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MONDAY, JUNE 16

MATTER OF FAITH: A group of faith leaders releases a letter saying that there's too much "hateful rhetoric" regarding illegal immigrants in Arizona. The group calls for a new push for comprehensive immigration reform.

Says Kit Danley, president of Neighborhood Ministries: "Followers of Christ have a deep respect for the law, but we also are concerned about compassion, a higher 'law' that requires us to love our neighbor and care for the stranger among us. When members of our congregations are frightened and persecuted, we feel responsible as Christian leaders to speak out for reform in Arizona and across the country."

DRILL BIT: Arizona Sen. John McCain calls for the end of a federal moratorium on offshore oil exploration. Says McCain: "We must embark on a national mission to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gases through the development of alternative energy sources. And, as I said, exploration is a step toward the longer-term goal." McCain also repeats his call for a summer suspension of the federal gas tax.


TUESDAY, JUNE 17

UNREAL ID: Gov. Janet Napolitano signs legislation prohibiting the state from participating in the federal REAL ID Act, which requires states to follow certain standards and collect specific information when issuing driver's licenses.

"Congress and the (Bush) administration have consistently refused to fund the states' high cost of implementing the REAL ID Act," Napolitano writes in a signing letter. "The White House's own budget staff estimates the cost to implement the act to be at least $4 billion. To date, the federal government has appropriated only $90 million for those purposes, and the funds have not yet been released."


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 18

SUMMER SIZZLE: It's hot out there! Temps hit a high of 107 degrees at Tucson International Airport, according to the National Weather Service. The Tucson area sees dark afternoon clouds, but no monsoon rains.


THURSDAY, JUNE 19

BEE SWATTED: Pima County Superior Court Judge John Kelly orders that Justice of the Peace Keith Bee be kicked off the ballot this year. Bee, the brother of Arizona state Sen. Tim Bee, was appointed to the Justice Court bench by the Pima County Board of Supervisors to fill a vacancy last year, but did not note on his petitions that he was running for the remainder of a term, which is enough of a legal error to be disqualified.

Kelly's decision leaves only Wesley Robert Kent on the ballot for the justice of the peace slot.


FRIDAY, JUNE 20

BIG UNIT ON THE FRITZ: Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson ends up with another loss when the Minnesota Twins beat the D'Backs, 7-2. After a strong start, Johnson gave up six runs in the third inning. Johnson, who only struck out one batter in the game, has lost four straight games and has a season record of 4-5.


SATURDAY, JUNE 21

DRILL BIT, PART II: Democrat Barack Obama strikes back at John McCain while campaigning in Florida, saying that McCain's call for a suspension of the federal gas tax and other tax cuts would result in less money available to repair the nation's highways and other infrastructure.

During the Florida campaign spin, Obama also dismissed McCain's plan for offshore drilling as a bad idea, according to The Associated Press. Says Obama: "John McCain's proposal, George Bush's proposal, to drill offshore here in Florida and other places would not provide families any relief this year, next year, five years from now. We can't drill our way out of the problems we're facing."


SUNDAY, JUNE 22

LAST LAUGH: Comedian George Carlin, the anti-establishment genius who delighted in exposing hypocrisy and stupidity, dies of heart failure in California at age 71. So long, Carlin--your irreverence was needed and will be greatly missed.


DATELINE MARS: WHAT'S UP WITH THE PHOENIX?

When we last checked in with the UA Lunar and Planetary Lab scientists who are running the Phoenix Mars Lander, they were puzzling over whether the white stuff uncovered beneath the surface by their robotic arm was ice or some kind of salt.

Continued observation has revealed that the white stuff is ice, because new photographs of the trench dug by the robotic arm show that some fragments disappeared over a few days.

"It is with great pride and a lot of joy that I announce today that we have found proof that this hard, bright material is really water ice and not some other substance," said Peter Smith of the Lunar and Planetary Lab, who is heading up the Phoenix mission.

One of the main missions of the Phoenix is to analyze ice samples from beneath the surface of the Arctic plains where the lander touched down over Memorial Day weekend.

In other news: The robotic arm has delivered a new soil sample to the spacecraft's onboard microscope, with scientists planning on dropping more of the same sample into the Phoenix's wet chemistry lab later this week.

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