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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

  • Albuquerque to encourage 'Little Free Libraries' in city

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — The city of Albuquerque and a Wisconsin-based group have agreed on a new initiative to encourage residents to build "Little Free Libraries" throughout the region. The Little Free Library nonprofit organization announced this week that Albuquerque will help volunteers create small spaces where residents can trade books amid the pandemic. Under the agreement, the city's Office of Civic Engagement's​ ​One ABQ Volunteers​ program will work to expand the number of free libraries across the city. Since 2009, tens of thousands of little free libraries have sprung up in the U.S. and more than 100 countries.

  • New Mexico announces $100 fines for flouting face mask rule

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says there will be more aggressive enforcement of the state's public health order to rein in rising coronavirus infection rates across the state. The Democratic governor said Wednesday that people who ignore mask-wearing requirements in public could face a $100 fine and that businesses that flout health orders risk workplace citations and misdemeanor criminal charges. Three new deaths linked to the coronavirus brought the statewide death toll to 500 since the outbreak of the pandemic in March. Health officials stressed concerns about an increase in the rate of spread. They say that trend could interfere with efforts to resume classroom school attendance.

  • Pandemic forces shuffling of New Mexico horse racing meet

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — With the New Mexico State Fair being called off, the horse races that usually coincide with the annual event are being cancelled too. State regulators approved a motion to nix the fair races during a special meeting Wednesday. They also approved changes to the race dates and stakes schedule for The Downs at Albuquerque. The changes mean this year's meet at the Downs will start later, running from Aug. 8 through Sept. 20. New Mexico's horse tracks and casinos have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. After a brief hiatus, races resumed at Ruidoso Downs in May but without spectators.

  • Judge deals setback to key Trump policy limiting asylum

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge has knocked down a cornerstone border policy of the Trump administration that denies asylum to people who travel through another country to reach the Mexico border without first seeking protection in that country. Judge Timothy Kelly says authorities violated federal rule-making procedures by not seeking public feedback before putting the policy into effect in July 2019. The immediate impact of the judge's ruling on Tuesday is diminished by a coronavirus pandemic-related measure to quickly expel people who cross the border illegally and block asylum-seekers at official crossings.

  • New Mexico county moves to spend money on police cameras

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Commissioners in New Mexico's most populous county have taken another step toward outfitting the sheriff's department with body cameras. The Bernalillo County Commission voted Tuesday to appropriate $1 million that had been approved last year through an administrative resolution. The money can be used to purchase cameras, support services, subscriptions and infrastructure for the camera systems. The move comes as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham considers signing a bill that would mandate cameras for nearly all state and local law enforcement officers. Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales says if the legislation is signed, he'll ensure the technology is used to secure the constitutional rights and safety of all citizens.

  • Video shows fatal shooting of unarmed man by Carlsbad ranger

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Recently released body camera video shows the final moments before an unarmed Colorado man was shot and killed by a park ranger at Carlsbad Caverns. KOB-TV in Albuquerque reported Tuesday that video from the March shooting has 26 seconds missing, leaving local prosecutors unsure whether to rule the use of force was justified. Authorities say National Park Ranger Robert Mitchell stopped Charles "Gage" Lorentz for erratic driving March 21. An attorney representing Lorentz's family says they intend to sue the U.S. Interior Department. The National Park Service says the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Mexico is investigating.  

  • Albuquerque school district gets interim superintendent

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A longtime educator has been named the interim superintendent of the Albuquerque public school district. Scott Elder took the reins Wednesday, replacing Raquel Reedy, who retired June 30. The school board suspended its national search for a new superintendent when schools closed in March due to the spread of the coronavirus. In anticipation of related budget cuts, Elder said the district is looking at ways to save money. Elder started his career with the Albuquerque district teaching students whose native language wasn't English. He also worked as a principal and later chief operations officer.

  • Immigration judges in lawsuit say US government muzzles them

Immigration judges say they are being muzzled by the Trump administration and the union that represents them is suing the U.S. Department of Justice. The lawsuit filed Wednesday is the latest confrontation between the judges and the Justice Department, which oversees U.S. immigration courts. The union's president says past administrations have allowed judges to speak publicly in their personal capacity to educate the public about the immigration court system. Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor says the new policy prohibits them from talking publicly about the courts or immigration and the lawsuit is seeking to block the policy. A Justice Department official said they don't comment on pending litigation.