ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Trump administration has sketched out a framework that it hopes will avoid a three-way arms race. Ambassador Marshall Billingslea, the special presidential envoy for arms control, spoke with The Associated Press about negotiations with Russia and efforts to bring China to the table while touring nuclear research labs and production sites in the United States. Last week's visit comes as the facilities ramp up modernization of the country's multibillion-dollar nuclear enterprise. He acknowledged that the proposed treaty would be ambitious but that the time is right for a new agreement to curb the buildup of both nuclear and conventional warheads.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Las Cruces Public Schools board members unanimously voted Tuesday to remain online for the remainder of the fall semester in December or longer depending on health guidelines. The Las Cruces Sun-News reported that Superintendent Karen Trujillo proposed continuing remote learning, except for small groups of students in special education, preschool students and others with greater need for in-person instruction. Students under the exemption will have their temperature checked and be required to do a daily wellness check. Some parents raised concerns about technological difficulties and lack of consistency with the online system and argued for a sooner return.
- SANTA FE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Santa Fe Community College has seen the bottom fall out of its enrollment thanks to the novel coronavirus. The Albuquerque Journal reports enrollment at the college declined 28% in one year. Officials say the number of students fell from 5,337 students last year to 3,841 this semester. College President Becky Rowley says most of the reduction was due to the cancellation of fitness classes and a large reduction in art courses. In addition, many of the school's part-time students decided not to return. Part-time students make up about 80% of the college's total enrollment. College administrators had expected enrollment to plummet since the early days of COVID-19.
RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A growing number of U.S. states are facing pressure to ban race-based discrimination against hair texture and styles. Activists recently presented a proposal to New Mexico state lawmakers that would outlaw employers and schools from discriminating against Black and Native American women's hairstyles. Earlier this year, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a measure that made Washington the sixth state to pass a version of the CROWN Act. The act's name stands for Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. According to the Crown Act campaign, California, Colorado, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia have already passed similar laws.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-BESIEGED HOSPITAL
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A special audit of management contracts is raising concerns about weak financial controls, executive compensation excesses and potential profiteering at a county-owned hospital on the edge of the Navajo Reservation. The hospital became overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state auditor's office on Tuesday released results regarding Rehoboth McKinley Christian hospital in Gallup and its management and service contracts dating to 2016. State officials say the review shows that a contract with hospital management company Healthcare Integrity circumvented the hospital's code of conduct and conflicts of interest policy. The audit report was referred to state prosecutors and the IRS.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A week after in-person learning began in a small number of public schools, New Mexico officials are reporting five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in schools, including two students. The cases were confirmed among students and staff on Monday. Around 50 New Mexico school districts and charters have begun allowing students in kindergarten through fifth grade to attend school in person, two days per week. Some of the state's largest districts plan to keep school online only for the rest of the semester. At least one of the teachers who tested positive for COVID-19 Monday works in a county where no in-person learning is taking place.
- LOS ALAMOS-CHINA
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal officials say a former Los Alamos National Laboratory worker has been sentenced to five years of probation and fined $75,000 for making false statements about involvement with China. The U.S. Attorney's Office for New Mexico said 68-year-old Turab Lookman of Santa Fe was sentenced Friday by a federal judge after pleading guilty in January. The office said Lookman in 2018 denied to a counterintelligence officer that he had been recruited or applied for a job with a Chinese recruitment program involving foreign technology and intellectual property. Lookman cannot leave New Mexico while on probation.
HOUSTON (AP) — Scholars and preservation advocates are working to piece together the story of a largely forgotten part of American history: a network that helped thousands of Black slaves escape to Mexico. Like the more well-known Underground Railroad to the north, the path in the opposite direction provided a pathway to freedom south of the border. Historian Roseann Bacha-Garza says the Underground Railroad to Mexico is gaining attention as the U.S. becomes more diverse and more people show an interest in studying slavery. But just how organized the Underground Railroad to Mexico was and what happened to former slaves remains a mystery.