- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A collection of recent editorials from Arkansas newspapers:

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Southwest Times Record, Fort Smith, Dec. 14 - So what does a land-locked city call its water park? And who’s going to go there at that price anyway?

Those were the questions blaring on social media … after a joint Fort Smith Board of Directors-Sebastian County Quorum Court meeting at which a tentative name and tentative pricing schedule were presented.

To be sure, “Parrot Island Water Park” doesn’t exactly scream “Fort Smith” and it is, as local resident Melissa Woodall pointed out, pretty “generic” for a city and county that define themselves by their unique history, which includes such things as mines and marshals, the military and the frontier.

District 6 Justice of the Peace Danny Aldridge suggested Border Bay. … Another area resident suggested Fort Splash, instantly recognizable as a water park and as a local attraction. …

We believe Richard Coleman of Erie, Pa.-based American Resort Management, when he says that a focus group suggested the name “overwhelmingly.” We just wonder if a focus group of local residents presented with names that weren’t so generically theme-park-y, with names that made a real connection to the area’s character would have made the same choice. That said, we admit that there isn’t an intuitive connection between the hangin’ judge and the lazy river.

As far as the name goes, we’re underwhelmed and uninspired.

As far as the pricing scale goes, there’s no easy way for a family with two adults and three tall children to shell out $75 before concessions more than once or twice a season. …

In the long run, we expect that, summer being what it is here, crowds will flock to all the area water attractions.

Even if they have terrible names.

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Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock, Dec. 23 - “Welcome to Washington and Bienvenida a la Habana! The door has creaked open to renewed diplomatic and maybe commercial relations between the Colossus of the North and one of the few remaining Communist tyrannies this side of Beijing—and hope and peril now enter side by side.” —Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 19, 2014

Yes, it’s still too early to tell how wide this opening will be between Washington and Havana. Last week there was talk of a presidential visit to Cuba soon - which is much too soon to talk about. It’s still December 2014, and the president of the United States only announced a renewal of diplomatic relations days ago, hours ago.

What now? Do you think Cubans will get to visit their families in the United States whenever they wish? Will the exchanges lead to business opportunities? Will the Brothers Castro take their foot off the Cuban people’s necks?

Too early to tell.

But here’s something that’s not too early to talk about, even demand:

Give ‘em up. If the Cubans insist, give ‘em up, please.

There are dozens of fugitives from American justice at large in Cuba, living in plain sight. Murderers, hijackers, terrorists, you name it. American authorities say as many as 70 of these criminals have been walking around free in Cuba, some for decades, under the Castros’ protection. Now that diplomatic ties are being re-established between the two countries, the Cuban regime should be told in no uncertain terms that the United States of America wants these fugitives from justice handed over pronto.

Some of these people are nasty types indeed. Take one Assata Shakur (née Joanne Chesimard), who was convicted of killing a state trooper in New Jersey back in the early 1970s. With the help of others in her terrorist outfit, the Black Liberation Army, she escaped from prison and made her way to Cuba. And the New Jersey State Police, not to mention the family of Trooper Werner Foerster, want her back in custody—on these shores.

Somewhere on the outskirts of Havana is another fugitive, this one named Charlie Hill. He’s accused of killing a state trooper and hijacking a plane in 1971.

Then there’s William Morales, who’s said to be an explosives expert and prominent member of the Puerto Rican slash-and-burn terrorist group FALN. He’s been linked to at least two bombings and five killings in this country.

That’s just three names. Up in Washington, another outfit—this one called the Federal Bureau of Investigation—has the names of many more. And would like to talk to them. Preferably in Washington, and preferably in custody.

When the president of the United States announced last week that this country and Cuba would renew diplomatic relations, he also mentioned that he had instructed his State Department to review Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Okay. If the Castros’ Cuba is not a sponsor of terrorism, then prove it: Give us these terrorists back. Now. They’ve been at large too long. Which is how long justice has been delayed in their still simmering cases.

It’ll be good to have them back where their arrival can be greeted appropriately: Welcome home and You’re Under Arrest.

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