Morning Word

Downwinders, Officials Rally in DC

Santa Fe vaper delays flight

Downwinders, officials rally in DC

Downwinders and others from New Mexico and across the country who have lived with health repercussions from the United States’ nuclear programs gathered with congressional representatives in Washington, DC this week to discuss progress made in compensation and next steps. Yesterday, US Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, and US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, D-NM, held a news conference with Republican colleagues from Missouri and Guam to herald the unprecedented recent vote by the US Senate expanding the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) in the National Defense Authorization Act. “We are here for one simple reason. We are here to demand justice for the men and women across this country…who have been exposed by their governments to radioactive waste radioactive material and have not been compensated for it,” US Sen. Josh Hawley, R-MO, said. “This is a basic principle: If a government is going to create a disaster, the government should clean it up.” Luján said in a statement the recent vote “was the closest we have been to strengthening this critical program, following years of persistence, organizing, advocacy, and bipartisan cooperation.” At the news conference, Luján referenced the recent Christopher Nolan film Oppenheimer and said he was “happy” the film—which made no reference to the Manhattan’s Project impact on the health of New Mexicans—had nonetheless created an opening “to shed light on the injustices that happened.”

Gov finalizes $3 mil Taiwanese autopart agreement

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Hota Industrial Manufacturing Chairman David Shen yesterday announced a final agreement to expand the Taiwan-based auto-manufacturing company into New Mexico on a 30-acre parcel in the Westpark Industrial Park in Santa Teresa. Construction is expected to begin in 2024 for the company, which officials say plans to hire 350 employees and invest $99 million in the state. For its part, New Mexico has awarded Hota $3 million to assist with land, building and infrastructure costs from the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) Job-Creation Fund, with other state incentives potentially available as well. Lujan Grisham made the initial announcement via a news conference from Taiwan, where she spoke Sept. 19 as part of US Business Day in Taipei. “Hota shares with me a strong belief in the potential of the great state of New Mexico,” the governor said in a statement. “This announcement sits at the nexus of so many of this administration’s priorities, including bolstering global trade and securing a cleaner automotive industry. Hota’s investment in the Borderplex reaffirms what we already know: New Mexico is on the move.” Acccording to a news release, Hota produces automotive gears for North American and European clients, including Tesla, with 70% of its market in the Americas. “Hota has picked Santa Teresa as its next manufacturing site based on various comparison analyses among the states on the US-Mexico border,” Shen said in a statement, including proximity to the border, infrastructure, labor costs and the state’s lack of “major natural disasters.”

Vaper delays Santa Fe flight

A 30-year-old Santa Fe male delayed a flight out of the Santa Fe Regional Airport yesterday, Santa Fe Police reported. According to a news release, SFPD were dispatched to the airport at approximately 4:20 pm after the Santa Fe County Regional Emergency Communication Center was alerted to an incident onboard an inbound American Airlines aircraft scheduled to land at the Santa Fe Regional Airport. That incident involved the aforementioned passenger using a vape pen in the aircraft’s lavatory and triggering the onboard smoke detection system. Once the plane had landed, SFPD officers contacted the passenger and, the news release says, an “official report has been documented and is in the process of being submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration for further evaluation.” Because FAA has “stringent no-smoking and no-vaping regulations,” the incident caused a delay in the flight schedule so the smoke detection system could be serviced. “The Santa Fe Police Department emphasizes the importance of adhering to airline regulations for the safety and well-being of all passengers and crew members,” the news release notes. SFPD did not indicate whether the passenger would face any federal charges (nor did they report what he had been vaping). In June, the Washington Post reported various forms of smoking on planes had emerged as the most common form of noncompliance among fliers, with varying degrees of punishment, including an Alaska Airlines passenger who smoked an e-cigarette receiving a $10,000 fine.

Scientists criticize Virgin Galactic

One of the passengers on the second commercial Virgin Galactic flight—”Galactic ‘03″—which completed its spaceflight Sept. 8, didn’t travel alone. Tim Nash of South Africa carried two human fossils with him, prompting criticism from scientists. First, the fossils: a clavicle or collar bone “of the almost 2-million-year-old Australopithecus sediba and a thumb bone of Homo naledi, dated to about 250,000 years ago,” Nash’s biography on the Virgin Galactic website notes. “Both fossils were discovered in the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near to Johannesburg in South Africa. This symbolic journey will be a fitting tribute to two species whose own explorations and endeavors, helped to give us the faculties and technologies to undertake the ultimate human journey—the journey into space.” Or not. “To treat ancestral remains in such a callous, unethical way—to blast them into space just because you can—there’s no scientific merit in this,” Robyn Pickering, a geologist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, says in a story from Scientific American. Paleontologist Lee Berger, who found both species, applied to send them to New Mexico for the flight, possibly for science, but mostly “to bring awareness to science, exploration, human origins and South Africa and its role in understanding Humankind’s shared African ancestry.” That explanation, the story notes, doesn’t sit well with Yonatan Sahle, an archaeologist at the University of Cape Town, who “says that sending African fossils to space reminds him of colonial and neocolonial research practices, in which white, mostly European and American researchers bent African institutions to their will.” Archaeologist Sonia Zakrzewski from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom expressed similar opinions via the website formerly known as Twitter, calling the mission “21st century colonialism,” The Independent newspaper reports. The flight window for Virgin Galactic’s next space trip opens Oct. 5.

Listen up

On the most recent episode of Cline’s Corner, host and author Lynn Cline talks to poet Levi Romero about the New Mexico Poetry Anthology 2023—which he co-edited with poet Michelle Otero—a collaboration between the New Mexico State Library Poetry Center and Museum of New Mexico Press. The anthology features 200 original previously unpublished poems that “explore themes such as community, culture, history, identity, landscape and water” by writers from across the state. Book Riot just named the book in its list of the eight “best” poetry anthologies.

Hot takes on hot food

The autumn equinox begins Sept. 23 and heralds shorter days and longer nights. But around here, fall mostly heralds yellow aspens and, yes, discussions of green chile. To wit, Outside revisits everyone’s favorite inter-state conflict: the New Mexico versus Colorado green chile battle. Outside Editor-in-Chief Alex Heard, a longtime Santa Fe resident, provides the back story for other state-to-state competitions over grub, and for this particular one started by Colorado’s governor back in 2019 (when taunting New Mexico’s governor apparently seemed like a good idea). Heard takes a middle-of-the-road stance and argues both states have good chile, and provides background on Pueblo’s Mosco chile and its contrast with the varieties from Hatch. But what is chile without a recipe in which to use it? Heard delves into Colorado’s version of green chile stew and visits the Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival and thereabouts to sample even more dishes, including something called the Pueblo slopper, which we are not going to describe. We also won’t ruin the ending of the story by revealing which state makes better food using green chile because obviously it’s New Mexico. Oops. Also: ICYMI last month, be sure to revisit New Mexico Magazine’s paean to Hatch and Hatch chile.

NM Native American artists to display at NGA

The first New York retrospective for acclaimed New Mexico-based artist Jaune Quick-to-See-Smith (citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation), wrapped last month at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Now, Quick-to-See-Smith acts as curator for a show opening tomorrow at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans runs through Jan. 15, 2024 and features “works by an intergenerational group of nearly 50 living Native artists practicing across the United States. Their powerful expressions reflect the diversity of Native American individual, regional, and cultural identities. At the same time, these works share a worldview informed by thousands of years of reverence, study, and concern for the land.” Featured artists include several from New Mexico, such as sculptor Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo); photographer Cara Romero (Chemehuevi); and painter Steven Yazzie (Diné/Pueblo of Laguna). In a profile of Quick-to-See-Smith last spring, the New York Times noted that the show would be the first time an artist had curated an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art and the first show of Native art there in 30 years.

Wind up

The National Weather Service forecasts a 20% percent chance of showers and thunderstorms today after 3 pm. Otherwise, it will be mostly sunny, with a high temperature near 78 degrees and southwest wind 5 to 10 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph.

Thanks for reading! The Word hopes to sample these Nutella brownies in the not-too-distant future.

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