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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A growing number of cities across the U.S. are creating committees and task force panels aimed at racial healing. From Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Clemson, South Carolina, towns and municipalities recently have formed committees to discuss the future of debated monuments or address systemic racism in police departments. The mostly volunteer committees seek to have honest discussions about their cities' past around race and propose solutions. In Albuquerque, for example, the Race, History & Healing Project is trying to determine what the city should do with a statue of a Spanish conquistador. Some Native Americans find the image offensive.


FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A Navajo Nation judge is halting operations at nine hemp farms in northwestern New Mexico as part of a legal fight between a businessman and the tribe's Department of Justice. The judge issued a preliminary injunction against Dineh Benally and two of his businesses following a hearing Friday. The tribe sued Benally and the companies in June, alleging that he was illegally issuing permits for foreign entities to cultivate and grow industrial hemp on tribal land near Shiprock. Navajo lawmakers have yet to approve and adopt a regulatory system for industrial hemp, so tribal code currently prohibits the growth, development, possession or propagation of the plant.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The number of policies violated at the Albuquerque Police Department skyrocketed 275%, and suspension jumped more than 350%. KOAT-TV reports documents on police misconduct showed the number of policy violations increased from 190 to 716 over a year. The number of violations requiring a suspension rose from 52 to 237. The station compared data from July 2018 to June 2019 to information from July 2019 to June 2020. Interim police chief Harold Medina says the Albuquerque Police Department is now holding officers accountable. But Albuquerque Police Officers' Association president Shaun Willoughby says officers are being punished for things like not putting away lapel cameras properly.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The leader of a nonprofit organization that oversees sports programs for New Mexico schools says she's optimistic that high school students will have a fall season. New Mexico Activities Association Executive Director Sally Marquez on Friday welcomed the state's loosening of training restrictions. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office says she's continuing to evaluate a proposal from the NMAA for volleyball and cross country teams to compete. It's unclear how soon a decision could be made. Under the state's latest public health order, competitive contact play remains off-limits.


SEELEY LAKE, Mont. (AP) — A research effort to see how long it takes people to recover from living with hazardous levels of wildfire smoke for seven weeks still hasn't determined the answer. Some residents of the western Montana town of Seeley Lake who stayed in the area during the 2017 wildfire season are participating in a University of Montana study of their lung capacity. Researchers found that people's lung capacity declined in the first two years. Kaiser Health News reports researchers don't know how the residents are faring this year because they could not return to Seeley Lake due to the coronavirus pandemic. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Public Education Department has given the green light for more students in tribal areas to attend school in-person. McKinley County, which covers much of the Navajo Nation, now has a low enough rate of COVID-19 cases that it can allow schools to offer in-person learning twice a week to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Middle school and high school students across New Mexico still are not allowed to return to school. Some urban school districts like Albuquerque and Las Cruces have decided to stay online for the rest of the year. The stakes are higher in rural areas, where many children don't have access to the internet. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico biologists are asking the public for help as they investigate a statewide die-off among migratory birds. The state Game and Fish Department is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies to determine the number of deaths and reason for the occurrence. Officials are asking people to use the iNaturalist app to upload photos and other information to help track the event. The state agency says about 300 samples have been collected over the past week. Samples also are being collected by biologists at White Sands Missile Range and New Mexico State University.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists want federal land managers to suspend efforts to amend a plan that would guide oil and gas development and other activities near Chaco Culture National Historical Park. They sent a letter Thursday to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, saying the coronavirus pandemic has prevented meaningful in-person consultation with Native American tribes and others who would be affected by the decision. Officials held five virtual public meetings earlier this year and extended the public comment period to Sept. 25. Four more meetings were held in August, but critics say those too were inadequate. Legislation that would make federal land within a 10-mile radius of the park off-limits is pending in Congress.