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Friday, September 30, 2011

Saturday, October 1: Occupy Wall Street ... and Albuquerque and Santa Fe and ...

JOIN THE MOVEMENT: Hastily organized "occupations" in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street have now been scheduled for tomorrow, October 1, in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (Facebook pages). Click for info sheets for Occupy Burque and Occupy Santa Fe in Solidarity With Occupy Wall Street.

Since September 17, a diverse array of "hacktivists," ordinary citizens and celebrities has been participating in an expanding protest -- called "Occupy Wall Street" -- in downtown Manhattan in New York City. The constant and continuing demonstrations were designed to mimic at least some aspects of the Tahrir (Liberation) Square revolt, which entailed 18 days of protests in Cairo. Tahrir Squate led to the downfall of the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and morphed into a group of revolts now known collectively as the "Arab Spring."

Only time will tell whether Occupy Wall Street will end up in the history books as a victory for the people or just another fizzle in the long, hard battle against corporatist fascism. And only you can impact the outcome -- by joining the movement or sitting at home whining or cursing.

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are targeting the irresponsible and often criminal actions of Wall Street traders, giant financial institutions, international banking concerns and pretty much the entire global economic and financial system. Ordinary people all over the world are sick and tired of being at the mercy of a cut-throat bunch of well-dressed, well-educated (well-bred?) extortionists and hooligans who have increasingly been dominating markets, financial dealings, housing, national debt levels, loans, employment, environmental decisions and more on behalf of the greedy and narrow interests of an oligarchy of plutocrats at the top of the economic food chain.

Defining themselves as being representative of "The 99%" of the population who are being used and abused by the outrageously wealthy elites who are calling the shots -- now known as "The 1%" -- the demonstrators are hell bent on creating a fresh, creative, nonviolent model of ongoing protest and revolt. The aim is to create a wide-ranging, semi-spontaneous, day-to-day movement that expands organically and can be adapted and adopted in cities and towns across America and everywhere else where the filthy 1% are gorging on the labor and resources of the other 99% in order to feed their sick addictions to mega-power and mega-wealth.

Sign-Occupy-Wall-Street.jpg&q=80&MaxW=320

The specific objects and targets of the protests may vary according to geographical location or local issues in play, but the core goal of the actions will be the same all over -- gaining attention and garnering support for stopping the economic bullies in their tracks in order to salvage the remnants of a fair and just culture and have a chance at shaping a new paradigm that's based on truly sustainable and enlightened principles and practices. It's now or never.

Yes, believe it or not, more and more people are finally awaking to the realities of a monstrous class war being perpetrated against ordinary workers and the poor by a bunch of multi-national economic terrorists who view the world as their own private slot machine. Call it what it is -- a class war -- but contrary to the claims of the crony capitalists, the attacks are being launched by a tiny minority of haves against the masses of the have nots, not the other way around. We cannot let this stand and expect to have a chance at any kind of positive future for ourselves, our families and friends, ordinary humans around the world, the planet's ecosystems or anything else we value and care about.

As reported by TPM

The Occupy Wall Street protests, which this week received a boost from pledges of support of local unions, are expanding not only in the number of participants but in geographical scope as well: Demonstrators in Boston, DenverChicagoSanta Fe, Lexington, Kentucky, and now three big California cities, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles, have all joined or are preparing to join the movement. A website has been set up calling for Floridians to occupy cities across the state on November 5, “Guy Fawkes Day.” In total, there have been online calls to action in over 77 cities across the United States, most of them slated to occur within the first week of October.

Origins:

Occupy Wall Street, which was first proposed by Canadian countercultural magazine Adbusters in July, initially received traction online thanks to the support of "Anonymous," the loosely-knit “hacktivist” collective. The event began on September 17 with around 3,000 protesters, but the numbers have varied considerably since then, with a core group of around 200 to 300 people maintaining a camp in nearby Zuccotti Park, despite being pepper-sprayed, beaten and arrested for frivolous offenses by police.

The #OccupyWallStreet Facebook page describes the new strategy and tactics this way:

The antiglobalization movement was the first step on the road. Back then our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf who led the pack, and those who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people — Raimundo Viejo, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain

The beauty of this new formula, and what makes this novel tactic exciting, is its pragmatic simplicity: we talk to each other in various physical gatherings and virtual people's assemblies … we zero in on what our one demand will be, a demand that awakens the imagination and, if achieved, would propel us toward the radical democracy of the future … and then we go out and seize a square of singular symbolic significance and put our asses on the line to make it happen.

Images

As Chris Hedges writes in a piece published today on Commondreams and elsewhere:

There are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt taking place on Wall Street and in the financial districts of other cities across the country or you stand on the wrong side of history. Either you obstruct, in the only form left to us, which is civil disobedience, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler of a monstrous evil. Either you taste, feel and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.

... Choose. But choose fast. The state and corporate forces are determined to crush this. They are not going to wait for you. They are terrified this will spread. They have their long phalanxes of police on motorcycles, their rows of white paddy wagons, their foot soldiers hunting for you on the streets with pepper spray and orange plastic nets. They have their metal barricades set up on every single street leading into the New York financial district, where the mandarins in Brooks Brothers suits use your money, money they stole from you, to gamble and speculate and gorge themselves while one in four children outside those barricades depend on food stamps to eat.

Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged. Today they run the state and the financial markets. They disseminate the lies that pollute our airwaves. They know, even better than you, how pervasive the corruption and theft have become, how gamed the system is against you, how corporations have cemented into place a thin oligarchic class and an obsequious cadre of politicians, judges and journalists who live in their little gated Versailles while 6 million Americans are thrown out of their homes, a number soon to rise to 10 million, where a million people a year go bankrupt because they cannot pay their medical bills and 45,000 die from lack of proper care, where real joblessness is spiraling to over 20 percent, where the citizens, including students, spend lives toiling in debt peonage, working dead-end jobs, when they have jobs, a world devoid of hope, a world of masters and serfs.

The only word these corporations know is more. They are disemboweling every last social service program funded by the taxpayers, from education to Social Security, because they want that money themselves. Let the sick die. Let the poor go hungry. Let families be tossed in the street. Let the unemployed rot. Let children in the inner city or rural wastelands learn nothing and live in misery and fear. Let the students finish school with no jobs and no prospects of jobs.

Let the prison system, the largest in the industrial world, expand to swallow up all potential dissenters. Let torture continue. Let teachers, police, firefighters, postal employees and social workers join the ranks of the unemployed. Let the roads, bridges, dams, levees, power grids, rail lines, subways, bus services, schools and libraries crumble or close. Let the rising temperatures of the planet, the freak weather patterns, the hurricanes, the droughts, the flooding, the tornadoes, the melting polar ice caps, the poisoned water systems, the polluted air increase until the species dies. 

Helpful Website Links:

JOIN THE MOVEMENT: Hastily organized "occupations" in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street have now been scheduled for tomorrow, October 1, in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (Facebook pages). Click for info sheets (pdf) for Occupy Burque and Occupy Santa Fe in Solidarity With Occupy Wall Street.

September 30, 2011 at 06:37 PM in Corporatism, Economy, Populism, Events, Finance, Investments, Human Rights, Jobs, Occupy Wall Street (Everywhere) | Permalink | Comments (9)

Saturday at ABQ Balloon Fiesta: Working Families to Launch Hot Air Balloon Calling for Congress to Take Action on Jobs Crisis

From New Mexico labor unions, the Central New Mexico Labor Council and Working America: Jobless New Mexicans and working families from across the state will launch a hot air balloon starting Saturday, October 1, at 7:00 AM at Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta calling for lawmakers to focus on fixing the growing jobs crisis affecting the country.

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The balloon launch will feature a 40-foot “America Wants to Work: Good Jobs Now” banner, and unemployed workers will be present telling their personal stories about how the jobs crisis is affecting them and why they are calling on Congress to act on passing a strong jobs agenda. In addition to this Saturday, the balloon will also be launched at 7:00 AM on Sunday, October 2; Wednesday, October 5; Saturday, October 8; and Sunday, October 9, from field position F-10.

“I have been unemployed for almost 3 years,” said LeRoy Apodaca, an unemployed Working America member. “I want to work, but finding a job these days is difficult. We are asking our elected officials to focus on job creation and make that their most important issue.”

In addition to his membership with Working America, Apodaca has been an active participant of New Mexico Wants to Work, a program that has been organizing unemployed workers since January.

The balloon event is part of the “America Wants to Work” National Month of Action calling for a jobs plan to:

  • Rebuild America’s schools and transportation and energy systems
  • Revive U.S. manufacturing and stop exporting good jobs overseas
  • Put people to work doing work that needs to be done
  • Help federal, state, and local governments avoid more layoffs and cutbacks of public services
  • Help fill the massive shortfall of consumer demand by extending unemployment benefits and keeping homeowners in their homes
  • Reform Wall Street so that it helps Main Street create jobs

The America Wants to Work balloon and banner are sponsored by New Mexico labor unions, the Central New Mexico Labor Council and Working America.

September 30, 2011 at 10:23 AM in Children and Families, Economy, Populism, Events, Jobs, Labor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Second UNM C-SVED Panel Discusses Presidential Electoral College Versus National Popular Vote

DownloadedFile-1 The UNM Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy (C-SVED) held its second of three Citizen Panel meetings yesterday in Santa Fe to discuss and compare the current Electoral College system with a new approach, the National Popular Vote Initiative. Guests at Wednesday’s meeting included the New Mexico Secretary of State, Dianna Duran, Senators Rod Adair and Peter Wirth, and State Legislators Nate Gentry and David Doyle. In addition to these guests, Citizen Panel members, including County Clerks from four New Mexico counties and multiple citizens and citizen groups, grappled with the idea of changing the way we vote for president to a national popular vote.

"We have brought Democrats and Republicans together to discuss this important issue,” said Prof. Lonna Atkeson, director of C-SVED.  "This is not a partisan issue, but one that affects all citizens."

Representatives of the National Popular Vote Initiative (NPVI) participated in the Citizen Panel discussion, arguing that New Mexico should join eight other states and the District of Columbia, in adopting legislation that would create a multi-state compact.

According to the C-SVED, yesterday’s Citizen Panel discussion focused on the creation of the multi-state compact, the members of which would award their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who received the most popular votes nationally. The Electoral College would remain intact under the proposed compact, but would change the Electoral College from an institution that reflects the voters’ state-by-state choices (or, in the case of Maine and Nebraska, district-wide choices) into a body that reflects the voters’ nationwide choice.

Specifically, the proposed compact would require that each member state award its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who received the largest number of popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted such legislation (Vermont, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Hawaii), which represents 49% of the electoral votes necessary to elect the president.

At the completion of this process, the Citizen Panel will summarize its findings and publish a report which will be presented to Secretary of State Diana Duran, members the New Mexico Legislature and to Governor Susana Martinez. The final Citizen Panel meeting is scheduled for Las Cruces in November, time and loca­tion TBA.

Videos of the Panel’s first and second meetings, as well as other related materials, are available at: www.unm.edu/~atkeson/center/csved.html.

Direct questions to Professor Lonna Atkeson (phone: (505)-277-7592, email: [email protected]).

September 29, 2011 at 06:21 PM in 2012 General Election, Election Reform & Voting, Events | Permalink | Comments (1)

Rep. Gail Chasey Endorses Michelle Lujan Grisham for Congress in NM-1

11 Today, Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Bernalillo 18) released a statement announcing her endorsement of Michelle Lujan Grisham for Congress in New Mexico's First District:

"As State Representative of New Mexico's 18th district since 1996, I worked alongside Michelle Lujan Grisham as she fought tirelessly to extend health care to those who needed it most. Not only was Michelle an early and vocal supporter of the repeal of the death penalty, she has inspired me and other lawmakers to improve the economic future for New Mexico. I cannot imagine a better person than Michelle Lujan Grisham to fight for us and represent New Mexico families in Congress.

DownloadedFile "That is why I am proud today to announce that I am endorsing Michelle Lujan Grisham for Congress! Michelle already has put forth a jobs plan to move us forward in a new green economy and will stand up to right wing plans to cut Medicare and Social Security. She will fight for us, and that is why I hope you will take a minute today and send her to Congress. Nobody outworks Michelle!

"The stakes are high, and radical Republicans in Washington will fight hard to get this seat. Today, I am asking you to help us prepare to fight back and send a progressive champion to Congress."

Rep. Chasey also urged supporters to consider making a $5 campaign contribution before tomorrow's quarterly deadline to help Michelle reach her goal of raising $5,000 online before the end of this fundraising quarter.

September 29, 2011 at 05:31 PM in Michelle Lujan Grisham, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

10/1: Join AFGE Rally at Tiguex Park to Support Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid & Government Services

From the AFGE:
Join your American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) to rally for our public programs in Albuquerque on Saturday, October 1, at 12 Noon at Tiguex Park. Members of the AFGE union work for the Social Security Administration. The event takes place during their Hispanic Coalition's national meeting.

The rally will focus on the importance of protecting, preserving and strengthening Social Security benefits, the jobs, benefits and pensions of state, county and federal employees, government services and benefits and your family's future.

America’s Working Families are Under Attack
Let’s fight back! Click for Flyer
Free Food and Drinks, Entertainment and More!
Bring your signs, banners and T-shirts

Speakers will include:
  • AFGE National President John Gage
  • AFSCME Leader Jose La Luz
  • HISCO Chair Jose Gonzalez
  • NMFL President Jon Hendry
  • AFL/CIO Don Manning
  • New Mexico ARA Terry Schleder
  • AFGE National Vice Presidents
  • SSA Council President Witold Skwiercynski

Sponsored by AFGE National Office, AFGE Local 4041, AFGE Local 2063, AFGE Local 2142, AFGE Local 2263.

September 29, 2011 at 04:59 PM in Events, Healthcare, Labor, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Las Cruces Mayoral Candidates Spar at Tech Debate

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Ken Miyagishima, Michael Huerta

Contributing writer Stephen Jones checks in with more on-the-ground coverage from Southern New Mexico.

All four Las Cruces mayoral candidates faced off at a public forum sponsored by the High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico (HTC) on Wednesday morning at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum auditorium. The candidates responded to questions related to bringing high tech jobs into New Mexico's second largest city. Wednesday's event featured Mayor Ken Miyagishima and his three challengers, Las Cruces City Councillor Dolores Connor, community activist Michael Ray Huerta, and newspaper reseller Michael Fleming. It was the first event in which all four of the candidates participated on the same stage.

Panel

The four candidates stressed the proximity of New Mexico State University, White Sands Missile Base and the Spaceport USA as potential engines of new business growth in the tech sector for Las Cruces. "Every year we see more and more businesses that are looking at Las Cruces" as a potential place to locate, Mayor Miyagishima said, "Once the Spaceport is up and running, we are looking at a $500 million dollar economic boom per year," he said.

"There's so much research wealth here in our County," Dolores Connor said. "You're going to hear a lot about the Spaceport and White Sands Missile Range. I have been a supporter of the Spaceport since day one and continue to be," she said. Connor also pointed to White Sands, NASA and the area testing facilities as engines of business growth. "People from all over the world travel here to work with those facilities. It is our opportunity to engage those businesses and work with them to make them a part of our community," she said. Connor also talked about the importance of working with secondary schools in building bridge programs in science education.

Conner Fleming1
Dolores Connor, Michael Fleming

Michael Ray Huerta said the city needed to do more to address quality of life issues to get and keep good paying technical jobs. He pointed to Austin, Texas as the model he would try to emulate in that regard. "The Brookings Institute came out with a study that said diversity of human capital is the key indicator of whether or not cities can maintain a workforce," Huerta said. "What does that mean for Las Cruces?" he asked. "We've done a lot in the last few years to address the quality of life for retirees and seniors," he said, "but what we need to do to retain people in high tech business, is to address their quality of life." Huerta singled out development of the arts and entertainment, music and outdoor recreation as areas that needed to be addressed.

Michael Fleming concurred that the City needed to partner with NMSU and the aerospace facilities. "We need to strengthen education, especially at the lower grades, so that they have the three 'R's' down and can successfully complete their college educations," Fleming added.

Addressing the expansion of solar and broadband in Las Cruces, each of the candidates agreed more needed to be done in the City. However, Miyagishima pointed out that once solar facilities are completed they do not leave behind large workforces. Connor agreed, adding that the private sector needed to do more, particularly in the area of broadband. "We simply don't have the public dollars to address the deficiency," she said. Huerta said more could be done to educate the public on the use of internet technologies to generate greater demand from the private sector in building out broadband in Las Cruces.  

Miyagishima Huerta
Ken Miyagishima, Michael Huerta

Connor called for a lower tax rate and reform of the State Goods and Services Tax to help drive economic development. She said she strongly supported Governor Susana Martinez's efforts to reform the tax. Mayor Miyagishima pointed out that, under his administration, he had built "a healthy business environment," and noted that the City had "twice the financial reserves" that are required by the state, putting the city of firm economic ground. He noted that, through the direction of the current administration, Las Cruces has not overbuilt speculative housing, and has avoided many of the economic problems of its competitors.

While Miyagishima pointed to good planning as an engine of future job growth, Connor said that it was the private sector that needed to create the jobs. "Once we've built the streets and sewers, we've done our job," she said. In one late exchange between the candidates, Huerta called on the Mayor and City Council to slash their own salaries. Huerta said that -- in real terms -- there was a 15% unemployment rate in the city. "It's time the Mayor and City Council make some sacrifices, too," he said.

As each of the candidates pointed out, Las Cruces has a weak-mayor form of government. While the Mayor holds a key vote on the seven-member City Council, that individual has no administrative duties, but does set the agenda for the Council. Las Cruces has a full-time City Manager who reports to the full City Council. 

The Las Cruces municipal election will be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2011. In addition to the Mayoral race, three City Council seats and the Municipal Judge contest will be decided in the 2011 municipal election.

HTC, which sponsored the forum, is headquartered in Las Cruces. It is a non-profit membership organization made up of tech-oriented individuals, small business owners, corporate leaders and educators that has come together to promote a positive business atmosphere conducive to growing the high-tech sector in southern New Mexico.

Photos by Stephen Jones. Click images for larger versions. To see more posts by Stephen, visit our archive.

September 28, 2011 at 07:58 PM in By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Events, Las Cruces, Las Cruces City Elections | Permalink | Comments (1)

AZ Congressman Raúl Grijalva Endorses Eric Griego for Congress in NM-1

RaulGrijalvaCr In an email to Griego's supporters today, 5-term Democratic Congressman Raúl Grijalva (AZ-7) announced his endorsement of Eric Griego for Congress in New Mexico's First District. Rep. Grijalva Co-Chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and serves as Chair of the Education Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). He also is a Vice Chair of the House LGBT Equality Caucus and Co-Chairs the Congressional National Landscape Conservation System Caucus.

"As John Boehner and Tea Party Republicans wage class war against working families, Progressives in Congress are fighting back. But we need help. We need more bold progressives fighting by our side," said Grijalva. "That's why I endorse State Senator Eric Griego for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District open seat."

Griego_eric "Eric Griego believes that 'the last thing we need to send to Washington is a Democrat who's a kinder, gentler version of the Republicans'. I agree. Democrats must fight for a government that works for all people, not just those with deep pockets and fancy titles," Grijalva noted.

"Eric fought to get corporate money out of politics as an Albuquerque City Councilor, where he passed one of the strongest local campaign finance reforms in the nation. As State Senator, he took on the Big Oil companies and put middle-class workers first by passing a green jobs bill into law," Grijalva continued. "Eric is supported by leading progressive groups and major labor unions -- and he is the only candidate in the race to have a lifetime 100% rating from Conservation Voters New Mexico."

Rep. Grijalva encouraged supporters to donate to Griego's campaign, saying, "I need Eric Griego fighting by my side in Congress. To make that happen, he needs your help."

Congressman Grijalva serves on the Subcommittees on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, and Workforce Protections, of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, as well as on the Committee of Natural Resources, were he is a member of the Subcommittee on Water and Power and the Ranking Membe of the Subcomittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

Click to see our previous posts on Eric Griego, as well as the NM-01 Congressional Race 2012, in our archives.

September 28, 2011 at 01:53 PM in Eric Griego, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012, Progressivism | Permalink | Comments (5)

Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston Endorses Marty Chavez for Congress in NM-1

BryanCranstonCr Today, in an email to Chavez supporters, Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston endorsed Marty Chavez in his bid to represent New Mexico’s First Congressional District in the House of Representatives.

“If you've seen an episode of Breaking Bad, you know about the drama, the critical praise, and the awards the TV show has garnered –- but what some people still don’t know is that it's shot right here in Albuquerque! It's one of the great privileges of my life to do this show, but it's also what this production does for the community I've come to love," Cranston said.

"You see, each episode of Breaking Bad helps to create and fuel hundreds of jobs in this incredible city and bring in millions of dollars to benefit the local economy. A great deal of the credit for that accomplishment goes to former Mayor Marty Chavez,” Cranston added. "His efforts were instrumental in bringing Breaking Bad, and many other film and television productions to Albuquerque. That fact, and other important issues, is why I am endorsing his campaign for U.S. Congress."

MartyChavezCr “As Mayor he worked tirelessly to improve the lives of his constituents by actively promoting ideas that created the right kinds of jobs in Albuquerque. Jobs that advanced New Mexico’s clean energy economy while preserving our natural environment,” Cranston stated.

"I'm not going dance around it: times are tough in America right now –- and we need bold leaders fighting to protect New Mexico’s working families. That's exactly why I'm getting involved in Marty Chavez's race for United States Congress; because I know he is the kind of leader who will stand up for all the middle-class families struggling throughout our country," Cranston said. "Now, Forbes Magazine credits Marty for making the city the 'Number-one Place to Do Business' in America. That's a pretty impressive title to have in this economy."

“I’m incredibly proud to have Bryan’s support. Breaking Bad means a great deal to our local economy and Bryan has been a leader in promoting green technologies,” said Chavez.

Cranston also added, “Marty has taken a strong position on protecting vital programs like Social Security and Medicare –- and has been consistent on the need for a real jobs program that will get the economy going again and shift our focus toward creating green jobs.”

Click to see our previous posts on Marty Chavez as well as the NM-01 Congressional Race 2012, in our archives.

September 28, 2011 at 12:39 PM in Martin Chavez, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012, Television | Permalink | Comments (8)

Steve Klinger Guest Blog: New Independent Newspaper 'The Light of New Mexico' Seeks to Illuminate Inconvenient Truths

This is a guest blog by Steve Klinger, a long-time journalist and editor of the Grassroots Press, on the recent launch of a new, independent print and online newspaper called The Light of New Mexico. Steve will be editing the paper, which will initially be published monthly. The first print issue of The Light of New Mexico hit the streets of Santa Fe on September 15, with a cover story on "The Politics of H2O: Who Controls Your Water?" It's also available for download as a pdf by clicking here.

The newspaper, published by Skip Whitson, will focus on "Illuminating Inconvenient Truths," and will be covering "Conscious Culture, including Politics, Reviews, Books and Entertainment." The Light of New Mexico is designed to serve as a progressive, alternative source of ideas, information and a networking nexus for north-central New Mexico and beyond, providing a newspaper, a blog and a community resource.

According to the paper's Mission Statement, "Our focuses include state and local politics, peace/nonviolence, environment, civil liberties, foreign policy, social justice, global awareness, fair trade, localism and sustainability, as well as an abiding appreciation for music and art as a force for change. We maintain a commitment to outreach, education, and peaceful dialogues to safeguard democracy and raise consciousness within our communities.

“It is the role of a newspaperman to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” –-Chicago journalist Finley Peter Dunne

Connecting the Dots
There are those who think the print newspaper is in its death throes and others who think words of any kind are just useless spitballs hurled by naïve optimists into the maelstrom of a crumbling democracy and a planet hurtling toward disaster.

Among the dwindling minority who are still willing or able to commit words to the printed page, even fewer are doing anything like real journalism, as the money behind the surviving mainstream media is too busy advancing the corporate agenda, promoting the so-called balance of false equivalents, or in some cases hacking the phones of crime victims in the race to pander to the lowest common subscriber denominator.

We won’t be doing things that way, and we thought you’d like to know.

I feel privileged to be associated with The Light of New Mexico, a new, independent monthly newspaper based in Santa Fe that will take a higher road in attempting, as our tagline states, to illuminate inconvenient truths. We considered numerous titles for our new publication, and various slogans as well, with a common theme of shedding light on the issues of the day: political corruption, connecting the dots between manmade climate change, gridlocked government, skyrocketing corporate influence in campaigns and legislation, and the threats to democracy our republic is facing on every level. 

As I have done before in my nearly 40 years of newspaper work in New Mexico, most recently with Grassroots Press, I’ll be looking for stories that illustrate the realities ordinary people are facing in their daily lives, hoping to educate our readers and ourselves on the forces that are shaping our future in a downsizing and endangered nation. I’ll be exploring the ways in which the forces of greed and self-interest are attempting to hijack public policy. I’ll be featuring commentary from journalists, authors and experts on the critical times we face, plus a mix of pertinent syndicated material and open pages for you, our readers to fill, with your comments and unique perspectives on everything from politics to the arts.

Without deep pockets or any corporate support, we’ll also be relying on you to help us grow with your display advertising and your donations, as well as your feedback and suggestions.

Santa Fe is a remarkable place, with a rich history of cultural alchemy, a place that tolerates and elevates diversity, eclecticism and artistic expression. One of the oldest capital cities in North America, it arose on the site of far older Pueblos, a product of European colonialism and an often bloody clash of cultures -- Native American, Hispanic, Anglo -- and has been endlessly reinventing itself for better and worse ever since. These days, it’s a world-class destination, but also a place called home for nearly 70,000 folks, including some of the most talented and successful individuals on the planet, and the organizations they’ve brought with them. These include a vital emerging community of locavore, sustainable, nonprofit endeavors. Santa Fe also holds but a fraction of the population of the state of New Mexico that is our larger home, a coverage area into which we hope to expand as The Light of New Mexico grows; we hope to serve it with dedication and distinction.

Most of all, we hope you’ll read our words and help us write them. We hope to prove worthy of your interest and support. Obviously, we believe in the power of words to educate human beings and change history. We also think that time is growing short to do that under the umbrella of a free press in a besieged democracy. That’s why we feel our work is important, especially in a time when ever more of us are feeling afflicted, and those with the money and power are growing ever more comfortable.

This is a guest blog by Steve Klinger, who can be reached at [email protected]

If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

September 28, 2011 at 10:03 AM in Arts, Civil Liberties, Education, Environment, Journalism, Local Politics, Media, Music, Santa Fe, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (3)

9/28: Poet Margaret Randall to Read From 'To Change the World: My Years in Cuba' at UNM

276503_212848435436585_7475022_n From Event Posting on Facebook:
The Latin American and Iberian Institute (LAII), Zimmerman Library, Women's Resource Center, Peace Studies and the Queer Straight Alliance of the University of New Mexico proudly present an evening with Margaret Randall, an internationally revered poet, author, activist and a local Albuquerque resident. The event will take place on Wednesday, September 28, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at the Willard Reading Room at UNM's Zimmerman Library.

Randall will read from TO CHANGE THE WORLD: MY YEARS IN CUBA (Rutgers University Press, 2009), which is part memoir, and part political analysis of eleven years in Cuba (1969-1980).

Commenting on the book, the author had this to say: "The revolution was ten years old when my family and I arrived. It was going into its third decade when we left. In the interim, my four children went through daycare, grade school, high school, and two of them graduated from university. I worked as a writer, editor and cultural journalist. I produced several books, most of them on women in the revolution. I learned photography, participated in the unions and mass organizations, and joined the Cuban people in writing new law." TO CHANGE THE WORLD is an in-depth look at one of the most important and controversial social experiments in the second half of the 20th century, from one who experienced it from the inside.

Margaret Randall will be reading fragments from the book, entertaining questions and signing copies of TO CHANGE THE WORLD. This event is FREE and open to the public. Please spread the word.

September 28, 2011 at 09:26 AM in Books, Events, Poetry/Spoken Word | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New National Report: How Gov. Susana Martinez's Big Business Agenda Endangers New Mexicans

Susana1Cr Just the facts! Food & Water Watch, joined by Conservation Voters New Mexico and the New Mexico Federation of Labor, today released a report (pdf) that outlines numerous examples of how Governor Susana Martinez has given special privilege to industries like oil and gas, industrialized dairy, homebuilders and mining -- at the expense of environmental protection and the local economy. The well-documented report also provide useful charts that demonstrate -- in no uncertain terms -- how and why the Martinez administration puts politics and campaign donor wishes ahead of the needs of New Mexicans and protecting our vital natural resources. 

Immediately following a press conference that took place in front of the Capitol Roundhouse at 12:30 PM, the groups and other concerned New Mexicans hand-delivered the report to Governor Martinez’s office and demanded that she give advocates for small business, working families and the environment a seat at the table that has otherwise been reserved solely for big industry.

“New Mexicans are fed up with Governor Martinez’s secret task forces, industry appointments and decisions that do little to address the dire economic and environmental problems we face,” said Food & Water Watch New Mexico organizer Eleanor Bravo. “We are here today to remind Governor Martinez that she works for us –- the residents of New Mexico -– and not the big industries that threaten our health, our environment, worker rights, and home-grown small businesses.”

As the report says, "From the moment she became New Mexico’s governor on January 1, 2011, Susana Martinez has worked overtime to dismantle key protections that the state put in place for the benefit of New Mexicans and the air, water and land they cherish ... Unfortunately, Governor Martinez, who swept into office with the help of campaign donations from oil and gas, mining, mega-dairy and other big industries, has demonstrated little restraint granting the wishes of those who want to see the state’s environmental protections rolled back."

161899_182186898472448_2411796_n Big money talks -- and Susana Martinez listens. The report notes that oil and gas, industrialized dairy, mining and the construction industries all were big financial supporters of the Martinez gubernatorial campaign. Oil and gas gave more than $1 million to candidate Martinez, homebuilders and general contractors gave $621,000 and the livestock and dairy industry gave $267,900.

The must-read report, Private Profits, Public Threats: How Governor Martinez’s Big Business Agenda Endangers New Mexicans (pdf), describes how in her first six months in office, Martinez has rapidly worked to roll back the rules and regulations that protect New Mexico’s natural resources, public health and working families. It explains how her “Small Business-Friendly Task Force” does not truly represent small businesses, and how Martinez's big business agenda is particularly harmful to lower income, predominately Hispanic communities in New Mexico.

The report chronicles many examples of how Martinez has ignored the concerns of health and environmental advocates to favor the agendas of the big industries that gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to her gubernatorial campaign. Examples include:

  • Undermining pollution controls for factory farms
  • Attempting to abolish the Water Quality Control Commission
  • Paving over the Pit Rule that protects groundwater from oil and gas drilling waste
  • Pocket-vetoing local food procurement bill
  • Firing the State Labor Board
  • Vetoing unemployment benefits

"Governor Martinez has launched an aggressive attack on the safeguards on which New Mexicans depend to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe," said Sandy Buffett, Executive Director of Conservation Voters New Mexico. "In our view, her systematic dismantling of these safeguards threatens the security of our families and communities."

Bottom Line:

This chronicle of Governor Martinez’s words and deeds during her first eight months in office makes her strategy quite clear -– she’s taken campaign cash from big industry, she’s appointed those industry players to key posts in state government and now she’s cutting the protections that keep New Mexicans and their precious air, water, food and land safe from those industries.

The report and corresponding fact sheets in Spanish and English can be downloaded for free at the Food & Water Watch website.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control. See www.foodandwaterwatch.org.

September 27, 2011 at 11:44 PM in Energy, Environment, Food and Drink, Labor, NM Legislature 2011, Regulation, Susana Martinez, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Local Flash Mob at State Fair Part of Global Effort to Solve Climate Change


Learn more at at www.solnotcoal.org

On Saturday, more than 100 activists held a flash mob at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds to demand solutions to climate change. With the motto "Sol Not Coal" on bandanas, signs and flyers, dancers and volunteers created a high-energy spectacle right in front of the State Fair’s natural resource pavilion. 

“New Mexicans need to realize that global climate change can be solved and that the solutions mean cleaner air, better quality of life and more good jobs,” said Lilia Diaz, New Energy Economy’s Director of Programs and Outreach.

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“Climate change impacts everyone and will continue to impact future generations. We all have to take a stand right now,” said Juan Reynosa, Air Quality Organizer for the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP).

“We can’t wait for Washington to get its act together on climate change. New Mexico families and businesses have the power to build a better future by moving to a clean energy economy,” said Shrayas Jatkar, Sierra Club’s Organizing Representative in Albuquerque.

2010 saw the highest recorded global emissions of man-made greenhouse gases in history: 30 billion tons of energy-related carbon pollution. Half of this pollution comes from coal. New Mexico suffers from some of the dirtiest coal power plants in the nation. PNM’s San Juan Coal Plant alone generates more than 8.5 million tons of carbon pollution and consumes more than 9.3 billion gallons of clean water each year. The plant has also been cited for 60,000 air quality violations.

This action was a part of 350.org Moving Planet day to demand climate action and encourage a movement beyond fossil fuels.

Photos by Lindsay Marisol Archuleta.

September 27, 2011 at 10:47 PM in Climate, Energy, Environment, Events | Permalink | Comments (0)