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If You Don't Take Down That Mexican Flag, We'll Kill This Sheep

Our brief bi-national nightmare is over and the flags of both the United States and Mexico are proudly flying above the grounds of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The museum's board of trustees voted last week to take down both flags because angry callers had threatened to harm the animals at the zoo if the foreign flag continued to fly.

After a couple of days of community outrage and debate (as well as astonishment as to how petty the debate over illegal immigration had become), the trustees reversed themselves and announced both flags would go back up.

Sometimes, it really does seem like we're living with the Simpsons in Springfield, doesn't it?

In other border news: At the request of the Sierra Club and the Defenders of Wildlife, Federal Judge Ellen S. Huvelle halted work on a border fence in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. The green groups had argued that the federal government had failed to do a serious environmental assessment and hadn't bothered to get any public comment.

An aide to Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff told Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services that Chertoff might just use his authority to ignore the courts and resume work on the fence.


Big Reveal

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords raised another quarter-million bucks or so in the third quarter of 2007. The freshman Democrat reported a total of $1,126,838.82 still in the bank as of Sept. 30 in a filing with the Federal Elections Commission. The campaign noted that of the 676 contributors who kicked in during the quarter, three out of four gave $100 or less and nearly 90 percent came from Arizonans.

Arizona Senate President Tim Bee, the Republican who is ostensibly exploring a challenge to Giffords next year, reported that he'd raised $134,620 in the month of September. The filings led to the obligatory sniping between Democrats and Republicans over whether Bee should resign from his Senate job if he's running for Congress. We don't have a dog in the fight over what it costs to explore a congressional candidacy, but we would point out that we did come across an article in a University of Houston-Victoria student paper that informed us that Columbus' first exploration to the New World cost about $1,765,734 in modern dollars.

Bee also made headlines with his sharp political move to oppose Augusta Resource Corp.'s plan to open a copper mine in the scenic Santa Ritas. Bee said he was introducing legislation to bind the Canadian mining company in more red tape before they could begin land-raping the mountain range.

Bee was joined in the effort by his District 30 seatmates, Reps. Jonathan Paton and Marian McClure. Paton said he was looking out for his constituents' property rights, since the mine will be pumping groundwater from the same area that supports Green Valley. "I don't want this company to suck the aquifer dry," Paton said.


Robocop Activated

Don't go running a red light at the three-way intersection of Grant, Kolb and Tanque Verde roads! The Tucson Police Department announced this week that the accident-prone intersection would be the first site for a photo-radar camera designed to nab speeders and red-light runners. Future intersections include Valencia Road and Nogales Highway; Wilmot Road and 22nd Street; and Oracle and River roads.

TPD also operates a photo-radar van that travels the city. Keep up with its location at blog.tucsonweekly.com!


What does déjà vu mean?

Federal Judge Raner Collins once again ordered the Arizona Legislature to sufficiently fund programs for English-language learners. This time, he said lawmakers had until March 4, 2008. And he really means it!

GOP lawmakers said they would again appeal Collins' order.

In other legal briefs: The federal trial of former Marana Mayor Bobby Sutton and his pal, Rick Westfall, on charges of extorting Waste Management ended in mistrial when jurors couldn't come to a unanimous decision. The men face the possibility of a new trial.


Dusted!

The Powers That Be, no doubt acting on advice from the lawyers at Wolfram and Hart, have declared that the Loft Cinema--and theatres across the nation--can no longer host Buffy the Vampire Slayer sing-alongs. We want the fire back!

The Loft has a whole bunch of other stuff on tap, including this weekend's screening of Itty Bitty Titty Committee as part of the Lesbian Looks film series and Donkey Kong-a-thon, in which audience members will be invited to play Donkey Kong on the big screen to celebrate the run of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a documentary about the competition to be the greatest Donkey Kong player ever. Also on the horizon: The 48-hour Shootout, in which local filmmakers have two days to script, film and edit a short film. The Range is among the judges, so start your efforts to bribe us now!


No Joy in Mudville

The Arizona Diamondbacks' dream season came to an end when they got swept in four games by Colorado Rockies, who are the National League champs and now headed for the World Series. Go Rockies! Or Boston, if the Sox are still in it.

Elsewhere on the sports beat: The Arizona Wildcats awoke hope in their fans' hearts by keeping ahead of USC until the fourth quarter, when the Trojans came roaring back to win the game, 20-13. The Wildcats have fallen to a 2-5 record.

Next up: The mighty Stanford Cardinal! Kickoff: 4 p.m. at Arizona Stadium.

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