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

AP-US-WESTERN-WILDFIRES

  • FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities say 30 homes have been burned plus additional outbuildings destroyed when a wind-driven wildfire ripped though rural neighborhoods near Flagstaff, Arizona, on Tuesday. A reprieve in the weather Thursday enabled officials to enter the evacuated area to assess damage. The reprieve also allowed firefighters to attack flames from the air. However, firefighters battling a half-dozen wildfires in the Southwest are bracing for the return of ferocious winds on Friday. Authorities are deploying additional top-level management teams and more firefighting crews.

AP-US-SENATE-LUJÁN-NEW-MEXICO-EDUCATION

  • SANTA FE N.M. (AP) — Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Luján says Thursday that he's 90% recovered from his stroke. The 49-year-old spoke during a visit to Santa Fe High School, part of his first public appearances since returning to Congress in March. The stroke had put him the hospital in January and threatened to derail Democratic control of Congress. But Luján says he's back to working on the family farm and was able to walk in an Easter pilgrimage last week. He says voters, not his health scare, will decide when he might retire. In Santa Fe, Luján and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona spoke with students about their struggles with mental health.

AP-US-NUCLEAR-REPOSITORY-SAFETY

  • ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Independent federal investigators say there are significant issues related to fire training at the U.S. government's nuclear waste repository in New Mexico. The U.S. Energy Department's Office of Inspector General also found that firefighting vehicles at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant were in disrepair from years of neglected maintenance. Federal officials say they're making changes to address the issues. The repository is the backbone of a multibillion-dollar program for cleaning up tons of Cold War-era waste from past nuclear research and bomb making. The safety concerns come as New Mexico's governor and others voice opposition to expanding the types of radioactive waste that can be shipped to the repository.

CUBA IMMIGRATION

  • MIAMI (AP) — More immigrants from Cuba are coming to the U.S. by making their way to Mexico and crossing the border illegally. It's a very different reality from years ago, when Cubans enjoyed special protections that other immigrants did not have. The increase coincided with Nicaragua's decision starting in November to stop requiring visas for Cubans to promote tourism after other countries, such as Panama and the Dominican Republic, began to require them. U.S. border authorities encountered Cubans almost 32,400 times in March, according to figures released Monday. That was double the number in February and five times the number in October.

AP-US-PROP-FIREARM-SHOOTING

  • SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico workplace safety regulators say they have issued the maximum possible fine against a film production company for firearms safety failures on the set where actor and producer Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer in October. New Mexico's Occupational Health and Safety Bureau on Wednesday announced the nearly $137,000 fine against Rust Movie Productions and distributed a scathing narrative of safety failures in violation of standard industry protocols. Inspectors say production managers took limited or no action to address two rifle misfires of blank rounds on set prior to the fatal shooting. The bureau also documented gun safety complaints that went unheeded and constraints on safety training.

ELECTION 2022-REDISTRICTING-NEW MEXICO

  • SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A state district judge has cleared the way for the Republican Party of New Mexico to challenge a congressional map that divvies up a conservative area into three congressional districts. The judge on Tuesday rejected a motion by Democrats to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the GOP and seven allied plaintiffs. The case will affect a congressional swing district in southern New Mexico where Republican Yvette Herrell ousted a first-term Democrat in the 2020 election. GOP attorneys argued that the congressional map approved by Democratic lawmakers dilutes the conservative vote and violates state constitutional rights to impartial government.

MISSING NATIVE AMERICANS-NEW MEXICO

  • ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal authorities are taking to the airwaves to call attention to unsolved homicide and missing person cases on the largest Native American reservation in the U.S. The FBI announced Tuesday that it is running a 60-second radio ad in the Navajo language to call attention to what family members and advocacy groups have described as a crisis that is affecting Indian Country. The radio spot comes as some states put more resources toward the reporting and investigation of such cases. New Mexico recently adopted legislation to ensure more effective coordination among law enforcement agencies, while Washington created a first-in-the-nation statewide alert system for missing Native Americans.

NUCLEAR SECURITY-NEW MEXICO

  • ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration is in New Mexico to celebrate the completion of a nearly $200 million building that will be home to 1,200 employees. Administrator Jill Hruby joined other officials for Tuesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony. The building on the edge of Albuquerque was supposed to be finished last year. Officials blamed pandemic-related labor and material shortages for the delay. The building boasts enough office space to cover more than five football fields. The NNSA is overseeing a multibillion-dollar modernization effort that includes the production of plutonium cores for the nation's nuclear arsenal at sites in New Mexico and South Carolina.