Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

Music, art and eats in Arkansas

Cannabiz

Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Dining Review

Poke vs. poke

February 15, 2018
Poke vs. poke
Poke Hula and Ohia Poke open; everyone wins. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

In the margins

February 15, 2018
In the margins
A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight. /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

Love, Ark Blog

Things you might have missed if you don't read the Arkansas Blog: • If you /more/

Ernest Dumas

Conley's plea

Even with his facial stubble, Garrard Conley looks and acts like a diffident teenager, not a 33-year-old man who is a leading exponent of the "gay agenda," as right-wingers refer to the movement to gain equal treatment for sexual minorities. /more/

Gene Lyons

Out of control

Unlike now infamous White House aide Rob Porter, I didn't have a Harvard professor and presidential confidant for a father. My old man was a New Jersey Irish working stiff, who taught me most of what I know about being a man. Among the enduring lessons he'd learned during his service as an artillery sergeant was that ethnic tribalism could be a trap. /more/

Movie Reviews

Mixed feelings

February 8, 2018
Mixed feelings
Within (and about) 'Phantom Thread,' Paul Thomas Anderson's Oscar-bound period piece. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Up and down

February 15, 2018
Arkansas's hyper-frustrating basketball team sorely needed a week with two home games against lesser teams to get out of a potentially season-killing swoon. Dutifully, both South Carolina and Vanderbilt obliged, and permitted the Razorbacks to press back to a .500 SEC record with the Hogs rolling to by far their easiest two wins of calendar year 2018. /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

Music, art and eats in Arkansas

Cannabiz

Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Arkansas Blog

Sunday, February 18, 2018 - 17:21:00

The kids are marching open line

click to enlarge screen_shot_2018-02-18_at_5.09.06_pm.png

Here's the Sunday open line. Young people seem to be getting organized for a March 24 march on Washington to encourage Congress to do so far what it has refused to do: Consider anything but expansion of the availability of guns.

The March for Our Lives says it is time to talk, however little Republican leaders wish to do so.

The Trump effort to blame the FBI for failing to check a complaint about the Florida shooter is a misdirection. He had no criminal record. He'd not been judged mentally incompetent. He was not under a domestic order. He was 18 and he could buy all the guns and high-capacity magazines he wanted.

Which brings up a common-sense gun measure that even some gun lovers have mentioned to me — a gun violence protective order, described here by the foundation set up by Gabbie Giffords
Laws enacted in 2014 and 2016 in California and Washington provide loved ones with lifesaving tools that can prevent gun tragedies before they occur. Gun violence protective order laws, also known as gun violence restraining orders and extreme risk protection orders, allow families and household members, as well as law enforcement officers, to petition a court to remove a person’s access to guns if he or she poses an imminent danger to self or others.
We have some protection in state law, but not against someone not adjudicated mentally ill.  Domestic protection orders can be entered to protect a specific person, but not to generally restrain someone.

Here's the ugly fact — the NRA and the Arkansas legislature are reluctant to restrict gun use by even demonstrably dangerous people. The gun lobby threw in the scrap heap legislation offered by Rep. Clarke Tucker in 2017 to prohibit firearm possession by someone convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery or stalking.  Also trashed was legislation to make it a misdemeanor to negligently allow a child access to a firearm. If Tucker wins the Democratic primary to oppose NRA millionaire Republican Rep. French Hill, you can guess where the gun lobby money will go.

As luck would have it, I just received Congressman Hill's newsletter. His complete comment on the latest gun slaughter:

I would ask you to keep the community of Parkland, Florida, in your prayers as they reconcile the evil perpetrated against their community. The loss of 17 innocent lives at Stoneman Douglas High School is a heartbreak that no community should have to endure. As a parent of a high school and college student, Martha and I praise the first responders who took action and we remain prayerful at this time.
He couldn't even bring himself to write the three-letter word that ended those innocent lives.

I remain prayerful somebody — Gwen Combs, Paul Spencer, Clarke Tucker, — will send this gun apologist packing.





 

Sunday, February 18, 2018 - 16:59:00

Election security scorecard: Arkansas grades between D and F

The Center for American Progress has done a 50-state report card on election security, an important issue given Russian's demonstrated effort to hack into state election systems in 2016. Arkansas scored an F/D*.

States were ranked on this core areas

Minimum cybersecurity standards for voter registration systems
Voter-verified paper ballots
Post-election audits that test election results
Ballot accounting and reconciliation
Return of voted paper absentee ballots
Voting machine certification requirements
Pre-election logic and accuracy testing

The CAP notes this isn't a partisan issue and that changes are underway in many places. Nonetheless, in this ranking:

No state received a perfect score in this report. With few exceptions, most states fell in the middle of the spectrum: No state received an A; 11 states received a B; 23 states received a C; 12 states received a D; and five states received an F.

Here's the link to the Arkansas score: And here's some of the commentar:

Arkansas allows voting using machines that do not provide a paper record and fails to mandate post-election audits, which does not provide confirmation that ballots are cast as the voter intends and counted as cast. Despite numerous attempts to speak to someone in state government about the cybersecurity standards for the
state’s voter registration system, state officials did not respond to our requests for information and comments and we were unable to locate it independently. If Arkansas is adhering to all of the minimum cybersecurity best practices for voter registration systems, it would receive a “good” score—worth 3 points—for that
category, bringing its grade up to a D. The state exercises good practices by requiring that all voting machines be tested to EAC Voluntary Voting System Guidelines prior to being purchased or used in the state, and by requiring election officials to carry out pre-election logic and accuracy testing on all voting machines that will be used in an upcoming election. The fact that the state prohibits voters stationed or living overseas from returning voted ballots electronically is also commendable.

In Arkansas, all voted ballots must be returned by mail or delivered in person.

To improve its overall election security, Arkansas should stop using paperless DRE machines in some jurisdictions and should require mandatory post-election audits in all jurisdictions. Until Arkansas requires statewide use of paper ballots and robust post-election audits that test the accuracy of election outcomes with
a high degree of confidence, its elections will remain a potential target of sophisticated nation-states. Arkansas should also strengthen its post-election ballot accounting and reconciliation procedures by enacting precinct-level accounting requirements for DRE machines that mirror those required for jurisdictions with
ballot tabulators. Whereas state law currently requires ballot tabulating precincts to compare the number of ballots cast with the number of voters who signed into the polling place, it is unclear whether the same is true for jurisdictions using DRE machines.

There are many other questions, all seemingly linked to a lack of responsiveness by state election officials. In Arkansas, the secretary of state is the top state official on voting. You may remember that he (Mark Martin) alone responded fully and immediately for voter data sought by Kris Kobach in the now-shut effort to use a a national commission to seek, by dubious means, to prove fraud had been involved in Hillary Clinton's three-million-vote popular vote victory over Donald Trump.

 

Sunday, February 18, 2018 - 08:49:00

A school shooter's warning signals and the ready availability of assault rifles

click to enlarge DOWNWARD TREND: Australian homicides trend downward following gun control law. The drop per thousand population is sharper. Also: No mass killings in Australia since the law was passed. - FACTCHECK.ORG
  • factcheck.org
  • DOWNWARD TREND: Australian homicides trend downward following gun control law. The drop per thousand population is sharper. Also: No mass killings in Australia since the law was passed.

The list of agencies alerted to possible danger from the suspect in the Florida school massacre continues to grow.

The New York Times reports here on the investigation of a Florida social services agency about Nikolas Cruz. Concerns about his potential for violence also were called in to the FBI. School officials had many concerns. Police made many reports. And yet he killed 17 at a school with an armed guard that had drilled carefully for shooting episodes.

Could he have killed 17 people had he not had hassle-free access to the purchase of a military-style semi-automatic assault weapon with large ammunition clips? I believe fewer assault weapons in America would mean fewer mass killings in America.

Things to consider as politicians issue bromides about mental health,  school safety, the futility of gun control laws and related topics:

* The Republican Congress and Donald Trump last year rolled back Obama-era rules that made it harder for people with mental illness to purchase a gun.

* The Trump budget would slash federal spending on school safety programs. And more here on the emptiness of Trump administration talk of school safety.

* The Trump budget cuts spending on a range of mental health programs.

Finally, and most of all, it is not an easy matter to prevent someone without a criminal record from owning a gun in the U.S. And given the unchecked ways that people can purchase weapons in private sales, it's not so easy to bar criminals either.

 still believe if assault weapons were banned, the likelihood of their use would drop. They ARE the weapon of choice in massacres.

Here's a 2017 Fact Check report on gun violence in Australia after assault weapons were outlawed and other gun control measures were enacted following a 1996 mass slaughter with an assault rifle. The homicide rate has dropped from 1.6 per thousand in 1996 to 1 per thousand in 2013-14, the most recent statistics available. There were 13 mass killings (four or more) in the 18 years before the gun control law and NONE in the 14 following years. There's more, but the trend is similar. Gun control appears to correlate with fewer lost lives.

 

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Rock Candy

Friday, February 16, 2018 - 16:26:00

No Small Talk Ep. 6: Point Break and even more Musicians Showcase

click to enlarge no_small_talk_1.png
This week's "No Small Talk" features continuing coverage of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase plus a preview of "Point Break," the next movie in our film series at Riverdale.

As always, we've got the links you need to follow along:

*Here's the most recent Musicians Showcase update on Round 3

*You can grab more information from our To-Do List about the Arkansas Times Film Series screening of "Point Break." (Or grab tickets on Riverdale's site.) The To-Do List also has the information you need on what to do this week — including Stephanie's move for the weekend, a reading with Molly McCully Brown.

*The Riverdale film series that's going on throughout 2018 is online here; it includes "The Room," "Blazing Saddles," "Clockwork Orange."

*Dig into light pollution info, courtesy of Omaya's recommendation.

*Listen to "A Very Fatal Murder"

*And you must, if on Android, follow in Stephanie's footsteps with the live earth background.

Happy weekend!


 

Friday, February 16, 2018 - 11:47:00

Sabine Valley wins round three of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

And Round 3 of the 2018 Arkansas Times Musician's Showcase goes to: Sabine Valley!

We've got another great lineup for Round 4. You can check out the schedule here. And come out this Thursday, February 22 to Stickyz, to see who will join The Rios, Couch Jackets and Sabine Valley at the finals at The Rev Room on Friday, March 9.

The winner of that final round receives: cold hard cash, an in-studio showcase at Capitol View Studio, a live spot at Patio on Park Hill 2018, live spot at the Arkansas State Fair Bud Light Pavilion, a live spot at Musicfest El Dorado, a live spot at Low Key Arts' Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival in Hot Springs, a Thursday Night Live performance at Griffin Restaurant in El Dorado, eight hours of artist development at The Hive Studio, a PRS SE 245 Standard 22 Electric Guitar from Sunrise Guitars and more.

Here's a rundown of last night's show with comments from our four judges; Sarah Woolf of the "Follow the Woolf" series, Robert Locke of Shindig Music, J. Bradley Minnick of KUAR's "Arts & Letters," Drew Pickens and our guest judge for the night, host of the latest "Nasty Women" comedy showcase, Willow Wheeler.

Sabine Valley

Judge's comments:

"Lead singer owns it. Fugazi, Garbage, Pavement-y."

"Jesus, these kids are how old? Very impressive."

"Nice crowd enthusiasm and support."

"She owned the stage and possibly the night."

"That lead singer is a live wire and I am loving it. Gives me Sleater-Kinney meets Bikini Kill vibes."


Crankbait


Judge's comments:

"Solid, dark metal."

"These guys have earned their place in the Central Arkansas music scene. So influential and respected."

"The introduction of a synth into a genre that would otherwise shun it is a great touch."

"These guys just scared half the crowd. Somewhere the Devil is proud."



All the Way Korean



Judge's comments:

"P.I.L. Public Image Limited. Commanded the stage with cool bass lines. Points for suits."

"Best showmanship of the night."

"Professional musicians. These guys know and love what they're doing."

"Spa City dance punk with a late 70s London filter. Nice."



Deep Sequence



Judge's comments:

"Hella groove. Vintage tones."

"Can't wait to be out on a festival field this summer in the sunshine, cold drink in my hand dancing to this band."

"This is definitely something I could jam to. I think if you made it a little more synth heavy and experimental you could have done something nobody has ever heard before."

"Tight. Funky. Solid at every turn."





 

Friday, February 16, 2018 - 10:39:00

Arts Center to reveal architectural plan — finally

click to enlarge concept-design-presentation-postcard-invite_for-building-page.jpg

The architectural firm designing the renovated Arkansas Arts Center will reveal its concept at the Arts Center starting with champagne at 6 p.m. and the presentation at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27. Jeanne Gang, whose Studio Gang Architects firm of Chicago has been working on the design, and Arts Center Director Todd Herman will preside.

The reveal was first set for October 2017, but was canceled when it was decided that the original $46 million budget given the architects wasn't quite enough to come up with an Arts Center the public — which is giving up $37.5 million in tourism taxes to bond the project — would necessarily embrace. There are so many infrastructure issues with the Arts Center that improvements under the old budget might not have been immediately apparent.

Herman said in January that he was "cautiously optimistic" that fundraising would meet the needs of an increased budget, though he declined to say how much more money would need to be raised. Presumably, that will be revealed along with the new concept next Tuesday.

The new Arts Center is slated to open in 2021.

 

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In 2017, teenagers committed to rehabilitative treatment at two South Arkansas juvenile lockups did not receive basic hygiene and clothing supplies and lived in wretched conditions. /more/

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Arkansas Reporter

Historian out

February 15, 2018
Another DAH defection. /more/
 

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