Thursday, December 16, 2004

Times' front page features five strong stories as well as two weak ones

Of the seven stories on this morning New York Times front page, already e-mails are coming in saying two don't belong.
Tracie Rozhon's "Stores Are Hoping to Do Well By Urging Shoppers to Do Good" is seen as "a complete waste of space" (Kara) and "utter nonsense" (Ben).  Brad says,  "There may be a place for a charity store on the front page, I'd hope so, but this isn't the story.  It's full of self-congratulating and you're [in] the business section [story continues inside the business section] before you learn that anything other than the Lance Armstrong $1 bracelets are selling."
Erika is outraged by "In New York, Only Older Officers Pack the Old .38" (by Michael Wilson).  "Is this gun porn for cops?"
The opening raises other issues:
Roughly 19 out of 20 officers in the New York City Police Department carry the semiautomatic pistols that have been standard issue for 11 years, a boxy handful of steel and polymer as clean and smooth as many of their young faces.

This story is not about them.

Erika:  "The Times has so much space on the front page, they can waste it with an opening paragraph that has nothing to do with a story?"

The opening seems a put-on/parody of Dragnet.  The article features a different kind of writing than most readers are used to on the front page (this is feature writing).  If you read the story and want to weigh in on what you think of the writing style please e-mail and I'll share your thoughts this evening.

The topic itself?  There's a firearm that's seeing the sunset of it's usage apparently.  I agree with Erika that it's not a front page story.  Of the five other stories, the topics are worthy of the front page.

Norimitsu Onishi's "Toyko's Flag Law; Proud Patriotism or Indoctrination?" ( is a must read (my opinion).  Scott Shane's "A Flood of Troubled Soldiers Is in the Offing, Experts Predict" is also strong and note worthy:

The nation's hard-pressed health care system for veterans is facing a potential deluge of tens of thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq with serious mental health problems brought on by the stress and carnage of war, veterans' advocates and military doctors say.

An Army study shows that about one in six soldiers in Iraq report symptoms of major depression, serious anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, a proportion that some experts believe could eventually climb to one in three, the rate ultimately found in Vietnam veterans. Because about one million American troops have served so far in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon figures, some experts predict that the number eventually requiring mental health treatment could exceed 100,000.

"There's a train coming that's packed with people who are going to need help for the next 35 years," said Stephen L. Robinson, a 20-year Army veteran who is now the executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, an advocacy group. Mr. Robinson wrote a report in September on the psychological toll of the war for the Center for American Progress, a Washington research group.

"I have a very strong sense that the mental health consequences are going to be the medical story of this war," said Dr. Stephen C. Joseph, who served as the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs from 1994 to 1997.

Stephen Labaton covers the continued problems of Fannie Mae in "Fannie Mae Told to Revise Profit."  Robert Pear informs us that Billy Tauzin uses the revolving door to go from Congress to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ("chief lobby for brand-name drug companies"; Tauzin will be the new president of PRMA -- after his work in Congress on the Medicare bill) (

David Stout and John H. Chusman Jr.'s "Defense Missile For U.S. System Fails to Launch" ( is a strong article.  If you read the blog entry "Turning to Noam Chomsky (Hegemony or Survival) to make sense of the Times and Washington Post; plus we're bombing Falluja again" [see], this weekend, you'll want to check out this story:

An important test of the United States' fledgling missile defense system ended in failure early Wednesday as an interceptor rocket failed to launch on cue from the Marshall Islands, the Pentagon said.

After a rocket carrying a mock warhead as a target was launched from Kodiak, Alaska, the interceptor, which was intended to go aloft 16 minutes later and home in on the target 100 miles over the earth, automatically shut down because of "an unknown anomaly," according to the Missile Defense Agency of the Defense Department.

. . . .

In 2003, a test of another part of the system, based on Navy ships, also failed.

Before Wednesday's test, the Missile Defense Agency had conducted eight tests with interceptor vehicles, scoring hits in five under carefully controlled conditions. Some critics of the agency, which has spent more than $80 billion since 1985, say the entire test program is unrealistic and that the tests have been scripted.

We're looking at spending 50 billion more for this program over the next five years so I'd recommend you read the story if you have time.

Inside the paper there are many stories that were worthy of the front page.  We'll discuss those in the next entry. 

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