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Standing invitation to Tom Cotton 

Standing invitation

As the campaign teams of incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor and challenger Rep. Tom Cotton continue the tedious election cycle tradition of debating over the format of debates, the Times continues its offer to have Cotton and Pryor join our unedited, free-form weekly podcasts. Team Pryor has tentatively given the OK for an appearance; no word from Team Cotton. Come on, Cotton! Lincoln-Douglas sounds dreary; if we're going old school, let's opt for radio days.

By the numbers

38,000: number of Arkansans with hepatitis C

1 in 4: number of infected Arkansans who know they have the disease

90 percent: cure rate of a new cocktail based on the drug Sovaldi, with minimal side effects

$84,000: cost of 12-week Sovaldi regimen

Testifying before the Public Health meeting at the Capitol last week, Health Department Director Dr. Nathaniel Smith said that without proper diagnosis and treatment, "there is a tsunami of people headed toward irreversible liver disease and death."

Quote of the week

"The current humanitarian crisis is a test of the moral character of our nation. This crisis should not be exploited as an opportunity for political posturing, but rather serve as a chance for bipartisan cooperation to humanely address this issue."

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, in a statement on the influx of immigrants, many of them children, arriving at the U.S. border.

And now a word from our sponsors

Outside money is pouring into political races at an unprecedented pace. A recent report in the New York Times found that spending on political television advertising will surpass $2 billion this year in congressional races. The total number of ads is up 70 percent from the 2010 midterm election. More than 150,000 spots from outside groups have been aired in Senate races. No state-by-state breakdown from the Times, but we're pretty sure just about all of them were aired in Arkansas.

Asa's oops moments

Last week, Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson goofed at an appearance in front of the Farm Bureau, bumbling through a response in which he indicated he didn't know how to become a member (his opponent Mike Ross chimed in, "I am a member of Arkansas Farm Bureau. I pay my ... $35 annual fee."). This week, a report in the Democrat-Gazette revealed that Hutchinson claimed more homestead property tax exemptions than he was legally allowed between 2008 and 2011. Maybe he can replace the "Asa!" signs with "Oops!"

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