Regrets, we have a few

From China to Australia, Dan Rather to Grace Slick, the whole dang world is sorry about something.

Published April 7, 2001 10:59PM (EDT)

I'm sorry. I regret having to write this story. But I can't stand idly by while a literal world of pain stands in need of apology. From China to Japan to Australia to Dan Rather (his own sovereignty), there's been a worldwide storm of regret this week. So I've taken notes:

How not to do it: (Agence France Presse.) "We regret that the Chinese plane did not get down safely and we regret the loss of the life of that Chinese pilot," Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters outside the State Department.

"But now we need to move on. We need to bring this to a resolution and we are using every avenue available to us to talk to the Chinese side to exchange explanations and move on."

How to do it better: "I regret that a Chinese pilot is missing and I regret that one of their airplanes is lost. Our prayers go out to the pilot, his family," Reuters reports the president as saying.

Sub-stantive regret: TOKYO (AP) -- An unannounced port call in Japan by a U.S. nuclear submarine has added to mounting mistrust of the U.S. military in this nation and is threatening to further strain already tense relations between Tokyo and Washington.

The incident, which the U.S. blamed on an "administrative error," was the first-ever violation of a pact that requires U.S. military authorities to give 24-hour advance notice before the arrival of a nuclear-powered sub in a Japanese port.

Japan's foreign ministry said Wednesday that the United States had apologized for the incident. But an official at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, who spoke on condition of anonymity, wouldn't confirm the statement. The official said the United States regrets the miscommunication and will take steps to prevent a recurrence.

Rather regrettable: (Reuters.) Veteran CBS News anchor Dan Rather apologized on Wednesday for his recent guest speaker appearance at a March Democratic Party fund-raiser in Austin, Texas, calling the move "an embarrassing and regrettable error."

The Washington Post reported that donors paid as much as $1,000 to attend the private event at which Rather was billed as the main attraction, citing invitations it had obtained.

The report said the event raised $20,000 for the Travis County Democratic Party, co-hosted by the newsman's daughter, Robin Rather, who is reported to be considering a campaign for mayor of Austin.

"I made an embarrassing and regrettable error in judgement by going to this event ... It was a serious mistake, which I acknowledge."

G-reef stricken with regret: SYDNEY (Reuters) -- The producers of the American reality television show "Survivor" apologized Wednesday after two cast members took coral from Australia's ecologically sensitive Great Barrier Reef ... "On behalf of myself, production and the survivors involved, we extend our sincerest apologies for this error," "Survivor" executive producer Mark Burnett said in a statement released by Australian network Channel Nine Wednesday. "Please know that this was an honest mistake which we deeply regret."

Regret to inform: CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- Harvard University has sent a letter of regret to the widow of a former professor who was forced to resign almost 50 years ago on suspicions he was a Communist.

But Ann Fagan Ginger, widow of Raymond S. Ginger, told the Boston Herald in Tuesday's editions that the three-paragraph letter falls woefully short of the apology she had sought.

"It's the arrogance of power," Ginger said in a telephone interview from her California home. She has sent another letter asking for a full inquiry into the 1954 incident.

Harvard officials would not comment to the Herald on the matter.

"Harvard took an action in the case of Mr. Ginger that many thoughtful people today, looking back, would not find appropriate," said Harvard's letter, written by Sharon Gagnon, president of the board of overseers.

"It is also clear that you and your family experienced hardship and anguish as a result, and for that (Harvard's president) joins me in extending to you the university's genuine sympathy and regret."

Regrettaboudit!: NAIROBI (Reuters) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday he regretted President Bush's rejection of the 1997 Kyoto treaty aimed at cutting greenhouse gases.

Addressing a news conference during a visit to Nairobi, Annan called for a greater sense of urgency in tackling global warming for the sake of future generations.

"I regret the U.S. decision," he said in answer to questions. "But I think it gives us more reason to fight."

No regrets: (AP) -- "What he told me was that he regretted it (the children's deaths in Oklahoma City) because it distracted from the mission, from what his intent was in blowing up the Federal Building."

In the new book "American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing," McVeigh called the children killed in the bombing "collateral damage." Details in the book marked the first time McVeigh publicly and explicitly admitted to the crime. ...

"Most of the people that I see are crimes of passion, loss of control and mental illness. He was none of those things," Smith said. "The lack of remorse and regret is not typical of murders I see. And I did not see in Tim the remorse. I saw evidence of personal depression at times about himself, his family, his life. But I did not see remorse."

Regret comes in pairs: Grace Slick regrets two that got away.

Fox News anchor David Asman got a little more information than he wanted when he had Slick, Jefferson Starship lead singer, on as a guest the other afternoon. After a lengthy chat about Slick's wild times during her band days, Asman closed up the conversation with, "Do you have any regrets?" Slick, not one to waste words, shot back: "Only that I didn't nail Jimi Hendrix and Peter O'Toole."

Deeply regrettable: (PlanetOut/ Network) -- An Australian pro rugby player who resigned this weekend after being caught sticking his finger in opposing players' anuses during a match is now considering taking legal action against the New Zealand Cancer Society (NZCS) for using his picture in an advertisement for prostate cancer checks. ...

"I sincerely regret that anything I may have done has caused stress, anxiety and disappointment to everyone involved with the West Tigers," AFP quoted Hopoate as saying in a statement he released through his manager.

NZCS took out an advertisement in New Zealand's The Dominion newspaper with a color close-up of Hopoate apparently sticking his finger in North Queensland captain Paul Bowman's anus. According to the Australian Associated Press (AAP), the accompanying text reads, "A bloke's chances of developing prostate cancer increases as he gets older. If you have symptoms that you're concerned about, consult your local doctor. It won't hurt a bit -- promise."

By George Kelly

George Kelly is a copy editor at Salon.

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