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Tramp explores deep themes

Today we mark the 125th anniversary of silent film star Charlie Chaplin’s birth. While best remembered for his character, the Little Tramp, his career was much broader than that one famous visage. He was a director, a screen writer and a composer. Along with other film luminaries, D. W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Chaplin founded the United Artists production company. Long recognized as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, it’s fitting that we take stock of his legacy.

Wall Street’s flash point

In “The Financier,” his great novel of American capitalism, Theodore Dreiser describes the thinking of his hero, Frank Cowperwood, who exploited banks, the state and investors. It isn’t wise to steal outright, Cowperwood concludes; that would be wrong. But “there were so many situations wherein what one might do in the way of taking or profiting was open to discussion and doubt. Morality varied, in his mind at least, with conditions, if not climates.”

An off-base idea

After any mass shooting, a vocal faction in Congress insists that Americans would be safer if more people carried guns into restricted public places. Allowing teachers to carry firearms on campus struck us as not helpful. But now that Fort Hood, Texas, has seen its second rampage in five years, the argument seems stronger when applied to military bases: Aren’t they filled with well-trained, trustworthy marksmen who could take down would-be mass murderers? Why not allow military personnel to carry weapons on base?

Bailing on a broken system

The idea of using objective criteria to decide which criminal defendants are freed pending trial and which are thrown in jail may sound slightly chilling. For starters, who’s to say what’s “objective”? Sabermetrics may have improved a baseball manager’s ability to forecast a player’s performance, but can statistical analysis really predict defendants’ flight risk and fairly determine the limits of their liberty?

Under budget and overly cruel

People who are fans of the long-running Star Trek franchise might recognize the philosophical underpinnings of Rep. Paul Ryan’s latest budget proposal. With strictures on virtually every social welfare program and a big boost to military spending, it’s pretty clear that Ryan would like the United States to more closely resemble the Klingon Empire.

Constitution thwarts council crusade

Every time Pine Bluff Chief of Police Jeff Hubanks appears before the city council, he must feel like the mythological King Sisyphus. Surely he must as council members Thelma Walker, George Stepps and Glen Brown always find a way to critique, interrogate and otherwise impugn his judgment.

Legislators push retrograde action

As is now widely known, a bill to appropriate $915 million in federal funding for the so-called private option failed Tuesday in the Arkansas House of Representatives in a 70-27 vote. The measure needed a three-fourths majority vote, or 75 votes, in the 100-member House, to pass.

Taking up sectarian serpents

In May of last year Pentecostal pastor Mark Wolford, 44, died of a snake bite he received during an outdoor church service at the Panther Wildlife Management Area in West Virginia. ABC News reported that Wolford had even seen his own father killed by a snake years earlier.

Masking social deficits with bars

A local television news program recently reported the objections of Little Rock Pastor Wendell Griffen of New Millennium Church to the proposed construction of yet one more prison in Arkansas. We applaud Griffen. His opposition to prison expansion is well-founded and rational.

A bid for willful blindness

For many years we have advocated for transparency in government. We will continue to do so. That said, there was a recent revelation about a government attempt to suppress information that we believe should in fact be withheld from the public.

Last voyage of the Lollypop

In the classic 1950 film, Sunset Boulevard, Gloria Swanson’s character, Norma Desmond, utters the movie’s most famous line: “I am ‘big.’ It’s the pictures that got small.” Such could be said of child star turned U.S. diplomat, Shirley Temple Black. Black died Monday. She was 85.

Fruit and vegetable incentive a lemon?

If you pass through the intersection of University Avenue and the Martha Mitchell Expressway in Pine Bluff, you might see a billboard reminding us that one in five children suffer from hunger. Limited access to proper nutrition is one of the major stumbling blocks in our nation’s continuing efforts to combat poverty.