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OPINION | NWA EDITORIAL: Thursday's thumbs

Is better protection for Capitol on the way? by NWA Democrat-Gazette | June 10, 2021 at 7:00 a.m.

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

[THUMBS DOWN] It is, of course, no surprise that a bipartisan Senate investigation found several ways the U.S. Capitol Police botched preparations that would have strengthened the defense against the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by people who wanted to install Donald Trump as, what, president for life? The recent report showed Capitol Police leaders and other agencies didn't pay adequate attention to information they had about the planned attack. "The attack was, quite frankly, planned in plain sight," said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich. It's as though nobody could believe Americans would attack the elected representatives of the nation and somehow tout it as patriotism. It is, indeed, still hard to believe it happened, but it did. The report calls for better planning, training and intelligence gathering. Reforms are desperately needed to protect this seat of U.S. government. The best recommendation so far? That the Department of Defense and the District of Columbia National Guard should devise a standing plan to protect the Capitol when it's threatened by terrorists. If nothing else, developing such a plan would deliver a standard of security most Americans expected the federal government would have already had in place.

[THUMBS UP] We'll say this for Prairie Grove: Its residents, civic leaders and businesses know how to show appreciation for an officer who put his life on the line for the safety of the community. Officer Tyler Franks was among the officers dispatched to a disturbance at a home where a man fired on them with a shotgun and handgun. Franks was shot three times, including so much damage to his leg that part of it had to be amputated. Nearly a month later, Franks returned to Prairie Grove and was the subject of a parade with vehicle escorts from law enforcement agencies from all over Northwest Arkansas. Hundreds of residents lined the route with signs declaring Franks a "hero forever" and offering their thanks for his brave actions. Franks said the homecoming was "amazing." Support for him and his family has been outstanding. Other officers took note of the public's response. "Even though evil exists, there is far more love and support out there," said Police Capt. Jeff O'Brien. "This gives us the strength we need to continue to do our job." We remain ever thankful for officers willing to stand between the public and those who would do harm.

[THUMBS UP] When it comes to the battle against covid-19, Arkansas' colleges and universities represent a hodge-podge of vaccination rates. The numbers show a wide range -- from 6 to 72 percent -- in the number of students who have taken the wise step to receive one of the safe and effective vaccines that are helping to end the pandemic's grip on our lives. Colleges need to know vaccination rates among their students so the information can influence just how freely students and others on campuses can return to normal conditions in the fall. Nobody's giving them a list of students who have or haven't gotten shots, says the Arkansas Department of Health, but the statistical information can help higher ed leaders make good decisions about campus life for the coming academic year. The more students vaccinated, the more "normal" one can expect the school year to be. Just like the entire population of Arkansas, there's a lot of room for improvement among college students when it comes to being fully vaccinated. There's no time like the present.

[THUMBS UP] The FBI deserves credit for creativity. The agency's job includes catching people engaged in criminal activities while using highly complex technical means to keep those activities under wraps. So how to fight that? Build an app. The FBI developed an app called "Anom" and convinced criminal gangs to use the encryption technology to keep others from snooping. But it turns out the FBI had the ability to monitor the messages all along. The worldwide sting operation involved drug smuggling, money laundering and planned killings, according to authorities. By Tuesday, more than 800 arrests had been made and raids had been carried out in 16 countries. The FBI reports recovering more than 32 tons of drugs, 250 firearms and $48 million in various currencies. Not a bad day at the office.

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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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