Houston's "Scramble to Profit" from Katrina?
Tuesday's Times story by Simon Romero on the efforts of Houston businesses to assist in Katrina relief efforts was fairly unobjectionable - but the version that appeared in the Times' international edition (the International Herald Tribune) contained some political raunch that didn't reach the paper's domestic edition.
Blogger Austin Bay says "note the sharpened rhetorical daggers" in the lead sentence of the IHT version: "No one would accuse this city of being timid in the scramble to profit from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina."
For more on local reaction to the Times story, see the website of Houston's ABC station, where some found the international version "overly critical, ill-timed, and in poor taste."
To comment on this story, visit the MRC's blog, NewsBusters. The direct address for the node is: http://newsbusters.org/node/1047
For the rest of Romero's analysis of business in Houston, click here.
What About Italy?
There they go again. A Thursday story from Celia Dugger based on an annual United Nations report is headlined "U.N. Report Cites U.S. and Japan as the 'Least Generous Donors.'"
For some reason, the headline spares mention of the country actually in last place: Italy, as noted deep within the article itself. Even using the U.N. (and the New York Times') highly misleading take on what constitutes generosity (aid as a percentage of national income), the U.S. and Japan come out ahead of Italy.
Of course, the U.S. is actually the most generous donor when it comes to what counts - actual donations. But the Times typically leaves that inconvenient fact to an opening clause in a single sentence, which also notes in passing that it's Italy, not the U.S. or Japan, that actually is the 'least generous donor.'
"While crediting the United States with being the world's largest donor, the report points out that among the world's richest countries, America is second to last in aid as a portion of its national income, with Italy bringing up the rear. Japan was third from the bottom. Aid per capita from donors ranges from more than $200 in Sweden to $51 in the United States and $37 in Italy."
For more of Dugger's story, click here.
Taming the Conservative Shrews
In Arts critic Margo Jefferson's feature on CNN legal affairs host Nancy Grace ("The Return of the Shrew, and Other TV Woes"), every "shrew" just happens to be a conservative woman - or man.
Radio talk-show host Laura Schlessinger, who was among Jefferson's "shrews," notes the coincidence in a letter published in the Times on Thursday.
From Jefferson's Tuesday story: "Nancy Grace belongs to a group of women who play host or make guest appearances on talk shows and write articles and books. Along with commentators like Ann Coulter and Laura Schlessinger, she has brought one of our oldest female caricatures, the Shrew, back to the culture. The Shrew used to be a staple of mass entertainment. She was the pushy wife who drove her husband out of the home or behind his newspaper. She was the spinster who hectored neighbors and schoolchildren. She was plain and sexually deprived.
"No more. These women specialize in perfect marriages, idealized lovers and good sex. They turn facts into attacks. When they argue, their voices rise to the 'shrill' notes once ascribed only to feminists. Maybe there's a certain irony in what might be called the power of a woman's influence, though. Now, commentators like Bill O'Reilly and Tucker Carlson are adapting shrewishness and hysteria to a manly style."
To read the rest of Jefferson on the shrews, click here.
"Things Soon Go Wrong" - As a Suicide Bombing Fails?
Critic Alan Riding looks at "Paradise Now," a Palestinian film about Palestinians recruited as suicide bombers in Israel: "Eager to do their bit for the liberation of Palestine, however, Said and Khaled have already volunteered to become suicide bombers. And when Jamal (Amer Hlehel), the contact man for a martyrs' brigade, tells them their moment has come, they are ready. After recording a 'martyr's video' and being congratulated by the brigade's leader, they are turned into human bombs and sent on their mission of death. Things soon go wrong."
Haven't they gone very wrong already? It turns out that things go "wrong" only when the terrorists can't complete their death mission: "As they slip through a fence surrounding Nablus, an Israeli patrol appears and they flee. In the confusion, they are separated. While Khaled is driven back to Nablus, ashamed of his failure, Said eventually makes it through the fence and finds himself at a bus stop with a half-dozen Israelis. When a bus arrives, only the sight of a little girl dissuades him from climbing aboard and blowing himself up."
Riding concludes with thoughts from the pro-Palestinian filmmaker: "Indeed, on the prospects for peace after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Mr. Abu-Assad is not optimistic. 'Without the principle that the Palestinians are equal to the Israelis, sharing the land, water, money, everything,' he said, 'you will never end this fight. Not by making Gaza a better or larger jail. As long as you see you are inferior and the Israelis are the boss, you will fight again.'"
For more from Riding on the pro-Palestinian film, click here.
Wal-Mart as Capitalist Ogre
The loosey-goosey "Openers" section of the Sunday Business page leads off with this nugget in a story on a lawsuit by Wal-Mart (the paper's favorite capitalist whipping boy) against an international competitor, "'He's Being a Bully, Little Wal-Mart Cries."
Heather Timmons writes: "Wal-Mart makes no apologies about dominating the American retail landscape and resists fiercely whenever anyone tries to put pesky things like zoning or labor laws in the way of its expansion. So it would seem odd, to put it mildly, if the company ever started whining like some fragile mom-and-pop store about a big bad rival being too powerful."
That's the same company, by the way, that donated $15 million to hurricane relief last week, a detail that has yet to be mentioned in the Times.
For the rest of Timmons on Wal-Mart, click here.
Post-Katrina Republicans on the Defensive
The Times is starting to back away, slightly, from its intense blame-Bush slant in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But Thursday's story by Carl Hulse, "Bipartisan Inquiry Is Proposed as Bush Seeks $51.8 Billion More for Relief," shows the paper still prefers to portray Bush and Republicans as cynical, reactive, and defensive: "The decision by House and Senate Republican leaders to press forward with a rare bicameral investigation reflected an intense push to quell the furor surrounding the hurricane relief effort and respond to worries by members of their own party that majority Republicans were suffering politically."
That's the line Democrats and the media would prefer, but a couple of major early polls out don't bear out that thinking, instead fixing more of the responsibility at the state and local level, not the federal.
For more of Hulse, click here.