Pots and kettles
David Koon’s piece “White Like Me” was a very honest and insightful look at the lack of diversity in print media. Jeanne Rollberg pretty much hit the nail on the head in recognizing that minority journalists are going to go where the money is. Local outlets are good for garnering experience but the reality is that it isn’t worth “kicking against the pricks” for a low-paying job and having your work butchered by some backwoods editor who’s trying to sell advertising space to the good ole boys.
Truthfully most readers, minority or otherwise, can rarely read a story and pinpoint the writer’s race. Political affiliations and social agendas are more apparent but then so much of that is decided by the editors anyway. It would be nice to see an end to the local media inbreeding that has gone on for so long, but thanks to the Internet, local writers can submit their work to media organizations all over the world. Still, it was a great piece, regardless of the fact that the pot was pointing out the blackness of the kettle.
North Little Rock
In light of the alarming increases in rates of childhood obesity, statewide action is warranted in Arkansas to improve the nutritional quality of foods and beverages sold to children in schools and to improve their physical activity opportunities.
The Child Health Advisory Committee established by Act 1220 of 2003 worked diligently to develop statewide nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold in schools. In addition, criteria were developed to assure children had a quality physical education program.
It is sensible and fiscally responsible for the state to set a “floor” of nutrition standards for items sold in schools, and minimum physical education standards. School districts can then select specific food and beverage items for sale in their district that meet the state standards and appeal to their students as well as customize their physical activity program.
Now, it appears the committee’s efforts are being diluted and the committee’s work will have to be replicated in every school district causing them to have to spend considerably more time and effort to create a healthy environment for their district’s children. There is no scientific basis for differing nutrition standards and differing physical activity criteria for children in different school districts.
If nutrition standards for school foods and physical education criteria are left solely to local action, schools and school districts serving low-income students may have less-healthful food and beverage options and less quality physical activity than schools in more affluent areas. Generally, fewer parents in low-income communities have the time, resources, and empowerment to advocate for change in their children’s schools. As a result, health disparities may widen.
Through the National School Lunch Program, Arkansas contributes funding toward reimbursable school meals, which are required by law to meet detailed nutrition standards. The sale of junk food in schools undermines the public investment in healthful school meals. Setting statewide nutrition standards for items sold in schools will ensure that students in all Arkansas school districts receive the benefit of healthy food choices. Every child in every school district deserves the opportunity to eat healthy food and be physically active.
Arkansas Action for Healthy Kids
Long, strange trip
I have fond memories of Little Rock and the renaissance that was the mid- to late-1970s there. I was in the Air Force and had a little house off base where, in retrospect I realize, we spent a good deal of time trying to prove that we were not affiliated with the other 6,000 or 7,000 GIs stationed there. We raced bicycles with the Arkansas Bicycle Club and learned to both love and fear the rugged Ouachita Range and the logging trucks on Highway 10. We raced and toured with the Arkansas Chapter of the Sports Car Club of America enjoying top-down touring in the Ozarks and learning the hard way that hail is heavier than rain and putting an end to fast rides in the rain. We hung out at Andre’s nibbling French pastry or alternately hung at TGI Friday’s by the Capitol or the pool place by Tracks Inn gulping beer.
I joined a vegetarian dinner club and we ate round-robin at a bunch of houses in the Quapaw Quarter, and we all supported the new Repertory Theatre. I learned about most of the stuff that I was interested in by reading a cool new magazine with a big catfish on the cover that purported to be about local culture with a K.
Heady times for all of us there and I was home right up until I spent a day in the Sherwood jail on a warrant from Conway County that was issued based on my Yankee status (too weird to go into except to say that I will never forget what it feels like in the pit of your stomach when the Conway County prosecuting attorney calls you “boy” and mentions “the big house”).
I am coming back for a visit in October and a reunion with a bunch of friends in conjunction with the LRAFB 50th anniversary. So what have I been reading online in preparation? You guessed it — the Times. You still have it going on and I have to say that I wish I would have been there for a lot of what I am reading about. It looks like that energy that I loved is still available in the Rock.
David “Bud” Laumer
From the Internet
Sen. Dick Durbin apparently caved in to the grandstanding, ugly “patriotism” that for some passes as national pride when he apologized for making an unfortunately simplistic but sadly apt comparison of alleged criminal acts in the Guantanamo Bay prison and behavior of totalitarian regimes. Frist scored and McCain condescended, “let’s move on.” But to what? To reporters barely asking this president (who realizes H.L. Mencken’s prophecy of a “moron adorning the White House”) to address more evidence, this time a simple memo, that he manipulated our country into a war that has caused injury and death to thousands, including innocent Iraqi civilians and our misused, misled soldiers? To impeachment hearings, this time over charges of dire consequence, relegated to a Washington basement? To this arrogant, dim, cunning man — our president, who represents and reflects us — dismissively winking and chortling his way through press conferences with his cynical, fake-folksy, kiss-the-cook’s-apron demeanor, which would wear thin in a four-flight elevator ride, let alone on an international stage in a context of war, life, death, sacrifice, duty, dignity, and respect? These senators saw the same reports as Durbin, but were outraged at his comments? Do we lack the skills or intelligence to ask the questions that might tend the national soul? Or do we have no faith, despite plenty of religion, and fear possible answers? How can we expect to engage the humanity of other nations and share a better world? How do we right ourselves when so many waste their influence insisting that we can do no wrong? Humility would serve us so dutifully if we could muster it, and surely it is the meekness that was said to be required to inherit, to deserve, the earth.
Last Tuesday’s comments by Sen. Dick Durbin about the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere have brought a storm of criticism from the White House and key Senate leaders, much as Amnesty International’s comments on the same issue did. White House spokesman Scott McClellan and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner accuse Durbin of insulting the troops.
I believe Durbin should be commended for his courage. It is the White House that insults the troops, by court-martialing young soldiers at the same time it promotes those who set torture and abuse policies in motion. It’s past time Congress attacked the problem, not those who try to fix it.
Torture is not an American value. No amount of partisan political attacks will change that.
Blame pet owners
I have to assume that the writer of your May 19 editorial, “The cat is the hat,” was being facetious or playing the devil’s advocate or worse, just plain stupid. Yes, feral cats can be a nuisance, but dogs can be downright dangerous. Let us put the blame where it belongs: pet owners! Some owners obtain a pet, cat or dog, and let it run loose outdoors, with no thought of getting it spayed or neutered.
What is the solution? 1. If you are a pet owner, spay or neuter your pet. 2. Do not let your pet wander the neighborhood. 3. If you are thinking of acquiring a pet, get one at an animal shelter. (Every pet you buy at a pet store means a dog or cat will be “put down” at a shelter.) 4. Think before getting a dog or cat. Unless you are willing to invest 15 or 20 years, plus the cost of veterinary care, then buy yourself a goldfish! 5. Lobby for laws to control over-breeding. 6. Support your local animal shelter. They don’t receive any tax money. They survive on your generosity alone. 7. And finally, talk to your county board to get better facilities.