American Culture

Quotabull

This is actually a boost to remind people that we can produce this kind of journalism at any time. We’re going to have a large enough newsroom to continue to produce this kind of quality journalism.

— Leonard Downie Jr., editor of The Washington Post, winner of six Pulitzer Prizes for 2008; The Post‘s front-page story by media critic Howard Kurtz did not mention the paper has endured three rounds of staff cuts since 2003, but the AP’s story did; April 7; emphasis added.

I can only confirm that the route is dynamic.

— Nathan Ballard, a San Francisco city spokesman, as, said The New York Times, “The precise route remained in flux on Tuesday as the torch extravaganza threatened to become more civic migraine than celebration in the face of potential protests by those upset with China’s human rights record and recent crackdown in Tibet”; April 9.

For some members of the U.S. Congress to set aside the Olympic spirit and the principle that sports should not be politicized, and even to openly encourage interference with and harm to the San Francisco torch relay, completely lacks basic morals and conscience.

— Chinese Foreign Minister Jing Yu in a rebuke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for urging peaceful demonstrations against the Olympic torch relay; April 9.

We sincerely regret the inconvenience.

— statement from American Airlines, which has cancelled thousands of flights this week, stranding tens of thousands of passengers, to reinspect aircraft for a problem previously thought corrected; April 10.

I’m quite angry. They should be following the rules,. You don’t try to follow the rules, you follow them. This isn’t golf or horseshoes.

— Brad Weiss, a lawyer whose flight had been canceled by American Airlines, peeved that an earlier inspection of aircraft had deemed them safe to fly; April 10.

Our mechanics felt they had complied but thought they had the ability to take certain latitudes; they did not. In the past they have had certain latitude, and that is no longer the case.

— Daniel Garton, an American Airlines executive vice president, discussing the airline’s inspection policies; April 10.

Nobody at the top ever gets fired.

— Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the aviation subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, suggesting the Federal Aviation Administration’s poor handling of aircraft inspections ought to result in more severe punishments of top officials; April 10.

Our protest is against the problematic order of priorities of the government. First let them find the budget for all the things that the country needs.

— Ron Avni, a leader of a campaign against excessive celebrations on Israel’s 60th anniversary because of apparent deep-seated resentment about the effectiveness of the Israeli government; April 9.

Have we gone mad? Has something gone wrong with our collective mind? The State of Israel is about to mark 60 years of independence in an atmosphere of bitterness, depression and public reluctance ‘to waste the money on celebrations.’

— journalist Sever Plocker, taking the anti-festivity campaigners to task in Yediot Aharonot, the popular Hebrew daily newspaper; April 9.

I say to our brothers and sisters across the continent, don’t wait for dead bodies in the streets of Harare.

— Tendai Biti, secretary general of opposition party Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe, in a plea to other African nations after reporting “widespread attacks on its supporters, black youths drove white farmers off their land and election officials were accused of vote tampering and arrested”; April 9.

In that terrible moment, he had two options — to save himself, or to save his friends. For Mike, this was no choice at all. He threw himself onto the grenade, and absorbed the blast with his body.

— President Bush, awarding the Medal of Honor posthumously to the family of a Navy Seal, Petty Officer Second Class Michael A. Monsoor, who threw himself on a grenade in 2006 to save his comrades in Iraq; April 9.

If this is built, it could affect our livelihood; fewer people may want to come here if we can’t offer the peacefulness we have now. The battle has already made it hard to get it out of my mind and meditate properly.

— Bhante Rahula, vice abbot of Bhavana Society Forest Monastery in West Virginia, which is part of a battle in three states between two electric companies on the one hand and thousands of landowners and residents on the other over a $1.1 billion, 260-mile, 500-kilovolt transmission line that would cut a 200-foot wide swath of forest near the monastery; April 9.

Q: Dana, can I double-check — you are not billing this speech this morning as an address to the nation, right? It’s a statement? …
MS. PERINO: We’re not asking for network time, no, but the President will give his speech at 11:30 a.m. And for those networks who want to cover it, then that will be great — barring any sort of, you know, Hollywood scandal that pops up. (Laughter.) That was not a shot at you all.

— an exchange between a reporter and press secretary Dana Perino at a White House briefing; April 10.

People are saying: ‘Stop it! It’s too much.’ We are a small town in a small country. We didn’t start the war. It was the United States and Great Britain. They must now take the responsibility for the refugees.

— Anders Lago, mayor of Sodertalje, a Swedish city of 83,000 that is home to about 6,000 Iraqi refugees; 40,000 Iraqis have found refuge in Sweden; April 10.

In December of 2007, I signed the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act to bring economic gains for both of our countries, empower workers, and foster accountability and the rule of law. We seek to build on these successes by working with the Congress to approve the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement and the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. These and other free trade agreements enhance prosperity in the United States and signal our firm support for those who share our values of freedom and democracy.

— from a statement by President Bush proclaiming “Pan American Day and Pan American Week, 2008”; April 10.

Phil Gramm’s career was as the most aggressive advocate of every predatory and rapacious element that the financial sector has. He’s a sorcerer’s apprentice of instability and disaster in the financial system.

— James K. Galbraith, a University of Texas economist, criticizing former senator Phil Gramm, who is one of presidential candidate John McCain’s key economic advisers; April 2.

When the congressman speaks, we listen, and we pretty much do as he says. He is the type of politician that comes around once every 50 years in Washington. He has an incredible presence, and his word means more than anyone’s to us.

— Rich Kasunic, a Pennsylvania state senator, on Rep. John Murtha, who recently endorsed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; March 29.

If you’ve got AIDS, cancer or erectile dysfunction, a group of big advertising networks are going to promise not to remember that you read sites about those topics and remind you (or others using your computer) of your condition with ads for related drugs as you surf the net. But if you have Parkinson’s disease, congestive heart failure or warts, the ad companies have decided it may well be acceptable to keep track of your interest in medical subjects and fill your browser with ads for helpful products from pharmaceutical companies. Advertising to people who are dead may also be acceptable …

— from a New York Times story by Saul Hansell about “proposed guidelines for [members of the Network Advertising Initiative, a trade association of companies who place ads on the Web] to follow when engaging in behavioral targeting, that is keeping track of what Internet users do in order to show them ads for products in which they may be interested”; April 10.

This information can be quite profound. It can lead to a decision to have your breasts chopped off before you’ve been sick for a day or having your ovaries scooped out before you have children. These are dramatic decisions, but these products are going on the marketplace as though they were underarm deodorant.

— R. Alta Charo, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, on the emergence of the for-profit, personalized gene-testing industry; March 25.

Striking fear also serves pharmaceutical companies, which want you to worry about diseases, because people who worry are more likely to go to their doctors and ask for drugs than people who don’t. It turns out that much of what we — and our doctors — think we know about many health problems has been shaped by drugmakers and their marketers. Take “condition branding,” one of the most brilliant and widely used marketing techniques for selling drugs. Condition branders use “information” about medical conditions to forge links between disease and treatment in the minds of both patients and doctors. If they have a drug but no condition, they will simply invent a disease. I’ve been reporting this for years.

— medicine and health-care writer Shannon Brownlee in a Washington Post commentary; March 30.

This spring, nearly every top designer has a “Cinderella” slipper, a shoe priced so high that it should come with a handsome prince — or an hour with a male escort, at least. Christian Louboutin’s webbed suede and button sandals sell for $1,345, while Versace offers a $1,400 satin pump festooned with nothing more than a few tassels. Dior’s platform slingback with beaded heel runs $1,030, while Balenciaga’s pink and brown braided gladiator sandal goes for $1,375.

— lede to a Los Angeles Times story by Monica Corcoran about the high cost of fashion pumps; March 30.

photo credits:
Petty Officer Second Class Michael A. Monsoor: U.S. Navy via Associated Press
$1,400 Jimmy Choo pumps: Kirk McKoy, Los Angeles Times

xpost: Scholars & Rogues

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