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International Balloon Fiesta Ready To Lift Off, Ban May Stop Cutting of Capitol Christmas Tree In NM

Oct 5, 2019

International Balloon Fiesta Ready To Lift Off In New Mexico -Associated Press

The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is poised to kick off with the mass ascension of hundreds of hot air balloons.

The fiesta draws pilots from around the world and from 41 U.S. states. As long as the weather is favorable, they will start inflating and launching in waves early Saturday.

Organizers are expecting tens of thousands of spectators for opening weekend and exponentially more over the course of the nine-day event.

The spectacle has grown over nearly five decades and infuses millions of dollars into the economy each year.

The fiesta is one of the most photographed events in the world, but drones are strictly prohibited. The Federal Aviation Administration has established a temporary flight restriction zone within a 4 nautical-mile radius (7.4 kilometers) around the launch field.

Ban May Stop Cutting of Capitol Christmas Tree In New Mexico -Associated Press

A tree to be displayed outside the U.S. Capitol building over the holidays is supposed to come from a New Mexico forest.

That's if the U.S. Forest Service can get an exception from a tree-cutting ban across all New Mexico national forests and one in Arizona. The agency says it's trying.

The ban came in a 2013 lawsuit filed by WildEarth Guardians that accused the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of failing to track the threatened Mexican spotted owl for more than 20 years.

A federal judge has OK'd personal firewood permits but sidelined other timber management activities.

The Capitol Christmas Tree is scheduled to be cut from Carson National Forest early next month.

WildEarth Guardians says the ban wouldn't prevent that from happening.

2 Isleta Pueblo Members Receive Lost Vietnam War-Era Medals -Associated Press

Two Isleta Pueblo members who served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War have been presented with military medals they earned but never received.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall on Friday pinned the replacement medals to All Pueblo Council of Governors Chairman E. Paul Torres and former Isleta Tribal councilman Diego Lujan during a special ceremony at Isleta Pueblo.

The New Mexico Democrat says he sought the replacements after he learned Torres did not have his discharge papers nor his medals. Udall also found out Lujan never received five of his medals.

Torres served in the U.S. Navy from 1968 to 1972.

Lujan served in the U.S. Air Force from 1969 to 1972.

Both men say they rarely thought about their missing medals until family members asked about them.

States Not Consulted on Nuclear Waste -Associated Press

Western governors say they're disappointed that the U.S. Department of Energy didn't consult their states' nuclear waste experts before releasing a five-year plan for a nuclear waste facility in New Mexico.

The Western Governors' Association in a Sept. 30 letter to the Energy Department said the plan released in August for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant could have benefited with contributions from the states concerning transportation and safety.

The underground repository near Carlsbad, New Mexico, takes in plutonium-contaminated clothing, tools and other material generated at 22 sites across the nation involved in Cold War-era nuclear research and bomb-making.

Western governors also say discussion devoted to a 2014 accident at the facility that shut down shipments is minimal and should contain lessons learned and actions to avoid future radiation releases.

Police Say Las Cruces Man Impersonated US Marshal -Associated Press

A Las Cruces man is facing federal and state charges after he allegedly impersonated a U.S. marshal and fired a gun in the air.

Las Cruces police say 38-year-old Aaron Tyler Stroud confronted three people in a car. He allegedly wore a T-shirt marked "U.S. marshal," pointed a gun at them and got into a brief scuffle with one man. Police say he threatened to shoot the man if he didn't comply with orders and shot one round into the air.

Police say when officers arrived, he identified himself using the actual name of a deputy U.S. marshal who works out of El Paso. Federal prosecutors say he carried a radio and a badge with a six-point star.

A public defender representing Stroud did not respond to a request for comment.

New Mexico Man Contracts Plague, State's 1st Case Since 2017 -Associated Press

New Mexico health officials say an elderly man in Torrance County has contracted the plague.

State officials said Friday the 72-year-old man is the first reported human case of the disease in New Mexico since 2017.

Staff of the New Mexico Department of Health have gone door-to-door in the affected area to warn neighbors and help them reduce the risk.

Health officials say plague is generally transmitted by the bites of infected fleas living among rodents and rabbits. It can also be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals.

Symptoms include a sudden fever, chills, headache and weakness. There may be painful swelling of lymph nodes.

Report Examines Drug-Handling Practices At National Lab -Associated Press

A government report says Los Alamos National Laboratory's procedures for storing and tracking controlled substances used in experiments violated federal rules and might have left drugs unaccounted for.

The report by the U.S. Department of Energy's office of inspector general said the lab mislabeled drug purchases, failed to account for amounts used in experiments and kept substances long after research was complete.

The report doesn't say there was evidence that anything illegal occurred, but it says that a failure to manage inventories properly could have serious consequences.

The lab says a new process for managing controlled substances has been in place for nearly a year.

Department of Energy's office of inspector general says it wasn't recommending any action because the lab recently adopted a new policy for managing controlled substances.

Reboot Of Reality Show On Weight Loss Films In Santa Fe -Associated Press

A revamped version of the long-running reality show "The Biggest Loser" about physical fitness and weight-loss is filming in northern New Mexico.

The New Mexico Film Office announced Friday that work is under way in the Santa Fe area on a 10-episode season of the rebooted franchise, with its debut scheduled on USA Network in 2020.

During more than 15 seasons and 250 episodes, the original show staged cash-prize competitions on weight-loss. Producers say the new iteration emphasizes the overall well-being of contestants and serious lifestyle changes.

Filming under Universal Television Alternative Studios and Endemol Shine North America takes place as the state of New Mexico boosts available tax rebates to video productions for a portion of local spending. Anticipated rebates to "The Biggest Loser" were not immediately available.

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