GONE NATIVE IN AUSTRALIA: Reporter Shawn Donnan says that reporting about Australia's feral-animal problem (page 7) and the way Australians regard nonnative feral animals with extreme contempt has been "a real eye-opener during my time in Australia." He gained an affinity for that perspective during a camping trip, in a national park in western Queensland.
"My wife and I were sitting around the campfire when we heard something rustling in the bushes. Cool, we thought. A possum! Or some other kind of cute marsupial. Maybe, if we were lucky, a rare bilby. We shone our flashlights into the bushes and, eventually, we found what had been making the noise a feral kitten. Cute, sure. But when you think of all the birds and other animals it will kill in what suddenly seemed like an eerily quiet and empty national park, you look at even the cutest little kitten differently.
"In fact, last year we made a point of buying Easter "bilbies," a native marsupial with rabbit-like ears, rather than bunnies. A portion of the money made on Easter bilbies goes to saving native fauna."
NO FLIRTS IN MADRID? Sara Miller says changing attitudes toward women in Spain (page 7), are evident in the lack of piropos the flattering, flirtatious remarks long directed at women here. "Some of the women I interviewed bemoaned the disappearance of the piropo. Friends in the US always ask me if I get constant unwanted attention. The truth is I have not heard one piropo since I arrived in September. Although I can't say I mind being ignored, it was definitely a surprise."
David Clark Scott
NBA DRAFTS CHINA'S 'WALKING GREAT WALL.' Yao Ming is the first No. 1 draft pick from China, and he's the first foreign player picked as No. 1 who hasn't played US college basketball. As reported in the Monitor's April 23 issue, the 7ft., 5 in. center has a good combination of moves and shooting skills, something rare in a player so tall.