Thursday, July 05, 2018

Rope, Tree, Journalist

This year (so far) 53 journalists have been killed around the world. Eleven have been killed in Afghanistan, one in Syria, seven in the US, five in India, four in Yemen, six in Columbia, six in Mexico, two in Brazil, one in Liberia, one in Iraq, one in Pakistan, two in the Philippines, and one in Nicaragua.  Last year 46 journalists were killed, worldwide. The International Federation of Journalists promotes a free press and keeps track of journalists who are  killed in every country. 

Every Friday, this newspaper asks a question, and readers are encouraged to call in with answers, that are then published on the following Tuesday. The question asked last week was: “Do you feel the political climate in America puts journalists’ lives at risk?” The answers were troubling. Most blamed journalists for the current violent climate. In other words, if journalists are killed, it’s their own fault. It’s the old “she was asking for it, dressed like that” justification applied to reporters.

The Capital Gazette in Annapolis seems like a good community paper, the kind of paper any metro area would be proud of. An angry, unbalanced guy was mad that the paper covered a 2011 court case where he pleaded guilty to harassing a former high school classmate. Like most mass shooters, he was a misogynist. He began stalking her online in 2009. Her lawyer called it the worst case of stalking he’d ever seen.  Jarrod Ramos harassed the lawyer and members of his family. Ramos went on to try to sue the woman for perjury, and tried to sue the paper for defamation. After his suit was dismissed in 2013, he turned to making verbal threats against the paper, the publisher, and various reporters. Last year he legally bought the gun he used to kill 5 people. It took him a long time to take action. Did the president calling the press “enemies of the people” set him off? We’ll probably never know. It sure didn’t help. 

The Tele-Talk responses illustrated how desperately we need to teach media literacy in school. Many people don’t know the difference between a reporter and an opinion columnist. (I am an opinion columnist. I am not a reporter.) These days news someone doesn’t like is “fake” or “lies.” Over 30 years ago the radical right began to undermine the press, beginning with Rush Limbaugh and his howls about “the liberal media.” His propaganda worked brilliantly. Soon right wing radio sprouted across the land, and the war on truth began in earnest.

The slow, painful death of the newspaper hurts our communities and our nation. Since the beginning of the United States, newspapers and other print media kept us informed. They weren’t known for being fair and balanced back then, either. (Read some of Ben Franklin’s work.) The undermining began in earnest with the election of Barack Obama, which spawned a cottage industry of stories about his fake birth certificate, his fake Social Security number, Michelle Obama really being a man, and so on. It’s become so ubiquitous that now any new story that you don’t like is labeled as fake news. 

No news source can be all things to all people. Readers are going to see stories in newspapers that tick them off. Coverage of arrests and court cases is an area fraught with peril. It’s a sure bet that someone involved with a case, especially a case related to violence against another is going to get mad about the way it’s covered. That’s always been true.

The difference now is that after 30 years of intentional undermining, the mad are even madder, and the current political climate has given them permission to not only threaten violence, but to accept it as being justified. In 2016, tee shirts reading, “Rope, Tree, Journalist: Some Assembly Required” began appearing at Trump rallies. It’s just a joke, you say. Tell that to the five dead people at the Capital Gazette.

Many of us who put words out in public are familiar with death threats. There are many, many unstable people out there with guns, which is why the Tele-Talk responses were so disturbing. Angry, unstable guys with guns and defamation suits are not as unusual as one might think, and there’s no way of knowing whether they’ll come calling with a gun or not. So far, as a nation, we seem content to ignore warning signs. The signs were certainly there in the case of Jarrod Ramos. It seems we’d rather ensure the right of a guy like Ramos to purchase a firearm than ensure the right of others to keep on living.

This nation used to pride itself on a free press. We used to venerate the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Somewhere along the way, we decided the Second Amendment was more important, and that if we didn’t like the practitioners of the First, we could use the Second to eliminate them. This, dear readers, is not what democracy looks like. 

Published as an op-ed in the July 6 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.

This is the Tele-Talk column that got me thinking. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

It Is Who We Are

(Rob Rogers cartoon)

 As I watch the horrifying human rights violation unfolding in my country, where children are being taken from their parents and sent to various locations around the country, I keep hearing, “This is not who we are.” That, unfortunately, isn’t true. It’s exactly who we are. It is who we’ve always been. 

A number of our founders owned slaves, and they wrote a founding document that counted those slaves as three-fifths of a person. From the very beginning, the US was okay with white people owning non-white people. The plantation system allowed those white owners to abuse the non-white slaves.  Eventually slavery ended, but the long-term effects continue to resonate in this country where black men are shot by police, without reprisal. 

Beginning in the late 1800’s Indigenous American children were forcibly taken from their parents and sent to boarding schools where they were given European style haircuts, European style names, and were forbidden to speak their native languages. There are many documented cases of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse that took place in those schools. Children were taken from their families and communities and tortured. Sound familiar?

In June of 1954, the US began what was charmingly referred to as “Operation Wetback.” This resulted in the arrests of over 100,000 people in a two month period, and as many as a million were affected during the life of the program.

We’ve always had a tortured relationship with Mexico. The US has interfered mightily in the political affairs of South America. We have always relied on undocumented workers to do the work we don’t want to do ourselves. Undocumented workers built Trump’s hotels. Undocumented workers clean our houses, care for our children, mow our lawns, and work in our meat packing factories, our hotels, our farms, and vineyards. And despite all that, we have nothing but contempt for these people who do all this work at considerably lower wages than white people would command.

The mythology sprung up that undocumented workers are taking jobs away from “real” Americans. (Real = white.) There hasn’t been a flood of white workers moving to California to pick lettuce. White Americans aren’t lining up at hotels to scrub bathrooms. The myth was useful though, because it allowed for the perpetuation of anger against all brown people. That anger simmered for decades, but reached full boil when Barack Obama was elected president. The ideological divide also became an ugly racial divide, which allowed the far right to blame Obama for inciting their racism.

For years we heard that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States, he was born in Kenya. One of the loudest, crudest proponents of that belief is now the president of the United States. Trump has always been a racist. In the 1970’s, Trump the landlord fought against complying with the Fair Housing Act. He took out ads urging the death penalty for the black and Latino teenagers who became known as the Central Park Five, who were accused of raping a white women. A decade after they’d been exonerated by DNA evidence, Trump continued to insist they were guilty. 

Trump began his run for the presidency calling Mexicans criminals and rapists. He’s surrounded himself with white nationalists like advisor Stephen Miller, the architect of family separation at the border. Like Jeff Sessions, career racist.

That has led us to this place, where we have children being kidnapped by the US government at the border. We’ve seen footage of boys in repurposed Walmarts. What we haven’t seen is footage of wherever it is they take the girls and the babies. We don’t see where they take the girls and the babies, because that doesn’t fit in with the propaganda. Trump and Sessions talk about MS-13 all the time, to create the illusion that every brown person who crosses the border to escape from the hell their own country has become is a burgeoning gang member and criminal. Even the most hardened member of the Trump cult would have a hard time selling that story over footage of toddlers crying for their mothers. 

A nation that proudly declares itself Christian is allowing this to happen. A party that pretends to be pro-life is encouraging the torture of children.

The rest of the world is watching us in horror. The United States, is engaging in a massive human rights violation and no one dares step in because we have a lot of nuclear weapons, and our president is an angry, unpredictable toddler who lacks impulse control. The country that liberated concentration camps in WWII is now building them, right here at home.

It’s been an interesting experiment, the United States. We had a lot of lofty goals. Could we rise above now, and give voice to our what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature? I wish I thought we would. Racism has broken us. It is who we are. It is who we’ve always been. 

published as an op-ed in the June 22 edition of the Conway Daily Sun 

Thursday, June 07, 2018

The Gold Standard

New Hampshire is a state with no income tax and no sales tax. A state where we are constantly warned that we must live within our means. For decades, the Republicans who govern our state have worked overtime to ensure that we have such limited means that we can’t ever fix anything that needs fixing, which is why 12% of our bridges are red listed for “structural impairments.” Our intentionally limited means ensure that our state parks are in desperate need of maintenance and repair. 

One might think that in a state where tourism is our number two business, we’d want to make that investment, but our limited means do not permit. Speaking of number two business, we have closed rest areas in Antrim, Epsom, and Shelburne, in places where tourists would undoubtedly like to stop. They were all closed in order to save money. Perhaps we could reopen them if the tourists signed an affidavit saying that in exchange for using the rest room, they swear they’ll buy a case of Hennessy on the way out of state? (Paying cash, of course.)

Given our constant state of poverty, I was surprised to read what Governor Sununu had to say at the annual spring luncheon for Seacoast Republican Women. From the story in Fosters:  “Despite Democratic criticism of his budget he said, “we have more money than we know what to do with.” 

If that’s the case, it seems our governor lacks imagination. I’ve tweeted suggestions to him about things we might do with all that money. Build a secure psychiatric unit that isn’t part of a prison, for treating our people who have mental illness. Eliminate the shameful wait list for developmental disability services. Fix all the red listed bridges. Open up those closed rest areas, fix the state parks…the list is endless.

He also said, “We slipped for a long time, but we’re back. New Hampshire is the gold standard. A 2017 CNBC report found that NH has the second worst infrastructure in the nation. We don’t seem to be using any of that gold to repair our roads, bridges, dams, water systems, etc. In fact, given those closed rest areas, we don’t even qualify as American Standard.

I’ve said it before (and I’ll say it again!) that NH is the seventh wealthiest state. We are intentionally starving our state, so that we can continue to fail to invest in the present and the future. 
Our politicians are proud to take The Pledge, which refers to the Mel Thomson/William Loeb pledge against the creation of a state income tax or sales tax. The Pledge became popular in the early 70’s and continues to be GOP cult dogma.

New Hampshire’s peculiar system of funding our state government through fees and property taxes results in an underfunded state government. It isn’t the fault of the folks at the DMV that you wait for hours in line or can’t get through on the phone. They are chronically understaffed on purpose. That understaffing makes you the public unhappy, and willing to buy into the first tenet of GOP gospel: government is the problem. It certainly is when they’re running it. 

It’s all a false “economy.” As the 7thwealthiest state, NH is certainly capable of generating revenue. Our secret is that we don’t want to. One thing the Republican Party fears above all is having enough money to fix the things that were deliberately neglected for decades. The scaremongering around The Pledge is key to their continued dominance in the state. 

A recent twitter exchange was a perfect illustration. Greg Moore is the head of Americans for Prosperity NH. AFP is an arm of the Koch brothers that has managed to achieve a disproportionate amount of influence over our state finances. Greg tweeted out that NH revenues are up in May, and claimed Trump’s tax reform is driving the NH economy forward. A reply to that tweet came from Grant Bosse, who wrote, “Don’t tell them! They’ll come back to spend it!”  (He was referring to the legislature.) Grant Bosse is the editor of the Union Leader’s editorial page. Before that, he worked for the Josiah Bartlett Center, the right wing think tank funded by the Koch brothers. 

That is, of course, easily translated into “spending is bad.” A successful business that invested in itself would be lauded, particularly if that came in the form of higher wages for workers. In NH success is defined as austerity. We don’t invest in education or any real safety net. We don’t even fix what is broken. To say that NH has “more money than we know what to do with,” in the face of our state’s many desperate needs is truly an obscenity.    

Published as an op-ed in the June 8, 2018 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

NH Progressive Summit 2018

There's still time to sign up! See you there! 

The annual NH Progressive Summit provides space for new and veteran activists to come together and be inspired by one another as we collectively learn, train, strategize, and mobilize for the issue and electoral challenges and opportunities we face together. 

This year’s theme is “Resistance to Power.” We are a movement of ideas and action, and the last year has shown what we can achieve when we are focused and organized. We will continue to beat back the attacks on our health care and public education. We will fight for equal rights for immigrants and the LGBTQ community. We will support access to the full range of reproductive rights without stigma or shame. We will demand the clean air and water we all deserve. We will advance strong public safety laws. We will seek a local, inclusive economy that puts working families first. And we will take back our state and elections from powerful special interests and the politicians who aid them.

Facebook Event Page

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dirty Little Secret

New Hampshire does things that other states do not. We’re the only state with a 424 member volunteer legislature. We’re the only state that funds our state park system with user fees. There’s a reason other states don’t do these things – they don’t work. 

NH is also the only state where people who have been civilly committed to the state psychiatric hospital can be transferred to the Secure Psychiatric Unit (SPU) at the state men’s prison even if they haven’t been charged or convicted of a crime. If they are considered a danger to themselves or others, they can be transferred to the men’s prison, even if they’re women. Once there, the patients intermingle with the inmates.

The state prison is home to male inmates. The SPU is part of the prison. NH is the only state in the union that imprisons people with mental illness who have committed no crime; just because there is no place else secure enough for them.

This practice began 30 years ago. It was touted at the time as a temporary solution. Thirty years ago, the mental health system dismantled by Ronald Reagan and his acolytes. Institutions were emptied, with no planning for the now de-institutionalized patients. A month before Reagan was elected, President Carter signed the Mental Health Systems Act, which proposed to continue the federal community mental health centers program, and funded federal grants. This was all trashed when Reagan took office. Meanwhile, the folks who had been institutionalized often wound up living on the street, with no supports or treatment.

In 1986, the NH Supreme Court ruled that putting people in the SPU was not a violation of their constitutional rights. It was all too easy to forget all about those folks. If there’s one thing that the legislature hates, it’s spending money. And so, the practice of putting non-criminals behind bars in the name of treatment was ignored for a couple of decades, while the legislature blithely kicked the can down the road.

In 2004, there was an audit, and in 2005 a House study committee. In 2010 there was another study committee. For some years, State Representative Renny Cushing has been filing legislation to try to end this practice, as he did again this year. A few weeks ago a story in Fosters quoted Speaker of the House Gene Chandler as saying that lawmakers weren’t familiar enough with the situation to speak about changing it. It’s only been going on for 30 years.

In that same Foster’s story Associate AG Anne Edwards claimed that patients aren’t treated like inmates at all. The patients have prison numbers, can’t use the phone, and visitors have to go through background checks. Nothing I have ever read or heard suggests that patients at SPU are not being treated like prisoners. They are locked in wire cages for “therapy sessions.”  They are civilly committed to a prison. If this were normal, if this were considered therapeutic, other states would be doing it. 

They don’t. Only NH does this. 

In Colorado, psychiatric patients in crisis can be held in a jail for 24 hours if there are no psychiatric beds available. Colorado is a big rural state, and that 24 hours began to turn into 48 hours, or more. Sheriff’s tried to have the hold time lengthened. The governor vetoed the bill. A task force was created to look at the problem, and it actually did – and that work led to change. It’s now against the law to hold anyone in a county jail for a mental health problem. A bill was passed to increase funding for community based mental health treatment. Much of the funding will come from the state’s marijuana tax.

The difference, of course, is that in Colorado there was law enforcement and legislative support for ending the barbaric practice of imprisoning the mentally ill. In NH, there is no support for change. NH is perfectly happy to continue to sweep the criminalization of the mentally ill under the rug.

It’s been our dirty little secret for a long time. Social media can be a force for good, and in the case of SPU it has been. Nancy West of, an online news site, got a grant to investigate the SPU, and has been covering it for some time. Those stories led to coverage in the mainstream NH media. A young man named Andrew Butler is currently incarcerated in the SPU, and his case is getting a lot of attention. The legislature is finally paying attention, and recently moved to require the Department of Corrections to have the SPU accredited as a behavioral prison unit.

This is not a solution; it’s a way of normalizing the practice of incarcerating the mentally ill, in the 21stcentury, in the state of New Hampshire, the seventh wealthiest state in the nation. Shame on us. 

Published as an op-ed in the May 25, 2018 edition of the Conway Daily Sun Newspaper

Edited to add this press release that the Treatment Advocacy Center sent to me. This is a snippet:

"New Hampshire's treatment of people with serious mental illnesses makes it a poster child for hypocrisy," Treatment Advocacy Center executive director John Snook added. "Instead of 'live free or die,' their credo should be 'go to prison and die'. The Governor and the Legislature need to fix this."
Using prevalence rates for schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder, the Treatment Advocacy Center estimates that there are 36,000 people in the Granite State with serious mental illnesses. In the event of a psychiatric crisis, however, there is virtually no place for that population to receive inpatient care. As of 2016, New Hampshire had a total of 158 state hospital beds, or less than 12 per 100,000 people, which falls far below the minimum standard of 50 beds per 100,000 people.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Vampire Vouchers

Senate Bill 193 is titled: “Establishing education freedom savings accounts for students”, and was filed in January of 2017. It sped quickly through the Senate, and moved to the House in March 2017. It stayed in the House till last week. The bill spent 10 months in the NH House Education Committee, and four months in House Finance. During those four months, there were two public hearings, and 13 committee work sessions. It may have whizzed through the Senate, but the House really worked on it. The majority of the Finance Committee recommended it be sent to Interim Study. A simple legislative rule of thumb: any bill that has “freedom” in the title is going to be bad. 

Despite the title, this is a school voucher bill. It would take taxpayer funds from the public schools, and launder them through a third party, to bypass the Constitutional prohibition against using taxpayer funds for religious education. The cash would leave the Freedom Laundry, and go to private schools, religious schools, or to homeschooling families.

This bill comes to us from ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, where far right conservatives draft model legislation and pass it on to the ALEC representatives in the various states. ALEC ‘s model bill is called “The Education Savings Account Act.” (Look it up at  There are a number of NH legislators tied to ALEC. Senator John Reagan of Deerfield is on ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force. Senator Reagan is also the sponsor of this voucher bill. Governor Sununu loves this bill – it’s one of the centerpieces of his legislative agenda.

The bill claims it will help low income families to be able to afford private school or home schooling. The Freedom Laundry has little in the way of accountability built into it. Tax dollars should be publicly accountable, transparent dollars, not dollars siphoned off to someone who wants to keep their kid out of gummint schools so they can teach them what kind of gun Jesus carried when he rode a dinosaur. 

State Representative Neal Kurk from Weare chairs the House Finance Committee. Kurk is a solid conservative, usually beloved by his party for the parsimonious state budgets he compiles every two years. Long time readers may remember me mocking Neal Kurk for an opinion piece he co-wrote with Rep. Laurie Sanborn in 2013 on the dangers of expanded Medicaid, where they bemoaned the possibility that low income yacht dwellers would be mooching free health care. It will cause an income tax, they cried!  Another rule of thumb: if a policy helps people, it will create GOP cries about an income tax. If a policy is proven to hurt taxpayers, the silence is deafening. 

Neal Kurk did not support the bill. He did the math, and found that SB 193 would bleed $99 million from the public schools and jack up property taxes. The House voted to send the bill to interim study, in a roll call vote of 170-159. Speaker Chandler immediately gaveled the session to a close, before a motion to reconsider could be made, which would, if defeated, prevent the bill from coming back.

After an evening of brisk arm-twisting by the Governor and other ideologues, the bill came back the next day. The motion to reconsider was defeated. That was the end of that, or so it seemed.

Alas, nothing bad ever dies in the NH legislature. It comes back again and again, sometimes for decades. This only took a few hours. The Senate was in session far into the night, and they attached the vampire voucher bill to another education bill, as an amendment. In other words, the people pushing this bill (and the special interests behind it) are going to do any underhanded thing they can think of to jam it through. 

Senator Jeb Bradley justified this late-night chicanery in the Concord Monitor, as “an opportunity to allow the discussion to continue.” The Carroll County Republican delegation all voted to drain the public schools and increase your property taxes. The only exception was Karel Crawford, who was excused.

Republicans used to call themselves the party of fiscal responsibility. There is nothing fiscally responsible about this bill, as Neal Kurk pointed out, to the public displeasure of his party. Today’s NH GOP has no interest in listening to voters or doing what is best for the state. They have an ideological agenda, and those who refuse to march in lockstep will be vilified.

By the time you read this, the House will have voted to concur or not concur with the amended version of HB 1636, the bill that the voucher amendment was attached to. A week of strong-arming and threats might win over the remaining Republican representatives that can still think for themselves. Those legislators live in other counties. Be sure to ask your Carroll County Republican representatives why they want to raise your property taxes. 

UPDATE: The House voted on concurrence. Twice. The first vote was on a motion not to concur, and to ask for a committee of conference. The Carroll County delegation all voted for that, save for Rep. Karel Crawford who voted nay. The motion failed. 

The second vote was to just flat out non-concur. Two Carroll County Republicans voted not to concur; Representative Karel Crawford, and Representative William Marsh. (Last week Marsh voted for the voucher bill.) The motion carried. 

A third vote motion was made to reconsider, with the same amendments. This motion also failed. 

After 5 votes, the vampire voucher bill is finally done for the year. We can all look forward to seeing it come back next year - and those Republicans who didn't toe the party line can expect to be punished in the primary. 

published as an op-ed in the May 11 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Live Free - Don't Vote Absentee

Ever since Democrats started winning elections in 2006, the NH Republican Party has been spinning the myth of voter fraud, a myth that has increased in strength and shrillness with each passing year. On a national level, as the old school Republicans were replaced with rabid ideologues, the howls of voter fraud began echoing from sea to shining sea, despite a regrettable lack of evidence. 

This means that every year, around a dozen voter bills are filed by our Republican legislators. All of them are aimed at making voting more difficult and exclusionary. This year, HB 1264 is aimed at preventing student voting. The NHGOP has apparently decided that preventing college students from voting is easier than convincing them to join the GOP. After all, if gerrymandering can’t ensure a Republican majority, all that is left is to eliminate undesirable populations from voting.

The focus has been on disenfranchising the young for so long that we haven’t been paying attention to the latest targets:
the old. We’ve watched our Secretary of State refuse to allow towns to postpone town elections in the event of a serious storm, with the approval of the GOP. This year, the State House was shut down early for the safety of staff and legislators - because of snow - but Grandma was supposed drive to town hall to vote. The term “local control” has ceased to have any meaning in our state, where the majority party is working on a variety of levels to eliminate it.

We’ve heard, endlessly, about busloads of voters from Massachusetts. We haven’t heard anything about voter fraud by absentee ballot, but that hasn’t deterred the NH Senate. HB 527 is intended to “establish additional procedures for verification of absentee voters.” What are the existing procedures? And how do they fit those buses in an envelope? 

You may not be aware that our town clerks and moderators are expected to be handwriting experts, in analyzing the signatures on absentee ballot envelopes with the absentee ballots themselves. If a person with disabilities is being aided in filling out a ballot, the person who is assisting has to sign a number of forms to prove that they aren’t signing from the bus. As a result of this amateur handwriting analysis, hundreds of votes are discarded every election – without ever telling the person who has been disenfranchised that his or her ballot was shoved in the trash.

Some of these people are elderly voters who may have tremors, have Parkinson’s, or other health issues. Some may be people who have disabilities. This could easily happen to me. A side effect of back surgery in 2014 is some nerve damage in my right hand. My signature can vary from day to day, especially in cold weather.  I could very easily be one of those people whose ballots were tossed by the amateur graphologists.  

Voters are not informed that their penmanship was rejected. Days or even weeks after the election, their names are posted on a website no one knows about, then the website is scrubbed 90 days after the election. No effort has ever been made to inform voters that this website exists. Still, website or no, voters have no recourse – once their vote is discarded, it’s gone.

HB 527 is aimed at slightly modifying the signature practices that were enacted last year for mailed absentee ballots. If the voter has assistance, and the person who provides assistance signs an affidavit saying they witnessed and provided assistance, then the moderators and clerks will take their word for it. The unassisted will continue to take their chances with the local officials. In other words, if you have unreliable handwriting, you’d better get a responsible party to sign off on your absentee ballot, or else it may end up in the shredder.  That’s really something in a state with the motto: “live free or die.”

It’s a misdemeanor to vote absentee in NH without being entitled to do so. There have been zero prosecutions in the last decade. This whole signature verification business is a solution that lacked a problem. NH’s signature match law is the harshest in the nation (despite there being no evidence of voter fraud by absentee ballot). Courts have struck down similar laws in other states. ACLU NH is currently suing the state on behalf of some voters whose ballots were tossed in 2016. The NH signature match procedures are almost certainly a violation of the ADA. Another taxpayer funded lawsuit brought to you by the NHGOP. 

The Senate passed SB 527 by a voice vote, meaning there is no record of how your state senator voted on it. Be sure to ask him. The bill is now before the House Election Law Committee. Be sure to ask your state reps how they will be voting on continuing the disenfranchisement of elderly and disabled voters. 

PS: This remains unclaimed:

Published as an op-ed in the April 13, 2018 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper