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Amazon expands its New Mexico footprint

Amazon.com Inc., the e-commerce powerhouse based in Seattle and founded by Albuquerque native Jeff Bezos, has expanded its footprint in New Mexico by acquiring approximately 16.5 acres of land in Farmington. The transaction was completed on March 14, with records from the San Juan County Assessor’s Office confirming the purchase from Cummins Rocky Mountain LLC. The acquired land is located at 160 S. Browning Pkwy., just south of Burnham Road, near key local facilities like the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter and the San Juan Veterinary Hospital. The property is valued at just under $700,000.

This acquisition adds to Amazon’s significant presence in New Mexico, where the company already operates two fulfillment and sortation centers—one in Los Lunas and another in West Albuquerque—along with four delivery stations. Collectively, these facilities employ over 3,000 people across the state. According to a 2023 economic impact study conducted by Keystone Strategy, Amazon’s investments in New Mexico have surpassed $1.1 billion, not counting the potential development of a new facility in Farmington.

In response to inquiries about this new land purchase, a spokesperson for Amazon stated to Albuquerque Business First via email, “Amazon does not comment on land purchases or leases.”

The company also recently announced its plans to establish a “last mile” facility in Grand Junction, Colorado, further expanding its regional logistical network.

Farmington city manager Robert “Rob” Mayes expressed enthusiasm about Amazon’s decision to invest in the area. “It’s meaningful that a company as astute as Amazon sees a bright economic future for the city of Farmington,” he remarked.

This new development is part of a broader surge in economic activity in northwest New Mexico. For instance, in July 2023, D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments, based in New York City, revealed plans for a 300-megawatt solar and battery storage facility near the now-retired San Juan Generating Station. Additionally, in January, the New Mexico Economic Development Department highlighted a notable acquisition involving Calgon Carbon Corp., a water treatment product manufacturer from Pittsburgh, and two local firms.

Amazon’s broader business momentum continues to be strong, as evidenced by a recent earnings report from its cloud division, Amazon Web Services, which showcased a record profit margin. According to MarketWatch, this news contributed to a late surge in Amazon’s stock, which closed at $184.72 on Thursday.

Lujan Grisham regime hands nearly half a million dollars to UPS

In an era where politicians are quick to allocate public funds towards their own agendas, often without regard to efficacy, an interesting development has emerged in the realm of electric vehicle (EV) adoption by major delivery companies like FedEx and UPS. According to a recent Reuters report, as noted by Errors of Enchantment, these companies face significant hurdles in transitioning to green vehicles, primarily due to battery shortages and high EV prices, compounded by the financial struggles of startup electric van manufacturers.

Luke Wake, the vice president of fleet maintenance and engineering at UPS, expressed skepticism about the future landscape of these businesses, asking, “The question is how many of those (companies) will be here in five years, 10 years?”

Amid these uncertainties, an April 30 report from KRQE 13 highlights an initiative by far-left Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s New Mexico Environment Department, which has allocated over $473,000 in grant money to UPS. This funding is intended for the replacement of 16 aging delivery vehicles with newer, presumably more “environmentally friendly” models.

“At UPS, we believe in contributing positively to the communities in which we live and work. With over 18,000 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles in our fleet, we are proud to collaborate with the New Mexico Environment Department to increase our number of renewable natural gas vehicles and make a difference on the road,” Ryan Bankerd, UPS Corporate Affairs director of sustainability, wrote in a press release. 

While delivery vehicles are arguably more suitable for EV technology compared to personal cars due to their routine city routes and regular return to a home charging station, the current challenges of battery shortages and an unstable supply chain raise concerns. These issues highlight the risks associated with relying on EVs for consistent delivery services.

Moreover, the decision to grant a substantial sum to UPS, a highly profitable corporation, sparks further debate. Per UPS, in 2023, it had an “[o]perating profit of $9.1 billion; adjusted operating profit of $9.9 billion.”

This situation begs the question of whether such financial support from taxpayer money should be cause for concern, particularly among those on the political left who typically advocate for responsible and equitable government spending.

Furthermore, this raises an additional query about whether FedEx will also receive similar support from New Mexico for its “green” vehicle initiatives, or if this assistance will remain exclusive to UPS. Such decisions are pivotal, especially in light of the potential implications they carry for the sustainability and efficiency of large-scale corporate transitions to environmentally friendly technologies.
Read more about it at Errors of Enchantment.

Anti-Israel protest at Kirtland forces closure of school, disrupts businesses

Early Thursday morning, activists converged on the streets leading to Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, causing significant disruptions as they fruitlessly protested the U.S. Government’s support for Israel. The protest, which started around 6:30 a.m., blocked the main entrance at Louisiana and Gibson, leading to considerable traffic backups and compelling the Albuquerque Police Department to shut down traffic in the vicinity.

A protester at the scene shared their motivations with the media, stating, “I think it’s complicated to say that this is a frontline, but, for me, it’s… it’s impossible to sit by and to be inactive, and to live a comfortable life as if I don’t know what’s happening.” The extremists remained until approximately 1:30 p.m. before dispersing voluntarily.

The protest’s location is strategic, given Kirtland Air Force Base’s significance in military and federal operations. The base, one of the largest employers in Albuquerque, houses several defense and research facilities. Although the temporary closure of the Louisiana gate did not affect base operations, it highlighted the potential future impact such annoyances can have on national security.

The blockade’s effects extended beyond the base. Wherry Elementary School, located nearby, was forced to switch to online learning for the day. A teacher from the school expressed concerns to KRQE News 13, noting that the protest had not only disrupted educational activities but had also hindered food access for students and interrupted some testing processes.

Local businesses also felt the impact of the protest. An employee from Family Appliances, located in the vicinity, described the challenges faced due to the disruption. They told KRQE News 13, “It really slowed us down, it’s just due to the fact that our techs weren’t even able to come in, so they weren’t even to fix, like, to do like, repairs on our appliances, it was like, it was pretty bad.” The employee chose to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

Democrat state senator makes shock retirement announcement

State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill of Silver City has decided not to pursue re-election, opening up a potential opportunity for a shift in party control of her legislative seat. 

Correa Hemphill, a far-left Democrat, announced her decision not to seek a second term in a news release, expressing a desire to explore new career opportunities.

Correa Hemphill noted her significant legislative contributions since her election in 2021, stating, “…after careful consideration and a lot of deliberation I have decided not to run in the general election so I can explore new career opportunities.” Although she will remain on the ballot for the upcoming Democrat primary on June 4, she plans to withdraw before the general election on November 5, where all seats in the statehouse will be contested.

State Sen. Siah Correah Hemphill (D-Silver City)

Reflecting on her time in office, she added, “I look forward to continuing our work together to support the needs of our community and state, [which] I love so dearly and has been home to my family for hundreds of years.”

Representing Senate District 28, which includes all of Hidalgo County and parts of Grant and Luna counties, Correa Hemphill initially won the seat in a surprising victory over then-incumbent Gabriel Ramos, who was a moderate Democrat at the time. 

Ramos lost in the Democratic primaries as part of a broader wave of defeats for less progressive incumbents in 2020, driven mostly by the radical far-left Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her so-called “progressive” ally organizations.

Ramos left the Democrat Party and is running again for the state Senate seat.

New Mexico once again tops national rankings, this time for drugs

As National Prevention Week approaches, the personal finance website WalletHub has released a comprehensive report identifying the states with the most severe drug problems. This timely study aims to spotlight the regions most impacted by drug addiction, leveraging data from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, analyzed across 20 critical metrics.

The metrics include a range of indicators from arrest and overdose rates to opioid prescriptions and the prevalence of employee drug testing laws. New Mexico emerged as a focal point in this study, ranking as the state with the largest drug-related challenges.

Here are some notable findings from the report regarding New Mexico:

  • New Mexico ranks first in the percentage of teenagers who reported using illicit drugs in the past month.
  • It comes in third for the percentage of adults who admitted to using illicit drugs over the same period.
  • The state is ranked seventh in drug overdose deaths per capita.
  • New Mexico is second in terms of adults who were unable to access treatment for illicit drug use in the past year.
  • It holds the eighth position for the number of substance abuse treatment facilities per 100,000 people aged 12 and older who use illicit drugs.

“New Mexico has the biggest drug problem in the U.S., especially when it comes to teenagers. The state has the highest percentage of teens using illicit drugs, and the highest share of teenagers who report having tried marijuana before age 13,” said WalletHub Analyst Cassandra Happe. 

“New Mexico has the third-highest share of adults who use illicit drugs, as well. In addition, New Mexico has a large number of drug overdose deaths per capita, and that rate is growing faster than in most other states.”

As a border state, the border crisis and the massive flow of fentanyl have no doubt contributed to the exacerbated issue that is plaguing communities across all 33 counties.

The full report, which provides a deeper dive into these issues, is available on WalletHub’s website

16 arrested after barricades, graffiti, and NMSP intervention at UNM protest

Across the country, university campuses have become epicenters for anti-Israel demonstrations, with activists calling for institutions to sever all affiliations with companies and organizations that back the Israeli government amid its ongoing conflicts. These demonstrations have led to blockades and occupations of university buildings, prompting some schools to transition to online classes and even cancel graduation ceremonies.

On April 29, 2024, the University of New Mexico (UNM) experienced significant disruptions when over 100 anti-Israel activists gathered. They conducted workshops on protest tactics at the university’s Duck Pond and raised funds via social media to support their day-long occupation of the campus. The activists later occupied the Student Union Building (SUB), where they set up tents and chanted, clearly intending to stay for an extended period.

A poignant moment captured on social media depicted a student, surrounded by protesters in the SUB, desperately pleading for quiet to study, his words drowned out by the chants. This scene, amidst the chaos, resonates with the struggle of maintaining academic focus in such disruptive circumstances. Interestingly, the equipment used by the protesters was sourced from companies with pro-Israel affiliations, a stark irony given the protesters’ cause, as these companies are the primary manufacturers of such materials, with no comparable pro-Palestine firms found.

Following the occupation, UNM issued a LoboAlert advising the community to avoid the SUB area and announced its closure. As protesters built barricades inside the SUB, the UNM Regents requested assistance from the New Mexico State Police to clear the building. The confrontation concluded in the early hours of April 30, 2024, with state police arresting 16 people after a brief skirmish.

Cinnamon Blair, UNM’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, remarked on the university’s planned response, “We’ll follow our normal processes regarding violations of the student code of conduct, which are handled by the Dean of Students. This includes investigating allegations and any discipline.” The arrested protesters were charged with criminal trespass and wrongful use of public property, both misdemeanor offenses. A legal fund to assist the protesters has been established.

Those arrested include Emery Schmidt, 33, of Albuquerque; Stephanie Mendoza, 32, of Brush Prairie, Washington; Sophia Ellis-Young, 23, of Albuquerque; Alexander Schlesinger, 27, of Albuquerque; Hope Alvarado, 28, of Albuquerque; Naomi Meiseles, 22, a UNM undergraduate student; Athenx Lindlan, 39, of Albuquerque; Isabel Spafford, 25, of Albuquerque; Devin Ray, 22, of Albuquerque; Abbey Myrick, 36, a UNM graduate student from Placitas; Abigail Merhege, 19, a Regent’s Scholar at the UNM Honors College and UNMH Department of Pathology employee; Nicholas Martin, 21, a UNM undergraduate from Los Alamos; Anton Oliver Becker-Stumpf, 21, of Albuquerque; Samantha Hughes-Hobbs, 35, of Albuquerque; Cassidy Boe, 28, a graduate assistant at UNM, of Albuquerque; and Dakota Steele, 22, of Albuquerque.

No charges have been filed regarding the SUB’s vandalism, including graffiti and furniture damage, although assessments suggest that the damages may exceed felony levels. With the SUB closed indefinitely during a critical period like Finals Week, the impact on student activities is considerable.

Lujan Grisham’s PED proposes burdensome school lunch changes

The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) is seeking public feedback on a newly proposed regulation overhauling the state’s school lunch program. This initiative comes amid concerns about the quality and consumption of the meals provided under the existing program, which has been promoted as providing free lunches to students, though funded by taxpayers.

The proposed changes, open for comment until May 29, 2024, include ambitious requirements for school districts categorized under “level 1” and “level 2”. For “level 1” districts, the proposal mandates that half of all meals must be freshly prepared in an onsite kitchen. Additionally, schools are expected to offer at least three items weekly from local farms, ranches, or food businesses. 

A significant shift toward local sourcing includes directives for no less than fifty percent of schools within a school food authority to either grow food on campus or provide educational resources promoting locally sourced nutrition.

The proposal also highlights a focus on sustainability, requiring at least fifty percent of schools in a school food authority to implement composting programs. This aspect of the proposal aims to address waste management but raises concerns about practical challenges, such as space constraints in urban settings and the inherent risks of composting in arid regions like New Mexico.

Critics of the proposal argue that while some components are beneficial, the overall regulation could impose undue burdens on school districts, potentially leading to massive costs and logistical challenges. Questions are being raised about the feasibility of schools growing their own food, the adequacy of safety measures for food preparation, and the management of composting programs.

Feedback on the proposed changes can be sent to the New Mexico PED via email at Rule.Feedback@ped.nm.gov or through mail to the Policy and Legislative Affairs Division at the specified address in Santa Fe.

This proposal comes at a time when New Mexico schools face broader educational challenges, being ranked 52nd nationally on the NAEP assessments. The debate over these proposed changes highlights the balance policymakers must achieve between innovative nutrition education and the practicalities of implementation in diverse school settings. Find out more about the proposed rule here.

Heinrich slapped with ethics watchdog request over campaign methods

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), an ethics watchdog group, has requested that the Senate Select Committee on Ethics investigate New Mexico U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich. FACT’s concerns center around allegations that Heinrich intertwined official legislative actions with campaign fundraising efforts.

In a detailed letter, FACT’s Executive Director, Kendra Arnold, pointed out to the committee chairs, Senators Chris Coons and James Lankford, that Heinrich’s campaign emails may have violated Senate ethics rules. These emails reportedly invited recipients to “co-sponsor” legislation by making donations to his campaign, suggesting donation amounts ranging from $10 to $1,000.

Arnold expressed concern over this practice, stating, “Federal law and Senate ethics rules do not allow senators to fundraise based upon their official duties, in part because it would lead to the public rightfully question whether the senator’s primary concern was their political campaign.” She highlighted the potential conflict this creates, as it may give the impression that legislative actions can be influenced by campaign contributions.

One specific email cited by FACT was sent on behalf of Heinrich’s principal campaign committee on March 18, promoting the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Act. The email asked recipients to sign a petition supporting the legislation, which led to a page soliciting campaign donations. Similarly, another campaign email dated April 10 discussed the Infant Formula Made in America Act, also directing supporters to a donation page after prompting them to endorse the legislation.

These instances, Arnold argues, blur the lines between official duties and campaign activities, which could undermine public trust and violate ethical standards designed to maintain a clear separation between the two.

As of now, the Senate Ethics Committee has not publicly responded to FACT’s request for investigation. Heinrich, who has held his Senate seat since 2013 and is up for reelection in a district considered solidly Democratic, has also not commented on the allegations. His office and campaign were reached out to for responses by The Washington Times.

Identity revealed of ABQ grandmother who shot fugitive intruder

A dramatic confrontation unfolded when Anissa Tinnin, an Albuquerque grandmother, protected herself and her granddaughter from a fugitive intruder, Joseph Rivera, during what began as a peaceful movie night at home. The incident occurred shortly after Tinnin and her 4-year-old granddaughter had settled in to watch the Taylor Swift Eras Tour film, celebrating with popcorn and M&M’s.

The tranquility of their evening was shattered when Rivera, who was fleeing from police after driving a stolen vehicle, crashed nearby and entered Tinnin’s home. The police pursuit had escalated after officers used spike strips to stop the stolen vehicle, which Rivera continued to drive until it was inoperable. He then fled on foot, eventually forcing his way into Tinnin’s residence.

Faced with the intruder, Tinnin took decisive action to protect her grandchild and herself. “Get back. Get back. I have a gun. Get back. Get back,” she warned Rivera, as reported by KRQE. Despite her warnings, Rivera advanced, prompting Tinnin to shoot him as he forced his way through the locked front door. After she fired, Rivera, wounded, questioned why she shot him, to which Tinnin responded assertively, “Because you’re in my f–king house!”

Tinnin then called 911 and took measures to ensure her granddaughter’s safety by hiding her in a bedroom. Even after the altercation, she demonstrated compassion by offering to help Rivera with his injury, cautioning him against any further threats. Police arrived shortly after and apprehended Rivera.

This incident highlighted Tinnin’s bravery and raised concerns about community safety and the effectiveness of local law enforcement strategies, as she expressed frustration over the city’s handling of crime. Rivera, who had multiple prior felony convictions and was wanted on another charge, faced new charges including burglary and auto theft.

The episode underscores the challenges and dangers that ordinary citizens can face and demonstrates the lengths to which individuals might go to protect their loved ones by utilizing their Second Amendment rights. Tinnin credited divine intervention for their safety during this harrowing ordeal, telling KRQE, “I do believe we had a guardian angel here with us, and I do firmly believe that God was watching over us.”

Trial date announced for suspect in policeman and paramedic murders

A trial date has been established for Jaremy Smith, a 33-year-old man from Marion, who faces charges including the murder of a New Mexico State Police officer. 

The proceedings are scheduled to commence with jury selection on June 10th, 2024, at the Pete V. Domenici United States Courthouse in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This trial not only addresses the grievous incident involving the officer but also encompasses charges related to the death of a Florence County, South Carolina paramedic.

The case against Smith stems from the events of March 15, when New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare was fatally shot. Officer Hare was responding to a situation along I-40 near Tucumcari, where he had stopped to assist Smith, who appeared to have a flat tire. The circumstances turned tragic when Officer Hare was killed during the encounter.

Smith’s apprehension occurred two days later, on March 17, after he was involved in a deputy-related shooting incident in Southwest Albuquerque. His capture was facilitated by a tip from a convenience store worker who recognized him as the suspect wanted in connection with Officer Hare’s shooting.

In a disturbing revelation, the investigation linked Smith to another violent crime—the murder of Phonesia Machado-Fore, a paramedic from Florence County. Her body was discovered near an abandoned home in Dillon County on the same day Officer Hare was killed. Machado-Fore had been missing since March 12, last seen at her residence in Marion. An autopsy confirmed that she died from a gunshot wound to the head, and her death was ruled a homicide by the Dillon County Coroner.

The dual tragedies have drawn intense scrutiny, connecting the deaths of both a law enforcement officer and a paramedic to Smith, who now faces nearly 20 charges. These charges include murder, kidnapping, and carjacking, reflecting the severe nature of the crimes involved.

As the community and families of the victims await justice, the upcoming trial in June will likely be a focal point for both local and national attention, underscoring the profound impact of the events on the respective communities. The trial promises to be a significant undertaking, given the gravity of the accusations and the multiple charges spanning different jurisdictions.

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