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Smart Talk April 21

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Gull of my backyard In Little Rock between Feb. 18 and 21, two people looked out to see 200 ring-billed gulls in their backyards. Well — they weren’t actually in the backyards, on top of the dog house and all. They were probably flying down the Arkansas River, which is where one most commonly sees the birds, but the national Great Backyard Bird Count doesn’t require that you actually stay at home to count birds. In all, 133 Arkansans took part in the joint project of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the Audubon Society, e-mailing their results in to www.birdsource.org, where a map flashed big red dots to indicate sites reporting in and kept continuous track of data through the count (the figures are still posted at the site). The bottom line: A total of 65,811 birds, representing 139 species, were counted in Arkansas. The information helps bird scientists track which species are where during the four days in winter, data helpful in understanding bird-climate relationships. Most common bird seen nationally: Northern Cardinal (seen by 30,000 people). Most numerous: Snow Goose (835,369). Town with most diversity: Corpus Christi, with 165 species, 60 more than were seen in Little Rock. The fallen Observances are planned Sunday, April 24, to honor the 33 members of the 39th Infantry Brigade who died during the Guard unit’s mobilization for service in Iraq. The Fallen Heroes Motorcycle Memorial Ride will begin at 1 p.m. at the Clear Channel Metroplex at I-430 and Col. Glenn Road and conclude in front of the state Capitol, where a ceremony is scheduled at 2:30 p.m. The names of the dead will be read and the ceremony will end with the ringing of a bell. Information about the ride and photographs of those who died can be found at www.cafearkansas.com. Judicious judges Are the judges of Arkansas well behaved? The available record suggests so, though there are undoubtedly litigants and lawyers who think otherwise. The annual report of the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission said the agency, which investigates complaints against judges, completed 324 cases in 2004. Of those, 321 were dismissed without action. The commission found one technical violation by Phillips County Circuit Judge L. T. Simes for appearing on the cover of a CD of inspirational music in judicial robe, holding a gavel and being identified as a judge. Simes said he recorded the CD to inspire young people. The commission admonished two judges — District Judge Edwin J. Alford of Nashville for being delinquent in renewing his law license and Benton County Circuit Judge Jay T. Finch for “displaying injudicious temperament towards litigants, witnesses, attorneys and court staff.” The commission didn’t count, because the case was pending when the report was filed, the 2004 suspension of Jefferson Circuit Judge Fred Davis after his arrest for DWI and driving a vehicle with an unlawful dealer tag. After his recent conviction, Davis retired from the bench, claiming a medical disability.

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