NM Officials Ask For Tech Company's User Practices, US To Decide Best Site For Nuclear Weapons

May 9, 2018

New Mexico Authorities Ask For Tech Company's User PracticesThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office says it has sent a letter to a data sharing company, asking for information on user practices as prosecutors investigate how technology is used to distribute child pornography.

In a statement Tuesday, Attorney General Hector Balderas says his office sent a letter to BitTorrent Inc. last week.

BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer protocol that allows users to share files, and is used legitimately by academics and artists.

But it also has been known to be used by child pornographers and other criminals because large amounts of digital content can be moved and sorted.

New Mexico authorities say they are seeking information from BitTorrent by June 8.

A spokesman for BitTorrent says the company is reviewing the letter, and says it cooperates with "law enforcement agencies to the full extent of the law."

US To Decide Best Site Option For Nuclear Weapons ProductionThe Associated Press

The federal agency that oversees the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile is expected this week to release a report on the best site option for the United States as it looks to ramp up production of the plutonium cores that trigger nuclear warheads.

New Mexico's U.S. senators have pushed to keep the work at Los Alamos National Laboratory — the northern New Mexico site where the atomic bomb was developed decades ago.

The other contender is the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

At stake are hundreds of jobs and billions of dollars in federal funding needed to either revamp existing buildings or construct new factories.

The core production mission has been based at Los Alamos for years but not a single core has been produced since 2011.

The lab has been dogged by a string of safety lapses and accountability issues.

Air Force: Use Of Training Device Started Kirtland WildfireThe Associated Press

The Air Force says an investigation has determined that use of a military training devise that simulates the noise and visual flash of ordnance explosions started a March wildfire on a Kirtland Air Force Base range.

Base officials say training procedures have been changed so that ground burst simulators aren't used or are replaced by non-hazardous equipment during periods of high fire hazard.

Also, when ground burst simulators or similar devices are used, Air Force personnel must have fire prevention and containment equipment on hand.

The fire occurred March 4-5 it burned over 100 acres.

2 Plead Guilty To Operating Counterfeit Air Bag BusinessThe Associated Press

Two Albuquerque residents who are siblings and Mexican nationals illegally in the United States have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and trafficking in counterfeit air bags.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says 24-year-old Dina Gonzalez-Marquez and 22-year-old Emilio Gonzalez-Marquez pleaded guilty Wednesday under plea agreements which recommend five-year unsupervised probation terms but which also state that the guilty pleas will result in deportations.

According to the office, the two operated the counterfeit air bag business out of their home while ordering counterfeit air bags and air bag covers from overseas and then listing them for sale on internet sites.

New Mexico Lawmaker Investigated For HarassmentAssociated Press

Allegations that a New Mexico state lawmaker sexually harassed a political lobbyist are under investigation by a subcommittee of four lawmakers.

Legislative Council Service Director Raul Burciaga said that a complaint from lobbyist Laura Bonar against state Rep. Carl Trujillo was referred Tuesday to the investigative subcommittee and outside counsel.

Bonar, an animal welfare activist, says she was sexually harassed on multiple occasions by Trujillo as they worked together on legislation in 2013 and 2014.

Trujillo says the allegations are lies and has cast blame on political opponents. The Santa Fe-area Democrat could not immediately be reached for comment.

The accusations against Trujillo initially were reviewed and referred for further investigation by the House speaker, majority leader, minority leader and an independent attorney.

Navajo President's Daughter On Leave Following DWI ArrestAssociated Press

The chief legal counsel to the Navajo Nation president has been placed on administrative leave, weeks after she was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

Navajo President Russell Begaye made the announcement Tuesday. The legal counsel, Karis Begaye, is his daughter.

Tribal spokesman Mihio Manus wouldn't say whether Karis Begaye is on paid or unpaid leave. But he said it's for an indefinite time while she seeks rehabilitative services.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety arrested Begaye last month after she ran into a semitrailer and a guardrail on Interstate 17 south of Flagstaff. She was booked into jail on suspicion of driving while intoxicated but has not formally been charged.

Begaye has been convicted of driving while intoxicated at least twice in the state of New Mexico.

FBI Says Woman Killed When Man Fires 'Warning Shots'Associated Press

A northern New Mexico man who reportedly told authorities he fired late-night warning shots to scare off a suspected burglar is accused of second-degree murder in the death of a Native American woman.

A criminal complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Albuquerque alleges Douglas D. Smith acted with "reckless disregard for human life" when he shot the woman, a resident of the Santa Clara Pueblo, outside his home in the Española area early Saturday morning.

The woman's name was not released but the complaint said she was a member of the Santa Clara Pueblo and that Smith is not Native American.

The FBI says Española police responded when Smith called 911 to report the shooting but that federal officials took over the case because Smith's residence is within the pueblo's boundaries.

Court records don't list an attorney for Smith who could comment on the allegations.

Suspect In Arizona Fatal Shooting Kills Self In New MexicoAssociated Press

Authorities say a suspect sought in a fatal shooting in Arizona has killed himself in New Mexico.

Police in the Phoenix suburb of Surprise say 44-year-old Michael Lee Peacock was suspected of shooting 23-year-old Erick Prieto outside an apartment complex Tuesday morning.

Prieto later died at a hospital.

Authorities believe the two Surprise men knew each other, but a motive for the shooting still isn't clear.

Police say Peacock fled the scene in a pickup truck after the shooting.

They say Peacock was located by federal authorities on Interstate 25 near Albuquerque around 5:30 p.m.

As law enforcement officers approached Peacock, authorities say he fled on foot and then took his own life a short distance away.

How Peacock killed himself wasn't immediately disclosed by authorities Tuesday night.

Arizona Supreme Court To Review Ruling In Ski Resort DisputeAssociated Press

The Arizona Supreme Court will review an appeals court's ruling in the Hopi Tribe's dispute with artificial snowmaking operations at a Flagstaff-area ski resort.

In February, the state's Court of Appeals backed the tribe's effort to halt the use of treated wastewater for the Arizona Snowbowl's snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks.

At least 13 tribes consider the mountain on public land sacred.

The Hopis sued Flagstaff in 2011 over the city's decision to sell wastewater to the Snowbowl.

Under a 20-year contract, the ski resort pays less than $2 for every 1,000 gallons and the pact allows for 180 million gallons every season.

Flagstaff and the Snowbowl both petitioned the state Supreme Court to review the appeals court's decision.

The high court hasn't set a date for oral arguments.

Authorities Investigate Roadside Shooting Of DonkeyFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

Authorities are investigating the death of a pet donkey that was shot from a roadside in northwest New Mexico.

The Daily Times reports the donkey named Ralph died last month after someone in a vehicle fired two shots at the family pet.

The San Juan County Sheriff's Office says the donkey was in a pasture northeast of Farmington on April 17.

Authorities say a vehicle stopped on the shoulder of County Road 3000 near the residence of the donkey's owners and fired the gunshots.

Detective Michael Farni says the owners did not see the vehicle but they heard its engine following the shooting.

New CEO Takes Reins At UNM Hospital – Albuquerque Journal

The University of New Mexico named a new CEO to lead UNM Hospitals on Tuesday.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Kate Becker is currently president of SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital, which like UNM’s facility is an academic medical center and a Level 1 trauma center.

Becker has a master’s degree in public health and a law degree. She replaces Steve McKernan, who retired last fall from UNM. She is familiar with Albuquerque through visiting her grandparents, who ran a pharmacy in the city.

UNM Hospitals has about 7,000 employees and makes up more than a third of UNM’s budget. Becker starts in July and will face the ongoing challenge of capacity at the hospital.

Plans are underway to design a new facility with 120 beds, although UNM Health Sciences Center Chancellor Paul Roth has also said there may be other, less expensive ways to add more space.

Trump Tie Haunts Lone GOP Candidate For New Mexico Governor - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

Republicans are pinning their hopes for keeping hold of the governor's office in New Mexico on a mild-mannered congressman who helped now-President Donald Trump win his district along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Trump still lost the statewide vote in New Mexico by 8 percentage points.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce — the sole Republican candidate for governor — is now courting a progressive-tilting statewide electorate that never warmed to Trump and has soured on the GOP incumbent who can't run again because of term limits amid a tepid state economy.

Democrats already control much of New Mexico politics.  A switch to a Democratic governor in November would likely shut Republicans out of New Mexico's redistricting decisions in 2021, consolidating the party's control of the Statehouse for a decade to come.

State Has No Equal Pay DataSanta Fe New Mexican

The state of New Mexico has failed to produce data on pay equity in state agencies, despite an executive order directing such data collection signed by former Gov. Bill Richardson more than eight years ago.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the State Personnel Office has not published any analysis on whether women in state government are being paid on par with their male colleagues.

Martha Burk, who led the Task Force on Fair Pay and Equity for Richardson, a Democrat, said the issue has been ignored by the administration of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

The executive order came after a report showed there were gender-based wage disparities, but they were below the national average. However those small amounts add up over time, the report said.

An attorney with the State Personnel Office told the newspaper the office would submit a report by Oct. 1. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment, but Gov. Martinez signed the Fair Pay for Women Act in 2013, which prohibits employers from using gender-based wage discrimination.

The order also requires vendors doing business with the state to submit pay equity reports. Former State Auditor Tim Keller reviewed those records and found a persistent wage gap and under-reporting.