by Max Brantley
I won't call it the open line yet, but it might be. In honor of the slow pace of things, an early roundup:
Gates of hell? The group surrounded Central High School for the third year running so adherents could wave enlarged graphic photographs of fetuses to scare straight the 14-year-olds. Said a school faculty member: "The upperclassmen have been through this the past two years. I heard several say, 'Here ‘they’ are again!'"
Protestors also gathered at the Little Rock Family Planning clinic in West Little Rock, which performs abortions. They used bullhorns to harangue entering women — one a 66-year-old, another a woman visiting for a pregnancy test — by saying that they were intent on "murdering their babies." The 66-year-old was weirdly flattered. NOTE CORRECTION: My friend and I miscommunicated on the site of the protest. It was the Family Planning Clinic off Chenal Parkway, rather than Planned Parenthood of Arkansas, though it is also a frequent target of anti-abortion forces despite its broad array of health services for women.
Pro-choice counter-protesters mobilized to stand watch on the protestors at the West Little Rock clinic.
Anti-abortion protestors also circulated through a Sherwood neighborhood to distribute flyers naming and providing a photograph of a clinic worker, a mother with young children. Hell ain't hot enough for these good Christians. They apparently plan activities in Little Rock through Sunday. Speakers include the infamous Flip Benham.
* GOOD SCHOOLS/BAD SCHOOLS: I repeat again. Read the Daily Howler if you want informed comment on education, teacher strikes, reform, good schools, bad schools. In commenting today on a Kristof column in the New York Times about the "lousy" schools to which many poor children are assigned, in both union and non-union districts, The Howler (Bob Somerby) comments sharply:
Upper-class hustlers who haven’t taught in low-income schools find it easy to call such schools “lousy.” As they do, they perform the conflation of the unconcerned—they imply that the good schools have the good test scores and the “lousy” schools don’t.
It ain’t necessarily so. In truth, those schools tend to be “lousy” for one major reason—the deserving children who attend them come from low-income, low-literacy backgrounds. They're years “behind” on the day they arrive. When people like Kristof call those schools “lousy,” they’re really referring to those kids—although, of course, they don’t understand that, never having chosen to go there.
Subsitute the name of your choice from the Billionaire Boys Club in that passage for "hustlers" or Kristof.
* MILLION DOLLAR PAYDAY FOR ASU: Arkansas State will get $1 million to play the University of Nebraska in football tomorrow in Lincoln. That's the biggest guarantee Nebraska has ever paid. They wanted the Red Wolves baaad.
* BREAKING: ARRESTS IN LIBYA: Reports coming of arrests in American deaths in Libya.
* LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL BOARD: Unusual activity for a Little Rock School Board seat, where the contested races include a three-way contest for Dianne Curry's seat. She's running hard for a third term and today announced endorsements from former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, the teachers union, other labor groups and current and former school board members Charles Armstrong, Norma Johnson, Katherine Mitchell and Mike Daugherty and several other former public officials, including retired Judge Marion Humphrey and former Sen. Bill Walker.
* CASH FOR STUDENTS: The Pulaski County Special School District announced today that 100 students — from North Pulaski, Mills and Jacksonville High Schools — received $16,000 for scoring at 3 or higher on Advanced Placement Tests. Here's the full rundown. Thirty-seven schools are eligible statewide to participate in the special incentive program. Mills led the way with 73 students amassing 127 qualifying scores. Mills and Jacksonville both have additional incentive programs for high scorers on the AP tests.
Tom Cotton, who took a brief break from working the corporate consulting crowd in Washington to favor Arkansas with a return long enough to run for a Congressional seat as a Republican from the 4th District, suggests the Federal Reserve doesn't know nearly as much about the economy as he does. Cotton Twitter:
"Fed's new policies risk inflation, hurt seniors, & tighten credit, but abet reckless spending by govt, all w/o pro-growth impact."
* NO SPECIAL ELECTION: It's official. Gov. Mike Beebe won't call a special election for someone to complete the term of Hudson Hallum, who resigned from the House yesterday on account of his guilty plea in a vote buying scheme. His term ends Dec. 31. Under a super speedy, best-case scenario, a special election couldn't be completed Dec. 12. Hardly worth the trouble and expense of an election for someone to serve a couple of weeks during the Christmas season when activity at the Capitol will mostly include Christmas carols (and a new Santa).
* COOKING WITHOUT GAS: Channel 4 has run down big news in Mena, first reported to me by our Polk County bureau chief: "Entire city of Mena is without natural gas. Started last night. They say people may not be back on until tomorrow."
* NO CHARGES AGAINST UALR BUSINESS DEAN: The UALR newspaper reports there'll be no prosecution of Anthony Chelte, a former business dean, over allegations of expense account abuse. The prosecutor said the matter may have stemmed from a misunderstanding of UALR policy. An audit showed he took 45 UALR-funded trips, including seven to France.
* LATE NEWS: FUGITIVE SOUGHT: Federal authorities said late today they are looking for a Pleasant Plains woman indicted last week for using the identity of others to work five years as a school nurse in a Searcy elementary school. She's Susan Boyce, 58, but also has gone by Suzanne Pitts and Suzanne Johnson.