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Monday, September 19, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Nobody knows exactly how much money China has already invested in European government bonds. In Italy, the number is apparently 4% of total debt, which would amount to 76 billion euros. In Spain, Portugal and Greece, several billion more. However, as the latest worsening of the euro crisis shows, China’s move did not influence financial markets. But it’s enough for China to be seen as a potential savior in case of dire emergency. The apparent generosity of the new economic superpower is aimed at changing European perceptions and polishing up China’s image. China needs to win the confidence of European trade partners because that will mean quicker acceptance of it as a market economy - thus removing various constraints with regard to trade with the EU. The EU – not the United States - is China‘s most important trading partner. But China has also been investing directly in European companies. The country is seeking to build down its reserves of dollars and transfer more capital to Europe. The People's Bank of China recently bought strongly into Munich Re. And in early August, Lenovo, the Chinese computer manufacturer, bought a majority holding in German consumer electronics company Medion. Germany is officially China’s most important European partner, but so far they’ve held off with the really big investments out of fear of political pushback such as occurred in 2008 when Dresdner Bank was up for sale and an alleged offer from China unleashed a storm of political concern. In the last five years, China has invested $218 billion worldwide according to estimates of the U.S.-based Heritage Foundation. Of that, 34.8 billion euros went to Europe, $28 billion to the United States, and $61 billion to Canada and South America." (WorldCrunch Via GPS)



"The last time Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu shared each other’s company, you could say that the encounter did not go well if by not well you mean abysmally. This was on May 20, the day after Obama gave his big speech on the Arab Spring, in which he unleashed a tsunami of tsuris by endorsing the use of Israel’s 1967 borders with mutually agreed [land] swaps as the basis for a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Obama and Netanyahu were seated in the Oval Office for what was supposed to be one of those photo ops devoted to roasting rhetorical chestnuts about the solidity of the U.S.-Israel alliance. Instead, while Obama watched silently, looking poleaxed, Netanyahu lectured him for seven and a half minutes, on live televisionabout the folly, the sheer absurdity, of suggesting Israel ever return to what he called the indefensible 1967 lines. Obama was furious with Netanyahu, who in choosing to ignore the crucial qualifier about land swaps had twisted Obama’s words beyond recognition the kind of mendacious misinterpretation that makes the presidential mental. The seniormost members of Obama’s team felt much the same. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates, Bill Daley, the former Mideast-peace envoy George Mitchell: All were apoplectic with the prime minister, whose behavior over the past two years had already tried their patience. The collective view here is that he is a small-minded, fairly craven politician, says an administration source deeply involved in its efforts to push the parties to the negotiating table. And one who simply isn’t serious about making peace." (John Heilmann)


"In the shetlsphere today we’ll be discussing John Heilemann’s New York cover story on President Obama, Israel, and the Jews. It is a nice summation of where we are on the eve of the United Nations action, with some nice scenic overlooks involving new reporting, including about potential problems Team Obama will have with Jewish donors. Toward the end, Heilemann discusses the Jewish vote, and how it could prove important in states like Florida and Pennsylvania. Then he quotes one writer to the effect that Israel may prove the battleground the Republican presidential candidate chooses on which to mount his or her attack of Obama’s foreign policy record, and … hey … that’s me being quoted! Heilemann cites my case that Gov. Rick Perry and other Republicans fervently and frequently proclaims his support for and love of Israel because Israel (and Iran) are where Obama is most vulnerable, national security-wise—among not only Jews but everyone. He calls this “perfect bullshit,” and just in case it’s not clear enough, I’m pretty sure—I hope!—he is referring to the Republican argument that Obama’s Israel policy reveals him to be a blame-America-first ultra-dove, and not, er, my argument that the Republicans will try to use Israel to pin that label on Obama. (Here is the post Heilemann quoted from. I also made it clear here that I consider Obama’s policies to be pro-Israel. And I interviewed Tevi Troy and Matt Duss about it.) Heilemann’s piece surely went to press before Perry published his op-ed chastising Obama on Israel; and before Perry announced a $2500-a-head kosher fundraiser in New York; and before (yikes) Perry announced he would be holding a press conference Tuesday in New York with MK Danny Danon, the politician most closely associated with the plan to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank; and before (yikes!) Netanyahu’s people mentioned the prime minister might make a side trip to New York’s ninth congressional district, site of last week’s Israel-heavy special election." (TabletMag)


"Of the more than half million visitors who attended 'Savage Beauty,' the Metropolitan Museum’s blockbuster show dedicated to the work of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, few felt more intimately acquainted with the works on display than Daphne Guinness. Guinness was a friend of McQueen, as well as an aficionado of his designs. She owned close duplicates of many of the clothes in the exhibition. Guinness has been variously described in the press as an heiress, a muse, a socialite, a designer, and an artist, and though all these characterizations are partly accurate, none quite conveys her affect, which is that of a slightly deranged fairy invented by C. S. Lewis. Her aesthetic is often futuristic, but she also appears to have come from a bygone age when getting dressed was considered a demanding form of self-expression, rather than an opportunity to wallow in spandex-enabled comfort. With her fondness for lace ruffles and velvet chokers and frock coats of the sort worn by Regency dandies, and the disciplined line of her silhouette, Guinness often resembles both a Gainsborough portrait of a lady and a Gainsborough portrait of the lady’s husband. Her appearance is so interesting it suggests that her appearance is the least interesting thing about her. Guinness’s father is Jonathan Guinness, a baron and an heir to the Irish brewery fortune; her grandmother was Diana Mitford, whom she resembles in appearance." (NewYorker)



"It used to be that a favorable "Q" score, a high rating on the Davie Brown Index or good old-fashioned ubiquity was enough for a celebrity to secure a high-profile endorsement deal. But increasingly, an active social-media profile has become one of the most important deal-points for brands, talent agents and even PR agencies to consider when negotiating contracts. "Advertising agencies are asking more and more, "How many fans on Facebook do you have? Are you on Google+? What's your Klout score, what's your client's Klout score?'" said George Ruiz, head of digital media for International Creative Management. "These questions are being asked on every single deal that comes from the ad world as they're asking, "Are we hiring the right person to get our message out?'" The lack of sophisticated influence metrics had begun to take its toll on major PR firms such as Interpublic Group of Cos.' PMK-BNC, one of Hollywood's largest publicity shops, with a roster of more than 300 celeb clients. "We had a problem, because if you go to Washington, you hire a lobbyist to do what we do. But now if you come to Hollywood, you do it yourself," said Chris Robichaud, co-CEO of PMK-BNC. 'People are making multimillion-dollar decisions based on nothing or gut instinct. Clients will say, 'I have a Q score, but what do I do with it?'" To help connect the dots of its clients' (and comparable celebrities') influence, awareness and likability, PMK-BNC has introduced a new measurement tool, FanDNA, in partnership with Interpret. The tool compiles quarterly data on top actors, musicians, models and athletes to rate their appeal to certain affinity groups, match them with the most-appropriate brands and ultimately measure the impact of their branding deals. " (ADAge)


"This year’s massive edition of the Toronto International Film Festival came to a close this weekend with Nadine Labaki’s surprise audience award win for 'Where Do We Go Now?.' Her drama was just one of over 200 films that screened over the course of the 11-day event. indieWIRE was on the scene to review the hot titles and report on the breakouts, the buys, the stars and the parties." (INDIEWIRE)


"WHEN is anything going to go right for Barack Obama in the Middle East? The president came to office hoping to deliver a two-state solution in Palestine, and wasted a lot of political capital failing to do so. He wanted dearly to put America on the right side of the Arab spring, though this entailed joining a war in one Arab country (Libya) while looking on helplessly while another (Syria) slaughtered its own citizens. Now he has been drawn into a tangle of quarrels between America’s best friends in the eastern Mediterranean, from which there may be no exit. Only yesterday, or so it seems, the eastern Mediterranean was a tranquil lake, policed congenially by the American sixth fleet. Israel, Egypt and Turkey were all friends not only of the United States but also of one another. Over the years, it is true, the peace between Israel and Egypt grew cold. After the 2008 Gaza war between Israel and Hamas a frost settled on relations between Israel and Turkey as well. Behind the scenes, however, the governments (and armed forces) of the three countries seemed happy to stick to their strategic understandings, leading policymakers in America to hope that this might be at least one virtuous triangle in the otherwise vicious geometry of the Middle East. No longer." (TheEconomist)



"Like the experience of warfare, the endurance of grave or terminal illness involves long periods of tedium and anxiety, punctuated by briefer interludes of stark terror and pain. This endurance need not necessarily be one's own: indeed, the experience of watching over a sibling or mate in extremis can be even more acute. But nothing, according to the experts, compares to the clutching, choking nightmare that engulfs the one who is slowly bereft of a child. It is horrible to see oneself die without children. NapolĂ©on Bonaparte said that. What greater grief can there be for mortals than to see their children dead. Euripides said that.  When we talk about mortality we are talking about our children.  I said that. Joan Didion, here slightly syncopating in the Bob Dylan manner, has striven with intense dignity and courage in Blue Nights to deepen and extend the effect of The Year of Magical Thinking, her 2005 narrative of the near-simultaneous sudden death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and the onset of the fatal illness of their daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne Michael. In the course of setting it down, she came to realize that she could no longer compose in the old style: the one that she had 'supposed to be like writing music.' And what kind of music could this have been, except the Blues? But blue is more than the shade of a symphony." (Christopher Hitchens)

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