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KUNM News Update
6:41 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Friday News Roundup - Nuke Lab Works On Liquids Scanner For Airport Use

Los Alamos Working To Create National Park- Associated Press

Tucked away in one of northern New Mexico's mountain canyons is a log cabin that was the birthplace of a top-secret mission that forever changed the world.

Pond Cabin is one of the structures scattered in and around the modern day Los Alamos National Laboratory being proposed as sites for a new national park commemorating the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb.

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KUNM News Update
6:40 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Thursday News Roundup: Albuquerque Tech Center Gets Fed Grant

Albuquerque Tech Center Gets Fed Grant - Associated Press

The economic development arm of the University of New Mexico has received a $1.5 million federal grant for creating a new high-tech business district in downtown Albuqueruque.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich Wednesday announced the Commerce Department funding for the Innovate ABQ initiative.

The grant brings funding for the project to $6.5 million, or close to the appraised value for the seven-acre First Baptist Church site that the project hopes to purchase.

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Local News
6:47 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Cavers Find Bat Bones, Blue Clay In New Carlsbad Cavern

The Big Room at Carlsbad Caverns is a popular tourist destination.
Credit WikiMedia Commons

 

Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southeastern New Mexico is considered to be a natural wonder of the world. Recently, cavers surveying the limestone caverns formed over millions of years came across an unexplored chamber. It's the largest discovery at the park in decades.  

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Local News
5:25 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Lawsuit: NM Woman's Genitals Hit With Pepper Spray

Credit Image is in public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

A lawsuit says a New Mexico corrections officer used a "chemical agent" on a woman's genitals after authorities found a plastic baggie protruding from her vagina.

The federal lawsuit filed last week by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico says the Bernalillo County corrections officer sprayed the chemical agents twice on the woman's genitals during a strip search in Nov. 2011.

ACLU officials say the chemical agent was pepper spray and was used to "punish" the woman.

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Local News
5:16 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Hiltons Fund Historic Church Restoration

The Old San Miguel Mission church in Socorro, NM.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The 400-year-old San Miguel Church in Socorro County is getting a $1.1 million grant to complete a restoration and expand services.

The grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, along with $400,000 dollars raised in the community, will be used for a museum, a gift shop and a classroom for at risk youth programs at the historic church, which was founded in 1598.

Conrad Hilton of the famous hotel line was baptized at the San Miguel Mission, and Pastor Andy Pavlak says he got help from some of Hilton’s distant relatives when he applied for the funding.

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Public Health New Mexico
3:41 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

State Auditor: Behavioral Health Audit Report Had Crucial Language Removed

A page from the redacted PCG audit report released earlier this year.

Over the summer, the New Mexico Human Services Department froze Medicaid payments to a dozen mental health providers due to allegations of fraud.

The basis for those allegations: an audit conducted by an out-of-state company called PCG. That audit was never seen by the public or even by those accused of fraud. 

But in October, a heavily redacted version was released, and in it, PCG said it did not uncover what it would consider to be credible allegations of fraud. 

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KUNM News Update
6:39 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Wednesday News Roundup: NM's Infant Mortality Rate On The Rise

NM's Infant Mortality Rate On The Rise - Associated Press

New Mexico health officials are concerned about an increase in the state's infant mortality rate.

The state Department of Health says New Mexico's rate has exceeded the national rate for the first time since 1994. The latest figures show an increase from 5.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 6.9 in 2012.

Health Secretary Retta Ward says the department will monitor the numbers closely to see if the increase signals a trend.

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Local News
11:31 am
Tue November 26, 2013

NM Ski Areas Opening Early Due To Storm's Snowfall

Credit Flickr Creative Commons

New Mexico's ski season is starting early because of the big snowstorm last weekend.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that ski areas planning to open Thanksgiving Day include Ski Santa Fe, Taos Ski Valley and Ski Apache near Ruidoso.

Ski Santa Fe has 15 inches of new snow, adding up to a 27-inch base.

Taos Ski Valley marketing director Adriana Blake says the resort got 26 inches of snow since Friday and she expects a 35-inch base.

Ski Apache reports 10 inches of new snow and has its snow-making machines going.

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Local News
11:21 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Groups Press EPA On Kirtland Fuel Spill Cleanup

Two New Mexico citizen groups are repeating demands for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to conduct an independent review of the Kirtland Air Force Base groundwater contamination.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Albuquerque-based Citizen Action and the environmental group Amigos Bravos sent a letter last week calling on the EPA to conduct its own preliminary assessment.

Dave McCoy of Citizen Action complained that the Air Force and state Environment Department are not pursuing cleanup "in any meaningful way."

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Local News
11:17 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Audio Gives Details Of NM State Police Shooting

Credit Jim Legans, Jr. via Flickr

A dispatch recording reveals that New Mexico State Police never provided a reason for a high-speed pursuit the night a 39-year-old Santa Fe woman was shot and killed by police.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that recently released audio recorded early on Nov. 7 between a Santa Fe police dispatcher and state police dispatcher shows that state police failed to provide a reason before reporting shots were fired.

As a result, Santa Fe police never came for backup.

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Local News
6:30 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Tuesday News Roundup: NM Governor To Seek Money For Water Emergencies

NM Governor To Seek Money For Water Emergencies - Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez will ask the Legislature to create an emergency fund to help communities with critical drinking water supply problems.

The governor proposed Monday that lawmakers allocate $200,000 to allow the administration to immediately respond when local governments face emergencies and potentially are running out of water.

Martinez also wants to be able to replenish the fund automatically in $200,000 installments by issuing an executive order.

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Local News
7:05 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Judge Rules In Support of PED Teacher Eval Plan

Credit Alegri

A state District Court judge has ruled in favor of Gov. Susana Martinez's administration and its implementation of new teacher evaluations. 

Democratic State Senator Howie Morales joined two other lawmakers and the state's teachers unions to try and stop the Public Education Department from moving forward with the new plan. 

Morales, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Governor next year, says the Martinez Administration shouldn't have used a top-down process of adding the new plan without buy-in from lawmakers. 

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Local News
6:41 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Monday News Roundup: NM Prisoner Segregation Under Review

Audit Proposes NM Health Benefits Super Agency- The Associated Press

Legislative auditors are recommending that health care benefits for public employees and educators be administered by a single government agency.

A Legislative Finance Committee audit called last week for merging the self-funded health insurance operations for state and local government workers, public school and higher education employees.

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Local News
11:51 am
Sat November 23, 2013

Watchdog Sues For Sandia Nuke Safety Records

Credit Public domain image.

  A watchdog group has filed a lawsuit seeking the release of nuclear safety records for Sandia National Laboratories.

The suit filed Friday in federal court in Albuquerque alleges the National Nuclear Security Administration has withheld documents and work papers for more than two years about whether nuclear reactors at Sandia have experienced shutdowns, accidents or violated safety regulations.

It also alleges a continuing pattern and practice of wrongful delay by the NNSA to violate the Freedom of Information Act.

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Local News
6:25 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Friday News Roundup: Judge Says State Can Keep Audit Secret

Judge Says State Can Keep Audit Secret - Associated Press

A state district judge in Las Cruces has ruled the state can keep secret the audit that prompted it to freeze payments to substance abuse and mental health providers.

State District Judge Douglas Driggers rejected a request by the Las Cruces Sun-News and New Mexico In Depth to order the Human Services Department to release the audit under state open records laws.

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Local News
9:36 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Refuge Hosts More Than Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill cranes migrate to New Mexico in October, staying until about Valentine's Day
Laura Paskus

In Socorro County this week, the Festival of the Cranes draws thousands of tourists. Sandhill cranes and snow geese draw the big crowds, but the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge hosts more than just migrating birds.

Six sandhill cranes swirl above us, deciding whether or not they’re going to land. We’re standing at a pullout along Highway 1, south of San Antonio, New Mexico.

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Local News
6:43 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Storm Dumps Snow, Leaves 1 Dead In New Mexico, 7 Others Dead Across West

Cold temperatures harken winters arrival.
Credit National Weather Service

UPDATE Mon 6:30a: Snow accumulation with gusty winds are expected today as wintry weather tapers off through tonight.

 

Snow showers crossing into New Mexico will continue through much of the morning. Local accumulations could reach 1-2"

 

North winds will develop over the northeast plains in the wake of the departing storm system this afternoon, with gusts expected to reach 50 miles an hour. 

 

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Local News
5:20 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Common Ground For Cattle Ranchers And Environmentalists? Dissatisfaction With Feds

Crowd waiting for U.S Fish and Wildlife public hearing on Mexican Gray Wolf
Credit Andy Lyman

The US Fish and Wildlife Department held a 3-hour meeting Wednesday night to receive public comment on a controversial new recovery plan for the endangered Mexican Gray Wolf.  The proposed changes have created quite a stir and people logged nearly 100 comments.

It was cold and rainy Wednesday night, but that didn’t stop about 200 hundred people from gathering in Albuquerque to express their widely disparate views on one pesky animal. The topic was the Mexican Gray Wolf.

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Local News
6:32 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Thursday News Roundup: NM Teachers Object To Evaluation System

NM Teachers Object To Evaluation System - Associated Press

Unions representing teachers and other educational employees organized protests Wednesday against a teacher evaluation system by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration that heavily bases ratings on student performance on standardized tests.

National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers encouraged teachers to wear black and participate in rallies across the state.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:38 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Should NM Legislature Tax, Regulate E-Cigarettes?

Various e-cigarettes
Credit Wikipedia

E-cigarettes – those pen-like nicotine dispensers people inhale without the smoke – are posing challenges for governments trying to reduce the number of people who take up smoking.  Today a Legislative panel that oversees spending of a tobacco-settlement fund discussed whether to regulate e-cigarettes in the same way as the traditional kind.

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Local News
2:19 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Exploring Flamenco: One Dancer's Journey

The artist dancing in Spain earlier this year.
Credit Courtesy photo

Flamenco was born when wandering Roma gypsies blended dance and musical traditions with those of southern Spain. Award winning dancer and Albuquerque native Alice Blumenfeld recently spent a year in Spain delving into the tradition. 

 

"I don't know, maybe I was born dancing ," she said. "I started taking dance classes when I was 3, starting with ballet."

 

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KUNM News Update
6:52 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Wednesday News Roundup: Feds To Hold Public Hearing On Wolf Proposals

Feds To Hold Public Hearing On Wolf Proposals - Associated Press

Future management of the federal government's troubled effort to return Mexican gray wolves to the Southwest will be the focus of a public hearing Wednesday in Albuquerque.

Environmentalists, landowners and others are expected to pack the meeting. They'll be commenting on a pair of proposals that will determine how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service moves forward with the program.

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Local News
8:59 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Albuquerque Abortion Ban Rejected In Record Special Election

An opponent of the Albuquerque abortion measure attends a rally in August, 2013.
Credit Carrie Jung

The measure to ban abortions at 20 weeks has been defeated by Albuquerque voters. 

With 48 of 50 vote centers reporting, 54 percent of voters rejected the ordinance. Forty-five percent of voters supported it. 

Turnout in the city's special election surpassed turnout in the recent mayoral race and early voting played a large part. Nearly 44,000 voters cast their ballots early while over 33,000 voters went to the polls on election day. 

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Public Health New Mexico
3:00 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Vaccinations Survey Reveals Personal Reasons For Exemptions

Credit Univ. of Melbourne - public domain

Most parents asking for an exemption to mandatory vaccinations in New Mexico schools were anglo, according to a survey done by the state Department of Health. 

The survey reveals details behind the exemptions. 

Most New Mexico parents cited religious beliefs in order to get an exemption for a child, believing it’s better to develop immunity to diseases naturally by contracting the illness. 

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Public Health New Mexico
2:29 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Smoking Rates During Pregnancy Highest Among Native Americans

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general, as well as those inhaling “second hand” smoke.
Credit Debora Cartagena, CDC

Native Americans have the highest rates of smoking before, during and after pregnancy than any other ethnic group in the nation. That’s according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control.

According to the CDC, 55 percent of Native American women smoked before pregnancy. During pregnancy, that rate dropped significantly to 26 percent. However, that rate was still the highest of any racial or ethnic group in the nation.

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KUNM News Update
6:45 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Tuesday News Roundup: Albuquerque Votes On Late-Term Abortion Ban

Albuquerque Votes On Late-Term Abortion Ban - Associated Press

Voters in New Mexico's largest city will decide Tuesday whether to ban late-term abortions.

The municipal referendum is believed to be the first of its kind in the country and is being watched as a possible new front for activism in the abortion wars that have typically been waged at the federal and state levels.

The outcome is anyone's guess following an emotional and graphic campaign that brought in national groups and hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising.

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Public Affairs
6:17 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Teacher Evals And The Common Core: Do They Work?

Credit Max Klingensmith

  KUNM Call In Show Thu. 11/21 8a: KUNM marks "American Education Week" (November 18-22, 2013) with a program devoted to the current issues surrounding the implementation of the NMTeach system by the NM Public Education Department (PED).  

Join us as we examine newly implemented initiatives related to teacher evaluations and testing requirements under the Common Core Standards Initiative.  

Are the changes beneficial for our students and teachers?  We'll look forward to hearing from you!  

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Public Health New Mexico
4:40 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Judge To Hear Behavioral Health Audit Lawsuits This Week

Public Consulting Group's audit was heavily redacted before release
Credit audit screen shot

The audit that led the Martinez administration to freeze Medicaid funding for more than a dozen behavioral health non-profits in New Mexico is at the center of a hearing Tuesday in Santa Fe.  

The Foundation for Open Government sued state government after state officials released a heavily redacted audit to media.  FOG attorneys claim the report is “too important to the citizens of New Mexico to be kept form public view.”  The open government group asked in its lawsuit for for the audit to be released in its entirety.

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Sports
10:23 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Do Indians Make Better Cowboys Than Cowboys?

Dakota Louis prepares for his championship ride.
Credit Tristan Ahtone

The Indian National Finals Rodeo (INFR) just wrapped up in Las Vegas. During the event, spectators enjoyed the usual rodeo competitions: barrel racing, steer wrestling and bull riding. But what's different about this event is it’s an Indian-only rodeo, which means in addition to the bulls, cows and Indian cowboys, the whole family is there.

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Local News
8:07 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Critics Of Proposed Abortion Ban Say Health-Of-Mother Clause Could Be Slippery Slope

Voters in Albuquerque will soon decide the fate of a controversial ballot measure that would limit abortion rights. If approved, the measure would prohibit Albuquerque doctors from terminating a pregnancy, in any way, past the 20 week gestational mark. It does include an exception to the rule though- for when a woman's life is in immediate danger. But some argue the exception doesn't go far enough, and that it could end up dangerously tying the hands of doctors treating women with complicated pregnancies. 

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