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Thankfully, we've heard no news that tensions between China and the United States have been strained by a 24-year-old Delawarean's lame decision to step beyond exhibit ropes at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute to get up close and personal with famed 2,000-year-old terracotta cavalrymen on display.

The artifacts, treasured in China, were on loan for display. At an after-hours institute event, the man stepped beyond the ropes to get a selfie -- that's right, a quick photo -- with him and the ancient soldiers. After that, he put his hand on the statue's hand and (gasp!) broke off its thumb and put it in his front pocket.

Give’em a thumb

Want to give some brief feedback on news? Someone who deserves a pat on the back? An idea that needs a dose of common sense? Recommend a “Thursday thumb” by calling Greg Harton at (479) 872-5026 or by email at

A few weeks later, the FBI shows up at his house, where he turned over the purloined digit. He now faces a federal charge.

If he wanted a thumb so much, he could have simply turned to this page on a Thursday. And so, here are our thumbs (much younger, by the way) for the week.

[THUMBS UP] A federal judge rejected a move to dismiss the case against former state Sen. Jon Woods and two other men who stand accused in a case involving allegations of kickbacks involving taxpayer dollars and public corruption. Questions had been raised about the prosecution's case and the way an investigator behaved, but U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks rejected the notion that the trial should be called off. "The grand jury has issued an indictment against these defendants. The public has an interest in seeing that indictment prosecuted, just as the defendants have an interest in holding the government to its burden of proof at trial," Brooks said in his decision. And he's so right. Allegations of public corruption are serious and need to be fully aired through adjudication.

[THUMBS DOWN] It's downright heartbreaking to see a young man get caught up in an incident that hurts his reputation and costs him dearly, but that's apparently what's happened with Dustin Thomas, the University of Arkansas basketball player kicked off the team a few days ago. Coach Mike Anderson blamed a violation of team rules but hasn't confirmed whether it has anything to do with Thomas' misdemeanor citation on a charge of possession of marijuana in early January. Anderson did what was necessary for the team and we respect that. It's particularly sad that only a few weeks remained in Thomas' basketball career at Arkansas, including tonight's inaugural post-season game in the SEC Tournament.

[THUMBS UP] Think everything is going digital? Don't expect the folks at local libraries to agree. Even as they work to stay "connected" with today's technology, local libraries also remain major resources for people who want to read, view and listen in various ways. And they tend to be busy places. That's why it was good news to see support from the Springdale City Council to spend $175,000 on the first phase of upgrades to the city's library in Murphy Park. Marcia Ransom, the library director, says the money will be spent on lighting, replacing about a third of the library's outdated computers, upgrading a security system, replacing broken drinking fountains and replacing seals around windows and doors. These facilities are community investments, and anyone knows you've got to take care of an investment so that it serves you well in the future.

[THUMBS UP] Just as Springdale is taking care of its library, Bentonville has a plan update the Melvin Ford Aquatic Center in ways that will make it a viable amenity for another quarter century. The facility draws about 40,000 swimmers annually, city officials said, and after 26 years, it's in need of some improvements. The park got $515,000 in improvements last year and city leaders are weighing a study of other changes that can keep the park a popular place for residents to while away the summer. Public meetings will be scheduled later this year for discussions about what changes may be made at the park. Fans should show up and be part of the planning for its future.

[THUMBS DOWN] A corporate citizen such as Tyson Foods has a high responsibility to the public and to the environment. Our local mega-meat production giant, unfortunately, doesn't always meet those expectations. Just the other day, Tyson was ordered to pay $2.5 million for polluting a Missouri River, resulting in the deaths of more than 100,000 fish. That's in addition to several more million the company has paid in recent years for other violations. A spokesman says efforts to protect the environment have been strengthened and the company regrets the mistake made in the latest reported case, although the company negotiated for years before agreeing to plead guilty. Hopefully, some lessons are being learned.

[THUMBS DOWN] Word on the street -- OK, maybe the information superhighway -- is some people who have those Amazon Alexa speakers have been freaked out by instances when the device, without prompting, suddenly starts laughing, in a creepy way. Some users have gone so far as to unplug the devices. We suppose "Alexa, shut up!" doesn't work. Amazon reports it's aware of the glitch and is working on a solution. But hey, at least it's laughter. A lot of what we experience through the Internet is more likely to evoke groans of disbelief.

Commentary on 03/08/2018

Print Headline: Thursday's thumbs

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