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THURS: NM horse Practical Move out of Kentucky Derby with high temperature, + More

Kentucky Derby entrant Practical Move works out at Churchill Downs Thursday, May 4, 2023, in Louisville, Ky. Churchill Downs announced Thursday that the horse won't run the race due to an elevated temperature. The 149th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 6.
Charlie Riedel
Kentucky Derby entrant Practical Move works out at Churchill Downs Thursday, May 4, 2023, in Louisville, Ky. Churchill Downs announced Thursday that the horse won't run the race due to an elevated temperature. The 149th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 6.

NM horse Practical Move out of Kentucky Derby with high temperature - Associated Press

Practical Move won't run in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday because of an elevated temperature.

The scratch was announced Thursday by Churchill Downs.

Practical Move, the Santa Anita Derby winner, galloped in the morning and practiced standing in the starting gate.

Trainer Tim Yakteen told The Associated Press via text message that Practical Move's temperature began to rise around 11 a.m.

The colt was the early co-fourth choice at 10-1 odds.

The scratch moves Cyclone Mischief into the 20-horse field. He finished third in the Florida Derby and was second in the Fountain of Youth. He has two wins in seven career starts for trainer Dale Romans.

Yakteen still has Reincarnate in the Derby. He took over that colt's training from Bob Baffert, who is serving a two-year ban by Churchill Downs Inc. for a failed postrace doping test by Medina Spirit, the 2021 winner who was later disqualified.

Right this sway for senior dance classes - By Megan Gleason, Source New Mexico

Following the pull of the music, New Mexico seniors can line up at the National Hispanic Cultural Center for free dance classes this month and next.

This is part of the multidisciplinary arts series, Siempre Creativo. Albuquerque’s National Hispanic Cultural Center will be hosting free dance classes, art workshops, genealogy classes and literary events through fall.

New Mexico folk dance is up first.

Local instructor Lucy Salazar will be leading the class on Thursday afternoons in May, before Carlota Silva steps up in June to teach salsa and tango every Wednesday until the last class on June 28.

Noël Merriam is the artistic director at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. She said the series gives seniors an entry point into different art experiences.

It’s also a way to keep up with physical and mental health needs, she said.

“We’re really providing something that’s specifically catering to the needs of seniors, keeping them physically, mentally active while giving them opportunities for socialization with each other,” Merriam said.

This is something particularly prevalent after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it was dangerous to gather, especially for those more at-risk to the virus like seniors. Merriam said loneliness was an issue even before the pandemic, and COVID only intensified it.

Siempre Creativo is a good social outlet for seniors, she said, and they can express themselves creatively at the same time.

“We really wanted to find ways for senior citizens to come and not only experience the arts, but have opportunities to socialize with each other in this setting that’s really specific for them,” she said.

COVID is still around, and people who are older or immunocompromised are at a higher risk of contracting the virus and getting a severe case. However, Merriam pointed out that these are small gatherings with only the senior community.

She said as a state organization, the National Hispanic Cultural Center follows state guidelines, which don’t require masks to be worn. “However, we encourage everybody to do what makes them feel safe,” she said.

A $15,000 grant from AARP, a nonprofit focused on the needs of people over 50 years old, is funding the series.

NMSU player to AP: 'I can't put my trust in people' - By Eddie Pells Ap National Writer

New Mexico State fans couldn't wait to see if William Benjamin Jr. — the player known as "Deuce" — could take the Aggies back to March Madness, and maybe even to the Sweet 16 the way his dad did back in the day.

But the best high school player in the state, and the most celebrated recruit in years at the college where his dad was once a star, never got on the court for the Aggies. Today, he says a violence-filled year at his dream school has left him angry, distrustful and isolated.

Benjamin and former teammate Shak Odunewu spoke with The Associated Press on Wednesday about their time at New Mexico State, which led them to file a lawsuit alleging they were ganged up on and sexually assaulted by their teammates.

Odunewu, who says he was assaulted himself, also says coaches did nothing when he offered them an eyewitness account of Benjamin being assaulted by three players.

"I used to have respect for people," Benjamin told the AP in an interview that came a few hours after an emotional news conference held on the edge of campus to discuss the lawsuit. "I've lost all that now. Pretty much just a lot of anger. I can't put my trust in people, and I've just come to despise people, really."

Odunewu recalled seeing Benjamin being attacked shortly before a game last year. He went to an assistant coach to ask him to address it.

"I'm coming back to the locker room and all I see is one of my teammates getting sexually assaulted," Odunewu said. "Coach was standing over there, so I told him, like, 'Yo, can you tell them to stop?' He just jokingly laughed it off and was like, 'What do you want me to do?' And I just left him alone, because that just really blew my mind."

Odunewu said his Muslim faith made him hesitant to come forward with his case.

"Even though they did something unforgiveable, they're still human beings with goals and aspirations and dreams," he said. "I didn't want to come out and mess up their futures. But it just got to the point where I just couldn't bear any more."

Not until some three months after Odunewu was laughed at by the coach did Benjamin, with prodding from his father, go to campus police with details from another episode in which he said he was ganged up on and assaulted. In between, the relationship grew strained between the son and his father, former NMSU star William Benjamin, who is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

"I was smoking a lot, just trying to deal with the pain and start forgetting," the younger Benjamin said. "Trying to find an escape route. It got to the point where I didn't even want to live with my pops," who remains a well-known figure in the community as coach of the Las Cruces High hoops team.

The police report led to the school chancellor canceling the season and firing coach Greg Heiar for what were then termed as "hazing" allegations.

Before that, the season was going on, mostly business as usual, despite a fatal shooting by an Aggies player who was acting in self-defense when he confronted a University of New Mexico student with whom he had been in a fight in Las Cruces about a month earlier.

The shooting came during an Aggies' road trip to Albuquerque. The player has not been charged with a crime.

"Let's not lose sight: New Mexico State has (that shooting) on the resume," Benjamin's dad said in the earlier news conference. "As a parent, I was never even called about that, just to reassure me that my son's gonna be OK."

The shooting and the assault allegations led to multiple investigations, which have been augmented since the lawsuit was filed. In addition to the state attorney general looking at several criminal and civil aspects of the assaults, the state's department of education has demanded New Mexico State review the entire athletic program.

That would presumably include a review of the five-year contract extension athletic director Mario Moccia signed on April 7, the final day of chancellor Dan Arvizu's tenure.

Arvizu himself has been heavily scrutinized for his leadership during the basketball crisis. The faculty senate will vote later this week on releasing a letter, a copy of which was obtained by AP, calling the extension "both astonishing and deeply disheartening."

State regulators also want a review of a specific interaction between Benjamin and the new coach, Jason Hooten. Benjamin says Hooten told him, in so many words, that he would be better off not playing for the Aggies anymore. Benjamin's father and the lawyers feel the entire situation was handled inappropriately.

"I don't think you're supposed to hit the reset button and lump in victims with everyone you're getting rid of," William Benjamin said. "Deuce was going to be an Aggie if he was good enough."

New Mexico State spokesman Justin Bannister released a statement saying the school "continues to regard this matter as extremely important."

"The kind of behavior described in those allegations has no place on our campus," Bannister said.

Both Benjamin and Odunewu are unsure of what they'll do next. They both figure basketball will be part of that plan, in part because it offers something of an escape from the realities of where that sport left them after their troubling stays at New Mexico State. They've been taking classes online and Wednesday is as close to campus as they've been in months.

"I have days where I don't feel like talking to anybody," Benjamin said. "And days where I'm mad at myself. I'm just a real isolated person now. I feel like the only way I'll get better is if I'm playing somewhere and just being where I'm wanted. I haven't been in the right mind space in I don't know how long. I'm not happy."

Senators back solar tariffs, oppose prairie bird safeguards - By Matthew Daly Associated Press

The Senate approved a measure Wednesday that would reinstate tariffs on solar panel imports from several Southeast Asian countries after President Joe Biden paused them in a bid to boost solar installations in the U.S.

Lawmakers also approved a separate plan to undo federal protections for the lesser prairie chicken, a rare grouse that's found in parts of the Midwest and Southwest, including one of the country's most prolific oil and gas fields.

The two measures are part of efforts by newly empowered Republicans to rebuke the Democratic president and block some of his administration's initiatives, particularly on the environment. Republicans control the House and have strong sway in the closely divided Senate, where California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein remains out for health reasons and conservatives such as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., often side with the GOP.

Congress voted earlier this year to block a clean water rule imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and a separate Labor Department measure that allows retirement plan managers to consider the effects of climate change in their investment plans. Biden vetoed both legislative measures.

The solar tariffs measure was approved, 56-41, and now goes to the White House, where Biden has vowed to veto it. Nine Democrats, including Manchin, supported the measure, while Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was the only Republican who opposed it.

The measure to undo the bird protections was approved 50-48 and now goes to the Republican-controlled House, where there is strong support for the plan. Manchin was the only Democrat to back the repeal of protections for the threatened bird.

The Senate action follows a House vote last week to reinstate fees on solar panels imported from Asia. Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns about what many call unfair competition from China.

Some U.S. manufacturers contend that China has essentially moved operations to four Southeast Asian countries — Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia — to skirt strict anti-dumping rules that limit imports from China.

Biden paused the tariffs last year amid complaints from the solar industry that the threat of up to $1 billion in retroactive tariffs and higher fees had led to delays or cancellations of hundreds of solar projects across the United States. Solar installations are a key part of Biden's agenda to fight climate change and achieve 100% clean electricity by 2035.

The White House said Biden's action was "necessary to satisfy the demand for reliable and clean energy" while providing "certainty for jobs and investments in the solar supply chain and the solar installation market."

A Commerce Department inquiry last year found likely trade violations involving Chinese products and recommended steep penalties. Biden halted tariffs for two years before the Commerce investigation was completed. The White House has said Biden will not extend the tariff suspension when it expires in June 2024.

The U.S. industry argues that solar panel imports are crucial as solar installations ramp up to meet increased demand for renewable energy. Less than 30% of solar panels and cells installed in the U.S. are produced here, although that number is increasing as U.S. manufacturers take advantage of tax credits included in the landmark climate law adopted last year.

But Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said tariffs were needed to hold China accountable while protecting U.S. jobs and workers.

"It's disgusting that Biden's actions would shield Chinese solar companies — many of which are using child and slave labor — and allow them to circumvent U.S. trade laws,'' Scott said in a statement. "We need to be taking every step possible to hold Communist China and these companies accountable for breaking U.S. law.''

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., sponsored a separate measure repealing federal protections for a rare prairie bird that's found in parts of the Midwest and Southwest, including one of the country's most prolific oil and gas fields.

The lesser prairie chicken's range covers a portion of the oil-rich Permian Basin along the New Mexico-Texas state line and extends into parts of Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas. The habitat of the bird, a type of grouse, has diminished across about 90% of its historical range, officials said.

The crow-size, terrestrial birds are known for spring courtship rituals that include flamboyant dances by the males as they make a cacophony of clucking, cackling and booming sounds. They were once thought to number in the millions, but now hover around 30,000, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Environmentalists have long sought stronger federal protections for the bird, which they consider severely at risk due to oil and gas development, livestock grazing and farming, along with roads and power lines.

Marshall and other Republicans say greater protections aren't needed and that the government instead should rely on voluntary conservation efforts already in place.

"Farmers, ranchers, and others in Kansas and the region have been instrumental in the recovery of the species to this point, while the climate activists demanding (federal protections under the Endangered Species Act) have no understanding of the threat it poses to Kansas's economy, especially the energy and ag industries,'' Marshall said in a statement.

Lew Carpenter, director of conservation partnerships with the National Wildlife Federation, said voluntary efforts are not enough.

"We hope partisan politics will not put a halt to federal efforts to recover one of our region's iconic birds. And recovery means recovery of the habitat, too,'' said Carpenter, who also serves as vice president of the North American Grouse Partnership, a Colorado-based conservation group.

The League of Conservation Voters said the Senate vote "sets a disastrous precedent" that could put the prairie bird and other endangered species "at risk of disappearing forever.''

Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., said reinstating solar tariffs would jeopardize 30,000 jobs nationwide, including thousands in Nevada, which has the nation's most solar jobs per capita.

"Enacting retroactive tariffs on imported solar panels and cells will absolutely kill the American solar industry, and it will kill any chance we have to meet our climate goals, and it will kill the current American solar jobs," Rosen said.

New Mexico delegates renew push for broader Chaco protection - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are again pushing to make permanent a stop on oil and gas development outside the boundaries of Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

The Democrats reintroduced legislation Tuesday that would formalize a 10-mile (16-kilometer) buffer around the park that would span more than 490 square miles (1,269 square kilometers) of federal land.

It's the latest attempt to protect what environmentalists and Native American tribes consider the greater Chaco region, an expansive stretch of northwestern New Mexico that includes locations that are culturally significant to New Mexico pueblos and other tribes.

A moratorium on new leasing and mineral development on federal land remains in effect as the U.S. Interior Department considers a 20-year withdrawal that would prohibit drilling and other activities across

U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández said visiting the national park and the area that surrounds it provides a better understand of "who we are and where we came from."

"This sacred area educates, inspires and compels us to reflect on the importance of both our shared history and the communities we love today," she said in a statement.

Pueblos in New Mexico have been working on an extensive ethnographic study of the region in hopes of better informing federal land managers of the cultural resources that dot the landscape. While the work is still under way, tribal leaders are hopeful that the federal government — particularly the Interior Department — is moving toward planning that incorporates traditional knowledge.

Mark Mitchell, chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors and former governor of Tesuque Pueblo, said the Chaco area represents an ancestral footprint and the foundation of core values that pueblo communities still strive to uphold today.

The legislation is a means to safeguard Indigenous histories, Mitchell and other pueblo governors said in a statement.

"When development damages this interconnected landscape, the harm can never be undone," said J. Michael Chavarria, governor of Santa Clara Pueblo.

The Navajo Nation also completed its own study last year and has been advocating for a smaller area to be set aside given the economic impacts a withdrawal would have on the tribe and individual Navajo landowners whose allotments would be landlocked as a result.

Advocates point to a federal assessment done last year that found less than a dozen Navajo allottee owners would be highly impacted, but a Navajo Nation Council committee made up of all 24 tribal lawmakers in April adopted a resolution rejecting the proposed buffer and opposing the federal legislation.

Transgender woman's US cycling win within rules, UCI says - By Dave Skretta Ap Sports Writer

The victory for the first openly transgender woman to win an official cycling event should stand after she adhered to the updated policy the organization put in place last year, the global governing body for cycling said.

Austin Killips rode to victory in the fifth stage of the Tour of the Gila on Sunday, one of the few remaining marquee stage races in the United States. That gave her the overall victory by 21 seconds and earned her the polka dot jersey as the race's best climber.

But the victory by the 27-year-old American, who began racing in 2019, was met almost immediately by backlash from cycling fans on social media and some former cyclists.

Last year, the Union Cycliste Internationale changed its rules to stipulate that athletes must have serum testosterone levels of 2.5 nanomoles per liter or less for at least 24 months before they are allowed to compete in women's events. That was an increase from past rules, which required levels below 5 nanomoles for 12 months prior to racing.

"The UCI rules are based on the latest scientific knowledge and have been applied in a consistent manner, and continues to follow the evolution of scientific findings," the UCI said in a statement, adding that the governing body "may change its rules as scientific knowledge evolves."

Former Olympic cyclist Inga Thompson posted on Twitter after Killips' victory that the UCI was "effectively killing off women's cycling" with its transgender policy.

Other sports governing bodies like World Athletics, which oversees track and field, and World Aquatics, which oversees swimming, prohibit transgender women from competing in women's international events.

The Tour of the Gila, which takes place in New Mexico and is among the lowest levels of UCI events, said in a statement was bound by the governing body's rules and upheld Killips' victory.

"Tour of the Gila recognizes the passionate debate regarding rider eligibility and classifications of riders set by UCI and USA Cycling and encourages UCI and USA Cycling to host an open discussion on the manner," the race said in a statement.

Killips, who rides for the Amy D Foundation in memory of American cyclist Amy Dombroski, said in a statement posted to social media that she had received an outpouring of support from those within and outside the cycling community.

"After a week of nonsense on the internet I'm especially thankful to everyone in the peloton and sport who continue to affirm that Twitter is not real," Killips posted on Instagram on Monday. "I love my peers and competitors and am grateful for every opportunity I get to learn and grow as a person and athlete on course together."

Crash closes section of freeway from Arizona to New Mexico - Associated Press

A fiery semi-tractor trailer crash early Wednesday damaged an overpass pillar in southeastern Arizona and closed a section of Interstate 10 from Willcox to the New Mexico state line, authorities said.

Arizona Department of Transportation officials said the crash resulted in the death of the big rig's driver.

They said the semi-truck ran off the right side of the roadway, struck a guardrail and then collided with a pillar at the State Route 191 overpass west of Willcox. One pillar buckled and the truck caught fire.

Westbound lanes of I-10 were closed on the New Mexico side of the state line, about 60 miles (96.56 kilometers) from the crash site.

ADOT officials said temporary bridge repairs might take up to two days before the lanes could reopen and crews planned to work around the clock.

The Cochise County Sheriff's Office and ADOT were advising commuters to avoid the crash area and take an alternate route that included traveling southwest from New Mexico toward the border, then looping back to Benson through Bisbee and Tombstone.

2 children die in Clovis house fire; cause still unknown - Associated Press

Two children have died in a house fire, authorities in Clovis said.

The blaze was first reported shortly after 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Clovis police spokesperson Capt. Robbie Telles said.

Responding officers found flames coming from the bottom floor of the home. Telles said they tried to enter once they learned two children were inside. There was too much fire and smoke, he said. Officers couldn't make it past the front door.

Clovis firefighters then arrived and put out the fire within minutes.

They found the two children, but they were pronounced dead.

Investigators have not determine the cause of the fire. Nor have they said whether anyone else was in the house during the fire.

The children's names were not released.

Anyone who may have information about the incident is urged to contact the Clovis Police Department.