Local News

  • Judge swears in new top federal prosecutor for New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The state's chief federal judge has sworn in a new U.S. Attorney for New Mexico.

    A spokeswoman for the federal prosecutors' office in New Mexico said in a statement Friday that U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson was sworn in earlier that day during a private ceremony at the federal courthouse in Santa Fe.

    President Donald Trump nominated Anderson in November to fill the post, and the U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination earlier this month.

    Anderson will oversee federal prosecutions and federal interests in civil cases in the state.

    He is a former federal prosecutor who primarily focused on white-collar crimes before leaving for private practice in 2013. He most recently was an attorney with the law firm Holland & Hart in Santa Fe.

  • Report cites Los Alamos lapses in handling of toxic metal

    SANTA FE (AP) — A new federal report says Los Alamos National Laboratory violated regulations to protect workers from exposure to a metal that can cause lung disease and cancer.

    The Energy Department inspector general's report says the nuclear weapons lab didn't properly track beryllium and didn't assure that contaminated areas were safe before work continued.

    Lab spokesman Matt Nerzig says Los Alamos hasn't scaled back measures to protect workers but is "addressing the recommendations" in the inspector general's report.

    The National Nuclear Security Administration says its oversight was insufficient due to staffing issues but that it doesn't know that shortcoming caused exposures at Los Alamos.

    Terrie Barie of the Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups says the problems at Los Alamos are disappointing, and Sen. Tom Udall says he's concerned by the report.

  • Supreme Court declines to decide fate of 'Dreamers' just yet

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Trump administration's highly unusual bid to bypass a federals appeals court and get the justices to intervene in the fate of a program that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

    The decision affecting "Dreamers" means the case will almost certainly have to work its way through the lower courts before any Supreme Court ruling is possible. And because that could take weeks or months, Monday's decision also is likely to further reduce pressure on Congress to act quickly on the matter.

    The ruling on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, wasn't unexpected.
    Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley acknowledged that the court "very rarely" hears a case before a lower appeals court has considered it, though he said the administration's view was "it was warranted" in this case.

    O'Malley said the administration would continue to defend the Homeland Security Department's "lawful authority to wind down DACA in an orderly manner."

    DACA has provided protection from deportation and work permits for about 700,000 young people who came to the U.S. as children and stayed illegally.

  • Second judge says Trump can't keep stalling clean-air rules

    Staff and Wire Reports

    WASHINGTON — A second judge has told the Trump administration it can't keep stalling clean-air rules for oil and gas production on federal lands.

    U.S. District Judge William Orrick of the Northern District of California ordered the Interior Department to reinstate the Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions. Orrick said late Thursday the administration's delay is "untethered to evidence" and likely to cause "irreparable injury" to California, New Mexico and other states from increased air pollution and negative impacts on public health and the climate.

    New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas took credit Friday for the ruling that targets New Mexico’s oil and gas industry.

    “Attorney General Hector Balderas announced today to that (sic) he and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra secured a preliminary injunction against President Trump and Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, blocking their attempt to suspend the rule and forcing Zinke to implement the Bureau of Land Management’s methane rule,” Balderas’s office said in a press release Friday.

  • Letters to the Editor

    Students know better
    than anyone horrors of situation


    Dear Editor,

    I admire the stance that students in Florida have taken, after the latest horrific school shooting. These events are largely due to the careless distribution of military weapons to too many people. The students know better than anyone, the horror and absurdity of the current situation.

    These students are not just “kids.”  Many are mature young adults with skills beyond those of many older citizens. They appear to be less childish than many of our country’s leaders.  

    I hope that they will succeed in their passionate quest, including the March 24 national demonstration. It gives me great comfort to know that these bright young people will be voting in upcoming elections, and serving as leaders in the near future.

    John W. Clough

    Los Alamos


  • Hobbs residents rally to keep Ten Commandments at City Hall

    HOBBS (AP) — Some residents in southeastern New Mexico are opposing calls from civil liberties advocates to remove a Ten Commandments monument from public property.

    The residents, citing religious concerns, crowded a commissioners' meeting this week in Hobbs to speak out against another group's effort to take down the monument, the Hobbs News-Sun reports.

    "I was raised (in Hobbs) all my life," resident Cassandra Lawson told the Hobbs City Commission on Tuesday. "And I stand before you to say that the Ten Commandments (are) the decalogue upon which our nation is founded."

    The move came after members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation said the Hobbs monument violated First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution regarding the separation of church and state.

    Hobbs resident and foundation member Jeremy Wood asked the Hobbs City Commission last month to remove the Ten Commandments monument outside City Hall. Wood cited court cases forcing city governments to remove similar monuments.

    "Politicians in towns like Hobbs have used public resources to promote their own religious beliefs and, in doing so, have denied their most vulnerable constituents their First and 14th Amendment rights," Wood said.

  • LANL announces new director for Tech Transfer Division

    Antonio “Tony” Redondo will be taking over as head of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s tech transfer division, the Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation Monday, LANL announced Thursday. 

    Named after the famous Manhattan Project physicist, the Feynman Center helps to transition science and technology created at the laboratory to the private sector. 

    Redondo is the former Theoretical Division leader and currently a senior scientist in the Theory, Simulation and Computation Directorate. 

    In his 35 years at Los Alamos, he has served as principal investigator for several projects, including Soft Matter Mechanical, Rheological and Stability Properties, funded by Procter and Gamble; Metal Corrosion, funded by Chevron; Sustainable Materials, funded by Procter & Gamble; and Crystallization of Sugar, funded by Mars, Inc.

  • Smart meter plan draws heated debate at meeting

    A proposal to replace 9,000 utility meters with electronic “smart” meters drew heated debate about security and accuracy issues at Wednesday’s Board of Public Utilities meeting.

    The data collected would be available to the public and at least one board member was worried about security breeches. 

    According to the Department of Public Utilities, customer’s data would be stored by  an “offsite hosted solution” according to Deputy Robert Westervelt. The information would then be sent to the Department of Utilities’ meter data management system, which the department would use to bill customers once a month. 

    Westervelt gave an example where the meters would record and send customer data to the database every 15 minutes.

    When asked by Board of Public Utilities member Stephen McLin if the information would be public, Westervelt said that it is, adding that that has always been the case.

  • New Mexico high school graduation rate holds steady

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The percentage of New Mexico students who graduate high school is holding steady at 71 percent, and state education officials said they were particularly encouraged that the rate among Hispanic students has climbed more than 10 percent since 2011.

    Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski released the latest statistics Friday, saying there have been improvements for the state's Hispanic, black, low-income and disabled students.

    The graduation rate for Hispanic students in 2011 was less than 60 percent. State numbers show that rate continued its upward trajectory in 2017 and now stands at nearly 71 percent. Hispanic students make up more than 60 percent of the state's student population.

    Overall, 500 more students graduated in New Mexico during the last school year than the previous year, officials said.

    "This is important progress for our kids, and shows how important it is that we remain committed to meaningful reform — so that every kid, no matter their background, has a chance to succeed in life," Gov. Susan Martinez said in a statement.

    The state has long ranked near the bottom of national graduation rate statistics. It marked an all-time high in 2016 when it first recorded an overall 71 percent graduation rate.

  • LAPS bolsters active shooter plans


    Since the beginning of the school year, Los Alamos Public Schools has been quietly taking steps to beef up school security in the wake of a series of school shootings.

    “We’re always working on school safety,” Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus said Thursday.

    The district implemented in December a safety plan, individualized for each school. 

    The high school and middle school are also equipped with gun safes installed in strategic locations, according to Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgamballone. 

    When first proposed last year, Sgamballone said the safes were to be equipped with safety equipment, first-aid kits and more powerful weapons than officers typically carry, such as AR-15s and shotguns, could help officers appropriately respond to active shooter situations.

    In the wake of the Parkland High School shooting in Florida that killed 17 people, the school system held a public strategy session at Aspen Elementary School Wednesday night.