... for another open line.
* KHBS reports on a woman who got upset about her handling at the emergency room of a Siloam Springs hospital and drove off in an ambulance.
* Game and Fish reports on further testing on blackbird deaths in Beebe New Year's Eve. Still appears to be caused by blunt trauma, perhaps when birds spooked by loud noises left their roost at night and flew into obstacles on account of poor night vision. More info on jump.
* House Speaker Robert Moore has also publicly distributed notice of a House caucus meeting at 1:30 tomorrow afternoon to consider the state Claims Commission finding that Fred Smith should be seated as a new state representative from Crawfordsville. A complainant had objected that Smith didn't meet residency requirements. Trip Cook, a West Memphis reporter who's followed the Smith saga, makes a pretty compelling case in an article for the Tolbert Report that Smith has no business in the Arkansas legislature. Perhaps Smith's conviction on a pending theft charge, should it occur, will cut this Gordian knot. From the House announcement:
The purpose of the caucus is for Members to consider the non-binding recommendation issued Tuesday by the Arkansas Claims Commission, concerning Representative-elect Fred Smith, and to consider any other matters relating to the seating of a Member based on "qualifications, returns and elections," in accordance with Article 5, Section 11 of the Arkansas Constitution. (Please see the attached recommendation from the Arkansas Claims Commission.) Under Arkansas Code Annotated § 7-5-805, the Speaker of the House shall present the non-binding Commission recommendation to Members, and they shall take "such actions as they deem appropriate."
GAME AND FISH NEWS RELEASE
Results from preliminary testing released Wednesday by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., show that red-winged blackbirds died from blunt force trauma on New Year’s Eve. The report supports preliminary findings from the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission released Monday.
Full diagnostic necropsies performed on the birds at the NWHC lab revealed internal hemorrhaging. Tests for an array of pesticides were negative; results are pending for additional chemical toxins and infectious diseases.
It appears unusually loud noises, reported shortly before the birds began to fall, caused the birds to flush from a roost. Additional fireworks in the area may have forced the birds to fly at a lower altitude than normal and hit houses, vehicles, trees and other objects. Blackbirds have poor night vision and typically do not fly at night.
Beginning at about 11:30 p.m., Dec. 31, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officers received reports of blackbirds falling from the sky in a square-mile area of Beebe. It’s estimated that up to 5,000 birds fell before midnight. Most of the birds were dead, but some were alive when officers arrived.
The AGFC flew over the area in a helicopter to gauge the scope of the event. No dead birds were found outside the initial area of fallen birds.