The week that was July 20-26 

IT WAS A GOOD WEEK FOR … ARKANSAS SCHOOL KIDS. The 2005 Iowa tests showed kids in grades K-9 scored above the national median in virtually every grade and category of reading and math. Just call us Lake Woebegone. GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE. He’s changed his mind about the grease police. Now he supports SOME state restrictions on public school vending machines (though afternoon Coke and candy breaks will still be allowed) and SOME physical activity, if not regular PE. Better than nothing, which local control would have been. GUN NUTS. Eternal opportunist U.S. Rep. Mike Ross invited the National Rifle Association to hold its 2007 convention in Little Rock since it pulled its convention from an Ohio city with an assaults weapon ban. Why not here? Has any other state in the country been more subservient to the NRA? We ought to get something in return. They can even pack heat in River Market bars. SAM’S CLUB. Applying Wal-Mart muscle, the warehouse chain got ABC approval, courtesy of swing votes from Huckabee insiders, for a retail liquor store in Fayetteville under the same roof. Until now, Arkansas law prohibited permits for package stores operated with other retail establishments. It still does, unless the owner’s name is Walton. CRIME SOLVING. A DNA match led authorities to believe they’ve found the man – now serving life in Montana – responsible for the slaying of a New Jersey woman at an Interstate 40 rest stop near Morrilton in 2000. IT WAS A BAD WEEK FOR … IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKERS. Some experts have emerged to challenge whether the bird really has survived extinction in the Big Woods of Arkansas. Spoilsports. But some yahoo hunters are already cheering. Too bad they’re not extinct. ALSO … JACKSON T. STEPHENS, the billionaire financier, died at 81. His financial empire lives on under his son’s leadership and he leaves a legacy of multi-million-dollar gifts to the Arkansas Arts Center, First Tee, UALR, UAMS and the Episcopal Collegiate School, among others.

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