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Where have all the zealots gone?

On this day in 1964 students and faculty staged the first large-scale antiwar demonstration in the United States. The protest took place at the Berkeley campus of University of California. While this march gained national attention, opinion polls showed a majority of Americans supported President Lyndon Johnson’s policies in southeast Asia.

The law of the war

At the United Nations on Wednesday, President Obama offered a powerful case for war against the Islamic State. “This group has terrorized all who they come across in Iraq and Syria,” he said. “There can be no reasoning — no negotiation — with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.”

Geography lesson in banned books

Each year during the last week of September the American Library Association celebrates our First Amendment rights with Banned Books week. One of the event’s center points is publication of a list that enumerates those books that have received the most challenges during the past year.

Good first steps toward safety

Earlier this week, the Pine Bluff City Council passed a measure that creates penalties for irresponsible property owners. The ordinance was sponsored by Ward 1 Alderman Lloyd Holcomb Jr. and passed with the affirmative vote of five other council members.

Facts drown out rhetoric

According to a number of recently released reports, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare” is on track to improve health care access while decreasing taxpayer burden.

A different double jeopardy

One year ago today a computer technician working at the Washington Navy Yard went on a shooting rampage that left 12 people dead. A few weeks before arming himself with a Remington model 870 shotgun and murdering a dozen strangers, Aaron Alexis told police in Rhode Island that he was hearing voices. The private IT contracting firm employing Alexis took him off his assignment for a few days then let him back on the job; less than a month later, he went to work at the Navy Yard.

We will never forget 9/11

Fifty years ago, people talked about the amazing beauty of the mushroom clouds that developed after atomic bombs were detonated in tests. The brilliance, the wide spectrum of color visible, the graceful development of the cloud itself: It was a terrible beauty to be sure, but a beautiful sight just the same, and one seared into the memory of all who saw it.

Millennia of murderous barbarians

Approximately two weeks ago, The Islamic State, variously termed ISIS or ISIL, beheaded American journalist, James Foley. These same terrorists just released another video in which one of their operatives beheads, yet another American journalist, Steven Sotloff. In what is becoming a pattern of orgiastic barbarity, The Islamic State stands on a line it dare not cross.

Executive session out of bounds

Yet again we feel compelled to express our displeasure with the antics of Jefferson County Election Commission Chairman Ted Davis. At the most recent meeting of the commission, Davis called for an executive session without announcing a reason for it. Upon review of the session’s contents, Davis’ request may well violate the Freedom of Information Act.

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Ebola threat demands attention

The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has seized the world’s attention like a summer horror movie. The images of a terrible disease without a cure have surged across news and social media. Late last week, a spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO) said the scope of the outbreak appears to have been “vastly underestimated.” Tantalizing reports of experimental drugs have raised hopes and then deflated them. The drugs are not only unproven, but they also don’t yet exist in more than a tiny quantity.

Slow justice for the killing fields

As has been widely reported, a Cambodian court recently found the two most senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced them to life in prison. The Khmer Rouge brutalized Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 and is thought to be responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people.

Online vulnerability demands vigilance

The New York Times broke the news to us Tuesday: Russian hackers have amassed more than 1 billion (yes, with a B) Internet passwords. And you thought the Target hack — 40 million credit card numbers and 70 million other pieces of personal information — was a problem.

Walgreens takes the necessary medicine

Pharmacy giant Walgreens announced this week that it will buy 55 percent of European retailer, Alliance Boots, for $15.26 billion. Under the terms of the deal Walgreens’ corporate headquarters will remain in the United States. This move is largely a response to vociferous opposition to a previous configuration of the deal whereby Walgreens would have moved its headquarters to either the United Kingdom or Switzerland —- and a much lower corporate tax rate.

Pride before and after falls

With the dangerous collapse of a second aging building along Main Street, Pine Bluff has arrived at a critical juncture. Either our municipal leaders step up to the plate and do what needs be done; or we steel ourselves for worse to come.

Curbing crime slowly but scientifically

Few people have studied the issue of crime deterrence more than Professor Daniel Nagin, who holds faculty appointments both at Carnegie-Mellon University and the Harvard School of Law. In a just-released bulletin, the National Institute of Justice lists some of Nagin’s findings with regard to making communities more safe.