How Does the New York Times Moderate User Comments?

The Times’ site has amassed over 2,000 comments regarding the execution of Saddam Hussein in the last 36 hours. The sentiment of the majority appears to denounce the practice of execution and the rapid manner in which Hussein met his fate following a “farcical” trial. Reactions ranged from: “bin Laden is next,” to “this is a sad, sad day.”

There are a TON of comments. Most are devoid of hyperlinks (although a couple odd ones from the shady-right partisan informationclearinghouse Web site snuck into a couple) and despite an abundance of typos and poor spelling, I didn’t notice any “bad words” at first glance.

However, my interest is piqued by comment #2032:

P.M. Alessandrini:

I submitted, today at 11:20 am, a comment criticizing the fact that links to videos concerning the execution of Saddam Hussein in yesterday and today’s web edition of the New York Times are coupled with advertisements, in video and image form, for the new film about Idi Amin, “The Last King of Scotland”. Criticism of coverage and its presentation is absolutely pertinent to this issue, and should not be suppressed. Let us not forget that support among the US public of the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was due largely to a campaign of misinformation by the Bush administration, made possible – with only too few exceptions – by cooperation from the US media. Nonetheless, after seeing my comment listed as number 1953 below the heading, “Your comment is awaiting moderation”, it has not appeared on the page of comments one hour later, despite the fact that numerous comments submitted afterwards have been posted. I therefore invite your readers to see my comments about the coverage of the New York Times in the coming days on the website of the Atlantic Free Press, to which I am a contributor, if this criticism continues to be censored from the NYT comments page.
posted on December 31st, 2006 at 12:29 pm

The commenters originally moderated comment 1953 has not since appeared. Minutes later, another commenter adds, “It seems that the NYT has decided to take side rather than just delivering news and let Americans speak their mind.”

Shortly after that, theh posting of comments appears to have been halted. As I write this (5:57pm EST) the last posted comment is from 12:40pm EST, despite a standing invitation on the NYT Home page for fresh comments.

I’m very interesting in learning about the Times’ policies regarding readers’ comments and who/what disqualifies particular content from being posted. Anyone? Calame, are you reading?

A happy, healthy new year, readers!

forget it or not

Here’s to kissing 2006 goodbye. Let’s not miss it or forget to remember it. After all, history cannot pass judgment on its domain, contrary to popular belief.

Symbols leave there mark. Imagery and circumstance is what defines the times. Therefore, while little reason remained for anyone in the world to appreciate Saddam Hussein, one (of 1 billion or so Muslims worldwide) might find it insulting to lynch a former head of state on the eve of a major Muslim holiday.


Eid ul-Adha
. A Muslim holiday celebrating Abraham’s sacrifice of Ishmael to God. You’d think a so-called “born again” Christian could respect this, but then again, George W. himself might regret being considered within his family the expendable son to brother Jeb’s Isaac. The symbolism is just sickening. If he so wishes to be judged by history — let him at least BE history.

This is also a message for any hopeful candidates out there who wish to join Jalal Talabani and Hamid Karzai as U.S. approved temporary leaders for GWoT countries. We created Saddam too. And then hanged him.

As the death toll in the War on Terror since the war began in Iraq in March 2003 likely breaks 3,000 today, here’s a dramatic image reflecting Bush’s impression throughout the world of conflict.


A Kashmiri protester shouts slogans behind a fire from an effigy of U. S. President George W. Bush against the execution Saturday of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein , in Jammu December 31, 2006. (Amit Gupta/Reuters)

UPDATE: Marc Lynch posts reactions to the timing of the execution with Eid.

Anger over the timing has probably overwhelmed any other sentiment (with “it doesn’t change anything, Iraq is still a mess” coming a close second).

Public Diplomacy Press & Blog Review Gets Props From USNews

Congrats to John Brown for a solid year of blogging and compiling the PDPBR for the USC Center on Public Diplomacy Web site (of which I am managing editor).

U.S. News‘s David E. Kaplan named the PDPBR one of the top ten blogs of ’06 in his “Bad Guys” column.

Brown, who served for over twenty years as a foreign service officer before resigning in protest of the Iraq War, has really come into his own with the Review — a thrice weekly aggregation of news and commentary on issues pertinent to Public Diplomacy. He also penned several essays for the Public Diplomacy Blog and online publications including TomPaine.com and Commondreams.org in 2006.

Congrats, JB!

WOOZradio: 2007 New Release Watershed

2007 is gonna be something else for us music freaks. While I hesitate to itemize Top 10 lists (inevitably I will, as I did last January), I’m lukewarm on 2006’s best — many of my faves were released in late 2005 — and truth be told

2007 is gonna be a monster!!!

To avoid confusion, I’ll be migrating all music/WOOZradio posts to a new site, but until that happens, I beg of you these indulgences.

WOOZradio is netZoo’s Internet radio station. It has existed solely online since 1999, broadcasting via Live365. Currently, my top 100 (or so) of 2006 are in rotation, along with nearly 100 cuts from upcoming 2007 releases — Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, Bloc Party, etc. Click here to listen ad-free (and help me pay for the space), or Click Here to listen free (w/ ads).

Coming in 2007:

The Bees (formerly A Band of Bees) are coming strong with Octopus. (Thanks Rory for first turning me on to them back in the day)!

listen to Got to Let Go

Field Music will appear with their finest record ever on January 22.

listen to In Context

!!! is expected to drop “Myth Takes” on March 4. listen to A New Name

And that’s just a taste. Check here for upcoming releases.

And, just for the hell of it — Dengue Fever kicked ass a few weeks ago on KEXP. Listen to the set.

Jesus Christ! Local ‘News’ or Over-Cautious Infotainment?

Light posting lately as I take some time away from all things computerized and work on some other projects. But I can’t seem to get this one story out of my head. Thanks to Tony Pierce at LAist for the tip-off.

On Christmas Day 6pm newscast on KNBC Channel 4, NBC’s Los Angeles area affiliate, neither newscasters Ted Chen nor Kelly Mack uttered the word “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” despite referring to “Christmas” 30 times.

This is among the most perverted reactions to the so-called holiday/christmas quasi-conundrum on the airwaves. If nothing else, it’s practically journalistic blasphemy to highlight a particular event without giving it’s historical, traditional, ideological, or fanciful background. Even if one could assume that the majority of Americans know what Christmas celebrates, (personally, I always forget whether it’s the birth, death, or rebirth), local broadcast news is drops the ball by failing to provide brief historical context — even if its “this is the third time in four days that Paris Hilton has gotten a DUI.” We Americans tend to forget very quickly (we re-elected George W. Bush, remember?).

HERE’s the Kicker: On the following day’s (12/26) 11am news, KNBC thoroughly and very appropriately explained Kwanzaa:

African-Americans are beginning the celebration of Kwanza. A parade gets way at noon in LA’s Crenshaw district. The seven-day long Kwanza holiday was founded back in 1966 as a way for African-Americans to reflect back on their ancestry and culture. It involves seven daily principals of unity, self-determination, work, responsibility, knowledge, strength, purpose, creativity, and faith. Participants in today’s Kwanza parade will march down Crenshaw Blvd. from Adams to Vernon.

Predictably, right wing bloggers are slamming the “liberal” media for all of these things and other instances of censorship that clearly violate First Amendment rights. But, seriously, this all makes me think we may be heading towards a bipartisan attack on Atheist fundamentalists.

Click here and listen to On the Media’s segment on reporting Atheism — it’s an eye-opener.

James Brown, R.I.P.

The Godfather of Soul, James Joseph Brown, Jr., died overnight. He was 73 years young. Brown was initially hospitalized with pneumonia this weekend in Atlanta, and as recently as Sunday, his agent said he would be ready to perform at a scheduled concert the following Saturday. The cause of his death was uncertain.

James Brown performs inChina, February 2006, APJames Brown will be remembered as one of the greatest bandleaders, performers,and tastemakers in modern music. As the man himself once said: “Disco is James Brown, hip-hop is James Brown, rap is James Brown; you know what I’m saying?” Like Elvis, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Prince, redefined and influenced the role of the frontman with raw emotion and a frenetic stage presence.

Little Richard, Sam Cooke and Ray Charles and their gospel-cum-R&B stylings were notable influences on James Brown, who started performing in 1955 with the guitarist Bobby Byrd and The Famous Flames.

Brown made his name in the mid-60’s, with the classic funk-soul hits, including “I Got You (I Feel Good),” and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” James Brown in London, June 2006By the late ’60s and early ’70s, Brown struck a groove with his backup band, the JB’s, which included now-legendary musicians such as Bootsy Collins and Fred Wesley, recorded “Number One Soul Brother,” “Sex Machine,” “Funky Drummer,” and the social-rights-themed black power anthem, “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.” His brand of funk and swagger combined with an irresistible vibe produced a string of Billboard hits through the 60’s and early 70’s that helped build a bridge to funk, soul, disco, and modern R&B.

That “James Brown Sound” spread infectiously across the music spectrum, and directly influenced Miles Davis’ 1972 “On the Corner,” the music of the Jackson 5, The Rolling Stones, Sly & the Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, Parliament, Etta James, Kool & the Gang, Cameo… and later, Outkast, the jazz/funk fusion sounds of Medeski, Martin, & Wood, Galactic, and Charlie Hunter, and today’s direct descendants of the Godfather, such as Breakestra, !!!, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. The list goes on and on.

James Brown had run-ins with the law, drug problems and health issues in recent decades, but his death came suddenly and early. His Web site lists tour dates that were scheduled to begin December 27 in Waterbury, CT and included gigs through August 2007.

The most recent interview I can find was last week, with Hour Magazine, previewing Brown’s planned January Canadian tour. Read it here. Read on for more intriguing interviews, etc…
Listen to JB’s “Christmas in Heaven” (MP3).

Have yourself a Soulful Christmas.

Continue reading “James Brown, R.I.P.”

Airport ID Secret Law Redux

NPR’s Martin Kaste did an excellent piece on the ridiculous SSI (sensitive security information) that is the law requiring one show ID at an airport. Although he doesn’t mention John Gilmore, plaintiff in the case awaiting grant of certiori at Supreme Court by name, he thoroughly explains why this secret law is such a farce.

For my piece on Gilmore’s case, go to Annenberg Radio News and scroll down.