HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which premiered last April, has consistently shown itself to be a Daily Show-level contender for the humor-news crown. Up for discussion on the show last night: the myriad ways major poultry producers exploit chicken farmers. Also featured in the video: Arkansas Republican Rep. Steve Womack, who gets plucked and roasted for placing a rider on the agriculture appropriations bill that forbids the USDA from enforcing already-written protections for the nation's poultry farmers.
Take heed, Arkansas: the same day Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana announced he would sign the state's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" — an anti-LGBT bill with disturbing similarities to Rep. Bob Ballinger's HB 1228 — a $4 billion tech company announced they're pulling up stakes there rather than "require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination." Ouch.
The Tyson family and Tyson Foods have made a $5 million gift to toward the Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences, a $16.3 million project of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Here's a little national coverage on the fight between broadband providers and education advocates (joined by other business interests) who want to allow K-12 schools to access the public fiber optic network for colleges and universities, ARE-ON.
American Bridge, the liberal PAC formed by David Brock, the former Clinton foe now dedicated to round-the-clock Hillary Clinton defender, is out today with a new report on environmental impacts and layoffs from Koch Industries. The report focuses on the business activities of the Koch brothers — more famous for hundreds of millions in political spending aimed at slashing government services, regulation and taxes — in twelve states, including Arkansas. From the report: "The Kochs' extreme, self-serving agenda is bad for working families. And that reality is starkly embodied not only by their political persuasions, but by their business endeavors."
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline brought together campaign rivals Sen. Mark Pryor and U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton this morning at a press conference hosted at Welspun Tubular LLC, the east Little Rock pipe plant, along with U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin and state legislators and business leaders. Because of environmental concerns, the White House is reluctant to approve the Keystone project, which would deliver about 800,000 barrels of carbon-heavy Canadian tar sands oil each day to Gulf Coast refineries and cross hundreds of miles of sensitive lands. Pryor, Cotton and Griffin all urge President Obama to drop objections to the pipeline, which they say are standing in the way of job creation in Arkansas.
Give Arkansas a Raise, the grassroots group hoping to raise the state minimum wage by an initiated act from $6.25 to $8.50 an hour says U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor will join the group for a news conference endorsing the increase at 11 a.m. Saturday at Bullock Temple CME Church.
NPR gives quite a treatment to "The Meat Racket," a new book by former Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Chris Leonard on Tyson Foods. It praises the genius of Don Tyson, but raises familiar criticism of the poultry giant's relationship with contract suppliers of chicken.
New York magazine provides a book excerpt from a man, Kevin Roose, who went undercover in the secret initiation rites of a Wall Street fraternity — the 1 percent of the 1 percent. Shades of Mitt Romney, the sights he saw at the dinner in January 2012. They included Little Rock tycoon Warren Stephens singing new lyrics, tailored to Wall Street, to "Dixie." The performance was captured on audio.
THAT explains it. Idle talk at the Capitol recently has included a professed desire by some legislators to rein in the state Public Service Commission in some fashion, perhaps with legislation in 2015.
Arkansas Business reports a $148 million deal has been reached for Seneca Foods Corp. of Marion, N.Y., t to acquire "substantially all the operating assets" of Allens Inc. of Siloam Springs, the privately held canning company that filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October.
Prime-Line, Inc., a 17-year-old Malvern company that makes fiberboard doors, millwork and mouldings for retailers including Lowe's and Home Depot, announced today that they would expand their operations in Malvern, investing $6.7 million in a new building and manufacturing line there.
Vinh Long, a Vietnam-based manufacturer that supplies to furniture and cabinets to Ikea and other retailers, will spend $5 million to convert an existing factory in Morrilton to suit its needs. The company said today it plans to hire 75 workers.
Ernest Dumas writes about the difficulties faced by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in matching the achievements of Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, even though he, like the majority of the legislature is a Republican. In short, Hutchinson needs Obamacare money, though his party rests on a foundation that hates Obamacare.
A two-week cruise from Vancouver to Alaska was nicely timed for the August heat wave. It dipped into the 40s during my visit to the Hubbard Glacier, loudly "calving" with mighty booms of cracking ice. Here's a brief politically tinged travelogue.
If one were of a low and suspicious nature regarding the New York Times' historically inept Washington Bureau, one might suspect yet another example of the "Clinton Rules" — that is, a shaky allegation unsupported by facts.
The website BuzzFeed has devoted a serious amount of digital acreage to the recent Miss Gay Arkansas pageant, seemingly an oddity in this rural state except that this pageant has a long history and the first Miss Gay America was from Arkansas.
Cabot District Judge Joe O'Bryan, arrested last Friday night for an alleged drunken assault on his girlfriend, should be suspended from the bench while his misdemeanor case is pending, the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission decided today. The Commission also confirmed an ongoing investigation against another district judge over using criminal defendants for personal work.