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Leave it to the professionals

Even though the administrators of every single college campus in Arkansas have opted out, some members of the legislature are determined to cram loaded guns down their throats. Pushing a reformualtion of an already defeated bill, Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, seeks to rob colleges of their “local control” where concealed weapon carry is concerned. So much for being anti-big government.

Illogical governing

Whatever its merits or shortcomings, a federal judge’s decision last week blocking the Obama administration’s immigration policy offered congressional Republicans an escape path from the corner into which they had painted themselves by imperiling funding for the Department of Homeland Security and its 240,000 employees. Thus far they have not shown the wisdom to accept this gift.

More than crumbling buildings

If you ever wondered why people have left Pine Bluff, all you needed to do was attend the recent emergency city council meeting on Monday. At that meeting council members were confronted with the specter of an imminent catastrophe and chose to do nothing. It was a shameful display of myopic lunacy. If they are racing toward oblivion, they are making good headway.

Reason prevails in Senate committee, not Gov.’s office

While the current manifestation of the Arkansas legislature has been more miss than hit, reason prevailed this past Wednesday as the Senate Judiciary Committee declined to refer House Bill 1228, the so-called Conscience Protection Act, to the full Senate. The bill, authored by Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, would have prohibited the state from interceding in matters of conscience due to a person’s religious beliefs unless the state has a substantial interest in doing so, and does so by the least restrictive means possible.

Do you believe in miracles?

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Olympic hockey team’s surprise victory over the global Leviathan of hockey, the Soviet Union. The triumph is often called “the Miracle on Ice.” As modern “miracles” sometimes do, a great mythology has grown up around this storied game.

An attack on freedom

On Wednesday, the world was shocked and appalled by the deplorable attacks at the Paris office of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Twelve men and women were murdered for expressing their freedom of speech. Sadly, it is not an isolated incident.

Picking up by tearing down

As recently reported in The Commercial, the city of Pine Bluff will soon begin using inmates from the Arkansas Department of Correction to remove blighted structures from the community. The inmates will be close to parole and are involved in a skills-training program. Focusing on vacant and abandoned houses, the program will start in February.

Looking back looking forward

Over the past couple of weeks The Commercial has taken a look back at some of the most talked about stories of the year now past. We celebrated accomplishments. We decried injustice. We gave a narrative voice to the timeline of our community.

Bad advice exacts heavy price

Ninety-eight years ago today the Russian mystic and courtier, Grigory Rasputin, was murdered by members of the Russian nobility. Rasputin claimed to have miraculous powers through which he healed the hemophiliac son of Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra. This mystical power drew him to the inner circle of Russian politics, a position from which he would make many enemies.

Justifiable homicide facts and fiction

As we look back on all the news that captured the American viewer in 2014, no national news item stands out more than stories related to use of deadly force by police. It seems as though a day hardly passes that we don’t have to hear about yet another police-involved shooting.

Singing in the season

It’s often the case that we can tell how important something is by the number of times it’s been reproduced. In the Internet age such a reckoning might be the number of times something has been shared online. Of course the fly in that ointment resides in the fact that videos of cats playing the piano might become unduly elevated as an artifact of our culture.

Better on the road to great

In their quest to promote the safe keeping and humane treatment of animals, many advocates employ an elegant trope often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way that its animals are treated.”

Tables turned but message unclear

This week marks the 30th anniversary of a shooting on the New York City subway that created a media frenzy and ignited a vociferous debate on matters of race, crime and gun control. At the center of this furor was Bernhard Goetz, a lean 24-year-old with a troubled home life.

Christmas a time of opportunity

This is the time of year when so many of us worry about the “perfect” gift, the “perfect” meal and the “perfect” outfit. Often subconsciously we hold ourselves to an unobtainable Norman Rockwell standard of holiday pageant. In so doing, we create needless stress and imperil an otherwise joyous season.