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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.

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.

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Long legacy of modeling’s mother

The innumerable obituaries for Eileen Ford, founder of the storied Ford Modeling agency, contain a wide array of descriptive terms, ranging from predictable superlatives to not-so subtle critiques. Words like “imperious” and “disciplinarian” are common. As are “prescient” and “savvy.” Ford, who died last week at age 92 helped transform an industry and give rise to the age of the supermodel.

Borderline inaction

Nobody knows for sure how much weight, or blame, to assign each of the factors that have contributed to the flood of unaccompanied children and teens crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months. The surge of illegal entries has crested into a full-blown immigration crisis, the resolution of which now depends on the unpromising hope of cooperation between the Obama administration and Congress.

The century Ruth built

It’s a tough trick to be both the center of a curse and an iconic hero, but that’s exactly the place in history occupied by George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Today marks the 100th anniversary of Ruth’s major league debut. On July 11, 1914, Ruth first ascended the mound as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. The rest, as they say, is history.

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.