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Editorials

Dreaming about a larger field

As recently reported by The Commercial, a local committee for the 2015 Babe Ruth 14-year-old World Series headed by Jim Hill just signed a contract with Babe Ruth League Inc. that will bring the national tournament to Pine Bluff. This will mark the sixth time a Babe Ruth Baseball World Series has been played in the city and first time since 2003. This turn is unabashedly good and the kind of thing we should encourage.

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?

Distilling violent crime connections

Pine Bluff Police Chief Jeff Hubanks has repeatedly acknowledged that any serious effort to curb violent crime in our community will require a willingness to make broad changes — both in how the police assail the issue and how the community itself responds. To this point, the chief has introduced a number of new strategies, all driven by the agency’s new emphasis on data-driven practice.

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.