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The magic of curry paste

The magic of curry paste

June 28, 2018

Vol 44 • No 43

Read the print version

The magic of curry paste

Or: How lawyer-turned-Thai food evangelist Richard Glasgow learned to stop worrying and cook Thai food.

Privileged civility

By now, we have all seen take after take from journalists and politicians about the events last Friday night at the Red Hen in Lexington, Va., where White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the restaurant after the owner and the staff decided they did not want to serve her.

'RBG' plays at the Clinton Center [UPDATED]

And much more.

Internment camps


Sociopaths live as permanent imposters. They function largely by imitating the behavior of others. Amoral and utterly lacking in normal emotional bonds, such individuals know right from wrong, but just don't give a damn. Their world divides into user and used; morality consists of fear of getting caught. And whatever happens, somebody else is always to blame.

'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' is light, irreverent

The art of the scam


The Observer is ancient enough to remember when there was some semblance of civility in politics — when you could talk about a subject in mixed company without devolving into tribalism, each member eventually backing away slowly with their respective knives unsheathed and at the ready, each resolving to let the other stay mired in his or her stupidity.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Trumpocalypse Now edition

Play at home, while figuring out what the hell we're going to do with 105 million bushels of unwanted soybeans.

Only villains work alone in 'Incredibles 2'

It takes a village.

Couch Jackets play Maxine's

Also, The Whole Famn Damily and Jamie Lou at Stickyz.

ADEQ PIO fired

After ex-employee's comment critical of agency posted.

Cathead's lives up to hype

It's a fine diner.

Ruling kicks permits back to commission

The Arkansas Supreme Court last week reversed Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's March ruling that declared the state's awarding of five marijuana-cultivation permits null and void, saying the circuit court had no subject-matter jurisdiction in the case.

Who's coming for dinner?

Thousands of children, stripped from their families at the border, remain hostage to a U.S. government using them to coerce illegal-entry guilty pleas from their parents. The U.S. wants to make criminals of many seeking legal asylum.

Play ball

The challenge of a weekly publication as it pertains to the sporting world is that with the Arkansas Razorbacks baseball team locked in for a fight with Oregon State for the national championship over a three-day span, this column is going to be one of three things by the time it publishes: prescient, misguided or some combination of both.

No sense of history

Also, Huckabee struggling with bigotry, LR board declines to restructure and more.

Constitution on hold

Roaring that the Mongols are at the gates is an election strategy that may work in the home of the free as well as it has with desperate people in the long ugly history of nativism.

Cotton Plant is burning. Is it going to pot?

A series of arsons in Cotton Plant has ignited conspiracy theories that they have something to do with plans to put a medical marijuana cultivation facility in the small, poor Delta town. KTHV reports.

Trump border enforcement puts three-year-olds in court

Meanest Trump-era story of the day comes from the Texas Tribune, about toddlers made to attend their own deportation hearings without family.

Don't cry for Anthony Kennedy. He wasn't all that

Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement could mean the death knell for both abortion rights and equal treatment of gay people and that's terrible. But don't let it obscure the fact that he was generally a terrible Supreme Court justice and a poor writer whose landmark rulings were deeply flawed.

Pearls About Swine College World Series recap: one strike away

Arkansas Razorback fans, frankly, have earned a right to unlimited psychotherapy. What happened in America’s heartland Wednesday night was heartbreaking, and it cannot be reduced to a popup in foul ground.

Guess who's coming to dinner? Sarah and them

Sure, I'd serve the Huckabees. Doesn't mean I'd like it.

Republican legislator Mickey Gates charged with failing to pay taxes for six years UPDATE

Republican State Rep. Mickey Gates surrendered today on charges that he'd failed to pay state income taxes for six years.

True Arkansas Eatery — TAE — opens in the Hotel Frederica

Fans of the late Southern Gourmasian food truck and its brick-and-mortar incarnation, and there are many, are able to fill bellies once again with food turned out by Justin Patterson and C.C. Key. They opened TAE (pronounced “tay” and standing for True Arkansas Eatery) this week in the Hotel Frederica at 625 Capitol Ave. (Yes, the hotel once named the Sam Peck and famous for its Bing Cherry Mold and jazz by the Art Porter Trio.)

Tacos and $2 beer at The Meteor

The Meteor bike and coffee shop is hosting Food Truck Fridays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. This Friday’s food truck is Pinches Tacos.

Democratic chair: Mickey Gates should resign

State Democratic Party Chair Michael John Gray says Republican Rep. Mickey Gates should resign because of six felony charges of failing to pay state income taxes. Republican Party Chair Doyle Webb and Republican House Speaker Matthew Shepherd have not responded to my requests for comment on the charges.

Corrupt Arkansas open line

Whoever said 99 percent of the legislature is honest needs remedial arithmetic. Another lawmaker charged with a felony today. Talk about it on the open line.

ZIN downtown to close; Zin West to stay open

ZIN Urban Wine & Beer Bar owners Troy Deal and Michael Puckett announced Monday that the bar’s last day of business at its downtown location, at 300 River Market Ave., will be Saturday, June 29.

Mickey Gates tried in 2017 to limit exposure on unpaid taxes

Rep. Mickey Gates, accused today of six felonies for not filing state income taxes (and accused of not paying state taxes since 2003), introduced legislation in 2017 to limit exposure to people caught with unpaid taxes.

Update: House leader says Gates felony charges 'troubling'. No comment from governor.

House Speaker Matthew Shepherd has issued a statement saying felony charges against Republican Rep. Mickey Gates are "troubling" and he's suspended him from leadership positions. He did not suggest that he resign. The governor hasn't commented so far.

Mass shooting at Annapolis, Md., newspaper

Another mass shooting with multiple fatalities — this one at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md.

Question: How does a state legislator avoid filing tax returns for 15 years?

How does someone — a state legislator, say — get away without filing a state income tax return? For now, the state doesn't intend to explain.

Senate ethics push already fatally flawed

The new Senate ethics committee met yesterday and the fatal flaw in the enterprise was already apparent, well illustrated by many objections from Jason Rapert who seems to believe stronger ethics rules will discourage public service.Given recent events in Corrupt Arkansas, he might have a point.

The attack on journalists: It's still about the guns

The Maryland newsroom slaughter illustrates the perils of doing journalism, but, more than that, it's about guns.

Police kill Russellville man after shots fired

Joshua Cartwright, 36, who reportedly fired at bail bondsmen and police officers was killed in an exchange of gunfire early this morning in Russellville. The standoff had forced evacuations of homes nearby and shutdown power to part of the campus of Arkansas Tech

So much for ethics: GOP not ready to criticize tax cheat UPDATE

The Arkansas Republican Party wants to let the system work before saying whether long-time tax deadbeat Mickey Gates, the Republican representative from Hot Springs, should give up his seat in the Arkansas House or not seek re-election next year. The record is ample that Gates is unfit to serve, whether he's convicted of the six felonies with which he is charged or not.

Democratic Senate candidate presses for GIF spending disclosure by all legislators

Jon Comstock, a Democrat challenging Republican Sen. Cecile Bledsoe for the District 3 state Senate seat, wants more legislative accountability for voters. Among other ideas, he wants full and specific disclosure by each legislator of money they spent from the discredited General Improvement Fund pork barrel from 2013-17.

Term limits? What term limits?

The item about a challenger to Sen. Cecile Bledsoe reminds me of a potential issue on the November ballot for which Bledsoe could be a poster child — term limits.

FBI public corruption probe produces another felony Medicaid fraud charge in Batesville

Robin Raveendran, a former Medicaid integrity director who later joined Preferred Family Healthcare, was charged Thursday with a felony fraud charge that grew out of the FBI public corruption investigation, the Batesville Guard reports. The charge details more than $2 million in fraudulent charges.It develops that the state suspected something was amiss in billing procedures, but the company fought to keep the system in place. The investigation was renewed only after the FBI tipped state officials.

Big River Steel announces $1.2 billion expansion

Big River Steel has announced a $1.2 billion expansion of its scrap recycling and steel production mill in Mississippi County.

Racop wins lawsuit to force LRPD to share officers' photos

City Board candidate Russ Racop reports that Judge Wendell Griffen ruled in his favor today on his Freedom of Information Act lawsuit challenging Police Chief Kenton Buckner's decision to stop releasing photographs of Little Rock police officers.

Medical Marijuana Commission to meet Monday but not on cultivation permits

The state Medical Marijuana Commission will meet Monday but it will NOT discuss the hotly controversial permit process for marijuana cultivation.

The Corrupt Arkansas open line

Felonious conduct and inadequate or non-existent ethical standards at the Capitol — just another day in Arkansas. Talk about it on the open line.

No Small Talk, Ep. 22: Yuni Wa

This week, Omaya and Stephanie talk with composer Yuni Wa about his prolific body of work, his new album "Dawn of the Black Wings" and problems with the genrification of electronic music.

Federal court strikes down Kentucky's Medicaid work requirement; DHS says Arkansas unaffected

A federal district court has struck down Kentucky's new work requirement to qualify for Medicaid. Arkansas is preparing to impose a similar requirement.

State suspends Preferred Family Healthcare from Medicaid; DHS moves to terminate contracts

Big news: The state Human Services Department has suspended Preferred Family Healthcare from the Medicaid program.

School safety commission suggests armed guards in every school

The Arkansas School Safety Commission released its draft recommendations today to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and they include a recommendation for armed security at every campus.

The Crooks in Government Edition

The arrest of a former Medicaid integrity director, the suspension of a major health care provider from Medicaid, the arrest of a state representative for failure to pay taxes and more — all covered on this week's podcast.

Pearls About Swine on the Razorbacks' College World Series collapse

We Razorback fans have such a jaded and fatalistic view of the world, that this column was both painfully rote and foretold.

Preferred Family Healthcare to appeal state's suspension of Medicaid payments

A spokesperson for PFH said wrongdoing at the nonprofit was limited to certain former employees and PFH as a whole shouldn't be punished.

Robin Raveendran and Person 9 in the Cranford-Preferred Family Healthcare web

The federal criminal information released as part of former lobbyist Rusty Cranford's June 7 guilty plea on bribery charges describes a Person 9 who worked for the nonprofit healthcare provider Preferred Family Healthcare and was associated with Cranford. The description of Person 9 appears to match Robin Raveendran, the former PFH executive — and former longtime staffer at the state's Department of Human Services — who was arrested Thursday in a separate case, charged in Independence County with two felony counts of Medicaid fraud after an investigation by the state's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Prank caller put through to Air Force One

A radio shock jock and blogger worked his way through White House phone operators by impersonating a U.S. senator and got hooked up with Donald Trump on Air Force One.

Footloose in Fort Smith: Repeal of Sunday dancing ban set

Fort Smith is preparing to repeal an ordinance that banned dance hall opertion on Sundays.

Review: Willie Nelson, Sturgill Simpson at Verizon Arena for Outlaw Music Festival

Thank the gods it was a living legend following up Sturgill Simpson's set last night at Verizon Arena; anybody but Willie might have broken the spell.

Hot enough? UPDATE: A heat wave to melt ICE

Here is Saturday’s open line. A hot day was marked by protest against Trump's immigration policies.

Saturday deaths in shooting, hit-and-run UPDATE

Overnight police reports include a fatal shooting in Hensley and a motorcyclist killed in a Mabelvale hit-and-run.

10 Commandments monument edited for Keep Families Together rally

I overlooked this photo in coverage yesterday of the demonstration at the Arkansas Capitol, one of many nationwide, to protest Donald Trump's mistreatment of immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S.

Summer Jam ends unhappily for fans

Social media is buzzing about an early end to the Summer Jam R&B show Saturday at the First Security Amphitheater in Riverfront Park.

The Charlie Collins Campus Safety open line

I'm thankful for the rain. I'm thankful, too, for Twitter, which brought me today a little belatedly some news about how more guns on campus make people safer.

Re Susan Collins' comment on Supreme Court appointment

I have six words to respond to blaring headlines that Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said she wouldn't support a Trump Supreme Court nominee who'd demonstrated "hostility" to Roe vs. Wade.

Political correctness in the age of Trump. Pull a gun

Alabama immigration rally draws man who cheered ICE and pulled a gun on the crowd. In Arkansas, too, an ICE T-shirt drew attention.

Hutchinson names J.D. Neeley of Camden to Game and Fish Commission

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has appointed J.D. Neeley of Camden, a forestry broker, to a seven-year term on the state Game and Fish Commission, succeeding Steve Cook. The tradition of appointing white men to the commission continues..

8th Circuit dismisses Griffen lawsuit against state Supreme Court UPDATE

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today in a 2-1 decision dismissed Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's lawsuit claiming a violation of his constitutional rights by the Arkansas Supreme Court's order that he not participate in death penalty cases.

Marijuana commission to be live-streamed

Good idea. The state Medical Marijuana Commission, which meets in a room that has been too small to handle the crowd, will be live-streaming its meeting today at 4 p.m.

Ten Commandments destroyer released from State Hospital

Following a positive report from the State Hospital, Circuit Judge Vann Smith last week approved the conditional release of Michael Reed from the State Hospital, where he'd been treated since his arrest for driving a car into the new 10 Commandments monument on the State Capitol grounds.

Monday: An open line and the headlines

Free speech, marijuana and abortion are in the news today. See the video. Talk about whatever on the open line.

Rapert on the warpath over 10 Commandments shroud

Oh, God, yes, please. Please let Sen. Jason Rapert bully the Capitol Police into prosecuting someone for placing a temporary shroud over the Bigelow Bully's monument to religion on the Capitol grounds. No damage was done by this selective editing of the words below as a 1st Amendment demonstration.

Acxiom to sell data business for $2.3 billion

As expected, Arkansas-based Acxiom has struck a deal to sell a major portion of its business, a marketing unit, to Interpublic Group for $2.3 billion. A name change and relocation of company headquarters to San Francisco will follow.

Update: Marijuana Commission considers a new direction in scoring applications

The state Medical Marijuana Commission voted to explore the possibility of grading dispensary permit applications by using an outside consultant but didn't make a final decision. It adjourned soon afterward.

Judge again blocks enforcement of Arkansas anti-abortion law

Federal Judge Kristine Baker has again blocked enforcement of the Arkansas anti-abortion law that would end the availability in Arkansas of abortion by a safe two-pill protocol in the early weeks of pregnancy.

'Little Rock' draws strong review in New York Times

'Little Rock,' an off-Broadway production telling the story of the 1957 desegregation of Central High School, draws an extensive and positive review in today's New York Times.

Trump reverses course on flag-lowering for newspaper shooting victims

Reports today say Donald Trump will order lowering of flags to mark the mass shootings at the Annapolis, Md., newspaper. Reports over the weekend said he'd declined such a request from the mayor of Annapolis. Whether he changed course or not, his animosity toward newspapers is real, as is that of his followers.

State tax revenue off in June, but ahead for the fiscal year

The state report on tax income shows income in June was less than the same month last year and below forecast, but the fiscal year ended June 30 with gross revenue up 2.7 percent over the previous year.

An early open line and headline roundup

In anticipation of some people leaving work early today, here's an early open line. Also a roundup of news and comment.

LR issues fireworks advice

A July 4 message from the city of Little Rock re fireworks.

Arkansas school safety: Guns R Us

As predicted last Friday in an account of a draft report, the Hutchinson-appointed School Safety Commission put an armed person at every school at the top of its recommendations.

New episode of Rock the Culture podcast: “Social Media Savants”

In this Season 1 finale, Antwan Phillips and Rep. Charles Blake provide perspective and conversation on the controversial ending of the Hot Summer Jam Concert, Jacksonville’s policy decision to lower the priority of marijuana arrests, and Facebook’s social media training in Little Rock. They also discuss the importance of social media with national entertainment personality, Ally the Pub.

Preferred Family Healthcare says it will end Arkansas operations if state contracts cease

The news came in a letter entitled "An Update from the Executive Leadership of Preferred Family Healthcare to Our Arkansas Employees," which was forwarded to the Arkansas Times by two separate sources on Tuesday.

Has Trump crossed the red (green) line on trade?

Amid all the Trump-related gloom comes word of the sort of resistance that could have an impact on him — from big business.

Clinton, Bush plan joint appearance in Little Rock

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will make a joint appearance in Little Rock next week before the 59 members of the 2018 class of presidential leadership scholars.

Candidate continues call for legislative disclosure on illegal pork spending

Jon Comstock, a Democratic challenger to Republican Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, is continuing his call for Arkansas legislators to provide voters with accountability for their spending in the unconstitutional and criminally marred General Improvement Fund pork barrel spending.

What about the patients of company suspended from state Medicaid program?

Late yesterday, the state Department of Human Services sent word to people who receive services from Preferred Family Healthcare, the nonprofit suspended from the state Medicaid and other taxpayer-financed programs because of the bribery scandal involving several of its employees and former legislators. The news wasn't good.

The July 4 open line

July 4 thought: freedom in the era of Trump.