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Daily Audio Newscast - May 31, 2024

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News from around the nation.

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Trump sentencing hearing set for July 11; Rural New Mexico struggles to prevent, treat drug overdoses; Denver turns to e-bike vouchers to help get cars and pollution off roads; Alabama group works to increase college access with summer support.


The Public News Service Dela Newscast, May the 31st, 2024.

I'm Mike Clifford.

Donald J. Trump stands convicted today of falsifying records to cover up a sex scandal that threatened to derail his 2016 presidential campaign.

That for the New York Times.

They report Trump was convicted on all 34 counts of falsifying business records by a jury of 12 New Yorkers who deliberated over two days.

And on the heels of Trump's felony convictions are Mike Mullen reports a civic engagement organizer in Wisconsin says the court process that unfolded provides relief to those who worry about institutional norms holding during turbulent times.

The case drew new attention to concerns that Trump and his supporters would try to undermine the legal process as he seeks to reclaim the White House this year.

Bob Mullen, a campaign leader with grassroots organizing Western Wisconsin, says because the case reached a conclusion, it's a sign the legal system still works.

I really do think just completing this trial in a professional manner under almost circus conditions, I think that is a little bit of a triumph.

Mullen hopes the democratic process will equally hold strong as Trump is expected to use the verdict as a rallying cry when he campaigns this summer.

Former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the trial was a political vendetta against Trump and predicts the outcome will be overturned on appeal.

I'm Mike Mullen.

Meantime more than a thousand New Mexicans die from drug overdoses each year.

And while there's been a slight drop in overdoses from opioids nationwide, it's mostly offset by those from cocaine and other stimulants.

James Swissante with the Santa Fe Recovery Center says the opioid crisis is evolving, sometimes described as waves.

Now in its fourth wave, he says the nearly 4 percent decrease reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is good news, but doesn't reflect what he's seeing on the ground.

He notes it's common that multiple drugs are involved in overdose deaths.

Increasingly, we are seeing individuals overdose on substances other than opioids where their substance has been adulterated with an opioid like fentanyl.

When the U.S. opioid crisis was at its peak, New Mexico was sixth among the 50 states for overdoses, about 50 individuals per 100,000 people.

If preliminary CDC data showing opioid deaths decreased in 2023 is confirmed, it would be the first annual decrease in drug overdose deaths since 2018.

Swissante says any success is good news and offers hope to suffering individuals and families.

About 30 percent of New Mexico residents live in rural counties, which Swissante says are medically underserved, with fewer treatment centers as well as providers prescribing life-saving medications.

I'm Roz Brown.

This is Public News Service.

The first time Denver offered rebates to purchase e-bikes as an alternative to driving, three years ago, they were hoping for a good response and it worked.

All of them were gone in less than 10 minutes.

Details on this,, Solutions Journalism Network, Colorado News Connection collaboration.

Denver city officials set out to fight climate change and settled on incentives to help commuters buy electric-powered bicycles at a considerable discount.

Mike Salisbury, a transportation planner for the city's Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency, says the program has spurred a building boom of new bike lanes.

Over the last five, six years, we've added about 137 miles of new high-comfort bike lanes in the city.

Dropping 8,000 e-bikes on the road, they'd be much less effective as a vehicle replacement if we didn't have that kind of co-developed bike infrastructure.

The vouchers are saving some 170,000 miles in car trips per week and around 3,300 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, according to the city.

Mark Richardson reporting.

Advocates for higher education in Alabama are mobilizing to ensure students have the support they need for federal student aid applications this summer.

Delays in the FAFSA's release have left many college-bound students in limbo about their financial aid eligibility.

Chandra Scott, executive director of the non-profit Alabama Possible, says only about 42 percent of high school seniors applied for the FAFSA this year, down sharply from 2023.

It still gets going in the right direction, but there's a lot of students who are still left behind when that's really a 23 percent decline compared to last year.

So there's still a lot of work to be done.

Scott explains that issues like the FAFSA's delayed rollout, technical glitches and slower college responses contributed to the challenges.

Some parents even opted out of completing the FAFSA to avoid delaying their children's graduation.

For Public News Service, I'm Shantia Hudson.

Finally, our Kathleen Shannon lets us know Wyoming is one of several states currently updating its plan to address regional haze.

More than two decades ago, the Environmental Protection Agency created the Regional Haze Rule to improve air quality in designated areas, including national parks, by reducing haze, or the cocktailed air pollution that limits visibility.

Poor air quality has reduced average visibility in the West by up to 100 miles, according to the EPA, and the effects of that pollution can be far from its sources.

Shannon Anderson, staff attorney for the Powder River Basin Resource Council, says Wyoming's coal plants are big polluters.

A lot of these coal plants operate uncontrolled for pollution that impacts public health, in addition to impacting national parks.

This is Mike Clifford for Public News Service, member and listener supported.

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