The Range

Winter Wonderland

Snow in Tucson? The Range's icy heart melted just a little bit when we saw those flakes falling Sunday, Jan. 20, and woke up on Monday to find the ground covered with a rapidly melting blanket of white. The snowfall--at least a half-inch thick, according to our survey!--shut down roads, schools and municipal trash-collection efforts. Another near-crisis: The thick cloud cover prevented the DirecTV signal from reaching the satellite dish at the midtown bureau, blocking our reception of the new episode of Battlestar Galactica. Fortunately, the cloud cover had broken up by the time BSG repeated two hours later.

The desert winter snowfall appears to be another sign of the end of the world, which is inching ever closer, according to the scientific eggheads who set the Doomsday Clock. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced last week that the eggheads were moving the minute hand of the clock two minutes closer to midnight, aka "the figurative end of civilization," according to a BAS release. The clock now stands at 11:55 p.m.

"We stand at the brink of a second nuclear age," the statement continued. "Not since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has the world faced such perilous choices."

The scientists also noted: "The dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons. The effects may be less dramatic in the short term than the destruction that could be wrought by nuclear explosions, but over the next three to four decades, climate change could cause irremediable harm to the habitats upon which human societies depend for survival."

Cats Collapse!

In one more sign that the world may be coming to an end: The Arizona Wildcats lost two Pac-10 games last weekend. On Thursday, Jan. 18, the University of Southern California beat them 80-73, and on Saturday, UCLA defeated them 73-69. It was the first time the Cats have lost three conference games in a row in 22 years.

The Cats' hard times may have been the trigger for bouts of winter vomiting disease, which has been filling local emergency rooms with puking patients.

Tripped Out

Spending more time on the road? Officials with the Pima Association of Governments estimate that "on any given day in the greater Tucson area, vehicles will collectively travel about 22 million miles (about one half of the distance from the Earth to Mars)."

The daily mileage number is up from 15.5 million miles in 1996. PAG officials say that metro-area drivers burn about 1 million gallons of gas per day.

Legal Review

On the crime beat: The Associated Press brings us the strange story of 29-year-old Neil Havens Rodreick II, a sex offender who attempted to enroll in a Yavapai County charter school as a 12-year-old boy with the help of 61-year-old Lonnie Stiffler, who posed as Rodreick's grandpa in what authorities believe was a plot to troll for underage kids.

The AP reporter noted that Rodreick had conned Stiffler and another man, Robert James Snow, into believing he was a preteen boy after meeting them on the Internet and entering into sexual relationships with both of them.

Yavapai County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Susan Quayle told the AP that both men "were very upset when the detectives told them they had been having a sexual relationship with a 29-year-old man and not a pre-teen boy."

All three men, along with Brian J. Nellis, were arrested on multiple charges, including fraud and failure to register as a sex offender.

Boy, these guys deserve a thorn!

Meanwhile, Kim Smith of the Arizona Daily Star brings us the story of Shawn Edmisten, who is claiming that he was engaged in two home invasions because his girlfriend spiked his drink with Ecstasy.

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