Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT
- BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — President Joe Biden's move last week to ban oil from Russia over its invasion of Ukraine was met with calls to boost U.S. production to help bring down soaring gasoline prices. But political rhetoric about quickly ramping up U.S. crude output is at odds with reality for the nation's oil fields: Not enough workers, scant money to invest in drilling and wariness that today's high prices won't last. Analysts say the obstacles to more U.S. oil are surmountable, but will take months to work through and it could be late this year or early next before a significant production increase materializes.
MIGRANT PRISON CONDITIONS
- WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog has found unsanitary and unsafe conditions at a New Mexico jail used to hold migrants and says it should be immediately closed. The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General said in a report Friday that there are security lapses throughout the Torrance County Detention Facility in Estancia, New Mexico. It said detainees should be immediately removed. There were 176 male prisoners at the time of the inspection of the privately owned and operated jail. They're held while immigration cases are reviewed. The report said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement disagreed with the findings. The company that runs the jail for ICE accused the inspectors of misrepresenting evidence.
- HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — The investigation into this week's fiery head-on crash in West Texas now focuses on the revelation that a 13-year-old was driving the pickup truck that struck a van, killing nine people, including six members of a college golf team and their coach. The unidentified young teen and a man traveling in the truck also died. National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg on Thursday revealed the truck was driven by the child. He said the truck's left front tire also blew out before impact. The University of the Southwest students and the coach were returning to the New Mexico school from a golf tournament in Midland, Texas, when the vehicles collided Tuesday night.
- It's not uncommon for people in rural parts of the U.S. to learn to drive when they're young, sometimes even before they reach their teens. But the news that a 13-year-old was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that blew a tire and struck a van in West Texas and killed nine people put a renewed focus on the practice. National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg said at a news conference Thursday that the dangers of underage driving put it on the agency's "most-wanted list." William Van Tassel of AAA noted the driver's age was just one risk factor. The crash happened at night and on a road with a high speed limit when a spare tire blew.
- Jackson Zinn had a big heart and was close to his parents and two younger sisters. But when it came to the golf course, the 22-year-old University of the Southwest student was all business, self-disciplined and competitive. Family and friends remembered Zinn on Thursday as more details emerged about a fiery crash on Tuesday that killed him, five teammates and their coach. Authorities say their van was hit head-on by a pickup truck that had blown a front tire. The two people in the truck also were killed. University officials said Thursday that their close-knit community would be gathering next week to remember the students.
- SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An elected New Mexico official who helped found the group Cowboys for Trump faces trial next week on misdemeanor charges for being on restricted grounds at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot. He plans to arrive at his trial in Washington on horseback. The strategy being used to defend Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin is just as unorthodox. His attorneys conceded Griffin entered a barricaded area to reach an outdoor balcony of the Capitol. But they have demanded prosecutors provide first-hand evidence that then-Vice President Mike Pence was still at the Capitol — a prerequisite for the Secret Service to invoke access restrictions.
CONGRESS-NEW MEXICO AUDIT
- WASHINGTON (AP) — A congressional oversight committee has opened an investigation into a partisan audit of the 2020 election results that is taking place in New Mexico and was authorized by a Republican-led county commission. Two Democrats on the House Oversight Committee wrote Thursday to the head of EchoMail requesting the company produce documents regarding its forensic audit in Otero County. The committee says it's looking into potential intimidation by volunteers from a conspiracist group canvassing voters and asking intrusive questions. EchoMail was involved in Arizona's GOP-backed ballot review, which failed to produce proof supporting bogus claims Donald Trump beat Joe Biden. EchoMail's founder hasn't responded to a request for comment.
- The Interior Department is on the verge of releasing a report on its investigation into the federal government's past oversight of Native American boarding schools. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said Wednesday the report will come out next month. She first outlined an initiative in June that she says will uncover the truth about the loss of human life and the lasting consequences of boarding schools. Starting in 1819, the U.S. enacted laws and policies that led to Indigenous children being forced into boarding schools that sought to strip them of their language and culture.