Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico children can practice sports and develop skills while in small groups and residents will soon be able to camp at state parks under changes being made to the state's public health order. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday the updated order also permits visits to pumpkin patches and the state plans to issue guidance for corn mazes and haunted houses as fall approaches. The governor said the state is trending in the right direction but she warned people not to let down their guard. Health officials reported an additional 159 COVID-19 cases Thursday and four additional deaths.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO CASINOS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's racetrack and casino operators are asking Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to consider allowing them to reopen. In a letter sent this week to the Democratic governor, they pointed out that commercial casinos outside of New Mexico have opened — from Nevada to New Jersey and New York. Track and casino managers in New Mexico they say they have a plan to do it safely. While tribal casinos in the state have reopened, the governor's office said Thursday that doesn't necessarily make opening a safe decision at this time and that public health conditions will determine when the time is right for easing restrictions on non-tribal operations.
- MESA VERDE-ANCESTRAL REMAINS
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Tribal leaders have reburied the remains of their ancestors that were taken more than a century ago from what's now a national park in Colorado. The remains of about 20 people along with funerary objects were unearthed during excavations by a Swedish researcher in 1891. They eventually became part of the collection of the National Museum of Finland. Tribes worked with the U.S. and Finland to have the items returned to the U.S. Southwest. The remains and funerary objects were reburied over the weekend within Mesa Verde National Park, best known for the hundreds of stone dwellings built along the cliffs.
SEATTLE (AP) — A U.S. judge on Thursday blocked controversial Postal Service changes that have slowed mail nationwide. The judge called them "a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service" before the November election. Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima, Washington, said he was issuing a nationwide preliminary injunction sought by 14 states that sued the Trump administration and the U.S. Postal Service. The states challenged the Postal Service's so-called "leave mail behind" policy, where trucks have been leaving postal facilities on time regardless of whether there is more mail to load. They also sought to force the Postal Service to treat election mail as First Class mail.
- RARE SONGBIRD-PROTECTIONS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has denied a petition that sought to end federal protections for the western yellow-billed cuckoo. The agency issued its finding this week, saying taking the songbird off the threatened and endangered species list isn't an option at this time. American Stewards of Liberty, a nonprofit group that advocates for private property rights, had argued that the bird's status needed to be reviewed because it had sufficient habitat. Biologists said new data shows habitat loss and fragmentation continue to be an issue for the cuckoo. Recent mining projects in central and southern Arizona are also affecting the species.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Trump administration has sketched out a framework that it hopes will avoid a three-way arms race. Ambassador Marshall Billingslea, the special presidential envoy for arms control, spoke with The Associated Press about negotiations with Russia and efforts to bring China to the table while touring nuclear research labs and production sites in the United States. Last week's visit comes as the facilities ramp up modernization of the country's multibillion-dollar nuclear enterprise. He acknowledged that the proposed treaty would be ambitious but that the time is right for a new agreement to curb the buildup of nuclear warheads.
- CHAIRWOMAN REMOVAL
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's utility regulation committee ousted its Navajo chairwoman for what she claims is retribution for pushing for more broadband access in rural communities. The state's Public Regulation Commission voted 3-2 on Wednesday to replace Chairwoman Theresa Becenti-Aguilar with Commissioner Stephen Fischmann. Becenti-Aguilar claims the recall occurred because her fellow commissioners gave the issue of rural broadband availability far less priority than she had. Commissioner Cynthia Hall disputed Becenti-Aguilar's claim but did not provide reasons why the chairwoman was ousted. Fischmann declined to answer any questions about Becenti-Aguilar's removal. Becenti-Aguilar had been the chairwoman of the commission since 2018.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state Public Education Department is reporting three new COVID-19 cases, including one student who was in a school building in McKinley County. Education officials on Wednesday continued to release information about school-related infections as some elementary schools resume in-person learning. State health officials announced 119 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide and two related deaths. There have been more than 27,000 cases statewide and 832 deaths since the start of pandemic. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has announced a cooperative effort to guard against fraud and abuse at nursing homes in cooperation with the attorney general and state auditor.