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April 27, 2011

Vol 37 • No 34

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The stars come out

It's time again to meet our choices for Arkansas's top 20 high school seniors.

Past All-Stars still shining

From the Amazon to a pro football field sidelines, interesting lives.

All-stars breakdown

Here are the students nominated to be Academic All-stars. They are listed by their hometowns.

Honorable mentions

These students are worthy of note for having made the finalist round of judging for the Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team.

The 2011 Arkansas Times Academic All-Stars

It's the Arkansas Times 17th annual selection of Arkansas's top 20 high school seniors.

Ten best rap songs that sample Al Green

Complex Magazine ranks the ten best rap songs that sample Al Green

Floating away

The waters continue to rise at War Eagle Mill, as the War Eagle River inundates the valley and possibly even the mill itself.

Kinky's coming

The self-proclaimed governor of the heart of Texas talks about writing, political correctness and Billy Bob Thornton in advance of his concert in Little Rock.

The Word at the capitol

Group offers "biblical counsel" to politicos.

HAM exhibit contrasts Tara, true life with 'Reel to Reel'

The celluloid South will meet the truth of life in antebellum Arkansas head-on this Sunday.

Paul Ryan's budget plan was so bad that even Rep. Mike Ross was against it

But elsewhere, outrage has been in short supply.

How do you get your news?

Here's a spin: More than twice as many Arkansans get their news from print as from the Internet. Take that.

At Smokin' Buns, a new 'cue defies expectations

The Bayou Meto community barbecue joint defies some of our long-held barbecue truths (barbetruths?).

Mason's Deli & Grill

Once known as a Germanic sort of place, Mason's has added an Italian flair.

Want to know the third biggest reason the national debt is mushrooming and scaring the daylights out of people?

Look no further than the week's bipartisan effort to undo a critical part of the health-insurance reform law.

More Chamber of Commerce mischief

No organization is more dedicated to keeping working people in their poorly paid place than the Chamber of Commerce.

Arkansas's de facto state motto is Regnat NRA

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and U.S. Rep. Griffin were on hand to suck up to Wayne LaPierre during the NRA CEO's recent appearance.

Good Friday

St. Edward Catholic Church in Little Rock performed a re-enactment of Jesus' crucifixion last Friday.

Eureka Spings guide

Here's a guide to some of the essential places to visit in the eclectic melting pot of ideas, arts, relaxation and rejuvenation.

The annual Blues on the River festival returns

Bobby Rush headlines a bill rounded out by Floyd Taylor, Sweet Angel, L.J. Echols, Ms. Jody, Gwen White and a "surprise guest."

Packet House

We've confirmed a rumor that a prospective buyer is looking over the vacant landmark 1871 mansion that sits between the Dillard's headquarters building and the Dillard's data processing center on Cantrell Road.

Keeping airport pay secret

Little Rock National Airport is declining to release pay and hire-date information on its employees, citing fears the information could be seen as a breach of security by the Department of Homeland Security.

Kicking cans

A New York Times-CBS News poll last week found the American people gloomier and more pessimistic then we've been in a long time.

Little Rock Government Payroll: Department View

Little Rock Government Payroll: Agency View

Little Rock Government Payroll: Detail View

The ruin of Reaganomics

"The Arkansas Times has officially become an institution; the conscience of journalism in Arkansas, what the Gazette used to be."

The fine line between effective and annoying

Did Arkansas Cash for Gold hit advertising, well, gold?

'Water for Elephants' gets by on nostalgia.

There's just enough going on under the big top to make total loathing impossible.

The Observer and the Carroll Electric Cooperative Corp.

Will the little guy ever win?

Orval, April 27, 2011

Dirtier than coal?

A recent Cornell University study found that the development of natural gas resources could actually have a bigger carbon footprint than the mining and combustion of coal

More than a newspaper

As eagle-eyed readers may've noted, this week we have a new slogan on our cover, "Arkansas's source for news, politics and entertainment." The change reflects the not-so-new reality of the Times.

Arkansas goes wireless

Arkansas leads the country in the percentage of residents who've abandoned landline telephones to go strictly wireless.

This Modern World, April 27, 2011

"What in tarnation?"

Darnation is indeed a word conceived in a time when people were given to euphemism, substituting darn for damn and heck for hell.

The Mobile Food Festival is coming to Main Street Little Rock on Oct. 1.

The festival will feature local food trucks, music and kids' activities.

Good week: Democrats

The party went on the attack against Republican votes to destroy Medicare and Medicaid while giving enormous tax breaks to the rich.

On his Netflix picks for the week

The website is streaming 138 original episodes of 'The Twilight Zone' and five Coen Brothers flicks.

James Taylor comes to Verizon

Also, Toad Suck Daze returns to Conway for another weekend of live music, vendors and fried things.

Taking the country back

The New York Times today rounded up some of the angry reaction Republican congressmen are getting to their vote to end Medicare while cutting taxes for the rich.

But if you want your country back ....

... you'll have to pry it from the cold, dead fingers of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

If not us, who?

The Democrat-Gazette today reported that University of Arkansas trustees had romanced University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton for the job of president of the UA System and that former Board chair John Ed Anthony had met individually with board members on the presidential search during the UA's trip to the Sugar Bowl.

Obama releases long form birth certificate

So here it is. The long form Obama birth certificate. You already know the rest of the story.

Fox getting antsy about Huckabee decision

Howard Kurtz writes in the Daily Beast that even Fox News is getting uncomfortable being used by Mike Huckabee as a platform for national exposure for a run for president while being paid by Fox as a talk show host.

There Tim Griffin goes again

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin apparently feels a little heat from his vote to end Medicare and cut millionaires' taxes.

Last night: Bob Seger

On what's likely to be his farewell tour, Bob Seger pulled out all the stops at Verizon Arena.

Update on UA student Chavez

A story in this morning's New York Times about a Texas college student whose deportation to Mexico has been put on hold by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as long as she stays in school and out of trouble reminded me to check on Jonathan Chavez.

"Reel to Real" — Tara v. the Arkansas truth

On the 150th anniversary of the explosion of the Sultana, the steamboat that was carrying freed Union soldiers home on the Mississippi River (1,800 died), the Historic Arkansas Museum will screen a documentary about the making of "Gone With the Wind."

The legislature is done

The legislature convened to do to promptly adjourn for good for the year. Nothing happened.

Arkansas Academic Stars: 17th edition

Good news today. If you haven't yet, I encourage you to take a look at our cover story this week, the 17th Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team.

Harry Reid: Call the roll on ending Medicare

Sen. Harry Reid says he'll have the Senate vote on the House Republican approved budget plan to eventually end Medicare, slash Medicaid, slash all manner of vital federal servces and give rich people a huge tax cut.

Mazel Tov! A festival for Jewish food

The Jewish Food Festival is coming up May 15th at the River Market Pavilion. The free event celebrates the Jewish culinary tradition with kabobs, falafel, blintzes, latkes, kugels and more.

Advertising gold?

Our media column tends to get lost in the shuffle here on the website, so I thought I'd draw a little attention to this week's installment: the story behind those so-perfectly-terrible Arkansas Cash for Gold ads featuring the rubber chicken.

We're over the hump

And the line is open after a quiet day around here. One final thought: * After the birth certificate release, the Obama people went on the offensive, seeking Donald Trump's tax returns.

Tornado death toll over 200

The storms that smashed Mississippi and Alabama yesterday killed more than 170, CNN is now reporting.

Replenishing unemployment money

Most states will raise taxes on businesses to replenish unemployment benefit trust funds, a new survey shows.

You can't reason with the crazy

So writes Gene Lyons, his weekly column available free for your perusal on Salon. In addition to birther nonsense, Lyons ticks off other Republican mythology that goes undisturbed by facts.

Giving the nod to looting

The Smithsonian Institution is considering canceling an upcoming exhibit of “Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds” on ethical grounds.

How Republicans tax the old folks

Here's a new report worth reading: The House Republican plan to end Medicare — approved by Reps. Tim Griffin, Rick Crawford and Steve Womack — hides trillions in effective tax increases for the elderly to buy health insurance under the new privatized health plan.

Kinky Friedman rambles into Juanita's tonight

The author/musician/humorist/social commenter/"Asshole from El Paso" returns to Little Rock.

Thursday: 'Honky Tonk Angels,' 'One Heart,' Big John Miller

Little Rock pops off tonight with country ladies at White Water, classic metal at Downtown Music Hall and more.

Al Bell to receive honorary doctorate

The Brinkley native and music industry mogul to be hooded by his alma mater, Philander Smith.

Burger joint of the week: Bonnie's Cafe in Watson

The little stopping off place along Highway 1 serves up not just great burgers but a mean plate lunch special.

Republican Fite loses appeal on ballot removal

The Arkansas Supreme Court today dismissed Thomas Fite's appeal of removal from the election ballot as a Republican candidate for state representative for Crawford and Franklin County on account of a criminal conviction involving misuse of public money.

Secretary of state aide on Hannity

I don't watch Sean Hannity on Fox, but one of the blog readers does. He sent a note this morning about the appearance there last night of "Republican strategist" Alice Stewart.

Fayetteville's upcoming Lucinda-Billy Joe show moved

Due to another upcoming dose of nasty weather, Sunday's show has been moved.

Arkansas's gift to Oklahoma — a bigot

We've written before about Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern, a Jonesboro native, Baptist preacher's wife and Republican, who became infamous years ago for her homophobia.

Weekend To-Do: Toad Suck Daze 2011

The annual Conway festival returns with all the festival trappings you've come to expect. Also, Kris Allen.

Friday To-Do: Hi-Balls release "Kerfuffle"

The local veterans release their rockabilly/lounge-filled debut album at The Underground.

Friday To-Do: Foamfest 2011

Sample over 140 beers at this year's brew-ha-ha. Diamond Bear set to raffle off a year of free beer.

Friday To-Do: James Taylor

Sweet Baby James is back for one of the most anticipated Verizon shows of the year.

Finalist list expands for LR convention bureau job

News coming on the selection of a new director of the head of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.

New complaint filed against State Hospital UPDATE

The Disability Rights Center of Arkansas has filed additional complaints about operation of the State Hospital, specifically a unit that houses younger developmentally disabled males.

Close up

Chuck Close portraits paired with poems at the Arts Center.

Arkansas flooding continues

A couple of levee breaches on the Black River near Pocahontas have forced closure of a stretch of U.S. 67 and caused widespread flooding.

Living Treasure: Winston Taylor

Arkansas Arts Council honors Russellville potter.

The Thursday line

I had a great afternoon with our Academic All-Star team. Something good is happening in Arkansas schools.

Rick Crawford grilled on Medicare, tax votes

Well, well. Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford brought a claque to clap down tough questioners to a town hall meeting yesterday in Jonesboro, but the questioners got through and the Blue Arkansas blog was on hand with video to record a most uncomfortable session for Crawford.

LR schools to McDaniel: Stick it

Well, OK, a report filed yesterday on the Little Rock School District's spending of state desegregation settlement money doesn't come to a verbatim conclusion quite so vivid as my headline, but it's the functional equivalent.

Arkansas Idol: Choosing a UA president

I told you earlier this week that the Arkansas Farm Bureau had mounted a political lobbying campaign to install farm manager and Jim Lindsey tool Stanley Reed as president of the University of Arkansas System.

Pieday: Black Walnut at Boardwalk Cafe

There is something about the flavor of black walnuts that reminds me of childhood and fall, picking up the big round clad capsules out of the yard and watching one of the adults carefully but adeptly smack them with a hammer to get to the meat inside.

Guarding the House videotapes

Roby Brock and his partners have produced a report on the House policy on use of the trove of new video and audio recordings compiled under the House of Representatives laudable and wholly wonderful expansion of broadcast of committee and chamber proceedings.

Another adverse finding for State Hospital

The Disability Rights Center of Arkansas sends word of another adverse finding by federal regulators against this Arkansas State Hospital.

Last night: Kinky Friedman

Kinky Friedman puts on a pretty damn good show. His appearance at Juanita's last night was like nothing I've seen before.

Saturday To-Do: 2 Live Crew

Two members of the legendary, First Amendment-testing perv-rappers open up "The F*** Shop" tonight at Revolution.

Saturday To-Do: T-Model Ford

White Water Tavern welcomes back the 90-something year old bluesman

Weekend: 'Blues on the River,' 'Big Brown is Dead,' 'Jazz vs. Hip-Hop 2'

KOKY's annual blues festival returns, Discovery pits a long-esteemed local DJ against others in a death match and Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers team up with rappers for jazz/rap fusion.

Bow down to the kings

A picture, well, just because it's great

Ride the Johnny Cash bus

The Times is taking a bus to the Johnny Cash Music Festival in Jonesboro on Thursday, August 4. George Jones, Roseanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Rodney Crowell are headlining.

High taxes don't send wealthy fleeing

This is another one of those articles of faith that no amount of factual refutation will dispel.

Republicans: Politics over cervical cancer

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will sign a bill stripping federal money from Planned Parenthood in Indiana.

Podcast: Max sings

On the lack of outrage at the Republican's budget blueprint, the search for a UA system chief and more.

Trooper strikes plea bargain in fatal crash

Arkansas state trooper Andrew Rhew has pleaded no contest to negligent homicide in the death of a motorist in Mississippi County.

Friday night lights

The readers take over. Watching "Friday Night Lights?"

James Taylor at Verizon

I think we got some reviews of James Taylor's appearance at Verizon on the open line last night.

Mike Huckabee: The bucks stop here

Who does Mike Huckabee talk to? Newsmax, the house organ of the unhinged.

Prayers ended in Van Buren school

I suspect stories like this are far more widespread than we know, given that most Arkansas schools refuse to teach evolution and that some flavors of Christians believe it is their right to cram their religion down the throats of others.

Does it matter who leads UA System?

John Brummett summarizes the search for a University of Arkansas System president as, essentially, much ado about a nothing job.

The early line

Tommy Tuberville is a birther. Group complains about oversue of paddle in Marshall schools. TV won't be allowed in West Memphis evidentiary hearing.

Do we really want to cut the Weather Service?

John Brummett takes on the federal budget debate, with the National Weather Service cut backed by Arkansas's three Republicans in Congress, as an illustration of competing interests in the budget discussion.

Seth Meyers at White House dinner

Slow morning. So here's the video of Seth Meyers last night at the White House correspondents dinner.

Sunday To-Do: Cinco de Mayo

The River Market Pavilions host a day of live music, food and activities.

Arkansas flood waters high and rising

Some links that might be of interest: * WEATHER SERVICE: Arkansas Republicans haven't shut it yet.

The Sunday line

Comments? Fire away.

Monday To-Do: White Hills

One the premiere experimental/psych acts around comes to town with Sleepy Sun and Iron Tongue.

Not as expected

There should be a warning on a few places around these parts… something to the effect of “Road Hazard: Objects on menu may be less than they appear to be.”

Osama Bin Laden dead

Osama Bin Laden is reported dead.

Osama bin Laden killed in Pakistan

I crashed early last night and so I got one of those rare headline shocks when I picked up the newspaper this morning — news of the death of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. strike in Pakistan.

The year of the tax increase

Rob Moritz at Stephens Media rounds up the wealth of local tax increase proposals developing around the state as the state prepares for statewide ballot issues to raise the diesel tax and sales tax to pay for highway repair and construction.

Huckabee: Hacked about Superman

Mike Huckabee has a knack for inserting himself in cultural issues. Such as taking on Superman for renouncing his U.S. citizenbship.

More on the Navy Seals

Books will be written, of course. But here's some good detail from National Journal on the unit that got the job done on bin Laden and how it did it.

OMG pizza: Steffey's in Lavaca

Heavens, a pizza that rivals all contenders in the state of Arkansas has been found in Lavaca.

Our man in Pakistan

Mara Leveritt sends word that you might see an Arkansas name in news dispatches from Pakistan.

Scouts stranded by high water near Albert Pike

A spokesman for the Montgomery County sheriff's office in Mount Ida says eight people with a Louisiana Boy Scout group have been stranded by high water on the Eagle Loop trail near the Albert Pike camping area on the Little Missouri River.

Secretary of state lowers copy charges

Secretary of State Mark Martin has just lowered the cost of using his office. His deputy, Alice Stewart, says copy charges will henceforth by 11 cents a page, not the 25 cents a page charged previously.

Grading the legislature

Arkansas Citizens First Congress releases their annual report, ranking legislators on how they voted on key issues.

Weekend Theater announces 2011-2012 season

The Weekend Theater announced its 2011-2012 season today.

State gets OK for Medicaid reform

Matt DeCample, spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, says the state has received tentative approval from the federal Health and Human Services Department to implement restructuring of Medicaid.

Juror misconduct argued in West Memphis Three case

Briefs have been filed as expected arguing that West Memphis Three defendants were denied fair trials because of misconduct by the jury foreman, particularly in bringing inadmissible evidence into the jury deliberations.

Monday night line

It's open. If wet.

Last Friday: James Taylor

“This is a really big room you have here,” James Taylor noted early in his April 29 concert at Verizon Arena. But then he proceeded to perform and relate to the crowd like he was in a tiny coffeehouse.

More crawfish than you'll see elsewhere in the state

Come Friday night — the largest crawfish boil in the state of Arkansas, I kid you not.

Tim Griffin: Still fudging on killing Medicare

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin is still trying to lay his vote to end Medicare off on Bill Clinton.

Checking the secretary of state time cards

Secretary of State Mark Martin has been running a sloppy operation since taking office on the standard Republican plromise to run smarter, cheaper, more ethical government.

Before you complain about corporate tax rates ...

Read this in Times today. Our rates are higher than most countries, but consider them "sticker" rates.

Boy Scouts found, rescued by helicopter

The eight members of a Louisiana Boy Scout troop stranded by high water while hiking along a trail in the Little Missouri River watershed have been rescued.

Republican mythmaking on bin Laden

The Republicans have no shame. That's always been clear.

Speaking of chickenbleep

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette joined the cheers for the killing of Osama bin Laden this morning with a two-colum editorial headlined, "Got him!"

Before the food trucks came, there was Paizi's

I’ve had a few people mention to me this truck selling gyros in the Toys-R-Us parking lot in Fort Smith.

Creative Space: Tanya Hollifield

Tanya Hollifield's show pays tribute to her mother and grandmother.

MOCA galleries flooded

Recent rains cave in the roof.

State reports solid tax revenue in April

This is the best state monthly revenue report I've seen in a while. The key monthly figure — for income tax and sales tax — are both up sharply against the same month last year.

bin Laden's life on the run

The minutia of terrorist Osama bin Laden's life in hiding (in what amounted to Pakistani luxury in a village where Lonely Planet recommends eight hotels and six restaurants) is weirdly fascinating.

Dying hard: GOP birtherism

New polling shows a rising majority of Americans believe President Obama was born in the United States.

Drill, Mike, drill

Doesn't U.S. Rep. Mike Ross dust off this news release every time gas prices shoot up — the one about drilling in Alaska and offshore?

Tuesday talk

The line is now open. Closing notes: * MEDIA MOVE: Kane Webb, who stepped down recently from heading the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's glossy monthly magazine Arkansas Life and moved into the slot Meredith Oakley had vacated overseeing the newspaper's Voices page, tells me he's resigned from the newspaper.