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September 9, 2014 at 10:14 am

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A Times review of a movie, "The Green Prince," about a friendship between a Mossad officer and the son of a Hamas leader, reports, "It was released in Israel this spring, as the latest American effort to put together a regional peace plan was falling apart, and is coming out here after a summer-long conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza that left more than 2,000 dead and thousands more wounded or homeless."

Describing the summer-long conflict as "between Israel and Hamas in Gaza" inaccurately suggests that the conflict was confined to Gaza. In fact, it also affected parts of Israel, as reporting elsewhere in the Times has made clear. An editor should have deleted the words "in Gaza."


Lost in Ohio

September 9, 2014 at 10:02 am

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The lead news article on the front page of the Times is a dispatch from Youngstown, Ohio, about a statewide economic boom.

The article reports: "Ohio's unemployment rate in July was 5.7 percent, well below the national average of 6.1 percent." Reader-contributor-watchdog-participant-content co-creator-community member Colin points out that while 5.7 percent is below 6.1 percent, whether it is "well below" is a questionable judgment call. The Times could have avoided it by simply writing, "Ohio's employment rate in July was 5.7 percent; the rate for the nation as a whole was 6.1 percent." Or something like that. Times readers, most of them, are intelligent enough to know that 5.7 is less than 6.1 without the Times explaining it to them.

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Book Critic's Onanism Obsession

September 3, 2014 at 1:37 pm

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Times book critic Dwight Garner was last seen here back in April likening religion to masturbation. I noted then:

Mr. Garner manages to slip a masturbation reference into the Times about once a year. In November of 2013 he reported that the artist Lucian Freud "could imitate a whale masturbating." In 2011 he reported what he described as "the startling information that Marvin Gaye 'masturbated at length' before performing the vocal takes on his 'What's Going On' album."

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The New York Indian Genocide

September 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm

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A Times news article about the sale "last December" of a Manhattan building that was the site of a murder in 1857 concludes as follows:

"I think if one could do an accurate history of every building in New York, it probably was the scene of a murder at some point or another," said Leonard Steinberg, the president of Urban Compass, a real estate brokerage firm. "For some there is a stigma to this and for many it is considered a point of interest and fascination."

"I bet we all live on land in New York where mass murders of Indians took place," he added.

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Surfing Rabbi

September 2, 2014 at 6:34 am

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A Times dispatch from East Hampton about a surfing rabbi includes the following passage:

Marilyn Milanaik, a member of the Hampton Synagogue, the only Orthodox congregation in the area, looked to the Torah for guidance. "It says in the Torah that children must know how to swim. It's a paraphrase for knowing how to save your own life," she said.

The passage is inaccurate in at least two respects. First, there's another Orthodox synagogue out there, Chabad Lubavitch of the Hamptons. Second, it doesn't say in the Torah that children must know how to swim. The passage that Ms. Milanaik is reaching for is almost certainly not from the Torah, but from the Talmud, Kiddushin 29a, which says that a father much teach his son Torah, teach him a craft or a trade, "and there are some who say he must also teach him how to swim." It's the Talmud not the Torah, and it's not "children must know how to swim," but just reporting an additional opinion: "there are some who say he must also teach him how to swim."

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Shelter Island Anonymouse

September 2, 2014 at 6:19 am

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The Times Sunday metro section carries a left-wing column that goes unbalanced by any right-wing column. The latest column complains about helicopter noise in the Hamptons:

"Quality of life truly is being diminished for commercial greed and the convenience of the same people who burned the economy," a longtime Shelter Island summer resident said to me.

"When I look up at small planes and choppers I see a fleet of middle fingers across the sky."

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Rabbi Cancels His Times Subscription

August 28, 2014 at 9:46 pm

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The president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Richard Block, has an article explaining why he canceled his Times subscription after 40 years:

I am a lifelong Democrat, a political liberal, a Reform rabbi, and for four decades, until last week, a New York Times subscriber. What drove me away was the paper's incessant denigration of Israel, a torrent of articles, photographs, and op-ed columns that consistently present the Jewish State in the worst possible light.


More on Antony Lerman and Liberal Zionism

August 26, 2014 at 8:42 am

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At the Washington Post, David Bernstein has a further response to the Times Anthony Lerman anti-Zionist article that I commented about here over the weekend.


Antony Lerman's End of Liberal Zionism

August 23, 2014 at 9:59 pm

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In the category of vile anti-Israel articles, Antony Lerman's "The End of Liberal Zionism" deserves some kind of award. He writes:

The decision of Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to launch a military campaign against Hamas in Gaza has cost the lives, to date, of 64 soldiers and three civilians on the Israeli side, and nearly 2,000 Palestinians, the majority of whom were civilians.

No. It wasn't Mr. Netanyahu's decision — which in any event was a decision not made only by Mr. Netanyahu, but by Israel's security cabinet — to launch a military campaign that cost the Israeli lives. It was Hamas's decision to attack Israel from tunnels and with rockets.

He writes:

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August 23, 2014 at 9:39 pm

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The following paragraph appeared on the front page of Saturday's Times, in an article headlined, "Blood Industry Shrinks as Transfusions Decline":

Blood bank revenue is falling, and the decline may reach $1.5 billion a year this year from a high of $5 billion in 2008.

It's not clear, to this reader, at least, what the sentence means. Is the Times trying to tell us that blood bank revenue has declined to $1.5 billion this year from $5 billion in 2008? Or is the Times trying to tell us that blood bank revenue declined $5 billion in 2008 from 2007, and will decline $1.5 billion this year from the year before? Or is the Times trying to tell us that blood bank revenue this year will be $3.5 billion, down from $5 billion in 2008?

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Inflation Adjustment

August 19, 2014 at 9:49 am

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A dispatch from Illinois about the Olmsted Locks and Dam on the Ohio River reports that it was "first authorized by Congress in 1988 at a cost of $775 million" and is "now scheduled to be completed in 2020 at a cost approaching $3 billion."

The U.S. government's consumer price index inflation calculator indicates that $775 million in 1988 dollars are about $1.56 billion in 2014 dollars. The calculator doesn't run to 2020, but by then even more of the story won't be typically scandalous government cost overruns, but the erosion of the value of the dollar.

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Forgetting New York

August 19, 2014 at 9:27 am

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A front-page news article in today's New York Times appears under the headline "Cities Rocked by Past Unrest Offer Lessons." It offers lessons for Ferguson, Mo. from "other cities that endured similar violence." It names "Cincinnati, Oakland, Los Angeles" and Miami and talks about responding to riots and restoring calm. Strangely — bizarrely, actually, the Times omits any mention of New York.

There was a race riot — a pogrom, actually — in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in 1991, which you'd think a newspaper based in New York City might, you know, think about maybe mentioning in a news article about how to respond to an urban riot. The efforts since then to improve relations between the black and Jewish communities in Crown Heights might actually have some lessons for Ferguson.

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Times Sells Marilyn Monroe Nude Photos

August 15, 2014 at 3:15 pm

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The "New York Times Store" is featuring "rarely seen" and "truly historic" photographs of a naked Marilyn Monroe for $3,000 and $1,500 (more if you want it framed). It's not clear how this fits with the Times Company's stated core mission of "creating, collecting, and distributing high-quality news and information." A front-of-the business section Times news article — "Risque Promotion Prompts Outcry From Land's End Customers" — this week went after Land's End for a marketing deal with GQ, which was featuring photographs of scantily clad women, but Land's End wasn't trying to sell the pictures for $3,000 or billing them as "truly historic."


Jeffrey Goldberg, "A Hawk"

August 13, 2014 at 9:51 am

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Maureen Dowd's column today refers to Hillary Clinton's interview with "Jeffrey Goldberg, a hawk, of The Atlantic."

I guess by Ms. Dowd's standards a "hawk" is someone like Jeff, who wants to dismantle many of Israel's West Bank settlements and to ease U.S. sanctions on Castro's Cuba.


Auto Thefts

August 13, 2014 at 9:45 am

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Reader-participant-watchdog-community member-content co-creator Colin G. writes:

Josh Barro has a piece on auto thefts in which he says the "most important factor" in explaining the decline is the introduction of technology in the late 90s/early 2000s that makes it "essentially impossible to start a car without the ignition key."

That's fine, but how does that comport with the second chart included in the piece, which shows the most dramatic declines taking place from around 1990-97 before such technology became available?


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