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Monday, June 14, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Read (James Risen's U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan story) a little more carefully, though, and you realize that there's less to this scoop than meets the eye. For one thing, the findings on which the story was based are online and have been since 2007, courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey. More information is available on the Afghan mining ministry's website, including a report by the British Geological Survey (and there's more here). You can also take a look at the USGS's documentation of the airborne part of the survey here, including the full set of aerial photographs. Nowhere have I found that $1 trillion figure mentioned, which Risen suggests was generated by a Pentagon task force seeking to help the Afghan government develop its resources (looking at the chart accompanying the article, though, it appears to be a straightforward tabulation of the total reserve figures for each mineral times current the current market price). According to Risen, that task force has begun prepping the mining ministry to start soliciting bids for mineral rights in the fall. Don't get me wrong. This could be a great thing for Afghanistan, which certainly deserves a lucky break after the hell it's been through over the last three decades. But I'm (a) skeptical of that $1 trillion figure; (b) skeptical of the timing of this story, given the bad news cycle, and (c) skeptical that Afghanistan can really figure out a way to develop these resources in a useful way. It's also worth noting, as Risen does, that it will take years to get any of this stuff out of the ground, not to mention enormous capital investment." (Blake Hounshell/ForeignPolicy)



"Among American Jews today, there are a great many Zionists, especially in the Orthodox world, people deeply devoted to the State of Israel. And there are a great many liberals, especially in the secular Jewish world, people deeply devoted to human rights for all people, Palestinians included. But the two groups are increasingly distinct. Particularly in the younger generations, fewer and fewer American Jewish liberals are Zionists; fewer and fewer American Jewish Zionists are liberal. One reason is that the leading institutions of American Jewry have refused to foster—indeed, have actively opposed—a Zionism that challenges Israel’s behavior in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and toward its own Arab citizens. For several decades, the Jewish establishment has asked American Jews to check their liberalism at Zionism’s door, and now, to their horror, they are finding that many young Jews have checked their Zionism instead." (Peter Beinart/NYRB)



"...Apparently Laurence Graff, the founder of Graff Diamonds has recently bought a chalet in Gstaad. The jeweler is also trying to open a shop in the Swiss ski resort. Many of the locals are opposed to it. Not only the Swiss, but the well-healed foreigners who inhabit the low-key ski station. The residents are teaming up to fight against the opening of Graff Diamonds because they don’t want Gstaad turned into a shopping center like St. Mortiz, nor do they want businesses with thuggish looking security guards guarding the front door ... Girl about town Amanda Hearst was recently spotted in Madrid at a fashion show dragging her ex’s name through the mud. Apparently, Colombian billionaire Alejandro Santo Domingo dumped her and is now dating swim suit model, Julie Henderson. Poor Amanda must be miffed since losing one of the best catches on the high society market. Who can blame her, though it takes two, and rumor has it she isn’t the brightest heiress around." (Gossiphopper)



"Except for a small segment of the committed sub-culture population, interest in the environment seemed to disappear and ceased to be topical in popular culture until 2006 when along came Al Gore’s groundbreaking, eye-opening film – 'An Inconvenient Truth' sounding a warning call for immediate global action. However action, though doable, is frequently complex and fraught with conflict. Early last week, down at FIT, they opened their current exhibition 'Eco-Fashion: Going Green' earlier last week. The show, curated by the Jennifer Farley and Colleen Hill, under the aegis of Valerie Steele, features more than 100 garments spanning two centuries and highlights such contemporary Designers as Yeohlee, Katie Brierly, John Patrick, Robert Tagliapiera. The eco-friendly fashion on display is not only fascinating but also beautiful, vividly demonstrating eco-chic." (NYSocialDiary)



(image via amc via nytimes)

"AMC has closed a deal to renew Vince Gilligan's dark drama Breaking Bad for a fourth season. The network is expected to make the announcement tomorrow, following tonight's third season finale. The deal had been in the works for almost two months, after the network first notified the auspices on the Sony TV-produced series of the pickup in April. I hear the sticking issue between AMC and Sony was the budget for the upcoming season, with the network eyeing a production budget of about $3.1 million per episode, while the show's creative team was pulling for $3.3 million. After weeks of crunching numbers, I hear the two sides came to an agreement, splitting the budget gap in the middle." (Deadline)



"The United States and England played to a draw in their first match of the World Cup, but ABC got a big victory. The network's coverage of the game was the fifth-most-watched World Cup game on the network since it began carrying the tournament in 1994. According to Nielsen, 13 million total viewers watched Saturday's 2:30 p.m. match, which ended with a 1-1 tie. Some 3.8 million more watched the match on Univision, giving the game a total audience of 16.8 million viewers, or 400,000 more than the audience for game four of the NBA finals and more than double the audience for the deciding game of the NHL finals." (Medialifemagazine)



"Steven Klein has done some video work in the past for Madonna, but directing 'Alejandro' for Lady Gaga was his first proper music video. So how did it come about? He told MTV via email: 'I went to see her show in NYC, and it felt like performance art in the '90s. And I had not seen anything like that in a while. Lady Gaga approached me about doing this particular song, and in the past, I have passed on such offers, but this time I felt [a] narrative drive you could make interesting, and we both aligned on the vision for the film.' The video, since debuting two days ago, has elicited plenty of the expected buzz — not all of it positive." (Fashionologie)



"In Boston last night, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and his newly hired coach of the Nets, Avery Johnson, walked into Game 5 of the Finals between the Celtics and the Lakers together, and took a pair of baseline seats. Just a few hours prior, the two men met for the first time in Mr. Prokhrov's hotel suite, according to the New York Daily News. Proportionally and culturally speaking, Mr. Prokhorov and Mr. Johnson are a funny pairing. Mr. Prokhorov is 6'9 and speaks like the Terminator meets Russian mobster. Mr. Johnson, formerly the coach of Mark Cuban Dallas Mevericks, is 5'11 and has a nasally, Louisiana twang." (Observer)

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