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Opinion

The fiddler is still on the roof

The New York Times ran this dispatch from the Ukrainian city of Donetsk: “Worshippers at the Bet Menakhem-Mendl synagogue … confronted a horrifying scene as they left a Passover service this week: masked men on a sidewalk handing out leaflets demanding that Jews register and pay a fine or leave the area, witnesses said.”

Kitchen makeover

‘Twas the night before Easter and all through our house, my dear wife’s howls of delight echoed. (After almost 33 years in matrimony I can distinguish her howls — joy, anger, delight, frustration, irritation, amusement — fixed points on her emotional register).

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.

Term limits, age and experience

Has term limits led to a younger, more inexperienced General Assembly since the people of Arkansas approved the idea in 1992? The issue is likely to be debated this year because state legislators have placed a measure to extend term limits on the November 2014 ballot.

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.

Paul Ryan misrepresents his Irish roots

Reflections upon the recent holiday: The first time my wife saw tears in my eyes was in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, at the tomb of Jonathan Swift. The brilliant 18th-century Irish satirist was my first and most enduring literary hero, a towering figure who Yeats thought “slept under the greatest epitaph in history” — composed by Swift himself.

Freedom by comparison

This week media outlets all over the country have been trumpeting the importance of transparent government and the necessity of accessible government records. Along with these admonishments, we’ve cited notorious examples of governmental secrecy that worked against the public good; and we’ve given examples where determined journalists wrenched information from the claws of the corrupt.

The election is not quite over

Democrats are reeling. They’re playing defense, not offense. Their loss in a Florida election for a vacant House seat — in a district President Obama carried twice — was a devastating blow. As Robert Gibbs, the president’s former spokesman, admitted on NBC’s “Meet the Press:” “There’s a real, real danger that Democrats could suffer big losses” this fall.

Putin’s illusory triumph

Bungling is an inherent feature of American foreign policy. Even with the best of intentions, our presidents miss warning signs, overreact to minor threats, fail to dissuade other governments from doing things we oppose and wade into situations that blow up in our faces.

Put the public back in public information

This week is Sunshine Week, a nationwide discussion about the importance of access to public information and what it means for you and your community. During this week we pay special attention to our collective obligation to bring some “sunshine” to the often shadowy processes of government decision-making.

We keep driving, flying

Transponder — I sort of knew what that does. It’s an electronic thing that sends electronic signals automatically, from one airplane to another, or to and from airplane and satellite, or to and from an airplane to a receiver-transmitter on the ground. It sends these signals automatically, at designated intervals. Unless it’s turned off.

A year with no highway work? It’s possible

One of the basic functions of government is to provide infrastructure for its citizens. Safe water, roadways, bridges, utilities — these are things that we rely on (and often take for granted) each and every day. The quality of our infrastructure plays a big role in determining the quality of our life.