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America pushes outer limits

Today marks an auspicious anniversary in American technological achievement. Fifty-five years ago today Alan Bartlett Shepard blasted off from a launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to become the first U.S. astronaut to travel into space. Shepard’s flight lasted a mere 15 minutes, but it was enough to give the nation a great collective sigh of relief.

Being Bullish on Automobiles

It’s a pretty safe bet that most of us have never even seen a Lamborghini automobile in person. With its entry-level model, the Huracan, checking in around $200,000; and its big brother, the Aventador, demanding a cool half million dollars, sightings are understandably rare.

Better ordinances not crusades

Sometimes Pine Bluff City Council Alderman Steven Mays is like a dog with a bone: once he seizes on an issue, he just won’t let it go. Most probably recall the time and effort wasted with his crusade against the 71602 ZIP code. In shades of zealousness that are eerily similar, he has decided to waste the people’s time with a protracted and pointless harangue against contractor Danny Bradshaw of Mr. Brick Antique Buy and Sell, who has contracted with Pine Bluff to remove some of the collapsed buildings along Main Street.

Twined fantasies doom the poor

Watching the predictable machinations of the Arkansas State Legislature has become tiresome. Whenever the state’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens are concerned, Republican lawmakers invariably see how close they can get to unconstitutionally punitive restrictions and mandates.

Echoes of pandemics close to home

There were a pair of stories this week that reported on major public health issues potentially affecting Arkansas. The first of these by Arkansas News Bureau reports on an announcement by Arkansas state health officials. In it Arkansas health officials said Tuesday the Shelby County Health Department in Tennessee has confirmed six cases of measles in the Memphis area and said some Arkansans may have been exposed to the infectious disease. The second ANB story reflects the Arkansas Department of Health report of a fourth Arkansan infected with the Zika virus, that has been spiraling globally.

Parties dangerously ignoring context

If you were to visit the National Archives in Washington, D.C. you might pass by the 1935 Robert Aitken sculpture, “The Future.” The piece is comprised of a seated female figure with a large open book on her lap. It is part of a pair of sculptures that flank the Archives entrance. The other is “The Past” a male figure, also seated, but the book he holds is closed.

Population number bear reflection

A recent story published in The Commercial details one of the most serious issues facing the people of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County: population loss. The county and city have been in decline for almost three decades. Peaking at just over 57,000 in 1970 (and hovering there until 1990) the region has seen one of the most precipitous population slides in the nation.

Steering the national will

One hundred-fifty years ago this week, Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth mortally wounded U. S. Pres. Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theater at Washington, DC. History well records the sequence of events: Booth’s furtive move into Lincoln’s private theater box; the fatal shot to the back of the head; the assassin’s leg-breaking leap to the stage and his infamous cry of “sic semper tyrannis!”

Protect them to protect us

On this day in 1866, the cause of animal welfare took a giant leap forward. New York philanthropist and diplomat, Henry Bergh, founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Bergh’s interest in protecting animals began while he served as the U. S. representative to the court of Russian Tsar Alexander II. While at this post, Bergh often saw the Russian peasantry mercilessly beat their work horses with whips and knouts.

ADC should keep facility here

As recently reported in The Commercial, the Southeast Arkansas Community Correction Center may be relocated to West Memphis. As the facility employs 138 people, area residents are necessarily concerned about the economic and human impact this move poses for the people of Jefferson County.

Yet another gross “Mis-Stepps”

Those who suffer from anxiety disorders should probably avoid the Pine Bluff City Council meetings. While the electorate recently corrected a couple of long-standing (or seated as the case may be) problems, the March 7 meeting demonstrates why January 2017 cannot come too soon.

Fallen angel raises Republican anxiety

My abhorrence of this fiend cannot be conceived. When I thought of him, I gnashed my teeth, my eyes became inflamed, and I ardently wished to extinguish that life which I had so thoughtlessly bestowed. When I reflected on his crimes and malice, my hatred and revenge burst all bounds of moderation.” British author, Mary Shelley, wrote these lines as dialogue for the protagonist in her novel, ‘‘Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus.” Sickened by the monstrous thing he had created; Victor Frankenstein fantasizes the creature’s death.

Candidates are no Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln has been the subject of more biographies than any other president in U.S. history. Today marks the 150th anniversary of his 1861 inauguration. During his inaugural address Lincoln struck a conciliatory tone with the secessionists in the deep South.

Pony ‘express’ reflects American culture

It’s almost hard to believe that a company would continue to sell and develop a product with sales numbers that peaked a half century ago. With sales of 607,000 units in 1966 and 2015 sales a quarter of that (122,000) most would say the market had cooled to the Ford Mustang, but the jump between 2104 and 2015 sales was almost 50 percent.

Steve Chapman

I was going to write this column about slimy, venomous reptiles that are so frightening you would go well out of your way to avoid them. But I’m tired of the presidential campaign. So I decided to write about rattlesnakes instead.

Current election in a jam

With the primary elections upon us here in Arkansas, I have identified a need not addressed by our current system for selecting representatives and other public officials. I became aware of the lapse as I looked through the list of candidates vying for several state and local offices.