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The Range

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On the Line

The ongoing U.S.-Mexico border war escalated last week when two Border Patrol agents got shot in the legs with high-powered rifles. The agents were said to be recovering after the attack, which happened near Nogales last Thursday, June 30. Special agents from the FBI are crawling all over the crime scene.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, gave props to the Arizona Daily Star for being the only outfit interested in an accurate count of how many people are dying in the desert as they attempt to illegally enter the United States.

Frist called for an additional $10 billion a year on border security, including 2,000 new agents, more detention facilities, increased technological resources and more walls along the border.

Frist said immigration reform can come later, "but for now, we need to tighten enforcement: By convincing potential border violators that we will catch them, we can stem the flow of illegal immigrants." Sure, give it a try!

Elsewhere in D.C.: Rep. Tom Tancredo, the Colorado Republican who continues to ignore the GOP's Operation: Hispanic Outreach, went on the attack against the White House, saying the administration had squashed a survey of captured migrants that showed that Bush's guest-worker proposal spurred a surge of illegal immigration. White House spin: We called off the survey early, and certainly not because it wasn't what we wanted to hear.


We Have a Bad Feeling About This

Sandra Day O'Connor, the Lazy B cowgirl who became the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court in 1981, announced her retirement from the bench last Friday, July 1. O'Connor will be teaching litigious Wildcats this fall at the University of Arizona law school.

Although she was the swing votes on decisions regarding abortion, the death penalty and the appointment of President George W. Bush, O'Connor is probably best remembered for a 1985 incident at a formal dinner during which a drunken John Riggins of the Washington Redskins yelled: "Loosen up, Sandy baby!"


Space Madness

UA scientists continue to decipher the photos and other data pouring in the Cassini space probe. The latest, according to UA News Services: New snapshots suggest the possibility of a liquid hydrocarbon lake about the size of Lake Superior in the southern polar region of Titan, the moon of Saturn, according to Dr. Alfred McEwan of the imaging team. Alternative theories: It's a dried-out lake, a sinkhole or a portal to a parallel dimension. Take a gander at the photos and speculate yourself: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm.

In other UA-related space news, scientists fulfilled one of our childhood wishes on the Fourth of July by ramming a comet with a big ol' hunk of metal--just to see what would happen! Now that's what we call fireworks.

Deep Impact's impactor vaporized with a spectacular burst as it smacked into comet Tempel 1 at an estimated 23,000 mph. Scientists are furiously sorting and posting data. Watch the impact yourself on a mini-movie and learn what lies inside a comet at http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html. (And check out Saxon Burns' TQ&A with Jay Melosh in this issue.)

Finally, the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory's Dante S. Lauretta was part of a team that discovered that pristine mineral grains captured on a recent NASA research mission formed in an ancient supernova explosion. Details are in the latest issue of Science, or at the sci/tech department at www.uanews.org.


The Big Bucks

Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Jim Pederson was named the top individual contributor to state political parties in the 2003-2004 election cycle. Pederson gave the Democratic Party $2.25 million over the two years, during which the party spent more than $8.5 million, according to figures assembled by the Center for Public Integrity.

"I certainly don't regret that," says Pederson, who is weighing a run against Republican Sen. Jon Kyl in 2006. "We have a strong two-party system in Arizona now. The Democratic Party is in the best shape it's ever been in."

The Center for Public Integrity reports that Pederson contributed even more--nearly $3.8 million--in 2001-2002, the cycle in which he spent heavily on a get-out-the-vote effort to put Janet Napolitano in the governor's office. Check out the full report, which reveals that transfers of soft money from national party organizations to state parties has plummeted in the wake of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill, at www.publicintegrity.org.

"You're not going to see many more contributions to the Democratic Party from me," Pederson predicts. "They've built up a strong fundraising base, and they really don't need my financial help any more."

The Arizona Republican Party, which spent a little more than $3.8 million in the '03-'04 election cycle, released a statement crowing that "Jim Pederson's checkbook could not buy a Democrat victory."

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