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


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation is reporting 38 new COVID-19 cases and two new deaths. Navajo health officials released the latest daily virus figures Sunday, bringing the reservation's pandemic death toll to 1,542. The number of total cases was not immediately available but there have been more than 39,000 cases reported so far. Tribal President Jonathan Nez says some public health experts believe the newly discovered omicron variant is already in the U.S. He again called for everyone in Indian Country to get fully vaccinated or get a booster shot. The reservation covers 27,000 square miles and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The University of New Mexico plans to appeal a ruling that graduate student employees can unionize. The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that UNM has filed notice of intent to appeal in 2nd Judicial District Court. A university spokeswoman says the school wants a correct and thorough legal examination of the issues" by the courts." University graduate student workers first petitioned for union recognition in December 2020. A hearing officer on the the state Public Employees Labor Relations Board determined that graduate students were not regular employees. Graduate students filed an appeal. Both sides made arguments in front of the board. In August, the board sided with the student workers. 


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As demand for renewable energy surges, "community solar" installations are popping up around the U.S. They're larger than home rooftop systems but smaller than utility-scale complexes. Community solar gardens are located atop buildings, or on abandoned factory grounds and farms. Customers subscribe to portions of energy sent to the grid and get credits that reduce their electricity bills. The model attracts people who can't afford rooftop solar or live where it's not accessible, such as renters. More than 40 states have at least one community solar operation. But in some places, growth is hampered by debates over who should be allowed to enter the market.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Law enforcement officers in New Mexico are investigating two separate shootings where officers fired at suspects. Two suspects were killed and another wounded but no officers were hurt. The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department said at least one deputy fired at a man in northwest Albuquerque at about 2 p.m. Friday while investigating a hit-and-run crash. The man was killed and a rifle was found outside his crashed Subaru Outback. Another shooting was reported Friday by New Mexico State police about 100 miles east of Albuquerque after state police and Santa Fe and Torrance deputies chased a car suspected in a robbery. Two people inside the car were shot, one fatally. 


NEW YORK (AP) — Ghislaine Maxwell spent the first half of her life with her father, a rags-to-riches billionaire who looted his companies' pension funds. She spent the second with another tycoon, Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while facing charges he sexually abused teenage girls. Now, after a life of both scandal and luxury, a U.S. trial will decide whether Maxwell's next act will be serving decades in prison. Starting Monday, prosecutors in New York will argue that even as she was sipping cocktails with the likes of Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, Maxwell was secretly abetting Epstein's crimes with girls as young as 14.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are urging the U.S. Forest Service to again allow a decades-old foot race that goes through a wilderness area and up into mountains overlooking Albuquerque. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan and Rep. Melanie Stansbury asks the agency to reverse its 2020  decision that the La Luz Trail Race couldn't be held in the Sandia Mountains. The lawmakers wrote in a letter that the 9-mile event "is a point of pride for New Mexicans and an important source of recreation and tourism." A U.S. Forest Service official said in 2020 that the race should not have been permitted in the wilderness area since it was a commercial event. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Three state watchdog offices have dismissed a nonprofit group's complaints accusing New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas of ethics violations in connection with the proposed merger involving Public Service Co. of New Mexico. The actions were taken  by the state Ethics Commission, the State Auditor's Office and the New Mexico Supreme Court's disciplinary board on complaints filed by New Energy Economy. The complaints alleged a conflict of interest was created when the company seeking to merge with PNM hired an attorney who previously represented Balderas in other matters.