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Opinion

Halloween history agendas and errors

As the annual ritual of disguised children panhandling for confections is upon us, it’s proper we examine what we think we know about Halloween. Many religious conservatives eschew Halloween, referencing its alleged demonic connections. Given the murky origins of the holiday, a little lesson in history and culture is warranted.

Dreading Ebola

One of the profound challenges of our age is how to evaluate risk from complex threats. At one level, experts provide scientific facts about, say, the transmissibility of a disease, and they can quantify the prospects for contagion. At another level, human emotions measure risk with irrational but powerful gut feelings. In a 1987 essay in Science magazine, Paul Slovic of the University of Oregon cautioned that emotions and science must be given equal weight. He wrote that “there is wisdom as well as error in public attitudes and perceptions.” His message was that, in communicating and dealing with perceptions of risk, fears and dread need to be considered as carefully as precise measurements by experts.

Great wrong set right

As reported Thursday by the Arkansas News Bureau, the Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously struck down Act 595 of 2013, which required voters to show photo identification before being allowed to cast their ballots. While the Justices were unified in their decision, there was a division with regard to their predicate reasoning.

Signal Internet innovation anniversary

Twenty years ago this week, the Internet took a giant leap toward broad public use. Back in 1994, two technology pioneers, Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen, of Mosaic Communication Corporation released an innovative new way to access online information. Their brainchild was called Netscape Network Navigator.

Courts correcting election carnival

Last week the United States Supreme Court blocked officials in Wisconsin from enforcement of that state’s voter identification law. Under this measure, voters would have been required to show photo identification before casting their ballots in the coming November election.

Watson’s resistance is laudable

It’s an issue that local policymakers confront regularly —- the law has gotten in the way of their ill-conceived designs. In this particular instance, Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Linda Watson stands as the last buttress against a legally questionable action relating to additional pay for Pine Bluff High School Principal Michael Nellums.

Charity tougher than enamel

Forty years ago today, German businessman Oskar Schindler died at age 66. Schindler is best remembered for his role in saving 1,200 Jews from deportation to Auschwitz, Nazi Germany’s largest concentration camp. Schindler’s story was commemorated in the 1993 Academy Award-winning film, Schindler’s List.

Tragic catalyst for safety

In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt gave an address to Congress now known as the “Four Freedoms” speech. In it he enumerated a set of inalienable human rights. He discussed: freedom of expression; freedom of religion; freedom from want; and the fourth freedom — freedom from fear.