The Range

Penny Ante

U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe is continuing his crusade to dump the penny. Pointing out that the one-cent coin now costs 1.4 cents to mint, Kolbe warns that continuing to use the penny will cost a ridiculous $20 million a year.

"Our currency and coinage policies are quite simply pound wise and penny foolish," Kolbe said in a statement announcing his new plan. "The penny has been a nuisance for years, but now that the cost of a penny exceeds its value, the landscape of the debate has completely changed."

The retiring congressman has introduced the Currency Overhaul for an Industrious Nation Act, which would create a new "cash transaction rounding system" which would round prices to the nearest nickel.

The COIN Act would also eventually replace the paper dollar with a dollar coin and require the Government Accounting Office to study cheaper compositions for coins. May we suggest seashells? They sure are pretty.

Kolbe's legislation would also create quarters commemorating the neglected District of Columbia and U.S. territories that were left out when the U.S. Mint started putting out those funny quarters for each of the 50 states.

Stem Cell Block

President George W. Bush issued his first-ever veto, rejecting legislation that would have allowed federal funding for medical research with new embryonic stem-cell lines.

"The president believes strongly that for the purpose of research, it's inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder," White House spokesman Tony Snow said. "He's one of them."

U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl voted against the bill, which passed the Senate on a 63-37 vote last week and the House of Representatives on an 238-194 vote way back in 2005. A House effort to override the veto failed last week.

Kyl defended his vote in a press release, saying that stem-cell research was being generously funded by states and the private sector.

"I believe the best way forward with respect to taxpayer funds is to adequately support responsible stem-cell research without having to destroy human embryos," Kyl said.

Kyl also noted that he had voted in favor of the little-noticed Fetus Farming Prohibition Act, "which prohibits the solicitation or acceptance of tissue from human fetuses gestated and aborted solely for research purposes," according to Kyl's release. We think we saw the Cylons doing something just like that on Battlestar Galactica last year.

Democrat Jim Pederson, who is seeking to unseat Kyl, wasted little time in attacking both the veto and the incumbent's vote.

"President Bush today joined Jon Kyl to stand in the way of important scientific research that could lead to treatments and cures for painful, debilitating diseases," Pederson press-released. "Hundreds of thousands of stem cells are now slated to be destroyed, instead of being used for scientific research. The president's veto and Jon Kyl's opposition to stem-cell research represent an opportunity lost for millions of Americans."

The Pederson campaign took the opportunity to note that Kyl had received ratings of zero from the Parkinson's Action Network in 2004 and zeros from the National Breast Cancer Coalition in 2003-2004 and 2001-2002.

Zero Chance

House Speaker Denny Hastert of Illinois, who visited Nogales along with Congressman Jim Kolbe as part of a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border, offered the suggestion that there be "zero penetration" of the border before Congress should address a guest-worker program, according to reporter Josh Brodesky of the Arizona Daily Star. Yeah, that'll work about as well as those virginity pledges do.

Meanwhile, The Washington Times broke the news that members of Chris Simcox's Minuteman Civil Defense Corps are "questioning the whereabouts of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars in donations collected in the past 15 months."

Simcox insisted all contributions have been properly handled in a statement on the group's Web site.


Tucson police announced they had arrested three men sought in connection with the shooting death of Quik Mart clerk Christopher Cottle, who was gunned down on Saturday, July 15, after he tried to stop a trio who were stealing beer. Now in custody: Armando Ramirez, 30; Hector Taner Karaca, 17; and Daniel J. Chavez, 20. Still at large as of press time: Manuel Calletano Montano, 27.


Christ, it's hot out there: Both Friday, which topped out at 110 degrees, and Saturday, which topped out at 108 degrees, set new temp records for the day. The Range feels the pain of the 10,000 Tucsonans in midtown who lost power for two hours on Saturday thanks to a technical glitch.

Speaking of smoking hot: The Tucson Sidewinders scored 28 runs on 28 hits in last Sunday's game against the Salt Lake Bees. As Harry Caray would say: Holy cow!

The Sidewinders, who had won 14 of their 17 games as of press time and were 13 games atop the Pacific Coast League's Pacific Conference Southern Division, are back in town for a home stand that continues through Tuesday, Aug. 1. And remember: Thursday is buck-beer night, co-sponsored by your friends at the Tucson Weekly!

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