The line is open. Finishing up:
BREAKING NEWS: CNN is covering a reported shootout between law officers and ex-LA cop Christopher Dorner. Two deputies reportedly wounded in Big Bear, Calif., area. He's reportedly barricaded in a cabin.
* ESTEM STUDENT WINS JEOPARDY TEEN TOURNAMENT: A: Won $75,000. Q: Leonard Cooper, a senior at the eStem Public Charter School High School, who won the Jeopardy Teen Tournament, filmed in November but aired today. Gavin Lesnick of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette joined Cooper and fellow students to watch a taped version of the show today. Jeopardy has posted an interview with him on-line. I'll break another small piece of news about the Jeopardy winner. He was chosen in judging last weekend as one of this year's Arkansas Times Academic All-Stars. The annual team will be revealed April 25, but letters went out to our winners yesterday. The school will re-air the show at a chili supper/student-faculty trivia match at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 to raise money for the school activity fund.
* BEDTIME READING FOR POLITICAL JUNKIES: It's from The New Republic. "Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people."
The true problem, as yet unaddressed by any Republican standard-bearer, originates in the ideology of modern conservatism. When the intellectual authors of the modern right created its doctrines in the 1950s, they drew on nineteenth-century political thought, borrowing explicitly from the great apologists for slavery, above all, the intellectually fierce South Carolinian John C. Calhoun. This is not to say conservatives today share Calhoun's ideas about race. It is to say instead that the Calhoun revival, based on his complex theories of constitutional democracy, became the justification for conservative politicians to resist, ignore, or even overturn the will of the electoral majority.
This is the politics of nullification, the doctrine, nearly as old as the republic itself, which holds that the states, singly or in concert, can defy federal actions by declaring them invalid or simply ignoring them. We hear the echoes of nullification in the venting of anti-government passions and also in campaigns to "starve government," curtail voter registration, repeal legislation, delegitimize presidents. There is a strong sectionalist bias in these efforts.
Nullification? Why does that make me think of the Arkansas legislature, Republican Party and Medicaid?
* OUCH: I feel Little Rock writer Suzi Parker's pain, having picked up some stinkers from the web myself. But, no, Sarah Palin is not going to work for al-Jazeera. Romenesko expands on breitbart snark about the Washington Post blog item. It was based on the Daily Currant: Other headlines today — 'Obama to declare America a socialist state,' and 'Catholic Church considering Jerry Sandusky as next pope.'
* REPUBLICANS: LET'S NOT PROTECT ALL WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: The U.S. Senate today voted 78-22 to extend the Violence Against Women Act. Sen. John "Dr. No" Boozman was among the 22, all Republicans, who voted no. Republicans have a problem with parts of the bill that bar federal funded agencies from discrimination against gays and lesbians and that allow undocumented immigrants who are violence victims to seek legal status. They also quibble with protection for Native Americans. The House Republican majority last year wouldn't pass the bill with those measures. They insist on preserving the legal ability to discriminate against gay people. It is that simple. Talking Points Memo has more.
* REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURE STARTS TO STRANGLE GOVERNMENT: Legislation that the Beebe administration contends unconstitutionally passes budgetary decisions to the executive branch came out of a House committee today. It limits growth in state spending to 3 percent or a three-year rolling average on revenue, whichever is less. Special needs? Disasters? Tough. Government must shrink and needs must go unmet. In hard times, prisoners will be cut loose and patrol cars will be garaged. It's a Mickey Mouse way to run a government. But it looks like the banner will be waved high.
* FIREFIGHTER MONUMENT APPROVED FOR CAPITOL GROUNDS: The secretary of state's office says the commission that oversees Capitol grounds today had approved the long-gestating memorial to fallen firefighters, a project that reportedly has reached construction and maintenance financial goals after eight years. It will be on the west side of the Capitol on the mall and could be dedicated by October. The commission also heard a presentation from the Arkansas Military Veterans' Hall of Fame, but took no action on a request for installation of the Hall of Fame in the Capitol foyer.
* ASU WARNS OF TAX FRAUD SCHEME: Arkansas State University has circulated a news release that indicates somebody got hold of personal information of ASU employees and used it to attempt to claim tax refunds with fraudulent returns. Release follows:
JONESBORO — Arkansas State University today encouraged its employees to take preventative financial security measures after learning of possible fraudulent filing of federal tax returns.
The ASU Department of Finance and Administration on Monday received reports that employees who have not filed tax returns for 2012 had received letter 4464C, which relates to refunds, from the Internal Revenue Service. At least 16 employees are known to have received the letter.
"The information we have received appears to indicate that someone has fraudulently obtained personal information and used it to file tax returns," said Dr. Len Frey, ASU vice chancellor for finance. "We do not know who obtained their personally identifiable information or how."
Frey said ASU has notified the IRS and is investigating the situation. The university also sent employees information to contact the IRS directly.
"We will cooperate with authorities to determine who obtained and used the information," Frey said. "We are also reviewing all internal processes and communicating with our third-party vendors that have access to employee information."
Frey said the apparent fraudulent activity is a "very serious" matter and that the university will take whatever steps are necessary to determine what happened.
"I regret the inconvenience members of our staff are facing because of what appears is be illegal activity," Frey said. "We will continue to keep everyone informed as we get more information."