- VIRGIN GALACTIC
Space-tourism dream edges toward reality in New Mexico
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — British billionaire Richard Branson is taking another concrete step toward offering rides into the close reaches of space for paying passengers.
Branson announced Friday that Virgin Galactic will immediately begin shifting operations from California to a spaceport and specialized runway in the New Mexico desert in final preparations for commercial flights.
He says Virgin Galactic's development and testing program has advanced enough to make the move, which will continue through the summer.
In February, a new version of Virgin Galactic's winged craft SpaceShipTwo soared at three times the speed of sound to an altitude of nearly 56 miles (99 kilometers) in a test flight over Southern California.
New Mexico has been anticipating the arrival of space tourism for more than a decade. Taxpayers have invested over $200 million in Spaceport America's specialized launch and landing facilities.
- WET NEW MEXICO
Forecasters warn of wet weather for New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Forecasters with the National Weather Service are warning that rivers and streams could swell as New Mexico prepares for wet weather this weekend.
Officials say the greatest precipitation totals are expected in the higher elevations and will likely fall as snow so flooding isn't anticipated in those areas as a result.
There's risk for heavy rainfall Friday in areas along and mainly south of the Interstate 40 corridor over the Rio Puerco basin. More than an inch is possible in this region, and forecasters say lower-end flash flooding is possible.
This comes as dry conditions improve across the state. The latest federal map shows only a pocket of severe drought remains in northwestern New Mexico.
- BEANS BANDIT
Woman says thieves stole her U-Haul with $7K worth of beans
(Information from: KOB-TV, http://www.kob.com)
ISLETA PUEBLO, N.M. (AP) — A businesswoman attempting to make a delivery outside of Albuquerque says thieves rolled off in her U-Haul packed with thousands of dollars' worth of refried beans.
KOB-TV reports no arrests have been made in Monday's legume larceny outside of the Isleta Resort & Casino just south of Albuquerque.
Mary Jane Brown is the president of Mexicali Rose Instant Refried Beans and says she stayed at the Isleta Pueblo hotel because she was concerned about crime in Albuquerque.
But she says thieves still took off with her U-Haul containing nearly $7,000 worth of beans.
The company is based in Anthony, New Mexico, outside of El Paso, Texas.
- ONLINE SCHOOL THREAT
Report: New Mexico man charged after online threat to school
GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man is facing federal charges after authorities say he posted an online threatening message about a high school.
The Gallup Independent report s Christopher Douglas was arrested this week on suspicion of transmitting communication containing a threat to injure a person after Gallup Police were notified about the threat.
According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court of New Mexico, the 30-year-old Douglas posted the threat Sunday on Facebook about Gallup High School.
The school, located in western New Mexico near the Navajo Nation, was placed on lockdown the next day.
Court records say Douglas acknowledged writing the post after he was arrested.
It was unclear if an attorney had been appointed to represent Douglas yet.
Remains found in Boundary Waters wilderness are human
(Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com)
DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Authorities in Minnesota say skeletal remains found in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are human.
The remains were found in late April at a campsite belonging to a New Mexico man who planned to spend the winter in the woods. Jordan Grider of Moriarty, New Mexico, an experienced outdoorsman, gave his family the general location where he would be and sent photos from the campsite.
The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office says an initial report from a forensic anthropologist indicates the remains are human, but more examination is needed to identify them.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that investigators do not suspect foul play.
- MURDER SUSPECT ARRESTED
FBI: Twin Lakes woman accused of murder arrested in Gallup
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico woman sought on a federal criminal complaint charging her with murder has been arrested in Gallup.
The FBI says 28-year-old Trudy Martinez was taken into custody Thursday and is expected to have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque on Friday.
Officials in the FBI's Albuquerque division say Martinez is accused of fatally shooting another adult in Twin Lakes last Friday.
They say Martinez fled the scene with her three children, ages 5, 9 and 10.
FBI officials say the children are safe with family members.
They say Martinez is also accused of using a firearm in a crime of violence and crimes occurring on the Navajo Nation.
It was unclear Thursday night in Martinez has a lawyer yet who can speak on her behalf.
- FORMER DOCTOR SENTENCED
Ex-Dona Ana County doctor gets prison for health care fraud
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A former doctor in Dona Ana County has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison for health care fraud and unlawfully dispensing controlled substances.
Prosecutors say 66-year-old Pawankumar Jain pleaded guilty in the case in 2016.
In his plea agreement, Jain admitted he operated a high-volume "pain management" practice in Las Cruces for several years.
Jain says he frequently performed only cursory examinations of patients before prescribing narcotics to them.
Prosecutors say Jain wrote two methadone prescriptions for a patient in 2009 that weren't for any legitimate medical purpose.
They say the patient died of respiratory depression two days after filling the second prescription for 270 tablets of 10 mg methadone.
The New Mexico Medical Board suspended Jain's license in June 2012 and revoked his license six months later.
- AIR FORCE-CONTAMINATION-THE LATEST
The Latest: New Mexico warns no swimming in Air Force lake
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Department of Health is warning people not to swim in or drink from Lake Holloman in southern New Mexico.
State officials say recent sampling showed high levels of hazardous chemicals known as per- and polyfluorinated compounds, or PFAS. Attorney General Hector Balderas on Thursday asked the U.S. Air Force to close the lake to the public.
Fed by treated wastewater from Holloman Air Force Base, the lake already is off limits to swimming but state officials reiterated their warning saying people should wash their hands if they get water or foam from the lake on them.
They also warned pet owners to avoid letting their animals drink or come into contact with the water or foam.