(Mountain Home) – Aquatic Ecologist, Faron Usery, with the National Park Service will present current findings concerning habitat and water quality of the Buffalo River watershed on Thursday, March 12 in Dryer Hall on the campus of Arkansas State University-Mountain Home (ASUMH).
Light refreshments will be served at 4 PM and the presentation will begin at 5 PM in McMullin Lecture Hall. The general public is invited to attend.
Co-hosted by ASUMH Stream Team and Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers, the program is aimed at citizens who want to know the science at work in protecting the Buffalo River, a national treasure and tributary to the middle section of the White River.
Usery holds a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology from the University of Central Arkansas in 2001. He has been with the Park Service for 15 years focusing on hydraulic and aquatic ecology. Specializing in the area of water quality and effects on aquatic biota, Usery has worked extensively with native mussels on the Buffalo River and in surrounding river systems, and in 2004-2006 organized an intensive search that has led to many new discoveries and condition assessments.
Friends of the Rivers is an all-volunteer watershed protection organization focusing on the middle section of the White River from below Bull Shoals and Norfork dams to Salado Creek in Independence county. The ASUMH Stream Team, “The Hellbenders” was formed in 2010 and adopted Dodd Creek that runs through the campus. Friends of the Rivers, The Hellbenders, and faculty advisor, Dr. Eddie Dry work to promote the objectives of education, advocacy and stewardship.
For more information call Jane Darr with Friends of the Rivers at 870-430-5777 or Dr. Eddie Dry at 870-508-6146.
(Mountain Home) – The Donald W. Reynolds Library will hold the opening of the “Here, There, Everywhere” exhibit from NASA this weekend.
The exhibit, which was scheduled to open this past Saturday but was delayed due to weather, explains how the universal laws of physics are revealed on Earth. Concepts featured include shadows, wind, electric discharge, lensing, and more. The exhibit will be open to the public during regular Library hours through March 31.
Live demo days will take place March 17 from 4-7 PM, and March 21 from 10 AM to 2 PM. Other events in March will include “Build your own seismograph” March 7 at 1 PM, “solar system geocaching” at 1 PM March 14, a 3D printing workshop March 15 at 2 PM, a star gazing event at 6 PM March 20, and a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope on March 21 at 10:30 AM.
For information about all Library programs visit the Library’s website at www.baxlib.org. The Donald W. Reynolds Library is located at 300 Library Hill, Mountain Home, AR.
(Springfield) – KSPR Meteorologist Lindsey Slater has your forecast for Wednesday morning:
(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri House members are honoring Auditor Tom Schweich, who fatally shot himself in what police say was an apparent suicide.
The state House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a resolution commemorating Schweich as “one of Missouri’s most dedicated public servants.”
The measure highlights Schweich’s work uncovering more than 30 state officials embezzling money. Lawmakers also honored his role in the federal investigation of the deadly government siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, among other career achievements.
The House will give an inscribed copy of the resolution to Schweich’s family.
Members also observed a moment of silence for Schweich on the House floor.
Lawmakers and other state officials gathered earlier that day in Schweich’s hometown of Clayton for a memorial service for the auditor, who died Thursday.
by Eric Tucker, AP
(Ferguson) (AP) – A Justice Department investigation found sweeping patterns of racial bias within the Ferguson, Missouri, police department, with officers routinely discriminating against blacks by using excessive force, issuing petty citations and making baseless traffic stops, according to law enforcement officials familiar with its findings.
The report, which Ferguson city officials said would be released Wednesday, marks the culmination of a months-long investigation into a police department that federal officials have described as troubled and that commanded national attention after one of its officers shot and killed an unarmed black man, 18-year-old Michael Brown, last summer.
It chronicles discriminatory practices across the city’s criminal justice system, detailing problems from initial encounters with patrol officers to treatment in the municipal court and jail. Federal law enforcement officials described its contents on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly before the report is released.
The full report could serve as a roadmap for significant changes by the department, if city officials accept its findings. Past federal investigations of local police departments have encouraged overhauls of fundamental police procedures such as traffic stops and the use of service weapons. The Justice Department maintains the right to sue police departments that resist making changes.
The city of Ferguson released a statement acknowledging that Justice Department officials supplied a copy of the report to the mayor, city manager, police chief and city attorney during a private meeting Tuesday in downtown St. Louis. The statement offered no details about the report, which the city said it was reviewing and would discuss Wednesday after the Justice Department makes it public.
The investigation, which began weeks after Brown’s killing last August, is being released as Attorney General Eric Holder prepares to leave his job following a six-year tenure that focused largely on civil rights. The findings are based on interviews with police leaders and residents, a review of more than 35,000 pages of police records and analysis of data on stops, searches and arrests.
Federal officials found that black motorists from 2012 to 2014 were more than twice as likely as whites to be searched during traffic stops, even though they were 26 percent less likely to be found carrying contraband, according to a summary of the findings.
The review also found that blacks were 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by a municipal court judge. And from April to September of last year, 95 percent of people kept at the city jail for more than two days were black, it found.
Of the cases in which the police department documented the use of force, 88 percent involved blacks, and of the 14 dog bites for which racial information is available, all 14 victims were black.
Overall, African-Americans make up 67 percent of the population of Ferguson, about 10 miles north of downtown St. Louis. The police department has been criticized as racially imbalanced and not reflective of the community’s demographic makeup. At the time of the shooting, just three of 53 officers were black, though the mayor has said he’s trying to create a more diverse police force.
Brown’s killing set off weeks of protests and initiated a national dialogue about police officers’ use of force and their relations with minority communities. A separate report to be issued soon is expected to clear Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, of federal civil rights charges. A state grand jury declined to indict Wilson in November, and he resigned from the department.
Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Brown family, said that if the reports about the findings are true, they “confirm what Michael Brown’s family has believed all along – and that is that the tragic killing of an unarmed 18-year-old black teenager was part of a systemic pattern of inappropriate policing of African-American citizens in the Ferguson community.”
The report says there is direct evidence of racial bias among police officers and court workers, and details a criminal justice system that issues citations for petty infractions such as walking in the middle of the street, putting the raising of revenue from fines ahead of public safety. The physical tussle that led to Brown’s death began after Wilson told him and a friend to move from the street to the sidewalk.
The practice hits poor people especially hard, sometimes leading to jail time when they can’t pay, the report says, and has contributed to a cynicism about the police on the part of citizens.
Among the report’s findings was a racially tinged 2008 message in a municipal email account stating that President Barack Obama would not be president for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”
The department has conducted roughly 20 broad civil rights investigations of police departments during Holder’s tenure, including Cleveland, Newark, New Jersey, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Most such investigations end with police departments agreeing to change their practices.
John Gaskin III, a St. Louis community activist, praised the findings, saying, “Ferguson police have to see the light in how they deal with people of color.
“It’s quite evident that change is coming down the pike. This is encouraging,” he said. “It’s so unfortunate that Michael Brown had to be killed. But in spite of that, I feel justice is coming.”
(Little Rock) (AP) – Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants residents to submit photos they think best represent Arkansas to feature on the March 27 launch of his new website.
Professional and amateur photographers alike are encouraged to participate.
Hutchinson’s office says people should send photographs that emphasize a setting and a place: Main Streets, Town Squares, iconic buildings and landscapes – anything that shouts Arkansas.
No pictures of flowers and dogs – the office says it’s looking for images that define what kind of state Arkansas is.
The deadline for submission is March 23.
Visit www.governor.arkansas.gov to submit pictures.
(Little Rock) (AP) – An Arkansas House panel has supported a proposal for tougher abortion pill restrictions but failed to advance a bill that would increase requirements for abortion providers.
The bill approved Tuesday by the Health Committee would override local doctors and require abortion pill providers to follow dosage limits and other guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
A bill that would require physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where they practice failed to receive enough votes. A majority of committee members supported the proposal but it didn’t obtain the 11 votes required to advance.
Proponents of both bills say the changes will protect women and make abortions safer.
Opponents say the changes are designed to limit access to abortions.
by David A. Lieb, AP
(Clayton) (AP) – Former U.S. Sen. John Danforth denounced the ugly nature of American politics Tuesday while eulogizing Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, suggesting that political bullying and an anti-Semitic whisper campaign led his friend to kill himself.
Danforth expressed “overwhelming anger that politics has gone so hideously wrong” as he spoke at a memorial services that drew many of Missouri’s top elected officials and hundreds of others to the Episcopal church that Schweich had attended in suburban St. Louis.
“Words do hurt. Words can kill,” Danforth said. “That has been proven right here in this state.”
Schweich, 54, fatally shot himself last Thursday in what police say was an apparent suicide at his home in Clayton. He left behind a wife, two children and an apparently rising political career. He had launched a campaign for the Republican nomination for governor just a month before his death and was already locked in a contentious primary with Catherine Hanaway, a former Missouri House speaker and U.S. attorney.
Danforth, who is an ordained Episcopal priest, served 18 years as a Republican senator before retiring in 1995 and remains one of the more respected elder statesmen of Missouri politics. Danforth said he had talked with Schweich two days before his death. He said Schweich was upset about a radio ad from a political action committee that mocked his physical appearance and suggested he was a pawn of Democrats who would “quickly squash him like the little bug that he is” in a general election.
But Danforth said Schweich was particularly distraught by what he perceived to be an anti-Semitic whispering campaign by the chairman of the Missouri Republican party, who Schweich said had been telling people that Schweich was Jewish. Schweich was Christian, but had some Jewish ancestry and had said his grandfather had long-encouraged him to stand up to anti-Semitism.
The party chairman, John Hancock, has denied making anti-Semitic remarks, though he has acknowledged he mistakenly believed Schweich was Jewish and may have mentioned it in an off-hand way to some people. Hancock didn’t attend the memorial service and declined to comment about Danforth’s remarks.
“Today is not an appropriate time to engage in political back-and-forth,” state GOP Executive Director Jonathon Prouty said on Hancock’s behalf.
Danforth recited a passage from the gospel of Matthew in which Jesus describes as blessed those “who are persecuted for righteousness sake” and against whom others “utter all kinds of evil against you on my behalf.”
He said Schweich was a “model public servant” who “was a person easily hurt and quickly offended” – so much so that Danforth said he had tried to discourage Schweich from entering politics six years ago because he didn’t believe Schweich had the temperament for it.
Danforth said he is haunted by the fact that he had advised Schweich not to personally go public last week with the allegations of the anti-Semitic whispering campaign and had suggested Schweich should have someone else supply that information to the media.
“He may have thought that I had abandoned him – left him on the high ground all alone,” Danforth said.
On the morning of his death, Schweich had invited reporters for The Associated Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to his home for an afternoon interview, saying he was ready to go public with the allegations about the anti-Semitic campaign. He shot himself about 13 minutes after talking to the AP reporter over the phone.
“The death of Tom Schweich is the natural consequence of what politics has become,” Danforth said. “It is now our duty – yours and mine – to turn politics into something much better than it’s now so miserable state.”
Schweich’s coffin, draped in a Missouri flag, was placed at the front of the sanctuary, with his family seated on one side and Gov. Jay Nixon and other top officials seated on the other. The pews were packed and hundreds of people stood along the side isles.
Schweich was first elected in 2010 and had easily won election to a second, four-year term in November. He previously served as Danforth’s chief of staff for a 1999 federal investigation into the deadly government siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and followed Danforth to the United Nations, where he was chief of staff for the U.S. delegation.
President George W. Bush appointed Schweich to the State Department in 2005 as an international law enforcement official and picked Schweich two years later to coordinate the anti-drug and justice reform efforts in Afghanistan.
(Jefferson City) (AP) – A Missouri House panel has approved a proposal to allow homeschooled students to play sports at public schools.
A House education committee voted 9-2 Monday in favor of the measure.
Republican Rep. Elijah Haahr of Springfield’s bill would allow homeschool high school students to participate in activities sponsored by the Missouri State High School Activities Association.
Homeschooled students would have the same opportunity to try out for sports in their home district as their peers in traditional public schools.
The bill states they’d be subject to the same eligibility and performance requirements as other students, such as grade standards.
But Democrat Ira Anders of Independence says there’s less state oversight of homeschooled students and their grades, which might give them an advantage over public school athletes trying out for teams.
(Omaha) (AP) – A new report suggests economic growth is ahead for nine Midwestern and Plains states.
The survey report issued Monday says the overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index climbed to 57.0 in February from 54.8 in January.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the regional growth is likely although areas “linked closely to the energy sector, including ethanol, are experiencing pullbacks in economic activity.”
The survey results from supply managers are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth, while a score below that suggests decline.
The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.