KUNM News Update
7:27 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Thursday News Roundup: Woman Suing Former New Mexico Parole Officer

Woman Suing Former New Mexico Parole Officer - The Associated Press

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico has filed a lawsuit against the state Corrections Department and a former probation officer accused of sexually assaulting a woman.

Gordon Chavez was sentenced this week to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty last September to a civil rights violation.

The ACLU's suit filed on behalf of a parolee who alleges that Chavez violated her constitutional rights.

It also claims the New Mexico Corrections Department was negligent for failing to provide adequate information and resources for probationers to report parole officer misconduct.

Corrections officials didn't directly respond to the lawsuit Thursday, saying misconduct won't be tolerated within their ranks.

Chavez was accused of groping the woman and asking her for naked photos of herself in November 2012.

DOE: No Health Risks For Exposed Nuclear Waste Dump Workers - The Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Energy says further testing shows employees who were exposed to radiation during a leak at the nation's only underground nuclear waste dump aren't likely to experience any health effects.

The agency and the contractor that operates the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad made the announcement Wednesday.

Initial testing indicated potential low-level exposure for 13 workers. Testing done on samples taken from the workers came back negative for plutonium and americium, the two radioactive isotopes detected in the preliminary tests.

Officials say the samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for validation.

Testing is also underway on other employees who were at the repository after the radiation release.

DOE officials also say monitoring around the site has turned up no significant contamination.

Feds To Update Public On Accident At Nuclear Waste Dump - The Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Energy is planning a town hall to release more information on its efforts to recover from a radiation leak at the nation's only underground nuclear waste dump.

Residents from throughout the Carlsbad area are expected to attend Thursday's meeting.

Questions about what caused the leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the extent of the contamination and the future of the federal government's national nuclear cleanup efforts have been swirling for weeks.

WIPP stopped taking shipments in early February when a truck hauling salt through the underground mine caught fire.

Nine days later, sensors alerted to a release of radiation. At least 13 workers were exposed, but officials have said there's no public health threat.

Watchdog groups have questioned whether officials are holding back information.

Governor Martinez: Tone Down Political Rhetoric - The Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is calling on political opponents to tone down harsh rhetoric and asking that critics of President Barack Obama respect his office despite political differences.

The Republican rising star and nation's only Latina governor made the remarks Wednesday during a conference call with reporters on GOP efforts to recruit more women and minority candidates.

Her comments come after the president of a prominent Latino advocacy group called Obama the "deporter in chief."

Janet Murguia, head of the National Council of La Raza, made that remark Tuesday during a speech denouncing the administration's deportation of nearly 2 million immigrants.

Martinez also said her own party needs to watch its tone and rhetoric when talking to minority voters.

NM Police Chief Kassetas: Curriculum To Be Released - The Associated Press

State Police Chief Pete Kassetas says the Department of Public Safety soon will release new state police training material critics say gives officers more leeway to use deadly force.

Kassetas told The Associated Press on Wednesday drafts of the material will be released next week. But he said a small portion will be redacted since it deals with sensitive tactical training and could put officers in danger if it is made public.

The draft of the new curriculum still needs approval from the Law Enforcement Academy Board.

American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico announced Tuesday it had filed an open records request to examine proposed changes to the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy curriculum. Academy director Jack Jones told the Santa Fe New Mexican last month that he'd rather burn the training materials than release them.

TV Series 'Manhattan' To Begin Production In NM - The Associated Press

A new television series set against the backdrop of the U.S. government's effort to develop the world's first atomic bomb will begin production in New Mexico later this month.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced the filming of the drama "Manhattan" at a news conference Wednesday. She says she's excited that the series will highlight New Mexico's history and its picturesque landscapes.

Martinez says the choice of the producers to work in New Mexico demonstrates that the state remains competitive in attracting movies and TV projects.

"Manhattan" will follow a group of scientists and their families as they attempt to navigate a world of secrets and lies. It's set to premiere on WGN America in July.

The drama is expected to employ about 200 local crew members and thousands of resident actors and background talent over the course of 13 episodes.

National Parks Visitors Spent $81M In New Mexico - The Associated Press

A new federal report says tourism at national parks in New Mexico generated about $81 million in visitor spending that benefited the state's economy.

The National Park Service's regional office in Denver said there were about 1.5 million visitors in 2012 to the 13 national parks in New Mexico, which range from Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Chaco Culture National Historic Park to White Sands National Monument.

The report said spending by visitors supported about 1,100 jobs in the state, including at restaurants, convenience stores and motels.

Economists for the U.S. Geological Survey prepared the report for the Park Service.

Park Service officials said there were 283 million visitors to national parks across the country and they spent nearly $15 million in communities within 60 miles of a park.

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