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Ta-da! Swans are coming

Sound the fanfare: 20 trumpeter swans, a species once native to Arkansas but hunted to a fare-thee-well, are headed to Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge in January thanks to the efforts of the state Game and Fish Commission.

Game and Fish biologist Karen Rowe said the birds, now in Iowa, will include 10-month old cygnets in family groups. They'll dine on the winter wheat that grows in the refuge. Then, Rowe hopes, their migratory instinct will kick in as summer rolls around and they'll head back to Iowa.

To keep them here while they acclimate, masking tape will be put around the birds' wrists. By the time it wears off, it's hoped, they'll have decided they like where they are.

Ten more swans will be brought to the Mill Pond in the Buffalo National River national park, if the park's 2008 budget proposal is approved. Rowe said the swans will wear collars of different colors so they can be identified if they decide to move back and forth between Holla Bend and the Mill Pond at Boxley, and when they migrate.

Trumpeters are the biggest swans on earth; adults grow up to four feet tall and have wingspans up to eight feet. Holla Bend's population will be trucked to Arkansas unless Rowe can find someone who wants to fly them. A C-130 would be ideal, she said.

Central High again leads National Merit list

Little Rock Central High School has again produced the most National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists in Arkanss, with 17. The results were announced this week. Central's Anne Ye had the only perfect score in the state. Central was followed by Fayetteville High with 16; the selective-admission Arkansas School for Mathematics, Science and the Arts with 12, Conway High with nine and Cabot with seven. Central is the state's eighth-largest high school and Fayetteville third-largest. Rogers, the state's largest high school, had three semifinalists.

A fourth, or 37, of the state's 148 semi-finalists live in Pulaski County. The county public school tally: Central, 17; North Little Rock, two, and Mills Magnet, North Pulaski, Parkview Magnet and Sylvan Hills, one each.

Among private schools, Little Rock Christian had five: Mount St. Mary, three; Pulaski Academy and Episcopal Collegiate, two each, and Central Arkansas Christian, one. There was one home-schooled semifinalist in the county.

Comparisons of schools by National Merit results are discouraged. But inevitable.

LR ‘abortion healer'

In the September issue of The Progressive magazine, Eleanor J. Bader reports on the 35th annual National Right to Life Convention, held in Kansas City. Among those mentioned prominently in the article is Anne Dierks, director of the Little Rock branch of Project Rachel, a national program of the Roman Catholic Church to counsel Catholic women who've had abortions.
Bader quotes Dierks: “Look, at least 25 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 have had abortions. That's 25 percent of women sitting next to you at work, on an airplane, or in church. They're there and we need to reach out and offer them the words of Jeremiah: ‘Rachel mourns her children because her children are no more. But the Lord told her to dry her tears, that there is hope for her future.' ”

Bader writes: “Yet for all her talk about compassion,
Dierks consistently refers to women who have had abortions as ‘mothers of dead children.' At the same time, she cautions activists against aggressive ‘sidewalk counseling' outside clinics. ‘Don't shout. Don't rush at the women,' she advises. ‘No one wants to see gory pictures of bloody body parts.' ”

Bader says that plenty of bumper stickers and message-bearing T-shirts were available at the convention, including “No matter how small, a person is a person”; “Former fetus opposed to abortion,” and “You can't be a Christian and a Democrat.”

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