Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
Quote of the Week
"It's very clear what your views are, sir. My views are keeping our kids safe, which include my children. Now that you have a child, you will understand. ... When you speak of sending our kids again, let's make it worth it not just to send them to politically help some Haliburton or somebody else."
— Fred Boenig, an anti-war radio host whose son died in Afghanistan in 2010, to U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton at a foreign policy discussion in D.C. Cotton's first child was born this April.
After a single year of using the new PARCC test to evaluate Arkansas students, the state will ditch it in favor of a different assessment, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced. It's not clear if the new test, called the ACT Aspire, will be better or worse than PARCC. What is clear is that the ACT Aspire is aligned with the Common Core State Standards, just as PARCC was.
Yet because Common Core is such a political hot potato — especially in Tea Party circles — Hutchinson and Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin continue to hold public meetings soliciting input on the "question" of whether Arkansas will stick to the standards. We're about to commit every school in the state to a new exam designed to test knowledge of Common Core ... but we're still not sure if we're going to keep using Common Core? Right, right.
The river flatulent
Last week, an auxiliary pipeline that runs beneath the Arkansas River near the Little Rock airport ruptured, sending 3.9 million cubic feet of natural gas bubbling through the water and into the air. That's enough gas to supply about 65 average American homes for a year, said a spokesperson for the pipeline operator, Texas-based Spectra Energy. No one was injured in the blast, although a nearby towboat called the Chris M was damaged by flying debris and several boat captains on the river came fairly close to having heart attacks. Spectra is still investigating the cause of the rupture.
Hope 'n' carry
Is it lawful in Arkansas to openly wear a gun on your hip wherever you go? Attorney General Leslie Rutledge now says it is, based on a 2013 bill that surreptitiously smuggled in a legal change that could be interpreted as allowing for open carry. The previous AG, Democrat Dustin McDaniel, issued an opinion in 2013 saying that was NOT what the law did. But Rutledge, his successor, begs to differ. "I interpret it to mean an individual may carry so long as he or she does so without the intent to unlawfully employ it against another person," she said in a statement to a news outlet last week.
Two of the rare places in the state where toting a gun remains illegal, by the way: The Capitol and the Attorney General's office.
Sky still blue, water still wet, Rapert still clueless
Conway Pride, which put on its 12th annual LGBT pride parade last weekend, says its mission is "to teach tolerance and acceptance of the LGBT community in the South." But you can't pull the wool over the stern gaze of state Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), who represents a portion of the city. In a lengthy Facebook missive over the weekend, Rapert revealed the parade's true objective: "I believe it is because they understand that the lifestyle they are glorifying on our streets is considered sin by every Bible-believing Christian and they use their parade on a day reserved to worship God and reverence [for] the Lord to mock Christians."
... and Huckabee still gross
For those who prefer their bigotry delivered with a punch line, there's always Mike Huckabee. A video surfaced last week in which the former governor joked to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention earlier this year that he wished he "could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE. ... I'm pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, 'Coach, I think I'd rather shower with the girls today.' You're laughing because it sounds so ridiculous, doesn't it?" Ah, for a return to a simpler America, when trans people were easy fodder for comedy — right along with teenage boys doing creepy things to girls.