GOP Candidate's Controversial Remarks Draw Fire, NASA Technology To Be Launched From NM Spaceport

Sep 7, 2018

GOP Candidate Draws Fire Over Remarks On Opponent's Heritage- Associated Press

A Republican congressional candidate in New Mexico is drawing criticism for questioning her Democratic opponent's Native American heritage over her immigration views and because she wasn't "raised on a reservation."

Janice Arnold-Jones told Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt on Thursday she didn't doubt Deb Haaland's "lineage is Laguna" but said Haaland "is a military brat, just like I am."

Arnold-Jones says Haaland's mentioning of her Native American heritage "evokes images that she was raised on a reservation."

Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo, has said she moved around as a child because of her parents' military service.

Democrats, including Haaland, immediately denounced the Republican's remarks as bigoted.

Haaland and Arnold-Jones are seeking to represent central New Mexico's open U.S. House seat.

NASA Technology To Be Launched From New Mexico Spaceport- Associated Press

NASA technology designed to protect spacecraft from heat and pressure when entering a planet's atmosphere will be launched from Spaceport America in New Mexico as part of testing.

NASA said Friday the system will be aboard a suborbital rocket being launched Sept. 12 by UP Aerospace. Once the rocket reaches space, the umbrella-like shield will deploy.

The shield is made from woven carbon fabric and supported by semi-rigid ribs. NASA says it would allow exploratory spacecraft larger than the Curiosity rover to successfully land on other planets within the solar system.

The shield was designed and built by NASA's Ames Research Center in California.

As part of the launch, NASA also will be testing other technology for launch vehicles and measuring the internal environment of suborbital vehicles that are carrying experiments.

Feds Say US Tribal Items Sold At Paris Auction Houses Declines- Associated Press

A federal report shows the number of Native American cultural items listed for bidding declined significantly at five Paris auction houses after widespread uproar two years ago halted the sale of an Acoma Pueblo ceremonial shield — an item tribal leaders say was illegally taken from their New Mexico community.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office's report this week analyzed sales and listings at auction houses that tribal and federal officials identified as primary markets for the items.

The federal report found that 1,400 Native American cultural items were listed for sale at the auction houses between 2012 and 2017, with about half selling for a total of $7 million.

Figures also show that after a peak in listings in May 2016, the number of items listed and sold dropped significantly in the following year.

Regulators Say $2B Power Line Project Lacks Location Details- Associated Press

Developers behind a proposed $2 billion high-voltage power line that would funnel wind and solar energy from rural spots in New Mexico and Arizona to larger markets will have to make another run at getting needed approvals from regulators in New Mexico.

The Public Regulation Commission voted unanimously to reject the proposed location of the lines, finding that the application by SunZia lacked information needed to determine the project's environmental impact on communities it would span.

A hearing examiner had determined earlier that developers didn't adequately research the zoning and land-use requirements of the property surrounding the proposed route.

The SunZia transmission project has been years in the making and not without controversy. Disputes initially rose over its proximity to a U.S. military installation, and environmentalists and ranchers have raised concerns about wildlife and rangeland.

Man Pleads Guilty In Robbery Of Albuquerque Bank- Associated Press

A man has pleaded guilty to a federal bank robbery charge in a heist four months ago at an Albuquerque bank.

Jesus Manuel Almanza of Albuquerque will face up to 20 years in prison for his guilty plea on Thursday.

Authorities say Almanza walked into a Wells Fargo branch in late April, jumped over the counter of the teller station, demanded money and fled in a car.

The car was traced back to a home where the 23-year-old Almanza was located and eventually arrested.

Investigators say a search of the home led to the discovery of the clothes used in the robbery and a large sum of cash.

Sentencing for Almanza hasn't yet been scheduled.

Regulators Agree To Fast Track Solar Projects For FacebookAssociated Press

Utility regulators have cleared the way for expedited consideration of a proposal by New Mexico's largest electric provider to build two new solar plants to help power Facebook's planned data center in central New Mexico.

The Public Regulation Commission voted in favor of a speedier process during a meeting Wednesday. As a result, the time will be limited for protests from any intervening parties to 20 days.

That means the commission could issue a final order by Sept. 26 if no hearing is required.

Officials say the rapid review is needed to ensure the solar facilities are up and running in time to meet Facebook's energy needs for its data center, which is going up in phases in Los Lunas.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico is proposing solar plants near Moriarty and Rio Rancho.

Santa Fe Fiesta Turns Page On Tribute To ConquistadorsAssociated Press

Civic leaders in New Mexico's capital city are turning the page on a grinding dispute over the annual re-enactment of a 17th century conquistador reclaiming Santa Fe after a Native American revolt.

The controversial pageant was being replaced Friday by new gestures of reconciliation at Santa Fe's autumn festival that started with Catholic Mass and a performance by Indian Pueblo dancers.

Public statues and tributes to early Spanish conquerors have encountered mounting criticism tied to the brutal treatment of Native American centuries ago by Spanish soldiers and missionaries, as activists draw parallels to the controversy over Confederate monuments.

The Santa Fe Fiesta previously included a depiction of the re-entry of conquistador Don Diego de Vargas into Santa Fe after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Navajo Leaders Say Members Are Listed In Wrong BoundariesSalt Lake Tribune, Associated Press

Navajo Nation leaders say voter rolls list many tribe members in wrong political boundaries in a southeastern Utah county where districts were overturned for being illegally drawn based on race.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports leaders are asking the state to intervene before possible incorrect ballots are issued for the November election.

San Juan County officials dispute that the problem is that large or serious, saying they are working to resolve some issues created because a quarter of residents use post office boxes instead of street addresses.

Leonard Gorman, executive director of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, told state lawmakers Wednesday that about 85 to 95 percent of Navajo voters are not correctly placed on voter rolls with up to 25 percent placed outside of proper precincts.

Alamogordo Superintendent Resigns After High School Gets 'F'Alamogordo Daily News, Associated Press

Alamogordo Superintendent Adrianne Salas has stepped down amid pressure following two schools receiving "F'' grades from New Mexico.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports Salas submitted her resignation on Wednesday to the Alamogordo Public Schools board during a special meeting.

Her resignation came after Alamogordo High School and Oregon Elementary recently received F grades from the state Public Education Department.

MainGate, a nonpartisan nonprofit group in Alamogordo, called "an immediate change at the superintendent position is the best course of action," following the grades.

Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce Executive Director G.B. Oliver also said the grades were "alarming."

The school board said Salas will be on an extended leave until December 1 and has been relieved of all her official duties immediately.

Conservation Group Take Aim At GOP Candidate For GovernorAssociated Press

A political fund for environmental conservation causes in New Mexico plans to devote about $500,000 to highlight financial ties between Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce and the oil and natural gas industries.

Conservation Voters New Mexico Executive Director Demis Foster said Wednesday that television and online ads take aim at Pearce for accepting campaign donations from the oil and gas sector while siding with the industry in Congress.

A television ad paid for by the conservation group's Verde Voters Fund says Pearce voted to make it easier to privatize public land.

Pearce campaign spokesman Kevin Sheridan called that accusation false and ridiculous. He notes that Verde Voters Fund is supported by contributions from billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

State Settles Lawsuit Over Sex Bias With Prison WorkersAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Current and former employees of a state prison have reached a $2.5 million settlement with the state to resolve allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that six female correctional officers filed a civil rights complaint in 2015 describing the state prison in Los Lunas where they worked as a "sexualized, violent environment."

The plaintiffs say male colleagues would expose themselves, shared graphic pictures and videos, made derogatory comments and inappropriately touched them.

According to the lawsuit, the women say supervisors were aware of the situation, but did not take appropriate action.

The state Corrections Department has denied the allegations and said the settlement was reached to avoid a costly legal battle.

Spokesmen for the state didn't respond to requests for comment.

AG Slams University Of New Mexico Over Transparency Concerns - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

New Mexico's attorney general is slamming the state's largest university over "flagrant abuse" of the state's transparency laws.

The Attorney General's Office in a report released Thursday said the University of New Mexico since 2015 has established a pattern and practice of neglecting its responsibility to allow access to public information and access to meaningful documents on public business.

The office said the university consistently violates state open records laws.

The report comes after the university's regents voted for a second time to eliminate men's soccer, men's and women's skiing and women's beach volleyball. Board members had to vote again following complaints that the initial vote violated open meetings laws.

University of New Mexico spokesman Daniel Jiron says the university's legal team was reviewing the report