Roundup of Arkansas editorials

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Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Texarkana Gazette, April 15, 2014

Uproar over comments shows former Arkansas governor right on the money

For a man who gets paid to speak on the radio, former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee sure managed to stir up a firestorm at speech he gave Saturday at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit.

You have probably seen the stories. Since then the Internet and some traditional media outlets have been all aflutter, reporting the former presidential candidate said he thinks there is "more freedom" in North Korea than in this country.

There is even an online Facebook campaign collecting donations to send Huckabee to the isolated dictatorship so he can find out the truth for himself.

Yes, it's quite a story. But Huckabee's words have been taken out of context and blown out of proportion.

Huckabee, a native of Hope, Ark., and a pastor in Texarkana for many years, is no dummy. He was speaking to a politically conservative crowd and he was playing to his audience.

But there were others in attendance just waiting to pounce at any opportunity.

And they did.

Here's the quote from MSNBC, for example:

"My gosh, I'm beginning to think that there's more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States," he said. "When I go to the airport, I have to get in the surrender position, people put hands all over me, and I have to provide photo ID and a couple of different forms and prove that I really am not going to terrorize the airplane_but if I want to go vote I don't need a thing."

Sounds like Huckabee is being a bit too whiny about airport security, doesn't it?

But the network_and many other news sources — left out some of the stuff that preceded the "North Korea" quote.

You see, in his speech Huckabee was also talking about the left's attack on free speech.

After remarking about calls for corporate board members and CEOs to be ousted for their political and political positions, he said

"Do we really want an America where instead of having free speech we simply have a few forms of speech that are carefully protected by the radical left? And if you don't agree with them, it's not just that they want to put their voices to be louder, they want to shut yours down. Freedom of speech in this country, that for which those men grabbed those muskets off the mantel did never mean that we're to have fewer voices, but more voices." ''It wasn't that we couldn't dissent; it was that we could. Whether you agree with the opinions or not. My gosh, I'm beginning to think that there is more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States," he said. Then he mentioned airport security

Now, anyone with a lick of sense knows Huckabee was just making a point here. He wasn't serious. He makes his living criticizing the government. And he knows full well that anyone doing that in North Korea would end up in a dark, dank prison cell_and that's the best possible outcome.

But he's being crucified by the left for a bit of rhetoric — rhetoric used to criticize the suppression of discourse and push for political conformity in our land.

And all the uproar over what is, essentially, a throwaway comment shows the truth in Huckabee's remarks.

___

Harrison Daily Times, April 11, 2014

Feed hunger, improve school scores

Research has proven that hungry students don't perform at peak levels in the classroom, now matter how hard they want to excel.

Other researchers have calculated that one in five American children struggle with hunger, and that three in five American teachers see hungry students in the classroom.

The St. Joe cafeteria staff made headlines earlier this week with their creative way of serving healthy and fun snacks to all elementary students.

No stigma is attached to free snacks when healthy treats are disguised as pigs in a kumquat bed and dolphins (made from bananas) with goldfish in the water made of blueberries.

What fun!

How many of us have children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren who don't eat everything in sight, if it's properly presented?

We simply don't believe the idea that the only food children will willingly eat is "junk food." Young children thrive on grapes, cheese, bananas, strawberries, and other healthy options. The problem is the high cost of buying fresh fruit and vegetables.

The St. Joe School annually receives a grant to buy and prepare healthy snacks for its elementary students, then the cafeteria staff of TaNeisha Samuel, Darlene Eddings and Leila Watson use their creative talents to make 97 snacks each day, enough for every elementary student.

With the emphasis on each student in each school performing to their maximum abilities, we're sure other school districts are using equally expressive snacks.

Congratulations St. Joe School on expanding the possibilities from the grant.

___

Southwest Times Record, April 12, 2014

The other guy may be distracted

We asked you politely. The Legislature told you. Now the state police are going to make sure you listened.

A safety campaign underway through Tuesday, "U Drive. You Text. U Pay.," emphasizes the teeth in legislation to stop drivers from texting while driving, according to a report from the Arkansas News Bureau.

The Arkansas State Police and other law enforcement agencies will have extra patrols watching for violators.

Don't think you're OK to text if you're headed out of state; the Arkansas program is part of a nationwide effort funded in part and promoted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

But since most of us do most of our driving in the state, it's worth reviewing the law here.

Arkansas law prohibits any driver of any age from texting while driving. Doing so is a primary offense, meaning the police don't need any other reason to pull you over than texting. Fines can be as high as $100, according to the ANB report.

State law also prohibits any driver from using hand-held cellphones while traveling through a school zone or highway work zone. In other words, get off the phone if you're on Interstate 540 in the construction zone.

Drivers younger than 18 aren't allowed to use a cellphone at all while driving. Drivers 18-20 must use a hands-free device if they use a cellphone while driving. Fines can be as high as $50 and can be doubled in a work zone when workers are present.

Of course, $50 and $100 are really nothing compared to the heartbreak and loss of the unthinkable, a texting-caused accident that results in injury or death.

Any type of distracted driving, like eating or drinking, playing with the radio, yelling at the kids or fussing with a navigation system, can put driver, passengers and others outside the car at risk.

But texting gets the lion's share of attention because it distracts the driver in so many ways at once, occupying eyes, hands and thoughts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

At any given daylight moment, according to research by the NHTSA, 660,000 drivers are using cellphones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.

And consider these other facts from NHTSA:

— When you text, on average, your eyes are off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that's equivalent to traveling the distance of a football field — blindfolded.

— When your eyes and hands are engaged in something other than driving, like reaching for a phone or dialing or fiddling with the GPS, you are three times more likely to get into a crash than when you are paying attention to the road.

— A quarter of teens will respond to at least one text message every time they drive. What's worse, 20 percent of teens — and 10 percent of their parents — admit they have had extended text exchanges while driving.

No matter your age or your own habits, you are sharing the road with a scary lot of drivers with bad habits.

So don't think about the fines. Think about the terrible drivers out there who share space with you. That should make you realize how vitally your continued health depends on your defensive, thoughtful, undistracted driving.

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