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Pride before and after falls

With the dangerous collapse of a second aging building along Main Street, Pine Bluff has arrived at a critical juncture. Either our municipal leaders step up to the plate and do what needs be done; or we steel ourselves for worse to come.

Curbing crime slowly but scientifically

Few people have studied the issue of crime deterrence more than Professor Daniel Nagin, who holds faculty appointments both at Carnegie-Mellon University and the Harvard School of Law. In a just-released bulletin, the National Institute of Justice lists some of Nagin’s findings with regard to making communities more safe.

An offer police can’t refuse

If you’ve ever tried to hammer a screw into a board then you know there’s a high probability of breaking the screw. Sadly, that’s exactly what the United States has chosen to do with millions of people who have a mental illness. According to recent report in “USA Today,” American jails and prisons are overflowing with the mentally ill. By failing to provide adequate public mental health care, millions of Americans are simply swept into the dust bin of society.

Lights dimmed over long legs

Elaine Stritch once quipped, “I don’t think there’s any thrill in the world like doing work you’re good at.” If she was right, she led a life filled with thrills. Stritch, a mainstay of Broadway theater, died this week, at age 89.

Don’t be Lawrence of Arkansas

On this day in 1935, one of history’s most remembered motorcycle crashes occurred. Storied British warrior, archaeologist and adventurer, T. E. Lawrence — known more commonly as Lawrence of Arabia — crashed his motorcycle in an effort to avoid two young boys riding bicycles. Lawrence would succumb to his injuries six days later.

The mother of all battles

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.” The preceding quote from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche hardly seems appropriate as the opening sentiment in a Mother’s Day remembrance, but as history shows, Nietzsche’s dark thought may be more apropos than we’d like to acknowledge.

Venezuela in free fall

As Venezuela plummets toward economic and social chaos, the successors to Hugo Chavez are flailing in all directions. Some of their actions have the ring of pragmatism: With inflation nearing 60 percent and 30 percent of basic goods in shortage, the government recently modified its byzantine currency-exchange system to allocate more dollars for private-sector imports. Under pressure from Brazil and other Latin American governments, it has begun a political dialogue with moderate opposition leaders.

Public theft communal miseries

There are few instances when stealing from one of us is a theft from all of us. Perhaps the best example of such public revocations comes when great works of art are taken from their rightful owners. Today marks the 20th anniversary not of a major theft, but of an important return. On this day in 1994, The Scream, by Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch, was recovered after having been stolen for three months.

Raped on campus

At American University, disturbing e-mails from male students denigrating women and making light of rape roil the campus. At Dartmouth College, the new president delivers a stern lecture about a dangerous culture of extreme drinking and sexual violence. At Columbia University, 23 students file federal complaints about a hostile school environment. At Harvard University, the student newspaper publishes a searing essay from a female student detailing how she suffered from a sexual assault while her assailant went unpunished.

Iraq’s descent

Iraq’s best days in the past decade have been its elections, and somewhat surprisingly, Wednesday was one of them. Though the country is sliding into civil war — the United Nations reported that 750 people were killed by political violence in April — about 12 million people went to the polls to vote in the first parliamentary elections held without the presence of U.S. troops. The turnout, a reported 58 percent, was higher than in most U.S. presidential elections. Iraqis remain eager to practice democracy, even if their rulers are not.

Droning on about technology

Over the last year the Federal Aviation Administration has received a lot of criticism for its rules prohibiting the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) more commonly known as “drones.” On one side of the debate are corporate interests (namely Amazon.com) who see the technology as part of an untapped delivery modality and journalists who see drone use as a matter of First Amendment expression. On the other is the privacy lobby. Those in this corner are exemplified by the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union and Sen. Rand Paul.