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Deadline looms as election crisis in New Mexico intensifies
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A standoff between a Republican-dominated county commission and New Mexico's Democratic secretary of state over the commission's conspiracy-fueled refusal to certify election results comes to a head Friday, the state's certification deadline. The showdown is providing a stark example of the chaos that election experts have warned about as those who promote the lie that former President Donald Trump was cheated out of reelection seek to populate local election offices and the usually low-profile boards that certify the results. The governing commission in Otero County has refused to certify the local results from the June 7 primary, even though it has identified no problems with the voting.
New Mexico reaches $32M settlement over 2015 mine spill
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico and the U.S. government have reached a $32 million settlement to address claims stemming from a 2015 mine spill that polluted rivers in three western states. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other state officials announced the agreement Thursday. The spill released 3 million gallons of wastewater from the inactive Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado. The bright-yellow plume of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals flowed south to New Mexico, the Navajo Nation and Utah. Water utilities were forced to shut down intake valves and farmers stopped drawing from the rivers as the plume moved downstream. Colorado and the tribe also have reached multimillion-dollar settlements.
Life prison term upheld for New Mexico man who killed family
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld the life prison sentence of a man who was convicted of fatally shot his parents and three younger siblings when he was a teenager. In a dispositional order Thursday, the state's high court rejected arguments by Nehemiah Griego that his sentence was unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment because it denied him an opportunity for treatment and rehabilitation. Griego was 15 at the time of the 2013 killings at his family's home in Albuquerque. He was convicted of intentional child abuse resulting in death and two concurrent seven-year sentences for second-degree murder for his parent's deaths. Griego was sentenced to three concurrent life sentences with the possibility of parole after serving 30 years.
Warm, dry, breezy weather to challenge fire crews in Arizona
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Crews battling a pair of wildfires in northern Arizona were expecting some growth Thursday because of warm, dry and breezy weather. Both blazes were moving through grass, brush and pine trees on the northern outskirts of Flagstaff. The larger fire has burned more than 38 square miles and was 27% contained Thursday. A smaller fire is burning in the same region. The forecast calls for chances of showers and thunderstorms starting Friday and through the weekend, which could help suppress the wildfires. Flooding and dry lightning are also concerns. The largest wildfire in the U.S. is burning in northern New Mexico.
New Mexico governor concerned with potential migrant influx
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's Democratic governor wants the Biden administration to delay planned or expanded efforts to transport migrants to her state if pandemic-related restrictions on asylum seekers are lifted. The federal government has predicted a threefold increase in border crossings if that happens. First-term Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said a migrant influx would dramatically affect the border state's capacity to provide ongoing humanitarian assistance to thousands of New Mexicans displaced by wildfires this spring. She outlined her concerns in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejando Mayorkas. Like other Democrats, the governor would be on the defensive in an already difficult midterm election year if there were an increase in illegal border crossings.
Summer rainy season sets up across Four Corners region
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — As the summer rainy season known simply as the monsoon started Wednesday, concerns grew for neighborhoods below mountains that have burned repeatedly in northern Arizona. The monsoon runs through September. It can bring relief to scorching desert cities but also carries the threat of flooding. The outlook this year calls for equal chances of below, above and normal precipitation in the Four Corners region. Climatologists say that could change when a new seasonal outlook is released Thursday. Already, conditions are setting up for moisture to move into northern Arizona later this week, which could help firefighters battling two blazes on the outskirts of Flagstaff.
GOP commission refuses to certify New Mexico primary vote
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Votes in a New Mexico community are at risk of not counting after a Republican-led commission refused to approve primary election results over distrust of Dominion vote-tallying machines. Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver on Tuesday asked the court to order the three-member Otero County commission to certify the June 7 election results to ensure voters are not disenfranchised and allow political candidates to advance to the general election. On Monday, the commission in its role as a county canvassing board voted unanimously against certifying the results of the primary without raising specific concerns about the primary vote.
Judge to decide trial for Confederate flag-toting dad, son
WASHINGTON (AP) — Prosecutors have urged a federal judge to convict a Confederate flag-toting man and his son of storming the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory. U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden didn't immediately issue a verdict Tuesday after hearing attorneys' closing arguments in the bench trial of Delaware residents Kevin Seefried and his adult son, Hunter. The judge told them to return to court on Wednesday afternoon. Kevin Seefried carried a Confederate battle flag inside the Capitol after he and his son entered the building through a broken window. Their lawyers said they never intended to disrupt the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.