The SHOT Show (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) recently took place in Las Vegas, despite the fact that 58 people were murdered and 851 were injured in a mass shooting there mere months ago. It seems in poor taste. Even more distasteful was the fact that Arkansas Governor Hutchinson attended to help gun manufacturers drum up more customers. But there's no need to worry about the safety of Hutchinson or the gun dealers in Vegas. It's not just gun safety advocates who know that guns don't make us safer; these firearm manufacturers know it, too. The SHOT Show was practically a gun-free zone. Per their website, "NO personal firearms or ammunition allowed. Only firearms on display by exhibitors whose firing pins have been removed (and have been inspected by SHOT Show Safety Advisors) will be permitted on the show floor." These firearms experts are happy to make money off of our tragedies, but clearly know better than to put themselves in the line of fire. It's appalling that our governor signed a bill in 2017 allowing loaded guns into bars and on our college campuses, which are two of the very last places guns should ever be. And it's even more appalling that Hutchinson enjoyed a level of safety and peace of mind at the SHOT Show that he is denying to public college students in our state. Has there ever been a more blatant display of hypocrisy?

Austin Bailey

Little Rock

Brother's keeper

I read the article "Lock Up Last" (Jan. 11). Thanks for all the information on a good program.

It made me angry that no increase in funds had been given in 20 years. Dedicated staff persons, judges and probation officers have helped many youths. I commend each of them for their service to build better individuals with personal attention and guidance.

Benton and Washington counties have large corporate offices that could contribute to the entire system. All would benefit greatly. State legislators have the ability to request additional funds, too.

Be your brother's keeper for his son or daughter. He would do the same for you. Giving a hand up enriches each soul.

Anita Gatzke

Little Rock

End of FEMA?

Hurricane season wrapped up by the end of November. The last days to file Federal Emergency Management Agency claims for hurricane damage by Hurricane Irma were in November. So now that hurricane season is over it is time once again for Republicans in Congress to try to cut funding for FEMA before hurricane season starts again at the end of May.

Why do Republicans want to cut FEMA? The main reason is because Republicans hate President Carter, the Democrat who ushered in the new agency back in 1979. Republicans hate Carter because his attempt to rescue a bunch of American hostages from Iran was thwarted when one of Carter's rescue choppers hit an airplane. Anyway, the pertinent reason is because Carter expanded bureaucracy by creating another federal agency that wrested control of disaster funding from the hands of Congress.

Why is FEMA so important? Sometimes, legislators such as U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton vote against disaster relief. Cotton voted against relief for Superstorm Sandy back in 2013. Congressman French Hill recently voted against relief for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. FEMA is a more reliable source of relief than Congress. But all good things must end, and so it may be with FEMA. Republicans are hot to eliminate the agency.

Arkansan James Lee Witt said, "As director of FEMA, I responded to 350 presidential disaster declarations. Disaster responses are about people, not politics."

Gene Mason


An analogy

Recently I had what NPR calls a driveway moment listening to a young lady named Joy Buolamwin talking with Guy Raz about facial recognition and skin color. Buolamwin is a graduate researcher at the MIT Media Lab. Two years earlier she was experimenting with artificial intelligence and facial recognition. She discovered that the software was not able to identify her black face. Only when she put on a white mask did the computer respond. Why didn't the computer detect her face? As Buolamwin explained, computer vision uses machine-learning techniques and the training was done with a set of faces that were not diverse, preventing detection in some cases. Buolamwin returned recently from Hong Kong, where she toured local startups, one of which used a social robot outfitted with facial recognition. Imagine her feeling when the demo worked on everyone in the group except her. It seems the software has not been improved. The main thrust of the interview was to point out the problems as police departments add facial recognition to their crime-fighting toolbox. But possibly misidentifying criminals was not what kept me sitting in my truck until the story ended. The following analogy was playing in my brain. Little Rock schools are as deficient as facial identification software. They lack diversity and we seem hell-bent on keeping them that way. The lack of diversity causes skewed results just as it does in computer facial recognition. Common sense and experience tell one that rejection hurts deeply. Rejecting thousands of our little children causes harm, sometimes lasting, to their self-image and heavily influences behavior. We have gone out of our way to create places for preferred children to attend school while turning our backs on thousands of others, forcing them to go where told. That cruel, harmful mindset prevents diversity and helps form the calloused, criminal minds of some youth.   Not long ago a man holding the highest religious office in Arkansas gave a sermon praising parochial schools. He inserted "pagan" for the word "public" when he used the phrase "public schools." For example, he was proud to tell everyone how far he rode his bike past the "pagan schools" to get to his parochial school when he was a child. Sadly, he showed no remorse when confronted at the end of the service.  Consider the thinking of an esteemed social activist living over 2,000 years ago and ask what he would do for the children in Little Rock. He would say, "Merge the private schools with public schools in such a way so as not to traumatize anyone during the process. Keep children together for as long as possible in the best facilities possible and above all with the best educators possible. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited." (Romans 12:16)

Richard Emmel

Little Rock

An open letter to President Trump

News reports state that in a recent meeting you wondered aloud why so many people interested in immigrating to the United States are from countries that do not even have a modern sewage system and public restrooms with actual toilets. Why, you reportedly asked, does not the United States have more immigrants from nations like Norway?

Persons from nations dreadfully impoverished by overpopulation, Western colonialism and corruption in their own governments are eager to escape their indescribably dire circumstances. For about 125 years, the world has perceived the United States as the place to do that. In your father's lifetime, even countries like Norway were sufficiently uncomfortable and lacking in opportunities for betterment that many people left. However, in the past 100 years the Norwegians have made many improvements, so many that there is reason to question whether the United States could possibly offer a better quality of life.

And, in fact, the United States no longer can. Beginning with Ronald Reagan's presidency, government policies have impelled the United States toward overpopulation, colonialism (by global corporations) and corruption in government setting her on a slippery slope to misery, rather soon to become commensurate with that of the nations you derided.

Please, seek answers to this very important question you have asked.

Pamela Gibson

Little Rock

From the web

In response to an Arkansas Blog post about Sen. Tom Cotton telling constituents to never contact him again:

I have never heard of an elected government official sending out cease and desist letters to the people who elected him to office and whose salary, insurance, etc. Arkansas taxpayers foot the bill for. Also, when disabled people showed up at his office in Little Rock and Washington, D.C., with questions about health care, he gave orders to his office to have them arrested by the police. Why hasn't Tom trained his office staff to answer constituents' questions on the phone or in person? They could read off a script he types up for them. I don't think Tom has plans to come back to Arkansas. Maybe we could withhold his paycheck until he learns some manners. Not much of a threat since he now works for big donors with big money. I just wish he didn't have Arkansas attached to his name.

Now that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is retiring early, does that leave an opening for Tom? I have read five different reasons for McCabe leaving.



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