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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT


CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — State environmental regulators have cleared the way for work to continue on a multimillion-dollar project at the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico. Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant say the shaft will address ventilation problems stemming from a 2014 radiation release that forced a nearly three-year closure of the facility and prompted numerous policy changes. With more airflow, officials have said that more employees can be in the underground space working on mining and waste operations simultaneously. The shaft will be a key element of the repository's revamped ventilation system.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico already has among the highest U.S. unemployment rates and the state's Republican legislative leaders fear President Joe Biden's plan to require vaccinations or COVID-19 testing for large employers could cause more damage to job market. State Senate Republican Leader Greg Baca said Thursday that the mandate is sowing more distrust of the federal government. He urged Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to push back against what he called federal overreach. He pointed to a significant worker shortage in New Mexico. The governor's office said it's focused on getting as many people vaccinated as possible and will continue with its education efforts.


The woman in charge of weapons on the movie set where actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins said Wednesday night that she had inspected the gun Baldwin shot but doesn't know how a live bullet ended up inside. "Who put those in there and why is the central question," Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer for the movie "Rust" said in a statement issued by one of her lawyers. The statement adds that she inspected the rounds before handing the firearm to assistant director David Halls "by spinning the cylinder and showing him all of the rounds and then handing him the firearm."


McALLEN, Texas (AP) — President Joe Biden knew migration flows would spike if he dismantled Donald Trump's border policies, but arrivals exceeded expectations soon after he took office. Children traveling alone shattered previous highs in March. The Border Patrol encountered migrants in South Texas more often than ever in June and July. And about 15,000 mostly Haitian refugees were camped under a bridge in a Texas border town in September. Some issues couldn't have been predicted, and major structural problems predate Biden. But a review of the past year by The Associated Press and AIM Media Texas shows how an administration stacked with seasoned immigration advocates was unprepared for the huge increase in people seeking refuge at the border. 


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 80 more COVID-19 cases, but no coronavirus-related deaths for the 23rd time in the past 35 days. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's totals to 37,043 confirmed COVID-19 cases from the virus since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The known death toll remains at 1,487. Based on cases from Oct. 15-28, the Navajo Department of Health issued an advisory for 58 communities due to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. The tribe's reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.  


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The teachers union in New Mexico's largest city will have fewer friends on the school board next year after three candidates won elections without their support. The Albuquerque branch of the American Federation of Teachers usually picks winning candidates, including six of the seven current school board members. Only one candidate managed to raise more money and get more votes relying on the union. The school board oversees a $1.6 billion budget in a district serving 74,000 students. Courtney Jackson won without union support and says teacher interests are important but already well represented. She says the "board of education should be the kid's union"


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — An iconic Western starring Clint Eastwood has been dubbed in the Navajo language. The movie, "A Fistful of Dollars," or "Béeso Dah Yiníłjaa'" in Navajo, will be screened on or near the reservation this month. A premiere for the cast and crew is scheduled Nov. 16 at the Window Rock theater. Limited seats are available for the public. The Western is the third major film available in the Navajo language. "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" was released in 2013, and "Finding Nemo" came out in 2016 as a way to preserve the language.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health are applauding the federal government's move to clear the way for COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11. Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Laura Parajon said Wednesday that children who don't get the shots will remain vulnerable. About one-quarter of the confirmed coronavirus infection cases reported in New Mexico over the past week were among children. But there are still many parents who have been reticent about getting their children inoculated. Almost two-thirds of U.S. parents polled recently by the Kaiser Family Foundation said they would either wait or not seek out the vaccines for their children.