with. ... I [asked] the Santa Fe County Democratic Party and they didn’t know.

William H Mee

Cover, October 12: “Martinez on Trial”

Me Too, You Guys!

The systematic pattern of anyone wanting public information from the Martinez administration staff members and appointees having to file a New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act is regrettable and I thank SFR for filing this lawsuit. The Public Education Department spokespeople are notorious for refusing to answer emails and phone calls as well. I had to file an IPRA request to obtain a list of appointees to the second teacher evaluation panel (the one that has never been publicized because folks on it actually thought for themselves). I requested the budget for the PED teacher summit held this summer and for the three teacher groups being formed and have not received that information from the PED spokesperson—yet another IPRA request must be filed to obtain this public information.

Joy Garratt


In “Hey Fela” (Oct. 12), Fiesta Fela’s organizer’s name was misspelled. The correct spelling is Kamajou Tadfor. SFR regrets the error.

SFR will correct factual errors online and in print. Please let us know if we make a mistake, or 988-7530.

Mail letters to PO Box 2306, Santa Fe, NM 87504, deliver to 132 E Marcy St., or email them to Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.



EavesdropperWednesday, October 26, 2016 by SFR

“I finally splurged on an expensive German chainsaw. I don’t know why I waited so long.”

—Overheard at Back Road Pizza

“It ain’t all about strippers and burritos”

—Written on the wall of the bathroom of the Bull O’ the Woods Saloon, Red River

Send your Overheard in Santa Fe tidbits to:

Without Progress

Projects de-authorized during special session highlight hurdles for infrastructure proposals

Local NewsWednesday, October 26, 2016 by Steven Hsieh

Julie Madrid, clinical and programs director for the Solace Crisis Treatment Center, gestures towards a water stain in her office’s corner ceiling tile. “I always hope that when my client comes in, they don’t see it,” she says. “I don’t want them to feel unsafe here.” A decorative butterfly, felt and wire, hangs below the brownish mark.

Over the past few years, workers have replaced tiles and patched up holes at this full-service facility for survivors of rape, domestic violence and other traumatic events, but the leaks persist. “Every time it rains, I hear drip, drip, drip,” Madrid says.

Steven Hsieh
Two years ago, Solace secured $219,000 of state funds to pay for a new roof, along with upgrades to the building’s computer network, phone lines and climate control system. That money never got released, held up by the state Department of Finance and Administration over a rule that prohibits public entities from donating money to private organizations.

Legislators last month cut the Solace renovations, along with 120 other stalled construction projects across the state, during a special session convened by Gov. Susana Martinez to address a $600 million budget deficit split between two fiscal years. The bill filled about $90 million of that hole. About $56 million worth of projects will continue, but rather than taking the money from the general fund, the proposals will be financed through a state natural resource tax fund.

Martinez on Friday signed the package, which passed comfortably through the House and Senate. Lawmakers invoked “shared sacrifice” to defend the cuts as a means to avoid spending cash the state didn’t have, which would have violated New Mexico’s constitution.

“This must be the least bad of the bad decisions we have to make,” said Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Mesilla Park) last month on the House floor, as his colleagues debated the cuts.

The move laid bare the recurring truth that a lot of capital outlay funds don’t get spent. Most of the discontinued projects, known as earmarks, had been stalled for two or three years, adding up to about $15.7 million of unspent taxpayer dollars. Of those, projects worth about $941,135 in Santa Fe County hit the cutting room floor—more than any other jurisdiction except McKinley and Bernalillo.

Many county projects, like the Solace renovations, failed to pass a new review by the Department of Finance and Administration, a state office that looks at the feasibility and legality of capital outlay proposals before funds get released.

"It’s a lesson to us on this end that these projects need to be ready to go."
              -Sen. Peter Wirth

About $150,000 allocated for improvements to El Dorado Community School stayed in state coffers because the district failed to get the paperwork processed, according to Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), who had allocated some funds for the renovations from his discretionary share. “That one was particularly frustrating,” Wirth says. “It’s a lesson to us on this end that these projects need to be ready to go. It’s a lesson to all the groups that ask us for funding that they need to be ready to move forward once they get the money.”

Legislators also de-authorized a $100,000 proposal for an affordable housing subdivision for veterans, sponsored by a nonprofit called Heroes Housing Alliance. After determining that the funds would not be enough to build affordable housing, city officials this year refused to sign on as a fiscal agent for the project, which was earmarked in 2014. Attorneys for Santa Fe also expressed concern that the nonprofit could potentially transfer or sell off the property.

Steven Hsieh

Funds intended to improve six acequias in the county, totaling about $287,000, also never made it out of the Department of Finance. About $127,000 of that, intended for an extension of the Acequia Madre into the Agua Fría community, froze because the proposers did not submit an engineering design. Paula Garcia, executive director of the New Mexico Acequia Association, says that’s a common holdup for these types of projects. “It would be helpful if there was support for those acequias to make sure some of that technical support is provided before they ask for the funding,” she tells SFR.

Solace Center’s funds got tangled over the “anti-donation” clause, intended to prevent corruption and waste, which prohibits government money from going to private institutions or citizens. Solace attempted to get around this barrier by agreeing to an arrangement in which the nonprofit would hand over the property to the City of Santa Fe until Solace delivered enough services to cover its $219,000 capital outlay allocation, according to director María José Rodríguez Cádiz. But Finance Department officials would only approve an arrangement if Solace paid off the value of the property itself, more than $1 million.

That seemed unreasonable to Rodríguez Cádiz. “If I had signed that, I would have put the next executive director in quite a bind,” she says. (Solace in 2015 reported about $1.7 million in assets, according to a financial disclosure form nonprofits are required to submit every year.)

Rep. Jim Trujillo (D-Santa Fe), who sponsored the Solace project, says that money should never have been held in the first place. He argues the organization should have qualified for an exemption of the anti-donation clause that allows money to go to services “for sick and indigent” people. “They do a lot of work for the city and state, like counseling for domestic violence and rape victims, that the state would have to do if they didn’t do it,” Trujillo says.

Think New Mexico, a nonpartisan policy group, has advocated for reform to the system to override the status quo.

“If the public works projects in those bills had been better planned and vetted on the front end,” says its executive director, Fred Nathan, “the money could have been spent much more quickly and efficiently, creating thousands of jobs.”

His group proposed legislation during this year’s regular session aimed at preventing stalled infrastructure projects. The bill, which died in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee, would have created a council to help determine the feasibility and readiness of certain projects, which would be consolidated in a state plan.

Setting the Date

New deadline for Mexican gray wolf recovery plan leaves conservationists wondering whether science or politics will prevail

Local NewsWednesday, October 26, 2016 by Elizabeth Miller

The slogan spotted on signs outside New Mexico Game Commission meetings, on bumper stickers around the state and quoted by conservationists reads: More wolves, less politics.

Whether that’s what conservationists find when the US Fish and Wildlife Service releases a long-awaited recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves remains to be seen. A federal district court judge signed off this month on a settlement stemming from a lawsuit filed against the federal wildlife management agency over the ongoing absence of a formal recovery plan for this most rare subspecies of wolf. Now the agency has a deadline of Nov. 30, 2017 for completing that plan.

“We hope this is a turning point in the race to save the Mexican wolf—a unique, beautiful animal of the American Southwest—from extinction,” Bryan Bird, Southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife, said in a statement issued shortly after the court decision was announced on Oct. 18.

For 40 years, Mexican wolves have hovered in a sort of recovery limbo—an endangered species managed as an “experimental population.” That designation extended more flexibility to land managers on behalf of ranchers to remove and kill wolves when they interfered with or killed cattle, but conservationists argue the leeway has given too much room to the livestock industry and leaves wolves at risk of extinction. Both sides have called for an updated plan for how the species is managed, but the process has stalled out often over state objections and disagreements over how to deploy, as the Endangered Species Act mandates, the “best available science.”

The plan is subject to an independent peer review before its completion, and plaintiffs, including Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Endangered Wolf Center and the states of Arizona and Utah, will be updated every six months between now and the deadline, according to the settlement terms. The public will also have a chance to review the plan before it’s finalized. The state of New Mexico had at one point joined the list of plaintiffs, but dropped out of the settlement, calling the deadline too hasty.

“Recovery of the Mexican wolf remains our goal,” reads the official response from the Fish and Wildlife Service. “We aim to support natural wild wolf population growth and improve population genetics, eventually leading to species recovery and state management of the species.”

Mexican wolves were nearly wiped out in the 20th century during the decades-long campaign to rid the West of predators that threatened cattle ranchers. Over the nearly two decades since Mexican wolves were reintroduced to the American Southwest in 1998, population growth has inched forward and now faces a crisis, while public lands ranchers continue to come into conflict with wolves that turn to cattle as a food source. The Mexican wolf population peaked in 2014 at 110, and is now estimated around the low 90s. Mexican wolves face a gene pool in which all wild wolves are as genetically similar as siblings, jeopardizing healthy reproduction.

Where wolf advocates and the feds agree is that some of the genetic diversity in the more than 240 Mexican wolves in captive breeding facilities needs to be added to the wild. To that end, this summer the Fish and Wildlife Service placed six captive-born pups into three wild dens to be reared. At least two pups survived. But the alpha female for the Sheepherders Baseball Park Pack, the first to take in foster pups this spring, was found dead in September and the fate of her pups remains unknown.

New Mexico has not cooperated with recent efforts, going so far as to secure an injunction against Mexican wolf releases earlier this year after the feds moved forward with cross-fostering despite the state’s refusal to sign off on permits to do so. The state Game and Fish director denied those permits over concerns about the lack of a recovery plan and its final population targets. New Mexico’s Department of Game and Fish declined to make a statement on the settlement.

This recovery plan draft won’t be the first in an effort that began in 1977 with the capture of five remaining wolves in Mexico. A draft was said to be forthcoming in 1995, shortly before federal officials reintroduced captive-bred wolves to the wild. A team convened in the early 2000s to write a plan, and again a decade later. Those drafts have languished, says Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, while planning meetings have seen fewer scientists and more representatives from state game departments.

“It’s been hijacked by political forces, and that’s where it’s going now. But we at least have a date for when it will get done, and it’s still to be decided what the actual contents will be,” he tells SFR. “They can no longer keep promising it’s around the corner.”

The next step will be what the science is and where they allow wolves to recover.
-Bryan Bird, Defenders of Wildlife

A US Fish and Wildlife Service-convened panel that drafted a recovery plan in the early 2010s suggested a recovered, self-sustaining population would consist of three populations and a total of more than 750 wolves spreading into southern Colorado and Utah, with corridors of connectivity among them. That draft was shelved following objections by the states concerned, but conservationists’ analysis still echoes that image.

“Now we have a recovery plan coming, the next step will be what the science is and where they allow wolves to recover,” Bird, of Defenders, tells SFR.

The matter could well land back in court if conservation groups don’t see the service using the best science available.

Though some things have changed in the intervening years, Robinson says of the 2012 plan, “It’s a darn good draft and we wish they would use it.”

Arizona’s governor celebrated the opportunity to ditch “top-down, out-of-touch management from Washington DC” and declared in a press release, “We’re looking forward to working with other Western states to develop a new recovery plan that makes sense for us and provides real-world guidelines for measuring success.”

Posturing from the US Fish and Wildlife Service suggests it’s likely to propose a recovery area that doesn’t extend any farther north than I-40. Instead, attention seems directed—as pressure from states including New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah has called for—south of the Mexican border.

'Multiple Maniacs' Review: Bad Taste

Long-lost John Waters film finally sees the light of day

YayWednesday, October 26, 2016 by Alex De Vore

Given the vast catalog of tasteless sleaze that has sprung from the mind of director John Waters (Polyester, Hairspray, Crybaby), it’s hard to imagine depths to which he hasn’t sunk, but a lovingly restored print of 1970’s Multiple Maniacs from the fine folks at the Criterion Collection might just check off a few boxes heretofore left seemingly empty.

Even mega-fans of the Baltimore filth-master’s body of work probably haven’t seen Waters’ second feature film, as it wasn’t until August of this year that it hit theaters. For many, this is wonderful news—a further glimpse into the early years of a depraved tastemaker (so to speak) and outlier of cinema. For others, however, it will prove confusing and borderline sickening, though that’s exactly what Waters wants, so you should probably just go with it.

In Maniacs, the nefarious Lady Divine (played by stalwart Waters collaborator and dear friend Divine, RIP) runs The Cavalcade of Perversions, a sort of freak show with attractions that, for the era, were far more heinous than mere bearded ladies. Of course, it’s Waters’ twisted sense of humor that would find squares moved to nausea by such attractions as hairy armpits, puke-eaters and even queers (gasp!), but the underlying subtext suggests that all of us have our bizarre sexual tastes and hardly anyone can say no to a good old-fashioned tent full of freaks.

Lady Divine uses the show as a way to lure in people she can rob at gunpoint, but after stealing for some time, she’s bored with mere robbery and has begun to develop a lust for blood. This doesn’t sit well with her boyfriend, Mr. David (David Lochary), and a series of misunderstandings, sacrilegious sexual encounters and that trademarked John Waters bad taste come to a head with some of the most shocking and disgusting scenes of his career—and that’s really saying something.

Maniacs is not the film for everyone, even for those who might think they’re John Waters fans after seeing his musical films or even something like Serial Mom. Cinema laymen, the easily disturbed or even those who aren’t familiar with Waters’ core style or affinity for freaking people out will have trouble getting past the content, while anyone with high standards for cinematic professionalism will find the disjointed story, poor quality and campy acting to be frustrating. The early Waters films were never about palatable experiences or even being well-made, though, so seasoned vets will find exactly what they’re looking for. In a way, it’s almost like Waters’ reaction to the cultish yet familial workings of the Manson family; a powerful and sexually-charged demagogue using her magnetism and penchant for violence to get what she wants from those with weaker wills.

If nothing else, it’s exciting to see Waters mainstays like Divine in an unfamiliar film, and the next-level appearance from Mink Stole (Lost Highway) is quite intense even by today’s standards, or for Waters himself. Still, it remains an important piece of cinematic history, an eye-opening piece of an American icon’s early work.

Multiple Maniacs
Directed by John Waters
With Divine, Lochary and Stole
Center for Contemporary Arts,
91 min

Booze with a Taste of the Place

Broken Trail distillery serves up New Mexico-inspired spirits

Food WritingWednesday, October 26, 2016 by Gwyneth Doland

The label for Broken Trail craft distillery’s Holy Ghost vodka is a pale green topographic map. The first time I saw it I wondered: Is this named for Holy Ghost Creek? Some of my besties have a cabin on Holy Ghost Creek, near Terrero, where it pours into the Pecos River, and I’ve spent many a summer evening sipping cocktails and listening to its gentle burbling.

Broken Trail’s co-owner and head distiller, Matt Simonds, says his corn-based vodka is indeed named for the creek, where he likes to go fishing. All of the distillery’s products are named for places in New Mexico where he and his team go hiking, biking and fishing. The Horsethief rum alludes to two different places: a mountain bike trail near the Taos Ski Valley, and a meadow in the Pecos Wilderness.

“A lot of people don’t realize what an amazing place we have,” says Simonds, a native New Mexican. “Everything here, the environment, the people, the culture, the history, I love every part of it.” That’s why he wanted to incorporate a sense of place into the business.

The Holy Ghost vodka is made entirely with New Mexico-grown corn. The Horsethief rum isn’t made with local sugarcane—because duh—but Simonds created a variation called de Pacana that is made by steeping the rum in shelled pecans.

The result is better than you’d think. The pecans add only a faint aftertaste of the nut’s flavor but the steeping serves to mellow and soften the last of the rum’s sharp edges.

The distillery opened in an industrial area of Albuquerque in 2015 (originally it was called Distillery 365, named for a trail in the Sandia Mountains). Last fall, bottles of the rum and vodka started showing up in retail stores, including Susan’s and Liquor Barn here in Santa Fe and Kokoman in Pojoaque. This year the distillery opened a tasting room in the Green Jeans Farmery, a shipping container development not far from the Whole Foods at Carlisle and I-40 (at 3600 Cutler Ave. NE in Albuquerque).

Simonds has a background in chemistry and has long dabbled in home brewing. Years ago he decided to try his hand at home distilling. “I got a little barrel and I put it in my crawl space,” he recalls. “A year later I pulled it out and I got about a shot glass of the best bourbon I’ve ever had.” Evaporation had claimed nearly all of the rest.

But about five years ago, the idea came up again, and he started doing test batches. He makes a bourbon called Tres Pistolas, also with locally-grown corn, but it is still aging in its barrels and won’t be ready until 2017. There’s a gin in the works (named for Taos’ Bull of the Woods meadow), but it’s based on the distillery’s vodka, which has been so popular that there hasn’t been enough for Simonds to play with. And he still needs to tweak the gin recipe. So that may be another year off.

Meanwhile, a bottle of the Holy Ghost vodka or Horsethief rum would be right at home on your bar. Here are some ideas for what to do with them.

Bloody Mary

At the tasting room they make a custom bloody mary mix, but Simonds is very fond of Bloody Maria, a green-chile-tinged New Mexico-made mix. It’s available in grocery stores, liquor stores and behind the bar at restaurants like Coyote Cantina, Radish & Rye and Dr. Field Goods Kitchen.

  • 2 ounces Holy Ghost vodka
  • 4 ounces Bloody Maria mix

Pour the vodka and mix into a cocktail shaker with 1 cup ice. Shake and pour into a tall glass with a salted rim.

Pacana Prairie Bomb

At a recent tasting in Santa Fe, the folks from Broken Trail met the folks from Oklahoma’s Prairie Artisan Ales ( and had a “Your chocolate got in my peanut butter!” moment. Bomb! is an imperial stout aged on coffee, chocolate, vanilla beans and ancho chiles (look for it on tap at Rowley’s Farmhouse Ales and in Whole Foods stores).

  • Heavy 1/2 pint beer
  • 1 1/2 ounces de Pacana rum

You remember how to make an Irish car bomb, right? Fill a pint glass about halfway with the stout. Pour the rum into a shot glass and drop the shot glass into the pint glass.

Hot Buttered Pacana

Bartenders at the tasting room came up with this bone-warming drink last winter. Feel free to experiment with the spices. Apple pie or pumpkin pie spice works here, as does the addition of more adventurous flavors like coriander and cardamom.

For the butter mixture:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

In a small bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar and spices. Put the mixture in a resealable container and keep refrigerated.

For the drink:

  • 1 heaping tablespoon butter mixture
  • 1 1/2 ounces Horsethief de Pacana rum

Drop the butter mixture into the bottom of a mug and pour the rum over it. Add 6 ounces hot water.


“There are only so many lemon drops you can make before you go insane,” Simonds says. This unusual, savory cocktail was designed to capture some of the idea of New Mexican food and to bring out the ever-so-slight corn flavor in the vodka. “It’s a little bit out there,” he says, “but I like it.” Chivato was one of Billy the Kid’s nicknames but it also hints at the fresh chives that flavor this martini.

  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro and chives
  • 4 ounces Holy Ghost vodka
  • Garlic salt

Put the herbs into the bottom of a pint glass or cocktail shaker and smash them with a muddler or long-handled spoon. Add the vodka and fill with ice. Shake and strain it carefully into a martini glass rimmed with garlic salt.

Where to find Broken Trail Spirits

Kokoman Fine Wines & Liquor
34 Cities of Gold Road, Pojoaque, 455-2219

Susan’s Fine Wine & Spirits
1005 S St. Francis Drive, 984-1582

Liquor Barn
2885 Cerrillos Road, 471-3960

Try This on for Size

Even more music-themed costume ideas

Music FeaturesWednesday, October 26, 2016 by Alex De Vore

Every year around this time I get pretty excited because I can do my annual music-themed Halloween costume suggestions column. First off, it’s fun to think about and I truly enjoy mulling over the ideas. Secondly, I don’t have to talk to any local musicians or promoters or venue people, and that’s always a huge plus in my book. Anyway, here are a few easy ideas for becoming one of your favorite musicians this year. Enjoy the oohs and aahs.

Michael Franti

You’ll want to start this as soon as possible, but if you already hate washing your hair that’ll be a good head start. Franti’s got the dreads, but you can possibly braid your hair, too, in case you don’t want to commit or are grossed out by dreads. Hone an obnoxious sense of peace and justice that might come from a good place but ultimately comes across like you think you know how the world should work better than anyone. Get a knit beanie to wear even if it’s a thousand degrees at whatever party you attend, some camo cargo shorts and a tank top that says something like “Listen to Bob Marley.” Ditch your shoes and carry a ukulele. I don’t think he’s known for the uke, I just think that would be funny.

David Bowie

It kind of depends on what era Bowie you’re going for, but we’d suggest either Goblin King from Labyrinth (you’ll need a serious-ass crotch bulge and perhaps a fake baby), Ziggy Stardust (fashion a ginger mullet from either your own hair or a number of wigs and then get yourself some face paint and an eye patch) or, for extra ease, super-fashionable end-of-life Bowie á la the video for “Lazarus” from his final album, Blackstar (black sweater, black pants, an eerie sense of calm about the infinite nothingness that lies beyond the veil of death OR nightgown and face bandage with buttons sewn over where your eyes would be). Whatever you choose, you’ll be popular and look cool as hell.

Andrew WK

Maybe he’s just on my mind because of my recent interview, but you can pull this off by getting a long wig (or already having long hair), dressing like you work on a crew that paints houses and smashing yourself in the face with a brick. WK also has that pizza-shaped guitar, but carrying a slice of pizza with you everywhere you go is not only close enough, it’s good life advice for all of us.


This one’s a little trickier, so pay attention—work out long, blonde tresses that cascade down your back like a goddamn golden waterfall and then somehow wordlessly convey yourself to be the most gorgeous and talented goddess on the fucking planet. Also wear a one-piece gold lamé swimsuit covered in shiny, sparkly sequins. Be confident.

Anyone from Green Day

The Bay Area punk trio’s Revolution Radio debuted at #1 on Billboard’s charts this month, and to become Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool or Mike Dirnt takes only a couple easy steps. 1. Get a dirty suit. 2. Wear it constantly and don’t clean it. 3. Slather on eyeliner and other makeup to hide the haggard factor. 4. Mess up your hair. Boom. You win Halloween. Sort of.


Get a weird dress, throw your bangs in front of your eyes, slap a gigantic fucking bow on your head, case closed.

Twenty One Pilots

Easy. Just grab a friend and start sucking at music super hard—and we mean hard—and pretty much anyone cool will know what you’re trying to do. Bonus points if you can get mainstream radio to play your songs often enough to drive people up the wall and curse the day they were born. Extra bonus points if you can somehow be considered the suckiest thing about Suicide Squad, which is really saying something.

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