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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"U.S.-Russian relations seem to have been relatively quiet recently, as there are numerous contradictory views in Washington about the true nature of Russia’s current foreign policy. Doubts remain about the sincerity of the U.S. State Department’s so-called 'reset' of relations with Russia — the term used in 2009 when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handed a reset button to her Russian counterpart as a symbol of a freeze on escalating tensions between Moscow and Washington. The concern is whether the 'reset' is truly a shift in relations between the two former adversaries or simply a respite before relations deteriorate again. The reset actually had little to do with the United States wanting Russia as a friend and ally. Rather, Washington wanted to create room to handle other situations — mainly Afghanistan and Iran — and ask Russia for help. (Russia is aiding in moving supplies into Afghanistan and withholding critical support from Iran.) Meanwhile, Russia also wanted more room to set up a system that would help it create a new version of its old empire. Russia’s ultimate plan is to re-establish control over much of its former territories. This inevitably will lead Moscow and Washington back into a confrontation, negating any so-called reset, as Russian power throughout Eurasia is a direct threat to the U.S. ability to maintain its global influence. This is how Russia has acted throughout history in order to survive. (STRATFOR )


"On most mornings, the senior editorial staffers at China's hyper-nationalistic Global Times newspaper flash their identification badges at the uniformed guard outside their compound in eastern Beijing and roll into the office between 9 and 10 a.m. They leave around midnight. In the hectic intervening 14 hours, they commission and edit articles and editorials on topics ranging from asserting China's unassailable claims to the South China Sea to the United States' nefarious role in the global financial crisis to the mind-boggling liquor bills of China's state-owned enterprises, to assemble a slim, 16-page tabloid with a crimson banner and eye-popping headlines. In the late afternoon, staffers propose topics for the all-important lead editorial to editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, who makes all final decisions and has an instinct for the jugular. Take last Tuesday's saber-rattling editorial, printed with only slight variations in the Chinese and English editions, which duly unnerved many overseas readers. 'Recently, both the Philippines and South Korean authorities have detained fishing boats from China, and some of those boats haven't been returned,' the editorial fumed. 'If these countries don't want to change their ways with China, they will need to prepare for the sounds of cannons.' The war-mongering language was meant to attract attention, and that it did, with Reuters, Manila Times, Jakarta Globe, The West Australian, Taipei Times, and other overseas media referencing it in news articles. The bellicose editorial was certainly newsworthy, assuming that the paper on some level is a mouthpiece for China's rulers. But whose views, exactly, does Global Times really represent?" (ForeignPolicy)


(image via cbsnews)

"The conversation at dinner last night was the Ruth Madoff and her son Andrew Madoff's interview with Morley Safer on CBS. I didn't see it but listened to some of it. I heard very little sympathy expressed for the lady afterwards. So many tend to believe she 'knew.' Mrs. Madoff's voice was low and depressed, however, she may have appeared on screen. There was little she could say that would exonerate her for those who don't believe her. There is nothing that she can say or do that will redeem her. To these ears, it was the voice of a woman whose life is ruined, and doubly painful because of the suicide of her son Mark. The word that came up several times from her was 'unimaginable.' And it remains just that –- unimaginable in terms of her losses of family and life and the thousands of people whose lives were shattered or at least turned upside down. Although those who I know suffered great financial losses have picked up the pieces and gone on. For Ruth Madoff there will be none of that, although her son Andrew is young enough to recover and make a life for himself and his family. The question must arise over and over: why did he do it? How could he do it? When asked why Ruth Madoff considered his family background, his father who failed in business, and the young son's desire to best or better it. Although the ultimate answer that touched everyone associated with the Ponzi scheme, including the duped and unthinking is the same: Greed. The enemy of the people." (NYSocialDiary)


"Sunday’s '60 Minutes' finished as the 5th most-watched primetime show of the week with 18.56 million Total Viewers — its largest audience in nearly a year and the best A25-54 and A18-49 performance in nearly three years. With the Pittsburgh Steelers-New England Patriots NFL lead-in, the show featured Morley Safer‘s sitdowns with Ruth Madoff and her son Andrew — their first interviews since the ponzi scheme of Bernie Madoff was revealed in 2008." (TVNewser)


"It’s a tiny, tree-shaded cul-de-sac, so tucked away in Benedict Canyon that few in this steep-sided haven of Los Angeles’s wealthy and famous ever noticed it until recently. But around the first and only curve of Tower Lane stand the high, wrought-iron gates of a 5.25-acre estate that has become the talk of Beverly Hills. The gates are padlocked, clearly little used, the irises of their Art Nouveau grillwork seeming to droop from old stone pillars in Transylvanian gloom. One bright September morning, a giant of a workman fiddles with the lock and the gates swing open with a groan. Inside, a narrow gravel driveway climbs in switchbacks up an untended hillside, past an ancient tennis court, past some rough-hewn horse stables and then a crumbling red-brick patio and grotto-style pool. At the top of the property once stood the 17-room Spanish Colonial home of celebrated movie director King Vidor ( The Fountainhead; War and Peace ). Now the house is gone, and only a clearing remains. Hillside land, with a view of the distant Pacific—that’s what a Saudi prince paid $12 million for in November 2009. That and architectural plans for a new house to be built there. Those plans, which grew more expansive after the prince bought the property, are what have so many of his new neighbors up in arms. Hundreds have come to meetings. More than 1,100 have signed a petition to express their objections. The neighbors have hired top L.A. lawyers to challenge every detail and step of the process. The prince has hired top L.A. lawyers of his own. There hasn’t been a real-estate standoff like this in the canyon since the early 1990s, when financier Robert Manoukian, then a close associate of the Sultan of Brunei, tried to ram through a 59,000-square-foot compound on nearby Tower Road. Manoukian found out how powerful his new neighbors were: he never did build that house. The new owner on Tower Lane has learned the same lesson, though who will win this latest war is by no means clear." (VanityFair)


"Brian Williams’ new primetime newsmagazine Rock Center appears not to be the answer to NBC’s ratings woes. Halloween played a ratings trick on the new show, which opened with a low 1.0/3 in 18-49 and 4.1 million viewers at 10 PM last night. That is below the average for the canceled The Playboy Club that Rock Center replaced (down 38% in the demo from The Playboy Club premiere last month) and lower than the performance of NBC’s veteran newsmagazine Dateline on the less-trafficked Sunday night. It marked NBC’s lowest Monday debut ever." (Deadline)

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