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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.

Old path new troubles

As Americans watch the unfolding crisis in Syria and the zealous treachery of the ISIS terrorists, a number of moments stand ready as catalysts for greater U.S. military involvement. Gruesome acts such as the beheading of American journalist James Foley only serve to inch us closer to all out war.

A challenge, not a catastrophe

Are hundreds of thousands of Americans getting government money they aren’t entitled to because of Obamacare? Illegal immigrants, too? Is it all further evidence that the Obama administration is incompetent and the system unworkable?

Independence by the numbers

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, setting the 13 colonies on a pathway to freedom from British tyranny. As we pause to celebrate this grand act of defiance, we will surely remember the lives lost in service to this freedom. We will likewise recall all the other sacrifices necessary to protect and maintain that freedom. It is also fitting that we stop to consider some of the more trivial, but nonetheless interesting facts surrounding our march to independence.

Civil rights hard-fought

We pause today to remember President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act, which turns 50 this year, ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and is considered one of the most important pieces of legislation since the Civil War. It is often heralded as the crowing jewel of the civil rights movement.

Metaphorical menagerie killing city

As recently reported in The Commercial, officials in the Pine Bluff municipal government are concerned about conditions at the Plaza Hotel, which is attached to the Convention Center. They should be. They should have been more than a decade ago. They should have acted before now.

Remembering the Great Conciliator

Sen. Howard Baker Jr. was often called the “Great Conciliator.” He earned the nickname because of his prodigal ability to mediate differences and build alliances across political party boundaries. Baker died this week at his home in Huntsville, Tenn. He was 88 years old.

Water thrown on bikini contest

As recently reported in the Commercial, a concert scheduled for July 3 at Saracen Landing will no longer feature a bikini contest. The planned contest became fodder for heated discussion on social media. It drew similar fire from local officials who noted that the contest was not mentioned in any of the sponsoring organization’s agreements with the city of Pine Bluff.