Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

(image via msn)

In: Internationalism. "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony) .." Everywhere internationalism is on the rise. The global pandaemonium and chaos based on ethnicity (and the argument that the Muslim world is at war with the West) now faces an American President named Barack Hussein Obama. Those East African Corsairs, who captivated the world's attention, pirated an American ship (which will not be good for their PR drive). And President Obama used his first official trip abroad to speak to the soldiers, the Muslim world and Europe. Mood: Internationalist. From ForeignPolicy:

"The recent pirate hijacking spree continued today with the seizure of a U.S. cargo ship off the coast of Somalia. The Maersk Alabama (not pictured here) is a U.S. flagged vessel operated by a Danish shipping company with 21 crewmembers aboard, reportedly all Americans. The Alabama's seizure follows five hijackings last weekend, a dramatic increase after only eight ships were seized in the first three months of 2009.

"Many of the pirates are based in the semi-autonomous Somali region of Puntland which today requested more international funding to fight the problem. 'It's better for the international community to give us $1 million to clear out the pirates on the ground, instead of paying millions of dollars to keep the warships at sea,' said the region's security minister."

(image via eparsa)

Out: The Oligarchs. It is not inconceivable that Naomi Campbell's eastward directed-flirtation was the first discrete social signal that Russian billionaires were no longer "In" favor. Naomi is all about Mumbai, not Moscow, nowadays. The Ozymandian Amazon is a survivor because she can spot the trends and abandon the detrius. Commodities -- the mother's milk of the oligarchs -- are down on yesterday's news that U.S. aluminium group Alcoa reported a second consecutive quarterly loss (auto industry blowback). From Bloomberg:

"Champagne and caviar are out in Moscow, and vodka and pelmeni dumplings are back in.

"Rich Russians, stung by the end of the biggest economic boom in their history, are tempering the opulent lifestyles that made the city of 10 million the bling capital of Europe.

"Demand for private jets and $500,000-a-week yachts has collapsed, while a survey by restaurant consulting group Restcon found revenue at high-end eateries has halved. Luxury-clothing boutiques selling brands such as Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney are closing down.

"'A new lifestyle mentality is taking shape,' said Roman Trotsenko, 38, the millionaire founder of airport builder Novaport. 'People aren’t really in the mood to party.'

"Moscow had 74 billionaires a year ago, more than any other city in the world. Now it has 27, according to Forbes magazine. The 25 richest Russians lost a combined $230 billion during six months last year as the value of their companies plunged along with commodity prices, according to Bloomberg calculations."

In: Eastbound & Down. Eastbound & Down has a cult following (which we don't quite understand but can appreciate) and although it is out of character for HBO's more upscale dramatic programming formula, it will be back. From Popwatch:

"Fans of hilarious, unrepentantly crude, and life-lesson-phobic television rejoice: HBO has just picked up Eastbound & Down for a second season, which will air sometime in 2010. I'm thrilled, because I was worried about its future. When Danny McBride's comedy about a foul-mouthed, steroid-sticking, drug-gobbling, incomprehensibly arrogant, washed-up baseball phenom-turned-gym teacher began, HBO barely gave it any press at all. Usually, they send out multiple episodes of their series in advance (as they did with season 2 of Flight of the Conchords, which was premiering at the same time), but with Eastbound there was deafening radio silence. It seemed odd that they wouldn't be bragging about having a Will Ferrell-produced project featuring a rising star like McBride, who had just appeared in two comedy hits, Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express. And yet we had to request a screener, just so Ken Tucker could give it an A-. It was as if Eastbound was the fat, racist family member the network didn’t want anyone to know about. When, in reality, Eastbound was the fat, racist family member they should have introduced to everyone."

Ummmmm, how about we just watch the show instead. More here.

Out: Alberto Fujimori. The sixteen-month trial of Fujimori has come to a fitting end over two massacres of Peruvians. Since the trial began on December 10, 2007, dozens of witnesses have come forth to testify about Fujimori’s responsibility as commander-in-chief of the military and his knowledge of human rights abuses. From the Los Angeles Times:

"Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was found guilty of mass murder and kidnapping Tuesday and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, a rare instance of a former head of state being found guilty in his own country on human rights charges.

"The 70-year-old former agronomy professor, who during a decade in office brought Peru back from the brink of political and economic collapse, was found guilty of ordering massacres in the Barrios Altos area of Lima in 1991 and at La Cantuta University in 1992 that left 25 dead. He was also convicted in the 1992 abductions of a journalist and businessman.

"The court decision was the latest twist in the saga of a leader who emerged from obscurity in 1990 to win the presidency amid national crisis, prevailing against entrenched politicians and novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, only to flee the country in 2000 as a corruption scandal unfolded."

Unfortunately, recently declassified National Security Archive documents show U.S. involvement.

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