New Mexico

Manhunt continues for murderer of NM State Police Officer Justin Hare

The New Mexico State Police continue to be in active pursuit to capture a suspect responsible for the death of one of their own. The individual in question, 32-year-old Jaremy Smith from South Carolina, is accused of fatally shooting Officer Justin Hare. The incident occurred on Interstate 40 near the 318-mile marker early in the morning around 5:30 a.m. last Friday. According to reports, Smith had stopped on the highway due to a flat tire and was attempting to wave down passing vehicles when Officer Hare arrived at the scene and positioned his patrol car behind Smith’s vehicle.

During a press conference held on Saturday, Chief Troy Weisler of the New Mexico State Police detailed the events leading up to the tragic shooting. He explained that Smith engaged Officer Hare in a brief conversation at the passenger side of the police vehicle under the guise of needing assistance with the tire, only to suddenly draw a firearm and shoot the officer. Smith then proceeded to the driver’s side, shot Hare once more, and forcibly moved him into the passenger seat before fleeing the scene in the officer’s vehicle. The stolen police car was found abandoned shortly thereafter, with Smith still at large and deemed extremely dangerous.

Chief Weisler, visibly moved, spoke of Officer Hare’s final act of kindness, “On a cold, dark, and windy morning, he offered help to a person he thought was in need,” highlighting the cruel irony that Hare’s last words on earth were ones of assistance to the very individual who would take his life.

It has also come to light that Smith was driving a BMW that belonged to Phonesia Machado-Fore, a paramedic who was later discovered deceased in Dillon County, South Carolina. An investigation into her death is underway, with an autopsy planned for the upcoming Monday.

Chief Weisler further noted Smith’s extensive criminal record in South Carolina, which spans over a decade and includes both property and violent offenses. He emphasized the profound loss felt by the state police, marking the third officer to be killed in the line of duty within the last nine months—a stark contrast to the preceding 30 years without such an incident. Weisler expressed a fervent desire for such violence to end, mourning the loss of Officers Ferguson, Hernandez, and now, Hare, all of whom were “violently murdered in cold blood.”

As the police community mourns, they also stand resolute in their commitment to justice for Officer Hare, with Weisler firmly stating, “Jaremy Smith, we are coming for you.” Hare’s passing leaves behind a grieving girlfriend and two young children, a poignant reminder of the human toll of such senseless acts of violence.

NM residents ranked most federally dependent in the entire country: Study

According to WalletHub, New Mexico residents are ranked the most federally dependent, and the state at large is ranked the second-most federally dependent state in the union, only beaten by Alaska.

New Mexico’s federal dependence score was 76.70 out of 100, while Alaska’s was 89.52. 

WalletHub notes, “New Mexico is the second-most federally dependent state, in large part because it receives a huge amount of federal funding compared to the taxes that residents pay. For every $1 paid in taxes, New Mexico gets $3.26 in federal funding. Around half of the other states get less than $1 in federal funding for every tax dollar.”

“Federal funding makes up a large share of New Mexico’s revenue as well, at around 47%, and more than 3.5% of the Land of Enchantment’s workforce is employed by the federal government. Both of these rates are among the highest in the country, proving that New Mexico’s economy owes a lot to the federal government,” the study continued.

WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe noted, “Regardless of whether the distribution of federal funds is fair or not, living in one of the most federally dependent states can be beneficial for residents. For every dollar residents of the top states pay in taxes, they get several dollars back in federal funding, which often leads to higher-quality infrastructure, education, public health and more.”

However, Happe’s analysis shows that is not the case in New Mexico, which despite the incredible government subsidies, is ranked near the bottom of every economic, health care, well-being, and safety state ranking. New Mexico also had the 46th lowest gross domestic product in the entire country, per WalletHub.

Suspect still on the lam after killing NM State Police Officer Justin Hare

On Friday morning, New Mexico when State Police Officer Justin Hare, 35, was fatally shot in eastern New Mexico. The incident occurred along Interstate 40, near mile marker 320, not far from Tucumcari. 

Officer Hare was conducting a welfare check related to a vehicle stopped on the highway’s shoulder when the situation escalated, leading to the suspect commandeering the police vehicle, which subsequently crashed.

Authorities are actively searching for the suspect, who was last spotted wearing a brown hoodie and jacket. The New Mexico State Police have released an image of the suspect and are urging anyone with information regarding his whereabouts to come forward.

The suspected murderer has been identified as Jeremy Smith of Marion, South Carolina, per the New Mexico State Police.

The area where the suspect was last seen is between Montoya and Newkirk, New Mexico, near mile marker 304 on Interstate 40. The search for the suspect is ongoing, with multiple law enforcement agencies involved.

This heartbreaking event marks the second loss of a New Mexico State Police officer in the line of duty within the past four years, following the death of Officer Darian Jarrott in 2021.

In 2023, Alamogordo Police Officer Anthony Ferguson was murdered by a felon who was released despite pending charges of brandishing a firearm on another law enforcement officer. 

NM AG Torrez joins other Dem states in attempt to nuke First Amendment rights

In a major legal battle that has drawn national attention, 23 Democrat states, along with the District of Columbia, have filed amicus briefs in favor of the Biden regime in the Supreme Court case Murthy, et al v. Missouri, et al. Some have termed this case as the “most important free speech case in a generation,” and it is set to be heard by the Supreme Court soon.

The states supporting the administration assert their interest in collaborating with tech companies to promote responsible public behavior and counter alleged “disinformation” and online predatory activities, which attempt to gut First Amendment rights. Their stance suggests a belief in the government’s authority to regulate and potentially censor certain forms of speech.

New Mexico’s Attorney General Raúl Torrez and other far-left attorneys general and solicitor generals have signed the brief.

The other states advocating for this anti-First Amendment stance include New York, Colorado, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Vermont, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and Nevada.

On the other side of the debate, 16 states, including Montana, Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Tennessee, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and the Arizona Legislature, have filed a brief in support of free speech and the respondents in the case.

This legal confrontation stems from allegations against the Biden administration for purported First Amendment violations, particularly directing social media platforms to censor or remove content deemed objectionable by the government. The case involves several plaintiffs, including three doctors, a news website, a healthcare activist, and two states, who claim their content was unfairly targeted and suppressed by these directives.

Star-studded blockbuster to film in New Mexico

New Mexico is set to become the backdrop for “Eddington,” an upcoming A24 film featuring a stellar cast including Academy Award winner Joaquin Phoenix, Golden Globe Award Winner Pedro Pascal, and two-time Academy Award winner Emma Stone. The New Mexico Film Office disclosed that the movie will be shot in various locations, including Albuquerque, Santa Fe County, and Truth or Consequences. This venture is expected to provide employment for more than 300 locals.

Directed by College of Santa Fe alumnus Ari Aster, known for the A24 films Hereditary and Midsommar and produced under his Square Peg banner in collaboration with A24, “Eddington” boasts an impressive ensemble cast that also counts Yellowstone’s Luke Grimes, Elvis’ Golden Globe winner Austin Butler, and BAFTA Award winner Michael Ward among its ranks. Two-time Academy Award nominee Darius Khondji, renowned for his cinematography, is on board to lend his visual storytelling expertise to the film.

The storyline of “Eddington” centers around a New Mexican sheriff with lofty ambitions, though specific plot details remain under wraps. This project marks Aster’s inaugural feature film endeavor in New Mexico, although some cast members have previously worked within the state. Emma Stone, for example, was involved in a project in Española and Santa Fe in mid-2022.

Amber Dodson, the director of the New Mexico Film Office, highlighted the state’s allure for major film projects like “Eddington,” attributing the interest to the picturesque landscapes, skilled crews, and appealing film incentives. 

The movie’s production in locales such as Truth or Consequences is not just about utilizing the state’s scenery but also about weaving the essence of New Mexico into the narrative fabric of the film.

MLG regime cancels public hearing amid backlash to proposed state park fee hike

Amid widespread backlash from New Mexicans after Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s State Parks Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) proposed over 100% price increases in state park fees, the division is canceling a scheduled April 1, 2024, hearing on the matter.

According to a study commissioned by the division and reported by KOAT & News, “The study shows proposed fees such as raising day-use per vehicle from $5 to $10; raising camping fees from $10 to $20 a night for New Mexico residents; electric service from $4 to $10 a night; water service for $10.” These proposed increases would cost over 100 percent more.

New Mexico House Republicans came out unanimously against the proposed fee increase, writing in a letter, “New Mexicans are among the most economically challenged Americans. Raising our fees to be consistent with the fees of neighboring states – which in some instances results in increases of 200% – fails to account for the vast differences in wealth of residents in our neighboring states, all of which have significantly fewer people living in poverty. The increased fees and new fees will make activities like camping, boating, and paddle sports unaffordable for many New Mexicans at a time when they are struggling to keep up with the significant inflation of recent years.”

EMNRD’s Field Operations Bureau Chief Jared Langenegger wrote in a Wednesday statement, “New Mexico State Parks, a Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) is announcing the postponement of the public hearing on its proposed rule revisions scheduled for April 1, 2024.”

He noted, “This decision allows additional time to review and consider over 800 public comments and feedback received regarding the proposed rule amendments. State Parks The Division will continue to receive public comments on the proposed rule changes through March 29, 2024.” 

“State Parks The Division plans to review the public input received and revise the proposed rule changes in the coming months. Once the review and revision process is complete, recommendations will be presented through a rule revision process, which will include additional public meetings and another public comment period,” continued Langenegger.

Both N.M. Republican legislative leaders bow out of re-election

In a surprising turn of events, the Republican leadership in the New Mexico Legislature has declared they will not be pursuing reelection, leaving a significant leadership gap within the GOP. Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca of Belen made his decision public, citing intensive contemplation, discussions with family, and spiritual guidance as the reasons behind his choice. 

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader T. Ryan Lane of Aztec allowed the filing deadline for the June primary election to pass without submitting his candidacy, signaling his exit from the race. However, his chosen successor, William Hall, is running unopposed in the GOP primary for the seat.

Baca, who has served since 2017 after a notable victory over a Democrat incumbent, expressed in a statement that he believes his future contributions to his community and state lie beyond another legislative term. 

His decision has sparked speculation about potential aspirations for higher office, especially considering his pointed criticism of redistricting efforts that he perceives as attempts by progressives to create division within the GOP.

“Although I am proud of what we have accomplished, my work is not done. Our state has a bright future ahead and our momentum in the State Senate is evidence of that. A new day for New Mexico is coming, and as leader of the Senate Republican Caucus, a small business owner, and husband and father, I will do everything I can to see that day become a reality,” said Baca.

Lane, reflecting on his tenure, emphasized his desire to dedicate more time to his family as a primary reason for stepping down. Having led the House Republicans since January 2023, Lane believes the party is well-positioned for future success and has a strong lineup of candidates ready to steer New Mexico toward a more “centrist” path.

“The House Republicans are positioned for success moving forward. We have a slate of great candidates and intend on focusing on competitive races to bring New Mexico back towards the middle,” he said.

The announcements from Baca and Lane have caused a stir within the Republican Party, with new candidates like William Hall II stepping forward to fill the void. 

Hall, a retired FBI special agent with extensive law enforcement experience, was encouraged to run for Lane’s House District 3 seat. He aims to bring his knowledge of the criminal justice system to the Legislature and is committed to serving the state and its residents with pride.

“I was basically asked [to run for the seat], and I thought, ‘Well, I’d like a chance to serve,’” Hall, 61, said in a telephone interview with the Santa Fe New Mexican. “I’ve always been in a service capacity. I was in law enforcement for many years and so I said yes, and the rest is history. It was kind of a last-minute decision, you might say.”

As the GOP faces these unexpected leadership changes, the party looks to the future with optimism, rallying behind new candidates ready to take up the mantle and continue the work of their predecessors.

New Mexico strikes gold in $1.5 million crypto clash

The New Mexico Securities Division has successfully concluded an investigation into TradeStation’s cryptocurrency interest-earning program, resulting in a significant $1.5 million settlement. TradeStation, a Florida-based firm known for its cryptocurrency investment and trading services, offered a program from 2020 to 2022 that allowed New Mexico investors to lend their crypto assets to the company in exchange for interest earnings.

This innovative program caught the attention of regulatory authorities in New Mexico and other states, sparking inquiries into whether it constituted the offering of unregistered securities. TradeStation, while opting to settle, did not acknowledge any wrongdoing related to the potential regulatory concerns raised by the program.

As part of the resolution, TradeStation has revised its terms of service and committed to discontinuing the interest-earning feature for any financial instruments that are not regulated. The company has agreed to disburse a total fine of $1.5 million, to be divided evenly among 51 participating jurisdictions, as outlined in the settlement agreement.

New Mexico’s share of the settlement amounts to over $29,000, which will be allocated to the state’s Current School Fund, as confirmed by the Regulation and Licensing Department. This fund supports various educational initiatives and programs across the state, ensuring that the settlement contributes to the betterment of New Mexico’s educational landscape.

Alissa Berger, an attorney representing the New Mexico Securities Division, emphasized the division’s dedication to safeguarding investors and maintaining trust in the investment landscape. “The Securities Division is committed to protecting investors and ensuring New Mexicans have confidence when investing their money,” she stated. Berger also highlighted the importance of regulatory compliance for companies operating within the burgeoning field of cryptocurrency and related technologies. She added, “State securities regulators recognize the value that new, crypto-related technology brings to financial markets, but it is imperative those providing these services are complying with existing laws and regulations that help promote a competitive capital market.”

This settlement marks a significant step in the ongoing effort to regulate the rapidly evolving cryptocurrency market and ensure that investment products comply with established legal and regulatory frameworks.

NM beats the nation in another bad education metric

According to a recent study by Teach Simple, certain states are lagging in high school completion rates.

Teach Simple’s report, as reported by Newsweek, highlights five states with the most concerning dropout figures: New Mexico leads with an 8.51 percent dropout rate, followed by Nevada, Louisiana, Arizona, and Mississippi, which have rates ranging from 7.42 to 6.87 percent.

The pandemic lockdowns exacerbated the dropout issue, with Teach Simple’s Cole Vineyard noting, “Recent reports revealed that since the pandemic, an estimated 50,000 students were missing from any kind of U.S. school. Therefore, teachers across the country face a huge responsibility of educating the next generation, and with more resources and support, the more achievable this will be.”

On the brighter side, some states have outperformed others in maintaining low dropout rates. New Jersey boasts a dropout rate of only 3.25 percent, with Massachusetts, Virginia, Hawaii, and Connecticut also demonstrating impressive rates well below the national average.

This data aligns with another study by Teach Simple that evaluated states based on educational attainment, including average ACT scores and adult education program participation. Massachusetts emerged as the most educated state, while New Mexico ranked lowest, reflecting its high dropout rate.

Factors influencing student success in public schools include class size, funding, safety, and teacher quality. Tiffany Sorya, founder of Novel Education Group, emphasizes that teacher quality is crucial for student achievement but is often hindered by insufficient funding.

New Mexico has introduced measures that are likely to only exacerbate the issues, such as Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) mandate extending the school calendar to at least 180 days and mandating 5-day school weeks.

NMPED Secretary Arsenio Romero told Newsweek, “We’ve been the last and the worst performing state in the union. We know that this isn’t reflective of who we are, and we’re going to do everything we can to challenge and change that. This is about doing what’s right for kids, even if it’s hard.”

New Mexico man falls victim to the ‘Black Death’

A resident of New Mexico recently succumbed to the bubonic plague, historically known as the “Black Death,” for its devastating impact on European populations during the Middle Ages. This incident is the second fatality in the state attributed to this ancient affliction since 2020, according to reports from Knewz.com.

The individual, of Lincoln County, whose identity has not been disclosed, was receiving medical treatment for the plague, which is transmitted by fleas found on rodents and can spread to humans through flea bites, as stated by the New Mexico Department of Health on March 8.

State Public Health Veterinarian Erin Phipps commented on the situation, stating, “This tragic incident serves as a clear reminder of the threat posed by this ancient disease and emphasizes the need for heightened community awareness and proactive measures to prevent its spread.”

The health department has highlighted the risk posed by pets that are allowed to wander and hunt, as they can bring infected fleas into homes, thereby increasing the risk of human infection, per the outlet.

An environmental investigation is underway to evaluate the potential risk to the community.

Symptoms of the plague in humans typically include a sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, and fatigue, accompanied by painful lymph node swelling in areas such as the groin, armpit, or neck. In pets, symptoms can manifest as fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and possibly swollen lymph nodes under the jaw.

Without a vaccine available for plague prevention, health authorities stress the importance of minimizing contact with potentially infected rodents and taking steps to protect pets from flea exposure.

Recommendations for residents include preventing pets from roaming freely, using flea control products, and maintaining yards by removing or relocating woodpiles, brush, and compost heaps to deter rodent habitation.

The health department also advises immediate medical attention for anyone displaying symptoms of the plague in themselves or their pets, as early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment can significantly lower the mortality risk.

The most recent plague case before this one in New Mexico occurred in Torrance County in 2021. The state reported four cases in 2020 in Torrance County, Santa Fe County, and Rio Arriba County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that most U.S. cases of human plague are found primarily in two regions: a section of the West Coast encompassing parts of California, Oregon, and western Nevada, and a Southwest area spanning northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, and southern Colorado. Since 1970, New Mexico has recorded the highest incidence of plague in the nation, followed by Colorado.

Plague was introduced to the U.S. in 1900 through rat-infested steamships, mostly arriving from Asia, with the last urban outbreak occurring in Los Angeles between 1924 and 1925. While plague outbreaks have been reported in Africa, Asia, and South America since then, the majority of human cases since the 1990s have been in Africa.

The Black Death pandemic of 1347-1351 stands as one of the deadliest events in human history, eradicating an estimated 30 to 60% of Europe’s population, as per Britannica.

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