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Dining Review

Spare time for the Dust Bowl

January 11, 2018
Spare time for the Dust Bowl
For good food, drink and fun. /more/

Dining Search


Ernest Dumas

Sick health policy

The century-old drive to give everyone access to medical care has a new creed: /more/

Gene Lyons

Playing to a crowd

A brief confession: the only "reality TV" I ever watch is sports. Real, unscripted contests, I mean. Professional wrestling I gave up after eighth grade when the story lines became too predictable to be funny. I never saw "Jersey Shore" or "The Apprentice." /more/

Movie Reviews

'Downsizing' dwindles

January 11, 2018
'Downsizing' dwindles
Alexander Payne's conceit goes big, falls flat. /more/

Pearls About Swine


January 11, 2018
Arkansas basketball is the great deceiver. The minute you start sensing that a special team is coalescing, a quick road swing will jar you back toward Earth. /more/

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Rock Candy

Music, art and eats in Arkansas

Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 14:57:00

Tuesday: Open line and the daily news roundup

Here's your open line. Also news and comment in the daily roundup.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 14:35:00

Asa Hutchinson plugs benefits of NAFTA

click to enlarge PLUGGING NAFTA: Governor in Rogers today. - TWITTER
  • Twitter
  • PLUGGING NAFTA: Governor in Rogers today.
In remarks in Rogers today, Gov. Asa Hutchinson plugged the benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which puts him somewhat at odds with the Republican Party's nominal leader, Donald Trump.

Hutchinson cited the benefits to Arkansas farmers from free trade with Canada and Mexico — not only jobs in Arkansas but fresh fruit and vegetables from Mexico year-round.

From a release about a gathering of business people at World Trade Center Arkansas:

“As the United States considers the future of NAFTA, the nation must be careful that it does not harm global trade,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “Arkansas must be able to continue its access to North American markets unimpeded by unfair trade barriers. Otherwise, there will be serious harm to Arkansas’s agriculture and retail and manufacturing sectors.”

Jeff Lindsey, an Elkins, Ark., turkey grower whose Double L Farms supplies turkeys to Cargill, voiced his concern at today’s event.

“Farming requires a lot of hard work every single day, but I love what I do,” Lindsey said. “Thanks to NAFTA, Mexico has become the No. 1 export market for U.S. turkey products, taking delivery of more than half of all our turkey exports. If the U.S. were to walk away from NAFTA, the price of those products would take a serious hit, and my family’s farming operation would be hard-pressed to absorb the economic consequences that would bring.”

Continued cross-border trade has proven to be very important to local farmers and businesses. As President Trump considers trade agreements and works toward fairness and modernization of the pact, the administration must be mindful of the basic principle that we do no harm to our global trading relationships. It is clear that there is great potential for harm in Arkansas, especially to our farmers, if the United States reverses course regarding cross-border trade.

Tyson and Walmart officials joined those praising the benefits of the trade agreement.

Trump has repeatedly talked of withdrawing from NAFTA without major changes, though commentators have also noted that what Trump says can change day to day, or even hour by hour, on this and most other subjects. His advisers are pressing for retention of the agreement. Indeed, some columnists have suggested that Sen. Tom Cotton lied for the president about his "shithole" remark in part to maintain his role as an influencer of Trump. Cotton is a free trader, but he's said NAFTA could be improved, particularly to help poultry producers.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 14:17:00

Governor optimistic on Medicaid work waiver

SEEMA VERMA: Medicaid admionistrator, who once made money advising Arkansas on Medicaid, is epxected soon to make a decisiion on allowing Medicaid rule changes in Arkansas requested by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • SEEMA VERMA: Medicaid admionistrator, who once made money advising Arkansas on Medicaid, is epxected soon to make a decisiion on allowing Medicaid rule changes in Arkansas requested by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson's press aide J.R. Davis tells me today that the governor is confident that positive word will come soon on a federal waiver requested by Arkansas to allow it to impose a work requirement on Medicaid recipients.

I asked if they'd met with Seema Verma, the Medicaid administrator, and if she'd offered any assurances of success on requests for the work requirement and for changing the income eligibility from 100 to 138 percent of the federal poverty income.

Said Davis by e-mail:

Yes, we’re confident. The Gov spoke with both the acting HHS Secretary and Administrator Verma last week re: Arkansas’s waiver and the guidance from CMS last week. We should hear something soon, in terms of Arkansas’s work requirement.
The Trump administration opened the door to the work rule last week, with the first approval going to Kentucky, as David Ramsey reported in detail here

I was interested on reading of Hutchinson's continued meetings with federal officials because of the criticism Democratic U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden raised in June about his perception of a conflict in Verma participating in discussions with Arkansas.

Verma's ethics disclosure form said she did consulting work on Medicaid for Arkansas and other states before taking the job as administrator of Medicare and Medicaid Services. The state took exception at the time, saying Verma didn't work for the state, but for a contractor, Hewlett Packard, that did business with the state. At that time, Verma reportedly had to receive permission from the Health and Human Services Department director to meet with Arkansas and it was granted. Wyden particularly objected to Verma's communication with Dennis Smith, an Arkansas Medicaid advisor paid $294,000 from a combination of state agency and UAMS contributions. Wyden complained that Verma shouldn't be holding talks about favors requested by Arkansas, a state that had once been a source of money paid to her.

I asked J.R. Davis about the restriction mentioned in June on Verma talks with Arkansas.
To our knowledge CMS has placed no restrictions on Administrator Verma’s involvement with Arkansas in these negotiations. It’s on CMS to do so. 
If any special permission is still required by the acting department director, she clearly has received it to talk with Hutchinson. I've emailed a requestion to the federal agency on the point.l


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Saturday, January 13, 2018 - 12:36:00

Slideshow: Katy Perry at Verizon Arena

click to enlarge BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
Katy Perry performed at Verizon Arena last night. There were bipedal sharks, shoulder pads for days, gaseous planets and dancers with televisions for heads, and our photographer Brian Chilson was there to catch some of it. 


Friday, January 12, 2018 - 15:55:00

Magnetometers at Robinson Center, First Security Amphitheater, Statehouse Convention Center

In a press release today, the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau announced a new set of security screening procedures for all ticketed live performances at Robinson Center, First Security Ampitheater and the Statehouse Convention Center, to be launched January 21, when Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit play a show at Robinson Center Performance Hall.

Walk-through magnetometers, the release stated, will be "mandatory for all live performances at LRCVB-managed properties."

LRCVB President & CEO Gretchen Hall said:

These new security procedures have become common practice in public assembly venues, and many promoters are requiring these type of security measures be in place. While there is no perfect system, patron safety is our number one priority and concern. We strive to insure our patrons have an enjoyable and safe experience at events in our managed facilities. We hope all our patrons will be patient as our staff adapts to this ‘new normal’ that we all face.”

That "new normal" means that guests are advised to arrive early to clear security, and are encouraged to bring only necessary items into the performance, with exceptions for medically necessary items, the release said. Expectant mothers and people with pacemakers will be scanned with a handheld device.

Items not allowed?

"Backpacks, bags larger than 14” x 14” x 6”, more than one bag, weapons of any kind, knives of any kind, pepper spray/mace, fireworks or pyrotechnics of any kind, outside food and beverage, flasks, coolers, drugs, illegal substances, skateboards, rollerblades, bicycles, helmets, beach balls, Frisbees, streamers, confetti, laptop/tablet computers, 2-way radios, cameras, laser pointers, flashlights, balloons, permanent markers, spray paint, noise making devices, audio or video recording devices (except cell phones and authorized media equipment), signs/flags/banners, selfie sticks, chains, spikes, and any other item that may be deemed by event organizers and/or staff as a potential safety or security threat."


Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - 13:28:00

Beth Ditto at the Rev Room March 7

click to enlarge Beth Ditto - MARY MCCARTNEY
  • Mary McCartney
  • Beth Ditto

Beth Ditto, White County's wailing torchbearer for punk rock and body positivity is kicking off her North American Tour with a show at Revolution Taco & Tequila Lounge Wednesday, March 7. The former frontwoman for Gossip is performing in support of her solo debut album, "Fake Sugar."

From today's press release, here are the tour dates:
Beth Ditto – 2018 North American Tour Dates

3/7 – Little Rock, AR @ Revolution Music Room
3/8 – Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge
3/10 – Washington, DC @ The 9:30 Club
3/11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
3/14 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
3/15 – Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
3/16 – Montreal, QC @ Fairmount Theatre
3/17 – Toronto, ON @ Mod Club
3/19 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
3/23 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre
3/24 – Pomona, CA @ The Glass House
3/25 – San Francisco, CA @ Regency Ballroom

3/27 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
3/28 – Vancouver, BC @ Imperial
3/29 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox

Tickets, $21, are available here. Until then, check out this video for "Fire," from the new record. 


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A home for the visual arts: UALR's WCAD

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