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Opinion

Strong evidence against capital punishment

Just this week Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was almost gleeful in stating her intent to set execution dates for several inmates on the state’s death row. I worry about people who think capital punishment represents the great pinnacle of justice. Given her demonstrated proclivities to shill for all manner other ultra-conservative, anti-science and anti-environmental causes, the fact that she champions an ineffectual and draconian punishment philosophy is nauseatingly predictable. At least she’s consistent.

Justice and Freddie Gray

Local prosecutors, being elected to office, are subject to the rule of the people. Their decisions, however, are not — or at least they shouldn’t be. Any state’s attorney or district attorney worthy of the office gives public opinion about particular cases exactly the weight it deserves: zero.

Fiddling around, ignoring problems

You know the story about Nero fiddling while Rome burned? It didn’t actually happen, but it illustrates a point about leaders crazily ignoring a problem. These days, no illustration is needed. The government’s largest programs, Social Security and Medicare, are not burning up, but their problems are being ignored.

A growing family farm

A few weeks ago I wrote about a small gardening project I had undertaken. I built planter boxes and trellises against my old shed. I planted gourds, moonflowers and pumpkins in the boxes. The gourds and moonflowers are now snaking their way slowly up the trellises. I am hopeful that the summer will yield many flowers and alien-looking fruit.

First ladies independent and important

The old sentiment “behind every successful man is a strong woman” is a tad antiquated in an era when a woman is the putative presidential nominee of a major political party. Strength, intellect, creativity and rectitude have always been equally distributed across genders. Only in recent years has American culture finally begun to embrace that fact.

After Orlando, Exercises in Irrelevancy

In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Orlando, our leaders have shown a talent for devising remedies that are clear, simple and irrelevant. One politician after another has stepped forward with remedies that would not actually have stopped or appreciably hindered Omar Mateen from carrying out his slaughter.

Cleanup reflects systematic thinking

In a recent report published in The Commercial, local efforts to clean up the central part of the city were highlighted. A large group, including students from Watson Chapel High School, police officers, firefighters, a city bus and representatives of Waste Management, was led by Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth.

Trump, state of the GOP

It is difficult to envision U.S. Sen. John Boozman losing his re-election bid this November, but you have to give his opponent credit for giving it his best. Conner Eldridge, the Democratic nominee, is keeping as vigorous a calendar as his resources permit, and rarely a day passes without an e-mailed press release scorching, or trying to scorch, the Republican incumbent.

Rescuing elephants, at last

If you’re one of those people who go to the circus to see the animal acts, there is bad news: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey staged its final show using elephants on Sunday in Providence, Rhode Island. These animals have done their last tricks for human entertainment. All the elephants that have been part of the circus will be relocated to a 200-acre refuge in Florida.

America pushes outer limits

Today marks an auspicious anniversary in American technological achievement. Fifty-five years ago today Alan Bartlett Shepard blasted off from a launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to become the first U.S. astronaut to travel into space. Shepard’s flight lasted a mere 15 minutes, but it was enough to give the nation a great collective sigh of relief.

Being Bullish on Automobiles

It’s a pretty safe bet that most of us have never even seen a Lamborghini automobile in person. With its entry-level model, the Huracan, checking in around $200,000; and its big brother, the Aventador, demanding a cool half million dollars, sightings are understandably rare.

Better ordinances not crusades

Sometimes Pine Bluff City Council Alderman Steven Mays is like a dog with a bone: once he seizes on an issue, he just won’t let it go. Most probably recall the time and effort wasted with his crusade against the 71602 ZIP code. In shades of zealousness that are eerily similar, he has decided to waste the people’s time with a protracted and pointless harangue against contractor Danny Bradshaw of Mr. Brick Antique Buy and Sell, who has contracted with Pine Bluff to remove some of the collapsed buildings along Main Street.

Drop the appeal, open the file

Since writing my last weekly newspaper column for publication on Dec. 29, ending a run of more than 40 years, I can’t say I’ve missed the regular deadlines. But I have missed having an outlet for expression, which is important to a writer.