Category: Politics

Letter to Hershey’s

Home | Food | Letter to Hershey’s
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Dr. Sitton

I wrote the following to Hershey’s, the chocolate giant, to request they quit using child labor.

To show I’m serious, I’m boycotting Hershey’s chocolate bars, Hershey’s Kisses, Bliss chocolates, York patties, Kit Kats, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Almond Joys, Mounds, Twizzlers, as well as Cadbury or Carmello candies (Hershey’s has licensing agreements with them).

If you’re serious about your chocolate, join me in this boycott and let Hershey’s know about it: https://www.thehersheycompany.com/contact-us/contact-us-form-step-2.aspx

Thanks,

-ron

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Good morning.

It is with grave concern that I write you today. As a child I visited the Hershey factory in Pennsylvania. I fondly remember the “history” of chocolate shown by GI Joe figures (not dressed in fatigues, of course). Every since then, I’ve been a huge Hershey’s fan … until recently.

I found out your company still uses child labor from this article: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/06/08/2011-06-08_activists_protest_hershey_in_times_square_calling_on_chocolate_giant_to_stop_usi.html

Why? According to your Corporate Social Responsibility Reports (granted, not updated since 2010 — http://www.thehersheycompany.com/social-responsibility/csr-report.aspx), today’s Hershey continues to build “on Milton Hershey’s legacy of commitment to consumers, community and children, we provide high-quality Hershey products while conducting our business in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable manner.” Would Milton approve of child labor?

C’mon, we’re in the 21st century for crying out loud! I’ve alerted all of my facebook friends to this problem and have vowed to not eat any Hershey’s chocolate until this issue is fixed. You cannot fathom how difficult it is for me to say that, as I’m sure I could be certified as a chocoholic. But I’m steadfast in my resolve not to contribute to such atrocities.

Please stop this heinous practice immediately so that I can get back to my favorite past time of eating Hershey’s chocolate.

Sincerely,

Ronald Sitton, Ph.D.

Lawyers, Guns and Money?

Home | Criminal Justice | Lawyers, Guns and Money?
"Needs Coffee" by Tattau
“Needs Coffee”
by Tattau

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — If you didn’t notice the hubbub following the Arizona shootings, you must live in a cave (Hello Mr. bin Laden!). [No, really Mr. NSA/DOJ/FBI/CIA … I meant that as a joke! Really!!] I digress.

Hank Williams Jr. reminds me the shyt will hit the fan whenever discussing this but I cannot help myself. I’ll only pause for a little shameless self-promotion:

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Follow me on Twitter @sitron45

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And now back to the regularly scheduled programming …

Walking into the living room before they brought Leroy home, I immediately noticed my shotguns laying across the chair. Someone went diggin’ to get those out. I saw them last when they went into the gun case as I had no place to keep them in an apartment upon returning to Arkansas.

We grew up in a small arsenal. Dad kept weapons from the bedroom to the bookshelf. Before he installed a security system and bought a gun safe, he would meticulously scan every inch of the house before leaving, checking every window latch, every door lock, every hideaway.

I thought it odd until the day the .38 came up missing.

Read more: Lawyers, Guns and Money?

Government Provides Incentive to Quit

Home | Criminal Justice | Government Provides Incentive to Quit
coffee
“Needs Coffee”
by Tattau

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — As we get older and look at our meager earnings/savings compared to the time investments in our careers, government and taxes provide easy targets to those looking to blame someone for their fate (myself included).

“If only they’d let me get paid an honest day’s wages for all of the work I’m doing!” the familiar cry rings. “How can they keep taking things from me when I don’t have anything to give? If the government would just get out of my business, everything would be better.”

Yet when complaints against government annually pop up, I often wonder what folks would do without the government providing roads for commerce, public safety personnel and a judicial process rather than mob rule. In some ways it reminds me of the Albert King tune with the verse, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”Read more: Government Provides Incentive to Quit

Summer Wanes, School Approaches

Home | Education | Summer Wanes, School Approaches

Around the South
by Ronald Sitton

As the academic calendar rolls, summer recedes. Now’s the time to say goodbye to your favorite beach and prepare for the fall onslaught.

Of course, that means back-to-school specials. For those planning to get a post-secondary education, the Princeton Review named 141 colleges and universities as “Best Southeastern Colleges” to help you (note: registration required to see the list); Forbes came out with its own list. Interestingly, Miss Gay Texas questions if SMU belongs on the Princeton Reviews’ homophobic schools list.

Education can only help the region: job losses have a distinctive Southern drawl, but home foreclosures seem to be stabilizing. Many Southern communities celebrated the 26th annual National Night Out, and a Tennessee celebration featured a 30-foot-long banana split. Now if we could just get people to donate as blood banks are running critically low in North Carolina and around the Southeast.

Of course if food is your thing, you need to know tomato sandwiches ain’t just a Southern thing … or so we’re told. Perhaps it’s just another indication that Southern food is spreading. That’s good news for Waffle House.

A continued economic downturn caused Time Inc. to shutter Southern Accents, a magazine dedicated to interior decorating. The economy also caused the Gulf Coast Black Mayors’ Conference to be postponed, but it isn’t holding up preparations for the 29th Annual Mule Day Southern Heritage festival in Georgia.

On a brighter note, Site Selection magazine recently featured Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and the Southeast in its July issue. That’s good news for business, as is a report that Louisiana’s transportation department wants to use “wasteful” federal spending to create a passenger railway from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.

Politically speaking, Sarah Palin recently endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry, perhaps in hopes of a 2012 ticket. Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) keeps speaking at southern GOP fund-raisers, including an upcoming one in Florida.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist may cancel another climate-change summit as he backs away from his cap-and-trade energy policy after fellow Republicans chided him. Meanwhile, Florida Sen. Mel Martinez (R) plans to resign when Crist finds his replacement; Crist had planned to run against Martinez, but vowed not to tap himself as Martinez’ replacement. Elsewhere, Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s son, Dr. Rand Paul (R), will seek the seat of outgoing Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning.

Some question if Southern politicians are what’s wrong with the GOP. Clashes of wills about health care-reform and Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination have rekindled talk of The Southern Strategy. It can’t help that Mississippi Republicans continue to call for a voter identification bill. Interestingly, despite being a big player in the Civil Rights movement, the Southern National Leadership Conference hasn’t been noticeable recently. (If you’re into prose, you’ll want to ruminate over the limits of Southern liberalism).

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue plans to play hardball in the three-state legal battle over federal water rights. (Wonder if there will be a similar battle over Southern Co.’s proposed nuclear plant?)

On a somber note, former Vanderbilt chancellor Alexander Heard died a few weeks back. He authored “A Two-Party South?

And on the sports scene, the USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll predicts Florida will defend its national championship. Officials slashed ticket prices for next year’s Southern 500 at South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway. Tallahassee’s 13 and under All-Stars won the Southeast Regional championship for the right to compete Aug. 22 in the Babe Ruth World Series in Utah. And never fear, Dr. Lou will NOT run for Congress!

As we close, you should know you can still get your tickets for the 15th annual Southern Brewers Festival. I want to go, but don’t see it happening. BTW, I didn’t receive any money for this promo, but maybe they’ll send samples of the best of show?

Signs of the Times

Home | A Traveling Arkansan | Signs of the Times
Justified — This sign seems planned to remind North Carolina motorists why it should remain standing during tough economic times.

Perpetual Notions
by Ronald Sitton

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Aug. 3) — You see them every day on your way to and from work, the grocery store, the library, the pool, the folks … but you might not “notice” them except for the occasional message.

In the late 1990s, “Got Milk?” grabbed the attention of passing American motorists before becoming a world-wide campaign. Without knowing the actual returns on investment, it seems the milk industry fared much better than the pork industry’s “The Other White Meat” and “Beef – It’s what’s for dinner” (note: the beef billboards apparently spawned a PETA/vegetarian response).

Around the nation, recession billboards ask Americans to lighten up. Some of you may remember the racy Calvin Klein ads of the late ’80s, but apparently the company’s newest billboards even messes with New Yorkers. Someone found the time to make a Web site commemorating crazy and funny billboards for the bored to enjoy. But not all billboards are funny:

It’s hard to understand the logic behind the use of some billboards.

File Photo
Priorities — Stop to see where the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker might be, but what about where Louis Jordan was? (File Photo)

In Kevin Clark’s documentary “Is You Is: A Louis Jordan Story,” Arkansongs dee-jay Stephen Koch tells of childhood expectations of seeing a statue of the legendary Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame honoree noting his hometown of Brinkley, Ark.

Instead he found a lot of promotion for the re-discovery of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker — but not one billboard tells passing travelers about Jordan. Wouldn’t it be better to attract as many travelers as possible during tough economic times, especially when located on a busy Interstate?

Perhaps even crazier: billboards on I-40 westbound promote investment opportunities in Brinkley … right after you pass the Brinkley exit with the next exit nowhere in sight.

Of course now, it’s not enough to have a static sign breaking the scenic view as you drive America’s highways and byways. Electronic and digital billboards are becoming all the rage. Even the FBI understands how useful they can be with the ability to update as needed. Are they safe? The federal Highway Administration sure seems to think so, especially when they sit in congested areas that give drivers time to sit and watch them.

Some claim business forays into social media represent nothing more than electronic billboards, but somebody’s watching. And just when you thought it was safe to go out in the water again … amphibious billboards! What’s next? Billboards in space?

But billboards aren’t just for business anymore.

GOD, Politics and Education

I’ll never forget driving to Knoxville from Clinton, Tenn., and seeing:

“That ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ thing … I meant that.” – God

Apparently, a non-denominational anonymous donor started that campaign. Halfway across the world, the Church of Singapore ran these to get more people to attend church on Sunday.

Some would say religion wouldn’t be religion if there wasn’t some controversy. You expect atheists to question God’s existence, but what about this campaign to “challenge the mindset of a new generation of church goers”? I prefer the approach of The Foundation for Life, whose “Pass It On” series hits really hard.

When it comes to politics, sometimes it’s tough to tell who’s selling what. Read more: Signs of the Times

Science Wins Over Religion in Scopes Monkey Trial?

Home | Politics | Science Wins Over Religion in Scopes Monkey Trial?

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species Turns 150

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Glynn Wilson
The famous Rhea County Courthouse, where the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial took place

gwcubamug.jpgUnder the Microscope
by Glynn Wilson

DAYTON, Tenn. — Forty-three years after the death of British naturalist Charles Darwin, whose 200th birthday is being celebrated far and wide this year, a few men were sitting around in a Rexall drug store across from the now famous courthouse in this rural Southern town talking politics, science and religion.

In contrast to most of the official accounts of how the so-called “trial of the century” and the “Scopes monkey trial” got started, this was the genesis for an idea for a trial to test the legality of teaching evolution versus creationism in the public schools: A conversation over Coca-Colas at a soda fountain counter. (There’s no official indication whether whiskey was involved).

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Glynn Wilson
A photograph of the drug store where the idea for the Scopes Trial was hatched

You won’t even find this account on the Wikipedia page about the trial, although the evidence is presented in the museum in the basement of the courthouse, and knowledgeable locals know the story.

The way the word got out happened as it often does, with a leak to a newspaper reporter, in this case the old Chattanooga Times.

To read the whole column, visit our sister site, The Locust Fork News-Journal.

Understanding the Corporate Press and American Democracy

Home | Media | Understanding the Corporate Press and American Democracy
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Under the Microscope
by Glynn Wilson

A couple of weeks ago, when not one single Republican took up our new President Barrack Obama’s call for “bipartisanship” to vote for his stimulus package to aid the faltering economy — a measure backed by virtually every economist in the land as a needed step to avert a far worse economic collapse — a reader on an e-mail list asked: “Why is cable media spinning this as a failure for Obama?”

My answer?

“Because they are the corporate media,” I wrote. “That’s why we are building a replacement here at the Locust Fork News-Journal.”

Obviously, more of an explanation is in order.

In one of his blog columns this week, Tommy Stevenson at The Tuscaloosa News picked up on a recent episode of the Bill Moyer’s show on PBS, which Moyer’s set up by asking: Is the old media sustaining the old politics?

Guests chosen for the show to discuss this issue were New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen, who later had this blog post on the subject under this statement: pundits and reporters as an establishment institution.

Also on the show was attorney and Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald, who also wrote more about it later in this post, summarized by this statement: The mentality of the Beltway journalist.

Before I get to the criticism, let me applaud all these commentators for getting a discussion going on these issues. It has been reported that the Moyers show got more comments than anything they have done to date.

This is just one demonstration of the public upheaval that has been building for several years against the establishment media in this country, sometimes referred to, and not as a compliment, as “the mainstream media.”

The blogging revolution started in part as a place to vent this backlash against the press and the media, the TV punditry, mainly for not doing its job in the run up to the Iraq war or for holding the Bush administration accountable on all kinds of issues.

There is no doubt the establishment or corporate press as I call it was complicit in allowing the Bush administration to get away with murder, literally, as well as torture, warrantless domestic spying, and turning the justice department into just another political wing of the Bush White House’s perpetual campaign operation.

With all due respect to Tommy Stevenson, Bill Moyers, Jay Rosen and Glenn Greenwald, none of them have ever chased major stories for the national desk of the New York Times. None of them have ever worked a major city bureau for a top 10 circulation newspaper like The Dallas Morning News out of New Orleans. None of them have ever had the experience of making democracy work like I did working for a chain of weeklies on the Gulf Coast, where for nearly four years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, thanks in part to my reporting, we won every environmental battle that came down the pike.

To read the full essay, go to our sister site, The Locust Fork News-Journal

Service with a Smile

Home | Politics | Service with a Smile

MONTICELLO, Ark. — I watched President Barack Obama’s inauguration between classes today with pride and sore bones. Let me explain.

For the first time since I’ve started teaching, I can legitimately tell anyone that they can do anything they set out to accomplish regardless of race, creed or religion. That’s priceless. But so is the fact that we now have a president who walks the walk as well as talks the talk. President Obama showed his colors by not only asking people to participate in a day of service to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday; he also took part by helping at a homeless center.

Photo by Ron Sitton
Community service — Middle school students participating in City Year paint a quote from Nelson Mandela on a support for the Interstate 630 overpass near Little Rock’s Kanis Park. More than 70 people showed up to volunteer to help on the cold day. (Click photo to enlarge)

That’s where my sore bones enter. I started yesterday’s day of service by going to the Clinton Presidential Library to see City Year Heroes Opening Day, where 70 middle school students committed to working 100 hours of community service over the next five months. Keynote speaker C.J. Duvall, senior pastor at Theressa Hoover United Methodist Church, told the young participants that their service would inspire even more people to serve. North Little Rock Alderman Maurice Taylor then led the students in the Young Heroes Pledge, which concluded with a promise:

“I am a young hero and I will make a difference.”

Just like their new president, they honored that promise. Read more: Service with a Smile

Obama Takes Oath as 44th President of the United States

Home | Politics | Obama Takes Oath as 44th President of the United States
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Yahoo
President Barack Obama

Barack Obama took the oath of office as the 44th president of the United States today and pledged to “begin again the work of remaking America.”

Addressing a throng of about 2 million people on The Washington Mall and millions of others watching on television around the world, Obama recognized the multiple crises now afflicting the nation at a time of war abroad and economic turmoil at home. But he sought to rally Americans to a “new era of responsibility” and the promise of a brighter future.

He cited a profound “sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.” The challenges are real, serious and many, and “they will not be met easily or in a short span of time,” he said.

“But know this, America — they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

“Starting today,” he said, with the local crowd totally silent in respect of the historic moment and the words almost as powerful watching on the screen from afar, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

For the full story, photos, videos and the text of the speech and comments, check our sister blog The Locust Fork News Journal.

Fighting the Final Battles of the Civil War

Home | Politics | Fighting the Final Battles of the Civil War

America Just Elected Its First Black President

Are the people of Alabama ready for an African-American governor?

by Glynn Wilson

ATLANTA, Ga. — Some historians say the final battle of the Civil War was fought at Sayler’s Creek, southwest of Petersburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1865. Try bringing that up in a political bar like Manuel’s Tavern in downtown Atlanta, however, and see how fast you can start an argument.

While everyone knows that Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, at the Appomattox Court House, effectively ending the war, many an expert would argue that the old, lingering causes of the war survived in people’s attitudes long after the fighting on the bloody battle fields came to a gentlemanly end.

Ask the leaders of the Civil Rights movement, those who had to fight those battles all over again in the 1950s and ’60s.

Then there are thinkers and writers who will tell you, if you give them half a chance over a few shots of whiskey or a few pints of dark beer, that the election of George W. Bush in 2000 effectively erased the Union’s victory in the war and was finally, at long last, a victory for the old Confederacy. Putting aside the issue of election theft and the Supreme Court, ponder the idea that Bush came into office in large measure by the hands of mostly white voters from the old Confederate states of the Deep South, with some help from middle America and parts of the West.

Since Obama’s election even the TV pundits will tell you the only base left for the national Republican Party lies in the old states of the Confederacy, thanks in part to the scorched earth strategies of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, whose marches to Washington and Baghdad with Bush scarred the national character almost as much as General William Tecumseh Sherman’s fiery “March to the Sea.”

Then consider that while Bush’s campaign coffers may not have been filled by the profits from cotton, hand-picked on plantations worked by slaves, the mega corporations that mostly supported his candidacy were interested in keeping wages low and gutting the rights of juries in courtrooms to punish corporate crimes against working people, humanity and the earth. Bush got most of his money to run in 2000 from oil and other energy companies, including Exxon Mobile and Southern Company, as well as insurance companies and the pharmaceutical giants. He came into office — in the world prior to 9/11 — with the prime objective to pass national “tort reform,” the watchword for stopping juries from rendering multi-million dollar judgments against multi-national corporations.

Rove had already accomplished that feat in Alabama — once known as the top state in the country for large jury awards against corporate malfeasance — by helping the Republican Party orchestrate a political takeover of the state Supreme Court.

If you ask just about any academic expert who studies the demographic numbers from public opinion polls and election results, you could say Americans finally fought the final battle of the Civil War on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. Symbolically, it took another Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, to put together enough of a national coalition to defeat Confederate attitudes once and for all.

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Glynn Wilson
Rep. Artur Davis in Birmingham recently…

Jim Gundlach, a retired Auburn Sociology professor, harbors a special fascination for the “age” variable in public opinion research, mainly for the story it tells on an issue like public attitudes on race and the chances of electing African-American candidates to national and statewide office.

He ran the model on Obama’s candidacy before the election and predicted that the best he could possibly do in a national race was to win by about 7 percent, if he ran a flawless campaign and the other side stumbled (can you say Sarah Palin?). And Obama hit the number almost right on the dot, winning by about 7 percent nationally in the popular vote.

If you run the same model in a state like Alabama, where Birmingham Congressman Artur Davis is making noises about running for governor, what you find is that the state is at least a decade away from fighting the final battle of the Civil War. It will take that long, according to the numbers, for the younger and more progressive population to overtake the older diehards on the race issue, who will finally die off in substantial enough numbers for a black man to have a chance of moving into the governor’s mansion in Montgomery, in the city where the Confederacy was launched in 1861.

“People do not change their minds on core issues in their lifetimes,” Gundlach says. “That’s a fact.”

To read the full investigative news feature, go to our sister blog, The Locust Fork News-Journal