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Saturday Springboard: Movie Industry on the Mend? + Drill, Baby, Drill + At-Risk Chickens

Photo Credit: Larry1732 via Compfight cc

Lesser Prairie Chicken
Photo Credit: Larry1732 via Compfight cc

By Margaret Wright

— After state budget cuts, the implementation of incentive caps and staffing upheavals, the New Mexico film industry is “on the mend”—or so says Variety magazine. Part of that recovery process could include efforts by state lawmakers sponsoring legislation to improve incentives for movie and TV productions. And the New Mexico Film Office is also aiming to engage members of the public with a series of free monthly screenings and discussions centered around the current and future state of local moving image-making. Tomorrow’s program boasts a distinguished panel of African-American filmmakers based in New Mexico sharing their perspectives and experiences. Join the conversation from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Center for Contemporary Arts Santa Fe.

  • Also free tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: admission to the Albuquerque Museum. The current featured exhibition, “Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture 1920-1945,” combines more than 200 pieces (including prints, ceramics and sculpture) that exemplify uniquely Japanese interpretations of modern and deco art movements.
  • A letter sent to Gov. Susana Martinez this week illustrates the showdown between environmental and industry interests over oil and gas extraction in the state. A group of 30 Republican legislators signed off on a request that money for town and county projects be tied to local governments’ openness to allow drilling. Las Vegas and San Miguel Counties have both opted to restrict drilling in the interest of protecting vulnerable water resources. The financial stakes are high: New Mexico is a major supplier of oil and natural gas, and money from the industry makes up about 15 percent of the entire state general fund.
  • The high-speed test track at Holloman Air Force Base has long been a site of innovation—from guided missile and pilot-free flight technologies to the effects of super-high mach speeds. This past week, the latest project at the test track used magnetic fields to levitate and propel a special sled at unprecedented speeds of more than 500 miles per hour. Magnetic levitation technology has intriguing implications, not all of them defense-based. Chinese architect Wei Zhao has envisioned a far-fetched future of marshaling magnetic forces to create sustainable floating cities.
  • Dwindling numbers of the lesser prairie chicken throughout shrinking grasslands of the West have both industry and conservation groups on high alert. The bird species is on the verge of being listed as endangered, which could mean more federal oversight for ranchers and oil and gas miners. Landowners and industry reps in New Mexico this week blamed the shrinking population of lesser prairie chickens on prolonged drought, and Republican Rep. Steve Pearce insisted that the federal listing would be a job killer. There’s some evidence that holistic management of grasslands can help curb and even reverse ecological degradation caused by human activities.

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