On Amantadine, Jihad, 'geek cruises,' friendly fire, etc.

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Jun 23, 2005 12:00 AM

Selected bon mots from a brilliant summer flower garden of quotations. . .

Influenza expert Richard Webby, on the consequences of East Asian farmers widely injecting chickens with amantadine - one of two types of medication for treating human influenza - in a misguided effort to suppress outbreaks of avian flu: "(The resistance-building practice) is definitely an issue if there's a pandemic. Amantadine is off the table."

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Monday in Saudi Arabia: "For 60 years, my country . . . pursued stability at the expense of democracy in . . . the Middle East, and we achieved neither. Now we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people. . . . Throughout the Middle East, the fear of free choices can no longer justify the denial of liberty. It is time to abandon the excuses that are made to avoid the hard work of democracy."

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Egyptian Ayman Zawahiri, al-Qaida's No. 2 man to Osama bin Laden, in a video aired last week on the pan-Arab news network Aljazeera: "The removal of the crusader (i.e., Christian, or Western) and Jewish invaders won't occur by peaceful demonstrations. Reform and expelling the invaders from countries of Islam won't happen except through fighting for God's sake. . . . (Palestinian jihadists fighting Israel should be encouraged not to allow themselves) to forsake their jihad, not to lay down their arms . . . and not to be dragged into the game of secular elections under a secular constitution."

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Former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, on the news that Army Ranger Pat Tillman, a former professional football player, was killed a year ago in Afghanistan by friendly fire: "Combat creates confusion and much of the training is designed to deal with the chaos inherent in all battles. That chaos is compounded by fading light and terrain . . . steep crags, sharp rocky ledges, narrow valleys. But none of that changes the heroism exhibited every day by those who carry this burden for all the rest of us. Corporal Tillman will always be a hero. His shield needs no burnishing. And we all need to know how and why our warriors died."

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The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial on the changing nature of cruise-ship offerings: "'Geek cruises' offer seminars in Web site design. Flocks of quilters travel together and exchange tips on batting. Ships set sail packed with Harley enthusiasts - and their bikes - or ladies seeking prolonged exposure to the Chippendales. Naturally, there still are people who want only to lie quietly in a deck chair. But be warned: One complaint . . . tells of a honeymoon couple who mistakenly booked a who-done-it cruise, where passengers race around the ship trying to solve a 'murder' after getting clues and strange phone calls in their cabins."

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Investor's Business Daily, in an editorial regarding the prospect of a reversal of a Senate-imposed ban on drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: "So what will we get should crews move into the shred of ANWR reserved for energy production? As much as 1 million barrels of oil a day, trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and some easing of our dependency on foreign oil. Too bad it will be a half-decade before the crude hits the market as refined gasoline at the pump. Had ANWR been opened to development five years ago, that gas already would be here and we wouldn't be sweating quite so much about energy prices' toll on the economy."

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Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson: "Much of the money that has poured into poor countries since the 1950s has simply leaked back out - often to bank accounts in Switzerland - as corrupt rulers have stashed their ill-gotten gains abroad. One recent study of 30 sub-Saharan African countries calculated that total capital export for the period 1970-1996 was in the region of $187 billion, which, when accrued interest is added, implies that Africa's ruling elites had private overseas assets equivalent to 145 percent of the public debts their countries owed. . . . A similar story can be told for aid payments, a large proportion of which are simply stolen. Which brings us to the fundamental problem of African politics: corruption."

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Boston Globe reporter Michael Kranish, in a June 7 news story about the release of John Kerry's college grades, addressed the assumption held in some circles that Kerry is smarter than George Bush. This belief had been summarized in an August column in which former New York Times editor Howell Raines wrote "Does anyone in America doubt that Kerry has a higher IQ than Bush? I'm sure the candidates' SATs and college transcripts would put Kerry far ahead." Here's what Kranish has to say: "During last year's presidential campaign, Kerry was the candidate often portrayed as intellectual and complex, while Bush was the populist who mangled his sentences. But newly released records show that Bush and Kerry had a virtually identical grade average at Yale University four decades ago."