Roundup of Arkansas editorials

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Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Harrison Daily Times, April 30, 2013

Worry about your own hog farm, please

A colorful poster in the window of a business on Spring Street in Eureka Springs asks passers-by: "Do you want hog factory waste in our beautiful Buffalo National River?"

The city of Fayetteville recently staged a protest in Eureka Springs against a hog farm located near Mt. Judea, and the mayor of Fayetteville is hosting a forum this week at the Fayetteville Public Library to reinforce opposition to the hog farm that is now underway in Newton County.

Before residents and officials in those two communities start telling us how to live our lives, maybe they should look in their own backyard.

Several years ago, some Eureka Springs residents took up the cry of installing composting toilets in the tourist town.

But if you take a ride on the scenic dining train at Eureka Springs this summer, you'll get to see dark brown sewage churning as passengers roll past the sewer plant.

Maybe Fayetteville should come up with a solution to dumping its sewage into the Illinois River, and forgetting that nice gift they daily give to their Oklahoma neighbors, not to mention environmental problems caused by poultry houses outside Fayetteville in Washington County.

These activities seem to back up the old saying that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones at their neighbors.

As for the hog farm:

— Scientists with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality have approved plans for the farm.

— Owners of the farm developed a business plan and have secured financing.

— Animals have been unloaded at the facility for more than a week.

Apparently the farm is following regulations established by state scientists. We can rest assured that the farm will be closely monitored by ADEQ scientists, along with scientists with the National Park Service, members of the Ozark Society, and people who live in Fayetteville, Eureka Springs and other towns who feel ownership in the Buffalo National River.

Yes, we all own the Buffalo National River.

And yes, residents of vacationland, whether we're talking about a hog farm in Newton County, Arkansas, or backyard chickens in Fayetteville, have the right to try and make a living off the land, whether it be through tourism or farming.

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Southwest Times Record, May 2, 2013

Education program helps new parents cope

Mothers and fathers know the heart-filling joy that comes with a new baby. For new parents, the first weeks of a child's life are marked by an endless wonderment at the miracle of life and the instinctive need to nurture and protect a new helpless being.

The bliss of becoming a parent comes with some life adjustments. Sleep is interrupted and less frequent. Caring for the baby takes precedence over other activities and responsibilities.

This week, the Arkansas Children's Hospital and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced a pilot program to educate new and expectant parents about one of the most severe forms of child abuse — shaken baby syndrome.

According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, parents or caregivers who shake an infant or child do so out of frustration or anger, most often when the baby won't stop crying.

The Arkansas pilot program is designed to equip parents with the knowledge that all newborns go through a period of crying that begins at 2 weeks and continues until the child is about 3 to 4 months of age. Some babies cry more, some babies cry less, but all babies go through it, according to a news release from the hospitals.

The program, using materials from the Period of PURPLE Crying, was launched in April as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The acronym PURPLE stands for:

— Peak of crying — Crying peaks during the second month, then decreases during months 3-5.

— Unexpected — Crying may come and go unexpectedly for no apparent reason.

— Resists soothing — Crying may continue despite all soothing efforts by caregivers.

— Pain-like face — Infants may look like they are in pain, even when they are not.

— Long-lasting — Crying can go on for 30-40 minutes at a time and often for much longer.

— Evening — Crying may occur more in the late afternoon and evening.

According to Arkansas Children's Hospital, research suggests that about one-fourth of shaken baby syndrome victims die and the majority of those who survive live with permanent impairment, including blindness, feeding difficulties, seizures, motor impairments and learning problems.

Parents delivering babies at UAMS and those with babies in the NICU at UAMS and Arkansas Children's will receive the Period of PURPLE Crying education, including a copy of a DVD and booklet so they can share the information with others who will be caregivers for their baby.

Trying to comfort an otherwise healthy crying baby who won't stop crying can be frustrating and bring even the best parents to tears themselves. For a parent, knowing what to expect with a newborn can help alleviate the frustration he or she feels when the baby cries and cannot be comforted. This type of education is key in preventing shaken baby syndrome, and we hope to see the education program spread to hospitals throughout the state.

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Texarkana Gazette, May 2, 2013

Congress, White House must find a solution to prison problem

President Barack Obama on Tuesday said he would renew efforts to close the prison at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed," the president said during a White House news conference.

All valid points.

The president campaigned on the issue during his first election, but Congress thwarted every effort to bring the Guantanamo detainees to U.S. prisons. They made noise about security concerns, but that wasn't the reason. The GOP decided if Obama was for it, they were against it.

So the president accepted defeat and put the prison on the back burner. In the meantime, whatever progress was being made on the status of those detained slowed to a crawl.

For example, about 86 inmates have been cleared for release. But they are still stuck in Guantanamo while the administration drags its feet.

There are about 166 inmates left in Guantanamo. Some have been held for a decade, without any prospect for trial or release.

Now, as many as 100 of those are on a hunger strike to protest their plight. Some are being force-fed through a tube.

The prison was set up as a reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the U.S. It has become nothing less than limbo for those being held.

"The idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried," President Obama said Tuesday, "is contrary to who we are, it is contrary to our interests, and it needs to stop."

We agree. The time has come for Congress and the president to work together and find a solution.

If there is evidence of terrorism against the detainees, put them on trial. If they are convicted, lock them up in a supermax prison. If they are cleared, send them back to their own countries.

But indefinite detention, without trial, perhaps for life? We condemn other countries for such things.

Toss the blame, forget the politics. The prison at Guantanamo is blot on our nation's reputation. It is indeed time for it to be closed.

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