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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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A half-baked school lunch plan

The federal government spends more than $10 billion a year on the National School Lunch Program, which serves more than 30 million students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For that, taxpayers should expect schools not to feed their children junk.

Chicken rising from the ashes

The Summit Poultry/Horizon Foods deal has until now been a mess for the Economic Development Corporation of Jefferson County. It could have been a huge boon to the local economy, but it just never came to pass. All that stands to change now thanks to a new agreement reached between the Economic Development Corporation (also known as the “tax board”) and a new group of investors.

Justice, privilege and media attention

In our age of omnipresent news coverage it might be tempting to think that media furors over salacious crimes are a contemporary creation. The fact of history suggest otherwise. Ninety years ago today, May 21, 1924, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, committed a brutal murder that drew international attention on par with O.J. Simpson’s legal travails.

Forced to forget

Many people have a link or two they wish wouldn’t pop up when they Google their own names. They will appreciate the motivation of an audacious ruling the European Court of Justice handed down Monday. But the ruling could easily damage the flow of information on which the Internet depends.

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.