On the afternoon of Feb. 15, Protesters entered the Board of Regents meeting and stood silently along the walls, donning keffiyehs, Palestinian Flags and stickers that read “Freedom for Palestine” to stand united with those speaking in support of a divestment resolution. Just before dozens of protesters walked out of class and gathered at Zimmerman Plaza to listen to speakers discuss the ongoing crises in Gaza, they marched throughout the University of New Mexico ringing chants of “No Peace on Stolen Land” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” across campus.
Since the rise of Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT’s release in 2022, victims have been targeted by pornographic AI-generated images that have, in some cases, circulated on social media websites like X, formerly Twitter. Deepfakes are videos or images in which a person’s “face or body has been digitally altered so that they appear to be someone else, typically used maliciously or to spread false information,” according to Oxford Languages. Recently, these have risen in the form of pornographic images. In late January, pornographic AI-generated images of Taylor Swift started to circulate the internet and gained thousands of views on X, according to the Associated Press. Mary Rice, associate professor of literacy at the University of New Mexico, specializes in AI’s role in education. The Swift incident was not a random act that sprung up on its own, Rice said.
New Mexico had the second highest syphilis rate in the United States in 2022 and ranked highest in the nation for congenital syphilis – an infection that occurs when a mother passes syphilis on to their fetus through pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacteria that produces sores on the infected person. If left untreated, the bacteria can invade the nervous system, according to the CDC. Syphilis cases are rare but increasing, as seen in CDC data.
A New Mexico senator has proposed a bill that would make the act of seeking or providing roadside donations illegal. Similar City legislation was previously struck down in a court of appeals. In 2017, the City of Albuquerque tried to instate an ordinance that would ban the same. Courts later deemed the legislation a violation of Freedom of Speech in Martin v. City of Albuquerque. The current legislation, Senate Bill 248, is sponsored by Senator Leo Jaramillo (D). The Bill is scheduled to be heard on Monday, Feb. 5 by the Senate Health Public Affairs Committee and was deemed appropriate for the short legislative session on Thursday, Feb. 1. This bill is supported by the Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham.
University of New Mexico researchers sent tomatoes to space in an endeavor called the Trichoderma Associated Space Tomato Inoculation Experiment (TASTIE). On Tuesday, Jan. 30, the tomato seedlings were launched in a partially reusable Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket into space and joined the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, Feb. 1, according to Everyday Astronaut. The purpose of TASTIE is to analyze how these tomatoes will grow in space compared to how they grow on Earth. The fungus, Trichoderma – common in all types of soils on Earth – will be utilized to study how the stress-resistant properties of the fungus impact the growth of tomatoes in space, according to UNM Newsroom.
On Friday, Jan. 26, a stabbing occurred inside the Golden Pride restaurant on Lomas Blvd. N.E. near the University of New Mexico campus. The UNM Police Department issued a LoboAlert for traffic following the incident. Employee Ethan Sheppard reportedly stabbed his coworker, an adult male, at about 1:45 p.m. while they were both working. The victim was transported to UNM Hospital and later died from his injuries, according to an Albuquerque Police Department news release. UNM Police Department issued a LoboAlert at 6:25 p.m. advising the campus community of police presence in the area. A second alert was issued at 10:45 p.m. advising that APD had cleared the area.
Two identical proposals to pay New Mexico ranchers for damages from incidents involving Mexican gray wolves cleared their first committee hurdles. Senate Bill 26 and House Bill 164 share identical language and bipartisan support between each chamber. The bills seek a $9 million appropriation that would direct the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to form partnerships with livestock loss authorities in Catron, Sierra and Socorro counties that would give direct payments to ranchers who lose livestock due to Mexican gray wolves in the areas. If approved, the money would go to the Board of Regents at New Mexico State University. It seeks an appropriation starting in 2025 through 2027.
A new bill, introduced in New Mexico’s 2024 Regular Legislative Session, is targeting the issue of housing discrimination based on a renter or buyer’s source of income. House Bill 25 – presented by Representative Kathleen Cates (D), Andrea Romero (D), Patricia Roybal Caballero (D) and Cristina Parajón (D) – would amend the state’s Human Rights Act to prohibit the refusal to sell or rent property to someone based on their income source, defined in the bill as “a lawful and verifiable source of money used to pay for housing.”
The Associated Students at the University of New Mexico held their opening full Senate meeting for the spring semester on Wednesday, Jan. 24 where appropriations, new senator appointments and a bill introduction took place. ASUNM welcomed two new faces to the Senate floor. Sen. Sierra Dedmon and Sen. Nathan Nail. They were both granted their seats via a roll call vote of Senators that were present prior to any other business taking place. Dedmon and Nail were able to vote on all business during the meeting.
The First Judicial District Court has granted the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board a preliminary injunction until the legality of the case is decided at the next scheduled hearing. A preliminary injunction will allow the Air Board to revert to the status quo and continue to operate as it had before the Albuquerque City Council approved an ordinance and resolution that substantially changed the Air Board in November. “I so find that the Air Board is likely to prevail ultimately on this, and I do have concerns about allowing a situation to proceed that may be unlawful,” District Court Judge Francis Mathew said in the ruling.
Each year, the University of New Mexico School of Law students go to local high schools to teach constitutional law through the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project. After observing a national decline in civic education, the program was conceptualized by professors at American University 25 years ago in Washington, D.C., Maryam Ahranjan said, director of the UNM chapter of the project and School of Law professor. Currently, only seven U.S. states require a full year of civics education, not including New Mexico, according to the Institute for Citizens and Scholars.
The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board is taking the City of Albuquerque to court per a lawsuit filed on Dec. 5. In November, the Albuquerque City Council abolished and recreated the Air Quality Control Board which removed city-appointed members and suspended the board's actions till Feb. 1. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, the Board's attorney, is calling the legality of these actions into question. The hearing is set for Jan. 25. If the Board is successful, there will be a pause on the City Council’s changes and the terminated Board members will be reinstated until the court makes a final judgment on the legality of the legislation. If the Board loses the lawsuit, the City’s changes would go into effect.
The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board adopted a Health, Environment, and Equity Impacts rule on Dec. 19, 2023. The rule is different and less aggressive than the original version introduced by Mountain View Coalition – a community group of residents concerned with the impacts of air pollution in the South Valley. The rule enforces the use of additional measures through the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) to reduce pollution in and within a mile of overburdened areas, along with any facility in Bernalillo County that emits common hazardous air pollutants.
Researchers have put a name to a dinosaur fossil discovered in New Mexico in the 1980s, identifying a new species of Tyrannosaurus that pre-dates the T. rex. The findings were published Jan. 11 in the Scientific Reports journal. New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science Curator of Paleontology, Spencer Lewis, and the museum’s executive director, Anthony Fiorillo, both are co-authors on the study. The identification of Tyrannosaurus mcraeensis changes what paleontologists previously understood about the geographical origin of the T. rex. The standing idea, Lucas said, is the T. rex originated in Asia and immigrated over a land bridge to get to North America.
The New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division (ORD) awarded the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge $256,962 this past December for a project called “Bosque Bridges.” The project aims to connect Valle De Oro’s perimeter trail and the Paseo del Bosque bike path together, giving people a new way to experience the bosque. The money for Valle De Oro’s project is granted by the ORD of the New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD). Of over 100 applications, Bosque Bridges was one of 12 different projects falling under the Outdoor Recreation Trails+ Grant initiative by the ORD, according to the Los Alamos Daily Post.
Two New Mexico legislators are proposing amendments to a state law that allows district courts to issue yearlong orders to prohibit individuals from possessing, purchasing or receiving firearms if they are found to pose a threat of injury to themselves or others. The Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act was enacted in 2020. The proposed amendments would specifically allow law enforcement and health care professionals to report potentially harmful behavior and expedite the order-issuing process.
Those living nearest to the first nuclear blast in history have suffered for generations. In New Mexico, Trinity Test site neighbors weren’t warned or evacuated before the U.S. government detonated the atomic bomb in 1945. The light was so bright, it could be seen hundreds of miles away. Nearly half a million people resided within a 150-mile radius of the blast. Witnesses said ash rained down for days. Cancers, diseases, early deaths, infant mortality and more have plagued people in New Mexico ever since the United States government set off the bomb in the Jornada del Muerto. But despite organizing and advocacy for well over a decade, they were neither recognized nor compensated.
With Palestinian flags attached to bikes and watermelon bandanas, a few dozen cyclists gathered in Robinson Park in support of a cease-fire in Gaza on Saturday, Jan. 6. The group rode five miles to stand in solidarity with Palestine and to fundraise for the Gaza Sunbirds and the Middle East Children's Alliance. The Gaza Sunbirds are a para-athletic cycling team that, since the war with Israel, has transitioned from cycling to providing aid and distributing resources to their community. Tannia Esparza, a co-organizer, said the ride in Albuquerque was in response to a call by Native Women Ride for people across the nation to ride in solidarity with the Gaza Sunbirds.