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Combatting the Spice of death

If you didn’t know better, you might assume the silver foil package contained some kind of candy. The colorful graphics and branding certainly suggest as much. The names also have playful or dramatic overtones: Scooby Snax, Puff, Dreamz, King Kong, Joker, Geeked Up, Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks… among many others.

Right-wing rhetoric helping both parties’ major candidates

I swear, if I was a Democrat running for president I would divert as much of my campaign treasury as I could to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Arkansas’s own Mike Huckabee. If I was any Democrat angling to see my party’s nominee win next year I would do the same. Moreover, if I was a Republican trying to set my party aright (but cantered still to the right) I would send all three money, knowing, as do the Democrats (and independents), that not Trump nor Cruz nor Huckabee has a hope of the White House and that their campaigns will serve only to soil the eventual GOP candidate and thus hasten a much-overdue reconsideration of what the party should represent.

Same debate a half century later

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill creating the national Medicare and Medicaid programs. The ceremony was held at Independence, Missouri, the birthplace of President Harry Truman. Truman, who was issued the very first Medicare card, had lobbied unsuccessfully for similar programs during his time in office.

Enabling change 25 years later

Imagine that you have just graduated near the top of your class at an elite collegiate engineering program. Now imagine you go out into the world only to be repeatedly rebuffed by prospective employers. Their reasons for your rejection? You credentials are first order: good school; good grades; good recommendations. It’s none of those things. It’s because you use a wheelchair.

New tools to block intrusion

As recently reported by The Commercial, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Wednesday joined 44 other state attorneys general in calling on phone carriers AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and CenturyLink to offer call-blocking technology to their customers. We believe this is a necessary step to improve consumer protection.

Graybar hotel is all booked

As recently reported in The Commercial, the inmate population held at the W.C. “Dub” Brassell Adult Detention Center (DBDC) is well over capacity. At every level of government — all over the United States — this is a common complaint. It’s a serious matter. It often leads to ill-advised “fixes,” and it imperils the communities served.

Cooling winds help community

The Area Agency on Aging of Southeast Arkansas is once again staging its annual “Beat the Heat” fan drive began June 8 and goes through Aug. 7. Betty Bradshaw, president and CEO of the Area Agency on Aging of Southeast Arkansas, praised Carolyn Ferguson for taking the lead in running the fan drive.

Clawing at rigged opportunity

The purists call them “skill cranes.” You more likely know them as “claw machines” or just “claws.” Stationed at the entrance to many big box stores, their brightly lit cases bulging with fabulous prizes — all yours for the taking — if your hand is steady.

Immeasurable PAY-off at camp

As recently reported in The Commercial, the Pine Bluff Police Department is once again staging its annual Police And Youth (“PAY”) Camp. This year, more than 300 children from the area are in attendance for the six-week program. While there are the immediately tangible benefits of giving the children something to fill their summer days, perhaps the greater return will come in the relationships formed.

Letting fear dictate reality

For many of us, the Pine Bluff we love is a place that hasn’t existed in long time. A big part of our erstwhile home resides in a certain quiescence and safety. We like to think of ourselves as living in a quaint small town where people sit on porches and know their neighbors. Sometimes we’re jolted into recognizing that place is just a memory — not an impossibility — but still a memory.

Privatized corrections public nightmares

At a recent meeting of the Jefferson County Quorum Court Finance Committee Justices of the Peace discussed privatization of the juvenile detention center as response to address budget shortfalls. Of all the ideas to shore up governmental finances, privatization of correctional facilities is among the very worst.

More than media object to comment

We do not mean to enter into the fray that is presidential election politics nearly a year and a half before the election, but we must take strong exception to former governor and presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee’s claim that no one but the media cares about a crude comment and cheap joke he made earlier this year.

Correction past, present and future

As we recently reported, staff from the Arkansas Department of Community Correction spoke to members of the Pine Bluff Rotary Club at their meeting earlier this week. The DCC was represented by Lashronda Brown, whose duties include being a probation officer and instructor, and Oneika Freeman, who is involved in career planning and placement. The pair told Rotary members about their agency’s strategies and programs to help probationers and parolees better integrate into the workforce.