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National Hispanic Cultural Center gets leader after months

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A fine arts appraiser and consultant from Mexico City has been named the new executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico. The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs announced this week that Josefa Gonzalez Mariscal has accepted the job to lead the center after more than a year of uncertainty. Gonzalez Mariscal replaces the popular former executive director, Rebecca Avitia, who was asked to resign by incoming Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Avitia was credited with turning around the long-struggling center. Gonzalez Mariscal recently curated the collection for the soon-to-be-inaugurated Mexico City offices of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis. She has been a cultural attaché for the Consulate General of Mexico in Houston.


Santa Fe Indian Market gets first woman director

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The organizers of the annual Santa Fe Indian Market have selected a new executive director, marking the first time in the history of the Southwestern Association of Indian Arts that a Native American woman will lead the organization. The association announced the appointment of Kim Peone on Thursday. She was among four finalists chosen from more than 70 applicants. A member of the Colville Confederated Tribes of Washington, Peone lives in Santa Fe. The Santa Fe Indian Market began in 1922. It is described as the world’s biggest and most prestigious Indian art event. This year’s event was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.


New Mexico governor defends lockdown

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said New Mexico is not yet at a point where it can relax social distancing measures and reopen the economy in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement of a three-phased approach for states to restore normal activity. Small business owners in New Mexico are pleading to ease some coronavirus restrictions as federal statistics showed another spike in unemployment. According to figures Thursday from the U.S. Department of Labor, 19,494 people in New Mexico applied for unemployment benefits last week compared to a revised number of 26,132 the week before. Both are among the highest weekly unemployment claims in state history.


New Mexico diocese to let small number of people attend Mass

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A Roman Catholic diocese in New Mexico says it will reopen churches and allow a small number of people to attend public celebrations of Mass in what could be the first move to alter a diocese-declared ban on public services in the U.S. Diocese spokesman Christopher Velasquez said Wednesday that priests were encouraged to hold public Mass at the Las Cruces Diocese while having parishioners abide by social distancing restrictions ordered by the governor.  That means five or less people in attendance who must stay 6 feet apart, The Catholic News Agency reports the diocese is the first in the nation to modify a declared diocesan ban on public Masses.


New Mexico horse owners push for lifting live racing ban

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s horse racetracks have been idle for weeks now because of a string of public health orders issued in response to the coronavirus outbreak. While the grandstands and casinos are empty, some stables are still operational as groomers and others take care of the horses. A group of New Mexico horse owners on Thursday asked state racing regulators to consider options for restarting live racing, saying it could be done with the right protocols in place to protect the horses, jockeys and the personnel needed to run races. Such a move would need the approval of the governor. The state Racing Commission would have to adopt rules for reopening.


Attorney general: Retirement community didn’t follow orders

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is investigating an Albuquerque retirement community where dozens of residents and employees have become infected with the coronavirus. Balderas said in a letter sent Thursday to La Vida Llena officials that preliminary findings indicate the company failed to follow public health orders, didn’t establish a means of communicating with residents and discouraged personnel from wearing personal protective equipment. La Vida Llena officials say they’ve taken action over the past month to follow the directives and orders issued by state and federal agencies. New Mexico has about 1,600 cases and nearly four dozen deaths due to the virus. 


Study: Warming makes US West megadrought worst in modern age

KENSINGTON, Maryland (AP) — A new study finds that much of the western United States is baking in what scientists call an emerging megadrought. Thursday’s study in the journal Science blames almost half the problem on man-made global warming, which scientists say is only getting worse. Multi-decade deep droughts happen every couple of hundred years. But the current one is one of the most severe since the year 800. Some scientists say this drought, which started in 2000, may not have lasted long enough yet to qualify as a megadrought.


Torres Small has huge cash advantage in key US House race

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small is maintaining a huge fundraising advantage over three Republican opponents for a critical seat in southern New Mexico. Federal campaign finance records released Thursday show she raised nearly $760,000 during the first three months of 2020 and had $2.9 million in cash on hand. She has more than three times the amount of money in her campaign coffers as her Republican opponents combined. Oil executive Claire Chase reported raising $319,842 and had $263,899 in cash on hand. Former state lawmaker Yvette Herrell’s campaign says she raised $122,601, with $377,755 in cash on hand. Las Cruces businessman Chris Mathys reported raising $3,810, with $200,075 in cash on hand.

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