- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Southwest Times Record, Oct. 27, 2014

Forget about Ebola, go get a flu shot

We worry about the wrong things. We worry about shark attacks although we’re more likely to be killed by lightning. We worry about flying although we’re more likely to be killed in a car. We worry about Ebola, but we are far more likely to die from the flu. We worry about the inconvenience and discomfort of a flu shot, but without the shot as many as 20 percent of us may suffer the far worse symptoms of the flu this year.

Get your flu shot.

In a news report last week, Dr. Bryan Clardy, Sebastian County health officer, described the preparation, planning and equipment at the disposal of local health-care workers in the unlikely event Fort Smith would see even one Ebola virus case.

Dr. Clardy noted that the risk of an outbreak of Ebola here is “very low” and said only people who travel to this area from west Africa or who have cared for an Ebola patient are at risk. Despite the fact that in Dallas one patient died and two health-care workers contracted the disease, travel to Dallas does not pose a risk, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

But we are at risk from the flu. According to the health department, 39 people died from flu last year in Arkansas. Of those people, Dr. Clardy believes 12 to 16 were from Fort Smith, including the lovely children’s librarian, Leslie Creekmore.

This is the right time to get your flu shot.

In its weekly flu report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted sporadic flu activity in Arkansas, we learned in a report in Friday’s edition. The Oklahoma Department of Health reported the state’s first two cases this season last week. Because it may take some time for the flu shot to be fully effective, getting it before the flu takes over the area is a good idea.

Who needs the shot? Everyone six months and older. Pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions are approved to get the shot, according to the CDC. In short, everyone except infants younger than six months and those with life-threatening allergies to components of the shot should get some version of the vaccine. Even those with egg allergies can get some form of the vaccination. Of course, if you have questions, ask your doctor.

Friday’s report outlines some places flu shots are or soon will be available in eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. Pharmacies, physicians and walk-in clinics are offering the shot as are some area employers.

Not yet available are the mass flu clinics usually offered by county health departments at this time of year. A delay in shipping vaccines to Arkansas has put a delay on the mass clinics. The vaccine stock available to the state Health Department is going to school flu clinics for students from kindergarten to 12th grade. Because children are likely to spread the disease widely through their families and classrooms, targeting them for vaccinations first makes public health sense.

As soon as the mass clinics are scheduled in various counties, we will let you know.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other places to get the shot. Once you’ve have yours, you can go back to worrying about sharks and Ebola. Or better still, do something good for yourself and go take a walk.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Oct. 27, 2014

Eyes that see (finally)

It took a while, hour after hour, while the country waited to hear from the White House, but this administration finally acknowledged what everybody else had figured out early on. Yes, that shooting at Canada’s war memorial in Ottawa, and then its parliament building, was a terrorist attack. How about that? It may take a while, but eventually the obvious will dawn even on this president and his staff.

At blessed last, there were no more presidential statements about not having all the information yet, no more empty press releases filled with platitudes about how close Canada and the United States are, the Maple Leaf Forever, and so predictably on. (“The United States strongly values that relationship …”) No more briefings by Josh Earnest saying he was “not in a position to render a judgment” on whether the attack was an act of terrorism. It was enough to make one wonder whether Mr. Earnest could have been in earnest.

Following more than one press conference by Canada’s own prime minister, the admirable Stephen Harper, who had no problem calling a spade a damn shovel, even the president of the United States and his people dared call the terrorist attack … a terrorist attack. Eureka!

Even headline writers in Washington had gotten the message by then. One newspaper in the nation’s capital called the attack in Ottawa a Terrorist Event. Which was like referring to The Events of September 11, 2001. Or calling our own tragic Civil War the Late Unpleasantness. What do you think they serve at a Terrorist Event, anyway - weak tea and finger food? Are name tags filled out in advance, to be retrieved later at the registration table?

Maybe there’s nothing to be done about some headline writers, bless their hearts, but at least the president of the United States and his hired hands have finally seen the light, if through a glass darkly. Or they were shamed into seeing it by Canada’s prime minister. Imagine what a leader like that could do for the United States if he’d only been born a bit farther south.

Now that even our own federales have opened their eyes and realized that a terrorist attack is a terrorist attack, could they please take a look at Arkansas and recognize one?

More than five years later, the Pentagon still has not awarded Purple Hearts to William Long and Quinton Ezeagwula, two Army privates who were shot down in front of a recruiting center in Little Rock back in 2009. Private Long was killed. Private Ezeagwula was wounded. Their assailant was let off with life in prison, where he needs to stay and stay and stay … without parole or sympathy or oh-so-deep philosophical meanderings about the nature of colonialism, Western imperialism and general irrelevancies. There is one and only one right response to this killer: “You’re under arrest.”

There’s no doubt about said assailant’s guilt, nor his motivation. He wrote a letter to the judge in the case, explaining all. He claimed he was sent by al-Qaida - which is about as terrorist as it got back in 2009, even if it has adopted various other noms de terreur by now, including the grandiose Islamic State of Syria and the Levant. What’ll be the next appellation these killers claim - Grand Caliphate of the World?

Still, in the good old U.S. of naive America, even after all these years, there are no Purple Hearts - and no accompanying benefits - not for Quinton Ezeagwula, not for William Long’s family.

Why? Because the empty suits - or rather the empty Class Bs - at the Pentagon say the two enlisted men shot down that day were not in combat. And the Purple Heart is a combat-only medal.

Not in combat? That might have come as a surprise to these two GIs as the bullets tore into them. No, they weren’t in a tank driving down a road in Afghanistan, but they were certainly in combat. Even if they didn’t know it when they went down.

A few months after that shooting, another nutcase pulled a gun at Fort Hood, shouted Allahu Akbar! and started shooting up his fellow Americans in uniform. That terrorist killed 13 and wounded 32 more. Again, the brass said no to Purple Hearts - not for the victims, not for their families.

It might take an act of Congress to force the Pentagon to do something it considers against regs. Even if it’s in the regs, which recognize terrorist attacks as combat.

So an act of Congress it was.

In the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, the legislative branch required the Defense Department to revisit both shootings - the one at Fort Hood, the other in Little Rock - and review the requirements for the Purple Heart, then report back to Congress within 180 days. Those 180 days came and went back in September. Still, no report. If the executive branch still knew what contempt of Congress was, this would be it.

The usual suspects at the Pentagon say nothing except, What’s your hurry? They have a review of medals and the requirements for them scheduled for next year, so they’ll get to it when they get to it. They are, lest we forget, part of the federal bureaucracy. Which could make a glacier look like a speeding freight train. Congress? What’s that? Isn’t that the branch of government that authorizes and appropriates our paychecks? Let it stick to that job and let us top dogs at the Pentagon do what we please. Law, shmaw.

Meanwhile, those wounded in these terrorist attacks - and the families of those killed - are still waiting for the benefits that should go with the Purple Heart, not to mention a simple acknowledgement from their own government that these soldiers were shot down in combat. No matter where the combat is at any given moment in this asymmetrical War on Terror.

One sunny day in Little Rock, Ark., combat was right around the corner at a shopping mall. But the government of the United States still can’t recognize it.

The executive branch finally had no problem calling things what they are north of the border. It only took hours. But here in the heartland, its vision blurs. And has stayed blurred for years.


Texarkana Gazette, Oct. 27, 2014

Deadly Friday

On Friday morning, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver and his partner stopped to check out a suspicious car in a motel parking lot.

The car was occupied by a man and a woman.

A shot rang out, striking the 47-year-old peace officer in the forehead.

His partner returned fire, but the car sped off.

The couple tried to hijack another car about a mile away from the motel, but the driver refused to give up his keys. He was shot in the head but survived.

They managed to steal another car and later stole red pickup. The couple drove this vehicle about 30 miles away into the next county, where they pulled over to the side of the road. Placer County Deputies Michael Davis and Jeff Davis (no relation) saw the truck and approached it.

Both were shot with an AR-15 rifle. Michael Davis was killed and Jeff Davis was wounded.

Hundreds of law enforcement personnel combed the area and the suspected gunman was eventually located hiding in the basement of a house not far from a high school. His female companion was also arrested.

The suspected shooter was identified as Marcelo Marque, a 35-year-old living in Salt Lake City. He has been charged with two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and two counts of carjacking. His companion turned out to be his wife and she has been charged carjacking and attempted murder.

Marque is in the U.S. illegally.

Not only that, but it was learned over the weekend that he had already been deported back to Mexico twice for committing crimes in this country.

We must add that Marque - whose real name is apparently Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte - remains a suspect. His guilt or innocence is for a jury to decide.

What isn’t up for debate is that he should not have been in the U.S. in the first place. Some people wonder why so many Americans want our borders secure.

Two California sheriff’s deputies dead. One wounded. Another man, a civilian, in serious condition with a head wound.

Why secure the borders? You might ask their families what they think.

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