FeaturedGroups criticize Humans Services Department decision to turn down SNAP resources, implement work requirement
Community members will make comments at a press conference immediately following Friday’s public hearing
Albuquerque, NM – The governor has proposed to turn down federal resources and implement work requirements for SNAP participants. Without child care, job training and job readiness support, and almost non-existent public transportation in rural parts of the state, activists and New Mexicans dealing with some of the fewest job prospects and highest food insecurity in the nation are telling the governor and Human Services Department secretary Sidonie Squier that these changes will only hurt New Mexico families.
“Cutting SNAP resources is not a job creation program,” says Rodrigo Rodriguez, an organizer with Southwest Organizing Project. “With 1 in 3 children in New Mexico experiencing hunger, and 1 in 5 adults unsure of where their next meal is coming from, this proposal will only exacerbate hunger and reinforce poor nutrition and food insecurity for our state’s most vulnerable communities.”
The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) plan to limit food benefits to adults on food stamps, including parents of children over six years old, would make New Mexico one of six states to reject these available federal benefits that currently bring millions of dollars into New Mexico’s grocers and surrounding communities, while alleviating hunger. New Mexico is one of the most food insecure states in the nation, where 20.8% of New Mexicans live below the poverty line, including 29.2% of children. 86% of this population participates in the SNAP program.
“This is another example of the Human Services Department Secretary being out of touch with the people she is meant to serve,” says Kim Posich, executive director of the Center on Law and Poverty. “Work requirements for families receiving food assistance do not result in more people getting jobs. They do not result in more families doing community service when they cannot afford childcare. Work requirements simply result in more people going hungry.”
Critics of the HSD proposal point to the current job market in New Mexico, where unemployment is on the rise, and communities are feeling the economic impact of a double-dip recession.
“It’s difficult for young men of color to find work, and then to lose the possibility for SNAP makes it even more difficult for us to make it,” explains George Igwe of the Men of Color Initiative.
New Mexicans have seen how SNAP resources continue to pay dividends for many years after the food stamps have been used, as well as the devastating effects of potential cuts.
“Hungry children cannot learn, making it harder for them to do well in school, which can have far-reaching impact on their potential for academic and work achievement,” says Patty Keane, MS, RD, a Nutrition Scientist. “Hungry children have trouble getting along with others, which can lead to behavioral problems in school and at home. They are at higher risk for depression and anxiety. Even when a parent protects their child from hunger by ensuring the child is fed first, the anxiety and psychological stress of food insecurity and insufficiency in the home still affects the child.”
New Mexico HSD will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes August 29th at 9am at the Harold Runnels Building Auditorium, 1190 St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, NM. The location has been changed to accommodate more attendees. Individuals wishing to testify or to request a copy of the proposed regulation should contact the Income Support Division by calling 505-827-7250. Written or recorded comments can be submitted electronically to: DebraD.Hendricks@state.nm.us
Community members, activists and allies will be available for comment at a press conference immediately following the public hearing outside the Harold Runnels Building in Santa Fe.
CommentarySacrificing the Vulnerable, From Gaza to America
Posted on Sep 14, 2014
By Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges gave this speech Saturday at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo, Wis., before a crowd of about 2,000. His address followed one there by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who seems to be preparing to run in the Democratic presidential primaries. The Fighting Bob Fest, the annual event at which they appeared, brings together progressive speakers from around the country and honors Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette (1855-1925), a U.S. senator from Wisconsin who opposed the United States’ entry into World War I. Parts of this talk were drawn from Hedges’ past columns.
I would like to begin by speaking about the people of Gaza. Their suffering is not an abstraction to me. I was the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. I spent seven years in the region. I speak Arabic. And for much of that time I was in Gaza, including when Israeli fighter jets and soldiers were attacking it.
I have stood over the bodies, including the bodies of children, left behind by Israeli airstrikes and assaults. I have watched mothers and fathers cradle their dead and bloodied boys and girls in their arms, convulsed by an indescribable grief, shrieking in pitiful cries to an indifferent universe.
And in this charnel house, this open-air prison where 1.8 million people, nearly half of them children, live trapped in an Israeli ghetto, I have witnessed the crimes of occupation—the food shortage, the stifling overcrowding, the contaminated water, the lack of health services, the crippling poverty, the endemic unemployment, the fear and the despair. As I have witnessed this mass of human suffering I have heard from the power elites in Jerusalem and Washington the lies told to justify state terror.
An impoverished, captive people that lack an army, a navy, an air force, mechanized units, drones, artillery and any semblance of command and control do not pose a threat to Israel. And Israel’s indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill hundreds of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war. It is state-sponsored terror and state-sponsored murder.
The abject failure by our political class to acknowledge this fact, a fact that to most of the rest of the world is obvious, exposes the awful banality of our political system, the cynical abandonment of the most vulnerable of the earth for campaign contributions. Money, after all, has replaced the vote.
The refusal to speak out for the people of Gaza is not tangential to our political life. The pathetic, Stalinist-like plebiscite in the [U.S.] Senate, where all 100 senators trotted out like AIPAC windup dolls to cheer on the Israeli bombing of homes, apartment blocks, schools—where hundreds of terrified families were taking shelter—water treatment plants, power stations, hospitals, and of course boys playing soccer on a beach, exposes the surrender of our political class to cash-rich lobbying groups and corporate power. The people of Gaza are expendable. They are poor. They are powerless. And they have no money. Just like the poor people of color in this country whose bodies, locked in cages, enrich the prison-industrial complex.
When you are willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable for political expediency it becomes easy, as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have amply illustrated, to sacrifice all who are vulnerable—our own poor, workers, the sick, the elderly, students and our middle class. This is a Faustian compact. It ends by selling your soul to Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil. It ends by deifying a military machine, now largely beyond civilian control, that, along with our organs of state security, has established surveillance and a security state that make us the most spied-upon, eavesdropped, monitored and photographed populace in human history. It is impossible to describe yourself as free when you are constantly watched. This is the relationship of a master and a slave.
Politics, if we take politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic. They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that calls, as a traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation. They offer only the facade of politics, along with elaborate, choreographed spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of real political content. We have devolved into what Alexis de Tocqueville feared—“democratic despotism.”
The squabbles among the power elites, rampant militarism and the disease of imperialism, along with a mindless nationalism that characterizes all public debate, which Bob La Follette denounced and fought, have turned officially sanctioned politics into a carnival act.
Pundits and news celebrities on the airwaves engage in fevered speculation about whether the wife of a former president will run for office—and this after the mediocre son of another president spent eight years in the White House. This is not politics. It is gossip. Opinion polls, the staple of what serves as political reporting, are not politics. They are forms of social control. The use of billions of dollars to fund election campaigns and pay lobbyists to author legislation is not politics. It is legalized bribery. The insistence that austerity and economic rationality, rather than the welfare of the citizenry, be the primary concerns of the government is not politics. It is the death of civic virtue. The government’s system of wholesale surveillance and the militarization of police forces, along with the psychosis of permanent war and state-orchestrated fear of terrorism, are not politics. They are about eradicating civil liberties and justifying endless war and state violence. The chatter about death panels, abortion, gay rights, guns and undocumented children crossing the border is not politics. It is manipulation by the power elites of emotion, hate and fear to divert us from seeing our own powerlessness.
As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties. They know that nearly half the country lives in poverty or a category called “near poverty.” Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are harder and harder to hide.
It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, has yet to rebuild itself and turn on a feckless liberal class that has sold its soul to a bankrupt Democratic Party.
The tinder of revolt is piling up. No person or movement can ignite this tinder. No one knows when the eruption will take place. No one knows what form it will take. But it is certain that a popular revolt is coming. The refusal by the corporate state to address even the minimal grievances of the citizenry, the continued pillaging of the nation and the ecosystem, remind us that, as Karl Marx pointed out, unregulated, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force. It commodifies everything. Human beings and the natural world become commodities that are exploited until exhaustion or collapse. This is why the economic crisis is intimately twined with the environmental crisis. The corporate state—a system described by the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin as “inverted totalitarianism”—is incapable of a rational response to the crisis. A rational response, especially after your uprising in Madison and the Occupy movement, would at a minimum include a moratorium on all foreclosures and bank repossessions, a forgiveness of student debt, universal health care for all and a massive jobs program, especially targeted at those under the age of 25. But the corporate state, by mounting a coordinated federal effort led by Barack Obama to shut down the Occupy encampments, illustrated that the only language it will speak is the language of force.
Revolutions, when they erupt, appear to the elites and the establishment to be sudden and unexpected. This is because the real work of revolutionary ferment and consciousness is unseen by the mainstream society, noticed only after it has largely been completed. Throughout history, those who have sought radical change have always had to first discredit the ideas used to prop up ruling elites and construct alternative ideas for society, which [today] means the articulation of a viable socialism as an alternative to corporate tyranny.
By the time ruling elites are openly defied, there has already been a nearly total loss of faith in the ideas—in our case free market capitalism and globalization—that sustain the structures of the ruling elites. And once enough people get it, a process that can take years, “the slow, quiet, and peaceful social evolution becomes quick, militant, and violent,” as Alexander Berkman wrote. “Evolution becomes revolution.”
This is where we are headed. I do not say this because I am a supporter of revolution. I am not. I prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning democracy. I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit the citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority. I prefer a system in which institutions are independent and not captive to corporate power. But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the only option left. Ruling elites, once the ideas that justify their existence are dead, resort to force. It is their final clutch at power. If a nonviolent popular movement is able to ideologically disarm the bureaucrats, civil servants and police—to get them, in essence, to defect—nonviolent revolution is possible. But if the state can organize effective and prolonged violence against dissent, it spawns reactive revolutionary violence, or what the state calls terrorism. And our backlash, if we on the left do not regain the militancy of the old anarchists and socialists, could be a right-wing backlash, a species of Christian fascism.
The people in Gaza deserve to be free. So do we. But do not look to our political mandarins for help, or expect anything but vaudevillian smoke and mirrors from the billions poured into our campaign circus.
We too are powerless. We have undergone a corporate coup d’état in slow motion. It is over. They have won. If we want to wrest power back, to make the consent of the governed more than an empty cliché, we will have to mobilize, to carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience to overthrow—let me repeat that word for the members of Homeland Security who may be visiting us this afternoon—overthrow the corporate state. And maybe, once we have freed ourselves, we can free the people of Gaza.
LocalSandbags available to Las Cruces residents
The National Weather Service (NWS) is calling for continued rain in the Las Cruces area through the weekend. Storms and thunderstorms could produce heavy rain at times and dangerous lightning.
In the event of localized flooding, the Las Cruces Fire Department is making sandbags available to Las Cruces residents.
The number of sandbags is limited to 10 per homeowner. They are intended to keep water from entering a dwelling so they should be placed around doorways and other entrances that are susceptible to flooding.
The sandbags are not intended to protect landscaping or vegetation.
Las Cruces residents may pick up sandbags at any of the following fire stations:
Station #1: 201 E Picacho Ave.
Station#2: 1199 E. Foster Rd.
Station#3: 390 N. Valley Dr.
Station #4: 2802 E. Missouri Ave.
Station #5: 5998 Bataan Memorial E.
Station #6: 2750 Northrise Dr.
EnvironmentSWEC urges comment submission on wolves
Less Than One Week Left to Speak for Wolves
There is less than one week remaining to submit comments on the feds’ proposed revisions to the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program. Please take a minute to voice your support for wolves. Click here to send a comment through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s portal.
Tell them you support Alternative 3, but with important modifications:
- Eliminate artificial boundaries. All of the proposed action alternatives would give wolves more room to roam–that’s good–but prohibit them from dispersing north of I-40–bad! There’s no biological reason for this. In fact, wildlife biologists say at least two additional populations of lobos are necessary for their recovery: one in the Grand Canyon region, and another in the southern Rockies of New Mexico and Colorado. Both of these are north of I-40!
- Don’t allow more wolves to be killed. To placate wolf opponents, the FWS wants to relax “take” provisions for when wolves could be killed in the wild. With only about 90 Mexican wolves in the wild, every individual wolf is essential to the survival of the subspecies. Now is NOT the time to be relaxing restrictions on “take.”
- Expand the areas where captive-born wolves can be released. The wild population of lobos desperately needs an infusion of new genes, but only three wolves have been released from the captive population since 2008. A major obstacle is the current rule’s restriction of new releases to a tiny area in Arizona—already fully occupied by wolves. The FWS wants to expand this area—a move that is long overdue and which conservationists strongly support.
Click here for more background information. Comments are due by 10 pm on Tuesday, 9/23.
Conservationists, captive breeding facilities sue feds over lobos
A well-respected biologist is among those who are planning to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its failure to update the 32-year-old recovery plan for Mexican wolves. Former FWS Mexican wolf coordinator Dave Parsons says the plan is out of date, is not based on the best available science, and “does not present a roadmap to full recovery.” He is joined by two lobo captive breeding facilities—the Endangered Wolf Center and the Wolf Conservation Center–as well as Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity. Click here to read more in the Arizona Republic.
Back by Noon: Discover the Monument–Ladera Canyon
There are still spaces left on this Back by Noon outing this Saturday, 9/20 to discover the new Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Join Shaunna Foster as she leads us on a 4-mile round trip hike into seldom-visited Ladera Canyon. If it’s been raining enough (which it looks like it has!) we’ll be rewarded with the sight of a nice waterfall. Long pants are recommended. Rating: Strenuous. A $5 donation is requested of all members. Advanced registration is required please call 575-522-5552 or e-mail email@example.com.
City Wants to Know What You Think About Green Infrastructure
Las Cruces residents: the City of Las Cruces wants to know what you think about “green infrastructure.” Green infrastructure uses natural features such as vegetation, soil, and topography to manage rainwater where it falls. Examples include mulch to minimize evaporation, curb cuts to redirect stormwater into vegetation, sediment traps to filter water, and depressions (swales) to harvest rainwater.It also includes “built” strategies such as cisterns and water barrels for rainwater capture, and green rooftops. Click here to take the survey.
SWEC Gala Features Great Food, Music, Silent Auction Items
There are still tickets left for SWEC’s annual A Wild Night…For Wildlife party and fundraiser. By buying a ticket, you’ll help us protect treasures like Otero Mesa, still threatened by oil and gas development, and Mexican wolves, struggling to survive in the Southwest. And you’ll enjoy a fun night featuring food provided by Savoy de Mesilla, De La Vegas, The Mix Pacific Rim, Andele, Hotel Encanto, and others. We have over 100 items in the silent auction, including hotel and vacation accommodations, dining out packages, art, services, and lots more. Click here to buy your ticket. If you know you’re going and you’re on Facebook, even if you haven’t bought your ticket yet, please go to SWEC’s Facebook page and click on the event link to RSVP. It will help get the word out. Want to volunteer for the event? Contact Tricia@wildmesquite.org.
CommentarySacrificing the Vulnerable, From Gaza to America
www.truthdig.com Posted on Sep 14, 2014 By Chris Hedges Chris Hedges gave this speech Saturday at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo,... Read more »
NewsNMSU fall 2014 enrollment down, incoming student enrollment stable
The systemwide enrollment for fall 2014 at New Mexico State University is 26,694 as of Sept. 5, the university’s census date. The numbers are down 5.5 percent... Read more »
Local/AreaSandbags available to Las Cruces residents
The National Weather Service (NWS) is calling for continued rain in the Las Cruces area through the weekend. Storms and thunderstorms could produce heavy rain at... Read more »
UpcomingLotus, Revue in concert to restore historic Madrid ballpark
The Family Lotus String Band With special guests The Santa Fe Revue Thursday Evening, July 3rd 2014, at Sol Santa Fe…Highway 14 Gates at 6:30…Show at 7:30 Heath... Read more »
LettersFight City Council’s Outrageous Denial of Referendum Rights – 1pm Monday Council Chambers
The Las Cruces City Council just blocked our right to a referendum on a $10.10 minimum wage by passing a law it never intends to enact. The city council majority... Read more »
Sustainable LivingNMSU, NMDA to host organic farm walking tours
A great way to learn about farming techniques is to visit successful operations. With the increased interest in organic farming, an opportunity is being afforded... Read more »
EnvironmentSWEC urges comment submission on wolves
Less Than One Week Left to Speak for Wolves There is less than one week remaining to submit comments on the feds’ proposed revisions to the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction... Read more »
ArtsA New Window to Border Literary Culture
An incalculable casualty of border violence and security polices in recent years has been the cultural exchanges between Mexican and U.S. citizens. Yet as insecurity... Read more »
For Theresa James, the events in Ferguson, Missouri hit home. At a recent Albuquerque solidarity rally for Ferguson residents protesting the police killing of... Read more »
SpiritualGroups to hold march and prayer rally in Artesia
ROSWELL, NM–Sunday at 1:00 PM, residents from several communities in southeastern New Mexico will hold a march and prayer rally in Artesia calling for... Read more »
Events CalendarLa Semilla Food Center’s 3rd Annual Farm to Fork Benefit Dinner
Oct. 5, 5-9 pm The dinner will feature a cocktail hour on the Ardovino’s Desert Crossing Patio, Gourmet dinner prepared by Chef Apolo Salazar, Ardovino’s... Read more »