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Friday, July 08, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"In 2006, New York-based freelance photographer Tim McKulka took a job with the U.N. Mission in Sudan based in the southern capital of Juba. 'At the time, I had only read about Sudan from a distance, and knew some vague things about it,' he says. 'I certainly wasn't an analyst by any stretch.' Once there, McKulka discovered that his U.N. affiliation gave him a unique freedom of movement in a country whose government is often chary about foreign journalists. After a few years he had amassed a formidable archive of images, and started thinking about what use they might serve to Africa's largest country at a moment when it was coming apart at the seams. The result is We'll Make Our Homes Here: Sudan at the Referendum, a U.N.-published book that joins McKulka's photographs with reflections on Sudanese identity from 17 Sudanese writers, spanning everything from political analysis and journalism to fiction and poetry. (The book is being published in a limited print run by the U.N. Mission in Sudan, and will soon be available in digital form as a free iPad app.) 'I had originally envisioned it as a kind of peace-building tool, to foster dialogue to let people hear other perspectives, or at least have them out there,' McKulka says. We'll Make Our Homes Here is the first book to include photography from all 25 Sudanese states -- and, thanks to South Sudan's decision in January to secede on July 9, also the last." (ForeignPolicy)

"America’s public sector has not produced many pleasant financial surprises this year. This week, however, one emerged: John Liu, New York City Comptroller, announced that in the year to June 30, the City’s pension fund produced returns of more than 20 per cent, raising total assets to $119bn.
Admittedly, that level is only slightly higher than in June 2008, or just before the financial crunch. But it does, at least, mean that the losses of 2008 and 2009 have been erased. Better still, Mr Liu is not the only comptroller with good news to share: this year a host of other public pension funds, like their corporate counterparts, have also produced large gains, as rising stock and bond prices have boosted asset values. So far, so welcome. But before any politician – or pensioner – gets too excited, it is timely to ask some hard questions about how these state pension pots are managed. For, there is a paradox hanging over America’s vast state pension sector. On paper, it would seem as if these giant funds should be bedrocks for America’s financial system. They are not only crucial in policy terms, but vast in size: New York State, Texas and California all have pots worth more than $100bn, giving them clout in the stock and bond markets, as well as in the private equity and hedge fund worlds.
But while these funds are vast, the system used to run this money is often antiquated .." (Gillian Tett)

"Harry Smith, who has been with CBS News for 25 years, is leaving the network, we’ve learned. In a note to the staff, obtained by TVNewser, CBS News president David Rhodes writes, 'Harry Smith has been a fixture here at CBS News for a generation — he joined us in Dallas in 1986 — but today he’s decided to move on.'Late last year, Smith was part of a shuffling of anchors at 'The Early Show.' The team of Smith, Maggie Rodriguez and Dave Price was moved out, as Erica Hill, Chris Wragge, Marysol Castro and Jeff Glor took over. We hear Smith is headed to NBC News where he’ll be a part of the new primetime news magazine show anchored by Brian Williams." (TVNewser)

"Even before Michael Rapaport's documentary 'Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest' was officially released, the film had kicked up controversy in the hip-hop world. Q-Tip refused to attend the Sundance, Tribeca and Los Angeles film festival screenings of the movie, claiming Rapaport had not gotten sign-off from him and the other band members. Now Tip and the rest of the band are urging fans to see the film. And that's not surprising: Rapaport's film is as close to a Tribe Called Quest love letter as you can get. 'Beats, Rhymes &Life' captures the essence of the seminal group formed in 1985 in Queens by Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White and is a moving, fun portrait of what the band looks like today. WNYC's Abbie Fentress Swanson spoke to the Upper East Side actor-turned filmmaker about hip-hop, sampling and the drama around the movie, which opens in theaters on Friday. Abbie Fentress Swanson: First, what’s your favorite Tribe song? Michael Rapaport: It’s hard to pick one Tribe song that is my favorite. I'd say “ Lyrics to Go.” I love that song -- I love the Minnie Riperton sample. AFS: When I saw your film at Tribeca, a lot of people were dancing in their seats. But how do you think your film will be received by people who aren't fans of A Tribe Called Quest? MR: Well, the music is easy. Tribe did all the hard work ... So I’m just sort of putting that out there. I think for the non-Tribe fans, aside from the music, I think that the emotional core of the film, and the humor, which was a big surprise to me, of the film, would be something that can appeal to film fans. The humor was the biggest surprise for me ... There are scenes that are like funny scenes. AFS: Which ones? MR: Well, Phife is funny a lot ... Q-Tip is really funny, too .." (WNYC)

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