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A day of gratitude

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the Weekly Republican Address, U.S. Sen.-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas delivers a Thanksgiving message that recognizes the many blessings bestowed upon America and its citizens while offering special thanks and gratitude to our troops and their families during the holiday season. A full transcript of the address follows:

It’s time for U.S. to upgrade old thinking on old nukes

The publicized mishaps — they shouldn’t be called scandals — in recent years by Air Force and Navy personnel in charge of nuclear weapons give the White House and Congress a chance to rethink the U.S. deterrence mission before returning airmen to those buried missile silos or sending sailors off on new strategic submarine patrols.

The game of games

Nov. 1, the Arkansas Razorbacks played the No. 1 team in the nation – Mississippi State and lost in a true nail-biter at the last moment. The same thing occurred in December 1969, when our Hogs lost the “Game of the Century” to Texas on national TV with President Nixon in the stands. Both were heart-breakers.

Pine Bluff going forward

About 12 years ago I returned to Pine Bluff, my hometown, after spending nearly 40 years living elsewhere. One of my favorite preoccupations from the start has been the writing of letters and guest columns to The Commercial .

The class of ‘69 had its dreams, too

I received a special honor this weekend. I was asked back to give the keynote speech at the El Dorado High School Class of ‘69’s 45th reunion. I taught English IV that year. I was a bit apprehensive at first. Yet, at the end of the speech, I enjoyed a standing ovation and was “over the moon” because of the “Thank-you-for what-you-did-for-me” remarks and the student who asked, “You goin’ with anyone right now?” before slapping Freemon on the shoulder. The following includes portions of that speech …

Saying a killer ‘snapped’ does not explain domestic violence

When Ronald Lee Haskell was accused of killing six members of his ex-wife’s family in Texas this month, I wondered how long it would take for a news report to suggest that the suspect had “snapped.” The scope and horror of the crime — the victims included four children ages 4 to 14 — meant it took a little while for this media narrative to show up. But there it was, two days later, familiar from innumerable stories of domestic violence that end in murder. An Alaska TV station gathered the observations of childhood friends, who described the youthful Haskell as funny, compassionate and religiously devout, then cited one friend’s observation that “Haskell must have snapped.” The reporter let the description hang there, and closed the piece, as if a single verb said it all. Rarely does a single word attempt to explain so much and fail so completely.

Basic steps can ensure a safe ATV ride

I couldn’t even begin to count the number of children I have seen critically injured in all-terrain vehicle crashes in my 20-plus years as a surgeon at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. But I can tell you what I almost always hear from their parents: They wish their child had been wearing the right helmet or been better educated on how to ride the vehicle safely.

A tribute to my Willie

She never wore a frilly cap. She never wore a ruffled white apron over a black uniform with matching shoes because she wasn’t a real maid. Most of all, she was my babysitter and friend. She wore dresses she had sewn herself from feed sacks and navy felt house shoes when her feet ‘got to botherin.’ She was a heavyset woman with a large lap and bosom to cradle my head. She always smelled of Faultless Starch and I thought it was the best smell in the world. Her name was Willie Mae. And I loved her.

We mourn Israeli teens, but what about Americans?

Last week, the bodies of three Israeli teenagers who had been abducted and shot to death while hitchhiking were found in a field near Hebron. While Israel mourned their deaths, leaders in the United States offered their condolences and prayers. Senators and members of Congress took to Twitter and Facebook to mourn the deaths and to reaffirm their support for Israel. The boys’ names were reported nationally, and cable news extensively covered the incident. The president issued a statement.

Hobby Lobby case is an attack on women

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in the nationally followed Hobby Lobby case. The for-profit corporations that brought these cases to the Supreme Court — a craft store and a cabinet manufacturer — argued that the corporations’ religious convictions should excuse them from compensating their employees through the comprehensive health insurance required by law. Specifically, these private employers sought to exclude insurance coverage of several forms of birth control because, contrary to medical and scientific evidence, the corporations’ owners believe some birth control causes abortions.

The case for climate action

What is perhaps the greatest challenge to humanity in our lifetime? Climate change. It threatens our security, our health, our families and our economy. Over 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists agree that humans are causing it primarily by burning fossil fuels and deforestation. Most say that we have little time left to reverse the trend. Because the full effects of climate change appear incrementally and affect different parts of the world in different ways, it’s easy to deny that it is happening. Ignoring the signs and trends is a very serious mistake. The recently published U.S. National Climate Assessment, released on May 6, 2014, reminds us how serious the consequences of climate change will be.