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Political fireworks again undignified

Apparently the thought of a civil election cycle in Jefferson County is one local politicians just can’t countenance. Each time the November ballot comes around the various factions are wont to settle things with trite proxy battles and accusations of impropriety.

Passing of a fashion icon

Oscar de la Renta, the world renown fashion designer, died this week at age 82. His clientele included Hollywood legends, First ladies and global royalty. He first gained wide exposure in the United States as one of the courtiers who dressed Jacqueline Kennedy.

Great wrong set right

As reported Thursday by the Arkansas News Bureau, the Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously struck down Act 595 of 2013, which required voters to show photo identification before being allowed to cast their ballots. While the Justices were unified in their decision, there was a division with regard to their predicate reasoning.

Signal Internet innovation anniversary

Twenty years ago this week, the Internet took a giant leap toward broad public use. Back in 1994, two technology pioneers, Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen, of Mosaic Communication Corporation released an innovative new way to access online information. Their brainchild was called Netscape Network Navigator.

Courts correcting election carnival

Last week the United States Supreme Court blocked officials in Wisconsin from enforcement of that state’s voter identification law. Under this measure, voters would have been required to show photo identification before casting their ballots in the coming November election.

Watson’s resistance is laudable

It’s an issue that local policymakers confront regularly —- the law has gotten in the way of their ill-conceived designs. In this particular instance, Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Linda Watson stands as the last buttress against a legally questionable action relating to additional pay for Pine Bluff High School Principal Michael Nellums.

Charity tougher than enamel

Forty years ago today, German businessman Oskar Schindler died at age 66. Schindler is best remembered for his role in saving 1,200 Jews from deportation to Auschwitz, Nazi Germany’s largest concentration camp. Schindler’s story was commemorated in the 1993 Academy Award-winning film, Schindler’s List.

Tragic catalyst for safety

In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt gave an address to Congress now known as the “Four Freedoms” speech. In it he enumerated a set of inalienable human rights. He discussed: freedom of expression; freedom of religion; freedom from want; and the fourth freedom — freedom from fear.

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.

The distance has gotten longer

There are only a handful of names large enough to go in the radio broadcasting pantheon alongside the likes of Alan Freed and Wolfman Jack (a.k.a. Robert Weston Smith), but Casey Kasem certainly earned a spot. With his recent passing at age 82 it’s fitting that we pause to reflect not only on his life and career, but upon the medium in which he is best remembered.