Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT
'Like an inferno:' US West burning at furious pace so far
LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. (AP) — Wildfires in the West are on a furious pace early this year. Wind-driven flames tearing through vegetation that is extraordinarily dry from years-long drought exacerbated by climate change has made even small blazes a threat to life and property. A fast-moving blaze in Southern California is the latest example, where 20 multimillion-dollar homes lay in smolders Thursday. In New Mexico, the largest blaze burning in the U.S. has now consumed an area bigger than Dallas. That fire east of Santa Fe has churned through mountainous forests for more than a month. Nationally, more than 2,000 square miles already have burned this year. That's the most at this point since 2018.
US finds 500 Native American boarding school deaths so far
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A first-of-its-kind federal study of Native American boarding schools that for over a century sought to assimilate Indigenous children into white society has identified more than 500 student deaths at the institutions so far. But officials expect that figure to grow exponentially as research continues. The Interior Department report released Wednesday expands to more than 400 the number of schools that were known to have operated across the U.S. for 150 years. They emerged in the early 19th century and continued in some cases until the late 1960s. The agency says a second volume of the report will cover burial sites and the boarding schools' impacts on Indigenous communities.
Film producers defend safety in Alec Baldwin shooting
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A film production company is contesting sanctions by New Mexico officials for alleged workplace safety violations on the set of "Rust," where actor and producer Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer in October. In a filing made public Wednesday, Rust Movie Productions is challenging a $137,000 fine against the company by state occupational safety regulators who say production managers failed to follow standard industry protocols for firearms safety. Rust Movie Productions says misfires prior to the fatal shooting did not violate safety protocols and corrective action was taken. In October 2021, Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during setup for filming when the firearm discharged.
New Mexico voting starts to pick GOP challenger for governor
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Early voting has started across New Mexico ahead of the June 7 primary Election Day to determine the Republican nominee for governor. Election officials on Tuesday began mailing absentee ballots to voters and county clerks' offices opened their doors to in-person voting. Five Republicans are vying for the nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Democrats are seeking their party's nomination in open races for attorney general, state auditor and treasurer. Recent changes in New Mexico election law make it easier for unaffiliated voters to participate in the primary election by affiliating with a major party.
New Mexico releases draft plan to address education lawsuit
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico education officials have released a draft plan to address a lawsuit brought by underprivileged students nearly a decade ago. The lawsuit is named Martinez-Yazzie after two plaintiffs who sued on behalf of their children and won a favorable ruling against state officials in state court in 2018. The ruling finds that the state has fallen short of its constitutional duties to provide an "adequate" education for groups that account for 70% of K-12 pupils, including low-income, disabled, English learning, and Native American students. The draft plan outlines targets for improving the diversity of teachers, increasing graduation rates by 15% and increasing academic proficiency by 50% by 2025.
Appeals court sides with Carlsbad police in YouTuber lawsuit
CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected a YouTuber's claims that a Carlsbad police officer falsely arrested him and violated his civil rights. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a lower court ruling dismissing a lawsuit brought by Albert Bustillos against the city of Carlsbad. In October 2019, Bustillos was filming Carlsbad police officers handcuffing a woman experiencing an "altered mental status" for his YouTube channel. An officer ordered Bustillos to leave because his presence was agitating the woman, according to court documents. He was handcuffed when he refused to leave or show his I.D. The appellate court ruled the officer had probable cause to arrest Bustillos.
Shooting death of Santa Fe officer's son under AG review
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Almost six months after a Santa Fe police officer's 2-year-old son was accidentally shot and killed in his home, state prosecutors are conducting an investigation into possible charges. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Sunday the New Mexico Attorney General's Office confirmed they're in the process of an independent review. When asked if the involvement of a police officer was affecting the pace, a spokeswoman for the attorney general said they are just following the process. Last December, officer Jonathan Harmon's 4-year-old son found an off-duty handgun in their Rio Ranch home and accidentally discharged it. Harmon remains on administrative duty. Sandoval County prosecutors requested the attorney general's office assistance in March.
Joshua Cohen, the late Winfred Rembert win arts Pulitzers
NEW YORK (AP) — Joshua Cohen's "The Netanyahus," a comic and rigorous campus novel based on the true story of the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeking a job in academia, has won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Many of the winners in the arts Monday were explorations of race and class, in the past and the present.James Ijames' "Fat Ham," an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" set at a Black family's barbecue in the modern South, received the Pulitzer for drama. The late artist Winfred Rembert won in biography for "Chasing Me to My Grave," as told to Erin I. Kelly.