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Liberal Guilt Over Israel

December 21, 2014 at 10:45 pm

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Is it just me or is the New York Times turning into a parody of itself in respect of its coverage of Israel primarily as a source of guilt/anxiety/embarrassment for liberal Jews who don't live there?

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Times Excellence

December 17, 2014 at 11:29 am

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This site spends a lot of time criticizing the Times, but we also try to notice when the newspaper performs well. Two recent examples of enterprising journalism that received front-page play in the Times despite running against the paper's ideological predilictions are: 1) A scathing and long profile of Norman Seabrook, the president of the union that represents New York City prison guards, and his influence with Mayor de Blasio, exposing public-sector unionism at its worse and 2) an article about how, as the Times put it, "The Obama administration overturned a ban preventing a wealthy, politically connected Ecuadorean woman from entering the United States after her family gave tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns, according to finance records and government officials."

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Amazon's Prices

December 15, 2014 at 9:36 am

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An article in today's Times by David Streitfeld is critical of Amazon.com for charging prices on books that Mr. Streitfeld says are too high.

This strikes me as a bizarre criticism. Mr. Streitfield describes Amazon's prices as "less than compelling." As an example, he writes that on Amazon, "The standard biography of Mr. Dick was discounted 15 percent." Absent from the article was a comparison of what the book was selling for on other sites. My check showed the Amazon price for that book was lower than the price at barnesandnoble.com (which had a 14% discount) and lower that the price at Powells.com, which had no discount at all.

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Times To Raise Prices

December 15, 2014 at 9:32 am

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From a letter in my morning paper: "Effective January 5, 2015, there will be an increase in the price of home delivery of The New York Times. The new weekly rates are shown below, and represent just 40 cents to 90 cents more per week, depending on which days of the week you receive service." The seven-day rate goes up to $17.80, which, at 52 weeks a year, is $925.60.


Times at a Crossroads

December 15, 2014 at 9:22 am

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"Bureaucrats are throttling businesses that are doing particularly well and forcing them to become joint ventures with the state. The underlying message seems to be: We want prosperity but not overly prosperous individuals." — From a Times editorial, "Cuba's Economy at a Crossroads," that appears to disapprove of this approach.

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France and Israel

December 9, 2014 at 9:22 am

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A front page New York Times article headlined "Israel Struggles With Its Identity" includes this passage:

Few would dispute that, say, France can be both a French homeland and a democracy with non-French citizens, but Israel is a different case, not least because its Arab and Druse minorities are indigenous, not immigrant.

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Times Journey to Cuba

November 25, 2014 at 9:26 am

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With its advertising and subscription revenue insufficient to support its news staff and still provide an acceptable return on capital to shareholders, the Times is turning to new areas of business, including organizing trips for tourists. A "Times Journey" to Iran guided by a Times journalist was the topic of a report here last month that attracted a lot of attention.

Now the Times has added Communist Cuba to the list of destinations of its "Times Journeys." For the sum of $6,495, you too can enjoy nine days and eight nights on a trip that the Times says is "permitted by a special People-to-People license for The New York Times from the Department of Treasury's Foreign Assets Control."

The itinerary includes a meeting with the U.S. government's interests section in Havana, but no visit to Cuban prisons such as the one in which the American Alan Gross is being held for the "crime" of bringing communications equipment into Cuba.

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Lost in Richmond

November 24, 2014 at 9:42 am

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The author Matthew Goodman flags a Times travel article from Richmond. The Times reports:

For decades, the 18th-century Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond, Va., has been a don't-go-after-dark spot. One of the city's oldest residential enclaves, its historic townhouses, gas lamps and St. John's Church — where Patrick Henry proclaimed "Give me liberty" — have long been tended to by a small band of passionate preservationists in an area of encroaching crime and poverty. But undervalued real estate and unparalleled views of downtown and the James River have increasingly drawn a fiercely loyal, self-starter set of residents. These days, Church Hill has some of the city's most appealing shops and dining spots.

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The Times on Harvard

November 21, 2014 at 8:54 am

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Reviewing Harvard's new art museum, Times art critic Holland Carter writes, "enough 'classical' touches have been retained to suit a school that has always been conservative and tradition bound at its cultural core."

Mr. Carter may be right on some level in his assessment, but it depends on where you sit. Plenty of conservatives, looking at Harvard, probably see it not as "conservative and tradition bound" but rather as a liberal institution whose law school has recently given us Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama. With its description of Harvard, the Times lets us know where it sits.


Foreign Language Times

November 20, 2014 at 10:11 am

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Times journalist Lydia Polgreen announced on Twitter that she is "starting a new gig, leading a team that will explore publishing the New York Times in languages other than English."

Good luck with that. Dow Jones just announced it was discontinuing its local-language websites in Germany and Turkey and its Turkish-language newswire, though it does produce Spanish-language content. The Times did publish a Spanish-language version of its recent editorial calling on America to restrict the immigration of Cuban doctors, and it published a Chinese-language version of its recent editorial about the visa issues facing Times journalists in China.

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Would Midnight Basketball Deter Jihad?

November 20, 2014 at 9:38 am

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Back in August of 2013, a front-page Times article about Palestinian Arab children who throw rocks at Israelis explained: "They throw because there is little else to do in Beit Ommar — no pool or cinema, no music lessons after school, no part-time jobs other than peddling produce along the road."

Today's Times carries a fascinating dispatch from Paris about two Frenchmen, Michael Dos Santos and Maxime Hauchard, who converted to Islam, joined the Islamic State, and appeared as ISIS members in the latest beheading video:

On Monday, news reports quoted friends describing Mr. Hauchard as gentle, joyful and a regular mosquegoer. "He was never rebellious," Philippe Vanheule, the mayor of Bosc-Roger-en-Roumois, told Le Monde.

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Brooks on Obama

November 18, 2014 at 9:38 am

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David Brooks uses the term "Gruberism" — defined as "the belief that everybody else is slightly dumber and less well-motivated than oneself and, therefore, politics is more about manipulation than conversation" — in his column today. I used the same term yesterday at FutureOfCapitalism.com. It's a pretty good column as Brooks columns go, but it is marred by a puzzling sentence toward the beginning: "President Obama has racked up some impressive foreign-policy accomplishments, but, domestically and politically, things are off the rails."

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Times Finds Immigrants It Wants to Keep Out

November 17, 2014 at 9:35 am

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You've got to see it to believe it, really, but while the rest of the left is, with perhaps some reason, cheering on President Obama's campaign to make America more immigrant-friendly (as is the Times in a couple of news articles), the Times devotes its lead editorial today to a group of immigrants it wants to keep out of America — doctors trying to flee Communist Cuba.To hear the Times tell it, America is too welcoming to these physician-refugees, and our government should make it more difficult for the Cuban doctors to come here.

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Blame Game

November 17, 2014 at 9:22 am

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For a lovely example of internal New York Times gotcha politics playing out in a way that puts a low priority on readers' interests, consider the following correction from today's New York Times:

A correction in this space on Wednesday for an article on Nov. 8 about efforts by Japan and China to step back from a longstanding dispute over islands in the East China Sea omitted the source of the error — that Japan had controlled the islands since World War II. (It has held them for most years since the 1880s.) The error was made during the editing process, not by the reporter, Jane Perlez.

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Norman Foster

November 14, 2014 at 9:12 am

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Toward the bottom of a front-page New York Times article about the New York Philharmonic Orchestra's plan to rename Avery Fisher Hall comes this:

An architect for the new hall has yet to be selected. Although the Philharmonic board voted in 2005 to proceed with a design by the British architect Norman Foster, the thinking has evolved since then, and the orchestra is starting over.

This Times article doesn't mention it, but some readers may remember a dispatch back in May about the New York Public Library's decision to abandon a plan for a major renovation of its flagship building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd St.:

This shift is something of a defeat for the library, which had already paid the British architect Norman Foster $9 million in private funds for his firm's work on the plan for the flagship, a 1911 Beaux-Arts landmark.

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