The Friday following Thanksgiving — a slow news day, no deadlines looming; my wife out of town and the kids and the grands all occupied with whatever. So, with some time on my hands, I thought to begin the Christmas season with a long overdue call to an old friend in the nation’s capitol.
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The Arkansas Razorbacks lost to both Mississippi schools this year in football, but at least the state leads in another, more important area: the number of adults age 25-64 with college degrees.
All involved would likely agree that the most recent meeting of the Pine Bluff City Council was less than ideal. In particular, Mayor Debe Hollingsworth’s abrupt adjournment in response to questions from Alderman Glen Brown was not the best way to handle the situation.
Even under the most ideal circumstances, policing and other aspects of the administration of justice in the United States can be characterized as hard work and a high-wire balancing act conducted on land. It involves the attempt by justice system officials to protect the lives and property of the broader public while simultaneously assuring that those individuals who threaten those lives and possessions are also afforded the protections of our laws and Constitution. Achieving that delicate balance is made all the more difficult when attempted on a slippery slope.
Growing up in Arkansas, it was a given that I would be a Razorback fan. Although my parents are from Georgia, they moved to Fayetteville to work at the University of Arkansas for Campus Crusade for Christ after they graduated from college. By the time I was born they had transferred to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, but calling the Hogs was already a family tradition.
In the opening credits of the gritty HBO crime series, “The Wire”, viewers see a street thug break a surveillance camera with a rock. It’s an act of contempt against the perceived omnipresence and intrusion of government into his neighborhood. But as regular viewers might note, the subject of “The Wire” was the violence of drug dealing.
One of the casualties of the do-little 113th Congress will be the 2013 farm bill, which is two years overdue.
The costly, counterproductive war on drugs has turned the United States into incarceration nation. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, 716 of every 100,000 people in this country are locked up, by far the highest rate in the world, well ahead of such beacons of freedom as Rwanda, Cuba and Russia.
When I was around 17 my father gave me a piece of advice. I didn’t know it at the time — sitting there waiting for the traffic signal to change at the intersection of the Martha Mitchell Expressway and Blake Street — but the brief admonishment would have profound consequences for my life. As Thanksgiving is the one day each year we’re almost legally obliged to ponder that for which we are thankful, this seems as good a time as any to share that advice.
The Avilla/Zion Community Garden won’t end hunger, stop childhood obesity, reform welfare, clean up the environment or reinvigorate the American community by itself. But it’s a start.