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KUNR Today: Interior Secretary Haaland launches commission on murdered and missing Indigenous people

A close-up of Deb Haaland standing at a podium with a microphone pointed toward her. She is smiling and looking forward.
Jemal Countess
Getty Images for Green New Deal Network
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks at a podium on Capitol Hill in September 2021.

Read or listen to the news headlines for Friday, May 6, 2022.

US panel to focus on Native American missing, slain cases
By The Associated Press

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland wants to do more than just put a bandage on a crisis that she says has been decades in the making.

Haaland on Thursday announced the members of a commission that will craft recommendations on how the federal government can better tackle unsolved cases in which Native Americans and Alaska Natives have gone missing or have been killed. Haaland blamed the disproportionately high number of such cases on a lack of urgency and coordination.

The commission is expected to hold public hearings and gather testimony over the coming months. Meanwhile, some tribes and states, including New Mexico, have created their own response plans to address the problem.

Western Nevada College to launch new Fire Science Technology program
By Gustavo Sagrero

Starting in the fall, Western Nevada College is planning on launching a new Fire Science Technology program. Students will learn about topics like basic wildland firefighting, hazardous materials chemistry, and fire behavior and combustion.

The school’s goal is to provide an educational resource for current firefighters and prepare entry-level candidates by giving them an associate’s degree at the end of their education. Graduates can then go on to the Capital City Regional Fire Academy, which is a 12-week training program.

The school also said the courses will work in tandem with their paramedics program. The Board of Regents to the Nevada System of Higher Education recently approved the program, which now requires final approval by NSHE.

As a note of disclosure, the Board of Regents to the Nevada System of Higher Education owns the license to this station, and all KUNR employees are NSHE employees.

Interior official highlights investments in drought resilience during New Mexico visit
By Emma Gibson, Mountain West News Bureau

After the passage of major infrastructure funding, the Biden administration is now on tour. The Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau visited New Mexico and highlighted the funds allotted for drought resilience.

The law includes about $8 billion for water resilience programs that can safeguard water supplies and rebuild infrastructure. On the edge of a wasteway project that routes agriculture runoff back to the Rio Grande, Deputy Secretary Beaudreau discussed the impact the law could have nationwide.

“While we’re talking in the context of the infrastructure law and billions of dollars, what this proves is the impact that investment in local communities can make for thousands and thousands of people,” he said.

New Mexico Rep. Melanie Stansbury joined him. She said a couple of water bills will soon be introduced into Congress, including a national water data act. Her office said it would centralize the data and make it public.

'Roe' under threat, California leans in as abortion refuge
By The Associated Press

California is preparing for a world without Roe v. Wade. Gov. Gavin Newsom has vowed to make the state a sanctuary for women seeking abortions in states where the procedure might be outlawed.

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte is renovating and building new facilities to increase its capacity. Access Reproductive Justice is a nonprofit that helps women with the logistics of abortions. The group has raised $25,000 since Monday. That's when a draft ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court was published indicating the court would end federal abortion protections. The group has also seen an influx of people asking to volunteer.

Bill allowing preteen vaccines without parental OK advances
By The Associated Press

A California measure that would allow children age 12 and up to be vaccinated without their parents' consent, including against the coronavirus, has cleared its first legislative committee.

If the proposal that advanced Thursday becomes law, California would allow the youngest people of any state to be vaccinated without parental permission. Minors age 12 to 17 in California currently cannot be vaccinated without permission from their parents or guardians, unless the vaccine is to prevent a sexually transmitted disease.

Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener's proposal is perhaps the most contentious measure remaining from lawmakers' once-ambitious agenda, after several other proposals lost momentum as the winter pandemic wave eased.

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