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Holiday tip: Shop local, give smart

Well, if you’re reading the paper, it’s a good guess that you survived Thanksgiving with its temptations to things that are bad for the heart like rich, heavy desserts and sitting next to dyspeptic Uncle Phil. Coffee and a piece of pie for breakfast? Check. Nap for lunch? Check. Leftovers and football this afternoon? Check, check.

Middle East medicine too late

Not since the early days of the Cold War has American society faced as large an existential crisis as it does now. We know from high school civics class the nation we ought to be. Sadly, international terrorism and xenophobic hate speech from the political margins is turning us away from those simple, but noble ideals.

A day of thanks

It would have been easy on Oct. 3, 1863, for President Lincoln — or anyone else — not to be thankful. The nation (or nations, depending on one’s perspective) was still mired in a terrible Civil War, and while the Union had enjoyed victories that summer in Gettysburg and Vicksburg, much bloody fighting remained. Earlier that year, Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, had been injured in a carriage “accident” caused by an assailant sabotaging the driver’s seat. Their beloved son, Willie, had died the previous year at age 11.

Council makes right decision

At its most recent meeting, members of the Pine Bluff City Council voted to reject council member Thelma Walker’s proposed ordinance to increase the tax on hotel stays. While opposition was motivated by different reasons, the council arrived at the correct decision. Whether a general rejection of new taxes or a vote against an ill-conceived measure, this was a step in the right direction.

Republican tax fantasies

The Republican presidential candidates have not rallied behind Ben Carson in his clash with the news media, but they should be grateful to him. His misrepresentation of reality on matters concerning his past has distracted attention from his rivals’ misrepresentations of reality on a matter concerning the nation’s future: tax policy.

When the backbeat began

This week in 1955, Richard Wayne Penniman of Macon, Georgia, made musical history. Better known to the world as “Little Richard,” Penniman walked into a New Orleans recording studio and laid down the early rock and roll hit, “Tutti Frutti.” What most don’t know, the song Little Richard presented to legendary producer, Bumps Blackwell, and the one that was finally recorded were very different.

Why We Should Take More Syrian Refugees

In the months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell sometimes invoked what he referred to as the Pottery Barn Rule: “You break it, you own it.” The obligations of ownership are now coming due, in the form of millions of refugees desperate to escape the strife of the Middle East.

Saving our public schools

Across the U.S. our public elementary and secondary schools are under siege from financial, ideological, political and demographic crosscurrents that threaten their survival. We are all quite familiar with these crosscurrents since they have been well documented and have been evident for more than 50 years. First came the push for racial integration during the early 1960s through late ’70s, which led, in places outside of the south, to white flight to the suburbs.

Coco and white pants

Labor Day marked the symbolic end of summer. While astronomical fall doesn’t begin until Sept. 23, the mood has already begun to shift from crisp white to autumnal orange. This segue can also be seen in another seasonal shift: the custom of putting away one’s white clothing until Easter, next spring.

No, the system is not broken

If there is anything presidential candidates agree on this year, it’s that our government and politics are not functioning to fulfill the desires of the American people. Donald Trump proclaims that “our system is broken.”