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Danielle Prokop

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‘They scrapped us’: The Trinity downwinders and New Mexico mine workers who remain unrecognized

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.

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UNM IPRA story: University redacts response records

The University of New Mexico may have violated transparency laws with a near-total redaction of three letters between a Records Custodian and an unknown requester(s) or requestors, according to transparency advocates.  The records were dated between November and December 2018 and the bulk or in some cases the entirety of the information being sought from the University — including the requestor’s name — was redacted. All the documents were requested by the Daily Lobo though the Inspection of Public Records Act.  Last week, the University was publicly criticized by the Office of the Attorney General for failure to adhere to the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act by not releasing records to the Albuquerque Journal.   The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Executive Director, Melanie Majors said she had concerns about the amount of redactions. 

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UNM: Border fence around campus? Not so fast

University officials said a decision on the proposed campus perimeter fence isn’t coming anytime soon. In addition, the group set to review the proposal doesn’t have all of its members. President Garnett Stokes told the Daily Lobo that the newly announced Campus Safety Council would recommend action on the proposal, but not until the fall semester. “[A barrier] was just one piece of everything we needed to think about, but it got out there as something imminent, and no way is it in that category,” she said. When asked if UNM is taking the proposal seriously, Stokes told the Daily Lobo the decision is still a long way from being made. 

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UNMH workers picket for better pay

A group of University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) health care workers and their union representatives picketed against the Hospital Wednesday morning. The protesters, around 20 employees and representatives from the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, Local 1199, are accusing UNMH management of proposing a new contract they said is worse than their current contract.  Media relations for UNMH, Mark Rudi, told the Daily Lobo that the Hospital’s Budget Office could not comment during negotiations, nor could the hospital according to UNMH policy. “UNM Hospitals continues to negotiate​ with the union. We appreciate and value our employees and are dedicated to putting our patients first in everything we do,” Rudi wrote in a statement provided to the Daily Lobo. 

President Garnett Stokes candid

In wake of student death, APD & UNMPD partner

The man accused of killing Jackson Weller, 23, a University of New Mexico baseball player, pleaded not guilty in a court appearance on Friday, May 31. Police said Darian Bashir, 23, shot and killed Weller outside Imbibe — a bar in Nob Hill —  in the early hours of Saturday, May 4. According to reports, police arrived on scene and found Weller, who had been shot once in the chest. Weller was later pronounced dead at the hospital.  Police later told KRQE 13 that Weller had been in a fight before the shooting. Witnesses interviewed said Bashir wasn’t involved in the incident.  Bashir will be detained until his trial. 

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Shayla Cunico discovers love of journalism at UNM

Shayla Cunico isn’t fragmented, she’s kaleidoscopic.  Cunico, the culture editor for the Daily Lobo has said her time at the University has helped to transform how she sees the world and carve out space for her authentic self. She’s learning now that despite how she has pulled in different directions, she could be a whole person and create something new. Graduation is looming but afterward she’s headed to Arizona State University, where orientation starts for her Masters in Visual Communication Design on May 28.  Cunico said she feels she has one foot in two places as she finishes here but looks ahead to the program.  “I’ve been trying to go through my head and see how I feel,” Cunico said. “But it’s difficult.”

Photo story: Dogs of Juarez

Local woman works to rescue dogs

Veronica Garcia Ortega hadn’t had breakfast yet, because the motto in her home is that “the dogs eat first,” she said in Spanish.   The dog food clatters into the baby swimming pool, and Garcia Ortega tries to step back as dogs scramble over each other to wolf it down. She scoops up the dogs for their photo shoot, navigating muddy paws and eager face-licks. They are under consideration for adoption in the United States, to be taken in shelters as far away as Salt Lake City, Utah.  Mary Tovey from Albuquerque and Alma Morfin from Juárez are partners in the nonprofit Planned Pethood de Juárez — an organization which is mainly focused on animal welfare education and spay/neuter efforts in the city and surrounding area. 

Photo story: Chimayo pilgrimage 2019

New Mexicans trek miles for pilgrimage

There are many traditions in New Mexico -- green chile harvesting, lighting luminarias -- but there is nothing that attracts people from all over the world like the pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayo.  Located at an elevation of more than 6000 feet and east of Espanola, thousands of people visit a Spanish mission tucked away in the mountains during Holy Week. Most walkers start near the village of Nambe, others start in Santa Fe and a select few begin their trek in Albuquerque, more than 80 miles away.  Along the way people carry crosses with the names of loved ones. Some walk their dogs and others push their loved ones in a wheelchair through the pastel colored desert and the rising hills. Some people carry their burdens for their God to absolve them. 

Behind the Money

UNM regents approve 3.1 percent tuition hike

It’s official — tuition is going up.  The University of New Mexico Board of Regents debated, then voted 6-1 to adopt the Budget Leadership Team’s proposal to raise base tuition by 3.1 percent. Regent Kimberly Sanchez Rael was the sole dissenter. The increase will provide for a 3 percent employee compensation bump — lower than the state-mandated 4 percent. The additional 1 percent will be potentially covered by a supplemental appropriation to the state: a request of an additional $4.6 million dollars. 

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