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NEW YORK (AP) — Elizabeth Williams was the eyes of the public throughout Ghislaine Maxwell's monthlong sex-trafficking trial. With the general prohibition of cameras in federal court, the courtroom artist estimates she drew around 100 sketches for distribution by the wire service. Williams has been rendering courtroom scenes in pen and pastel since 1980 and has drawn for The Associated Press since 2004. At one point, Maxwell drew the courtroom artists themselves, but that didn't faze Williams who says she prefers to keep a wall between herself and the subject. Williams calls herself the "substitute camera," forgoing any artistic license.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation reported 35 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday, but no additional deaths for at least the second consecutive day. The latest numbers pushed the number of cases on the Navajo Nation since the pandemic began to 41,779 including 87 delayed reported cases. The death roll remains at 1,590. Tribal President Jonathan Nez says the omicron variant was detected in the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation this week. Based on cases from Dec. 17-30, the Navajo Department of Health has issued an advisory for 42 communities due to uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus. The vast reservation covers 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
- EDUCATION LAWSUIT-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's plan to address the needs of underserved Indigenous students hasn't been shared with tribal leaders or the public despite promises by state officials that they would do so last year. Indigenous education advocates had expected to provide feedback on the plan last October. The New Mexico Public Education Department promised to release the draft to the public on Dec. 1 to provide time for public comment before the legislative session that begins in mid-January. But that never happened and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has not set a date for the release of the plan. The state is under a court order to address public education system deficiencies.
- NEW MEXICO UTILITY MERGER
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state's largest electric utility is appealing a recent decision by regulators to reject a proposed merger with a U.S. subsidiary of global energy giant Iberdrola. PNM Resources announced that it filed its notice of appeal with the New Mexico Supreme Court on Monday. Company officials reiterated in a statement that they believe the multibillion-dollar merger with Avangrid would be in the best interest of the state. The Public Regulation Commission in its recent decision pointed to concerns about Avangrid's track record elsewhere when it came to reliability and customer service.
- ELECTION 2022-NEW MEXICO-CONGRESS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson says she's making another run for New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District. The northern New Mexico district has been a Democratic stronghold since it was created in the 1980s, but Martinez Johnson said during her announcement Monday that she was optimistic about the new boundaries that resulted from the redistricting process. Parts of Chaves, Eddy, Lea counties will now be part of the district, and said she would reach out to boost voting in McKinley County and on the Navajo and Jicarilla Apache nations. An environmental engineer, Martinez Johnson ran unsuccessfully for the congressional seat in 2020.
- ALBUQUERQUE-RECORD HOMICIDES
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque has shattered its annual homicide record, marking 117 killings within city limits in 2021. The previous record of 80 was set in 2019. City officials and family members of many victims have pointed to a lack of consequences for repeat offenders as one of the reasons Albuquerque continues struggling with crime. In December, the city also named 14 people to its gun violence prevention and intervention task force. The group will be working on recommendations over the next year. Other U.S. cities also saw increases in homicide numbers. That includes Chicago, which marked one of its most violent years on record.
- NAVAJO POLICE-NEW CHIEF
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Daryl Noon has been sworn in as the Navajo Police Department's new chief. Window Rock District Court Judge Malcolm P. Begay administered the oath to Noon during a ceremony Monday at the offices of Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer. Noon succeeds Phillip Francisco, who resigned on Nov. 30 and now is the chief of the Bloomfield Police Department in New Mexico. Noon was born in Fort Defiance, Arizona, and previously resided in Shiprock, New Mexico. He has served as the Navajo Nation's deputy police chief since January 2019. Noon previously worked with the Farmington Police Department in several capacities, including deputy chief of police, for more than 23 years.