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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

3/04: Maggie's Re-Election Campaign to Bernalillo County Commission District 3

MHS_Logo_2Maggie Hart Stebbins Kickoff for Re-Election to Bernalillo County Commission, District 3

When: Sunday, March 4;  2-4 p.m.

Where: O'Niell's Irish Pub - Nob Hill Beautiful District 3 4310 Central SE, Albuquerque

Join Us To Help Maggie Kick Off Her 2012 Re-Election Campaign.

"It's an honor to serve as your County Commissioner. Working together, we have created new jobs in our community and helped our small businesses grow. We are making county government more accountable, protecting our water supply and supporting public safety strategies to protect our vibrant neighborhoods. To learn more about our efforts or to volunteer, email me at mhstebbins@gmail.com,"
- Maggie Hart Stebbins, Bernalillo County Commissioner, District 3

February 29, 2012 at 07:18 PM in 2012 Bernalillo County Commission Race, Bernalillo County, Candidates & Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

3/02: Heinrich to Hold News Conference to Discuss Strengthening Medicare & Social Security

144U.S. Senate candidate Martin Heinrich will hold a news conference with special guest National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) President Max Ritchman on Friday, March 2, 2012 at 4 p.m. in Santa Fe to discuss strengthening Medicare and Social Security for New Mexico's seniors and for generations to come. The details of the event are below.

Who: U.S. Senate candidate Martin Heinrich and NCPSSM President Max Ritchman

What: News Conference on Strengthening Social Security & Medicare for New Mexico's Seniors

When: Friday, March 2, 2012, from 4 to 4:30 p.m.

Where: The Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe 87505

Questions? (505) 926-1809

Always standing on the side of New Mexico’s seniors when Social Security and Medicare are at risk, Heinrich was honored to receive the endorsement of NCPSSM, the nation's most influential senior advocacy and education membership organizations.

February 29, 2012 at 06:52 PM in 2012 NM Senate Race, Candidates & Races, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Social Security | Permalink | Comments (2)

Rodefer Announces Candidacy for State Senate District 9

Ben_Rodefer_for_State_SenateOn February 28, 2012, Ben Rodefer announced his candidacy to represent Senate District 9 in the New Mexico State Legislature. He will face incumbent John Sapien in the June 5, 2012 primary election.

Rodefer, a Democrat, served the area as State Representative from 2008-2010. During that period, he led the successful charge to block a $400 million taxpayer giveaway to bankrupt California developers Suncal. Rodefer also fought to increase clean energy jobs and to close the loophole in New Mexico’s tax code that allows out-of- state corporations to get out of paying the same state taxes that New Mexico companies pay.

Supporter George Franzen stated, “As a retired Brigadier General, I have really pushed Ben to serve New Mexico in the State Senate. The cornerstone of my career was integrity. Integrity is the foundation of all human relationships. We need more leaders of integrity like Ben, leaders who will serve the public’s best interests, not corporate and private ones. I’m proud to be a soldier for Ben in this important campaign.”

Rodefer stated, “I am humbled by the many community leaders who have asked me to serve this district again. I look forward to a spirited campaign with Senator Sapien. Elections are about choices, and I think there is a clear choice for voters to make this year.”

Rodefer was raised in the district, attending Sandoval Elementary and Cibola High School. He is the proud father of two and a small business owner. Rodefer is President of the New Mexico Renewable Energy Industries Association and was awarded the 2009 Earl Nunn Memorial Award for Advocacy for Public Education in New Mexico.

February 29, 2012 at 11:45 AM in 2012 Legislature Races, Candidates & Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

3/6: District Court Judge Alisa Hadfield Kicking Off Election Campaign

Hadfield 001District Court Judge (Family Court) Alisa Hadfield is kicking off her election campaign with a reception at Scalo Northern Italian Grill in Nob Hill on March 6, 2012 from 5:30 to 7:00. Please join Michael and Traci Cadigan, Judge Susan M. Conway, (Retired), Madeline Dunn, Jack Carmody, Michael Hart, Peter Johnstone, Esteli Juarez-Boyd, Robert McNeill, Steve Paternoster and Gregg Velasquez in supporting this great Democratic judge.

Judge Hadfield, a lifelong Democrat, joined the Family Court bench in 2010 after being selected by the Judicial Nominating Committee and appointed by Governor Richardson. She has previously served as a district attorney, public defender and a family lawyer in private practice. She is also an avid rock climber and outdoorsperson. Judge Hadfield’s experience, compassion and common sense help families struggling with marital and domestic violence issues.

Please join us at Scalo to support Judge Hadfield on March 6 from 5:30 to 7:00. Make checks payable to the Committee to Retain Judge Alisa Hadfield. Please visit www.judgehadfield.com for more details.

February 29, 2012 at 11:32 AM in 2012 Judicial Races, Candidates & Races, Children and Families, Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Communications Workers of America (CWA) Launches Website to Urge Gov. Martinez to Sign SB9

Citizens of New Mexico can visit new website and urge Governor Martinez to sign legislation ensuring that out of state corporations pay their fair share in taxes.

Susana 001Today, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) launch www.OhSusana.org, a website where New Mexico’s citizens can urge Governor Susana Martinez to act in the interests of New Mexico small business owners and workers by signing SB9 – the Corporate Fair Tax Bill. The popular bipartisan bill will boost revenue by changing the state’s tax code to ensure multi-state corporations doing business in New Mexico pay their fair share of corporate income taxes. This legislation has also been endorsed by the Albuquerque Journal.

“Our state misses out on tens of millions of dollars in revenue every year—revenue that every other western state currently collects—because big out of state corporate interests maintain a lockjaw grip on the capitol.  Susana Martinez has an easy opportunity today to change that balance of power and give New Mexico small business an opportunity to succeed.  She should level the playing field so that every business, not just businesses incorporated only in New Mexico, pays state income tax to benefit our municipalities, schools and roads,” said Michael O’Reilly Proprietor of Pranzo Italian Grill in Santa Fe.

"Small Business owners in NM are paying income tax on their profits, while out of state based corporations who compete with them day in and day out are allowed to avoid taxes on their profits,” said Herb Cohen, former small business owner of Steaksmith in Santa Fe. “This is unfair to all who support our state's needs and it makes local small business less competitive in the process."

New Mexico is the only western state to operate under an imbalanced tax structure which allows corporations to use a tax loophole to avoid paying taxes.  This loophole also puts small businesses in an untenable position of having to compete with big box stores while being forced to pay taxes that the big box stores- like Wal-Mart- are not.  The SB9 bill would level the playing field for small businesses.

“Governor Susana Martinez has the opportunity to stand with hundreds of thousands of New Mexico small business owners and workers,” said Miles Conway, CWA NM. “We hope that she puts the interests of New Mexico above those of corporate lobbyists.”

Governor Martinez has until March 7 to sign or veto SB9.

Visit www.OhSusana.org to learn more about why Gov. Martinez should sign SB9.

February 29, 2012 at 11:18 AM in Corporatism, NM Legislature 2012, Susana Martinez, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NM-1: Eric Griego Releases Women’s Issues Platform, “Women Are the Majority”

From Eric Griego for Congress campaign.

034Today, Eric Griego for Congress in NM-1 released Griego’s women’s issues platform, called “Women Are the Majority.”

“I was raised by a single working mother and I saw the struggles she faced,” said Eric Griego.  “My mom worked two jobs to support me and my siblings, keep us healthy, and teach us.  It’s because of her that I will do everything I can to help the women of New Mexico who face tough odds in this economy and protect their rights.”

Griego’s platform focuses on four issue areas affecting millions of women: paid family leave, reproductive rights, pay equity and Social Security.

Paid Family Leave

Eric Griego grew up watching his single mother struggle to balance work and family.  He believes that women and men should not have to choose between their jobs and their families in time of need.  That is why he led efforts as a state and city legislator and as the Executive Director for New Mexico Voices for Children to pass increased funding for early childhood, working families’ tax credit, higher minimum wage, and to protect Medicaid for working families.

In Congress, Eric will support families by working to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to give paid family leave for births and adoptions.

Reproductive Rights

As a State Senator, Eric Griego stood up to conservative anti-women forces and opposed punitive bills designed to gut family planning rights.  Eric sponsored the “Unintended Pregnancy Advisory Panel” in the State Senate, aimed at studying how to reduce unintended pregnancies while protecting women’s health and rights.  He also voted to give sexual assault victims access to emergency contraception.  He has been and will always continue to be a principled ally of health organizations such as Planned Parenthood to support comprehensive women’s health and family planning programs.

Eric not only supports Roe v. Wade, but also considers women’s rights essential to decisions on medical privacy.  As a State Senator, Eric stood up to conservative anti-women forces and opposed legislation designed to erode family planning rights (SB239), criminalize abortions (HB30, SB222), and force minor victims of even incest or rape to obtain parental permission before receiving care.

Pay Equity

As a State Senator, Eric Griego consistently voted for legislation to increase fair employment practices.  He also supported legislation to prevent health insurers from charging higher premiums to females (SB148).

Eric supports the Paycheck Fairness Act now before Congress.  He believes that the bill is a good start but does not go far enough.  Eric supports stronger legislation that would call for the disclosure of pay statistics.  This would prevent discrimination in the first place rather than putting the responsibility on women to fight it after the fact.  In addition, Eric will continue to help women- and minority-owned businesses by insisting that the set-asides for these businesses be enforced in federal contracting.

Social Security

Eric Griego knows how important Social Security benefits can be to retired and disabled Americans and opposes Republican and Blue Dog efforts to cut them.

However, Eric understands that the current system is not perfect – women often receive fewer benefits because they took time out of work to raise children or care for aging family members.  That is why he supports creating a caregiver credit in Social Security.  He believes that we must recognize the valuable work that caregivers do by awarding Social Security credit at least as high as the minimum wage.

Griego’s platform release follows his campaign’s announcement yesterday of support from prominent local women leaders, including:

  • Dr. Martha Burk, Director of the Corporate Accountability Project and former Chairwoman of the National Council of Women’s Organizations
  • State Senator Mary Jane Garcia, Majority Whip
  • State Senator Dede Feldman, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Public Affairs
  • State Senator Cynthia Nava, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Education
  • State Representative Mimi Stewart, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Health and Government Affairs
  • State Representative Eleanor Chavez, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Labor and Human Resources

February 28, 2012 at 05:15 PM in Candidates & Races, Children and Families, Eric Griego, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012, Women's Issues, Women's Right to Choose | Permalink | Comments (21)

New Report Finds New Mexico Utility PNM Used Huge Rate Hikes on Residents to Fuel Soaring Profits During Recession

The Sierra Club, New Energy Economy, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Dine’ CARE, and Southwest Organizing Project released a report today finding that New Mexico’s largest utility, the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), has aggressively pursued major increases in electricity rates, corporate profits, and executive pay during a period of economic hardship for many residents.

Pnm pic 2 001
The analysis of financial documents and investor presentations of PNM and its parent company, PNM Resources (PNMR), reveals that since 2008 the utility has directed 79 percent of the $182 million it has raised from rate increases into corporate profits ¾ driving a 2500 percent profit increase.

“With three rate hikes in four years going mostly to corporate profits while New Mexicans are struggling, PNM is behaving like a big Wall St. bank,” said New Energy Economy Executive Director Mariel Nanasi. “The utility’s claims to care about residents and rate impacts ring hollow.”

The report finds that in 2010, the year unemployment in New Mexico hit 8.4 percent, PNMR raised pay for its top five corporate executives by 68 percent, including doubling CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn’s pay to nearly $2.5 million a year.

PNM’s 2008, 2009, and 2011 rate hikes have amounted to an additional $250 a year for the average New Mexico residential ratepayer, a 41 percent increase, according to the analysis. Less than 6 percent of the money from PNM’s rate hikes was spent toward energy efficiency programs that benefit ratepayers or clean energy projects that create jobs and reduce reliance on costly and polluting coal plants, such as PNM’s San Juan Generating Station near Farmington.

“PNM has been enriching its investors while stalling on renewable energy investments and efficiency programs that create jobs, cut pollution, and save New Mexicans money,” said Shrayas Jatkar, Sierra Club organizing representative in Albuquerque. “This is a wake-up call that ratepayers and regulators must closely question any PNM rate increases going forward.”

Pnm pic1 001

While the state’s other investor-owned utilities, El Paso Electric and Southwestern Public Service, are complying with state law by providing 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, PNM is failing to meet the standard. On energy efficiency programs that save New Mexicans money, PNM lags far behind the 5 percent savings required by 2014, the report finds.

“New Mexicans want more energy coming from clean sources without the air pollution, toxic ash waste, and intensive water use of burning coal,” said Mike Eisenfeld with the San Juan Citizens Alliance in Farmington, where residents are exposed to air pollutants from the nearby San Juan Generating Station and Four Corners Power Plant. “On that priority, PNM is holding our state back.”

The Perspective on PNM report notes that 80 percent of PNMR stock is held by financial institutions, largely outside of the state. After the November 2011 sale of its Texas energy business First Choice for $270 million, PNMR used the money to repurchase $230 million in PNMR shares, meaning “most of the money left New Mexico instead of being invested in-state,” according to the report.

"PNM has been resisting the air pollution controls needed at its San Juan coal plant at the exact same time they've been putting so much money to profits," said Lori Goodman with Dine' Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment (Dine’ CARE). "That's an added insult to all who live near that plant's pollution, and it says a lot about PNM's priorities."

The report is being shared with members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation and Public Regulatory Commission (PRC).

Please click here for a PDF version of the report, “Perspective on PNM: Rates, Profits & Priorities During the Recession (2008-2012).”

 

February 28, 2012 at 04:41 PM in Business, Corporatism, Energy, Environment, Regulation | Permalink | Comments (5)

International Women's Day Celebration

Womens day 001

Click here to Download International_Women's_Day_Celebration_March_8th flier.

February 28, 2012 at 03:59 PM in Events, Women's Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Patricia Madrid Guest Blog: Report from "Women for Marty" Kickoff Brunch

Madrid-4w-720237A guest blog from former Attorney General Patricia Madrid.

On Saturday, February 4, dozens of central New Mexican women packed Scalo’s Restaurant in Nob Hill in support of First Congressional District candidate Marty Chavez. Mary Molina Mescall, the former Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women, led the efforts of a stellar Steering Committee composed of such great New Mexico ladies as Clara Padilla Andrews, Clara Apodaca, Cynthia Borrego, Stella Griffin, Janis Harkleroad, Deborah James, Darlene Jojola, Diana Dorn Jones, Luanne Kozlowski, Loyda Martinez, Diana Montoya, Frances Ray, Tanna Romero, Tonja Stafford, Linda Olmstead Stover and myself.  

As guests sat down to brunch in a room filled to its capacity, and then some, Mary Molina Mescall introduced the former Mayor and current Congressional candidate by saying, “I understand women’s and girls’ issues,” and “I am confident and I am energized at the fact Marty Chavez is going to give a voice to New Mexico women in Washington, D.C.”

Marty at womens event
After a warm round of applause, Marty took the microphone to speak about his commitment to New Mexico women. As a State Senator, he introduced and championed pieces of legislation that finally outlawed spousal rape and required insurers to cover mammograms. As Albuquerque Mayor, he established the Center for Family Advocacy, a one-stop-shop for victims of violence, began regular Conferences on Women, which included financial and employment counseling, and assembled an Executive Cabinet made up of more than 50% women. As a Congressional candidate, Marty has proudly but humbly accepted endorsements from equal-pay crusader Lilly Ledbetter and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta.

But Marty recognized that work remains, and he assured the crowd that he will see that the work gets done: “Women are the ones that are continually excluded [from paths to prosperity], still earning less for the same work as their male counterparts. I want to be your Congressman to help rectify that.” And speaking about the recent Planned Parenthood funding controversy, Marty stood firmly in favor of women’s rights. “Everyone believes here that this is a woman’s right to choose based on her faith and her body,” and “when they attack a woman’s right to choose, I will be there to be your voice.”

Political veterans who attended the event know Marty has what it takes to be a successful Representative. Former New Mexico First Lady Clara Apodaca stated that Marty “was the best Mayor we’ve ever had.” I then added that as Former New Mexico Attorney General and a previous Congressional candidate myself I know that “Marty can win this seat. He’s a proven leader, he’s a proven vote-getter, and he’s a wonderful man.” Diana Dorn Jones, who served as Albuquerque COO, recognized Marty’s work ethic: “He is one of the hardest-working politicians that I know. We often wondered if Marty ever slept.”

Several other guests took the floor to speak about how Marty supported the causes important to them. For Cynthia Borrego, it was Marty’s collaboration on nuisance abatement. Cynthia Hall praised Marty’s “long term vision” in preserving open space around Albuquerque. Linda Stover appreciated Marty’s efforts to keep Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. Marjorie Germaine is excited to see her adopted hometown get national attention. Darlene Jojola has spent years working with the Urban Indian Advocacy Program, and attested to the fact that Marty “made a difference in the lives of women and children.”

Marty’s accomplishments were not the only ones being lauded. Mary Molina Mescall cited a statistic that 60% of Democratic women vote regularly. Clara Apodaca backed up that statistic, saying, “Women have the power and we vote better than anyone else.” Indeed, Marty Chavez knows women will play incredibly important roles in electing him to Congress and are the lifeblood of local campaign efforts. In New Mexico politics, Marty said, “Women get the work done.”

For more information about “Women for Marty” and Marty’s campaign to deliver results for New Mexican families in Congress please visit www.martychavez.com.

February 27, 2012 at 01:08 PM in Candidates & Races, Guest Blogger, Martin Chavez, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012, Women's Issues | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hate Speech or a Courageous Warning?

By contributing writer, Lora Lucero.

Audience members assault protesters
Photo above: audience members assault protesters.

Hate speech or a courageous warning?   Depending on who you speak with, that’s what we heard at the University of New Mexico on Thursday, Feb. 23.  Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-American who founded Arabs for Israel, was invited by the UNM Israel Alliance to talk about “Why the Arab Spring is Failing and How Israel is Involved.”  Her speech was interrupted half-way through by several young people in the back of the auditorium who attempted to “mic check” her in protest.  Yelling erupted as a number of audience members rushed to the protesters -- pushing, punching and pulling a protester’s hair. 

Young child cryingA young girl (I’m guessing 7-8 years old) started crying and found comfort in the arms of a UNM student because her parents had left her to join the melee in the back of the room.

I thought I was prepared.  Having read about Islamophobia for years, and followed high profile cases such as the Park 51 controversy in lower Manhattan, Darwish’s speech should not have shocked me.  As a land use lawyer, I’ve written and co-edited a book on religious intolerance and how it plays out in the local government permitting process.   RLUIPA Reader: Religious Land Uses, Zoning and the Courts.  Nonie Darwish’s speech, however, crossed the hate speech line for me.

What is hate speech?  I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I consider words (spoken or written), pictures or any type of communication that incites violence against an individual or group because of their race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation, for example, as hate speech.  Inciting violence doesn’t require an explicit call to violence. Sowing the seeds of fear, distrust and anger which can predictably lead to violence, constitutes hate speech in my book.

Keeping audience member off protester
Photo above: Keeping audience member off protester

Nonie Darwish never said “go kill Muslims” or “burn down the Mosque.”  She prefaced her remarks by saying that she was “not here to talk about people, not to criticize a religion, but an ideology.”  She said “if a religion expands itself so much that it becomes the state – a religious state which has a religious legal system (Sharia law), and the religious state has a military institution called jihad” – then it is fair game to expose it and offer criticism.  At that point, I wondered if the audience would listen respectfully to a presentation about Israel, a religious state with a military institution (the Israel Defense Forces) that wages war against civilians in the Occupied Territories.

The Arab Spring is destined to fail, Darwish asserts, because of what she calls the inherent conflict between the Islamic political system and Sharia law.  Although not introduced as a legal or religious scholar, Darwish frequently cited to page numbers of various texts as she proclaimed that Sharia law authorizes a violent overthrow of leaders, and a whole host of other really nasty things.

I came home after the presentation still shaking and started to post some of her more inflammatory comments on Facebook.  As soon as I typed the words, I erased them, concerned that I might unintentionally be the conduit for violence. I didn’t want to offend my Muslim friends, and I didn’t want to be tainted with that hateful speech which made me feel dirty after typing them.

Nonie DarwishWho is this woman?  Nonie Darwish was born in Egypt in 1949.  Her father was a high-ranking Egyptian military officer stationed with his family in Gaza and killed by Israel when Nonie was only eight. She immigrated to the United States in 1978 with her husband, became an Evangelical Christian and conservative Republican, and gained notoriety after she wrote “Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror.”  She regularly speaks on university campuses.

She says she wants to warn Westerners about the “dangers of Islam” and “expose Sharia law.”  She is very familiar with how her controversial remarks are received by some people, disclosing that there is a fatwa on her life for speaking against Islam, but her speaking tour is a way of “thanking America” for taking her in after she “escaped Egypt.”

A rational, thoughtful adult, even someone who has never been exposed to Islam, would hear her words and question “what’s the other side of the story?” Most people in the audience, however, appeared to be unquestioningly in support of Darwish’s worldview, giving her several standing ovations.

Every mainstream religion has its extremists, its radical fundamentalists who will resort to violence in the name of religion.  Google “Christian terrorism” or consider the Jewish settlers in Hebron in the West Bank or recall the Muslim hijackers who flew into the World Trade Center.  Each must be condemned, but Nonie Darwish goes far beyond that.

Darwish has painted all Muslims and the entire Islamic faith (at last count there are more than 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide) as extremists who want to make “war on the West.”  “A true Muslim must be an enemy of the West,” she declares.  “Jihad means a permanent war against Jews, Christians and non-Muslims. Jihad challenges the sovereignty of all non-Muslim countries.  Jihad against non-Muslims is required.”

“Lying to a non-Muslim is obligatory,” Darwish claims, “if the purpose [for lying] is obligatory [under Sharia law].”  She continues: “The Muslim religion hates the Jewish people. There are pure commandments in the Qur’an to kill Jews.” She also says there is “not one Muslim or Arab organization that teaches tolerance.”

Muslims are burning down churches in the Middle East, consummating marriage with young girls who are 8 years old, enjoying “pleasure marriages for a few hours” which is allowed under Sharia law. After sharing her interpretation of Sharia law as a fait accompli, she noted that “Islam has made Sharia law everything” and “all Muslims who live in the United States want to live under Sharia law.”  I found her wild claims were outrageous, but her opinions appeared to carry water with most everyone in this audience at UNM.

Darwish believes that the West is being deceived by its own intellectuals and politicians. She says that “Palestine never existed” (I can guess who she is supporting in the Republican primary).  In response to a question from the audience about the two-state solution, she advises that Gaza should be part of Egypt, and the West Bank should be part of Jordan. “If I was in Israel now,” she says, “I would build a fence higher and higher. It is a miracle that Israel can survive.”  A great applause from the audience followed this remark.

During the Q & A that followed her presentation (and Darwish said she appreciates challenging questions), one person asked her “if the problem is Sharia law, what is the solution?”  She said “first accept there is a problem” but gave no other “solutions.”

An audience member thanked her for “doing God’s work” and said she would go out and purchase all of her books. Another admirer remarked that universities “are not being taken over by the leftists, but by communists.”  A third audience member referred back to President Obama’s speech in Cairo when he spoke about “extremism not being the way – but did you see his face when he said it?”  This person thought Obama’s face became contorted and that he was tacitly giving his approval of extremism. “His policies are so anti-Israel.”

Professor Richard WoodProfessor Richard Wood, a recent past president of the faculty senate, stood to read a statement from Rabbi Flicker withdrawing the B’nai Israel Sisterhood’s support from this event, and rejecting all forms of hate speech.  The audience booed him down and even took the microphone away from him.

A young man stood and shared some gruesome details about how his family had been killed, and then revealed they were killed in Lebanon by Israeli soldiers.  He called Darwish a bigot and was booed down.

A recent UNM graduate stood and said she traveled to Israel and the West Bank last summer.  She saw the “Security Fence” that Israel has built in the West Bank and was sympathetic to the Palestinians living under occupation.  The audience booed her down.

Another audience member asked Darwish about her opinion of Israel attacking Iran.  She believes the West should be “acting powerfully” in response to the threat that Iran poses.  The audience enthusiastically clapped.

Hoping to dispel at least one statement Darwish made, I went to the microphone and shared that I had visited Egypt last summer, and was pleased to see both a Christian church and a Jewish synagogue, neither of which were burning.  In her forceful style, she laughed and dismissed my comment as an indication of my naivety.  I wish I had had the courage displayed by those young people who attempted the mic check. I should have told Darwish that her Islamophobia is unacceptable at UNM.

I wonder if UNM has a hate speech code. Gerald Uelmen, the former Dean of my law school in California, shared the that “[t]here were approximately 75 hate speech codes in place at U.S. colleges and universities in 1990; by 1991, the number grew to over 300. … [R]eports of campus harassment increased 400 percent between 1985 and 1990. Moreover, 80 percent of campus harassment incidents go unreported.” I suspect the statistics have skyrocketed since 2001.

Thankfully, the U.S. Attorney General’s Office is taking hate speech seriously.  In 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder established an Arab-American and Muslim Engagement Advisory Group.

Lynn ProvencioAs a witness, I’m going to make a report with the UNM Campus Police on Monday, and I’m going to write to the Department of Justice and file a grievance.  Hate speech and Islamophobia must not go unchallenged.  The sponsors of Nonie Darwish’s presentation, including the UNM Israel Alliance, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and Congregation Albert Brotherhood, should renounce this fear-mongering.

Her remarks crossed the line between free speech and hate speech when she smeared an entire religious group (all Muslims worldwide) as fanatics and extremists.  She meant to sow fear and distrust of all Muslims.  She encouraged the “us versus them” dynamics in her audience, where several members were willing to use physical violence to eject protesters from the auditorium, and grab the microphone away from speakers.

I can’t help but wonder what my Jewish friends and family would think if a speaker was up on stage denouncing Judaism in the way that Darwish denounced Islam.  First, they would rightly shout “Anti-Semite!” and then, if they had their wits about them, leave the auditorium and go protest at the University President’s house. I hope those same friends and family will denounce Nonie Darwish as a fear-monger and Islamophobe.

On Sunday, the UNM Students for Justice in Palestine issued the following statement.  That same group is conducting a number of educational events this week on campus.

Free Screening of “BUDRUS”
Monday, February 27th @ 7:00PM
UNM Student Union Building Theater (Lower Level)
Budrus is an award-winning feature documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. Struggling side by side, father and daughter unleash an inspiring, yet little-known, movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today. In an action-filled documentary chronicling this movement from its infancy, Budrus shines a light on people who choose nonviolence to confront a threat. The movie is directed by award-winning filmmaker Julia Bacha (co-writer and editor of Control Room and co-director Encounter Point), and produced by Bacha, Palestinian journalist Rula Salameh, and filmmaker and human rights advocate Ronit Avni (formerly of WITNESS, Director of Encounter Point). Read more information about the crew and cast.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hqYR7OkqL4&feature=player_embedded

Palestinian Field School Panel
Wednesday, February 29th @ 12:00PM
UNM Student Union Building, 3rd floor, Lobo A&B Room
A panel of UNM Students who recently had the chance to visit Palestine this summer as part of an American Studies & Anthropology class on Post-Settler Colonialism will present pictures and testimonies of what they have witnessed during the 14 days that they were there.

Normalization Workshop w/ BEKAH WOLF:
Wednesday, February 29th @ 6:30PM
UNM Student Union Building, 3rd floor, Acoma A&B Room
Palestine Solidarity activist, Bekah Wolf, will present a workshop on the dangers of Normalization. Wolf is a Jewish-American originally from Santa Fe, NM who was an active member of her local synagogue growing up and first visited Palestine as part of a Zionist youth trip in 1998. She became active around Arab, Muslim, and South Asian immigrant rights in New York City particularly in the direct aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. As part of a delegation of Jews Against the Occupation, Bekah returned to Palestine as a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement in 2003-2004. In the summer of 2006 she and her now-husband, former political prisoner Mousa Abu Maria, began the Palestine Solidarity Project.

STOP HATRED, STOP ISLAMAPHOBIA PANEL
Friday, March 2nd @ 12:00PM
UNM Student Union Building Atrium (Lower Level)
A panel will speak about the growing rhetoric of Islamaphobia in American Society. The speakers will include Graduate student of Sociology & SJP Member Becky Erickson, Founder of Muslim New Media Mustafa Dill, and the third panelist will be finalized shortly.

WHAT IS BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, AND SANCTIONS?
Friday, March 2nd @ 1:30 PM
UNM Student Union Building Atrium (Lower Level)
Heard about the growing movement called Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions? Not sure what it is? Well come listen and learn about what BDS is and how we’re bringing it to UNM Campus!

For more information please visit: unmsjp.org/iaw or e-mail us at unmsjp@gmail.com

February 27, 2012 at 09:42 AM in Lora Lucero, Contributing Writer, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (25)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2/27: Join NM01 Candidate Eric Griego and Leading Women's Health and Equity Advocates

Birth control gumFrom the Eric Griego for Congress Campaign.

Again and again, Republican men in Washington are telling women what to do with their health. That's unacceptable.

From the all-male panel on birth control access to refusing to let cameras into a Democratic hearing, Republicans are taking the war on women to the next level. Are they scared of what will happen when women are finally able to speak out on these issues?

Will you join me and leading women's health and equity advocates on Monday, February 27, where we'll be discussing how to end the Republican war on women? Click here to RSVP.

In the 21st century, it's unacceptable that women are being shut out of the conversation that affects them most. If I am elected to Congress, I will continue to be a strong advocate for all American's health and privacy rights. That means ensuring that everyone can speak up.

Join me on Monday at 5:30 so that we can get started.

We'll be joined by Dr. Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and Senator Dede Feldman and Representative Mimi Stewart, the two leading New Mexico legislators on women's rights. 

I'll be introducing my platform on issues affecting women, and I want your feedback.

I hope to see you there!

Eric Griego
Democrat for Congress (NM-01)

February 26, 2012 at 04:17 PM in Candidates & Races, Eric Griego, Events, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012, Women's Issues, Women's Right to Choose | Permalink | Comments (0)

2/28: Senator Wirth and Representative Egolf to Hold Town Hall

Peter wirth waphSenator Wirth and Representative Egolf to hold Town Hall to discuss the 2012 legislative session, capital outlay and redistricting.

State Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) and State Representative Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) have scheduled a town hall meeting with residents of their districts.

  • Tuesday February 28th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Santa Fe Farmers Market Pavilion, 1607 Paseo de Peralta in the Santa Fe Railyard.

“Representative Egolf and I look forward to updating our constituents on the 2012 legislative session, capital outlay and redistricting,” Wirth said.

Senator Wirth and Representative Egolf have made district meetings a regular part of their legislative duties, and both underscore their importance.

“These meetings are one of the most important things we do,” Egolf said.  “They are a way for us to better understand individual and neighborhood concerns, while discussing the best way to proceed on legislative issues.”

Wirth represents State Senate District 25.  Egolf represents State House District 47.  Since their districts overlap, they work together whenever possible in addressing issues of concern to Santa Fe residents.

February 26, 2012 at 01:17 PM in Brian Egolf, Events, NM Legislature 2012, Peter Wirth | Permalink | Comments (0)