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July 20, 2011

Vol 37 • No 47

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Severe is the new normal

Climate change, or whatever you want to call it, is changing Arkansas.

The Terrace abides

After 30 years in business, the Mediterranean restaurant still satisfies.

Republicans: not the brightest bulbs

What do you call a political group that assigns both its abject failures and finest achievements to the opposition and repudiates them all? In 2011, you call it the Republican Party.

It may get personal in debt-limit end game

With Aug. 2 now only days away, the grown-ups in Washington are starting to engage in serious discussions toward a resolution of the debt-ceiling imbroglio

Medical marijuana: again, a good idea

Someday, the people of Arkansas will vote to legalize medical marijuana, just as other states have done. That day may come next year.

Seek help, OSU

Was it Lou Holtz who called Ohio State the Rupert Murdoch of college football? There are similarities.

Lawman McDaniel

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is a strutting contradiction. He's capable of making tough, principled decisions. But as his bid for governor in 2014 grows nearer, McDaniel is capable of baser stuff.

Muhammad trial under way

Beebe's one of the good guys, right?

Observer visits Hell, Valhalla

The Observer is prone to thinking about Hell when it gets this hot.

C.J. Ramone, Those Darlins and "My Fair Lady"

Plus, Sevendust, Poptart Monkeys, Alien Ant Farm and Breakfast, Books & Booze

Ear Fear plays Pizza D'Action

Plus Muck Sticky, Cool Shoes, Rick Springfield and more.

Harry's last hurrah

The boy wizard goes out with a satisfying bang in 'Deathly Hallows, Part 2.'

Erroneuos report causes comma confusion

The "comma connoisseurs" take this sort of thing very seriously.

The further adventures of Middle-Man

New at the zoo: naked mole rats, bush dogs

The Little Rock Zoo has announced that some recent newborns are old enough to be on display - four naked mole rats and five bush dogs. According to the zoo, the mole rats.

Smart ALEC

The Nation, the Los Angeles Times and NPR have put a spotlight in recent weeks on an enormously influential conservative policy lobby that has long had tentacles in the Arkansas legislature - the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Bikes Not Bombs

An Arkansas veteran of the war in Afghanistan is trying to make a positive impact on the lives of children in the war-torn country.

On "Breaking Bad"

Plus, this week's Netflix Pix: "Mary and Max."

McDaniel to Hubbard: Get lost

Last week, after Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's office announced a new Spanish-language version of the attorney general's website, Rep. Jon Hubbard (R-Jonesboro) fired off a couple of angry e-mails to McDaniel, copying reporters for the Associated Press and Jonesboro Sun and a host of fellow legislators among others on the messages.

Moving on art studios

Developer/contractor Scott Reed of Reed Realty Advisors says he plans to have studio and rehearsal space ready for occupation on the first floor of the Arkansas Building at Sixth and Main and in an adjoining building on Main in 12 months.

Menswear guide

For a lot of guys, shopping can be unpleasant. But there are a few rules you can follow that will help you build up a suitable wardrobe with as little pain as possible.

Gay rights are human rights

"When we were fighting to put the Domestic Partner Registry into Eureka Springs in 2007 it honestly did start as a health care issue, but it quickly turned into a human rights issue."

Taking it off-road

At the Superlift ORV Park in Hot Springs

Who or what, how or why

With Assmunch on the rubber chicken and at the Town Halls.

Good week: The University of Arkansas System

It was a good week for The University of Arkansas System and Arkansas Trooper Andrew Rhew. It was a bad week for Dustin McDaniel, the Arkansas Farming Community, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and the River Market District.

The deposit dilemma

NLR Electric policy puts the squeeze on a struggling customer.

Q&A with Christy Milligan

The cupcake queen dishes on the trials and triumphs of turning her family's old cake recipes into cupcakes and more.

Porter's Jazz Cafe to open Aug. 3

Plus, Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches is coming to Little Rock.

Gould meets the Constitution

Channel 4 confirms what a caller told me yesterday — the Gould City Council majority plans to repeal an ordinance that won national attention.

James O'Keefe is an idiot

Renegade right-wing undercover filmmaker James O'Keefe, who's had a disproportionate impact with his dishonestly edited and generally empty work, has descended into self-paroday with his latest, Talking Points Memo reports.

Bachmann's roughhousing

More here on thuggishness by Michele Bachmannn security when ABC's Brian Ross tried to persist with questions about her migraine headaches.

Brilliant. Period.

ALSO: Colbert on Rick Perry isn't bad.

Tip jar thief turns self in

The Starbucks tip jar theft case has been cracked with the arrest of Nathaniel Gordon of 1201 River Road for theft of property.

Pryor ready with federal judge picks

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor has completed a list of three candidates for the White House to consider for a vacant federal district judgeship in the eastern district of Arkansas.

Tonight: Charles Portis documentary and "True Grit"

The Arkansas Studies Institute will screen the "Charles Portis: The Greatest Writer You've Never Heard Of..." at 7:30.

Dog, dog, dog, dessert!

Bruster’s Real Ice Cream offers dozens of different flavors of ice cream, sorbet and sherbet… but when it comes to dinner, it’s all about the dogs.

Why do House Republicans hate democracy?

Check it on Daily Kos. House Republicans threaten to shut down the Federal Aviation Administration this week with a legislative rider to require unfair union elections.

Little Rock Airport narrows field for new PR job UPDATE

Ron Mathieu, director of Little Rock National Airport, tells me he has narrowed to five the field of candidates for a new job at the airport — director of public relations and governmental affairs.

Complaint in works against Carroll Electric Coop

Local electric coops have enjoyed immense political clout — locally and statewide — and a generally positive reputation as providers of electric service to rural areas.

Thursday: Ear Fear, Muck Sticky, "Proof" and more

Ear Fear plays Pizza D'Action Thursday night.

Review: Joe Sundell's "Ramblin' Mind"

Arkansas native Joe Sundell's new CD — his first solo effort — is 11 tracks of some tasty, locally grown roots music.

Thursday in the Heights: Stephano turns 4

Stephano's Fine Art will celebrate its fourth anniversary at Thursday in the Heights with watermelon martinis.

Thursday in the Heights: Hein

Rene Hein, who's known for her paintings of "mummy cats," has switched to their prey: birds.

The Republicans' extreme politics

Liberals are always counseled not to expect politicians to get too far ahead of the people on pet issues.

Sales tax holiday coming up

With little else to brag about, Republicans are Twittering today about the coming back-to-school sales tax holiday, one of the tax cuts passed in the 2011 legislative session.

The fight over Two Rivers Bridge

I broke the news earlier this week about a potential clouded title on the spot where the new Two Rivers Bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists lands in the Little Rock portion of Sullivans Island, part of the city-county Two Rivers Park.

Suspect stable after police shooting

The Little Rock police said today that Jerron Taylor, 29, was in stable condition at UAMS today with a gunshot wound from a police officer after he reportedly pulled a gun an officers during a chase after a traffic stop.

Wednesday night line

Walmart plans to serve "food deserts." Greene County Tech wants a shooting range.

Burger joint of the week: Boss' BBQ

So, what’s the difference between a burger and any other sort of sandwich? And does the Boss Burger at Boss' BBQ in Benton fit? Even if it doesn't, there's a real American burger on the menu that you'll enjoy.

A note of sanity from Gene Lyons

On a slow news morning with a missing newspaper delivery, I'm happy to be able to find my weekly dose of Gene Lyons on Salon.

Bicyclist killed in South Pulaski wreck

The sheriff's office said Kenneth Ellis, 42, of Little Rock, was killed about 8 p.m. last night when a car hit his bike at Hilaro Springs and Willow Springs Road south of Little Rock.

Arkie Engskov a rising star at Starbucks

Kris Engskov, a Berryville, Ark., native who was a travel aide, or "body man," during the last three years of the Clinton White House and, according to Wikipedia, the basis for the Charlie Young character in "West Wing," is a fast-rising executive with Starbucks, which he joined in 2003 as director of public policy.

Don't tell Jon Hubbard this

The Tea Party Republican state Rep. Jon Hubbard's head might explode if he saw the page for food and other assistance for Michigan residents.

Another day of the Muhammad murder trial

Massive security surrounds the morning transfer of Abdulhakim Muhammad to the Pulaski County Courthouse for his murder trial in what he says was the politically motivated shooting of soldiers outside a Little Rock military center.

Kum & Go expands in Arkansas

This is how crazy the news cycle has become. Multiple outlets are rushing to Twitter the news that a convenience store chain — Kum & Go — is starting work soon on three new locations in Central Arkansas and hopes to build 20-25 over next five years.

Teats on a boar hog

The old Arkie saying comes to mind as I read Talk Business' report on Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's "individual brief" in one of the lawsuits challenging federal health care reform law.

Bloomberg gives $50 million to fight coal plants

The Sierra Club yesterday passed word — under embargo — that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg would announce today a $50 million gift to the Sierra Club to continue the fight against coal-fired power plants.

Ah, Chicago

Okay, the last I’ll speak on the subject, right? Probably not. But if you're heading to the Windy City, you'll want to check out some of these great places to dine.

Native American art in Fayetteville

Native American artists Jay Benham and John Well-Off-Man will exhibit their work at Medicine Lodge, a two-day art show with talks by

Arkansas's Natural Bridge up for sale

Arkansas's Natural Bridge, near Clinton, goes to auction tomorrow. It's part of a 100-acre parcel.

Weekend: Cool Shoes, Ed Bowman, Rodney Block, Rick Springfield and more

There's plenty going on this weekend, with Cool Shoes, Rodney Block, Rick Springfield and more.

Friday To-Do: Those Darlins

Those Darlins will be at Stickyz Saturday night.

Friday To-Do: "My Fair Lady"

"My Fair Lady" opens at The Weekend Theater Friday.

Mike Huckabee has no love for Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has rounded up a number of Arkansas Republican supporters, but don't include that former Arkansan, Mike Huckabee, who once was governor.

Police detail River Market shooting

Little Rock police have identified those involved in an officer's shooting early Saturday of a man who reportedly pointed a gun at him about 2 a.m. near Markham and Scott Street.

GOP to return campaign contributions

House Minority Leader John Burris tells me the matter of improperly raised soft money contributions for state Republican legislative races will be resolved by returning the contributions.

Friday To-Do: Poptart Monkeys

Poptart Mokeys plays Saturday night at the final Peabody Rivertop Party of 2011.

Is a budget deal near?

And can you call it a deal if all Democrats get is a debt limit increase, cuts in program and continued protection for the wealthy?

Thursday night line

The line is open. Final notes: * THE UNNATURAL STATE: Still no official response from Marcus Devine, the former director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, has been cited for multiple environmental lapses in gas field operations of his Poseidon Energy Company.

Late news: Gays in arms; jail beating

Rummaging through my e-mail, I note a couple of things that might be worth comment: * EQUALITY IN THE MILITARY: CNN says the Pentagon is set to certify that the U.S. military is prepared to accept openly gay and lesbian service members, and that doing so will not harm military readiness.

U.S. default would trickle down on states

It should be self-evident, but it's probably worth thinking about the many ways state governments will be wrecked if Congress doesn't raise the debt limit and the U.S. begins defaulting on payment obligations.

Cut government spending? Easy

Ezra Klein outlines ways the U.S. could cut billions and billions in government spending. Some might use different terminology for the government practice of sending money back to people on home purchases — the more expensive the home, the more you get back.

Pieday: Hershey Bar at E's Bistro

I have to confess — this was not the pie I went to check out. But the pie I encountered at the North Little Rock shop is indeed worthy of inclusion in the great list of fabulous Arkansas pies.

Another charter school success story

Google "New Orleans charter school success" and you'll find cheers for New Orleans charter schools everywhere from Newsweek to NPR to President Obama.

Arkansas unemployment rate rises to 8.1 percent

If Arkansas is inching out of hard times — as revenue figures have indicated — it's not showing in employment figures.

In range: Paul Caldwell

Cantrell Gallery opens a photograph exhibit Friday evening: "Arkansas and the Range of Light," work by Paul Caldwell.

Tim Griffin earns a Koch payday

In a battle between billionaires like T. Boone Pickens and the Koch family somebody is going to get hurt.

Senate tables House budget gimmick

As expected — though the vote was only 51-46 — the U.S. Senate tabled the House Republican legislation to impose budget cuts and spending caps so severe many economists believed it would drive the country into a deep depression.

Artee Williams heading to double-dip

Funny thing that I should just get the June unemployment numbers from the Department of Workforce Services.

Poverty trumps all in schools

Heard of the Texas Tribune, the nonprofit on-line journalism project? Another great article for school reformers here — interview with a UT physics professor, Michael Marder, deeply involved in the effort to train more math and science teachers, who has gathered data on education questions and produced some provocative answers.

Gas station robbery suspect caught by cops

Police say they captured one of two men who robbed a Hess gas station on Geyer Springs Road about 10 p.m. last night.

Saturday To-Do: Breakfast, Books & Booze

White Water Tavern hosts Breakfast, Books & Booze Saturday.

Mitchell doesn't seek re-election to LR School Board

Filing closed at noon today for September elections for seats on the Little Rock and North Little Rock School Boards.

Woman killed at Waldo postoffice

I saw a mention of a crime in Waldo this morning and I thought immediately of Mike McNeill's full-service community news and information website, Sure enough.

McDaniel: 2nd thoughts on blast of Hubbard?

Has it occurred to Attorney General Dustin McDaniel that his fiery response to an unhinged e-mail from state Rep. Jon Hubbard of Jonesboro was a tad over the top?

Saturday To-Do: Alien Ant Farm

Alien Ant Farm plays Revolution Saturday night.

ADEQ meets with Marcus Devine

Update from Cecillea Pond-Mayo, spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, on a meeting there today with Marcus Devine, head of Poseidon Energy, facing a proposed enforcement settlement for pollution violations.

Friday night line

It's open. Closing thoughts: * PODCAST: Sorry, no Arkansas Times Podcast this week.

Comes the GOPocalypse

Budget talks have broken down. The Republicans really do seem prepared to sacrifice the country on principle — the principle that only the poor should suffer and the rich should be protected.

Arkansas's Natural Bridge sells for $207,900

Sorry. Forgot to put the rest of this story on-line yesterday.

The face of terrorism: A blond Norwegian Christian

Much more is to come on the Norwegian believed responsible for a massive explosion that hit a government building in Oslo and then the mass slaughter of teenagers at a youth camp.

NLR enforces 'free speech' zone?

A group of demonstrators went out to be seen during the Arkansas Republicans' fund-raising riverboat ride on the Arkansas River Friday night with the Republican national chairman.

The Saturday night line

No news but deaths, and not just the Norwegian massacre, where the latest includes a lawyer saying the shooter believes his actions were "necessary" and where a video manifesto has been uncovered on YouTube.

Margie brings wine, oil and vinegar to the table

The force of nature behind Raimondo Winery makes wine from family-raised grapes she has brought into north central Arkansas. It's the oils and vinegars she's producing that should be wagging tongues.

Free to marry at last

Same-sex marriages began at midnight in New York. Happiness abounds, as it did during the brief period when equality reigned in California.

Today's massacre: At Texas roller rink

The latest gun carnage: Six dead, including the gunman, and four wounded after a domestic dispute at a child's skating rink birthday party in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Montana governor fires up Arkansas Democrats

The Arkansas Democratic Party heard from Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and, befitting a partisan gathering, he gave the opposition party hell, according to Fox 16's account.

Black caucus unhappy with redistricting

Roby Brock at Talk Business notes unhappiness among black Democrats that redistricting maps from Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel produce 11 majority black House districts where there are now 13.

Quiet Sunday

Not much here. You?

There Tim Griffin goes again

The Democrat-Gazette today gave Tim Griffin some op-ed space to defend the Republican proposal to end Medicare as single-payer universal coverage for the elderly.

Hearing set on lawyer's banishment

A hearing is set at 11 a.m. Friday in Judge Michael Fitzhugh's court in Fort Smith on a curious case.

Little Rock appeals deseg order

Interested in the Little Rock School District fiight against federal Judge Brian Miller's surprise order to end state funding of magnet school programs?

Legislative staffer rehired after 30-day retirement

I wrote last week about a state agency director double dip: Artee Williams, director of Workforce Services, is en route to both a retirement check and his state agency pay in a few days.

Republican State Rep. Nate Bell quotes Hitler

PS — It's a bogus quote. PPS — Nate Bell defends Hitler citation.

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross won't seek 2012 re-election

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross won't seek election in 2012 and he's considering a race for governor in 2014, though he's made no decision yet.

Homicide victim identified

Turner Coleman, 29, has been identified as the man found dead on the ground on a parking lot near 8 Meredith Court, off Reservoir Road, about 12:20 a.m. today.

Two Rivers Bridge dispute continues

Real estate investors who say they have title to land on Sullivan's Island on which Pulaski County has built part of the Two Rivers Bridge crossing Little Maumelle River have written County Judge Buddy Villines and Mayor Mark Stodola to reassert their claim and to urge negotiations on settling the issue.

Plea bargain in Muhammad military murder trial

Abdulhakim Muhammad has struck a plea bargain in his trial on a murder charge for a shooting outside a Little Rock military center.

48 Hour Film Project meetup tonight!

Gentlemen (and ladies), start your cameras. The producers of the Little Rock leg of this year's 48 Hour Film Project have set up an informational meeting tonight for registered teams and those interested in signing up.

CBMAA donation to be announced

Crystal Bridges will make an announcement Thursday about a significant donation.

A debt ceiling compromise?

Looks like everyone may fold a bit, according to President Obama's statement on a Senate-driven compromise.

Settlement reached in battle over Turk plant

SWEPCO has signed a confidential settlement of lawsuits challenging the construction of the John W. Turk Power Plant in Hempstead County.

Monday, Monday

The line is open. * 4th DISTRICT: Perhaps you have a Democratic nominee, now that Rep. Mike Ross has said he won't seek re-election in 2012.

Nelson suit against Game and Fish dismissed

I don't have the order, but Pulaski Circuit Judge Jay Moody has dismissed Sheffield Nelson's lawsuit against the Game and Fish Conmmission alleging unconstitutional operation of the agency by a committee system set up that often gave power to three commissioners to control the agenda on which the full Commission voted.

Mike Ross' run for governor

John Brummett says on U.S. Rep. Mike Ross' annnouncement that he won't seek re-election mostly what's already been said: Ross is running for governor in 2014; he needs to spend the next couple of years acting like a Democrat (a new role) to win a Democratic primary; Republican chances to take the seat are good.

Sales tax holidays: A gimmick's flaws

Nice timing. Arkansas's first back-to-school sales tax holiday is coming up at the Tax Foundation is out with a national roundup on states with such holidays and a recitation of the things that are wrong about these politically popular events.

Arkansas housing sales improving, but ...

Arkansas housing sales and prices took a big jump upward in the 2nd quarter of the year compared with the first three months, the Arkansas Realtors Association reports.

Fatal shooting on Booker Street

Little Rock police say a 14-year-old male was found early this morning in the 1300 block of Booker Street with a fatal gunshot wound in his abdomen.

Call your congressman — if you can

Says here that phone lines to congressional offices are jammed with callers unhappy about the gridlock in Congress over the debt ceiling.

Arkansan dies in Iowa helicopter crash

Des Moines Register reports here the death of a Little Rock man, Hubert Dane Harris Jr., 54, in the crash in Iowa of a crop-dusting helicopter.

This year's local produce

Peaches are extra yummy this year. Tomatoes, not so much. How's this year's local produce from where you're sitting?

Mike Ross to refund some campaign money

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross says he'll refund individual campaign contributions to his congressional account, but keep PAC contributions given for the primary election, Roby Brock reports at Talk Business.

Another DNA test finds no link to West Memphis 3

A new court filing in Jonesboro details findings from more DNA testing of evidence in the West Memphis Three murder case that is favorable to those convicted.

Quapaw Quarter Association opposes building plan

A public hearing is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Thursday by the Capitol Zoning District Commission, 410 South Battery, on a rule change to lift building height restrictions around the Capitol from three to five stories.

Congressman Wu to resign over sex allegation

Another congressman apparently gone in a sex scandal. CNN reports that Democratic Rep. David Wu of Oregon will resign fronm the House after being accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward a fund-raiser's daughter, reportedly 18 at the time.

Democrats demand apology for GOP Nazi crack UPDATE

The Arkansas Democratic Party is demanding an apology from Republican Rep. Nate Bell, a Mena chicken farmer, for his strange Facebook post that seemed to compare Democrats and fellow travelers with Nazis.

I like Nancy Pelosi

And I don't much care who doesn't. She's tough.

Cox on wheels

V.L. Cox has completed a mural on the River Trail.

Tonight: Bayside, Full of Hell, Tales from the South

Full of Hell headlines a night of hardcore at Downtown Music Hall.

The billionaire school reformers

Old story, but each iteration seems to carry new details about how billionaires — many of them right-wing conservatives — have poured huge sums into "education reform" and charter schools.

Tuesday topics

The line is open. Final items: * RANK POLITICAL SPECULATION: Amid all the scuttlebutt put in motion by Mike Ross' decision not to seek re-election in 2012, this floated repeatedly to the surface: Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin was thinking of going home to Washington County in 2012 and running for county judge.