Morning Word

NM AG, Gov Seek Dismissal of Anti-Abortion Lawsuit

Car drives through crowd at Gallup parade

NM Guv, AG seek dismissal of anti-abortion lawsuit

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas yesterday filed a motion asking a district judge to dismiss an anti-abortion lawsuit filed last month. Last year, in anticipation of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, state lawmakers repealed a 1969 state law that had criminalized abortion in New Mexico. The petition filed last month by State Sen. David Gallegos, R-Eunice, Roswell oil producer Larry Marker and failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Ethel Maharg argues that while legislators repealed the old law, they didn’t enact a set of statutes to replace it and requested a declaration that no law exists allowing abortions here. Balderas and Lujan Grisham’s response argues the original petition has no actual argument and thus its petitioners have no standing to ask for judicial relief. Moreover, the petition’s argument that the state’s lack of specific law allowing for abortions renders them illegal “flips the entire concept of criminal law on its head…should plaintiffs’ ludicrous theory be adopted, then virtually every medical procedure (or any act in general for that matter) would be illegal. For example, there is no law specifically allowing for vasectomies, penile augmentations, or circumcisions—do Plaintiffs really believe those procedures are illegal too?” In addition, the motion to dismiss argues the Equal Protection Clause and Equal Rights Amendment in the state Constitution provides additional protection for abortion rights. The state Supreme Court previously cited that amendment, which specifies “equality of rights under law shall not be denied on account of the sex of any person,” in a 1999 opinion that held the state’s Health and Human Services Department’s attempt to restrict abortion funding discriminated on the basis of sex.

Multiple people injured as car drives through Gallup parade

A vehicle drove through a parade last night at the opening of the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Centennial Celebration, resulting in injuries to multiple people, including two Gallup Police Department officers. The State Police say they are investigating the incident and have the driver in custody. Photographer Sharon Chischilly captured photographs of both the brown SUV and the aftermath of the accident, which she shared on Twitter. Another Facebook video shows the incident and says Navajo President Jonathan Nez was almost hit. “Today, I ask for your prayers,” Nez said in a video statement last night. “Everyone who is listening…this is just evil, creeping into our communities. We’re all shaken up. I was feet away from this vehicle as it drove through the streets and I’m sure a lot of people are angry, a lot of emotions happening right now. I’m angry, but we also have to pray and think about our relatives” William Hawk-Birdshead, a trained medic visiting the Navajo Nation, told Native News Online of the incident: “People were screaming,” “It was horrifying to witness. I can’t imagine the trauma this has caused for the people.”

APD suspect connection in murders of three Muslim men

Albuquerque Police investigators yesterday said they are looking at possible connections between the shooting deaths of three Muslim men over the last nine months. The Albuquerque Journal reports Deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock from APD’s Criminal Investigations Division made the announcement at a news conference in front of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, saying: “We are taking this very seriously. We want the public’s help in identifying this cowardly individual.” The news conference followed the killing earlier this week of Española Planning and Land Use Director Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, whose death prompted an outpouring of grief from both cities. Española Mayor John Ramon Vigil released a statement following Hussain’s death that the city’s staff “has lost a member of our family, and we all have lost a brilliant public servant who wanted to serve and improve his community.” US Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-NM, for whom Hussain worked previously as a field organizer, said her “team was privileged every day to witness firsthand Muhammad’s passion for lifting up the voices of our community members and celebrating their contributions, accomplishments, and dreams.” In yesterday’s news conference, Hartsock said all three victims appeared to have been ambushed and that the FBI was helping with the case. It’s too soon to classify the murders as hate crimes, he said: “We can’t call it a thing until we have someone identified and really know what their intention is in doing this. And we don’t know enough yet to clearly say that—but that could change.” Hartsock asked for the public’s help in the case; anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 843-STOP.

As NM COVID cases level, DOH ramps up monkeypox response

While reported COVID-19 cases remain high in New Mexico, on average, the caseload has leveled out, Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said yesterday during a monthly update on the pandemic, expanded yesterday to include information on monkeypox. The update came as monkeypox cases rise across the country—6,617 at press time—and Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency. New Mexico currently has 10 cases, all of which were contracted out of state, Scrase and Acting state Epidemiologist Dr. Laura Parajón said. The state will be ramping up vaccinations this week for people at high-risk for monkeypox. Anyone can contract monkeypox, which spreads in a variety of ways, including: sexual or intimate contact; respiratory secretions; direct contact with the monkeypox rash or scabs; contact with objects used by someone who has monkeypox. Parajón said the state has a limited supply of the JYNNEOS vaccine, with 956 doses available as of this week and 2,600 more coming between now and October. The monkeypox vaccine includes two doses, given four weeks apart, but second dose administration can be delayed to allow more people to be vaccinated. People at risk for monkeypox and interested in the vaccine should call 1-855-600-3453.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Aug. 4

New cases: 930; 595,553 total cases

Deaths: six; Santa Fe County has had 330 total deaths; there have been 8,273 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 164. Patients on ventilators: six

Case rates: According to the state health department’s most recent report on geographical trends for the seven-day period of July 25-31, McKinley County had the highest daily case rate per 100,000 population: 68.2, followed by Roosevelt County at 66.8 and Doña Ana County at 55.2; Santa Fe County’s case rate was 42.2, a decline from 46.6 last week. The state recorded 6,300 total cases statewide over the seven-day period, a 5% decrease from the week prior.

Community levels: The CDC’s most recent update for COVID-19 “community levels,” which updated yesterday, shows some improvement from the week before. The CDC framework combines case rates with two hospital metrics and shows eight counties—three fewer than last week—have “red” or high levels for the seven-day reporting period. Santa Fe County remains “yellow” or medium. Seven counties—the same as last week—have “green” or low levels. The community levels page has accompanying recommendations at the bottom of the page. The CDC also provides a quarantine and isolation calculator.

Resources: Vaccine registration; Booster registration Free at-home rapid antigen tests; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. Vaccines for children: Parents of children ages 6 months to 5 years can now schedule appointments for vaccinations at VaccineNM.org.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

Earlier this week, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver testified to the US Senate Judiciary Committee during its hearing on “Protecting Democracy’s Frontline Workers,” about the threats she and her office received during the 2020 election cycle, as well as in the wake of the most recent June 2020 primary, including three phone calls that were referred to the FBI. Toulouse Oliver also spoke about these issues to county clerks at a recent “election school,” held before each statewide election, and with KUNM about how her office is preparing for elections in a climate where election conspiracy theories and security have become top issues.

Cannabis sales hit record high in July

July cannabis sales in New Mexico set a new record for monthly total sales, with licensed retailers around the state reporting more than $40 million, and adult-use sales topping $23 million. Comparatively, cannabis sales totaled more than $39 million in April—the first month they became legal and the previous record high. April adult-use sales totaled just over $22 million. “These numbers show that the impressive sales generated in the first month of legalized recreational cannabis sales were no fluke—and this is only the beginning,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement announcing the data. “We’ve established a new industry that is already generating millions of dollars in local and state revenue and will continue to generate millions more in economic activity across the state, creating thousands of jobs for New Mexicans in communities both small and large.” Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Hobbs and Rio Rancho had the highest July sales—nearly $3.5 million in Santa Fe, approximately $1.8 million from recreational sales.

An NM artist’s NY years

Art Forum interviews New Mexico-based artist and activist Sabra Moore, whose show, “WORDY: Sabra Moore,” is on view at Barnard College in New York through Aug. 16. Moore grew up in a family of quilt makers, and uses quilt-making techniques in her multi-media work. She also grew up in a politically active family, and has written about her own work in the women’s movement in her book, Openings: A Memoir from the Women’s Art Movement, New York City 1970-1992. Moore worked In New Mexico during four artist-residencies at the Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos before moving to Abiquiu in 1996. “In the early period of my art career, I had two parts of my work: the things I had grown up with, and the paintings that I was making, which were mostly canvas,” Moore tells ArtForum. “My grandmother died in a hard way, and I wanted to make a painting for her, and I couldn’t. I made it, but I didn’t really like it. I decided that I would make works with her forms, but with my format, and that turned out to be the way I still work.” The new show, “Wordy,” incorporates “words as a central component: text, wordplays and puns,” the exhibition notice says; a collection documenting Moore’s work as an organizer, activist, and curator in New York City is housed at the Barnard Archives.

TGIF

Another big summer Santa Fe weekend awaits, rain or shine. Events include two big AMP concerts this evening: Michael Franti and Spearhead will play a benefit show for the Española Human’s 30th anniversary at 7 pm tonight at Fort Marcy Park (tickets from $41 to $76; kids under 12 free). The show will no doubt feature high energy, lots of jumping and boundless optimism (who couldn’t use all of that?). Plus, it will benefit the shelter, which will also hold its “Pearls and Paws Fur Fest” next month. Santa Fe favorites D Numbers plays the free 7 pm Railyard show tonight, another AMP Concerts show, with DJ Erin E opening. If we’re not mistaken, D Numbers has now been a band for 20 years, but we still remember their performance in the old days at one of SFR’s parties...possibly a Valentine’s Party. But we digress. Saturday’s festivities include the Nakotah LaRance Youth Hoop Dance Championship from 9 am to 5 pm on Museum Hill, 710 Camino Lejo, one of this week’s SFR picks. Friday and Saturday also include the Santa Fe Public Library’s End of Summer Reading Dance Party from 4 to 6 pm (at the Main Library on Friday and the Southside Library on Saturday), featuring crafts and prizes and dancing (and reading? We’re not sure). El Rancho de Las Golondrinas hosts the fourth annual Santa Fe Beer & Food Festival from noon to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday with beer, food and music ($8 for adults/$6 for seniors and teens/free for kids 12 and under). And the Santa Fe County Fair runs through tomorrow and the dairy goat show is at 9 am tomorrow...just saying. To find even more ideas to enjoy the final dog days of summer, be sure to visit SFR’s culture calendar and/or sign up for SFR’s Weekend Picks newsletter.

Rainy weekend?

Is anything nicer than a 3 am thunderstorm (aside from sleeping through the night, that is)? The National Weather Service forecasts a 30% chance for showers and thunderstorms today after noon, potentially with heavy rain. Otherwise, it will be mostly sunny with a high temperature near 88 degrees. About the same Saturday and Sunday, with temperatures in the mid to high 80s, and the possibility of rain rising to 50% tomorrow and 70% on Sunday.

Thanks for reading! The Word has never read a Danielle Steel novel, but she’s looking forward to reading this LA Review of Books essay that purports to explain how Steel “was a cosmic accident whose story revealed the hidden logic of contemporary publishing.”

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