- ELECTION 2019-PEOPLE OF COLOR
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — People of color made history across the U.S. by winning mayoral races and school board seats in places where their families were once ignored or prevented from voting.From Arizona to Massachusetts, the gains highlight the ongoing demographic changes in the nation but also the growing political power of black, Latino and Native American voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election.Ken Miyagishima, the son an internee at a World War II-era Japanese American internment camp, won is fourth term mayor in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He is now one of the longest-serving Asian Americans as head of a municipality in U.S. history.In Tucson, Arizona, for example, voters elected Regina Romero, the daughter of farmworkers, as the city's first Latina mayor in the city's history.
- FORMER OFFICER-BATTERY PLEA
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A former Albuquerque police officer accused of pushing a handcuffed suspect's head into the wall of a cell has pleaded no contest to a battery charge.John Hill entered the plea Thursday in connection with a Feb. 17 incident involving a man accused of causing a disturbance at a church.The incident prompted a Police Department investigation that led to Hill being fired.The Albuquerque Journal reports that Hill will be placed on unsupervised probation for six months and be eligible to eventually have the conviction dismissed.Hill must also pay $50 in victim restitution and perform 40 hours of community service.
- ELECTION 2020-SANDERS-IMMIGRATION
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders is calling for decriminalizing illegal border crossings, backing an idea that further exposes the Democratic presidential primary's deep ideological divides.The Vermont senator released an immigration proposal Thursday, writing, "Unauthorized presence in the United States is a civil, not a criminal, offense."Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren also has called for repealing the criminal prohibition against crossing the border illegally.South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (BOO'-tuh-juhj) says he'd support making illegal border crossings civil offenses but not in cases in which "fraud is involved." Former Vice President Joe Biden hasn't fully backed decriminalization of illegal border crossings, either.Although there's no consensus, decriminalization could be a tough general election sell for Democrats. Some voters may disagree with President Donald Trump's hard-line policies but worry about being too lenient.
- ELECTION 2020-NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY
ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — A lawyer from a New Mexico town renowned as the site of an alleged 1947 UFO crash says he will challenge President Donald Trump in New Hampshire.The Roswell Daily Record reports Roswell, New Mexico, attorney Rick Kraft has filed the paperwork needed to appear on the ballot as a Republican candidate in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.According to the New Hampshire Secretary of State's website, Kraft filed his declaration of candidacy on Tuesday.The 61-year-old Kraft says he decided to run after he and his wife visited the New Hampshire State House in Concord, New Hampshire, and learned how easy it is to get on the ballot. He called the move "a bucket list-type thing."Kraft says he does not plan on entering any other state primaries or caucuses.
- MEXICO BORDERLAND VIOLENCE
PHOENIX (AP) — An unusual string of violence south of Arizona's border with Mexico has sparked travel warnings by American authorities.Unaccustomed to the kind of violence long seen along some parts of the Texas-Mexico border, frequent border crossers in Arizona say they'll now think twice about traveling after dark and will confine themselves to busy commercial areas.The precautions follow a fatal border shootout and the killing farther south of three women and six children in an ambush by cartel gunmen.In addition, authorities discovered at least 42 bodies and skeletons last month in pits near the Gulf of California.Since April, the U.S. State Department has suggested that U.S. citizens reconsider travel plans to Sonora, calling it a key location for the drug trade and human trafficking.Still, the violence has not deterred some Americans who visit the resort town of Puerto Penasco, also known as Rocky Point.
- MEDICAL DAMAGES LAW
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Attorneys in New Mexico have argued in front of state Supreme Court justices over the legality of a state law limiting medical malpractice damages.The Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday that the argument was on whether the state Legislature exceeded its constitutional authority by imposing a $600,000 cap on compensatory damages and not medical costs.Some opposing the cap outlined in the Medical Malpractice Act say it interferes with a plaintiff's right to a jury verdict and serves as a deterrent to misconduct.Advocates say the cap cannot be stripped from the larger act ensuring physicians can find malpractice insurance and harmed patients can continue care.Officials say the case could shape the legal landscape for physicians accused of misconduct.The court did not issue a decision in the case Wednesday.
- NUCLEAR WASTE-DEAL REACHED
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho has granted a conditional waiver to the U.S. Department of Energy that could allow research quantities of spent nuclear fuel into the state after years of blocking such shipments.The agreement announced Thursday by Gov. Brad Little and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, both Republicans, means the Idaho National Laboratory could get spent fuel for experiments as part of a U.S. strategy to expand nuclear power.The waiver to a 1995 agreement requires the Energy Department to first prove it can process and remove radioactive liquid waste stored above an Idaho aquifer that supplies water to farms and cities.The Energy Department has spent some $600 million trying to do that, reporting progress earlier this year.Idaho benefits because the deal requires earlier removal of other nuclear waste at the 890-square-mile (2,305-square kilometer) site west of Idaho Falls.
- INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT-APPEAL
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court says it will take a second look at an emotionally fraught lawsuit governing the adoption of Native American children.In August, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. The law gives preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings involving American Indian children. It was a defeat for non-Indian adoptive families in multiple states.On Thursday, the New Orleans-based court said a majority of its active judges have voted to re-hear the case. It means Native American tribes and the federal government will again have to defend the law, which they say is critical to protect and preserve Native American culture and families.A hearing date has not been set.