Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT
- LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — Bandelier National Monument officials say a visitor was fatally injured at Bandelier National Monument when struck by a falling rock while climbing ladders to reach a canyon alcove. Monument officials said in a statement that the visitor fell about 30 feet after being struck Wednesday while climbing the second of the four ladders used to the reach the Alcove House,. The statement said visitor died while being lowered to the ground with ropes and a litter, and resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful. The victim's identity wasn't released. The statement said Alcove House will be closed until further notice while the incident is investigated.
- The Biden administration has unveiled new procedures to handle asylum claims at the U.S. southern border, hoping to decide cases in months instead of years. The rules empower asylum officers to grant or deny claims, an authority that has been limited to immigration judges for people arriving at the border with Mexico. Immigration courts are backlogged with nearly 1.7 million cases, and it takes an average of nearly four years to decide an asylum case. The changes unveiled Thursday could have far-reaching impact, but officials say they will start slowly. The changes are expected to take effect in about two months.
NATIVE AMERICAN VOTING RIGHTS
- FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The White House says local, state and federal officials must do more to ensure Native Americans have equal access to voting. The Biden administration released a report Thursday that reiterated the persistent, longstanding and deep-rooted barriers to voting in tribal communities. Native Americans and Alaska Natives vote at lower rates than the national average but have been a key constituency in tight races and states with large Native populations. Absent action from Congress, Biden is seeking changes at the local and state levels. The White House report builds on other work by Native American voting rights advocates.
- PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Governors and state lawmakers throughout the U.S. are floating proposals to send checks to help residents cope with soaring inflation at a time when state budgets are bursting with cash. The relief ideas come at a time when many states actually have too much money on their hands because of billions of dollars of federal pandemic aid and ballooning tax revenue. It's also happening as the war in Ukraine has compounded soaring prices for fuel and other essentials. According to the Wharton Business School, the average family had to spend $3,500 more last year to buy the same amount of goods and services as they purchased in previous years.
METHANE EMISSIONS-NEW MEXICO
- SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A pollution survey using sensors on small airplanes to detect methane emissions across a major U.S. oil and natural gas production zone points to higher rates of waste and pollution than previously estimated. Released Wednesday, the study estimated that methane emissions are equivalent to roughly 9% of the overall gas production in the surveyed area. That's more than double the rate in several previous studies of the Permian Basin and national estimates by the U.S. government. The study arrives during a pivot period for efforts by government regulators and industry to measure and rein in greenhouse gas emissions from oilfield infrastructure.
BC-NM-ESCAPED INMATES CAPTURED
- GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — Authorities have released updated information about three inmates who reportedly stole a McKinley County Sheriff's Office transport van before being captured. New Mexico State Police officials had said Monday that the inmates were being transported by a sheriff's deputy who apparently had a medical episode and had to stop the van. But county Undersheriff James Maiorano said Tuesday that it was one of the two male inmates _ 35-year-old Joshua Hall _ who slipped out of his handcuffs, faked a heart attack and overpowered the deputy when he opened the van's door. Maiorano says Hall then drove away in the van with the other inmates still shackled in the back. A lengthy pursuit ended when they were taken back into custody.
CAPITOL RIOT-ELECTED OFFICIAL
- WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has convicted an elected official from New Mexico of illegally entering restricted U.S. Capitol grounds but acquitted him of engaging in disorderly conduct during the riot that disrupted Congress from certifying Joe Biden's presidential election victory. U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden heard one day of testimony without a jury Monday before handing down a verdict Tuesday in the misdemeanor case against Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin. Griffin's Washington, D.C., trial was the second among the hundreds of federal cases arising from the Jan. 6, 2021, siege. Griffin is among the few riot defendants who wasn't accused of entering the Capitol building or engaging in violent or destructive behavior.
SCHOOL SECURITY GUARD-SEXUAL ABUSE
- LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — A former Las Vegas, New Mexico, school security guard will serve 10 years in prison for sexually abusing a female student. The Las Vegas Optic reports 53-year-old Abran Ulibarri was sentenced Monday at a hearing where the victim, who was 14 at the time, spoke in favor of prison time. Ulibarri pleaded guilty last month to six counts related to sexual abuse. The judge during sentencing said Ulibarri didn't commit an error in judgment but "premeditated, predatory conduct." State investigators found evidence that Ulibarri and the girl, a student at West Las Vegas Middle School, had a sexual relationship for months in 2019.