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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT

  • Hispanic activist wants Chicano Studies classes censored

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico Hispanic activist upset about the removal of Spanish conquistador monuments is pushing for New Mexico to end its support for Chicano and Native American Studies. New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens executive director Ralph Arellanes wrote the University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes on Monday that the state's largest university should dismantle both programs because they teach Latino students "self-hate" about their Spanish heritage. Arellanes says he is angry some classes teach students that Spanish conquistadors are linked to the genocide of Indigenous populations. New Mexico LULAC State Director Juan Garcia says the civil rights group does not support dismantling academic programs.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

Western New Mexico University opts for online start in fallSILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) — Officials at Western New Mexico University are opting for an online start to the fall semester. The school announced Tuesday that classes will be offered online from Aug. 17 through Sept. 7. A hybrid model with some face-to-face and hands-on activities will be in place after the Labor Day holiday through November. Online classes will then resume as students won't be required to return to campus after Thanksgiving break. University President Joseph Shepard said facts and science will guide officials' decisions rather than emotions and politics. He says above all, the safety of students, faculty and staff is the primary focus.

  • New Mexico looks for 'sweet spot' in crafting methane rules

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators say they have taken best practices from around the U.S. and come up with new ideas as the state moves forward with mandating reductions in methane and other pollutants from the oil and gas industry. State environment and energy officials on Tuesday provided more details about the proposed regulations. The public has 30 days to comment before regulators hammer out the final rules. The proposal includes requirements for reporting emissions data and a path forward for collecting revenues on vented and flared gas, which could bring in millions of dollars annually to benefit public schools.

  • Feds give 65 acres of land for border wall infrastructure

PHOENIX (AP) — The federal Bureau of Land Management says it has transferred over 65 acres of public land in Arizona and New Mexico to the Army for border wall infrastructure. The agency says it handed over 53 acres in Yuma County, Arizona, that is needed to install power and other utilities around the border wall there. Another 12.7 acres in Hidalgo County, New Mexico, were transferred so that the Army could install power and other utilities along with engineering for roads that provide access to the border wall project there. Critics say construction of the border wall and infrastructure around imperils wildlife and protected land. 

  • Lawyer for Epstein's ex-girlfriend seeks gag order in case

NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer for financier Jeffrey Epstein's ex-girlfriend has asked the judge presiding over her case to impose a gag order on lawyers to protect her chance of a fair trial. The attorney, Jeffrey Pagliuca, filed papers in Manhattan federal court late Tuesday citing comments by Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, an FBI official and by lawyers for accusers of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. He says the officials and the lawyers made comments after Maxwell's July 2 arrest at a New Hampshire estate that were prejudicial pretrial publicity. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to charges that she recruited three girls for Epstein to sexually abuse in the 1990s. Epstein took his life last August at a Manhattan federal jail. Maxwell is held without bail.

  • New Mexico governor thanks Trump for joining mask movement

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is thanking President Donald Trump for telling Americans that they should wear masks when they're unable to keep distance between themselves and other people. The Democrat tweeted her appreciation Tuesday, saying: "Thanks for joining us, Mr. President." Masks are mandated in New Mexico as the state has been dealing with an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Health officials are now reporting an additional 307 cases. That brings the statewide total to 17,517 since the pandemic began. Officials also reported an additional 10 deaths, bringing that tally to nearly 590. 

  • Study: More money likely needed for universal health care

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Consultants have outlined for New Mexico's Democrat-led Legislature the financial consequences of adopting a state-administered universal health insurance program for all residents. They say in a final report released Monday that such a system would improve affordability for low-income households. However, premiums for other families, employer contributions and payroll taxes likely would go up to pay for what could be a multibillion-dollar shortfall over the first five years. The analysis also says the state's uninsured rate would likely fall below 1% and that the use of health care services would likely increase as the vast majority of residents turn to public insurance. 

  • State Supreme Court to eye ban on indoor restaurant dining

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state Supreme Court will weigh a challenge to New Mexico's prohibition on indoor service at restaurants and breweries, as the administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham defends its public health orders from a restive restaurant industry. Lujan Grisham on Monday urged restaurants to abide by emergency health restrictions based on concerns that gathering without face masks to eat can pose an increased risk of transmitting COVID-19. The Supreme Court stepped into the fray hours after a state district court judge in southern New Mexico suspended the indoor dining ban. Restaurants assert that the industry hasn't had a significant role in the spread of the coronavirus.