The Range

Wasting Away Again in Margaritaville

When Janet Napolitano wasn't on the dance floor at Manny's Beach Club with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (NOTE: The Range has no evidence this actually took place!), Arizona's governor was meeting with several of her counterparts at an international border governor's conference in Rocky Point, Mexico. The governors met with Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff to discuss meth smuggling, human trafficking and other problems related to border security.

During his trip out West, Chertoff visited Douglas, Ariz., to help weld a stretch of border fence and announce that the Department of Homeland Security had reached its goal of building 70 new miles of border fence by Oct 1. The Los Angeles Times reports that there are now 145 miles of fencing along the 1,900-mile U.S.-Mexico border, but designers of the "virtual" electronic fence near Sasabe continue to struggle with software glitches.

The Sierra Club and the Defenders of Wildlife complained that plans for new fencing in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area would block arroyos that feed the San Pedro, causing erosion and possibly changing the river's flow. The organizations also complained that the fence would hinder the movement of many critters in the area, including jaguars, ocelots and foxes.

Chertoff told The Associated Press that the fencing wasn't nearly as damaging as having thousands of illegal immigrants dumping garbage and human waste on their trek north.

In other border news: Napolitano named former congressman Jim Kolbe as chair of the CANAMEX Corridor Task Force. Kolbe will represent Arizona on the multistate coalition that's working on a highway that will run from Mexico to Canada. Conspiracy theorists believe the superhighway is the first step toward merging the three countries into one sovereign entity.

Lord Have Mercy

Looks like the Prophet is going away for a long time. Warren Jeffs, leader of a breakaway Mormon sect of some 10,000 followers who still practice polygamy on the Arizona-Utah border, was convicted of being an accomplice to rape, because he had decreed that a 14-year-old girl had to marry her 19-year-old cousin. The Washington County, Utah, jury didn't buy Jeffs' defense that the state's prosecution was a violation of religious freedom.

Jeffs, who was on the FBI's Most Wanted list before getting arrested near Las Vegas last year, could be facing life in prison.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water

The Associated Press reports that Aaron Evans, a 14-year-old boy, was killed by a brain-eating amoeba that he picked up at Lake Havasu. The amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, traveled up Evans' nose and into his brain, causing a persistent headache and eventually killing him.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say they've seen six fatal cases related to Naegleria this year.

Did Anyone Get Photos?

The Sultan of Sleaze appears to have hanged himself in the shower stall of his Phoenix home. David Hans Schmidt was found dead last Friday, Sept. 28. Schmidt, who became something of an expert in the brokering of celebrity sex tapes, was under federal indictment over charges he had tried to extort a million bucks from Tom Cruise to facilitate the return of wedding photos that had been recovered from a photog's damaged hard drive.

Caveman Caper

In crime news: A cardboard cutout of a Geico caveman that was swiped from the UA Rec Center on Sunday, Sept. 23, was returned unharmed to a branch of the insurance company on Friday, Sept. 28. Thomas Whaples of Geico's midtown office, 2000 E. Speedway Blvd., tells The Range that the caveman was returned "unscathed" and is back at the Rec Center, although now he's been secured behind a counter.

Whaples says he's "ecstatic" to get the caveman back, because he's the centerpiece of an ongoing caveman look-alike contest open to UA students.

In related news: Angry citizens are asking city officials if the small plane that's been flying a Geico banner around town is violating the city's sign code.

Snakes Alive!

The Arizona Diamondbacks finished the regular season with a 90-72 record, which put them atop the National League West, one game ahead of the wild-card winning Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres. The D'Backs face the hard-luck Chicago Cubs this week in the National League Division Series.

Meanwhile, the passing of UA football coach Mike Stoops' kidney stones appears to have lifted the curse on the Arizona Wildcats, who defeated Washington State 48-20 at Arizona Stadium. Quarterback Willie Tuitama threw for five touchdowns and 346 passing yards. The Cats also picked up 221 rushing yards in an offensive jamboree. The Cats now just have to win five of their next seven to get into a bowl game. Next up: the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis at 1:05 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 6.

No word on whether Stoops' kidney stones will be available on eBay.

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