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Smart Talk May 26

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On the beach in LR Remember when they created an ice skating rink in the River Market? It was popular, but expensive and not perfectly suited to the sometimes warm Little Rock winters. Here’s a better idea for downtown excitement that’s been a hit in Europe. Plus, it’s perfectly suited for Little Rock’s warm season. In 2002, Paris created Paris-Plage, an artificial beach along the Seine with tons of sand, palm trees and beach chairs and umbrellas. Millions swarmed there (not to swim) in June and July. It’s now a standing feature of the Parisian summer, with vendors, snack bars and, yes, the occasional topless sunbathers. It was such a hit, the idea has been copied all over Europe, from Milan to Hamburg, the New York Times reports. Some cities have multiple beaches, including five along the Danube in Budapest. Berlin created a pool for its beach, a giant boat container that floats in the river. In Paris, misting stations provided cooling liquid for sunbathers and the bikers and skateboarders and strollers who made the plage a favored promenade. So why not a Little Rock plage? We can dredge up some sand. We have lots of riverfront and plenty of summer sun. Nothing much doing in the amphitheater right now. Some cooling water will be required, of course, and the treacherous Arkansas River isn’t it. What say you, downtown developers? Surf’s up. We promise we’ll keep our tops on for you. Good company The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation is a big deal, as anyone who’s observed the thousands here and elsewhere racing for a breast cancer cure can attest. Its annual national affiliates meeting was in Dallas this year and Denver the year before. The big-time convention site in 2006 — Little Rock. Where are they now? The Whitewater affair brought a number of out-of-town journalists to Little Rock. In recent weeks, a couple of them have found themselves in the unusual position of making news, and in an unpleasant way. Michael Isikoff, who was perhaps Newsweek’s principal reporter on Whitewater, was the co-writer of a Newsweek article that said American soldiers had desecrated the Koran in front of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Newsweek retracted the report after it sparked riots in Afghanistan and elsewhere that killed at least 15 people. President Bush’s press secretary urged the magazine to do even more “to undo the damage.” And USA Today reporter Tom Squitieri resigned under pressure after editors said he lifted quotations from other newspapers without attribution. Incidentally, one report on the Squitieri matter said that he had a lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. Another name from the past. Cammarata was a lawyer for Paula Jones. Cammarata, it happens, was a source for Isikoff and put him on the Kathleen Willey snipe hunt.

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