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ARKANSAS REVENUE DOWN AGAIN IN SEPTEMBER

LITTLE ROCK, AR (AP)-  Arkansas Finance officials say the state’s revenue in September again fell below expectations and the same month last year.

The Department of Finance and Administration on Tuesday said the state’s net available revenue last month totaled $515.5 million, which is $500,000 below the same month a year ago and $16.7 million below the forecast. The state’s net available revenue so far for the fiscal year that began July 1 totaled $1.3 billion, which is $4.3 million below the same point last year and $32 million below forecast.

Sales tax collections totaled $196.4 million, which is $2.1 million below the same month last year and $10.9 million lower than forecast. Corporate income tax collections were $72.8 million, which is $7.3 million below September 2015 and $9.7 million less than forecast.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD-MEDICAID

Federal judge blocks Arkansas Planned Parenthood defunding

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge has temporarily blocked Arkansas from prohibiting Medicaid payments for Planned Parenthood patients, expanding her order that forced the state to continue paying for three patients.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Thursday issued a preliminary injunction preventing the state from suspending any Medicaid payments for any patients who receive services from Planned Parenthood. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson ended the state’s Medicaid contract with the organization last year because of videos secretly recorded by an anti-abortion group.

Baker last year ordered the state to continue payments for three patients who had sued over the move. Planned Parenthood asked her to expand the order to anyone who seeks or want to obtain services from the organization’s health centers in Arkansas.

NATURAL DISASTER-ARKANSAS COUNTIES

USDA names 12 Arkansas counties as natural disaster areas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 12 Arkansas counties as natural disaster areas due to losses caused by heavy rain, flooding and high winds Since April 1.

Thursday’s designation by the USDA qualifies farmers in a dozen Arkansas counties for low interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Farmers in those counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of actual losses.

The counties are Carroll, Clay, Craighead, Independence, Jackson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Madison, Prairie, Randolph, White and Woodruff.

In addition to the emergency loan program, the FSA has a variety of other programs to help eligible farmers recover from adversity. Other programs that do not require a disaster declaration can also provide assistance to eligible farmers and ranchers.

FORT BENNING-MISSING STUDENTS

7 Afghan military students AWOL from US posts

(Information from: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, http://ledger-enquirer.com)

FORT BENNING, Ga. (AP) — Officials say seven Afghan military students in four different states have been absent without leave since earlier this month.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports U.S. Navy Defense Press Operations commander Patrick L. Evans said in an email Thursday that four students left their posts without leave over the Labor Day weekend. Two of the students were at Fort Benning in Georgia, while one was at Fort Lee, Virginia, and the other in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Evans says three more students — two at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and one at Fort Gordon, Georgia — were discovered missing the weekend of Sept. 17.

Evans says most Afghan military students who train in the U.S. return to their country, but officials have in the past uncovered some students’ plans to go AWOL.

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OFFICERS SHOT-ARKANSAS

Autopsy due before death penalty try in Arkansas deputy case

(Information from: Southwest Times Record, http://www.swtimes.com/)

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — A prosecutor says he’ll look at an autopsy report due this week as he explores whether to seek the execution of a man accused of killing a western Arkansas deputy.

The Arkansas State Crime Lab says the medical examiner has completed its autopsy on Sebastian County Cpl. Bill Cooper and that investigators and prosecutors should have access soon. Prosecutor Dan Shue told the Southwest Times Record newspaper that part of his due diligence before starting a possible death-penalty case includes a look at the autopsy.

Billy Monroe Jones is accused of killing Cooper on Aug. 10 after Cooper and others responded to a domestic disturbance call near Hackett. Jones has been charged with capital murder, 10 counts of attempted murder and injuring an animal used by law enforcement.

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LAWMAKER ARRESTED

Little Rock police release video of lawmaker’s arrest

(Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Little Rock Police Department has released video footage of the arrest of a state representative who had been filming a traffic stop.

Footage released Wednesday show state Rep. John Walker’s arrest from the dashboard cameras in four patrol cars. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the incident occurred on Monday.

Police officers say Walker, a civil rights attorney, was filming a traffic stop involving two black men, when he and another lawyer got too close to the scene and refused to back away.

According to the newspaper’s description of the footage, one of the officers, who is white, accused Walker of being a “race-baiter.”

Both lawyers were arrested and charged with obstructing governmental operation, but the charges have since been dropped.

Police Chief Kenton Buckner has apologized to Walker. An internal police investigation of the arrest is ongoing.

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FORESTRY DONATION

Money aside to help Arkansas, Texas water and forests

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Nature Conservancy and BHP Billiton say a donation from the company will help improve water quality in Arkansas and aid conservation efforts near Houston.

A $14 million donation targets riverfront property and forestland in the two states. The selected sites are Greers Ferry Lake watershed in Arkansas and the Columbia Bottomlands in Texas. In Texas, the Nature Conservancy has purchased nearly 1,900 acres of forested land on the Brazos and San Bernard rivers. The bottomlands are a major stopover for migratory birds.

Funds have also been used to buy 1,840 acres on the upper Little Red River. The area has more than 80 80 native fish and aquatic species, including some found nowhere else.

The Nature Conservancy and BHP Billiton announced the work Thursday.

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