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Getting the Hook

The season is over for Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson, who requires back surgery to repair a herniated disk. Youch! The 43-year-old Johnson, who returned to the Diamondbacks after blowing his postseason starts for the New York Yankees over the last two years, had a less-than-spectacular 4-3 record this season, with 72 strikeouts in 56.2 innings.

The D'Backs, who won eight in a row before losing to the Atlanta Braves last Sunday, July 29, announced earlier this week that Tucson Sidewinder Donnie Sadler was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for "a drug of abuse." Sadler, 32, who came up through the Boston Red Sox organization, was batting .214 this year for Tucson.

Speaking of the Sidewinders: The Range got out to Tucson Electric Park to see the home team--for now--beat the Round Rock Express 6-1 last Thursday, July 26. The Sidewinders were without a hit until their bats came alive in the seventh inning, when they scored two runs. They scored another four runs in the bottom of the eighth.

We, of course, were out at the ballpark for buck-beer night, co-sponsored by your pals right here at the Tucson Weekly. Last week's added bonus: bread night! The Range left the ballpark with a dozen loaves in the back of the mobile newsroom, which we later redistributed to our interns at Danny's Baboquivari Lounge.


Pentagon Lies

The Pentagon released new documents related to the investigation into the pack of lies officials fed the American public in the wake of Army Ranger Pat Tillman's death at the hands of his own troops in 2004.

Army officials originally said that Tillman, who gave up playing for the Arizona Cardinals to enlist after Sept. 11, died charging at enemy forces, but the truth later emerged that he was shot in the head by his fellow soldiers.

The 2,300 pages of testimony obtained by The Associated Press showed that Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger, who covered up the truth about Tillman's death by friendly fire, just couldn't remember details about what he did in the case. "You've got me really scared about my brain right now," he told investigators at one point. "I'm really having a problem."

Although now retired, Kensinger may yet face a demotion for his role in the Tillman cover-up, according to unnamed AP sources.


Copter Catastrophe

Two TV news helicopters following a police pursuit in Phoenix last week collided in mid-air and crashed into a park.

Craig Smith and Rick Krolak of KNXV Channel 15 and Scott Bowerbank and Jim Cox of KTVK Channel 3 were killed in the collision.

Christopher J. Jones, the man who led police on the chase that the news stations were covering, was booked on charges of aggravated assault, theft and resisting arrest. He may face additional charges as a result of the chopper accident.


Soggy Notes

How about all that rain? Tucson has been battered by monsoon storms, with last weekend's rain flooding washes, demolishing buildings and opening a mammoth sinkhole on River Road near Craycroft Avenue. The storm dumped more than 2.5 inches of rain in several areas throughout Tucson last Saturday, July 28.


Lockup Loot

While the U.S. Senate was setting aside a staggering $30 billion for border security, the House of Representatives voted to provide a more modest but specific $460 million for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, or SCAAP, which provides funding to states to cover the cost of incarcerating foreign nationals. The funding, which has traditionally been zeroed out by the Bush administration, had been cut by $30 million from last year's level in a House budget bill, but Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson pushed to restore the lost funding.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was pleased with the vote but noted that SCAAP reimbursement still falls far below the actual cost of processing and detaining foreign nationals who commit crimes.


Cop-Free Campus

It's nearly time to go back to class--except for the school-resource officers who have been working at Tucson Unified School District high schools. The officers will be reassigned to middle schools, but TUSD Superintendent Roger Pfeuffer says it won't have "a big impact," because the schools already have security officers, albeit without the power to arrest students who act up.

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