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It's Thursday and another chance to fire off a few thumbs about some of news developments in our neck of the worlds and elsewhere:

It's a long way from Christmas, but the one thing on everyone's wish list this year will probably be a vaccine for the virus that causes covid-19, heartbreaking deaths and many lesser disruptions in our daily lives. With such holiday hopes in mind, it was good news to learn a volunteer in Savannah, Ga., became the first participant in a series of U.S. clinical trials to test experimental vaccines in 30,000 patients. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called it a "truly historic event in the history of vaccinology." He and other experts said the nation has never moved faster to develop a vaccine, but also pledged the pursuit has not cut corners that could impact safety. The looming and constant threat of this virus is a source of stress people do not need and a vaccine, when an effective one is found, will provide much-needed relief.

Speaking of life under a constant threat, maybe there's some value in this covid-19 experience. Could it help those who have never faced the limiting or threatening effects of racism to better understand how its constant presence in the lives of minorities creates an unrelenting level of stress? Racism isn't a single act; it's a malevolent presence that creates a detrimental and pervasive atmosphere from which one cannot escape. That's a lot of tension to live with every day. Unfortunately, there's no vaccine to end racism. That's a much more difficult challenge because it requires a change of mind and heart.

The Benton County Fair will go primarily online this year, with exhibitors and families as the only live participants engaged in the in-person events. It's a wise decision, and our downturned digit only reflects the disappointment organizers and participants must feel as a result of the changes necessitated by covid-19. The event will still take place Aug. 4-8 at the Benton County Fairgrounds, but the public is asked to attend online via streaming shows and the Junior Livestock Premium Auction. Information can be found at

The Washington County Fair is taking a similar approach, with information available at

One of our readers encouraged an upturned digit for Pam Jowers of Farmington and her 10-year-old son, Jaxton, who collaborated to create paracord "mask keepers" that allow the wearer's mask to drape handily around his neck when not in use. The pair, first featured in the Washington County Enterprise Leader, raises money to assist residents of an assisted living center in Farmington and, eventually, residents of the Fayetteville Veterans Nursing Home. Kudos to these creative contributors for helping out with a volunteer spirit.

Wednesday marked the opening of the filing period for municipal offices in most Arkansas cities. Filings continue through Aug. 5 for the Nov. 3 election. It's an opportunity for people to offer leadership to the communities in which they live, but it's not for the faint of heart. Getting on the ballot is really the easiest step. Serving municipalities requires a devotion to the public and hard work. It is, though, a worthwhile endeavor.

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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 [email protected]

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