Virgin Galactic announces layoffs, flight pause
Following the completion of it sixth flight in six months last week, Virgin Galactic yesterday during a presentation on its third-quarter earnings and business plans, announced it laid off approximately 18% of its workforce on Tuesday and plans to pause operations while it focuses on developing its next generation of space ships. “Virgin Galactic has demonstrated the repeatability of our spaceflight system and also showcased the overwhelmingly positive experience of our astronauts,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement. “With our third quarter cash and marketable securities position of approximately $1.1 billion, we forecast having sufficient capital to bring our first two Delta ships into service and achieve positive cash flow in 2026.” Colglazier said the company will be pausing spaceflight operations in 2024 in order to focus resources on developing its next-generation Delta-class spacecraft. The company’s restructuring, he said, required layoffs estimated to be approximately 185 employees. “Our teammates are talented, purpose-driven and excel in their professions,” Colglazier said during a public call yesterday, “and it is deeply unfortunate to part ways.” The Albuquerque Journal reports Spaceport America officials learned about Virgin Galactic’s plan to pause in space flights during the public announcement.
Accused Oñate protest shooter appeal bail denial
Attorneys for Ryan David Martinez, accused of firing a weapon into a crowd during a September protest over a statue of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate in Española, have filed an appeal over Martinez’s detention. District Judge Jason Lidyard last month found probable cause for attempted murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against Martinez and ordered he remain behind bars pending his trial. The shooting wounded Jacob Johns, a Hopi and Akimel O’odham climate activist from Washington state, who suffered extensive injuries to his lung, spleen and liver. Martinez has pled not-guilty to the charges. The appeal filed on his behalf says the denial of bond for Martinez is improper under the state Constitution because there is “no substantial evidence that no release conditions will reasonably protect” the community. In statements to the Associated Press, spokespeople for both the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the State Attorney General said they support Lidyard’s denial of bail for Martinez. “Mr. Martinez poses a threat to the community and if released no conditions of release would reasonably protect the community,” AG spokesperson Lauren Rodriguez told the AP.
AG wants red-flag law improvements
New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez yesterday said he intends to seek enhancements to the state’s so-called “red-flag” laws, and announced statewide training for law enforcement personnel on how the law works. New Mexico’s Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act, signed into law in 2020, provides a mechanism for law enforcement to remove weapons from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others. An Associated Press investigation last year showed such laws have been employed sparsely across the US. The US Supreme Court heard arguments earlier this week about the constitutionality of such laws, and is expected to rule on the issue in June. Torrez yesterday proffered several recommendations to the Legislature in advance of its January session, including: adding immediate surrender and search authority to the existing law; expanding the definition of a reporting party and protecting their identity; and aligning other laws to trigger a referral to law enforcement. “These are common sense fixes to a gun safety framework that both respects the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms while also protecting society from individuals suffering from serious mental health issues or exhibiting dangerous behavior. It is a reasonable and balanced response to the gun violence epidemic in this county and I urge the Legislature to give it serious consideration,” Torrez said in a statement.
SAG-AFTRA announces deal, strike suspension
The Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strike, which began July 13 and has largely shuttered productions in New Mexico, may be coming to a close. Members of New Mexico’s film industry joined the strike and picketed Netflix Studios in Albuquerque over the summer. SAG-AFTRA announced yesterday a tentative agreement has been reached and as of 12:01 am today, the strike will be suspended and all picket lines closed. “In a contract valued at over one billion dollars, we have achieved a deal of extraordinary scope that includes ‘above-pattern’ minimum compensation increases, unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI, and for the first time establishes a streaming participation bonus,” the announcement reads. “Our pension & health caps have been substantially raised, which will bring much needed value to our plans. In addition, the deal includes numerous improvements for multiple categories including outsize compensation increases for background performers, and critical contract provisions protecting diverse communities. We have arrived at a contract that will enable SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers. Many thousands of performers now and into the future will benefit from this work.” The deal will become public, the announcement says, after its approval by the SAG-AFTRA National Board.
Just in case any readers missed Jack Handey’s “Tales of Old Santa Fe” when it aired on the New Yorker radio hour back in 2016, we include it now as an appetizer to Handey’s recent NPR interview about his new book Escape From Hawaii: A Tropical Sequel. The former Saturday Night Live writer (“Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey,”) has written many books (his latest is somewhat of a sequel) and, yes, Handey says, the narrator is essentially the Deep Thoughts character. “I don’t know what the appeal of that character is,” Handey says, “but it rocks for me.” What rocks for us: Handey is a longtime Santa Fe resident (here’s a 2008 SFR interview with him from our archive).
Unearthing Indigenous stories
The New York Times reviews Rachel Morgan’s new book, Sins of the Shovel: Looting, Murder, and the Evolution of American Archaeology, described by the publisher as “an incisive history of early American archaeology—from reckless looting to professional science—and the field’s unfinished efforts to make amends today.” Morgan’s primary character, Colorado homesteader Richard Wetherill, led tourists and researchers “by mule along cliffside trails in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, opening pueblos, cliff houses and burial mounds that had been closed off for centuries.” In New Mexico, “Morgan describes with appalling detail the grave robberies in such pristine sites as Chaco Canyon…'Many members of Indigenous communities view the final resting places of the dead as sacred places, not to be disturbed,’” she points out.” Many museums and other institutions sanctioned such looting, an issue explored by Pro Publica for Repatriation Project, a story from which SFR published last summer.
Also on the New Mexico Indigenous reading list: Albuquerque-based writer and filmmaker Jason Asenap (Comanche and Muscogee) writes an essay for Vox about director Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon about who should tell stories such as this one about the Reign of Terror. “I can imagine, for Osage people, it must feel good to have their story on film,” Asenap writes, noting that he, too, would be interested if someone made a movie about his great-great-grandfather Quanah Parker, “a well-known warrior and leader of one of my tribes, the Comanches.” However, “I’d be interested, too, in who was telling that story,” Asenap notes. “As an Indigenous writer and filmmaker, I’d rather be the one to make it.”
All things Reggio
Not everyone will have the opportunity to watch legendary experimental film director Godfrey Reggio’s movies alongside him, but that’s exactly what transpired when SFR Culture Editor Alex De Vore showed up for an interview, where the two watched a documentary about the making of Reggio’s newest film, Once Upon a Time, before settling down for an interview. The documentary, along with the film, Reggio’s first in a decade, opens the Center for Contemporary Art’s Godfrey Reggio Retrospective Week (Nov. 10-16), which will also include a panel discussion of Once Upon a Time, and screenings of the Qatsi Trilogy (Koyannisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi), as well as several other works. As for his newest film, the Los Angeles Times—which interviewed Reggio via Zoom from Santa Fe—describes it as “part fairy tale, part salute to silent cinema and part surreal nightmare,” noting the Mike Tyson cameo (SFR notes the presence of several Santa Fe performers as well). As with all of Reggio’s work, the Times writes, his new film—which includes a score by his longstanding colleague Phillip Glass— “is about ‘life out of balance,’ which is what koyaanisqatsi means in Hopi. The occasionally apocalyptic film features images of towering cellphones held by disembodied hands, children’s faces being digitally scanned and a massive Trojan horse consisting of electronic parts.”
The long cool weekend ahead
The National Weather Service forecasts a partly sunny day with a high temperature near 42 degrees and southeast wind around 15 mph. Tomorrow, Veterans Day, should be about the same, with temps rising into the 50s for the weekend. And speaking of Veterans Day, most of local government will be closed, but Santa Fe Trails will run on its normal schedule, and the Friday holiday doesn’t impact trash and recycling pickup.