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Not just cheese also unicorns

On this day in 1835, the New York Sun newspaper tested the limits of public gullibility with the first in a series of fantastical stories about life on the moon. Five more would follow. The satirical pieces sparked international interest; and proved that a well-told whopper can snooker the best of us.

Public health or political pride

According to a recent report by Arkansas News Bureau, the state’s Medicaid expansion program commonly known as the private option is projected to have a positive impact on the state budget of $438 million between 2017 and 2021, a consulting firm hired by state legislators concluded recently.

The snap heard ‘round the world

On this day in 1920, 95 years ago, seven men assembled in the Jordan and Hupmobile showroom at Canton, Ohio, to organize an important forerunner of the National Football League. Among those gathered at the inception of the American Professional Football Conference (APFC) was legendary athlete, Jim Thorpe.

False dichotomy limits options

The likely closure of Entergy’s White Bluff coal-fired electrical plant has been met with a lot worry by many in the region. Those worries center primarily on the loss of jobs and the putative hit to the local economy. While such concerns are certainly warranted, they miss both the larger environmental and economic pictures.

An ignoble and enduring tradition

It is a comforting, yet possibly naïve belief that America has made strides in the way it expresses political and social dissent, but as history ably shows, such beliefs are more false comfort than real progress. This week we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Watts Riots in Los Angeles, California.

Only equal protection will save us

At a forum sponsored by the Political Animals Club in Little Rock last week, Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, and Rep. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock discussed the possibility of amending the Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Tucker said Friday he may propose changes to the law that would provide protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Giving no quarter for Chambers

Most of us are probably used to hearing politicians say things that are ill-conceived, irrational or just outright dumb. In the current age of information overload, the Internet has made it possible for us to branch out into the verbal landmines of political figures all over the world. As if we didn’t have enough fodder at our state and local fingertips, we can now borrow the miseries of constituents the world over.

Shouldering our fair share

As recently reported by The Commercial, Pine Bluff City Council member, George Stepps proposed an idea last Thursday at a Pine Bluff City Council Development and Planning Committee meeting that would create a one-half-cent sales tax with a three year sunset to support revitalization of downtown in conjunction with Simmons Bank’s previously announced offer to spend millions of dollars on downtown in the form of direct expenditures and loans.

Fishers of men or fools?

While historians can’t say for certain exactly how April 1 came to be celebrated as April Fools’ Day, most proffer a religious connection dating to 1582. Most scholars believe the day has its origins in 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII decreed the adoption of the “Gregorian calendar” — named after himself — which moved New Year’s Day from the end of March to Jan. 1.

Extremists count on your credulity

On Friday, the Arkansas Senate passed House Bill 1228 (SB 202), a bill to enact the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Supporters assert that the bill would offer protections to individuals and businesses who do not want to serve certain individuals based on their religious beliefs. The bill is now headed back to the House for a final amendment approval. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

Ted Cruz and the Born-Again GOP

President Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill making “In God We Trust” the nation’s official motto, but his approach to religion was not excessive in its rigor. “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious belief,” he once declared, “and I don’t care what it is.”

BUMPY RIDES ON HIGHWAYS MAY LAST

On Interstate 40 near Brinkley a couple of weeks ago, I drove past a sign reading something like, “Big pothole ahead.” I can’t recall ever before seeing a road sign like that on an interstate, but it was certainly accurate. Actually, “crater” would have been a better word.