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Today's News

  • Sheriff: 3 dead in New Mexico school shooting

    AZTEC, N.M. (AP) — A shooting at a New Mexico high school left two students and the suspect dead Thursday, authorities said as schools throughout the small town shut down for the day.

    Police did not release any details about the shooter but confirmed the other two people who were killed attended Aztec High School. No other injuries were reported, officials said.

    "The families of the victims were notified immediately. They are in our thoughts and prayers," state police said in a statement on social media.

    State and federal authorities are investigating what led to the shooting and did not immediately release any details about the circumstances. A news conference was planned.

    The school of about 900 students was cordoned off as authorities cleared the campus and teens were taken to another location.

    A crowd of nervous parents gathered outside City Hall in the moments after the shooting to wait for more information as officers tried to reassure them about the safety of their children.

    Despite the closure of all schools in Aztec, authorities said there were no other credible threats to students at the high school or other schools in the neighboring communities of Bloomfield or Farmington.

  • New Mexico Legislature won't release harassment records

    SANTA FE (AP) — The New Mexico Legislature is declining to release records about two complaints of sexual harassment involving Statehouse maintenance staff.

    Legislative Council Service Director Raul Burciaga on Thursday said the documents are exempt from public disclosure under provisions of the state Inspection of Public Records Act regarding matters of opinion in personnel files.

    Legal representatives for the Legislature say there have been only two formal complaints of workplace harassment, in response to public records request about complaints dating back to January 2013. None involve lawmakers or lobbyists.

    It is unclear how the complaints were resolved.

    New Mexico lawmakers are preparing to rewrite anti-harassment policies for the Statehouse that were adopted in 2008.

    Female lobbyists and elected officials say sexual harassment goes unchecked in the Capitol amid ineffective complaint procedures.

  • Aztec shooting victims in thoughts, prayers of LAPS school officials

    The deadly shooting Thursday at a public school in the Four Corners is deeply troubling, said the Los Alamos Public Schools board and the superintendent.

    The shooting left three people dead – two students and the alleged – at Aztec High School in Aztec Thursday morning.

    “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families,” Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus and the LAPS school board said following a request from the Monitor for a statement.

    The victims, their families and the entire Aztec community are in their thoughts and prayers, they said in the prepared statement.

    They also wished to acknowledge the quick actions of the school staff and Aztec’s first responders.

    The eight Los Alamos schools are updating safety plans and conducting training sessions to educate staff and students in response to an active shooter or other safety threat, according to the statement.

    The district has been training with a standard response protocol called Lock Down, Lock Out Evacuate, and Shelter in Place. More details are available at a website: iloveuguys.org/srp.html.

  • House passes stopgap spending bill to avert weekend shutdown

    By ANDREW TAYLOR and ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Thursday passed a stopgap spending bill to prevent a government shutdown this weekend and buy time for challenging talks on a wide range of unfinished business on Capitol Hill.

    The measure passed mostly along party lines, 235-193, and would keep the government running through Dec. 22. The Senate was expected to swiftly approve the measure as early as Thursday night and send it to President Donald Trump.

    The vote came as Trump and top congressional leaders in both parties huddled to discuss a range of unfinished bipartisan business on Capitol Hill, including the budget, a key children's health program and aid to hurricane-slammed Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida — and, for Democrats and many Republicans, protections for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

    "We are here to make progress. We have some important issues that we share with you," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told Trump at the White House, ticking off issues including the opioid crisis, funding for veterans and an expired children's health insurance program. "All things that have bipartisan support in the Congress."

    Trump relied, "That's very true."

  • Interior delays Obama-era regulation on methane emissions

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department said Thursday it is delaying an Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands.

    A rule being published in the Federal Register delays the methane regulation until January 2019, saying the previous rule is overly burdensome to industry. Officials said the delay will allow the federal Bureau of Land Management time to review the earlier rule while avoiding tens of millions of dollars in compliance costs to industry that may turn out to be unnecessary.

    The action marks at least the third time the Trump administration has moved to delay or set aside the Obama-era rule, which was imposed last year. The rule forces energy companies to capture methane that's burned off or "flared" at drilling sites because it pollutes the environment.

    An estimated $330 million a year in methane is wasted through leaks or intentional releases on federal lands, enough to power about 5 million homes a year.

    Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a leading contributor to global warming. It is far more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide but does not stay in the air as long.

    A federal judge threw out an earlier bid to delay the rule.

  • Polaris Charter School proposal draws crowd

    Organizers of a proposed charter school for middle school-age students in Los Alamos welcomed more than 100 people to an introductory reception Friday night at Fuller Lodge.

    Jamie Civitello, a parent, said she came out on a busy night to learn more about the Polaris Charter School proposal.

    “I support land-based learning and I’d like to have more options,” she said, after thumbing through a large book – one of many materials set out, along with instructional games, to engage children and their parents at tables set up for that purpose.

    Meanwhile, children examined different types of rocks under magnification or picked up simple coding techniques on a lap top computer to move around a plastic creature.

    Organizers of the proposed Polaris Charter School, for students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades said they’ve got quite a journey ahead of them to reach their goal of opening the school by August 2019.

    They face an initial deadline in January for a notice of intent to the state Public Education Department, then a full application in June.

    Funding, a facility, and whether Polaris will be a “local” charter school authorized by Los Alamos Public Schools or the state Public Education Commission are still unknown, organizers said.

  • Health office on list of County Council’s legislative priorities

    Los Alamos County Council has put the full reinstatement of a state public health office for the county on its list of legislative priorities.

    Citing budget cut backs and data supporting not enough need in the community, the New Mexico Department of Health cut hours and staff at its Diamond Avenue office in 2016, and transferred most of those service to its Española branch.

    The department based its decision on data it received about the number of times the office is actually used to counsel Los Alamos teens on unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.  

    The office, which is located across the street from the high school, was seen as a place for teens to go for confidential advice and services. The county pays for the space for the office, and is has been asking the state to restore the office to full-service.

    “It’s something we’ve been working on since they shut down, or effectively shut down the one we’ve got, having our teenagers drive to Española to get some confidential help,” Councilor Rick Reiss said.

    Reiss also said the request is also more than just about getting their health office back, it’s about having the state meet its obligations to its citizens.

  • Balderas continues to fight Trump agenda

    Since President Donald Trump was elected in November 2016, New Mexico’s Attorney General Hector Balderas has filed legal challenges against the president’s agenda more than 30 times.

    Balderas, a Democrat, has joined with attorneys general in several other states over the past several months to challenge Trump’s actions on the environment, affordable health care, travel bans and the status of young immigrants, among other issues.

    At least one sector, the oil and gas industry, questioned Balderas’s opposition to Trump’s actions to deregulate energy production and use.

    For the past several months, three attorneys who work for the office have been assigned to the federal filings, said James Hallinan, communications director for Balderas.

    “They are public employees and this is one of many parts of their numerous job duties, handling these cases,” Hallinan said.

    There is no cost to file the paperwork at the federal courts in Washington, New York, San Francisco, and elsewhere, Hallinan said.

    In the U.S. Supreme Court, New Mexico is among several other states with amicus – or friend – filings made in regards to redistricting, voting rights and gay rights, by Balderas and attorneys working for his office.

  • Former Sandia Labs employee pleads guilty in fraud case

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A former Sandia National Laboratories worker accused of creating a phony company to defraud the New Mexico facility of more than $2 million has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering.

    Prosecutors say 55-year-old Carla Sena of Santa Rosa will be sentenced at a later date.

    A federal grand jury indicted Sena last month on 11 counts including wire fraud, major fraud against the U.S. and money laundering.

    Most of the lab’s work involves research, development and maintenance of nuclear weapons.

    A former procurement officer, Sena was tasked in 2010 with overseeing the bidding for a $2.3 million contract for moving services.

    The indictment accused Sena of preparing a bid for a company under someone else’s name and leveraging other bidders’ information to ensure herself the winning bid.

  • More study needed on nuclear pit production

    STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

    The agency that oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile says further study is needed to determine the best option for the United States as it looks to ramp up production of the plutonium cores that trigger nuclear weapons.

    The National Nuclear Security Administration said Monday that a team of external and internal engineering experts will further analyze the two options that were identified as part of an earlier review that looked at the most efficient and cost effective means of making the pits.

    Agency spokeswoman Lindsey Geisler told The Associated Press the options include leaving the work to Los Alamos National Laboratory or moving it to the U.S. Energy Department’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

    It’s not clear how long the extra analysis will take, but the agency said new pits must be made to ensure the nation’s nuclear forces are flexible and tailored to deter 21st-century threats.

    Since news of the report surfaced Monday, New Mexico’s congressional delegation has been on the defensive.