Santa Fe protests war
Protesters gathered at the Roundhouse Saturday ($TNM) in response to the Trump administration's killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and the decision to deploy thousands more troops to the Middle East. Protests also were held in Taos, Albuquerque and Las Vegas, New Mexico, as well as across the country. In Santa Fe, Paul Gibson, co-founder of Retake Our Democracy, which helped organize the demonstration, called for more people to become involved, as did 82-year-old Marine Corps veteran Ken Mayers, who told The Santa Fe New Mexican: "It's absolutely essential that more Americans take to the streets and stop their government's insanity." US Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, D-NM, issued statements critical of the administration's actions. "The predictable result of the Trump administration's reckless bluster, escalation and miscalculation in the Middle East is that we are now hurtling closer to an unauthorized war with Iran that the American people do not support," Udall said.
Another crowded race
A fourth Republican candidate has signed on for the June 2020 primary for US Senate to replace outgoing US Sen. Tom Udall. Albuquerque businessman Louie Sanchez joins former New Mexico State University professor Gavin Clarkson, anti-abortion advocate Elisa Martinez and Albuquerque contractor Mick Rich in that race. US Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, also picked up a new challenger for the Democratic primary: Santa Fe CPA Andrew Perkins. The race to replace Luján in the 3rd Congressional District also is crowded, with eight Republicans and seven Democrats planning to face off in the primary.
NM Sues Johnson & Johnson
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed suit last week against four companies that made, sold or advertised talcum powder products—including baby powder—that contained asbestos. "Our office will take immediate action any time a corporation misleads a New Mexican consumer or endangers the health and safety of our families," Balderas said in a statement. "These products have been targeted at minority groups, especially Black and Hispanic women and children, with false messages about their safety, and I will hold these companies accountable." Notably, New Mexico is one of the first states to file such a suit ($NYT), but Johnson & Johnson's legal woes are mounting. While outcomes have varied in the lawsuits against the company, it is appealing nearly all the cases it has lost.
Off the pot
Expo New Mexico has agreed to pay cannabis company Ultra Health LLC $69,600 to resolve a 2017 lawsuit stemming from restrictions placed on Ultra Health's cannabis displays at the State Fair. As a result of the settlement, Expo New Mexico won't pursue its appeal of a federal court decision that it violated Ultra Health's First Amendment rights. Ultra Health President and CEO Duke Rodriguez says his company's costs were higher than the settlement amount, but "…the agreed settlement amount represents a reasonable settlement with the state of New Mexico and hopefully extends an olive branch to the administration as to our willingness to resolve these matters in a timely and equitable manner." An Expo New Mexico spokeswoman said the federal judge's ruling had helped clarify guidelines for cannabis vendors at the state fair, and that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had pushed for a resolution.
Rob Dean dies
Former Santa Fe New Mexican Editor Rob Dean died unexpectedly at his home yesterday ($TNM). He was 65. Dean led the New Mexican newsroom for two decades before retiring in 2013. A few years later, he joined the journalism project Searchlight New Mexico as executive director. Staff and others remembered Dean's love of journalism and leadership. "He was simply a nonpareil human being and that flowed through his work as a journalist and a leader," said Phill Casaus, editor of The New Mexican. "That influence isn't just at The New Mexican or at Searchlight New Mexico. It's in New Mexico itself." Santa Fe Reporter Editor and Publisher Julie Ann Grimm, who was hired by Dean as a government reporter for The New Mexican and worked for him for a decade, said: "Rob's kind demeanor and positive outlook demanded respect, even when leading his newsroom through layoffs or dealing with the disappointments of stories we couldn't quite nail. He was a reporter's biggest cheerleader when things went right, and his contributions to the craft leave a lasting legacy for journalism in New Mexico."
Acclaimed science writer and Santa Fe resident George Johnson's first book, Architects of Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in American Politics, published in 1984 and since out of print, was reissued Jan. 1 as an e-book. The new edition includes an introduction adapted from an essay by Johnson, "On the Trail of the Illuminati: A Journalist's Search for the 'Conspiracy That Rules the World.'" Winner of the 1984 Special Achievement in Nonfiction Award from the PEN Los Angeles Center, the book only had one initial hardcover printing, making copies difficult to find in the intervening years. The Los Angeles Times Book Review described it as: "Splendid and indispensable…comprehensive and up-to-date, endlessly interesting; were its subject not so appalling it would be sheer entertainment, a titillating glimpse into yahooland."
Native voices rising
The Institute of American Indian Arts kicked off its Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing Winter Reading Series over the weekend, with events continuing through Jan. 11. New Mexico Magazine provides a closer look at IAIA's Creative Writing program in an in depth feature by Molly Boyle this month. Specifically, the story examines the school's history in fostering a new generation of acclaimed Native writers, from US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo to Pulitzer Prize finalist Tommy Orange to Jake Skeets, featured in the story, whose book, Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, was selected as a winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series. The Native low-resident faculty members also have a long list of accolades for their work. IAIA alumnus and Whiting Award recipient James Thomas Stevens, who now teaches at the school, says: "When you look at how experimental many of our alumni are, that definitely is something that shaped me, that I pass on as the next generation working with IAIA students."
Kick off the new year by zooming in on SFR's 2020 Photo contest. We're looking for your best New Mexico shots. Winning entries will be printed in large format and auctioned at the SFR Photo Show, an annual special event benefitting the New Mexico Fund for Public Interest Journalism. All entries will be considered for use online and in print. Also: Prizes! All the details you need are right here. Be sure to check out last year's winners as well.
Mayor’s New Year’s roundup
Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber on Friday issued a happy New Year's statement to Santa Fe, along with an accounting of his administration's progress. The mayor says two principles have guided his first two years in office: 1.To make your City government work—and to make it work for everyone. 2. To develop and implement solutions that work for problems that matter for all of us—and our future. To that end, the mayor cites progress with constituent services, technology, housing and other issues. The mayor also lists housing, IT and the midtown campus among the issues upon which his administration will focus in the coming year.
Catch the sun
Another sunny day today, with a high near 39. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph. Tonight will be clear with a low about 19 degrees. If you're wondering when it's going to snow again, right now predictions call for a possible storm Thursday night and Friday. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading! The Word appreciated Grist magazine's recent analysis of the leadership role teenage girls are playing as climate activists.