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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MST

  • Defense set to make case Maxwell is taking fall for Epstein

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City jury has heard four women detail accusations that they were teens when they became victims of a sex-abuse scheme devised by Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein. Starting Thursday, Maxwell's attorneys are expected to make their case that Maxwell isn't the one to blame. The British socialite's trial will resume with the defense calling its own witnesses at the trial in federal court in Manhattan. The closely watched trial is moving along more quickly than originally expected, and the defense case could last just two days. The 59-year-old Maxwell has denied any wrongdoing.

  • New Mexico asks federal permission for child spending

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Most of New Mexico's congressional delegation has asked Capitol Hill for permission to invest more money into early childhood programs from its resource wealth endowment. Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Melanie Stansbury are sponsoring legislation requesting permission that the change be allowed. The state needs permission from the federal government due to a colonial-era law. There's another hurdle, too. Voters have to approve the measure, which will be on the ballot next fall. If approved by voters and Congress, it would increase withdrawals from the $25 billion fund by 1.25% and beneficiaries including young children. Supporters say it would reduce child poverty.

  • New Mexico reports 1,357 new COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Health officials in New Mexico on Wednesday reported 1,357 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths as the numbers continue to rise. The latest figures pushed the state's totals to 334,332 cases since the pandemic began and 5,516 known deaths. On Tuesday, New Mexico had reported 788 new cases and seven deaths. Health officials said the state usually has around 50 coronavirus-related deaths per week, so the latest numbers are troubling. According to the state's latest weekly report, New Mexico added 7,953 new cases between Dec. 17-13. On top of that, New Mexico on Monday reported its first identified case of the COVID-19 omicron variant in a Bernalillo County woman. 

  • Native Americans wield influence in New Mexico redistricting

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Leading Democratic legislators have introduced a revised state Senate redistricting plan that would preserve recommendations from Native American communities, amid an extended stalemate. Bill sponsor Linda Lopez said Wednesday the new redistricting proposal adopts essential recommendations from Native American leaders intended to shore up Indigenous voting blocs within five districts in the northwest of the state. Republican lawmakers immediately rebuffed the plan. The proposed political map would leave Republican state Sen. Joshua Sanchez of Bosque outside the boundaries of his current district to possibly compete with the top-ranked Senate Republican. Lawmakers are in a special session to redraw congressional and legislative districts.

  • Storm knocked out power to thousands on Navajo, Hopi land

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — A storm packing powerful winds has knocked out electricity to thousands of homes on the Navajo and Hopi reservations and snarled traffic on major roadways. Navajo Tribal Utility spokeswoman Deenise Becenti said Wednesday's outage affected at least 10,000 homes on the Navajo Nation. Power was restored to most areas by mid-afternoon. Wind knocked over power lines in Shiprock in the New Mexico portion of the reservation. A piece of metal flew off a building and hit a power line in Kayenta. Crews were dispatched as the storm hit overnight to repair power poles and other equipment. Arizona Public Service Co. also experienced outages that affected about 3,000 customers.

  • Albuquerque police arrest 1 in vandalism of police station

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police officers went to a familiar location, the police department's own headquarters, to respond to a vandalism call early Wednesday. A police spokesperson said officers found "extensive graffiti" covering the southern steps of the building, which also is home to the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department.  Officer Chase Jewell said the graffiti that included racial slurs and "inappropriate verbiage" was written in red spray paint along the stairs, walls, benches and planters. Jewell said officers arrested one person who was jailed on felony criminal damage charges Jewell said crews were being dispatched to clean up he graffiti.

  • 1 dead as Midwest storm brings hurricane-force wind gusts

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Authorities say one person has died as a powerful storm system swept across the Great Plains and Midwest, bringing hurricane-force wind gusts and spawning reported tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa. The Iowa State Patrol says a semitrailer was stuck by high winds and rolled onto its side in eastern Iowa on Wednesday evening, killing the driver. The National Weather Service says the storm was shifting north of the Great Lakes into Canada on Thursday, with high winds, snow, and hazardous conditions continuing in the upper Great Lakes region. There were more than 20 tornado reports Wednesday in the Plains states, scattered through eastern Nebraska and Iowa. More than 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity Thursday morning in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Kansas.

  • Navajo Nation reports 38 more COVID-19 cases and 7 deaths

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 38 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's total to 40,615 cases since the pandemic began with 1,569 known deaths. Based on cases from Nov. 26-Dec. 9, the Navajo Department of Health issued an advisory for 58 communities due to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. Tribal President Jonathan Nez has issued a reminder to get the vaccine or the booster as the Christmas holiday approaches. The reservation covers 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.