The Range

Woman of the House

Democrat Gabrielle Giffords was sworn into Congress last week as part of the first Democratic takeover of Congress since 1994 (even if control of the Senate does ride on a man who may or may not be in a coma). Derided by half of her critics as an air-headed liberal extremist and the other half as a cunning sellout GOP moderate masquerading as a Democrat, Giffords defeated Republican Randy Graf by more than 12 percentage points in the November election.

The Democrats started pushing their agenda right away, promising to work five--or at least four--days a week, limit the influence of lobbyists, protect the country from evil-doers, invest in alternative energy, create jobs, provide more health care and prevent the privatization of Social Security.

The third woman to represent Arizona in Congress, Giffords succeeds Republican Jim Kolbe, who retired after 22 years of representing Southern Arizona. Kolbe has kept a low profile since the November election, surfacing just long enough to do a few interviews with the daily press in which he blamed GOP losses on an emphasis on social issues such as opposition to abortion, stem-cell research and gay rights.

Terror Town

Thanks to our proximity to the border and abundance of golf courses and excellent Mexican food, Tucson was added to a list of cities that the federal government considers likely to come under a terrorist attack, according to The Associated Press, which came across the list through undisclosed means.

The addition to the Department of Homeland Security's Urban Area Security Initiative makes Tucson eligible for additional federal funds, which can be used to help protect Rio Nuevo projects.

The Old Pueblo and three other cities--El Paso, Texas, Norfolk, Va., and Providence, R.I.--replace four other hotbeds of terrorist activity: Toledo, Ohio; Baton Rouge; La., Louisville, Ky.; and Omaha, Neb.

North by Northwest

The Range traveled all the way to Seattle to see the Arizona men's basketball team battle the Washington Huskies, but we couldn't score tickets, so we had to watch the game at our dad's condo. The Cats struggled throughout the game on Thursday, Jan. 4, but a late surge pushed them to a 96-87 victory.

We considered making the five-hour drive across the state to Spokane for Saturday's game against Washington State, but we elected to remain in Seattle instead. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the game on TV anywhere, because the city was alive with Seahawks fever (and could you believe the end of that game?), but it was just as well that we didn't make the effort, because the Cats fell in overtime to Washington State, 77-73.

How was the rest of our trip to Seattle? Super, thanks for asking! Except for when the odd little troll working the door at a crappy dive called the Nite Owl refused to let our 52-year-old brother in because he wasn't carrying any ID. Guess those youthful good looks run in the family.

In other sports news: Randy Johnson, who proved to be a lousy postseason investment for the New York Yankees, is headed back to Arizona next season. Why the Diamondbacks want him back remains a mystery to us, but as a Yankees fan, The Range is glad to see him leaving New York. (The only thing worse than watching Randy Johnson beat the Yankees in 2001? Watching him blow playoff games for them over the last two years.)

Worst. Fanmail. Ever.

The Range returned from our winter holiday to find a plain white envelope sitting on our desk. When we opened it up, we discovered it contained a page from the Weekly's recent Get Out of Town! edition featuring our picks for exile: real-estate broker Bill Arnold, who stands accused of creeping around former state Sen. Toni Hellon's house with a camera; the Augusta Mining Corp., which wants to tear up the Santa Ritas; and Yoram Levy, who sold Augusta the land in the Santa Ritas for an outrageous sum of money. Our correspondent had scrawled something along the lines of: "I'm reading this in the smallest room in my house and using it appropriately." And, as we unfolded it, we discovered he or she was telling the truth, because the clipping was smeared with what appeared to be--according to our extremely cursory review--actual shit.

We disposed of the fan mail as quickly as we could and, after washing our hands a couple million times over the course of the rest of the day, we found ourselves wondering what kind of sick little monkey would do such a thing? Executives from a mining company? A wealthy land developer who probably pays no attention to what our silly little publication puts out every week? An odd little real-estate hustler who is now fending off an invasion of privacy lawsuit? Without sending a sample to the lab for analysis, we guess we'll never know.

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