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Arkansas State University System

Officials at Arkansas State University are narrowing down the list of potential candidates for the Jonesboro Campus chancellor position.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seems closely divided about whether an Alabama death row inmate should get a new sentencing hearing because he did not have a mental health expert on his side when he was tried and sentenced to death more than 30 years ago.

The court has ruled previously that poor defendants whose mental health might be a factor in the criminal charges they are facing have a right to an expert's evaluation. The justices on Monday took up a case about whether the expert must be independent of the prosecution.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two condemned Arkansas killers who admit they're guilty but fear their poor health could lead to extreme pain during lethal injections set for Monday might become the first inmates put to death in a double execution in the U.S. in more than 16 years.

Jack Jones and Marcel Williams are set to die in what would be the second and third executions in Arkansas this month. The state set an aggressive plan to execute several inmates before one of its lethal injection drugs expires at the end of April.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has signed into law statewide regulations for ride-hailing companies including Uber and Lyft.

The governor signed the bill Monday at St. Charles Community College. It requires app-based companies to conduct driver background checks and pay a licensing fee.

The law will also exempt such companies from local and municipal taxes, require drivers to submit to background checks and to buy vehicle liability insurance.

Uber and Lyft say the law will allow them to expand throughout the state.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee local official has been arrested after police said he choked his girlfriend at a fast food restaurant.

Memphis police said Monday that Shelby County Commissioner Justin Ford has been charged with aggravated assault and false imprisonment.

Police said Ford's girlfriend told officers he physically assaulted and choked her during an argument at a Church's Chicken on Sunday.

Chelsea Beck, NPR

Before his election, back in October, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump laid out a 100 Day Action Plan. He called it his Contract With The American Voter. Among other things, it called for the full repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, suspension of immigration from certain "terror-prone regions," and the lifting of "roadblocks" to let "infrastructure projects like the Keystone Pipeline move forward."

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Jay Dickey has died at the age of 77.

Ralph Robinson & Son Funeral Home in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, confirmed Dickey's death, but did not give any details of his death.

Dickey was elected to Congress to represent Arkansas in 1993. He served until after being defeated for re-election in 2000. Dickey was the first Republican to be elected to his Pine Bluff-area district since Reconstruction.

Wikipedia

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee legislative leaders appear to agree on a bigger property tax break for disabled veterans, which should put the finishing touch on months of work on Gov. Bill Haslam's bill that increases the gas tax to fund roadwork and cuts other taxes.

Both chambers passed the Republican governor's roads bill Wednesday, with the property tax break unresolved.

Senators amended the legislation to increase property tax relief to disabled veterans to up to $175,000 in property value, from $100,000 currently.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Residents of a Memphis neighborhood are being told to avoid approaching, detaining or feeding a black bear that's been roaming the area for two days.

Memphis police say officers are looking for the bear, which was seen by people in the Frayser neighborhood in north Memphis on Thursday and Friday.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials are leading the investigation into the bear's whereabouts. Frayser has woods that could attract the bear and allow it to avoid people as it moves through the area.

A drugmaker asked Arkansas officials not to purchase its products for executions months before the state accepted a "donation" of potassium chloride as one of three drugs to use in lethal injections, according to letters obtained by The Associated Press.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates fell to record lows in four U.S. states in March after months of steady job creation nationwide.

Unemployment rates fell in 17 states in March and were mostly unchanged in 33, the Labor Department said Friday. Employers added a significant number of jobs in just three states last month and cut them in four. Employment was mostly unchanged in the other 43 states. Hiring nationwide was weak in March but strong in the previous two months.

Arkansas State University

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas State University might be adding metal detectors at athletic events this fall.

The Jonesboro Sun (http://bit.ly/2pHgsHw) reports the preliminary discussions for the detectors comes after the approval of an act last month to allow concealed handguns at public colleges and universities.

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) — Teacher Tad Cummins took guns, money and his wife's car before kidnapping a 15-year-old female student and taking her on a 2,500-mile cross-country journey that ended Thursday, court records show.

He had just been suspended from teaching and police were zeroing in on him, questioning his relationship with the girl.

After taking out a loan for $4,500, the records say, the teacher took the money and two handguns and wrote a note to his wife saying he needed to go to Virginia Beach or the D.C. area to clear his head.

Pixabay

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Health officials say the state's first human case of West Nile virus this year has been found in west Tennessee.

The health department in Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said Friday the virus was recently confirmed in a person who lives in the county. Officials did not identify the patient.

Officials said there were six human cases of the virus in Tennessee in 2016. One case was fatal.

After lien filings from 2 companies and an ultimatum from the Jonesboro Advertising and Promotions Commission, another company has filed a lien against Northern Arkansas Hotel and Convention Center, LLC.

The Sun reports that HD Supply Construction Supply of Allen, Texas filed a lien against the company earlier this week.  The lien is in regards to the delayed construction of the Hyatt Place Hotel and Convention Center to be built near Interstate 555 on Browns Lane Access Road.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An aggressive effort by the state of Arkansas to carry out its first executions since 2005 stalled for the second time this week as courts blocked lethal injections planned for Thursday, prompting Gov. Asa Hutchinson to express frustration at what he believes are legal delaying tactics.

While the latest court rulings could be overturned, Arkansas now faces an uphill battle to execute any inmates before the end of April, when one of its lethal injection drugs expires.

Dr. Lyn Bayless, who for 20 years was the "Voice of the Lady Indians" at Arkansas State University, passed away on Wednesday in Little Rock.

Bayless was retired Chairman of Speech Communications and Dramatic Arts at A-State, and he was a past president of the Rotary Club of Jonesboro.

Funeral services will be held Friday at 2 pm at Emerson Memorial Chapel in Jonesboro.  Bayless was 85.

pixabay.com

One of the proposed convention centers in Jonesboro may not get built if the developer doesn't meet a deadline next month.

KUAR Public Radio

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge who participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration after issuing an order blocking the state's executions is defending the move, saying his ruling was guided by property law and not his views on capital punishment.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Lawyers for Arkansas inmates condemned to die Thursday in a planned double execution insist they are innocent and one of them says advanced DNA techniques could show he didn't kill a woman in 1993.

Their strategy to win stays of execution is in marked contrast to the first two inmates who faced the death chamber in Arkansas and were spared Monday by arguing they should not be put to death because of mental health issues.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is signaling that it'll rule for a Missouri church that wants state money to put a soft surface on its preschool playground.

The case is being argued before the justices Wednesday — and it's being closely watched by proponents of school vouchers.

Liberal and conservative justices alike seem troubled by Missouri's decision to exclude the church from a grant program that pays for playground surfaces made of recycled tires.

Wikipedia

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's road and bridge funding bill is headed for a showdown in the Tennessee House on Wednesday.

The sticking point is the governor's proposal to pay for new projects in large part through the state's first gas tax hike since 1989.

Supporters argue that a package of tax cuts made in the bill outweigh the amount raised from the fuel tax increases.

Opponents are calling for the fuel tax hikes to be stripped from the bill and to instead dedicate sales tax revenues from auto sales to highway funding.

Pixabay

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — While outrage on social media is growing over Arkansas' unprecedented plan to put seven inmates to death before the end of the month, the protests have been more muted within the conservative Southern state where capital punishment is still favored by a strong majority of residents.

Wikipedia

NEW YORK (AP) — Starting next week, Wal-Mart will offer discounts on thousands of online-only items when customers elect to have them shipped to one of the company's stores for pickup.

The move is part of the retailer's efforts to better compete with online leader Amazon.

Initially, the discount will be available on about 10,000 items. But the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer says it will then expand the price cuts to more than one million items by the end of June.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The American Bar Association urged Arkansas on Tuesday to back away from its unprecedented plan to put seven men to death over 10 days starting next week, with the group saying it was worried the timeline could undermine due process for the inmates facing lethal injection.

ABA President Linda Klein asked Gov. Asa Hutchinson to give more time between the executions, which are set to begin on April 17. Hutchinson scheduled the executions to take place before the state's supply of midazolam, a controversial sedative used in lethal injections, expires.

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