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New Mexico’s booming film industry gives grads employment opportunities

  Filmmaking in New Mexico is on the rise, much to the luck of recent college film graduates. With record peaks in funding, direct spending supported by credits and deductibles that are projected to continue growing, University of New Mexico film graduates are set up to find lucrative work in the film industry. “This is where the next Hollywood is going to be and I want to be there while it’s being built. It’s perfect for someone like me who’s looking for work in the film industry and an easy in, and New Mexico is looking for a giant crop of young people to work in the film industry so they can boost the economy,” UNM film student Michael Madrigal said.

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Grad union protests UNM’s unionization appeal through work-in

  Graduate student workers lined the halls and piled into waiting rooms at the University of New Mexico as they staged their 12-hour work-in at Scholes Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 7. The students were physically showing the University how much work they do in a day to protest the University’s decision to appeal the New Mexico Public Employee Labor Relations Board’s ruling that granted them the right to unionize. “Today at this work-in, graduate workers of all kinds … are gathered together to do what the University has claimed for the past year we don't do: work.

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ABQ finds widespread heat discrepancies between communities

  The city of Albuquerque released its heat map findings from the report in late November, compiled by Climate Adaptation Planning Analytics Strategies, a contractor of National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. The study looked at heat impacts on human health through temperature and humidity data points collected on July 9, 2021. Kelsey Rader, the city of Albuquerque's sustainability officer, said this report was an opportunity to evaluate how existing infrastructure was supporting active and public transportation users. The study produced results showing a temperature difference of nearly 17 F from the hottest to coolest parts of the city. Rader said this is a call to action to manage this discrepancy through tree plantings, which has a dedicated budget with the city.

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Custodial union protests against poverty wages, union-busting

  On Friday, Dec. 3, custodial workers at the University of New Mexico protested for the University to pay them a living wage. A coalition of other unions in the state were present in solidarity, including the graduate student workers’ union, who showed up to also protest the University’s union-busting attempts. The protest was held hours before the Hanging of the Greens, a holiday tradition at UNM in which the community celebrates the holiday season with a variety of festive activities. According to a Dec. 3 press release from the custodians’ union, Communication Workers of America Local 7076, they specifically chose this time to hold their protest to contrast the festivities with the dire treatment of custodial workers. 


Educators across New Mexico denounce oil and gas campaigns

  Over 200 educators in New Mexico, from early childhood teachers to college professors, signed a letter calling on the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association to stop using disingenuous public campaigns to promote more oil and gas development. These educators want the expansion of revenue sources and lessened dependence on the fossil fuel industry in the state. “It has been extremely disappointing to watch the oil and gas industry and its allies use educators and students as props in campaigns against progress on climate and clean energy policies,” read a Nov. 30 press release sent by lobbying and public relations communications specialist Charles Goodmacher.

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UNM seeks to appeal graduate workers’ right to unionize

  The University of New Mexico filed a notice of appeal against the New Mexico Public Employee Labor Relations Board on Nov. 19, in which they hope to overturn a decision from August that granted UNM graduate students the right to unionize. The United Graduate Workers of UNM are a part of the larger United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) and have been fighting for better health care coverage, higher wages and increased influence over University-wide decisions. “Despite long hours teaching, researching and grading, graduate assistants earn an average minimum stipend of just $14,438 per year and struggle with lack of access to medical care and inadequate protections from harassment,” University graduate worker officials wrote in a press release issued on Nov. 23.

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Protesters speak out on injustice of Rittenhouse acquittal

  On Saturday, protesters gathered at the La Jornada statues in Albuquerque to speak out against the Nov. 19 acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse. The protest, organized by the Albuquerque Party of Socialism and Liberation and the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, highlighted the racist precedent set by the acquittal of a man who fatally shot two protesters and injured another. In August 2020, the individuals that Rittenhouse killed and injured were involved in a protest against the racial injustice in the case of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot seven times and partially paralyzed by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

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Biden administration barrs new oil and gas leases around Chaco Canyon

President Joe Biden announced on Monday that his administration will block federal oil and gas leasing within a 10-mile buffer zone around Chaco Canyon, a sacred Indigenous site in New Mexico. A two-year ban on leasing will be enacted in the coming weeks, which will enable the Bureau of Land Management to conduct environmental analysis and public comment. They will then consider a 20-year withdrawal of drilling on public lands in the region.  “The Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is basically pushing the Bureau of Land Management to do a full environmental assessment of the region, in terms of its impacts relating to oil and gas,” Julia Bernal, director of Pueblo Action Alliance, said. 

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Infrastructure law makes investments in local climate, water

President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill was approved by the U.S. Congress in early November and signed into law on Monday, Nov. 15. The bipartisan law, H.R. 3684, is climate-focused and uses a dynamic approach to dispersing funding, with money going to highways, wildfires, electric buses, water and other related projects. New Mexico’s apportionment of the law is $3.7 billion, which will seek to invest in and address vulnerabilities of the state’s water, highway and bridge infrastructure, among other key ventures. University of New Mexico Professor Claude Morelli, scholar of transportation planning and policy at UNM, said the largest cut of New Mexico’s share, $2.5 billion, is going toward highway development. $255 million in the infrastructure package will also address bridge needs across the state as super storms have undermined bridge foundations, causing the collapse of bridges and necessitating more maintenance, according to Morelli.

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Stalking cases increase at UNM

  Reports of stalking made by residents living at the University of New Mexico’s student housing increased by 33%, from 9 cases in 2019 to 12 cases in 2020, even though fewer students were on campus. The rise takes place as stalking has become more virtual, experts said. “A lot of this is a virtual type of stalking where people are being threatened or followed through email communication, text messages or as far as a tracking device on someone's car,” said Matt Suazo, compliance and clery coordinator of UNM’s Office of Equal Opportunity. “There’s this sense of anonymity where people are able to engage in this behavior where they’re not able to be identified or confronted.”


EPA seeks to expand regulations on methane

The Environmental Protection Agency released guidance for tightening methane regulations in early November proposing a series of protections to mitigate the impacts of the oil and natural gas industry nationwide. This comes due to methane’s critical role in advancing the warming of the atmosphere, with emissions having the potential to trap about 80 times as much heat as carbon dioxide in the first 20 years following the initial emissions release. To cut down on the methane waste products associated with oil and gas drilling, the EPA seeks to codify actions that would force states to fix leaking production wells and eliminate venting of natural gas for new and existing sites, according to the agency.

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Daily Lobo wins 5 NMPA awards

  The Daily Lobo took home five awards from the New Mexico Press Association’s 2021 Better Newspaper Contest as a Weekly Class 1 news outlet. Entries from July 2020 to June 2021 were judged by the Utah Press Association. In addition, two Lobo staff members were selected among five total New Mexico students to report at NMPA’s pilot College Journalism Workshop at the 112th annual NMPA convention from Oct. 29-30. Beat reporter Gabriel Biadora and multimedia editor Shelby Kleinhans won first place in News Writing for their coverage of unhoused Indigenous woman Jolene Nez’s arrest and subsequent death in Albuquerque.


City council approves Amazon lease at Sunport

On Wednesday, the Albuquerque city council unanimously approved a 10-year ground lease and development agreement between Amazon and the Albuquerque International Sunport. Amazon’s construction of a 31,000-square-foot air cargo facility and the expansion of the Sunport’s cargo apron are expected to be completed next August. Five acres of vacant land surrounding the Sunport will be leased to Amazon for the air cargo facility that will be completely funded by Amazon. The expansion of the cargo apron is also necessary so there is airside access to the facility. This will cost $11.4 million, $6.6 million of which has already been secured in federal funding, according to Albuquerque Director of Aviation Nyika Allen.


Keller reelected as mayor

  Incumbent Tim Keller was reelected as Albuquerque’s mayor on Nov. 2 after receiving 56% of votes and the highly contentious multi-purpose sports stadium bond failed with  65% of voters against it. Keller will start his second term on Jan. 1, 2022. “Albuquerque, tonight you made it clear that we will not face our challenges with fear tactics or false promises,” Keller said in his victory speech. “We will do it with grit and determination, and bold decisions — from the Gateway Center and the Metro Crime Initiative, to the new Community Safety department to being 100% renewable in just five years. Now in the next months and years we are going to dig deep to build the future of Albuquerque." 


Oil, gas prices continue to rise as supply chain lags

  Gasoline in New Mexico is the most expensive it’s been in seven years and continues to rise. In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the market for gasoline collapsed as demand plummeted. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has yet to fully recover production efforts though in-person commitments and adjacent demand for the product have largely resumed. The higher demand, limited supply and elevated crude oil prices have resulted in the increase of gas prices, according to American Automobile Association New Mexico spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. He said the statewide average cost per gallon throughout New Mexico is around $3.31, which fluctuates daily, and continues to increase each week. Armbruster said the price per gallon this time last year was around $2. 

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New Mexico leaders discuss clean energy transition at climate summit

New Mexico leaders gathered at the first New Mexico Climate Summit at the state Capitol in Santa Fe on Monday and Tuesday, hosted by House Speaker Brian Egolf, where congressional representatives and constituents discussed the need for critical economic investments and ambitious policy goals to propel the state’s transition toward clean energy.  Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said New Mexico is leading the way in undertaking climate-friendly initiatives, outlining her work with the Energy Transition Act and the state’s executive order on climate change and energy waste prevention. “We don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to climate action,” said Sarah Cottrell Propst, Secretary of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources.

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Stop the Stadium organizers hold film screening to educate on gentrification

In anticipation of the Nov. 2 vote on a $50 million bond that would fund a multi-purpose sports stadium in Albuquerque, a free screening of “Battle for Brooklyn,” a documentary focused on gentrification, was shown at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice on Tuesday. This event was hosted by Stop the Stadium, a local collection of constituents concerned about the stadium causing potential gentrification in the South Broadway and Barelas neighborhoods. Stop the Stadium wants voters to vote “no” on the bond question, which was emphasized through the documentary that details a neighborhood’s attempts in the Brooklyn borough of New York City to push back on displacement and gentrification caused by real estate development.

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‘Coffee with the Candidates’: Tim Keller pushes for progressive initiatives

On Tuesday, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller spoke about progressive political policies that are tied to his mayoral reelection campaign at “Coffee with the Candidates,” an event organized by the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico where students got the chance to speak with the current mayoral candidates. Multiple students showed up to discuss Keller’s proposed policies and the work he has accomplished during his past term. As a democratic candidate running for reelection — although the position is officially nonpartisan — Keller highlighted his prior political experience and his push for more progressive initiatives in the city in comparison to his more conservative mayoral opponents. Keller said his more progressive campaign most closely aligns with the values of the general UNM campus population.


Final mayoral debate cements candidates' visions ahead of election

On Sunday, Oct. 24, the three Albuquerque mayoral candidates gathered at the Congregation Albert synagogue for their final debate before the election takes place on Nov. 2. The participants, current Mayor Tim Keller, Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzalez and conservative talk show host Eddy Aragon, answered questions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, crime and homelessness. In the opening statements, Keller talked about how well he has handled the pandemic and his prioritization of the health of local citizens. He said he would want to craft a path forward to continue the work he has started in his first term if chosen as mayor again. “During the pandemic, we faced a challenge like we've never seen before,” Keller said. “We made tough decisions to save lives and save livelihoods."

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‘Coffee with the Candidates’: Manny Gonzales wants to solve crime issues

  On Oct. 21, current Bernalillo County Sheriff and Albuquerque mayoral candidate Manny Gonzales met with students at the University of New Mexico for a “Coffee with the Candidates” event organized by the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico, talking largely about issues related to crime. Gonzales has worked in law enforcement for almost 28 years, and champions fighting crime as one of his main goals in his mayoral pursuit. Although many of his takes on major issues align with a standard conservative viewpoint and he has worked alongside former President Donald Trump, Gonzales is a registered Democrat. 


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