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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MDT

SPRING WILDFIRES

  • OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Firefighters across the country are battling growing wildfires as tinder-dry conditions and high winds whip up flames from Arizona to Florida. That includes a wildfire in rural southwestern Nebraska that officials say has killed one person, injured at least 15 firefighters and destroyed at least six homes. Nearly a dozen new large fires were reported over the weekend across the nation — four in New Mexico, three in Colorado and one each in Florida, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas. With more than 1,350 square miles burned so far this year, officials at the National Interagency Fire Center said the amount of land singed so far is outpacing the 10-year average by about 30%.

WESTERN WILDFIRES

  • ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Months of grim wildfire weather are ahead for the Southwest as a handful of large wildfires march across drought-stricken New Mexico. The flames have blackened more than 215 square miles in just the last few days, burning homes and forcing evacuations. But crews got a break Monday as cooler weather, higher humidity and much lighter winds settled over the region. Red flag warnings have expired for now, but forecasters warn that fire danger remains high around the West. The probability is high for above-normal temperatures across the Southwest for the next three months, while chances are slim that a wide swath of the region will see anything close to normal precipitation.

NAVAJO PRESIDENT'S RACE

  • SHONTO, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says he'll seek a second term in office. Nez's term as the tribe's top elected leader has been dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. He announced a reelection bid over the weekend from his hometown of Shonto. He highlighted his administration's handling of COVID-19 and says he wants to ensure that plans to rebuild the economy, and extend power and water lines continues. A handful of others have said they'll seek the position. The deadline for presidential hopefuls to file for the job is May 4. The primary election is in August.

POTASH POLLUTION

  • CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — State environmental regulators are reviewing plans submitted by Mosaic Potash to investigate and define the extent of groundwater contamination from discharges associated with potash mining along the Pecos River in southern New Mexico. The state Environment Department announced earlier this month that contamination had been detected in nearby groundwater monitoring wells and that the company was required to submit a plan for monitoring and dealing with the pollution. Potash mining is a main economic driver in Eddy County. A salt rich in potassium, potash is used mostly as a plant fertilizer and in animal feed.

AP-US-CAPITOL-RIOT-TRIALS

  • Juries have heard an array of defenses at the first trials for rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol. So far, all three juries to decide a Capitol riot case convicted each defendant of all charges. Retired New York City police officer Thomas Webster is the next to go on trial. Jury selection began Monday. Webster may have a novel defense of his own: He has claimed he was acting in self-defense when he tackled a police officer outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. But a judge has described Webster as an instigator who should have known better given his professional experience.

BORDER-ASYLUM LIMITS

  • NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Biden administration has begun phasing out use of a pandemic-related public health rule that allows the expulsion of migrants without giving them an opportunity to seek asylum. The administration said Friday it has recently processed more single adults from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador under immigration laws, which include rights to seek asylum. Its acknowledgement came in a court filing in a lawsuit filed by Arizona, Louisiana and 19 other states that seeks to preserve the authority. The state of Texas filed its own challenge to the termination of the rule in federal court.

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.