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Squirrel veneration on a small hill

Tomorrow the nation will participate in an observance that has its roots in the Christian celebration of Candlemas Day. Candlemas is a Christian tradition of German origins in which the clergy would bless and distribute the candles needed for winter. The candles became a symbol of the long and cold winter. The German people broadened the observance with another symbol — the hedgehog. In Germanic lore, the hedgehog was said to be a good predictor of winter’s severity.

Shame at a terrible price

The immortal songstress Ella Fitzgerald once sang of Love for Sale “Who’s prepared to pay the price, for a trip to paradise… If you want the thrill of love, I’ve been through the mill of love. Old love, new love, every love but true love. Love for sale.”

No Prince among the royalty

Today marks an important popular culture milestone. Late in the evening of Jan. 28, 1985, a group of musical artists assembled to record “We Are the World,” a megahit whose proceeds aided famine relief in Africa.

Fizzy history moves a nation

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” While the precise origin of this aphorism is lost to time, this weekend we note an important milestone in technological innovation: the 80th anniversary of the first canned beer.

The Five Year Election Sale

It’s often amazing how one U.S. Supreme Court can change the whole course of American social and political life. There are cases in pursuit of social fairness, the most famous of which is the 1954 decision in Brown v. the Board of Education. Then there are cases of fair process, like Miranda v. Arizona. Then there are cases that serve to protect our right of free speech. It’s difficult to single out a single case as the exemplar of protecting speech, but we know one where oligarchical designs masquerading as a speech interests has been allowed to poison American politics: Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission.

Verdict uncertain motives unclear

Sixty-five years ago today, disgraced State Department official, Alger Hiss, was convicted of perjury, in what has become one of the most hotly debated cases of the 20th century. Hiss had been the subject of aggressive investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee, led by an ambitious California representative, Richard Nixon.

Enough humility to be courageous

All we can say is ‘Wow!’ When is the last time you heard an elected official come right out, admit a mistake and then apologize for it? And to boot, this one wasn’t one of those I-got-caught-and-now-I-better-appear-contrite apologies; this was a straight up, acknowledgement of fault and mea culpa.

MLK a clarion for service

As the nation honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we should pause to reflect on his ideals and vision for America. We all know King’s work in the cause of civil rights, but his call for committed public service should also be remembered.

The pipeline to nowhere

A new term has been introduced into the debate over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline: irrelevance. With crude oil prices at their lowest point in recent memory, folks on both sides of this debate are forced to refine their polemics.

An attack on freedom

On Wednesday, the world was shocked and appalled by the deplorable attacks at the Paris office of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Twelve men and women were murdered for expressing their freedom of speech. Sadly, it is not an isolated incident.

Picking up by tearing down

As recently reported in The Commercial, the city of Pine Bluff will soon begin using inmates from the Arkansas Department of Correction to remove blighted structures from the community. The inmates will be close to parole and are involved in a skills-training program. Focusing on vacant and abandoned houses, the program will start in February.