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'Obamacare saved my life.'

'Obamacare saved my life.'

May 25, 2017

Vol 43 • No 38

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Health care policy FAQ

What proposed state and federal changes mean for the future of health care policy in Arkansas.

The health of a hospital

The Medicaid expansion helped Baxter County Regional Medical Center survive and thrive, but a federal repeal bill threatens to imperil it and its patients.

Africa Day Fest at Bernice Garden

Also, ZZ Top, Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, Potluck & Poison Ivy, Liverfest, Patio on Park Hill and more

Conspiracy theorists

Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.

Virgil, quick come see

There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.

High school MVP

An Academic All-Star who approaches perfection.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Elijah and Ava edition

Play on the bus!

Summer resolutions

The Observer likes making resolutions at New Year's. We don't manage to keep any of them other than the one we always start with — "Stay Above Ground" — but we do like making them.

On the transgender crisis

I find it ironic that the UAMS offers this but University of Arkansas insurance does not cover any form of gender dysphoria.

Kill 'Em All rally

Post-season promise

What the coaching staff has done in 2017 constitutes a minor miracle and it likely represents the best work of Dave Van Horn's accomplished tenure.

David Bailin's 'Erasings' capture the undulation of memory

It's on exhibit through May 27 at Boswell Mourot Fine Art.

Real reform

Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.

Fairing well

Tomas Bohm continues successful run with District Fare.

Not leaders

As soon as I saw the Notre Dame graduates walking out of their own commencement ceremony as Vice President Mike Pence began to speak, I thought, "Oh no, here we go again."

Court feud

Jerry Jones and ethics, low employment and more.

Does assault make a Republican congressional candidate a loser?

The Republican candidate for Congress in a special election in Montana today was charged last night with assault for attacking a reporter who persisted in asking his opinion on the Congressional Budget Office scoring of the Obamacare repeal bill passed by the House.

Guns N' Roses coming to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock Aug. 5

Guns N' Roses has added a War Memorial Stadium date to its national tour, Aug. 5

Guns N' Roses and Sturgill Simpson land at War Memorial Stadium August 5

In an extension of the "Not in This Lifetime" tour, Guns N' Roses will land at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock Saturday, August 5, with special guest Sturgill Simpson.

Lawsuit filed over prisoner's death in Texarkana

A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the 2015 death of Michael Sabbie, a prisoner in the Bi-State jail in Texarkana.

Governor's Mansion gets uninvited visitor

KARK's Jessi Turnure just tweeted about an unwelcome guest at the Governor's Mansion this morning.

Forrest City native wins $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize

Forrest City native Patricia Spears Jones was announced as the 11th winner of the $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize.

Molly McCully Brown named inaugural Jeff Baskin Writers Fellow

Molly McCully Brown has been named the inaugural recipient of The Oxford American Literary Project’s Jeff Baskin Writers Fellowship, to be accompanied by a $10,000 stipend, housing and a nine-month editorial apprenticeship at the magazine in support of McCully Brown’s debut work of creative nonfiction.

White Water Tavern named among Esquire's "24 Best Bars in America"

Along with Austin's Half Step, NYC's Slowly Shirley and D.C.'s Columbia Room, Little Rock's favorite railroad dive gets a shout-out from Esquire this morning.

GOP highway plan: More falling bridges and potholes

Remarkable story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this morning. Two Republican members of the Republican-controlled legislature were quoted as saying "Bridges will have to collapse and major accidents occur on deteriorated roads before the Arkansas Legislature enacts laws to raise more money for highways."

What happens when only the 'deserving' poor get help? Reading for Arkansas.

What happens when a state endeavors to make sure only the "deserving" poor get government assistance? Maine offers a lesson for Arkansas, in an article in The Atlantic.

Huckabee departs Fox for religious network

Mike Huckabee is departing Fox for Trinity Broadcasting Network, where he'll have an hour-long weekly talk show filmed in Nashville. TBN describes itself as the world's largest Christian network.

Meteor will land in LR June 7

The paper has come down from the long windows facing Kavanaugh Boulevard to reveal The Meteor Cafe, the coffee shop joined to Spokes bicycle shop at the corner of Kavanaugh and Markham, and the cafe has announced a June 7 opening.

Another court declines to enforce Trump travel ban

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, not known for its liberalism, voted 10-3 to keep in place an injunction against Donald Trump's attempt to ban travelers from certain Muslim-majority countries.

Resignations submitted by director and two staff lawyers at Alcoholic Beverage Control

Gary "Bud" Roberts turned in his resignation today as director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, a spokesman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson confirms. Two other ABC attorneys have also submitted letters of resignation.

Thursday open line and the news roundup

Here's the Thursday open line. Also: news and comment.

District Fare already seeing strong crowds

Quick service keeps up with demand

GOP candidate charged with assault wins Montana congressional race. Belated apology follows

Republican Greg Gianforte, facing an assault charge for attacking a reporter Wednesday won a special election for Montana's only U.S. House seat with 50.8 percent of the vote with 96 precincts reporting. He then uttered an empty apology for his assault.

Republican drug testing effort runs into trouble

Congressional Republicans thought they passed legislation to clear the way for drug testing to receive unemployment benefits. A report from Bloomberg said they didn't.

That modern mercantile: The bARn

The bARn Mercantile — "the general store for the not so general," its slogan says — will open in the space formerly occupied by Ten Thousand Villages at 301A President Clinton Ave.

Confederate statues: Arkansas has them, too, of course

Discuss: Time to remove Confederate statutes from the lawn of the Arkansas Capitol?

Transform government? Get rid of Rapert, 10 Commandments monument

Hundreds have responded to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's new state digital suggestion box. Some ideas — getting rid of Jason Rapert — might have been serious, if unrealistic.

Hillary returns to Wellesley

Hillary Clinton, who first grabbed national attention with a speech at her graduation from Wellesley College in 1969, returned to her alma mater today as commencement speaker.

Governor OKs merit pay raises for state employees

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says sufficient money is on hand to pay merit pay raises for fiscal 2017, which ends June 30. He had delayed the decision to see how state revenue continued to flow as the year came to an end.

Governor names former ABC lawyer as interim director

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today that he'd named Mary Robin Casteel as interim director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.

A Memorial Day open line

Here's the open line. Also, news and comment.

The weekend's long read: Post-election Hillary

Rebecca Traister has done a profile for New York on Hillary Clinton's life since the election, included extended interviews, and it is great stuff.

The 'Jason Rapert Must Go' Suggestion Box Edition

Judicial bickering, the latest in a big bribery case and more — covered on this week's podcast, sponsored by Forty Two at the Clinton Center.

The Russian White House

Washington Post's latest: Jared Kushner may have attempted to arrange secret back channel communications with Russians. He, the attorney general and Mike Flynn all have failed to disclose their Russian contacts.

A new Trump on Twitter?

Has a calmer — or edited — Donald Trump emerged on Twitter?

Abuse continues at Alexander juvenile center

David Ramsey, writing for the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, reports on the firing of a guard for choking a child at the Alexander Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center, a lockup for juvenile offenders.

Mr. Gianforte, a question? Mr. Gianforte?

Politico says howdy to the Bruiser from Bozeman, Greg Gianforte. They'll have questions for the new congressman, who faces assault charges because he wasn't happy about a reporter's inquiries.

An open line, including terror in the U.S. and crime from LR to Fort Smith

The open line includes terrorism in Oregon, triple deaths in Fort Smith, two homicides in Little Rock and a wackjob in search of ISIS in Madison County.

Changing times: Of coal, renewable energy and Arkansas

A convergence of news in recent days on coal, global climate and renewable energy had me thinking about Arkansas

He's back. And tweeting up a storm

Trump returns to Twitter and a favorite topic — fake news.

Eight, including deputy, killed in Mississippi family dispute

Eight people are dead, including a deputy, in shootings at three places in Mississippi. A suspect is in custody. Clarion-Ledget posts video of comments by suspect.

The Sunday open line, plus announcement of a Trump protest

Here's your Sunday open line. In my in-box today is a note about an event at noon Sunday, June 4 at the Pinnacle Hills Cross Church in Rogers.

Babies having babies: Good news not so good in Arkansas

The good news is a drop in teen pregnancy. The bad news is that Arkansas remains a leader in this statistic as well as in the somewhat related statistic of child marriages.

A Memorial Day message on Medicaid

A Memorial Day reminder of the good the Medicaid expansion did for veterans and what's at risk if it goes away.

An open line: And a note about Texas

Here's the Memorial Day open line. And an AP report from a chaotic session of the Texas legislature, where police were called to remove demonstrators from the legislative chambers where they were noisily protesting a new law to prevent "sanctuary" cities for immigrants.

Fire destroys Cotham's in Scott

KARK reports that a fire that began before midnight destroyed Cotham's, the venerable mercantile store-turned-restaurant in the farming commuity of Scott.

Reports: Trump to reverse Obama's Cuba policy

Donald Trump, according to anonymous sources, has told anti-Cuban senators that he will announce in June a reversal of President Obama's softer policies toward trade and relationships with Cuba. This would not be good news in Arkansas.

U.S. Supreme Court taking longer look at Arkansas birth certificate case

The U.S. Supreme Court has again passed over a decision on an Arkansas case over issuance of birth certificates for children of same-sex married couples.

Blogger updates DWI, drug cases against Asa Hutchinson III

Blogger Russ Racop has dug up the outcome of separate cases of DWI in Fayetteville and a drug arrest in Alabama against Asa Hutchinson III, son of the governor.

Maumelle cops report bail scam on Subway employee

Maumelle police today are looking for someone who swindled $220 out of a local Subway sandwich outlet by claiming he needed the money to bail the manager out of jail. Said police:

An early open line

I'm off to Boys State for some back-and-forth with tomorrow's leaders. So here's an open line and a news roundup so far.

Covenant Keepers hangs onto charter despite financial questions, test scores

The Arkansas state Board of Education is deciding today whether to continue authorization of the charter school permit for the Covenant Keepers College Preparatory School in Southwest Little Rock.

The Boys State report

I made my annual trek to Boys State today and spent an hour taking questions. Less emotion, more thought than some years past.

Trump rolls back contraceptive coverage

To meet objections from some religious groups, Donald Trump has moved to soften mandatory free contraceptive coverage in health insurance.

Another win for transgender students

A U.S. appeals court has joined other courts in holding that that transgender students are protected by law and Constitution.

Zaza's brunch lands in Conway and Little Rock

Brunch pizzas and the classics served on Sundays.

Outside counsel to handle dueling judicial ethics complaints, politics remain

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission announced in a rews release that staff attorneys, on the advice of an ethics expert would not handle investigations of complaints against Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen and the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Little Rock native to lead Oberlin College

Little Rock native Carmen Twillie Ambar has been named president of Oberlin College, the first African-American leader of the elite liberal arts college in Ohio.

Walmart hears from employees on family leave

Walmart is holding its star-studded stockholders meeting in Fayetteville this week and, as ever, some contrary voices are trying to be heard above the corporate stagecraft. This year that effort includes a petition to equalize paid family leave for Walmart employees.

Dotty Oliver: August 7, 1949 – May 29, 2017

We note the passing of Dotty Oliver — former editor of the Little Rock Free Press, environmental activist and author of “Mistress of the Misunderstood."

Delta Regional Authority launches seed investment program for arts projects

The Delta Regional Authority announced this week that it will partner with ArtPlaceAmerica, the Rural Policy Research Institute, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Development Organizations, Springboard for the Arts and others to contribute nearly $460,00 to the Delta Creative Placemaking Initiative, an effort to spur economic growth through seed investments in the Delta’s arts and culture sectors.

Metroplan gives nod to bike share company

The board of Metroplan today approved a resolution in support of the selection of the Bantam BCycle bike share company to start a bike share program in Little Rock and North Little Rock. John Landosky, the bicycle pedestrian coordinator for Little Rock, presented a committee's recommendation to hire Bantam, which was one of five vendors that responded to a request for proposals.

Kathy Griffin and artistic expressions of violence

Here's another take on provocative art, inspired by the critical creaction to comedian Kathy Griffi's displayed of a depiction of the severed head of Donald Trump.

Summer reading: Richard Ford on a summer of toil in Little Rock, 1967

Author Richard Ford has an essay in this week's New Yorker on a 1967 summer job in Little Rock, supervising young people of the Neighborhood Youth Corps.

Child rapist gets federal life sentence

Benji Hardy reports from Fort Smith that Clarence Garretson, a Van Buren truck driver, received a life sentence for his plea of guilty to five counts of interstate transportation of a child to engage in sexual activity.

Wednesday's open line

The open line and daily news roundup.

Next: How do you spell Washitaw

Funny feature in the Washington Post about a National Spelling Bee-related exercise by Google to determine the word on which spelling help was most sought in the 50 states.In Arkansas, it was a dog's life.

Ethics campaigner explores race for 2nd District Congress

Paul Spencer,the teacher and long-time campaigner for stronger ethics laws, apparently filed paperwork this afternoon to form an exploratory committee to run as a Democrat for 2nd District Congress, a seat now held by Republican French Hill.

Former foster parent sentenced for serial sexual abuse of children

U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes called the defendant Clarence “Charlie” Garretson’s repeated sexual abuse and rape of children in his home “the most horrific criminal conduct I’ve seen in regards to child exploitation.”

Visit Bentonville for Work and Play

If you're in Bentonville this summer, the place to stay is the newly renovated Hilton Garden Inn.