Morning report: The new pope, graffiti arrest in Benton, Little Rock schools | Arkansas Blog

Morning report: The new pope, graffiti arrest in Benton, Little Rock schools

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We span the globe this morning for items of interest:

* CATHOLIC PRIORITIES: The outgoing president of U.S. Catholic bishops urged the group yesterday  to take up the cause of Christians being persecuted and killed in places like Syria, Iraq and India. Mind  you, the bishops are still concerned about their top priority of the last couple of years — preventing insurance coverage of birth control pills. But now they are taking up some lesser concerns., too. A Vatican ambassador said new Pope Francis wanted "pastoral" bishops, not ideological bishops. Old habits die hard. One bishops'  session was devoted to the continuing fight against gay marriage, with one bishop searching for a snappy slogan to combat "marriage equality." The New York Times reports.

* BENTON GRAFFITI PROMPTS TWO ARRESTS: Shelli Russell at MySaline.com reports on the arrest of two young men for spraying the Benton sports complex with graffiti. She called it vandalism, which it was, but you can see from the photos that mysterious tagging was at work on buses, buildings and more. The incident has stirred some discussion on a variety of websites on whether this is "art".
A HANDLE FOR THE VANDALS: Art? Or vandalism? - FOX 16
  • Fox 16
  • A HANDLE FOR THE VANDALS: Art? Or vandalism?

* PULASKI SCHOOL SETTLEMENT TALKS UPDATE: Last night I got a brief note from Chris Heller, lawyer for the Little Rock School District, on continuing talks among parties to the Pulaski desegregation case about a potential settlement with the state over ending the litigation with a few more years of state financial support. Said his note: "We met today and made some progress but no agreement. I have no new written proposals."

* HOW LOW CAN THE KOCH BROTHERS GO: There is no bottom to the mean-spirited political agenda of the billionaire Koch brothers, who bankroll the Americans for Prosperity 'bagger lobby in Arkansas. The New York Times reports on college parties being thrown by a Koch-funded group at which students are likkered up with free drinks and then encouraged not to sign up for Obamacare. Keeping out low-cost young participants is one strategy for imploding the federal health coverage plan from within.

* THE ADVANCEMENT OF GAY RIGHTS: Speaking of equality for LGBT people — a subject that remains important if not paramount among Catholic bishops in the U.S. — relevant events are scheduled in Little Rock. I"ve written before that Bryant Huddleston, the Arkansas native TV producer whose appearance at a high school graduation was scrapped because he was gay, will speak at Philander Smith College in its Bless the Mic lecture series at 7 p.m. Thursday at the college auditorium. Randi Roma of the Center for Artistic Revolution tells me that Huddleston is donating part of his honorarium to her group, which is active in LGBT causes. Her group and several others are sponsoring other events this week. There's a reception and program at 7 p.m. Friday at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and a free brunch at 11 a.m. Saturday at Philander Smith celebrating Bayard Rustin, the gay civil rights crusader. The Saturday event includes a screening of the film "Brother Outsider: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin." Mandy Carter of the National Black Justice Coalition will speak at both events. Ernest Green of the Little Rock Nine is also on the program Friday night, along with an award to Holly Dickson of the Arkansas ACLU for her work in sexual orientation issues.


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