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February 23, 2011

Vol 37 • No 25

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The Razorbacks liked 'em slow and white in the old days

Too fast for Fayetteville.

From NLR to Seattle

Basketball players too left segregated Arkansas to play college basketball in places where they were more welcome, but their departure wasn't noticed as much.

Layoffs at Jacksonville bag plant

Roby Brock reports Graphics Packaging is closing a blag plant in Jacksonville, which will mean the loss of 150 jobs.

Federal judge upholds health care reform law

Federal Judge Gladys Kessler has issued a 64-page opinion upholding the federal health care reform law.It will be intersting to see how media treatmen and Fox/Koch/Drudge echo chamber coverage compares with the last ruling against the law.

Adventures of The Observer and Junior in newfangled videogame land

The Observer recently caved at the parental negotiation table and agreed to buy Junior one of those fancy-schmantzy gaming consoles — the ones with all the bells and whistles that can link to the Internet, pinpoint your location from space, and presumably find and terminate Sarah Conner if we ever spring for the Legs-and-Machine-Gun Expansion Pack.

Sit down; shut up

We don't need to be more civil in our discourse. We need to stop the discourse altogether.

Sea Nanners peel off a Round Three win

The eccentric indie rockers join the finals lineup; Round Four this Thursday.

A&E News: The Romany Rye, "The Last Ride," etc.

The self-congratulatory orgy Hollywood calls "award season"

On over-praising actors.

In Brief: "The Jam Session 3," The Libras, etc.

The Insider: Washington-Wilson win

The Insider: Bipartisan

The Insider: Moving on up

Orval, Feb. 23, 2011

Giamatti shines as boozy 'Barney'

So (un)happy together in 'Barney's Version.'

Hypocrite watch: Rep. Justin Harris

Fans of Arkansas politics were treated to an illustration this week of the core dishonesty of some conservatives.

The guns of February

Class warfare rages across America this month.

The To-Do List: Adam Faucett, Heartless Bastards, Pinetop Perkins and more

Republicans kill trail funding

Womack sides with party over NWA trail advocates.

What are highways for, anyway?

Whether one favors roads ought to depend on which roads.

Tax cut madness

To vote against a tax cut is supposed to be suicide for Republicans, and Democrats believe it too.

Words: "Exceptional for his mediocrity"

Mediocre means "commonplace; neither good nor bad." There are no degrees. Being "one of the most mediocre presidents" is the same as being "one of the least mediocre presidents."

What's Cookin': Pierre's Gourmet Pizza Co.

Chef/owner Michael Ayers has moved his restaurant into a mobile kitchen in a converted RV.

Veggie Deli

This little restaurant specializes in South Indian street food (chat), exclusively vegetarian. The prices are low — the most expensive menu item is $6 — so we ordered four items.

Eye on Arkansas: Little Rock Nine at Clinton School

This Modern World, Feb. 23, 2011

The Week That Was, Feb. 16-22

Good week: earthquakes, North Little Rock. Bad week: Rep. Justin Harris, Rep. John Burris, the sick and poor, Arkansas Republican Party.

Smart Talk: Womack cuts bikes, Obama

You decide if he deserves applause or a swift kick.

Smart Talk: Masterpiece delayed

A racy episode of "Downton Abbey" was retooled for AETN's schedule.

Smart Talk: Muckrakers wanted

The Center for Public Integrity is seeking applicants in all 50 states.

Letters: Tea Party, etc.

A Hunka deliciousness

Hunka Pie expands its menu in new location.

Mike Huckabee hosts Alaskan Christian cruise

A journey to the Holy Land too much for you, particularly with the Middle East unsettled?

Bryant parents complain about school grades

Trouble in paradise, Saline County-style. Interesting report on Fox 16 last night about unhappy parents at a Bryant School Board meeting.

More thoughts on Chef Lee

Rex Nelson talks about one of the many reasons why Chef Lee Richardson deserves some recognition over on his Southern-Fried Blog.

Retirement cleanup: Loophole?

Rep. Allen Kerr's bill to curb double-dipping by state employees draws criticism for exemptions.

Modest proposal: Stop National Anthem at most sporting events

Frank Deford should stir a tsunami of comments with his ESPN commentary that, because sports fans are so desensitized to the National Anthem, that it should no longer be played as matter of routine at sporting events, but saved for special occasions.

Rising costs eat up lottery scholarship

Easy come, easy go. A friend just got the news of an increase in the cost of attending Hendrix College in Conway.

Wednesday To-Do: Heartless Bastards

The bluesy, garage rock act from Austin returns to Little Rock.

Anti-immigrant measure battered in committee

The bill to prohibit state services — except life-saving — to people who can't prove their legal residency ran into tough questioning and extended debate today.

King of sap, Nicholas Sparks, to UCA

Best-selling novelist Nicholas Sparks, author of chick-flick fodder like "The Notebook," "Message in a Bottle," "A Walk to Remember," is coming to UCA's Reynolds Performance Hall at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15.

Wisconsin governor takes 'Koch' call

Do you think just anybody can get through to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for a 20-minute conversation on his union-busting activities?

Obama won't defend same-sex marriage ban law

I'm seeing some contradicting coverage on this. But it seems from this account that the Obama administration has concluded that one part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriages as only between a man and woman, is unconstitutional.

The annals of civil discourse: Hoosier hatemonger

Mother Jones finds a fine public official in Indiana. On Saturday night, when Mother Jones staffers tweeted a report that riot police might soon sweep demonstrators out of the Wisconsin capitol building—something that didn't end up happening—one Twitter user sent out a chilling public response: "Use live ammunition."

Patti Labelle to Statehouse Convention Center

80s Philly soul diva Patti Labelle is coming to the Statehouse Convention Center on March 17.

House passes sales tax holiday

With virtually no dissent, the House today passed another pointless tax break, on purchase of school clothing and supplies the first weekend in August.

House committee defeats immigrant bill

Most of the heat occurred during some three hours of testimony this morning. But a House committee reconvened after the House adjourned this afternoon for almost another hour of testimony on Rep. Jon Hubbard's bill to deny any state "benefits" to undocumented people, except for emergency of life-threatening situations.

Download: New Romany Rye track

The Romany Rye, the California-based folk-rock quintet made up of mostly dudes from Little Rock and North Little Rock, will release a full-length this summer (the first featuring the Arkansas dudes).

McDaniel says abortion amendment OK

You may recall that Sen. Cecile Bledsoe has attempted to pass legislation to prevent private insurance companies from providing insurance coverage for abortion to their private pay clients in new health exchanges set up under federal law.

Mike Huckabee links same-sex marriage to straights' divorce

Of course Mike Huckabee was ready with a shoot-from-the-lip response to President Obama's decision to stop defending the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act.

2011 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round Four: The Safe and Sounds

The Safe and Sounds play the fourth round of the Musicians Showcase this Thursday night.

2011 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round Four: Ginsu Wives

Ginsu Wives play the fourth round of the Musicians Showcase this Thursday night.

Hump day line

* Log Cabin Democrat says UCA will spend $200,000 on heat-and-air and window replacement at the president's home.

2011 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round Four: Mandy McBryde and the Unholy Ghost

Mandy McBryde and the Unholy Ghost plays the fourth round of the Musicians Showcase this Thursday night.

LR charter school in trouble

The state Education Department continues to indicate, after almost a decade, it's getting serious about regulation of charter schools.

2011 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round Four: Thunder Thieves

Thunder Thieves play the fourth round of the Musicians Showcase this Thursday night. Even though we have no clue who in the hell they really are.

The early Lyons

A friend in New York reminds me that, if you're taking the D-G just to get Gene Lyons, there's no need.

Thursday To-Do: Lara Downes

The Chamber Music Society of Little Rock hosts the acclaimed, world-renowned pianist

Majority black congressional district not possible

Roby Brock interviews Will Bond, the new state Democratic Party chairman, about congressional redistricting. Bond says it's not possible to draw a majority black congressional district.

The Broadway Bridge: repair or replace

John Brummett today reveals he'd asked the Highway Department about comparative costs on repairing the Broadway Bridge versus replacing it.

Charter school needs remedial math

The operator of the Little Rock Urban Collegiate Public Charter School for Young Men has always been hard for the Arkansas Times to reach, probably because we've been somewhat more skeptical of the representations and prospects of the operation than others, including state school officials who approved the project last year.

Gay marriage, a 2012 wedge issue

President Obama's decision to stop defending the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act will have political implications in 2012, a New York Times writer says.

Mike Huckabee: It's all about the money

Mike Huckabee made it clear to reporters yesterday that he'll delay a decision on a 2012 presidential run so he can continue to pile up money from lucrative media activities.

Burger joint of the week: Hunka Pie

Big thick third-of-a-pound burgers, nicely spiced and served up on a fabulous fresh Boulevard Bread Co. bun. What more could you ask for?

Lyon family gives $1.5 million to UAMS

Frank and Jane Lyon have given $1.5 million to the UAMS Institute on Aging for an expansion project.

Conway High emptied by empty grenade

A student brought a World War II-era grenade to Conway High East this morning, prompting an evacuation of the building.

Only one Ark. metro area shows growth

Interesting item from Roby Brock on new data that shows only one metro area in Arkansas experienced GDP growth in 2008-09.

Pitched battle in Libya

Sounding like today could be a climactic day in the Libyan struggle, with fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli.

Gun lobby wins another

Back when the gun lobby took away home rule on gun laws, they did leave the ability for a local government, by a two-thirds vote, to enact gun prohibitions during a state of emergency declared by a governor.

Shane Broadway interim head at Higher Ed

Gov. Mike Beebe announced that former Sen. Shane Broadway, who recently joined the Department of Higher Education as deputy director, will be its interim director while the state searches for a replacement for Jim Purcell, who's taking a similar job in Louisiana.

Blowing my horn

More work for Kat... involving burgers.

Highway tax plan rolled out

House Speaker Robert Moore rolled out the highway tax plan today. A 5-cent-a-gallon increase in the diesel tax and a half-cent sales tax increase.

Stormy weather

Keep on eye on the doppler and post your thoughts here. Thanks to the correspondent in SW Ark. who sent me the U.S. Chamber of Commerce letter urging a letter-writing campaign to Congress pleading for rejection of tax increases proposed by the Obama administration, plus rejection of its budget proposal.

Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round Four goes to Mandy McBryde & the Unholy Ghost

The electrified country and western quartet advance to next week's final round.

Thursday: Musicians Showcase, Namania Bogunovic, Josh Abbott Band

Thursday night offers up another round of the Musicians Showcase, Serbian guitarist Nemanja Bogunovic and Ol' Puddin'haid

Weekend: 'The Jam Session 3,' The Libras, Charlie Robison

The Little Rock Kickball Association returns to Dickey-Stephens Park for its annual "Chili With a Kick" kickball tournament and chili cook-off competition to benefit Youth Home Inc., $10.

Friday To-Do: Adam Faucett

One of the state's best songwriters releases his third album, "More Like a Temple," this Friday at White Water Tavern.

Saturday To-Do: 101 Runners

The Mardi Gras Indian funk band comes to Dreamland Ballroom to wrap up its three-day, pre-Mardi Gras tour of the state.

Saturday To-Do: Pinetop Perkins and Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith

Right off of a Grammy win for their album "Joined at the Hip," two blues icons come to Stickyz for what could be the best blues show in the entire world that night.

Saturday To-Do: 'The Ultimate Performing Art'

Wildwood plays an unlikely home to a night of MMA bouts from UFC fighter Roli Delgado, LRPD officer Josh Black and more.

Mike Huckabee's argument FOR gay marriage

Columnist Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post explains how Mike Huckabee unwittingly made an argument FOR gay marriage the other day in blasting President Obama's decision that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to discriminate against same-sex couples who have been married in states that have legalized such unions.

Arkansans to support Wisconsin workers

The Wisconsin Assembly early today approved union-busting legislation. The Senate, with its missing Democrats, is next.A rally is scheduled at noon Saturday in Little Rock at the Capitol steps to show support for Wisconsin workers.

Here come the loan sharks

Arkansas residents were warned that amending the Constitution last year would NOT set the interest rate limit at 17 percent for all time.

Pieday: Lemon Icebox at Rita's Restaurant

Pies don't have to be dolled up with whipped cream or ice cream or sprinkles to be good. Sometimes it's best to be humble.

McDaniel opposes loan shark bill

A Democrat-Gazette article on the loan shark bill being pushed by House Speaker-turned-lobbyist Robbie Wills and Republican lawmakers (with some corporately owned Democrats thrown in for good measure) quoted a spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who'd been a foe of payday lending, saying the bill was "not anything alarming."

Diana Ashley, Austin Grimes, Ariston Jacks, Arlette Miller and more

The 3rd annual Delta Visual Arts Show takes over Newport tomorrow, with work by 70 artists at three venues, workshops and receptions.

Performing at UA: Garoian

Performance artist Dr. Charles Garoian, former director of Penn State's School of Visual Arts and an author, will perform "Drawing Blinds" at 7 p.m.

House already looks to 2013 speaker's race

Both Jason Tolbert and Roby Brock are gnawing on the question of who'll be the next House speaker.

Lucinda Williams, Billy Joe Shaver to AMP in Fayetteville

Walton Arts recently announced a trio of shows at the Arkansas Music Pavilion, the Fayetteville amphitheater it recently acquired.

Ohio Club gets a make-over

The Ohio Club has a new owner and a new menu.

Annals of civil discourse — Obama threat

An attendee at a session with Republican Rep. Paul Broun brought the crazy to the public meeting.

Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round Four video recap

Footage of last night's Showcase semi-finalists, courtesy of Brian Chilson.

Shep Smith: Fox News' truth teller

Another believe-it-or-not moment from Fox News, thanks to Talking Points Memo: Fox News' Shepherd Smith broke down the Wisconsin protests for Juan Williams this week, declaring that it's all about politics and union busting, and "to pretend that this is about a fiscal crisis in the state of Wisconsin is malarkey."

Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round Four pics

Photos from last night's showcase.

The rising price of gas

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has issued a news release in response to the rising price of gasoline.

Six candidates for House 54 seat

Filing closed today for the April 12 primaries to choose nominees for House District 54 in Crittenden County, a suit vacated by Fred Smith after a felony conviction.

Officer Norris, where are you?

Just saw a Twitter with a link to this photo from Fox 16: Missing NLR K-9 Officer: Norris is a Belgin Malinois last seen around 5:30 am near Country Club and Calva Rds.

Arkansas Timescast, take two

Arkansas week in review: Episode 2 of the Arkansas Times weekly podcast.

Friday night lines

Over to you, blog fans.

New penguin display at Little Rock Zoo

Kat Robinson, the power behind our Eat Arkansas blog and increasingly otherwiise putting her brand on the Arkansas eating scene, also does a good bit of Travel Arkansas reporting, such as today with her sneak peak at the new penguin exhibit at the Little Rock Zoo.

Book review nails Mike Huckabee

New York Times columnist Gail Collins reviews Mike Huckabee's literary output today. It is not always a pretty sight.

Pondering the highway plan

Brummett says he can see no reason to oppose a nickel tax on diesel to rebuild the trucker-destroyed interstates, but has some concerns — though not about putting on the ballot — on a regressive sales tax for a four-lane plan to nowhere.

Those overpaid state workers

Public employees are a cosseted, overpaid bunch and well-deserving of whatever smackdown people like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker lay on them.

Justin Harris' hissy fit

Talk about a waste of government time and paper, not to mention outrageous. Rep. Justin Harris, the West Fork Republican and heir apparent to Mark Martin in that strange political corner of Arkansas, has already made headlines for his government-financed church school (which might offer to service to undocumented children) as he inveighs against government spending and illegal immigrants.

Open line

A nice quiet day for me. Worth noting: * Judge eats Mike Huckabee alive as he tries to explain how same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Fracked: the perils of shale exploration

Jamie, where are you? Need the standard Conway Chamber of Commerce defense of the squeaky clean, road-protecting, bonanza-producing gas drillers.

GOP senator praises 'humanitarian' loan sharks UPDATE

Sen. Jason Rapert thinks the loan shark bill is humanitarian. Really.

Livestock director Jon Fitch dies

Thanks to several who sent notes last night about the death of Jon Fitch, the former state senator who was director of the state Livestock and Poultry Commission.

Turning the car into a smart phone

Interesting column by Maureen Dowd this morning on her visit to Ford Motors to see its new inventions to load car dashboards with the means to run iPods, handle texts and emails and more.

You're up

Sunday line is open. Storm watch in effect.

Monday To-Do: 'Gasland'

Director Josh Fox returns to Central Arkansas to screen his Oscar-nominated documentary, "Gasland."

Mosler buys lodge for retreat

Slow morning, so why not pass along the handsome shot of a former hunting lodge near Stuttgart that has been purchased by Matt Mosler as a retreat center for the Channel 4 morning show host's Sherwood-based Christian ministry.

Who'll pay for government spending cuts?

Paul Krugman raises the question in the headline and answers it: Children. Sure.

Drawing congressional lines

The big fight is probably still several days or weeks ahead, but Roby Brock, with delves into the issue at some length today, is certainly correct that the debate over congressional redistricting will be a partisan tussle.

Bob Seger to Verizon

Bob Seger returns to Verizon.

"Progress" at Crystal Bridges?

Art experts are speculating that Alice Walton paid $40 million recently for the Asher B. Durand painting, "Progress."

Earthquake in Faulkner County

That quake late last night in Faulkner county, said to be a 4.7, was felt all over the place.

Willie Nelson to christen Springdale amphitheater a month after playing North Little Rock

Willie Nelson's Country Throwdown and Willie's Picnic is coming to the Osage Creek Amphitheater, a new venue west of Springdale and, a month earlier, to the North Shore Park in NLR.

Lisa Blount left out of Oscar "In Memoriam" montage

Arkansas native and Academy Award winner Lisa Blount was left out of last night's Oscar "In Memoriam" montage.

Arkansas Baptist begins business program

Arkansas Baptist College is rolling out a new effort today to encourage minority entrepreneurs. The Scott Ford Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Development will be housed in a new building at 16th and M.L. King.

Hendrix soon to open Christopher Janney's "Harmonic Pass"

Christopher Janney's permanent art/sound installation is soon to open at Hendrix College.

UAMS gets money for primary care

UAMS will announced tomorrow a "seven-figure" grant to increase the number of primary care physicians in the state.

Care about legislative redistricting?

The secretary of state invites comments on the redistricting process. This website is the place to go for information and to comment.

Randeep Mann gets life sentence for bombing

Randeep Mann, the Russellville doctor convicted in a bomb plot that seriously injured Trent Pierce of West Memphis, the chairman of the state Medical Board, was given a life sentence today in federal court in Little Rock.

Rep. Jon Hubbard has heart attack

The Arkansas Republican Party says freshman Rep. Jon Hubbard of Jonesboro was hospitalized over the weekend for a mild heart attack.

Mark Darr loves the Turk Plant

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter invented the Arkansas lottery. The new lieutenant governor, Mark Darr, didn't invent electricity, but he loves to see it generated by the coal-burning power plant in Hempstead County.

Madison, Wis., aka Stalingrad

Will Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ever go too far for even the most devoted union-haters?

New indictment in polling place bomb case

The U.S. attorney's office announced today that a superseding indictment had been issued in the case of Mark Krause, the Carroll County artist charged with placing an improvised explosive in a soda can at a polling place at Osage.

The Monday line

It is open. Note: * LOCAL BOY MAKES GOOD: Mike Haridopolos, described as a Florida teacher with a master's from the University of Arkansas and also a Republican with a yen to run for U.S. Senate, cooked up a deal to make more than $150,000 from a book on Florida politics that had a press run of exactly one book.

David Corn takes down Mike Huckabee

Another devastating review of Mike Huckabee's simple-minded "Simple Government," his little book that's mostly a demagoguic attack on elites.

Talking tall: Rep. Steve Womack

Freshman U.S. Rep. Steve Womack gets a mention in a New York Times article on the commitment of entering Republicans to cut federal spending or perhaps shut down the government if they don't get what they want.As Republican lawmakers returned this week to Washington after a week in their districts, they had perhaps even more determination than when they left.

Punishing public workers: The end game

Polling is mixed. (Here, for example, is a poll showing majority support for collective bargaining and against the idea of balancing budgets solely on the backs of organized workers.)

Travelling the Silk Road

Fort Smith — known for its healthy smattering of Vietnamese and Thai restaurants and for the indomitable Calico County — has its own couple of Indian joints that have recently opened. This one is awesome.

Rankings released on state tax burden

The Tax Foundation (which, just so you'll know, is not a progressive organization) has released its annual state-by-state ranking on various tax measures.

The status of women: still no pay parity

The White House has released what it calls the first comprehensive federal report on the status of women in 50 years.

Art history seminar at UALR: Here's the lineup

Keynote address is Thursday night.

Chamber of Commerce troll alert

Interesting item from the Washington Post: A group of House Democrats is calling on Republican leaders to investigate a prominent Washington law firm and three federal technology contractors, who have been shown in hacked e-mails discussing a "disinformation campaign" against foes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Blue Cross backs UAMS scholarships

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the giver of $1 million to UAMS to establish scholarships to train primary care physicians.

Jeff Nichols profiled in Texas Tribune

Jeff Nichols got good press on this weekend for his new film, "Take Shelter."

Dustin McDaniel attacks bath salts

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is nowhere to be found on the immense electric rate and environmental questions surrounding coal-burning power plants, once a popular playpen for pols.

Fluoride frenzy; bill approved UPDATE

The anti-flouride crowd is out in force to oppose a flouridation bill in House committee today.

Capitol survives lightning strike

Remember that fearsome lightning strike that hit the Capitol dome. Secretary of State Mark Martin's office reports it didn't damage the building.

Sheffield Nelson's push for severance tax

Sheffield Nelson has called in reporters today to pass around a copy of an updated version of his proposal to increase the severance tax on gas.

Beebe ready to roll on prison bill

The giant bill to overhaul prison law — primarily to reduce the expensive population by diversion of non-violent offenders, such as drug users, to better probation and parole systems — might be introduced today.

Ready for football? ASU is

I happened to notice Channel 4's post on the Arkansas State University football schedule. The Red Wolves' four openers: Illinois, Memphis, Virgina Tech, University of Central Arkansas.

Lottery scholarship cut endorsed

A legislative subcommittee is discussing the Arkansas Lottery this afternoon — specifically whether revenue can sustain the existing scholarships of $5,000 for students at four-year schools and $2,500 at two-year schools.

Prison phones lead to melee

A contraband sweep at the Arkansas Department of Corrections' Varner Unit early Saturday morning led to the seizure of several cell phones and an incident in which up to 20 inmates "jumped" four prison guards, sending them to the hospital and injuring one seriously enough that he was kept overnight and will require surgery to his face.

House passes interim spending plan

The federal government will stay open at least two more weeks through a temporary spending plan passed in the House today.

Republicans blocking spending bills

I have some calls out, but many House Republicans mounted something of a concerted effort today to stop some spending bills.

Toad Suck Review celebrates new release with Launchapalooza

Toad Suck Review, the new incarnation of the UCA Department of Writing-based Exquisite Corpse Annual, will celebrate its release on Friday, March 4, with the Toad Suck Review Launchapalooza on the rooftop of Michelangelo’s, 1117 W. Oak St., Conway.

Find more art news!

Brilliant as I am, I don't always put every new exhibit on my blog. And I rarely post calls for artists to enter work in exhibits across the state.

The Tuesday line

Mike Huckabee sticks foot in mouth — again. Republicans complain about health care reform — again. Little Rock School District looking for superintendent — again.