Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tuesday summary

Human Rights Watch, an international human-rights organization, says that Wal-Mart has created “a climate of fear and intimidation” to keep unions from organizing workers in its stores. A bill called the Employee Free Choice Act has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is pending before the Senate. Supporters, including Human Rights Watch, say the bill would enable workers to join unions without intimidation from their employers.

Arkansas home sales fell 10 percent in March compared with March last year and prices were flat, according to the Arkansas Realtors Association. The average price of homes sold in Arkansas in March was $150,168, up about 1 percent from $148,754 in March last year.

The 86th General Assembly is in session to pass a fix to replace appropriation bills that Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed because of concerns that they were unconstitutionally local in nature. The state senate is expected to pass the single bill today and the 86th general assembly will end.

Gov. Mike Beebe on Monday hand-delivered a request for Arkansas disaster aid to the U.S. agriculture secretary and said he hoped for a quick federal response to an early April freeze that "devastated" crops in 52 counties. Beebe met with Secretary Mike Johanns to present a formal aid request and discuss other agriculture issues

Gov. Mike Beebe entreated members of the Arkansas business community to “get rid of the inferiority complex” at a dinner Monday night hosted by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas.

Little Rock School District Superintendent Roy Brooks filed a federal lawsuit against the School Board president and another board member, arguing that their actions impair his chances for a fair hearing on charges for which he could be suspended and fired.

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola has sent a letter to the city’s Advertising and Promotion Commission saying the group needs to hasten reforms recommended by an independent review committee last month.

A division chief in the Little Rock-based U.S. attorney’s office was demoted after he apparently sent an e-mail to a newspaper in Jacksonville, accusing a columnist of libeling him and threatening to sue the newspaper. Bob Govar, a veteran prosecutor who has been the chief of the Little Rock-based office’s Criminal Division for the past five years, lost his supervisory position. He has been an assistant U.S. attorney for about 30 years.

A Hall High School teacher stands acquitted of a capital murder charge on mental health grounds in the stabbing death of his 2-year-old son on New Year’s Eve in Little Rock after two state mental health experts diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. The ruling will indefinitely commit Demar Cortez Sanders to state custody for treatment because the judge found that Sanders continues to be a danger.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette had a slight increase in daily and Sunday paid circulation for the six-month period ending March 31 — in contrast with a decline among daily newspapers across the country.

State farmers intend to plant 560,000 acres of corn this year, the most since 1956 and a 195 percent increase from last year. Arkansas’ cotton acreage is expected to fall by 29 percent to 830,000 acres, and a 13 percent decline in rice acreage is projected. Cattle ranchers and hog and poultry producers have felt the financial pinch due to a resulting cost hike on corn.

Tyson Foods reports second-quarter earnings increased to 19 cents per share, handily beating Wall Street estimates as the protein producer continues to cut costs and raise customer prices.

The emergency room at UAMS in Little Rock is open after being shut down for two hours Monday afternoon while 7,000 bees were relocated by a professional beekeeper. No injuries were reported.

Central Arkansas Transit Authority has refused to sign a bus service license agreement with McCain Mall in North Little Rock that the mall’s managing company is requiring for buses to continue making stops there.

The Toad Suck Daze Committee will meet at the Salem walking trail between 8 and 8:30 tonight to hunt for toads.

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