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New school BUS program announced

With the waning days of summer comes the clatter of children returning to school. For many students the journey to the halls of academe is made via school bus. The increased presence of school buses on our streets reminds us to slow down and be more watchful anywhere students and roadways come together.

Doubling down on failure

When President Obama announced in 2011 the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, he was sanguine about that nation’s future. U.S. soldiers could be “proud of their success,” he said, and he was “confident” that Iraqis would “build a future worthy of their history as a cradle of civilization.”

Obama should seize the moment in Ferguson to lead on race

Once upon a time, there was a man who gave moving and important speeches about race. He was careful to respect history, to call out injustice, to acknowledge competing anxieties — and, crucially, to elucidate a path forward. His speeches touched Americans of every color and background and gave them hope that it is possible to make progress in their great national project of creating a more just and equal society.

Ebola threat demands attention

The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has seized the world’s attention like a summer horror movie. The images of a terrible disease without a cure have surged across news and social media. Late last week, a spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO) said the scope of the outbreak appears to have been “vastly underestimated.” Tantalizing reports of experimental drugs have raised hopes and then deflated them. The drugs are not only unproven, but they also don’t yet exist in more than a tiny quantity.

Slow justice for the killing fields

As has been widely reported, a Cambodian court recently found the two most senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced them to life in prison. The Khmer Rouge brutalized Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 and is thought to be responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people.

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.

Good neighbors

The Supreme Court considered two cases this term in which somewhat unclear wording in the federal Clean Air Act left sensible environmental rules open to challenge. On Tuesday, in the first case, the justices rightly sided with the sensible rules.

Storm safety requires thought and planning

In the wake of terrible destruction in Mayflower and Vilonia, it’s fitting that we pause to reconsider some of the things we think we know about tornado safety. Owing to their dramatic effects, tornadoes are ripe for myths and misinformation. If we errantly follow some of these misinformed directives, we and our families can pay a dear price.

Inaugural bicenquasquigenary observed

“Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the fourteenth day of the present month.” These were the first public words uttered by George Washington upon his inauguration as the first U.S. president, 225 years ago today.

Praying for victims of tornado

We don’t ever get used to hearing about the dead in the aftermath of tornadoes. No matter how many of the deadly storms twist through our region in a year, the next year the stories of the dead still land like a punch to the solar plexus.

Unwelcome correspondence unfortunate resistance

In a recent rhetorical melee between three influential members of the community and members of the Pine Bluff School Board, an unflattering truth was revealed. Irrespective of the issues addressed in the heated correspondence, these events should give us pause to consider who we’ve elected to oversee our school district.

Grist of war and history

Today we note the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Marks’ Mills in Cleveland County, near New Edinburg. Named for Hastings Marks who’d built several nearby grist mills, the encounter was arguably one of the most important battles west of the Mississippi River.

Three-quarters failed and growing

Whatever we’re doing, it isn’t working. At least that’s what one might readily conclude after reading the recent Bureau of Justice Statistics special report, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010. Written by Matthew Durose, Alexia Cooper and Howard Snyder, BJS statisticians, the report cites irrefutable evidence that prisons in America are little more than temporary criminal warehouses. Their study is based on data from 30 states (including Arkansas).

Refuge renaming is fitting

Although Dale Bumpers disarmingly wrote about himself as “The Best Lawyer in a One-Lawyer Town,” there’s no one around here who doubts the substantial impact former Arkansas governor and senator made on his home state.