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Those kids 

We were looking at the adorable cover of the Feb. 14 Arkansas Times at work, and were wondering about the babies. Are they twins or are they related? We couldn't find any info on who they are.

Diane Fletcher

Lake City

Thanks for catching our omission. The cover kids were Jack Reed, son of Associate Editor Jennifer Barnett Reed, and Skyler Schaffer, daughter of art director Erica Schaffer.

A writer gone

Arkansas has been known, over the years, for producing many wonderful writers. And usually when one thinks of such sages and scribes, one is thinking of authors of books, writers of articles, et al.

But the longtime readers of the old Arkansas Gazette will recall that often its letters pages also produced some truly wonderful writers as well!

One of those great letter writers (as well as occasional guest columnist), was Mike Grogan. Mike's letters were always looked forward to and savored by all who loved his incredible gift for perfect recall and ability to put into words the imagery of things gone by, whether it was the on-target description of exactly how a particular 1940's brand of soda pop tasted, to the wonderment of what a circa 1953 bus trip from Arkadelphia to Little Rock was like for a wide-eyed youngster.

Mike's writing was nostalgic but never melancholy. He had lived every word he wrote, and he took his marvelous abilities and filled hundreds of pages of his little-known but much appreciated magazine, Heroes of Hackland, and further, in an incredible 33 issues, he generously also opened the pages up to aspiring writers and poets from Arkansas and the world beyond. Mike was able to accomplish the roles of editor, chief writer, and self-publisher, with the loving assist of his sister Charmee and brother Gary, who survive, as Mike himself has left Arkansas for worlds beyond, passing away in February, savoring to the last, this state and its people he so loved.

C.H. Ware

Little Rock

Another way of eating

The documentary “Earthlings” was not shown in theaters for its graphic presentation of animal abuse. The animal abuse included animal testing, animal shelters, puppy mills, slaughterhouses and just general abuse of animals. The movie took five years to produce. It portrays mankind's dependence on animals. It will make you feel sympathy for those creatures that are subjected to abuse and cannot do a thing about it. By watching this film all the way through, you contribute to the prevention of animal abuse, even if just by informing one of your friends about your reaction. You can watch it on-line at isawearthlings.com

Morgan Loux

Roland

Flaw in gas tax

The Sheffield Nelson effort to equitably tax the removal of state resources through an increase in the severance tax is laudable and long overdue. Our tax rate on natural gas is next to nothing, and increasing it will not harm our economy or significantly increase our taxes. It's just a really good idea.

There is a flaw in the proposal though. Severance taxes should be considered general revenue rather than “dedicated” revenue. It is not at all a good idea to send these taxes straight to the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. That agency is independent enough at present. Giving it another source of dedicated revenue will make it answerable to no one — not even the Arkansas legislature. (Even now I wonder who is in charge — AHTD or the “Ledge.”) I respectfully suggest severance taxes should be a general revenue, to be used for any and all necessary public purposes.

The voters recently refused to approve a measure giving AHTD the power to tax. I see little difference in simply dedicating an existing, increased tax by way of an initiated act for AHTD's exclusive use. Before the voters agree to that I would suggest that AHTD prove its efficiency with present revenue. I would suggest AHTD's efficiency and management — at the very least — be studied and proven before it is awarded yet another revenue stream. To my knowledge, all we ever do when AHTD says it needs revenue is say how much and how do we get it.

Jack East III

Little Rock

Love those guns

The recent Smart Talk article about Arkansas receiving a low grade from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence told only half of the story when it comes to gun laws in Arkansas.

The article says Arkansas does not require handgun purchasers to be 21 years old. That's true, but federal law already requires handgun purchasers to be 21. I wonder why Arkansas would need to pass a law prohibiting something that's already prohibited by federal law?

The article says that Arkansas doesn't require sales at gun shows to be approved with background checks. That's true, but federal law already requires all gun dealers, who make up the vast bulk of all gun show sellers, to run every single sale through the FBI's National Instant Check System.

One of the most curious failings attributed to Arkansas was no requirement to report stolen or lost firearms to the police. The only way to do that would be to make it a crime to fail to report a burglary or robbery, thus creating the situation wherein a victim of a burglary or a robbery could then be charged with the crime of failing to report being the victim of a burglary or robbery.

The Arkansas Times showed, once again, why “Smart Talk” from journalists about guns often winds up being only part of the story.

Roy Hill

Rudy

Don't blame Nader

One has to wonder how much the DNC paid you to run that sorry excuse of an editorial regarding Ralph Nader's possible run for president in 2008. Everyone knows Gore lost Florida in 2000 because 100,000 Democrats voted for Bush.

Gene Hunter

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