The Range

Ganging Up

Heads up, Border Patrol! Smugglers and coyotes may have gotten so fed up by beefed-up security measures that they've hired a street gang, Mara Salvatrucha (or MS-13), to start killing agents, according to the San Bernardino County Sun, which was the lucky recipient of a top-secret memo from the Department of Homeland Security.

"Unidentified Mexican alien smugglers are angry about the increased security along the U.S./Mexico border and have agreed that the best way to deal with U.S. Border Patrol agents is to hire a group of contract killers," according to the leaked Dec. 21 memo.

The Associated Press notes that MS-13 has about 30,000 members and is considered to be "one of the most dangerous gangs in the country."

Hey, remember when MS-13 was supposedly targeting the border-watchin' Minutemen? We never heard anything about that again, did we?

In other border news, U.S. Magistrate Bernardo P. Velasco ruled that Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, two activists with humanitarian-aid organization No More Deaths, should stand trial for transporting three ailing illegal immigrants. Sellz and Strauss were arrested in July 2005 while driving the migrants to receive medical aid at Southside Presbyterian Church.

Graft Craft

After years of giveaways to drug companies, defense contractors and the rest of corporate America, the stench of corruption wafting from Congress is finally inescapable. Democrats are gleefully exposing Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth's tight ties with criminalobbyist Jack Abramoff and pointing the media in the direction of a Washington Times article that reports J.D. is one of five lawmakers in the sights of the Justice Department's investigation of Abramoff's corruption and bribery case.

With Tom DeLay now so thoroughly hammered that he's had to permanently give up the idea of returning to the job of majority leader (or perhaps even to Congress), Arizona Congressman John Shadegg has challenged Roy Blunt of Missouri and John Boehner of Ohio for the post.

Congressman Jim Kolbe threw his support behind Shadegg with a statement that reminded the people that the "Republican Party has historically been the party of reform." Yes, we'd say that the K Street Project--that unholy matrimony between the lobbyists and the GOP--certainly reformed the way the Beltway did business.

"Now, more than ever, we need a majority leader in the House of Representatives who will make meaningful changes and restore our reputation for integrity and reform," Kolbe continued. "Congressman Shadegg has demonstrated that someone can be conservative in their beliefs but listen and give all views of the Republican Party an opportunity to be heard and debated--in caucus, in committee and on the House floor."

Elsewhere in D.C., Sen. John McCain visited with CBS's Face the Nation to apologize, sorta, for a missile attack that has Islamists rioting throughout Pakistan. The strike was supposed to take out Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 commander of al-Qaida, but killed 18 people, including several suspected militant extremists.

"All Americans regret the loss of innocent lives," McCain said. "We apologize, but I can't tell you that we wouldn't do the same thing again."

McCain also said the U.S. might have to take military action against Iran if the country continues to pursue nuclear technology.

"There's only one thing that's worse than the United States exercising a military option," McCain said. "That is a nuclear-armed Iran."

Legal Conception

A Phoenix judge rejected the novel legal argument of Candace Dickinson, who said she shouldn't have received a $367 ticket for driving alone in a carpool lane, because she was pregnant, so she technically had a passenger.

Matters of Substance

The struggling University of Arizona men's basketball team played like grandmothers on roofies against Oregon State last Thursday, Jan. 12, unable to score in the first five minutes of the game and losing 75-65. Two days later, on Saturday, Jan. 14, they played like chipmunks on mescaline against Oregon, losing 73-68. The Wildcats have started the season with a 10-6 record.

In other sports news, Olympic skier Bode Miller and Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir got their asses chewed by team officials after making drug and alcohol references during media interviews.

Pomp and Circumstance

A star-spangled salute to state Rep. Jonathan Paton, who graduated from Army Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca. Paton, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve, is now eligible to be called up for active duty and overseas deployment.

"Going through the training was one of the hardest but most rewarding things I've done," Paton says.