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White Powdery Substance at NYT Not Anthrax

The NYT reports that earlier today a mail room employee opened an envelope containing a white powdery substance that turned out not to be anthrax:

Police and environmental workers responded to The New York Times offices today after an employee in the postal services department opened a letter addressed to the newspaper and saw a powdery substance he believed to be suspicious, the police said. […]
The letter had a postmark from Philadelphia, the police said, and contained an editorial published by The New York Times on June 28 titled “Patriotism and the Press,” with a red “X” written across it, said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman. Mr. Browne said the substance had yet to be identified but that it was later deemed to be beige in color, not white.
Shortly before 5 p.m. an announcement was made over the Times public address system saying that the powder had been found to be “nonthreatening and nonhazardous.” According to field tests conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection, the substance was preliminarily identified as corn starch, though further analysis will be done at the city Health Department’s laboratory, as the protocol requires.

We don’t know if this was connected to last week’s protests (which we criticized here and here) or if it was just made to look that way, but we do know that Reuters isn’t waiting to find out before using that corn starch to whip up a tasty blame pudding:

The Times has been criticized in recent weeks for writing about the Bush administration’s covert efforts to stamp out terrorism financing.
This week protesters rallied outside the newspaper to object to the paper’s decision to publish details about terrorism financing and other stories about secret government programs to monitor phone conversations of U.S. citizens.

No need for patience, no need for facts before the finger-pointing starts.


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