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New Congress has great opportunity

It doesn’t matter how one’s candidate fared in the recent elections. There is always something festive in what Stephens Washington Bureau reporter Peter Urban calls a “biennial rite of passage”: drawing lots for office space newly elected members of Congress will occupy during their terms.

Familiar refrain across the way

There’s a story now unfolding in Mississippi that should ring eerily familiar to many Arkansans. At the center of it stands Christopher Epps, a charming, detail-oriented post-wunderkind who as corrections commissioner had overseen the state’s inmate population quadruple while prison facilities expanded to include five new private prisons. Epps is the state’s longest serving corrections commissioner. As an accomplished African-American, Epps was widely hailed as a professional and personal role model.

Of creed deed and discontent

One hundred years ago a small group of German intellectuals formed a group in response to their nation’s aggressive campaign of invasion and annexation. Dubbed the Bund Neues Vaterland (New Fatherland League), the organization was headed by physician, Georg Nicolai.

Bang bang boogie remembered

With the now famous refrain, “I said a hip hop, hippie to the hippie, the hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop, a rock it, to the bang bang boogie, say, up jump the boogie, to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat…” hip hop music leapt out of inner city enclaves and into suburban America. The year was 1979. The track was a 14-minute-long opus titled “Rapper’s Delight.”

Dreams, tears and new lives

On its website, the National Park Service introduces Ellis Island with the phrase, “Island of Hope, Island of Tears.” From 1892 to 1924, Ellis Island, located off the southern tip of Manhattan Island, was the United States’ largest and most active immigration station, where over 12 million immigrants were processed.

Careful what you want

The election held Tuesday is arguably the greatest post-Reconstruction moment in the history of the Arkansas Republican party. With almost every constitutional office either filled by or awaiting a Republican incumbent, it is important to take stock of what this election is, what it isn’t and what their newfound mantle requires.

Five hundred years and counting

Earlier this fall, the Palo Alto Longevity Prize was inaugurated by physician, life-enhancing advocate, and hedge fund manager Joon Yun. The goal of the contest is largely the same as Ponce de Leon’s expeditions during the sixteenth century: finding the fountain of youth. Of course the Palo Alto Prize is couched in modern medicine, not magic-infused waters, but the promise of it remains the same.

Get to the polls and cast your vote

Some of us may be growing weary of election season, as political ads take over the TV and “who are you voting for?” debates dominate coffee shop conversations — and some may be getting excited for exactly the same reasons, as candidates and campaigns struggle for your attention and the ever diminishing “undecided” vote.

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.