Letters: Ringling Bros., race in crime reporting and more 

In response to an item in the Aug. 3 "To-Do List" that referenced a PETA video of Ringling Bros. employees using bull-hooks to train elephants:

Ringling Bros. priority is the animals

For our handlers, trainers, vet techs and veterinarians the health and comfort of all of our animals is priority number one. That fact is evidenced by the resources we dedicate to our animal care — $6 million annually on animal care with more than $60,000 a year dedicated to each elephant.

Further, Ringling Bros. is a world leader in the care and conservation of the endangered Asian elephant. That commitment is demonstrated by the creation in 1995 of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida, which is a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to the reproduction, research and retirement of Asian elephants.

Ringling Bros. animal handlers share information and work closely with federal, state, and local officials to ensure that Ringling Bros. maintains the highest quality animal care practices and operates under a zero-tolerance policy as relates to any employee engaging in behavior that does not meet or exceed current federal animal welfare standards outlined in the Animal Welfare Act.

Ringling Bros. is subject to comprehensive animal welfare regulations at the federal, state and local levels. In more than 40 years of current ownership, Ringling Bros. has never been found in violation of the Animal Welfare Act for abuse, neglect or mistreatment of its animals. In fact, in all aspects of animal care and safety, Ringling Bros. meets or exceeds all federal animal welfare standards.

Crystal Drake,
Regional Public Relations Manager
Feld Entertainment

Use race in reporting

The Democrat-Gazette's use of racial information in its "Police Beat" column ("Not so black and white," Aug. 3) is an excellent policy, and I hope [managing editor Frank] Fellone persists. Too many journalists today arbitrarily decide what the public should know, instead of simply providing what the public wants to know. When I read a crime story in a paper I immediately want to know race. In a perfect world race wouldn't be the first thing to pop into my head, but we don't live in a perfect world and I want to know. This is such a simple concept, and yet so many journalists are afraid of giving offense by simply reporting facts, and they decide that the public just does not need to know what the public wants to know. I suspect this is because nearly all journalists really, deep in their collective hearts, believe in two things. First, that they can change the world through their journalism, and that if they simply ignore the fact that some ethnic groups are more prone to crime than others that perhaps that fact will simply fade away. Secondly, they know deep down that they are far more intelligent than their reader or viewer, and have no trouble believing that their mission is to give the audience just the news that the journalist feels the audience can understand or will accept. Journalists at least used to be somewhat subtle about these two issues, but now their disregard for the intelligence of their audience and their contempt for simple fact-based reporting is blatant in the extreme, and is playing a major role in the massive changes sweeping the news industry in this country today.

Stephen Taylor
Austin, Texas

Where's the justice?

A few weeks ago the militant who killed one recruiting sergeant and wounded another cut a deal to spend the rest of his life in a federal prison where he will have free medical and dental care, three balanced meals each day plus at least one snack. He will have access to TV, internet, exercise equipment, free education, and free use of the prison grounds to walk around. In addition he will have a free library and office supplies. Meanwhile, at least 4,750 ex-GI's from the Iraqi and Afghan war who are armless, legless, mentally impaired, jobless and lack skills for a job will sleep homelessly under bridges, in alleys, cars, abandoned buildings and in the woods. Where is the justice for these men and women? The United States prison system will spend more in one year on this killer, than it would take to house most of these ex-GI's. I have to say I am ashamed for our government and saddened that our heroes are treated as if they do not count.

Frank Adams

Aiding Clinton and Sheen

Your July 27 article on Kris Engskov, who was President Clinton's travel aide, or "body man," brought to mind the farewell party that I attended on the White House lawn for Engskov back in 2000. At one point in the event, a senior White House staffer (I think Sandy Berger) was going on and on and on about what a great president's aide Kris was, and said, "How can we ever replace him?"  A young man walked up to the group, and said, "I think I can handle the job."  That young man was actor Dule Hill, who played Charlie Young, the president's aide on "West Wing". No doubt he could have handled the job, since he lasted on the TV show for about twice as long as Kris did in real life. But, again no doubt, it was probably far easier to handle Martin Sheen than Bill Clinton. 

Charlie Cole
Oakton, Va.  (and formerly, Magnolia, Ark.)

Crawford's poll

We recently received Congressman Rick Crawford's "Seniors Update," which contained a "please respond Medicare Survey." Its three choices on "My feelings on Medicare are" are "It works for me, but I understand it needs to change," "Medicare does not meet my needs." and "I am not on Medicare."  

Does this mean that Congressman Crawford has no one on staff who can design a meaningful survey, or is he planning to announce the percentage of folks who responded with one of the first two as support for his position?  It also would be good if his staff learned the difference between "feelings" and "beliefs." It makes you wonder if there's a limit to Republican dirty tricks in their effort to privatize and end Medicare.

Mark Tew and Linda Boulton
Calico Rock


On July 26, there was a piece in the Democrat Gazette entitled, "N.Y. group sues over marriage law." What is described as an advocacy group formed by pastors who want to overturn New York's Marriage Equality Act, which allows gay people to be married.

The name of this group is New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. What? Are you kidding me? They form a group to deprive other Americans of the Freedoms they are guaranteed by the Constitution, and call it New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. 

Are these people insane or do they work for Rupert Murdoch? Only Murdoch's Nazi machine could come up with a name for an organization that clearly is double talk.

The Constitution provides protection for all Americans regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. 

The gay rights movement is the new Civil Rights movement in America.

What we need is education to eliminate ignorance, prejudice and pastors like these idiots.

Butch Stone

From the Internet

In response to Mayor Mark Stodola's press conference about the proposed Little Rock sales tax increases:

I'm an activist who serves on a commission and I'm familiar with the budgeting process. I've paid close attention to the City's coffers during the last three years and it's quite insulting to come and scare folks. How much sense does it make to get stimulus funding to build a fire station when you don't have staff in place for operations? How much sense does it make to get stimulus funding to hire new officers and firefighters when you don't have a "vision" to keep them on board? I wonder how many board/commissioner members who attended yesterday's conference have contracts with the CITY?

— John Carter

I live in a Little Rock neighborhood where most of the streets are inadequately paved, no curbs and gutters, and no sidewalks. It is one of Little Rock's "finer" neighborhoods. Could it be that executives of businesses looking to relocate notice these ghetto-like conditions and move to a city with excellent leadership that gets things done to make life better for its citizens? They can get corporate handouts anywhere from any city. But they relocate to cities which value the quality of life and good city services. Using the slush fund for even better police and fire, parks and recreation, and infrastructure would make a lot more sense and entice a lot more businesses. Come back later with a specific bond issue to build the port and research park.

— Cecil

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