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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"In choosing Christiane Amanpour to host This Week, ABC News has done something not only right but also brave. Giving the show to a tireless reporter with an avowed commitment to 'make foreign news less foreign and link it with domestic policy' puts ABC in a position to break open a paradigm for the Sunday interview programs that has held sway since NBC's Meet the Press began in 1947. The appointment must have come as a shock to the cozy world of Washington insiders, who would have been much more comfortable with one of their own, such as network correspondent Jake Tapper, Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran or former Bush adviser turned ABC analyst Matthew Dowd. In reporting Amanpour's hiring, Politico's Michael Calderone correctly observed, 'It's an unlikely moment for a host lacking experience in covering Washington politics to take the reins, and another reason the hire struck some staffers as coming out of left field.' Unlikely and decidedly welcome. Amanpour's entire career stands in almost perfect contrast to the increasing 'Politico-ization' of the news, with its laserlike focus on what happened five seconds ago and what that will mean for the next fifteen minutes." (Eric Alterman/TheNation)



"In spite of efforts by the Obama administration to stop it falling into the hands of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the Bradstone Challenger – a high-performance powerboat built with support from a US defence contractor – is believed to be under new and dangerous ownership. The unusual journey of the Bladerunner 51 powerboat began in 2005 when a team led by UK adventurer Neil McGrigor took it from a Florida boatyard and smashed the Italian-held record for the fastest circumnavigation of Britain. The time of 27 hours and 10 minutes, at an average speed of 61.5 mph including fuel stops, still stands. Advertised for sale the next year through a broker 'as the ultimate toy for someone looking for something a little bit special', the 51ft craft caught the eye of the Iranians. Initial attempts to buy it were blocked by the UK Department of Trade and Industry. As the Financial Times has learned from defence and industry sources, Iran did not give up. After the boat passed through at least two more parties, the US got wind in January 2009 it was about to be transferred in the South African port of Durban on to a Hong Kong-flagged Iranian merchant vessel, the Diplomat, bound for the Gulf. The US commerce department’s Bureau of Industry and Security asked South African authorities to block the transfer. It voiced concern that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards intended to use the boat as a 'fast attack craft'. The bureau noted that similar vessels had been armed with 'torpedoes, rocket launchers and anti-ship missiles' with the aim of 'exploiting enemy vulnerabilities through the use of swarming tactics by small boats'. The loading went ahead because, said one source, no one saw the US notice sent by fax over a weekend." (FT)



"Many writers and readers now consider Vladimir Nabokov to be at least among the greatest novelists of the 20th century. Martin Amis, in New York last November to celebrate Nabokov on the eve of the publication of his unfinished novel The Original of Laura, told me that he would rate Ulysses ahead of any Nabokov novel (as would I, more often than not), but rightly stressed that Nabokov comes out far ahead of Joyce in grand slams. In the 1920s and 1930s Nabokov, always a prodigious worker, was at his most prolific, although writing mostly for the small and shrinking audience of the Russian emigration, which Soviet propaganda caricatured as reactionary and effete. By the time of his arrival in the United States in 1940, he had a huge backlog of acclaimed Russian works, which he urgently wanted to appear in English, but not until Lolita made him famous in 1958 did publishers seek his Russian output. His son, Dmitri, recently graduated from Harvard, was just then becoming old enough to serve as his principal translator. By the 1960s a stream of old work joined the steady flow of new work to make a flood. His books began to appear with exhilarating but almost exhausting rapidity, despite his slow, superscrupulous habits of composition: 15 new or thoroughly revised books appeared in the decade before his death. Six of these volumes were translated by Dmitri—who was by this time an opera singer and, to his parents’ relief, no longer a race car driver—in conjunction with his father." (Bryan Boyd/TheAmericanScholar)



"The Atlantic’s Joshua Green is speculating that Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council, is not long for this presidential administration. 'I think Summers is going to leave sooner rather than later, possibly before the mid-term elections, and if not then, soon afterward,' he writes. Green cites Summers’s bitterness at not having been named secretary of the Treasury or chairman of the Fed as irreparable blows to his 'fragile ego.' Reportedly, 'Summers demanded a series of perks as compensation, including cabinet status, golf dates with the president, and a personal car and driver. In the ‘No Drama’ Obama administration, such behavior stands out.' So, what can we expect in what may be the winter of Summers’s career?" (VanityFair)



"This Sunday Google CEO Eric Schmidt will address the American Society of Newspaper Editors at their conference in Washington D.C.—and, par for the course, it’s on the heels of a Rupert Murdoch appearance at the National Press Club with Google among the topics. At a lengthy taping of The Kalb Report moderated by Marvin Kalb, Murdoch warbled his usual 'stop Google' refrain but added some touches: 'I don’t think we’ll charge them; they just will say no. We’d be very happy if they just publish our headline and maybe a sentence or two—followed by a subscription form for the Journal.' Yes, that last bit of wishful thinking came with a laugh. (The video is here; we’ll embed a version if possible.) Murdoch also would like other publishers to insist Google and other aggregators pay to use their work or do their own reporting. 'They ought to stop it, the newspapers ought to stand up and let them do their own reporting.'" (Paidcontent)



"Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy announced they've split on Twitter last night. 'Jenny and I have just ended our 5yr relationship. I'm grateful 4 the many blessings we've shared and I wish her the very best!,' tweeted the 'Ace Ventura' star. Carrey's rep confirmed the split. McCarthy then started Tweeting about the breakup minutes later on her own account, saying, 'I'm so grateful for the years Jim and I had together. I will stay committed to Jane [Carrey's daughter] and will always keep Jim as a leading man in my heart.'" (PageSix)



"Like performance art, street art is receiving critical attention with museum-quality shows opening across America and abroad. Jeffrey Deitch’s final show starring Shepard Fairey, his Os Gemeos mural on Houston Street, Jonathan Levine’s impressive 5th anniversary show, and Banksy’s show at the Bristol Museum are all examples of this trend. Street artists tend to work independently and embrace anarchistic ideals. They share an intense sense of community like the performance artists but make 'anti-art,' or art that communicates with everyday people about socially relevant themes as opposed to art that is meant for an exclusive group. This practice intends to establish itself as a legitimate form of contemporary art not by subverting the art market, as performance does, but by embracing the art market ...The logical next step is for the commercial and academic realms of contemporary art to embrace the legitimacy of editions or multiples. Many multiples from the 1960s play on consumerism, such as Claes Oldenberg’s 1966 Wedding Souvenir (cake slices) and Andy Warhol’s screenprinted Brillo Boxes. Joseph Beuys, whose first Felt Suite in 1970 was made in an edition of 100, famously said, 'If you have all my multiples, then you have me entirely.'" (WhiteWallmag)




"In the first minutes of Israel’s assault on Gaza on December 27, 2008, F-16s fired missiles into the police headquarters and three police stations, killing ninety-nine policemen (and nine civilians). Israel viewed Gaza’s police as an ancillary wing of Hamas, the political and military force which governs Gaza, to be mobilized as soldiers in times of war. The wave of attacks thus constituted a preemptive strike at Hamas’s military infrastructure. Israeli strikes would kill a total of 248 members of Gaza’s police force in the course of the Cast Lead operation. But these men were, in fact, policemen; had Israel not invaded Gaza that day, many would have gone off to direct traffic and do the other things police officers do elsewhere. Were they civilians or were they combatants? The report of the U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, known as the Goldstone Report (after Richard Goldstone, the South African jurist who served as chief investigator), concluded that the attack on the police stations violated principles of international humanitarian law, which require those who wage war to minimize harm to civilians. The report cites the attack as only one of many instances where the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) may have committed war crimes. The Goldstone Report, released last September, constitutes a grave blow to Israel’s reputation worldwide—or, rather, it will unless Israel succeeds in refuting its conclusions." (James Traub/WorldAffairsJournal)



"How is the financial crisis affecting the race for global pre-eminence between New York and London? The latest Global Financial Centres report from consultants Z/Yen Group showed that London had lost its lead over New York, leaving the twin sisters of global finance level pegging. Yet this is a marathon, not a sprint. In the longer run, the overall shape of regulation and tax, and more particularly the future handling of institutions that are too big or too interconnected to fail, will dictate the outcome. Here the picture is far from clear. One reasonably safe bet is that a new Basel agreement, however onerous, will provide the basis for a level playing field on capital and liquidity. The unpredictability starts with unilateral measures, where the US is currently making the pace. While the Obama bank levy initially looked a potential shot in the foot for New York, it looks less so now that the political mood in the UK and continental Europe is moving to a more hostile stance on bank taxation. But it is hard to believe that the 1,336-page Dodd Bill on US financial reform – compare and contrast with the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act’s 17 pages – will not give rise to the law of unintended consequences." (FT)



(image via JH/NYSD)

"The Interior design community got involved with Lenox Hill Neighborhood House through the interest of Albert Hadley, now the dean of American Interior Designers who volunteered to help more than 35 years ago. As a result of the design community’s participation, fostered by Mr. Hadley, the d├ęcor of the gala is fresh and elegant (and colorful) and everyone is encouraged in this black tie affair to put their best (fashion) foot forward. Last night they had between 500 and 600 for cocktails and then 300 remaining for dinner with Alex Donner and his orchestra providing the music. The theme was 'Shall We Dance' and the dance floor was made up of shiny black squares that looked very much like the Bakelite floors that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced on in the films. I sat between Louise Grunwald and Sydney Shuman. Louise had Sean Driscoll on the other side of her. Sean’s Glorious Foods provided a delicious menu." (NYSocialDiary)



"WHAT: Book release party for Classy by Derek Blasberg. WHEN: April 6. WHERE: Barneys. WHO: ...hostesses Lauren Santo Domingo, Chloe Sevigny, and Dasha Zhukova with guests including Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, Simon Doonan, Jessica Stam, Elletra Wiedemann, Katie Lee, Tamara Mellon, Marjorie Gubelman, Jen Brill, and Francisco Costa." (Caroline Torem Craig/Papermag)

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