US Nuclear Agency Sets Standards For Los Alamos Lab Contract – The Associated Press
The U.S. agency responsible for overseeing the nation's nuclear weapons cache has released more details on the qualifications that will be required of the next manager of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The birthplace of the atomic bomb and still one of the nation's premier nuclear research facilities, Los Alamos has struggled in recent years with a string of safety lapses involving the handling of plutonium and radioactive waste.
The lab's current multibillion-dollar management contract expires in 2018.
The National Nuclear Security Administration released its draft request for proposals Thursday. It calls for the contractor to foster a "security conscious culture," something watchdog groups have said has been missing.
The documents also are clear the mission at Los Alamos will still revolve around bolstering national security and deterring the international proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Man In Custody After Shooting Officer In New Mexico Standoff – The Associated Press
A man who shot and wounded a police officer in New Mexico during a standoff with SWAT officers is in custody, authorities said.
Albuquerque police said the man fired several rounds at officers who were responding to a domestic dispute Wednesday night, striking one.
The man, identified as 38-year-old Maximilano Villegas, had barricaded himself inside the Albuquerque home, prompting authorities to call in a SWAT team.
SWAT officers took Villegas into custody before dawn Thursday after an hours-long standoff.
Officer Daren DeAguero says SWAT officers launched gas canisters into the home before Villegas surrendered. He says no officers fired any shots.
Police say the wounded officer was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and is in good condition.
Villegas was uninjured. He's facing numerous charges, including child abuse and aggravated battery on a police officer.
New Mexico Considers Rules For Dark-Money Groups In Politics – Associated Press
New Mexico election regulators are taking the pulse of public opinion on rules that would to force nonprofit advocacy organizations that attempt to influence voting to report more information about financial backers.
The proposal from the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office takes aim at so-called dark money groups that can spend unlimited amounts to influence elections and ballot measures when acting independently.
A hearing is scheduled Thursday to collect public comments. Affected advocacy groups would have to provide the name and address of each person who made contributions of more than $200 to fund independent political expenditures.
The conservative-backed group Concerned Veterans for America says the proposal intrudes on the right to anonymous political speech.
Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is defending the additional political reporting requirements.
Oil And Gas Company To Close Office, Cut 40 New Mexico Jobs – The Associated Press & The Daily Times
An oil and gas company says 40 jobs will be cut when it closes its Farmington office later this year.
The Daily Times reports BP America Inc. announced Wednesday that it is closing the office to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of its operation in the San Juan Basin in northern New Mexico.
Some Farmington employees will have the option to relocate to Durango, Colorado. The company's statement does not provide a specific timeline for the closure.
The move comes as the company is planning to open a new headquarters in Denver by 2018.
According the company's statement, two smaller field offices in San Juan County will stay open.
Los Alamos Museum Hosts Multimedia Manhattan Project Exhibit – Associated Press
The Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos is slated to host a new multimedia exhibit on the Manhattan Project.
The interactive exhibit, Manhattan on the Mesa: Manhattan Project Properties at Los Alamos, opens Saturday and tells the story of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists working on the world's first atomic bomb.
New Mexico Highlands University students developed the multimedia exhibit that features 3-D models, videos, virtual reality, and graphic panels.
The interactive team also created a scavenger hunt that uses technology to decode images using colored filters.
During the World War II-era Manhattan Project, scientists in the then-secret town of Los Alamos worked to develop an atomic bomb later dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
New Mexico Rally Eyed For Iraqi Refugee Amid Detention Order - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press
Protesters say they will demonstrate outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Albuquerque in support for an Iraqi refugee is facing deportation.
Lawyers for Kadhim Albumohammed say the 64-year-old has been ordered Thursday to attend an immigration hearing where he is expected to be detained.
Supporters say Albumohammed helped train U.S. soldiers going to Iraq and will face death if he's deported
The U.S. government said 1,400 Iraqis are under deportation orders nationwide. Some have been under orders for years because they committed crimes in the U.S.
A federal judge Tuesday halted the deportation of those Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution, while courts review the orders to remove them from the U.S.
Albumohammed has two misdemeanor domestic violence convictions in California.
EDITOR'S NOTE: KUNM updated this post to reflect the correct spelling of the name Albumohammed in this Associated Press story.
SWAT Team Called After Man Shoots Officer In New Mexico – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press
Authorities say a SWAT team was called to a New Mexico home after a man shot and wounded a police officer before barricading himself inside Wednesday night.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the man fired off several rounds at officers who were responding to a domestic dispute, striking one.
An Albuquerque Police Department spokesman said the wounded officer was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and is in good condition.
Officers shot gas canisters into the house and the suspect eventually surrendered. Officer Daren DeAguero says the gunman's identity was not immediately known.
He says no officer fired any shots during the standoff.
Drug Overdose Deaths Increase Slightly In New Mexico – Associated Press
New Mexico health officials say drug overdose deaths increased to 497 in 2016 from 493 the previous year in a state on the front lines of the nation's prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.
The state Department of Health announced Wednesday that the overdose death rate remained unchanged during 2016 at 24.8 deaths per 1,000 residents, considering slight population growth. The rate of unintentional fatal drug overdoses not linked to suicides has increased.
Drug deaths involving all opioids, including prescription pain medication, increased slightly, as did deaths specifically involving heroin.
State Epidemiologist Michael Landen says the plateau in the overdose death rate is unsatisfactory but runs counter to a worsening national trend.
State health officials hope that decreases in opioid prescriptions in early 2017 will limit addiction and overdose deaths.
New Mexico Dept Of Indian Affairs Cabinet Secretary Resigns – Associated Press
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says Department of Indian Affairs Cabinet Secretary Kelly Zunie will be stepping down to pursue other opportunities.
Effective this Friday, Deputy Secretary Suzette Shije will serve as acting cabinet secretary.
Martinez appointed Zunie as cabinet secretary in November 2014.
Zunie was the first woman to lead the department that works with tribes, nations and pueblos throughout the state.
In a statement Wednesday, Martinez says Zunie's leadership helped strengthen schools, improve healthcare and create more economic opportunities for Native American families in New Mexico and her skills and experience will be missed.
Review Finds Gaps In Pay Equity Among New Mexico Vendors – Associated Press
A review by state auditors indicates vendors doing business with the state of New Mexico have room to improve when it comes to pay equity and gender representation.
State Auditor Tim Keller and others gathered Wednesday in Albuquerque to release the findings of a wage equity study.
Officials say the study marks the first in-depth review of wage reports that vendors must to submit to the state when bidding for contracts. The requirement stems from a 2009 executive order.
According to the report, the largest pay gap of 26 percent was reported in the job category of officers and managers.
As for representation, women made up only 3 percent of those working as skilled manual workers or craft workers.
Auditors also say underreporting among vendors needs to be addressed.
New Mexico Professors Using $2.8M Grant To Study Hurricanes – Associated Press
Two New Mexico professors will be studying how hurricanes are formed under a $2.8 million grant.
A New Mexico Tech news release says that the physics researchers have used the funds from the National Science Foundation to create the Climate and Water Center to oversee their atmospheric field project.
With an aircraft from the foundation, Dr. Zeljka (zel-KUH') Fuchs and David Raymond plan to get close to hurricane breeding grounds in the tropical East Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The hope is to improve weather predictions around the world.
Vice President of Research Dr. Van Romero says the center will also study New Mexico weather and advise farmers on when to plant, when to water and when to harvest to maximize their productivity.
Former Paramedic Who Stole Debit Card Wants Reduced Sentence – Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press
A former Santa Fe paramedic has requested a reduced sentence after receiving five years of probation for charges of stealing a dead man's debit card while on the job and using it to fund an $11,000 shopping spree.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports a judge will consider 32-year-old Michael John Harcharik's request next week.
Harcharik pleaded no contest in December to three counts of violating the Remote Financial Service Unit Act and one count of identity theft for stealing the debit card of 76-year-old Allan Pearson.
Harcharik was one of the responders who arrived at the scene after a caretaker found Pearson dead in his home in March 2016.
Harcharik is accused of using the debit card for two weeks.