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State and Local News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Senate has confirmed Lynn Gallagher as the head of the state's public health agency. The unanimous vote came during Wednesday's floor session. Gallagher has held the top spot at the state Health Department since March 2016 when she was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez following the death of then-Secretary Retta Ward. Gallagher's resume included recent stints as deputy health secretary and general counsel for the Long-Term Services Department, after an early career in business and finance in New York and Florida.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Former U.S. Congresswoman and mass shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords is stepping into a tense debate about whether to require background checks on most private gun sales in New Mexico. Giffords and her national gun-safety advocacy group Americans for Responsible Solutions on Wednesday threw their weight behind efforts to build a broader support in New Mexico for bills designed to keep guns out of the hands of convicted criminals, perpetrators of domestic violence and the mentally ill.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) --The teenager accused of shooting and killing an Albuquerque homeowner during a night of mobbing has been ordered to serve 25 years in prison. A judge sentenced 18-year-old Jeremiah King for the 2015 murder of Steven Gerecke during a court hearing Wednesday. Many of Gerecke's family and friends were in the courtroom. King had reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in December in which he admitted to first-degree murder and several other charges.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Several Albuquerque groups are concerned about immigration arrests targeting people leaving scheduled court hearings. The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/2m8qR0r ) it's not clear if this is an escalation of ICE policy or is coming to light amid scrutiny of President Donald Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration. Chief Judge Nan Nash of the 2nd Judicial District says she isn't aware of such actions in her 14 years at the court. Civil rights groups, advocates against domestic violence, attorneys and others want the courts to intervene.

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials say they have a plan for improving a problem-plagued veterans housing program. Tribal President Russell Begaye's office says the Navajo Nation Veterans Administration submitted a corrective action plan in response to critical audit findings. The findings included poor accountability for building materials, selection of ineligible veterans for homes, poor construction management and uninhabitable homes. Begaye's office says the veterans housing program is revising its policies and procedures to implement the corrective action plan.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison for assaulting a woman two years ago in a Santa Fe home. Patrick Yazzie-Tso was sentenced Tuesday for his earlier guilty plea on federal assault charges. Authorities say the 28-year-old from Santa Fe assaulted the woman in December 2015 by punching her in the face, hitting her over the head with a large painting canvas, choking her and threatening to kill her.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The Las Cruces City Council has passed a resolution opposing President Donald Trump's plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports (http://bit.ly/2m7LCJM ) that the City Council on Tuesday voted 6-1 in favor of the resolution opposing a wall along Dona Ana County's southern border with Mexico. Mayor Pro Tem Greg Smith says a wall would harm the area's economy by hurting its relationship with Mexico. City Councilor Ceil Levatino voted against the proposal, saying nations have the right to regulate immigration.

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A Navajo energy company is in talks with the Arizona Public Service Co. to acquire a stake in the Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington. The Daily Times reports (http://bit.ly/2lG2xSE ) that Navajo Transitional Energy Co. is negotiating with the Arizona utility company to acquire a 7 percent interest in the power plant. NTEC is an enterprise owned by the Navajo tribe. It owns the Navajo Mine, which is the sole supplier of coal to the power plant. APS acquired the 7 percent stake through an affiliate, 4C Acquisition LLC, a subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp.

The day Donald Trump took office, six members of the presidential advisory commission for Asian American Pacific Islanders stepped down. Last week, another 10 resigned.

Republican members of Congress aren't exactly getting a warm welcome in their home districts during this week's recess.

A South African court has ruled that the country's bid to withdraw from the International Criminal Court is "unconstitutional and invalid," in a stark rebuke to the government of President Jacob Zuma.

Dozens of not-for-profit organizations have formed in the past decade to promote free or low-cost heart screenings for teens. The groups often claim such tests save lives by finding abnormalities that might pose a risk of sudden cardiac death.

Early Wednesday morning, a space capsule carrying 5,500 pounds of cargo approached the International Space Station.

This year, the Paris museum that looks like a jumble of giant, colored pipes with an escalator in a clear plastic tube zigzagging up its side turns 40.

Nowadays, that museum — the Pompidou Center — has a secure place in the heart of Paris and in Parisians' hearts. But it wasn't always the case.

Filmmaker Seijun Suzuki, whose blend of pop-art, noir crime and peculiar cool is credited with inspiring directors from John Woo and Quentin Tarantino to Jim Jarmusch, has died. These days, Suzuki's Branded to Kill is widely seen as a masterpiece; when he made the absurdist thriller in 1967, he was fired from Nikkatsu studios.

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