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Brain Scars

Brain Scars

March 24, 2016

Vol 42 • No 29

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How abuse beats up the brain

Research and therapy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences suggest that children who've suffered at the hands of abusers need not lead lives defined by their pain. Therapy can help them change the way they think, creating not just behavioral changes but changes in the way their brains are wired. Brains, it appears, are altered by trauma, but can possibly be healed.

Public input: Who needs it?

Also: Orrin Hatch on Merrick Garland, then and now; the ballad of John La Tour, Stephens anti-Trump money

Finding Gary Busey

I love crazy like Oprah loves bread. And for weeks, there's only been one thing on my mind: meeting the living embodiment of insanity that is Gary Busey at the First Ever 13th Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade in Hot Springs.

Puff, puff, pass?

The campaign for medical marijuana in Arkansas was a squeaker in 2012, with the outcome — and the availability of a medicine that supporters claim is vital for chronically ill patients — failing by less than 2 percent of the vote.

Judicial politics: It's time

The legislature will discuss judicial elections this year.

The major questions are related:

Should we elect judges at all?

If judges are to be elected, shouldn't we have more information about who pays to influence the outcomes?

You want to read a book for free?

Asa Hutchinson stands in the library door.

Prime time pozole, big burritos

For those of us who grew up on Browning's Mexican food in the 1960s, marveled when Juanita's introduced us to fajitas and Blue Mesa to white cheese dip in the 1980s and somehow still think Casa Manana and Senor Tequila are "authentic Mexican," it's nice to get tips about restaurants where the patrons are working-class folks for whom Spanish is the primary or only language, where the signs are in Spanish and the TV blares Mexican soap operas or music videos.

Ignoring the founders

Before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell chose to deny President Obama his duty to appoint a Supreme Court justice, he might have asked himself the WWTFD question: What would The Founders do?

Charters not a choice for all

I am a special education teacher in the Little Rock School District and a parent of a kindergartner at Gibbs Magnet Elementary School. I love my job, I love my school and I love my community.

Quapaw Quartet free at Capital Hotel

"Jurassic Park" at Ron Robinson.

Failing Gideon

On March 18, 1963, a diminutive man accused of stealing $5 and soda from a pool hall threw himself at the mercy of the Supreme Court and changed the course of American history.

Politics as sport

Some days I wonder if I'm qualified to express opinions about American politics anymore. See, I'm not particularly angry, and I also doubt that voters in general are any more worked up than usual. Voter outrage is mainly a media trope. Even at Donald Trump rallies, there's a whole lot of sheer entertainment and play-acting.

Filmmaking under quarantine

In late 2014, postings and word-of-mouth offerings for journalism jobs to cover the Ebola crisis in West Africa began popping up. Tellingly, one of the stipulations was that if you were to assist on-site with producing a documentary, you'd have to be available for a 45-day quarantine upon your return to the States.


The Observer has been in a funk lately for a number of reasons: revulsions and slights, both foreign and domestic. We get that way most years as the winter drags on, once the tinsel and colored lights of Christmas drop into the rearview, soon after we come off the New Year's Day hangover.

Spring duties

Spring break brings with it a need for cleanup and restarts and whatnot. Therefore, prescriptions are set forth herewith for Arkansas athletics in general.

Ask the Times: How does public education work in Arkansas?

'Bill Clinton Hercules'; Chris Maxwell

Plus Women's History Month, Brian Whelan and more.

Tom Cotton endorses waterboarding of terror suspect

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton said in an interview on CNN yesterday that he supported use of waterboarding on a suspect in terror attacks in Belgium and France.

Ethics Commission will investigate complaints about Conservative Arkansas PAC

The state Ethics Commission has decided to investigate ethics complaints over campaign finance activites by the Conservative Arkansas PAC and reporting related to Senate campaigns by Sen. Jon Woods and former Rep. John Burris.

State Police correct identity of suspect shot by Pine Bluff police

There was confusion yesterday in identification of a young man shot by Pine Bluff police serving an arrest warrant.

Draft legislation released for continuation of private option

Draft legislation is circulating today for "Arkansas Works," Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to continue the private option with some alterations that the governor negotiated with the Obama administration.

Mike Maggio gets maximum 10-year sentence for taking bribe as judge

Mike Maggio, the defrocked circuit judge who pleaded guilty to taking a bribe to reduce a  verdict in a nursing home negligence case, got a 10-year federal prison sentence today, the maximum.

Dallas Cowboys implicated in finding of flawed NFL concussion research

The New York Times reports today that it has found serious flaws in research done by the National Football League on concussions. A committee formed in 1994 issued reports playing down the danger of head injuries.

Wrapping up with an open line

Here's your open line and video roundup.

Draft legislation released for managed care and managed fee-for-service alternatives for Medicaid reform

Draft legislation is now circulating for two alternatives to implement reforms to in the traditional Medicaid program.

Voting problems ahead in November

If the presidential election didn't already appear tumultuous enough, Arizona illustrated Tuesday the potential for cataclysmic voting problems in the fall.

Poll: Senate should do its job

Polling shows broad support for hearings on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee. It seems unlikely to move opponents like the U.S. senators from Arkansas.

Arkansas unemployment rate continues decline

The Arkansas unemployment rate continued its drop in February, to 4.2 percent, against 4.4 percent the month before. This is against a national rate of 4.9 percent. The number of people at work grew by more than 8,000.

Tom Cotton speaks warmly about Donald Trump

Sen. Tom Cotton, in an interview on CNN, made it clear he didn't reject Donald Trump as a potential president.

Governor pitches Obamacare continuation plan to press

Gov. Asa Hutchinson brought in reporters at 10 a.m. today to explain his proposals to continue the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion, with some amendments to make it more palatable to conservatives.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson pitches managed care plan, mostly ignores "DiamondCare" alternative

In his press conference this morning, Gov. Asa Hutchinson made his case for his plan to implement managed care for certain high-cost populations in the traditional Medicaid program. What he didn't do, however, was establish much of an argument for why lawmakers should back his plan as opposed to an alternative known as "DiamondCare" that would pursue the same reforms but continue to have the state pay providers directly on a fee for service basis. The governor's own rhetoric on Medicaid reform from last year could make it difficult to make that pitch.

Clean Line project approved; Arkansas congressmen unhappy

The U.S. Department of Energy announced today that it would participate in the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project to move electricity produced by wind in Oklahoma and Texas over a 705-mile transmission line through Arkansas to Tennessee.

Loblolly sundae benefit Compassion Works for All

Compassion Works for All, the prison outreach nonprofit led by Morgan Holladay, one of our Arkansas Times Visionaries last year, has partnered with Loblolly Creamery to raise money and awareness about nonviolence.

Rebel Kettle Brewing Co. opens this afternoon

Rebel Kettle Brewing Co., the long in-development brewpub in East Little Rock, will finally open its doors at 4 p.m. today at 822 E. 6th St.

Good Friday open line

Here's the open line and daily video.

The Maggio Gets the Max Edition

The Hutchinson administration’s move to begin drug testing welfare recipients, the governor’s pitch to change health care in Arkansas, the sentencing of former judge Mike Maggio and Arkansas connections to Donald Trump — all covered on this week's podcast.

Another judge strikes down another anti-abortion law

A federal judge in Alabama is the latest to strike down a state law requiring abortion providers to have a doctor on hand with hospital admission privileges. It's  a gimmick to prevent women from having access to abortion.

Billboard alterations on I-630 proposed; tradeoff planned

A city ordinance prohibits alterations to existing billboards on designated scenic corridors. The City Board is poised to allow such alterations in return for removal of billboards elsewhere in the city.

For Texarkana: 'The spirit of Christ'

A coming effort to repeal Texarkana's non-discrimination ordinance has helped a video of a clergyman speaking in favor of non-discrimination go viral.

Saturday and an open line

Here is the open line. Caucuses to follow today.

Ethics, schmethics: Legislators keep junketing

An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette rundown of free travel junkets enjoyed by state legislators in 2015 illustrates — again — the failure of the so-called ethics "reform" amendment

A groaning open line: Plus, UALR coach on move

The Easter open line. Also: UALR Basketball Coach Chris Beard is heading to the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Drug-testing welfare recipients: Costs outweigh benefits. Also: questions about treatment

Gov. Asa Hutchinson defended statewide testing of certain welfare recipients last week as a blow at drug dependence, not merely a punish-the-poor policy to mollify opponents of welfare assistance.

What coaches do lives after them

News that UALR was going to lose its first-year basketball coaching phenom Chris Beard to UNLV got me thinking about the potential ups and downs of coaching changes.

Georgia governor vetoes anti-gay 'religious liberty' bill

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, under heavy pressure from major businesses, has vetoed the anti-gay state legislation styled as a religious freedom bill.

Financial report: Courtney Goodson loaned $641,000 to her race for chief justice

An updated campaign finance report for failed chief justice candidate Courtney Goodson shows she loaned her campaign $641,000 and received $35,000 in contributions the last few days of the campaign from Pennsylvania lawyers who have become high-profile because of Arkansas political activities.

UA president talks about Pulaski Tech merger

Aspecial Pulaski Tech Board meeting was held today at which University of Arkansas System President Donald Bobbitt talked about adding Pulaski Tech, the two-year school based in North Little Rock, to the UA System. No decisions yet.

UALR coach departure for Las Vegas is official

It's official that UALR men's basketball coach Chris Beard is leaving for UNLV after a one-year 30-5 record in leading Little Rock to a first-round NCAA tournament victory.

Monday's open line

Here's the week-opening open line. And today's video recap.

Freeway decay: The Atlantic turns to Little Rock

The Atlantic's ongoing reporting on the damage being done to city by freeway projects turns now to Little Rock and the huge pavement project in controversy here.

Governor cheers research made possible by tobacco settlement money. Will he protect it in the future?

Gov. Asa Hutchinson will laud scientific research at a news conference this morning: the half-billion dollars raised from government and foundation sources for  research supported by the Arkansas Biosciences Institute. There's a bigger state budget picture to consider in noting this good work.

A new move for a strong ethics law for Arkansas

Little Rock lawyer David Couch has submitted a proposed constitutional amendment to strengthen the state ethics law for review by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.. It's a doozy.

Public unions win on split U.S. Supreme Court vote

A big victory today for public employee unions. The U.S. Supreme Court divided 4-4 and thus left in place a lower court ruling that allows public employee unions to recover collective bargaining costs from non-union workers covered by the collective agreements.

Health Reform Legislative Task Force meeting for the final time today

The Health Reform Legislative Task Force will convene for the final time today to review draft legislation designed to implement the task force's two big recommendations: 1) continue the private option with a few alterations that Gov. Asa Hutchinson negotiated with the Obama administration and 2) institute reforms incentivizing more cost-effective care in the traditional Medicaid program.

Minimum wage is up, employment is up. Say what?

Ernest Dumas reminds us in his column this week that opponents of an increase in the Arkansas minimum wage said it would be an economic body blow to business. Voters approved anyway. Results: Arkansas's unemployment rate is at a record low, far below that of the U.S.

North Carolina attorney general stands up for Constitution

North Carolina has an attorney general worthy of the office — he won't defend "embarrasing" and discriminatory bathroom law aimed at transgender people.

Former Saline sheriff Bruce Pennington plea bargains state case

Bruce Pennington, already sentenced to a year on a federal charge, entered a plea bargain in Saline Circuit Court today to state charges of abuse of public trust and theft while Saline sheriff.

Private schools tend to be whiter. Duh. But there's another point.

The Washington Post reports here on a new study that quantifies the whiteness of private education, particularly in the South.

UA has something for everybody: A godless conference and 'terrestrial drones'

Godless atheists and a robot that delivers groceries are among the attractions coming to the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.

Little Rock school committee raises concerns about charter expansions

The state Board of Education has a hearing Thursday evening on expansion of charter schools in the Little Rock School District. The chairs of the community advisory committee to the district — now under state control — have written the following letter expressing concerns about the expansion

Chelsea Clinton plans fund-raising stop in Little Rock

Chelsea Clinton will be in Little Rock next week to help raise money for her mother's run for president.

Wrong court, Senator Cotton

Sen. Tom Cotton is so consumed with joining the blockade of President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court that he — or his staff — got a little foggy on another piece of  judicial obstructionism.

UAMS: Without Obamacare, the red ink gets dramatically deeper

The legislature's failure to approve continuating of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion in Arkansas could mean a tripling of a deficit projected next year for UAMS to almost $100 million, the UAMS chancellor said today.

The high cost of basketball: What Little Rock came up with to keep Chris Beard

Little Rock Athletic Director Chasse Conque said the school had come up with a $400,000 annual guarantee to try to keep basketball coach Chris Beard, but that still left them far behind the offer that came from UNLV.

Another Tuesday open line

Here's the day-ending open line and the video roundup.

Baker Kurrus urges analysis before charter expansion approved in Little Rock District

Little Rock School Superintendent Baker Kurrus has presented a detailed argument for why the state Education Department should do a detailed analysis — something it has never done — before approving a request to expand charter schools in the Little Rock School District. Those expansions inevitably will concentrate the hardest students to educate in what's left of the Little Rock district, will creating multiple inefficient school districts.

Pryor misses UA meeting, but sends in questions on stadium expansion

A health problem has kept David Pryor away from this week's University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, but it has not kept him from submitting a detailed list of 33 questions about a proposed expansion of Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, a $100 million project.

Governor will not allow vote on DiamondCare alternative to Medicaid managed care during special session

A little bit of fireworks at the tail end of today's Health Reform Legislative Task Force meeting: Lawmakers who back DiamondCare, an alternative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to use managed care for certain high-cost populations in the Medicaid program, expressed concern that the governor may not allow a vote on their plan.

Survey data suggests that state could affordably offer some services to families on developmental disability wait list

The state's consultant, the Stephen Group, conducted a survey of the 2,600 Arkansas families stuck on a wait list for a waiver program that provides Medicaid services offering home and community-based care for developmentally disabled children. The Stephen Group presented their findings in testimony before the Health Reform Legislative Task Force today, and suggested that one way to give the families some relief would be to provide certain benefits which are less costly while the state tries to come up with politically feasible ways to eliminate the wait list and provide full benefits to everyone who is eligible.

Crystal Bridges to open contemporary art space in downtown Bentonville

The New York Times was delivered the scoop by the Walton family on their latest addition to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (and Bentonville) — a new contemporary art space in a former Kraft cheese factory on E Street downtown.

Lawyers in Tennessee marriage case get $2 million

I'm about to decide that the lawyers who fought for marriage equality in state and federal courts in Arkansas got screwed. Get a load of what a Tennessee judge just gave winners of the lawsuit there challenging a same-sex marriage ban.

Managed care opponents upset with governor's maneuver to keep DiamondCare out of special session

Opponents of managed care are unhappy with Gov. Asa Hutchinson's announcement yesterday that he will not include their "DiamondCare" plan in the special legislative session that will convene next week on health care.

UAMS chancellor elaborates on impact of loss of Obamacare money

UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn is speaking further to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees about the medical center's tight finances and the damage that would be caused if the legislature doesn't approve continuation of the Obamacare-financed Medicaid expansion here (so-called private option).

Football money trickles down on SEC faculty

The Southeastern Conference, which makes jillions off a contract to televise member schools' sports, tosses a bit to the faculty members who theoretically form the backbone of the universities whose names are used to generate income typically spent mostly on athletics.

Pest controllers prompt Hot Springs school lockdown

Some men with pellet guns in search of squirrels set off a panic this morning at an elementary school in Hot Springs. Everything is back to normal and all is well, except maybe for the neighborhood squirrels.

Andina's Cafe brews up new offering: Diamond Bear beer

Andina’s Cafe and Coffee Roastery, the longtime purveyor of Guatemalan coffee, pastries and sandwiches, first whet its beer whistle a couple of years ago when it began its firkin-tapping events with Diamond Bear Brewing Co., at which the craft brewery served beers aged with Andina’s coffees.

FDA relaxes mifepristone protocol

Today, the FDA announced changes in the protocol that would reduce the dosage of the drug, from 600 milligrams to 200, and increases the number of days a woman would be able to use the abortifacient from 49 days to 70 days. That would seem to moot part of the suit, filed by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland against the state.

State appeals ruling upholding Fayetteville's non-discrimination ordinance

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed notice today that her office would appeal the Washington County Circuit Court ruling that Fayetteville's non-discrimination ordinance didn't violate the state law aimed at preventing local non-discrimination laws.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson pledges to cut developmental disability waiting list in half in three years

Addressing the Medicaid Advisory Council today at the Capitol, Gov. Asa Hutchinson pledged to reduce the waiting list for a Medicaid waiver program that provides services offering home and community-based care for developmentally disabled children. Currently, around 2,600 families are stuck on the wait list, some of them for years. Hutchinson promised to cut that list in half within three years. His plan is to use savings and revenues that the state would accrue via his plan to use managed care companies to enact cost-saving reforms for certain high-cost populations in the traditional Medicaid program.

UPDATE: Trump, abortion and the hypocrites at the hateful Family Council

Donald Trump steps in it on abortion. And here come the hypocrites to decry what he said, even as they punish women every day with laws and policies.

Lulu's Crab Boil leaves much to be desired

Small shrimp leave a bad taste at Lulu's.

Virginia governor vetoes LGBT discrimination bill

Another elected official with moxie. And respect for the U.S. Constitution. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vetoed state legislation that allows the use of religion as a pretext to discriminate against LGBT people.

On the downhill now with an open line

The week is half done. Here's an open line and video news roundup.

More room, more beer, more hours at Stone's Throw

Stone's Throw expands into adjoining storefront and increases hours.

Made by Few on its way up (and to the left)

Holy #everlastinghighfivecontest, folks. My name is Terry Cloff and I’ve been asked to tell you something important: Made by Few is undergoing a pant-load of changes this year.

Ice Storm II: Feds mount another drug bust in Van Buren County

U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer today announced a second round of arrests in Operation Ice Storm, a probe of drug trafficking in Van Buren County.

Little Rock to name new basketball coach tomorrow; money's on Wes Flanigan

Little Rock will announce tomorrow a quick replacement for departed men's basketball coach Chris Beard.Reports seem to favor associate head coach Wes Flanigan.

Committee debates election reforms, shows little appetite for judicial appointments

A month after the conclusion of a vitriolic state Supreme Court election season that saw unprecedented levels of spending by out-of-state "dark money" groups, the Senate Judiciary committee this afternoon discussed two potential reforms to how Arkansas selects its judges.