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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?

Going bananas about monkey health

Musical funnyman Weird Al Yankovic performs a memorable song titled “Everything You Know is Wrong.” The chorus goes in part, “Everything you know is wrong. Black is white, up is down and short is long; and everything you thought was just so important doesn’t matter.”

Shifting realities from slave to criminal

On this day in 1514, Pope Leo X issued a papal bull condemning both slavery and the slave trade. This decree followed dicta by two of his predecessors, each of whom had the potential to strongly curtail — or at least prevent the expansion of – the African slave trade. As history well-reflects, the repugnant trade in human beings was neither ended nor substantially impeded.

Damaged bridge

Bizarre and outrageous as it is, the notion that political appointees at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey engineered a huge traffic jam to get even with a local mayor would not normally dominate national news. What sets apart the multiday backup in September in Fort Lee, N.J., is that those who allegedly plotted it are close to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll, the best-liked possible candidate of any party.

Fifty years in circles

This week in 1964 President Lyndon Johnson set the nation on a course to fight the perils of being poor. The so-called “war on poverty” began at a time when approximately 20 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line.

Real safety or theatrical safety

At the most recent meeting of the Pine Bluff City Council, a measure to spend $175,000 on an “image campaign” passed by a vote of 5 to 3. It is a rare day that this body’s public policy moves surprise us, but this vote wanders into a whole new realm of political imprudence. At a time when the fire department is critically short-staffed and the police department lacks funds to renovate the historic Joe Thomas Building, this kind of windmill tilting expenditure boggles the mind.

Washington’s address still instructive

On this date in 1790 President George Washington complied with Article II, Section 3 of the U. S. Constitution when he delivered the first State of the Union address to the assembled members of Congress, who had gathered in New York City. This part of the Constitution requires the president to, “…from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient…”

Driving the communal ambulance

In looking back at the year just ended, we note great progress embedded deep within a sad familiar refrain. According to aggregated monthly reports from the Pine Bluff Police Department, our annual homicide toll remains far too high and on par with 2012. By the same token, the city’s monthly calls for police service have decreased by almost 20 percent. That equates to an average decrease hovering around 200 calls per month.

Darr’s resistance brings shame

It’s pretty cut and dried: Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr should resign. As reported by Arkansas News Bureau, Darr recently signed a settlement with the state Ethics Commission agreeing to pay $11,000 in fines for 11 separate violations of state campaign finance and disclosure laws.

Obamacare’s payoff

It’s still unclear how well the Affordable Care Act will function. But on Wednesday, the law started working for a good chunk of those it was designed to help. The formerly uninsured who signed up for health-care plans under its provisions are now able to use their new coverage. As The Washington Post’s Lena H. Sun and Amy Goldstein reported Sunday, those people include Illinois financial consultant Adam Peterson, 50, who will be able to get long-needed gallbladder surgery, and Tennessee student Emily Wright, 28, who can have a specialist look at a suspicious mole.