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Home Depot Data Breach

September 17, 2014 at 10:25 am

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Joe Nocera has a column about the Home Depot customer data breach that is worth noticing for at least two reasons.

First, he engages in what Times public editor Margaret Sullivan has called, in other instances, "anonymous outsourcing," borrowing another news organization's anonymously sourced material and passing it along to Times readers without independently assessing the veracity of the sources. Mr. Nocera writes:

Bloomberg Businessweek found two unnamed former Home Depot managers who claimed that they were told to "settle for 'C-level security' because ambitious upgrades would be costly and might disrupt the operation of critical business systems."

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Copying the Guardian's Error, Without Credit

September 16, 2014 at 9:50 am

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Reader-contributor-watchdog-content co-creator-participant-community member Arul Louis writes:

A New York Times Op-Talk published Sept. 14 claims to quote remarks "last week" by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a correspondent for the Indian newspaper, The Hindu," and the NYT uses it to criticize him over climate change.

However, the link from the NYT Op-Talk by Jack Flanagin to The Hindu article is in fact a report on Modi's meeting with Japanese students on Sept. 2 during a visit to Japan.

The Guardian made the same error calling it an "interview with The Hindu a few days earlier." Elsewhere in the Op-Talk Flanagin quotes The Guardian article, but not for this erroneous claim about Modi talking to The Hindu reporter.

Moreover, the full quote from The Hindu story hardly makes Modi an environmentl skeptic; in fact he mentioned Al Gore's book, "An Inconvenient Truth" and speaks out against "exploiting nature." Here are the relevant portions of Amit Barua's story in The Hindu (to which the NYT article linked):

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Domestic Violence Deacon

September 16, 2014 at 9:34 am

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A sports column by Richard Sandomir carries the following passage:

Last Thursday, when James Brown delivered an eloquent call to action on domestic violence before the debut of CBS's "Thursday Night Football," he was using his personal link to the issue. Through the Verizon Foundation, he has worked on domestic violence, sitting in on a crisis hotline in Austin, Tex.; talking to high school and college football coaches to help change their — and their players' — attitudes toward women; and interviewing domestic violence victims for public service announcements.

"I sat there in Austin, next to the counselors, listening to the calls," he said in a telephone interview on Monday. "It touched my heart, and it was so painful to listening to the panic in these ladies' voices that I had to take the headset off, go to a window, turn my back and shed tears."

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Thanks for Clarifying

September 15, 2014 at 9:49 am

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An article in Sunday's Times explains helpfully, "Not all fashion designers are gay; however, a large proportion are, and a fair number of their customers are, too."

News you can use.


Gaza Tower

September 15, 2014 at 9:31 am

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A dispatch from Gaza City about an apartment building destroyed in this summer's war could have used a more careful edit.

The article reports: "Atef Adwan, one of 28 Hamas lawmakers elected in 2006, bought a first-floor apartment five years ago for his second wife, and spent much of the summer there with her and their two young sons, fearing the Israelis would target his home in the border town of Beit Hanoun."

The phrase "his second wife" raises more questions than it answers. Does Mr. Adwan have two wives at the same time? Or is the apartment for his sole current wife, in which case, why does the Times feel the need to mention that he had a prior marriage?

Then there is a reference to "Owda J. Abu Mathkour, the wealthy mogul who runs the Zafer contracting company." Isn't "wealthy mogul" redundant? Call the squad squad, as William Safire used to say.

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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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