Judges Weigh Charges In Compound Case, Nuclear Safety Board Criticizes New Policies

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New Mexico Judges Weigh Dangerousness Of Compound DefendantsAssociated Press

New Mexico judges are scheduled to make crucial decisions about child abuse charges and bail provisions for five defendants arrested at a compound in northern New Mexico where 11 children were found living in filth and the body of a 3-year-old boy was retrieved.

In hearings scheduled for Wednesday, a couple is confronting new charges of child abuse that could carry life sentences in connection with the death of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj.

The body of the severely disabled boy was found this month within a tunnel, and prosecutors accuse father Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, and his partner Jany Leveille of denying the boy proper medical care.

A judge is weighing whether any of the five defendants can be released pending trial. Defendants are seeking the dismissal of neglect charges.

Navajo VP, Ex-President Top Finishers In PrimaryAssociated Press

Voters on the country's largest American Indian reservation have advanced two seasoned politicians vying for the presidency to the general election.

Current Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez and former tribal President Joe Shirley Jr. are the top two finishers in Tuesday's primary election. They will face off in the November general election.

Unofficial results from all precincts show Nez led the field of 18 presidential hopefuls with more than 14,100 votes. Shirley followed with about half the number of votes. Tribal lawmaker Tom Chee came in third.

Both Nez and Shirley say they want to improve the economy on the vast reservation that stretches into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.

Nez has made health and the well-being of Navajos a focus of his campaign. Shirley says he'll rely on teamwork to combat poverty and other issues.

Airport Expansion Eyed For New Mexico's Booming Oil RegionHobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

Officials in southeastern New Mexico's booming oil and gas region want to expand their regional airport.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports Lea County commissioners voted last week to seek a construction contractor to start expansion at the Lea County Regional Airport.

Officials say the current 4,800-square-foot facility contains a security section with no restrooms and an insufficient seating area for passengers.

Commissioners were told that the Federal Aviation Administration and the New Mexico Department of Transportation likely will cover the estimated $4.1 million, 7,800-square-foot expansion.

Other amenities to be provided or upgraded include an improved baggage claim area, the ticketing area, spaces for food vending and room for three rental car agencies.

Longtime Roswell Daily Record Owner Robert Beck, 97, DiesRoswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Robert Beck, the longtime Roswell Daily Record owner and former publisher of the New Mexico newspaper, has died.

The Roswell Daily Record announced that Beck died last week in San Diego. The cause of death was not given. He was 97.

A graduate of Trinity College in Connecticut, Beck began working at the Roswell Daily Record as circulation manager in 1947 after serving as a pilot in World War II. He became publisher of the newspaper in 1955.

Beck would serve as publisher of the Roswell Daily Record for the next 32 years and was active in the community during his tenure, serving on the boards of a number of local institutions, including Eastern New Mexico University.

Nuclear Safety Oversight Board Takes Aim At New DOE PoliciesAssociated Press

An independent safety panel charged with providing oversight of some of the highest risk nuclear facilities operated by the U.S. government is concerned that new policies approved by the U.S. Energy Department could impede transparency and compromise public safety.

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board peppered department officials with questions about their intentions during a public hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

More meetings are planned but department officials rebuffed suggestions by board members and watchdog groups to put the policies on hold.

Board member Joyce Connery said now isn't the time to roll back the board's access to information or its ability to conduct independent reviews as the U.S. nuclear complex grapples with infrastructure and workforce issues along with pressure to ramp up production of key components for the nuclear arsenal.

Key Hispanic New Mexico GOP Lawmaker To RetireAssociated Press

One of New Mexico's longest-serving Hispanic Republican state lawmakers has announced he is dropping his re-election bid and will retire.

Rep. Larry Larrañaga of Albuquerque said Tuesday he was withdrawing his name from this year's ballot after experiencing "new challenges."

A widely respected lawmaker on New Mexico budget issues, Larrañaga was first elected in 1994 as part of the GOP wave that won races across the country in reaction to then-President Bill Clinton.

Larrañaga was known for his focus on water issues and was a key proponent of developing a 40-year water plan for New Mexico.

Larrañaga worked as district engineer for the New Mexico Highway Department, eventually became department secretary from 1982 to 1988.

William 'Bill' Pratt, a Democrat, remains in the New Mexico House District 27 race.

Sen. Rand Paul Backs Libertarian Senate CandidateAssociated Press

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is endorsing Gary Johnson's Libertarian campaign for U.S. Senate in the state of New Mexico.

In a news release Tuesday, Paul shunned the Republican nominee and announced his support for Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico who ran for president as a Libertarian in 2012 and 2016.

Johnson and Paul share an enthusiasm for extremely limited government. Rand calls Johnson a true fiscal conservative and praises his leadership in opposing government overreach.

Johnson backers are pressuring Republican Mick Rich to drop out of the race against incumbent Democrat Sen. Martin Heinrich of Albuquerque.

Rich is a commercial construction contractor and political newcomer. Tuesday is the final day for candidates in New Mexico to withdraw their names from the general election ballot.

Study Finds University Of New Mexico Adds $3B In Economic OutputAssociated Press

Research shows the University of New Mexico is responsible for nearly 25,000 jobs, $3.5 billion in annual employee compensation and another $3 billion in economic output.

A study released Tuesday looked at operations, student expenditures, alumni productivity and technology transfer during the past fiscal year. University officials say the study marked the first of its kind to quantify the economic contributions of the entire university system.

The system is made up of the Albuquerque main campus and  Health  Sciences  Center along with  branch  campuses  in  Taos,  Valencia  County,  Los  Alamos  and  Gallup.

The report was commissioned by STC.UNM, the university's technology-transfer and economic-development organization.

University President Garnett Stokes says learning and discovery missions that are central to universities like UNM are also interconnected to the mission of driving economic and social prosperity.

Governors Of Nevada, New Mexico, Kentucky Travel To JapanAssociated Press

The Republican governors of Nevada, New Mexico and Kentucky and Nebraska's GOP lieutenant governor are wrapping up a brief trip to Tokyo to meet with their Japanese counterparts.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Nebraska Lt. Gov. Mike Foley were participating in the trip ending Tuesday organized by the U.S. National Governor's Association and Japan National Governors' Association.

The delegation met with about half a dozen Japanese governors and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the trip, which lasted just over three days.

The visit included discussions about the role local governments can play in innovation and attracting business from overseas.

New Mexico Jewelry Store Owner Sentenced In Fraud CaseAssociated Press

A New Mexico jewelry store owner has been sentenced to six months in prison and a year of supervised release for selling counterfeit Native American jewelry.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico says Nael Ali was sentenced Tuesday and ordered to pay more than $9,000 in restitution for misrepresenting goods in violation of the Indian Arts and Craft Act.

Ali's conviction followed an earlier guilty plea by jewelry supplier Mohammad Manasra on less severe charges. Manasra was sentenced to two days in jail and a year of supervised release.

The convictions stem from an international investigation that federal authorities say laid bare the breadth and sophistication of distribution networks for fake Indian-style art and crafts.

In October 2015, federal agents raided Indian art galleries in Albuquerque, Gallup, and Calistoga, California, to seize counterfeits and evidence.