Quote of the week
"I'm glad that chapter is closed." — Lacey Phillips Manor after the execution of Jack Jones on Tuesday. After raping and killing Manor's mother, Mary Phillips, in her bookkeeping shop in Bald Knob in 1995, Jones strangled Manor until she passed out and fractured her skull with a BB gun he was carrying, leaving her for dead. Jones told Manor and her family in his last words that he was sorry.
Facebook post of the week
"From 615 to 630 he prayed with the chaplain he has known and loved for over 20 years. That chaplain remained by his side throughout the evening. They continually reassured one another that because they were gathered in the name of the Father, He was there. At 630 he frantically began dividing his belongings, which fit in a cardboard box. He gave his potato chips to Stacey Johnson who continued to say uplifting messages to Ledell throughout the night. Ledell willed away his property, which included saltines, cups, and even his condiments. That moment was more than I could take."
— From a Facebook post by Lee Short, an attorney for Ledell Lee, who was executed on Thursday, April 20. Lee was sentenced to death for the murder of Debra Reese, 26, in Jacksonville in 1993. After granting a stay in the execution of Stacey Johnson to allow for new DNA testing, the Arkansas Supreme Court declined to grant a stay in Lee's similar claim. Lee claimed he was innocent.
Cotton on Trump's first 100 days
Once more unto the breach this week for Sen. Tom Cotton, who stopped by the Clinton School of Public Service on April 19 to answer questions about President Trump's first 100 days in office. The talk, with Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford moderating, had to be moved to the Robinson Center Performance Hall after demand for seats outstripped supply at the Clinton School. From the sound of the audience throughout the event, most of those extra seats were filled by people who don't fancy their senator's being a rubber stamp for Trump. Cotton said he speaks on a weekly basis with Trump. He took a dig at Obama for inviting him to the White House only once, during what he called "the red line fiasco" over Syria. Among the issues on the agenda: the approaching government funding cliff April 28 (there will be no cliffhanger, Cotton said), Russian hacking (they're looking into it), Trump's tax returns (look instead at Trump's candidate disclosure forms), the recent strikes on Syria (peace through strength, just like Reagan!), and the travel ban, with Rutherford taking the opportunity to lobby on behalf of international students, telling Cotton: "Don't penalize the college students. They're not terrorists." Asked to pin a letter grade on Trump's first 100 days, Cotton said he'd award Trump a B for the Cabinet nomination process, but an A+ for the nomination of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. Overall, a much more sedate and formal experience than the raucous town halls Cotton has faced in recent months, but still pure, cocksure Cotton.
Marching for science
Motivated by the Trump administration's moves to emasculate the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health so that corporations could prosper and more money would be available for tax cuts, hundreds of Arkansans joined the March for Science on the state Capitol on Saturday. Carrying signs saying such things as "Science is not a partisan issue" and "I've seen better cabinets at Ikea," the crowd heard advocates for clean air, clean water, medical research, conservation of habitats and steps to ameliorate climate change warn that the U.S. was turning its back on science-based policymaking. Speakers included Glen Hooks, director of the Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club, who said that though hunters, farmers and fishermen want natural resources protected, the state Legislature has exhibited indifference, and Haleigh Eubanks, a fifth-year doctoral candidate at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, who said she wanted to let President Trump know that "you cannot pretend to make America great if you threaten STEM research." Other organizers were Dr. Michele Merritt of Arkansas State University and the Museum of Discovery, whose science whiz Kevin Delaney also gave a rousing speech criticizing those who ignore the evidence that human activity is causing climate change.