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Local and State News

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


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Virgin Galactic has revealed what the interior of the rocket ship will look like that that will carry passengers on suborbital flights into the space's lower reaches. An online event Tuesday showcased cabin details designed to enhance the experience of hurtling up into space, experiencing weightlessness and seeing the Earth far below. One unusual amenity is a large mirror to let passengers see themselves floating against the backdrop of space. Virgin Galactic officials say there will be a few more test flights before commercial operations begin at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico. A start date has not been announced for the passenger flights.   


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Democrats and civil rights leaders in New Mexico are denouncing the leader of the Cowboys for Trump group after he posted a Facebook live video calling for some Black athletes to go back to Africa. New Mexico Speaker of the House Brian Egolf tweeted late Monday that Couy Griffin's comments were racist and demanded that he resign his seat on the Otero County Commission. U.S. Rep. and Democratic Senate candidate Ben Ray Luján calls Griffin's remarks racist and hurtful and says both Democrats and Republicans should denounce him. Griffin also said any person of color who didn't identify as American first should leave.


BAYARD, N.M. (AP) — A graduate of a southwestern New Mexico high school is fighting the state's lieutenant governor over his call to remove a baseball stadium's logo of a Native American caricature. The Deming Headlight reports Samantha "Sami" Morales has started a petition aimed at keeping the "Chief Wahoo" logo from the main sign at Cobre High's baseball stadium in Bayard, New Mexico. She says the logo, offensive to some Native Americans, is a source of pride at the school. Lt. Gov. Howie Morales recently asked the Cobre Consolidated School District superintendent to remove the logo amid racial injustice protests across the U.S.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The mother of 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia will serve 12 years for failing to protect her son from ongoing abuse and a deadly beating. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that 38-year-old Tracy Ann Pena was sentenced Monday in Santa Fe for her role in the Nambe boy's killing. She was actually sentenced to 21 years but had nine suspended as part of a plea deal. Valencia's body was found inside a plastic container in a roadside grave near Nambe in January 2018. Prosecutors say he died after months of abuse inflicted on him by 21-year-old Jordan Nunez and Nunez's father, Thomas Ferguson. Pena was dating Ferguson at the time.


KIRKLAND, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico restaurant that sparked anger for erecting a sign that blamed China for the pandemic has had its food service permit suspended. The Farmington Daily Times reports the New Mexico Environment Department suspended the food service permit last week for the Country Family Restaurant after accusing the Kirtland, New Mexico, restaurant of violating statewide health orders. That order prohibits indoor dining and requires workers to wear masks. Country Family Restaurant owner Steve Jackson told The Daily Times the state has not shown any proof that indoor dining increases the spread of COVID-19. In March, Jackson generated anger for posting a sign blaming China for the coronavirus.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The founder of the political group Cowboys for Trump urged people who support the playing of the Black National Anthem at football games to "go back to Africa." In a 35-minute video speech on Facebook live Sunday, Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin of New Mexico said supporters of the Black National Anthem want to "destroy our country." At least 2,200 people watched the video before it was removed from the Cowboys for Trump website. Harold Bailey, the president of the Albuquerque chapter of the NAACP, called the remarks some of the most hateful things he's heard in recent memory. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials say the state has shattered its record on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in a single day. The state said Monday it has recorded 467 new cases of the novel coronavirus. That tops a July 23 report when New Mexico recorded 338 cases. New Mexico now has a total of 19,502 confirmed cases. The state also reported that five more people have died from the virus, bringing the total number of deaths to 619. Officials said there are 159 people hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. There also are 7,459 COVID-19 cases designated as having recovered by the New Mexico Department of Health.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A member of a New Mexico school board who made a key vote that ended up removing the name of a Spanish conquistador from a high school now regrets her decision. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Carol Cooper of the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education said she wishes she could go back in time and reverse her decisive July 14 vote to remove the name of Don Juan de Oñate from Oñate High School. Las Cruces school board members voted 3-1 in favor of changing the name during a virtual special meeting July 14. It remains unclear if the board can revisit.