Opening homes, wallets for pets

April 5, 2011 Gary and I were among the scores of people crowded into what was at one time a water holding tank Saturday night for the Humane Society of Independence County’s fundraiser.The Trivia Game Night was held in the firefighter training facility down by the river, and it really was a lot of fun. We’d never been to one (although we’ve all played trivia board games), but from what I hear these trivia events are the wave of the future for fundraising, popping up everywhere, it seems, for various causes. In my opinion, helping animals is one of the best causes.

Defining moments

April 5, 2011 The recent democratic uprisings calling for social change that have been a rolling wave of protests across the Middle East may seem like a reflection of our distant past from 1776 or perhaps even the Civil War but look again. The U.S. had a lurch in mid-step during 1968 that continues to affect everything.The year started with a wave of optimism and promises of more basic civil rights for women and blacks that were already changing the way neighborhoods looked and corporations did business from the root level.

It takes a community to raise a child

April 5, 2011 As I stood in the grocery store checking my list, I thought I heard someone call my name. I turned around, but I didn’t see anyone I recognized, so I went back to my list. I heard my name again, but this time there was no mistaking it. I turned to see a young man approaching me. He was about 6 foot 2, and skinny. I couldn’t figure out who he was until he grinned. That grin triggered memories I would never forget, nor could I believe who was standing in front of me.“Mr. Howard, do you remember me?”I laughed. “Dustin! My how you’ve grown.”

Dressed to kill

April 5, 2011 “You are not leaving the house dressed like that, young lady!’’“Oh, Mother, all my friends are dressing this way!”“In high heels, hip-hugger pants and a tube top that leaves your stomach exposed? I don’t think so!’’“But, Mother, don’t you know that the popular culture has been driving fashion for years? So many TV shows feature young girls wearing provocative clothing. Is it any wonder younger and younger girls are dressing this way?”“Not in this household they aren’t!”

Happy birthday, Mom

April 4, 2011 She is one of my best friends and someone I look up to despite what she might think and today she celebrates her birthday. I won’t divulge her age, but Mom looks great for it. One thing I hate about being an adult and on one of life’s different paths is being away from her but any time I can spend with her is treasured and this weekend I did just that.Although she only lives about two hours away I hate that it’s not minutes, but she’s never more than a phone call away.

Stage being set for war

April 4, 2011 One hundred and fifty years ago, events were set into motion that would split the country in half. With the crisis going on in Charleston, S.C. Harbor, President Lincoln maneuvered America politically into a position that would result in the proverbial “point of no return” when he signed an order on April 6, 1861 putting the United States Navy on a southerly course — destination Fort Sumter.

Ledge update

April 4, 2011 LITTLE ROCK — The major accomplishments of the 2011 legislative session include a wide-ranging series of tax cuts, stronger ethics laws for lawmakers and a highway program that Arkansas voters will be able to vote on in a statewide election.The Legislature enacted new laws to provide alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders, which include an expansion of parole and probation. The General Assembly also restored the state’s depleted unemployment insurance fund, and it passed legislation to stabilize the fund by freezing unemployment benefits.

America: You’re fired!

April 4, 2011 I want to know. You want to know. The whole world wants to know. What’s the deal with the surprising retiring Republicans? Not age-related retiring, as in shawl on the lap watching the third DVD of the fifth season of “Matlock” with a glass of tepid tea on the side table. Retiring as in coy, reticent, withdrawn. Obviously, we are not speaking of those pesky majority members of the House — demure as an over-caffeinated grizzly on roller skates gallivanting down a fashion runway and, yes, that means you, Kate Moss.

It’s never enough money

April 1, 2011 As both a capitalist and a taxpayer, news of recent antics by General Electric (G.E.) made me wince.That’s because G.E.’s actions are practically begging the usual suspects to ramp up their protests against “evil corporations.”According to The New York Times, G.E. — despite making a $5.1 billion profit in the United States in 2010 — paid no federal income tax and actually received a $3.2 billion TAX CREDIT to apply to future indebtedness.

Government skilled at secrets

April 1, 2011 Although the Obama administration pledged early on to exercise greater care when using the so-called “state secrets privilege” in court, it appears that there has been little meaningful change since the Bush years. Indeed, new research at Georgetown University suggests that the degree of government secrecy in legal cases by both administrations during the last decade may be greater than previously realized.