- NUCLEAR WEAPONS-ARCHBISHOP
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The head of one of the oldest Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. says now is the time to rejuvenate a global conversation about the need for nuclear disarmament and avoiding a new nuclear arms race. Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester released a lengthy pastoral letter on the subject Tuesday. He noted during a virtual news conference that Los Alamos National Laboratory — the birthplace of the atomic bomb — is preparing to ramp up production of the plutonium cores used in the nation's nuclear arsenal. Wester called the arms race a vicious spiral. Nuclear watchdog groups welcomed the letter, which marks just the latest instance of the Catholic Church wading into the debate.
- EDUCATION FUNDING TRANSPARENCY
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's education department launched a school spending transparency website Tuesday, after failing to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to do so. The public education transparency portal was mandated by the Legislature in 2020 to make it easier for people to see how schools were spending taxpayer money. Lawmakers may use the information to help craft the over $3 billion education budget this year. The education department says it delayed the website's launch after school accountants raised concerns about the portal's functionality. It launched the site following inquiries Monday from The Associated Press, but without financial information from most individual schools.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The mayor of New Mexico's largest city is telling thousands of workers to prepare for a vaccine mandate in the coming weeks. But union leaders who represent Albuquerque police officers, firefighters and other employees are saying not so fast. They say a mandate would amount to a major change of working conditions that requires Democrat Mayor Tim Keller to come to the negotiating table. The police and fire departments already have voiced concerns about losing personnel if a mandate is imposed. The push comes as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs President Joe Biden's vaccine rule. The mayor said Tuesday that regardless of the federal case, Albuquerque will be ready for a state mandate or any unilateral action to ensure public safety.
- BABY IN DUMPSTER
HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — An 18-year-old New Mexico woman is facing charges after police say she abandoned her newborn baby in a dumpster. Authorities said during a news conference Monday that four people who were looking through a dumpster heard the baby cry and found it inside a trash bag, wrapped in a dirty towel in Hobbs, near the Texas border. The baby is in stable condition at a hospital in Lubbock, Texas. Police say investigators used surveillance video to identify a car suspected of being involved. That led them to Alexis Avila, of Hobbs. She told authorities she didn't know she was pregnant and panicked when she gave birth.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A damaged Georgia O'Keeffe painting is back on display after conservators spent 1,250 hours and $145,000 restoring the piece. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum's head of conservation called the job the biggest restoration project he has ever worked on. The results will be on display at the museum through Oct. 10. The painting will then travel to the San Diego Museum of Art in 2023. Conservators had to repair not only water damage but previous restoration work that had failed. The painting, titled "Spring," combines several of O'Keeffe's favorite New Mexican subjects. It features desert primrose, a large vertebra and the flat-topped mountain Cerro Pedernal.
- COAL POWER-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state Supreme Court has upheld provisions of an environmental law that provides financial arrangements for an electric utility to abandon investments in a coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico. In a unanimous opinion Monday, the court upheld a finance order from state utility regulators that ends the use of the San Juan Generating Station to generate electricity for the Public Service Company of New Mexico. The order allows the investor-owned utility to bill $361 million to utility customers as it moves forward with plans to abandon the power plant. Advocates for utility customers challenged the financial arrangements and the constitutionality of a related 2019 law.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Monday reported 79 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, but no deaths for the third consecutive day. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's totals since the pandemic began to 43,277 cases with 1,593 known deaths. Navajo Nation officials reported 270 cases and one death Friday, 220 cases with no deaths Saturday and 242 cases with no deaths Sunday. The figures released Monday included 18 delayed reported cases. But based on cases from Dec. 24-Jan. 6, the Navajo Department of Health issued an advisory for 61 communities due to the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.
- TRAIN-TRESPASSER STRUCK
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after someone was hit by a New Mexico Rail Runner train in Albuquerque. Rail Runner officials say "a trespasser" was struck early Monday by a train heading to Santa Fe. The train was not carrying any passengers as it was supposed to start service in Santa Fe. A Rail Runner spokeswoman says train service has been suspended between the downtown Albuquerque and Los Ranchos train stations until the afternoon. New Mexico State Police are overseeing the investigation. No details about the person hit including their status have been released.