- BABY OCELOTS
Albuquerque zoo welcomes baby ocelotsALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque's zoo is celebrating the births of two ocelots.Officials at the ABQ BioPark announced Tuesday that the kittens were born in October.Mammal Curator Erin Flynn says the births mark an important milestone for the zoo. She says it's a big deal for a first-time mom to have two kittens and be taking such good care of them.Officials say ocelots are notoriously difficult to get pregnant.In 2017, staff artificially inseminated the mother, named Lucy, under the direction of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's species survival plan. Although Lucy didn't become pregnant at that time, the process made her more receptive to breeding.Officials say Lucy had not shown any signs of being pregnant such as weight gain or behavioral changes, so the babies were a surprise.
- CHRISTMAS TREE PERMITS
Permits on sale to harvest Christmas trees on federal landALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Christmas tree permits are now available at Bureau of Land Management offices around New Mexico.Federal land managers say the $5 permits will be sold in Albuquerque, Socorro, Taos, Farmington and Santa Fe through Dec. 24.For the Rio Puerco and Taos areas, Christmas tree harvesters are able to purchase a permit online.Only piñon and juniper trees are available for harvest as Christmas trees on BLM lands.When transporting a tree taken from BLM public land, officials say the permit must be attached to the tree.
- TRUMP-NATIVE AMERICANS
Trump order creates task force on missing American IndiansWASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has signed an executive order creating a White House task force on missing and slain American Indians and Alaska Natives.The task force will be overseen by Attorney General William Barr and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. It is tasked with developing protocols to apply to new and unsolved cases and creating a multi-jurisdictional team to review cold cases.Trump on Tuesday called the scourge of violence facing Native American women and girls "sobering and heartbreaking."The National Institute of Justice estimates that 1.5 million Native American women have experienced violence in their lifetime, including many who are victims of sexual violence. On some reservations, federal studies have shown women are killed at a rate over 10 times the national average.
- HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY
New Mexico's homeland security secretary steps downSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Homeland Security and Emergency Management Secretary Jackie Lindsey has resigned, effective immediately.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office announced Lindsey's resignation Tuesday, saying she informed the governor that she wanted to focus on her family and health.Lindsey said she made the decision after careful consideration and that she was honored to have served New Mexicans over the last year.The governor's office says Deputy Secretary Kelly Hamilton will serve as acting secretary to ensure that operations continue as normal as the state braces for wintery weather.A search will begin immediately to fill the role permanently.Lindsey has served as secretary since Lujan Grisham took office at the start of the year. She previously worked as a captain with Albuquerque Fire Rescue, overseeing security and emergency management for that department.
- PUBLIC FUNDED GIFT CARDS
Elected city councilor used public financing for gift cards(Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.santafenewmexican.com)SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A newly elected city councilor in New Mexico has spent public financing on gift cards for her volunteers raising concerns about the use of public campaign funds.The Santa Fe-New Mexican reported Monday that Santa Fe city councilwoman Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez purchased $220 in gift cards from a local coffee shop to hand out to her volunteers.Officials say Cassutt-Sanchez then wrote the city a check for $3.93 for the remaining public finance dollars she didn't spend.Cassutt-Sanchez says she didn't hesitate to buy the gift cards with taxpayer money and is open to speaking with people who don't agree with the purchases.Officials say city code imposes multiple restrictions on public finance funds, but it is unclear if gift cards fell into any of the prohibited uses.___
- SAVING THE SILVERY MINNOW
More endangered minnows released in Rio GrandeALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — About 15,000 Rio Grande silvery minnows are now swimming in the river as part of a decades-long effort to keep the tiny fish from disappearing.Staff from Albuquerque's BioPark released the latest batch of fish last week. In all, more than 800,000 minnows have been released since 2000 as part of a partnership with an endangered species collaborative.The minnow had a chance this year to rebound since the river got a boost from healthy snowmelt in the higher elevations.The favorable flows resulted in spawning so no captive-bred fish were needed to augment the wild population.Still, some environmentalists are concerned that without changes in the way the Rio Grande is managed, the minnow won't have a chance to make it on its own without continued human intervention.
- ALBUQUERQUE-CRIME CRACKDOWN
Albuquerque launches operation targeting violent offendersALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque officials say they're launching a new operation that will target the 15 most violent criminal offenders in the city.The "Metro 15 Operation" announced Tuesday will be conducted by Albuquerque police in conjunction with state and Bernalillo County prosecutors and investigators from multiple agencies.According to the announcement, an apprehension team will go after offenders on a continuously updated list prepared by the Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office.Mayor Tim Keller said the operation is intended to focus on "the worst perpetrators of violent crime" with a narrowly targeted approach to reduce crime in the city.Participating agencies also include investigators from the state Attorney General's Office, the state Office of Superintendent of Insurance and the state Office of Probation and Parole.
- TAX EVASION-GUILTY PLEA
Former foundation director pleads guilty to tax evasion(Information from: Alamogordo Daily News, http://www.alamogordonews.com)ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — A former New Mexico foundation director has pleaded guilty to tax evasion after authorities say he didn't include more than $1 million allegedly embezzled on his taxes.Alamogordo Daily News reported that 65-year-old former Robert W. Hamilton Foundation director Marion Ledford entered his plea Monday in Las Cruces federal court.The Internal Revenue Service says Ledford filed tax returns for 2011 to 2016 but did not report an additional $1,785,300 allegedly embezzled through more than 60 personal checks.Ledford agreed to pay the foundation restitution for the embezzled funds.Authorities say the plea agreement requires Ledford to pay the IRS about $629,000 in lost tax revenue. He faces up to five years imprisonment.The Robert W. Hamilton Foundation provides scholarships to Otero County high school graduates.___