NM AG Torrez joins SOS Toulouse Oliver in meddling with grocery store merger

New Mexico’s far-left Democrat Attorney General Raúl Torrez is joining the state’s far-left Democrat Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver in trying to mess up the proposed $24.6 billion merger between Kroger and Albertsons, joining a multi-state lawsuit spearheaded by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

The legal challenge aims to halt the merger on claims that it would stifle competition, potentially leading to higher consumer prices, diminished quality, and adverse effects on employees. The FTC, expressing concerns over the implications for both consumers and workers, filed both a lawsuit and an administrative complaint to contest the merger.

Kroger, known for its diverse portfolio of nearly 1,300 stores across various brands in the U.S., including Smith’s and Price-Rite in New Mexico, seeks to acquire Albertsons, which also operates under multiple regional brands such as Albertsons Markets and Safeway within the state. 

Attorney General Torrez said, “My office proudly announces its collaborative stance alongside multiple states and the Federal Trade Commission in a collective effort to challenge and prevent this anti-competitive merger that threatens fair market dynamics.” 

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The lawsuit has garnered support from a coalition of attorneys general from Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, and Wyoming, all opposing the merger on the FTC’s platform.

Last August, Toulouse Oliver added her signature to a letter co-signed by six other secretaries of state, rejecting the $24.6 billion merger — a direct attack on the free market.

The letter highlights potential repercussions: “If the merger goes through, the lack of competition gives Kroger-Albertsons substantial power to dictate prices that harm growers and shippers who will be forced to cut wages for their own workers.”

However, Kroger’s perspective on the matter contradicts the officials’ bloviated concerns. A spokesperson for Kroger conveyed that the opposite is likely to occur if the merger progresses. They contend that prices would decrease, consumer choice would expand, and wages would increase as a result of the merger. The spokesperson also criticized the opposition, suggesting that the real beneficiaries of preventing the merger’s completion would be large, non-unionized competitors like Walmart and Amazon. Kroger assured that the merger would not lead to layoffs or closures of stores, distribution centers, or manufacturing facilities.

New Mexico families’ weekly grocery bills skyrocket to $286

In New Mexico, families are feeling the pinch with rising grocery prices, with a typical household now spending approximately $286 weekly on food, a figure that increases with the addition of children, according to KOB 4. UNM finance expert Reilly White acknowledges the surge in food prices, noting a slight stabilization, “Food prices are up and are likely going to stay up. The good news is they’ve stopped increasing as much.”

A glance at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the cost of staple foods such as ground beef has seen fluctuations, now standing at $5.56 per pound, a tiny decrease from July yet significantly higher before Joe Biden was installed as president. Milk and eggs have also seen price adjustments, with milk experiencing a moderate increase and eggs becoming more affordable post an avian flu outbreak. On the other hand, prices for produce like tomatoes and bananas have remained relatively stable, contrasting sharply with snack items such as potato chips and chocolate chip cookies, which have seen notable price hikes.

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New Mexico is witnessing a construction boom in the housing sector, with Alan Laseck of the Apartment Association of New Mexico reporting over 40 housing projects underway in Albuquerque alone. This surge in construction is anticipated to introduce around 5,000 rental units to the market, potentially easing the housing crunch. 

Despite the current average rent in Albuquerque standing at $1,340, up significantly from January 2020, the increased housing supply is expected to foster competitive pricing and more attractive leasing incentives, per the report. White optimistically predicts, “You’ll see prices starting to be more competitive, more deals will be offered by apartments and related companies to get people through the door… Because of this, there’s just a supply in units, you can expect that some of these prices will start coming down meaningfully.”

Additionally, wage growth is on a miniscule upward trajectory, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicating a 1.4% increase in average hourly earnings over the past year, outpacing inflation rates since last February.

Matisyahu’s incredible response to anti-Israel Meow Wolf staff canceling concert

In an interview with Billboard, Matisyahu delved into the unforeseen challenges he encountered during his scheduled performances in Santa Fe and Tucson, Arizona, earlier this month. Anti-Isael Meow Wolf employees stymied the artist from being able to perform in Santa Fe. The reggae musician, who is Jewish and supportive of Israel, faced abrupt cancellations at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe and Rialto Theatre in Tucson, attributing the disruptions to security concerns spurred by protesters. Undeterred, Matisyahu swiftly organized a complimentary concert at The Rock in Tucson to the delight of his fans.

Matisyahu recounted the sequence of events, noting, “There have been protesters at my shows, and two shows got canceled. One of them in New Mexico, where after we had driven hundreds of miles set up, had a sold out show, fans were starting to come, the staff claims that they were afraid to come into the show because of like, tenant protesters.” 

John Phelan, Wiki Commons.

He further explained the skepticism surrounding the staff’s claims, which led to the last-minute cancellation in Santa Fe. The following night in Tucson presented similar issues, prompting Matisyahu to take matters into his own hands. “I myself started making phone calls and found another venue, a legendary reggae venue down the street. […] They claimed there that it was a security issue at the Rialto, so we moved everything, found a completely new staff in two hours and had a beautiful concert with no security issues.”

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Matisyahu expressed his resilience and determination to continue his tour despite the obstacles, stating, “People can say what they want, but we know why these shows are being canceled. The bottom line is that we’re going to continue and we’re going to play every show on the tour and any venue that cancels, I have backup venues in every city in America. I’ve been doing 200 shows a year for 20 years in this country, and so we will play our shows regardless.”

Following the cancellations, Meow Wolf and Rialto Theatre both cited safety and staffing concerns as the primary reasons for their decisions, emphasizing their commitment to the safety of their employees and guests. Meow Wolf’s statement claimed its dedication to free expression, respectful discourse, and the unifying power of art, while firmly rejecting any form of hate or discrimination — although the hate-filled staffers who shut down the concert have not reportedly been fired or had reprimands from the art space.

Matisyahu at Republik Music Festival 4, Honolulu, Hawaii, June 9, 2014. Peter Chiapperino via Wiki Commons.

Amid these tour challenges, Matisyahu also shared his recent experiences in Israel, where he found a renewed sense of hope amidst Hamas terrorists violently attacking the country in an unprovoked war. “I was feeling really hopeless about what the future is going to look like for all of us and went to Israel and renewed like my faith in humanity and renewed my faith in God,” he shared. This journey profoundly impacted him, infusing his music and performances with a sense of light and strength drawn from the resilience of the people he encountered.

Matisyahu’s experience underscores the complexities Jewish artists face in today’s toxic political climate, filled with antisemitism, yet his story is also one of perseverance, hope, and the transformative power of music.

Outrage as teacher’s sword fight stunt turns classroom into battleground

An alarming incident at Volcano Vista High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, involving a high school teacher and a dangerous classroom activity, has led to a lawsuit against Albuquerque Public Schools (APS). The lawsuit, filed on February 23, alleges that a teacher allowed students to engage in sword fighting during a chemistry class on May 2, 2022, resulting in significant injury to one of the students.

According to reports from KRQE-TV, the troubling event was captured on video, showing students wielding swords and dueling in the classroom under the teacher’s supervision. Tragically, this unconventional class activity led to a student sustaining a deep cut on her wrist, necessitating emergency medical attention. The injuries were severe, with severed nerves and tendons, ultimately requiring surgical intervention and leaving the student with permanent damage to her dominant hand.

Attorney Jessica Hernandez, representing the injured student’s family, criticized both the teacher’s judgment and APS’s oversight, stating, “Not only did this teacher and APS not protect this child, but actively put her in harm’s way, actively created this danger and put deadly weapons right into these student’s hands — and exactly what could reasonably be anticipated is what happened.”

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The lawsuit details how the teacher surprised the students with the swords, purportedly as part of a lesson on the science of metal and melding. Despite the Albuquerque Public Schools handbook’s clear classification of weapons as items that could cause injury or death, the teacher proceeded to have students engage in sword duels, exacerbating the risk of harm.

The incident came to light through a cellphone video taken by the injured student moments before her participation in the sword fight. The subsequent injury and the school’s handling of the situation have raised serious concerns about safety and accountability within the school district.

Hernandez further commented on the school’s response to the incident, suggesting that an attempt was made to downplay the seriousness of the situation and avoid a thorough investigation. “The incident report that he filled out really seems like it’s trying to deflect responsibility away from the district to sweep this under the rug rather than doing a thorough investigation to find out exactly why and how one of their students had been so seriously hurt,” she remarked.

In response to the fallout from the incident, APS confirmed that the teacher involved, initially hired in 2021 as a special education teacher, was terminated in 2022. The lawsuit continues to unfold as the injured student’s family seeks justice and accountability for the distressing event.

NM Health Dept. fearmongering people over 65 to get new COVID-19 jab

Following the recent endorsement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation, far-left Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is now fearmongering all residents aged 65 and over to get yet another dose of the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 jab. 

NMDOH’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Miranda Durham, claimed, “Most COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations last year were among people 65 years and older,” adding, “An additional vaccine dose can provide added protection that may have decreased over time for those at highest risk.”

The CDC had previously made provisions for immunocompromised individuals to receive extra doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Now, with the advent of the updated vaccine, broader segments of the population, particularly older adults, are being encouraged to enhance their immunity against the virus.

The Department pushed the jab, saying that COVID-19 vaccines are being offered at no charge through private health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. Additionally, a provision has been made for uninsured individuals to receive the vaccine free of charge through a network of health centers and pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program, ensuring that everyone has access to the vaccine.

“Data from the CDC indicates that adults aged 65 and older bear a disproportionate impact from COVID-19, with more than half of the hospitalizations occurring within this age group between October 2023 and December 2023. Recognizing the significance of vaccination, NMDOH encourages eligible individuals to stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines,” continued the press release. 

According to Bloomberg, the COVID-19 jab is “inked to small increases in neurological, blood, and heart-related conditions in the largest global vaccine safety study to date,” per scientific studies.

Lujan Grisham, Santa Fe Mayor Webber publicly trade blows over obelisk toppling

Far-left Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has publicly contested the account given by far-left Democrat Mayor Alan Webber during his deposition related to a lawsuit concerning the October 2020 removal of the Plaza obelisk “Soldiers’ Monument” in Santa Fe. The governor criticized the mayor’s portrayal of their conversation, stating, “Mayor Webber’s remarks during his deposition amount to an egregious mischaracterization of our conversation.”

During his deposition, Mayor Webber suggested that Governor Lujan Grisham had discouraged him from attempting to address the contentious issue surrounding the obelisk, which had been a focal point of tension between stakeholders.

According to Webber’s recounting, the governor described the issue as “unsolvable” and warned him against trying to “rectify hundreds of years of history that were hard to untangle.”

However, Governor Lujan Grisham countered this narrative, asserting that her advice to Mayor Webber was to approach the situation with “caution and sensitivity,” given the highly charged emotions it elicited among the residents of Santa Fe. The governor accused Mayor Webber of shirking responsibility and criticized his leadership, stating, “Instead of leading on this issue, Mayor Webber is attempting to pass the buck and spread blame. That gets us nowhere, and he should be ashamed of himself for not owning his inaction when asked about it. There is an obvious leadership problem at the City of Santa Fe.”

The city, through Bernie Toon, a senior adviser, initially indicated a willingness to respond to the governor’s remarks but later decided against commenting on the matter, per the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The controversy over the obelisk and other monuments sparked legal action by Union Protectíva de Santa Fé, a local Spanish fraternal organization. In June 2021, the group filed a lawsuit against Mayor Webber, alleging that his decision to remove the obelisk, among other actions, violated the New Mexico Prehistoric and Historic Sites Preservation Act. The group argued that the mayor had succumbed to pressure from out-of-state fringe anti-Hispanic hate groups without adequately exploring alternatives to preserve the site. The lawsuit aims to compel the city to reconstruct the obelisk.

Keller sues store, claims it — not the city — is responsible for criminals, vagrants

The City of Albuquerque is taking legal action once more against the Adam Food Market, situated at 7817 Central Avenue NE, a site notorious for criminal activities, including seven homicides since 2020. 

Mayor Tim Keller stressed Albuquerque’s supposed commitment to public safety and the responsibility of businesses to contribute to a secure community environment, especially in light of the repeated violent incidents associated with the market.

Despite a previous lawsuit to temporarily close the market being dismissed, the persistence of criminal activities under new ownership has prompted the city to initiate another lawsuit. 

Recent undercover operations by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) at the market led to multiple felony arrests and the seizure of illegal drugs and firearms, highlighting the ongoing issues at the location.

APD officials, having discussed the crime situation with the market’s new owners without receiving any subsequent cooperation, are now suing the establishment. APD Chief Harold Medina expressed optimism about building a stronger case this time around based on the new evidence the City gathered.

Mayor Keller pointed to what he claimed was a significant financial and resource burden the Adam Food Market has placed on the city, with $400,000 spent over four years addressing incidents at the location. According to Keller, this expenditure detracts from other essential city services and emergency responses. However, the lack of meaningful crime prevention and the emboldening of criminals and vagrants due to the City’s policies apparently don’t factor into the lawsuit.

The city’s legal team, led by City Attorney Lauren Keefe, is preparing to officially file the lawsuit in the coming week, aiming to address and mitigate the crime hotspot’s impact on the Albuquerque community, according to KRQE 13 News.

Across Albuquerque, businesses have been forced to hire private security to protect their properties, with the businesses being forced to remove vagrants from the premises, while the City’s ordinances clearly show it is Albuquerque’s responsibility. 

GOP Sen. Hawley will employ this tactic to get Downwinders compensation

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) is determined to push forward an important legislative update concerning Americans affected by radiation exposure due to government activities. He plans to introduce an amendment that would not only renew but also broaden the scope of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).

This amendment aims to extend benefits to additional states, including New Mexico, Missouri, Idaho, Montana, Guam, Colorado, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alaska.

In a persuasive message to his fellow Republican senators, Hawley highlighted the bipartisan support the reauthorization bill received in the Senate previously, emphasizing the nationwide impact and the moral imperative behind the legislation.

“Our reauthorization bill passed the Senate last summer with a strong bipartisan vote, and I am grateful for much support from our Conference,” Hawley stated. “Now, we must finish the job. There are RECA claimants in every state, including each of yours. They will benefit if this bill is passed. Simply put, this is the right thing to do.”

This legislative effort comes at a critical juncture, with a potential government shutdown looming by the week’s end if a budget consensus is not reached. The RECA, initially established in 1990, offers compensation to individuals affected by nuclear testing and uranium mining, primarily covering Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona residents and their descendants. 

However, significant gaps remain, particularly for those Downwinders in New Mexico, the site of the 1945 Trinity atomic bomb test, and Missouri residents exposed through uranium processing activities at Mallinckrodt Chemical Works.

Although Joe Biden has previously extended the act, which was due to expire in 2022, for an additional two years, it faces expiration again this year without further legislative action. Senator Hawley, alongside Senators Ben Ray Lujan (D-New Mexico), Eric Schmitt (R-Missouri), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), had successfully included the reauthorization and expansion in the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last year.

Despite achieving a supermajority vote in the Senate, the amendment was not incorporated in the final NDAA version after the House conference, necessitating renewed efforts to secure its passage.

Anti-Israel protesters block entrance to Santa Fe Starbucks

A group of 10 individuals recently picketed outside a Starbucks in New Mexico’s capital, protesting the coffee giant’s legal actions against employees who voiced support for the Hamas-led “Palestinians,” first brought on by an X post from the union “Workers United,” which stood with the Hamas terrorists — damaging the reputation of the coffee company. 

This incident unfolded against a backdrop of heightened tensions following the egregious October invasion of Israel by Hamas, an organization widely recognized as a terrorist group for its violent actions against Israeli civilians.

The protesters donned traditional keffiyehs and bore signs advocating for a union, and the viciously anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, aimed to impede the morning rush by obstructing access to the Starbucks location on the corner of Santa Fe’s Cerillos Road and St. Francis Drive, as reported by one far-left source. Their actions cast a shadow on the complex and nuanced nature of Middle Eastern geopolitics, particularly the relentless terror campaigns waged by Hamas against Israeli citizens.

Critics argue that such demonstrations risk oversimplifying the intricate Israeli-Hamas conflict and lending support to entities like Hamas, whose tactics and goals starkly contrast with the pursuit of peace and coexistence. The BDS movement, which the protesters align with, has been criticized for its one-sided approach and potential to exacerbate divisions rather than foster dialogue.

The legal tussle between Starbucks, a leftist company, and its employees over public statements concerning the Israeli-Hamas conflict underscores the broader challenge of navigating corporate responsibility and employee rights in politically charged environments. 

According to a report from CNN: 

“We unequivocally condemn these acts of terrorism, hate and violence, and disagree with the statements and views expressed by Workers United and its members,” Starbucks said in a post. “Workers United’s words and actions belong to them, and them alone,” the company added.

Starbucks also filed a lawsuit against the union, alleging trademark infringement and demanding the union stop using its name and logos. The association with the union was damaging its reputation and putting its workers in harm’s way, Starbucks said.

While Starbucks has not been officially boycotted by the BDS National Committee, grassroots campaigns have emerged, reacting to the company’s legal stance against employees’ political expressions.

The confrontation at the Santa Fe Starbucks, marked by both support and backlash from the public, highlights the polarizing nature of the Israeli-Hamas discourse, especially when transposed onto unrelated platforms like coffee shops. 

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