Morning Word

Compensation for NM Nuclear Victims Removed from Defense Bill

NM AG sues Meta, alleges danger to kids from sexual predators

Nuclear compensation for NM removed from defense bill

An amendment that would have reauthorized and extended compensation to New Mexico’s victims of nuclear radiation was removed from the annual National Defense Authorization Act, released last night. “The NDAA fails to provide justice for New Mexicans who sacrificed for our national security,” US Sen. Ben Ray Luján, one of the sponsors of the amendment to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, says in a statement. Luján has introduced RECA legislation in every Congress since he was first elected to the US House in 2008. “Generations of New Mexicans and their families have gotten sick and died from the radiation exposure and the lasting impacts of the Trinity Test. For New Mexico to have been ground zero for the first nuclear weapon—and left out of the original RECA program—is an injustice.” Tina Cordova, founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, whose quest to bring justice to the Trinity Test downwinder victims and Native American uranium miners is highlighted in the new film First We Bombed New Mexico, said in a statement: “People all across the American West and Guam who were horribly harmed when our country went about its reckless testing of nuclear weapons are devastated to again be left without assistance. Certain members of Congress care nothing about the people who’ve been dying for 78 years without assistance. They see nothing wrong with looking away from our basic human right to appropriate health care. While our defense budget continues to grow unabashedly, we are left to hold bake sales, garage sales and sell livestock to meet our growing health care expenses when we are sick and dying. Shame on them for taking this position.”

NM AG lawsuit: Meta sites “prime locations for predators”

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez yesterday filed a lawsuit against Meta Platforms, Inc., CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the companies it runs, including Facebook and Instagram, alleging the sites fail to keep children safe from sexual predators. According to a news release, the suit follows an undercover operation by the AG of the social media sites using decoy accounts of children 14 and younger. That investigation revealed, the AG says, the sites: directed “a stream of egregious, sexually explicit images” to children even when the users had expressed no interest in such content; allowed “dozens of adults to find, contact and press children into providing sexually explicit pictures of themselves or participate in pornographic videos”; let children join unmoderated groups that facilitated commercial sex; and allowed a fictitious mother to offer her 13-year-old daughter for sale to sex traffickers. “Our investigation into Meta’s social media platforms demonstrates that they are not safe spaces for children but rather prime locations for predators to trade child pornography and solicit minors for sex,” Torrez says in a statement. “I am committed to using every available tool to put an end to these horrific practices and I will hold companies—and their executives —accountable whenever they put profits ahead of children’s safety.”

City changes Cerrillos Road signal timing

The City of Santa Fe announced yesterday it has completed new signal timing on Cerrillos Road from St. Michael’s Drive to the West Frontage and Beckner roads. The changes are part of the city’s multi-modal transportation plan, the city says, which is intended to improve access to public transit, walking, bicycling and the like. In the case of the recently completed section of Cerrillos Road, all the traffic signals received a “best-practice pedestrian safety improvement called Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs),” which provide pedestrians a five-second head start to begin crossing. Other improvements include: automatic pedestrian countdowns on cross streets so pedestrians walking along Cerrillos Road don’t have to push a button in order to have adequate time to cross the street; traffic-light timing improvements intended to provide drivers more green lights through the corridor, especially in times of low traffic; and upgraded flashing yellow turn arrows for left-turn movements in some intersections. In a news release, the city says the project took approximately one week to complete and the changes “will help increase pedestrian safety, reduce the number of traffic stops, and improve travel time through that section of roadway.”

Feds award $480,000 to address NM wildlife/vehicle crashes

The US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration this week announced $110 million in grants for 19 wildlife crossing projects in 17 states, including four tribes. The awards include $480,000 to the Mescalero Apache Tribe in New Mexico to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate solutions for reducing the number of wildlife/vehicle crashes along US-70, reportedly the New Mexico roadway corridor with the most crashes in the state. The study, FHA says, will help meet the goals of the New Mexico Wildlife Corridor Action Plan by identifying the existing infrastructure and natural resources, while also evaluating the engineering requirements needed to decrease such crashes and and improve connectivity for elk and mule deer. “Every year, too many Americans are injured or killed in crashes involving cars and wildlife, especially in rural areas—but President Biden is tackling this challenge through these first-ever roadway safety grants,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says in a statement. “The projects we’re funding today in 17 states will reduce collisions between drivers and wildlife and save American lives.” As SFR noted last year, New Mexico’s plan primarily focuses on the movements of six large mammals: elk, deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, black bear and mountain lion, and identifies 10 high-priority wildlife corridors and 11 hot-spot projects, which were selected based on on the numbers of wildlife vehicle crashes per mile.

Listen up

Last month, this newsletter noted Shondaland’s inclusion of New Mexico actor/writers Lisa Lucas and Debrianna Mansini’s pandemic and Hollywood-strike inspired cooking initiatives, including the duo’s YouTube channel Corona Kitchen and new cookbook: That Time We Ate Our Feelings: 150 Recipes for Comfort Food From the Heart. On the most recent episode of the Cline’s Corner podcast, host Lynn Cline talks with Mansini about the book in advance of Mansini and Lucas’ 6 pm, Dec. 8 book-signing event at Collected Works Bookstore (in-person or register for the Zoom link here). SFR also posed three questions to Mansini this week and learned—spoiler alert: Eating their feelings did help!

Planning ahead

Personally, we’d rather not think about January just yet, but Thrillist is all over the new year, with a roundup of the best places to visit come 2024′s first month. Pros: better deals and fewer fellow tourists. Cons: It’s January (we’re paraphrasing and expounding as Thrillist doesn’t actually list any cons). Santa Fe appears front and center on the list, with Ski Santa Fe positioned prominently as a draw for January travelers: because “the holiday ski rush is gone (phew),” Thrillist writes, “…and better yet, you don’t have to worry about good weather here considering Ski Santa Fe receives an average snowfall of 225 inches and has the capacity to make snow on 50% of the mountain.” Even better, Santa Fe the city is a stone’s throw away, with the usual recommendations (Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Meow Wolf et. al) for non-skiing entertainment. On the food front, Thrillist shouts out Arroyo Vino, “where deciding between the crispy organic chicken confit ‘Coq au Vin’ and seared marine diver scallops should have to be the toughest decision you make all day.” Paloma also receives notice for its steak fajitas, sea bass Veracruz and homemade sorbet. As for the other best places to recreate next month: Atlantic City, New Jersey; Healdsburg, California; Sullivan County, New York; Williamstown, Massachusetts; Vail, Colorado; and St. Louis, Missouri.

Mix it up

Fire & Hops’ former location at 222 Guadalupe has a new tenant setting up shop. SFR learned this week that coffeeshop REMIX Audio Bar, which recently celebrated its fifth birthday, will be setting up a second location to complement its Marcy Street digs in the home of the former gastropub, which closed in September. Co-owner Justin Ray tells SFR he and his wife/business partner Julie Grace hope to “provide something similar to our original location—but we’re starting off with late-night service, after 6 pm. We can’t give a date just yet because we’re still moving in there.” Ray and Grace plan to work with a local chef to provide “something more with sandwiches in the new location,” and purchased some of Fire & Hops restaurant equipment from owner Josh Johns. The new outpost also will host the business’ DJ-school offerings. As for Johns, he tells SFR he held onto the name of his 10-year-old business and is reviewing “potential plans for a small brewery,” perhaps down the line after he’s had some time to relax and “work on this plan and see if it’s feasible.” To celebrate REMIX Audio Bar’s new undertaking, SFR will give a $25 gift certificate to the business to the first responder to this email.

Everything under the sun

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 52 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the morning.

Thanks for reading! The Word is working her way through NPR’s 50 best albums of 2023, and particularly enjoying Iris DeMent’s song “Goin’ Down to Sing in Texas,” off her latest album.

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