Groups 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.


How the Brutalized Become Brutal



Posted on Aug 24, 2014

By Chris Hedges


The horrific pictures of the beheading of American reporter James Foley, the images of executions of alleged collaborators in Gaza and the bullet-ridden bodies left behind in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are the end of a story, not the beginning. They are the result of years, at times decades, of the random violence, brutal repression and collective humiliation the United States has inflicted on others.

Our terror is delivered to the wretched of the earth with industrial weapons. It is, to us, invisible. We do not stand over the decapitated and eviscerated bodies left behind on city and village streets by our missiles, drones and fighter jets. We do not listen to the wails and shrieks of parents embracing the shattered bodies of their children. We do not see the survivors of air attacks bury their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. We are not conscious of the long night of collective humiliation, repression and powerlessness that characterizes existence in Israel’s occupied territories, Iraq and Afghanistan. We do not see the boiling anger that war and injustice turn into a caldron of hate over time. We are not aware of the very natural lust for revenge against those who carry out or symbolize this oppression. We see only the final pyrotechnics of terror, the shocking moment when the rage erupts into an inchoate fury and the murder of innocents. And, willfully ignorant, we do not understand our own complicity. We self-righteously condemn the killers as subhuman savages who deserve more of the violence that created them. This is a recipe for endless terror.

Chaim Engel, who took part in the uprising at the Nazis’ Sobibor death camp in Poland, described what happened when he obtained a knife and confronted a German in an office. The act he carried out was no less brutal than the beheading of Foley or the executions in Gaza. Isolated from the reality he and the other inmates endured at the camp, his act was savage. Set against the backdrop of the extermination camp it was understandable.

“It’s not a decision,” Engel said. “You just react, instinctively you react to that, and I figured, ‘Let us to do, and go and do it.’ And I went. I went with the man in the office, and we killed this German. With every jab, I said, ‘That is for my father, for my mother, for all these people, all the Jews you killed.’ ”

Any good cop, like any good reporter, knows that every criminal has a story. No one, except for perhaps a few psychopaths, wakes up wanting to cut off another person’s head. Murder and other violent crimes almost always grow out of years of abuse of some kind suffered by the perpetrator. Even the most “civilized” among us are not immune to dehumanization.

The enemies on the modern battlefield seem elusive because death is usually delivered by industrial weapons such as aerial drones or fighter jets that are impersonal, or by insurgent forces that leave behind roadside bombs or booby traps or carry out hit-and-run ambushes. This elusiveness is the curse of modern warfare. The inability of Sunni fighters in Iraq to strike back at jets and drones has resulted in their striking a captured journalist and Shiite and Kurdish civilians.

U.S. soldiers and Marines in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Israeli soldiers in assaults on Gaza, have been among those who committed senseless acts of murder. They routinely have gunned down unarmed civilians to revenge killings of members of their units. This is a reaction I saw in several wars. It is not rational. Those murdered were not responsible, even indirectly, for the deaths of their killers’ comrades, just as Foley and the Shiites and Kurds executed in Iraq were not responsible for the deaths of Sunni militants hit by the U.S. Air Force.

J. Glenn Gray, who fought in World War II, wrote about the peculiar nature of vengeance in “The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle”:

When the soldier has lost a comrade to this enemy or possibly had his family destroyed by them through bombings or through political atrocities, so frequently the case in World War II, his anger and resentment deepen into hatred. Then the war for him takes on the character of a vendetta. Until he has himself destroyed as many of the enemy as possible, his lust for vengeance can hardly be appeased. I have known soldiers who were avid to exterminate every last one of the enemy, so fierce was their hatred. Such soldiers took great delight in hearing or reading of mass destruction through bombings. Anyone who has known or been a soldier of this kind is aware of how hatred penetrates every fiber of his being. His reason for living is to seek revenge; not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but a tenfold retaliation.

Those killed are not, to the killers, human beings but representations of what they fear and hate. The veneer of the victim’s humanity, they believe, is only a mask for an evil force. The drive for vengeance, for “tenfold retaliation,” among those who are deformed by violence cannot be satiated without rivers of blood—even innocent blood. And Americans do as much of this type of revenge killing as those we fight. Our instruments of war allow us to kill from a distance. We therefore often lack any real consciousness of killing. But this does not make us any less depraved.

Christopher Browning in his book “Ordinary Men” tells of a German reserve police battalion that was recruited to carry out mass executions of Jews in World War II. Browning’s book echoed the findings of the psychologist Stanley Milgram, who concluded that “men are led to kill with little difficulty.” Browning, like Milgram, illustrates how easily we become killers. This is a painful truth. It is difficult to accept. It forces us to look into the eyes of Foley’s executioners and see not monsters but ourselves.

“Few of us ever know how far fear and violence can transform us into creatures at bay, ready with tooth and claw,” Gray wrote. “If the war taught me anything at all, it convinced me that people are not what they seem or even think themselves to be.”

I am teaching inmates at a supermax prison this summer. We are reading William Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” Every student in my classroom was charged with murder, and, though the American judicial system imprisons its share of innocents, it is a safe bet that many if not most in my class have killed. At the same time, once you hear the stories of their lives, the terrifying domestic abuse, the crushing poverty, the cruelty of the streets, including police use of deadly force against unarmed people, the societal and parental abandonment, the frustration at not being able to live a life of dignity or find a job, the humiliation of being poorly educated—some went into prison illiterate—you begin to understand the power of the institutional racism and oppression that made them angry and finally dangerous.

Marguerite Duras in her book “The War” describes how she and other members of the French Resistance kidnapped and tortured a 50-year-old Frenchman they suspected of collaborating with the Germans. The group allows two of its members who were beaten in Montluc prison at Lyon to strip the alleged informer and repeatedly beat him as onlookers shout: “Bastard. Traitor. Scum.” Blood and mucus soon run from his nose. His eye is damaged. He moans, “Ow, ow, oh, oh. …” He crumples in a heap on the floor. Duras wrote that he had “become someone without anything in common with other men. And with every minute the difference grows bigger and more established.” She goes on: “Every blow rings out in the silent room. They’re hitting at all the traitors, at the women who left, at all those who didn’t like what they saw from behind the shutters.” She departs before finding out if he is executed. She and her small resistance band had become Nazis. They acted no differently than Hamas did when it executed more than 15 suspected collaborators last week in Gaza.

Our failure to understand the psychological mechanisms involved means that the brutality we inflict, and that is inflicted upon us, will continue in a deadly and self-defeating cycle in the Middle East as well as within poor urban areas of the United States. To break this cycle we have to examine ourselves and halt the indiscriminant violence that sustains our occupations. But examining ourselves instead of choosing the easy route of nationalist self-exaltation is hard and painful. These killings will stop only when we accept that the killers who should terrify us most are ourselves.


A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.



A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.


City of Santa Fe Decriminalizes Marijuana

Possession of small amounts of marijuana no longer considered a criminal misdemeanor

Santa Fe, NM – After considering in-depth their legal options, the City Council tonight voted 5-4 to pass outright an ordinance to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
After community groups collected the required amount of signatures to put the issue on the ballot, the City Council had three options at their meeting tonight. A) Put the initiative on the ballot, either in November or at a future city election; B) pass the language of the referendum directly into law, or C) delay a decision.
The Councilors voting in the majority argued that the will of the people was clear from the high number of signatures collected and that it was smart to change a policy that had ruined many lives.
Those voting in the minority, including the Mayor, wanted the referendum considered and decided by the voters at the ballot box.
After the vote, Mayor Gonzales said, “While I’ve been a clear and vocal support of decriminalization, I believed this was an issue that should be brought before the voters for an up or down vote. Either way, I’m proud of the City of Santa Fe tonight for continuing to be a leader in forward-thinking policy that improves the lives of the citizens.”



NM Game Considers Anti-Wolf Proposal

NM Game Commission Needs to Hear from Wolf Advocates

The NM Game Commission will consider a proposal at its meeting this week (8/28) in Santa Fe that seems intended solely to thwart Mexican wolf recovery in the state. Agenda item #8 is a proposal to give the Commission veto authority over the release of any “predatory animal” from captivity for the purpose of recovery or reintroduction. Nobody at NMDGF returned SWEC’s calls seeking more information about the proposal, but it appears aimed squarely at the federally-led Mexican wolf recovery program. The Game Commission already voted in 2011 to withdraw NM’s participation in the Mexican wolf recovery program. If the Commission approves this measure it will be mostly symbolic, since the federal Endangered Species Act trumps state wildlife management, but it will be yet another indication of the Commission’s (and that of the Governor, who appoints the Commission) hostility towards predators.

If you can, please attend this meeting. It is important to let the Commission know that many New Mexicans support wolf recovery and don’t agree with the Commission’s anti-predator attitudes and policies. The meeting will be held at the State Capitol, Room 321, starting at 9 am.  If you can’t go, please contact Commissioners. Click here for more details and contact info.

Decision Time for the Wild Gila River

New Mexico is less than 20 weeks away from the deadline to notify the Secretary of the Interior if it will move forward with a Gila River diversion project under the Arizona Water Settlements Act. The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) will begin the decision making process on August 26 in Albuquerque and is scheduled to make a final decision on the Gila River’s fate in November.

If you can, please join Gila River advocates at the ISC meeting today at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th St. NW, in Albuquerque to show support for non-diversion alternatives and a wild Gila River. The meeting is from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. If you can’t make the entire meeting, come whenever you can make it, except for the lunch hour, 11:25 am-12:25 pm.  Please also join Gila Conservation Coalition and partners for a 7am – 8am pre-meeting briefing in the Pueblo Room of the Holiday Inn Express Old Town at 2300 12th St. NW (across the street from the cultural center). Coffee and bagels will be provided.

Back by Noon Outings to Explore New Monument

They’re here–SWEC’s Back by Noon outings! As part of the Fall 2014 series, SWEC is leading trips to some of the lesser known sites within the newly designated Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. These include forays to Ladera Canyon and Mine House Spring in the Organ Mountains, and to a hidden box canyon in the Robledos.The lineup of trips also features old favorites such as Tonuco Mountain and medicinal plants, as well as a trip to Aztec Cave in the Franklin Mountains, and an all-day venture to Otero Mesa. Click here to see the complete schedule.

SWEC to Launch Community Radio Station in Las Cruces

SWEC has applied to the FCC for a license to start a low-power FM community radio station in Las Cruces. The station will have a range of approximately 10-15 miles, depending on where the transmitter tower is located, and will air a variety of community affairs, news (environmental and otherwise) and music programming. Anyone interested in helping get this station off the ground and keeping it vibrant is invited to come to a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 3, at 7 pm at SWEC. For more info, contact kevin@wildmesquite.org.


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    How the Brutalized Become Brutal

      http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/how_the_brutalized_become_brutal_20140824/ Posted on Aug 24, 2014 By Chris Hedges   The horrific pictures of the beheading... Read more »

    August 25, 2014 | Leave a Comment


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