- SEXUAL MISCONDUCT-EPSTEIN-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Legislators will consider changes to the state's sex offender registration policies in response to revelations that deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein was allowed to avoid registering locally as a sex offender following a guilty plea a decade ago in Florida. Epstein was accused of abusing young women at his New Mexico ranch before his death last year. A Democratic state representative says he has filed a bill that would require people who are registered as sex offenders in another state or U.S. territory to also register in New Mexico if they spend 20 days in the state during a calendar year.
- IRANIAN AMERICANS-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Members of an Iranian American group in New Mexico say state Homeland Security recently asked them if they have seen any suspicious activities. Iranian Cultural Society of New Mexico President Azadeh Mehrnoush says the agency asked the group to report unusual episodes to authorities amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said they wanted to make sure they were engaged with community representatives in case any issues develop around threats or hate crimes. But Mehrnoush says she felt the email was an attempt to seek information about actions by Iranian Americans.
- PEOPLE-LOU FERRIGNO
SOCORRO, N.M. (AP) — Lou Ferrigno, the actor in the CBS television series "The Incredible Hulk," is slated to become a sheriff's deputy in New Mexico. Socorro County Sheriff William Armijo is scheduled to deputize Ferrigno next week at a special ceremony. Officials say Ferrigno will bring decades of law enforcement experience to the department and be instrumental in recruiting for the department and the county. The 68-year-old Ferrigno has served as a reserve sheriff's deputy in Los Angeles County and a member of the volunteer sheriff posse in Maricopa County, Arizona. Ferrigno played the Hulk in the 1970s television series.
- NUCLEAR WEAPONS-PLUTONIUM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The agency that oversees the United States' nuclear arsenal says it doesn't need to do a broad environmental review of a proposal that calls for ramping up production of plutonium triggers at federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina. A key component of every nuclear weapon, most of the plutonium cores in the stockpile were produced in the 1970s and 1980s. The National Nuclear Security Administration has released a supplemental analysis related to the production project, saying the determination was made after reviewing documentation and public comments. Nuclear watchdogs and other critics argue that the decision skirts requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.
- BC-US-IMMIGRATION-BORDER ENFORCEMENT
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Authorities say the number of people arrested or stopped entering the United States along the Mexico border fell for a seventh straight month in December, with Mexicans outpacing Central Americans among the detainees. U.S. authorities said they made 40,620 arrests or detentions of people on the Mexico border in December, down 5% from 42,651 in November and down 72% from a 13-year high of 144,116 in May. The Trump administration has begun a host of enforcement measures aimed at Mexicans, including a test to quickly determine asylum claims and deporting them to the central Mexico city of Guadalajara to discourage repeat attempts.
- AIR FORCE-CONTAMINATION
CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Environment Department is fining the U.S. Air Force nearly $1.7 million for not complying with rules aimed at protecting groundwater. The agency says Cannon Air Force Base let its groundwater discharge permit expire in March 2019 and has released wastewater despite not having a permit. The base did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about the allegations and the penalty. State officials are concerned because the base near Clovis is among those around the U.S. where contamination from past firefighting activities has been reported. The contamination is linked to chemicals known as PFAS.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A private border wall in South Texas could start construction in the coming days following a federal judge's ruling Thursday lifting a restraining order against the project. Judge Randy Crane's decision was the second federal ruling in two days in favor of border barriers. On Wednesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a lower court's stay that had prevented President Donald Trump's administration from diverting $3.6 billion from military construction projects to fund 175 miles of border wall.
- AUSTRALIA-WILDFIRES-FARAWAY HELP
MORUYA, Australia (AP) — The U.S., Canada and New Zealand have sent hundreds of firefighters to Australia to help local crews battle its deadly wildfires. The firefighters have come as part of a reciprocal deal which has previously seen Australians posted in North America. Many of the firefighters have specialized skills such as managing air operations or logistics. The visiting firefighters say there have been challenges and surprises since they arrived, including figuring out how to pronounce Australian place names that can be a mouthful.