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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

 

"China will break with a 30-year tradition by not sending high-level officials to the World Economic Forum at Davos, which falls this year in the middle of Chinese New Year festivities. Beijing approached WEF organisers early in 2011 and suggested they move this year’s gathering to an earlier date, making it possible for senior Chinese officials to attend the event. 'Can we imagine that this event takes place in Christmas?' asked Cheng Li, a China specialist at the Brookings Institution in the US. 'A more telling point is that nowadays an international economic forum without the presence of China is an embarrassment, not for China, but for the forum organisers.'" (FT)


"As the global elite gather for the World Economic Forum this week the topic of discussion is less about creating wealth for the less fortunate or helping the developing world -- it's about saving the core. Perhaps not surprisingly, economist Nouriel Roubini says don't hold your breath, calling 2012 a year of 'no progress.' But Eurasia Group's Ian Bremmer is also worried about the retreat of democracy and inequality becoming a global class war ... (Ian Bremmer): Last year's Davos fell in the middle of the financial crisis, and then Egypt hit right in the middle -- and no one knew what to do with that. Looking at it a year on, it's not like we've moved back to Frank Fukuyama and the 'End of History.' This has not been a year where democracy is bursting out all over; it's vastly more complex than that. Part of the reason is the existence of major economic disjunctures, but part of it is because the global backdrop is not one where Western, democratic values or the free market is actually leading the charge. In the old days, you had the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank providing money, but they also influenced economic shock therapy and political reform. Well, the Chinese have no interest in doing that. The Chinese Development Bank is putting more money on the table than the World Bank and the IMF combined. Nouriel Roubini: 'Last year was one in which there was a whole series of tail risks that led to uncertainty, to volatility. They optimists said that these were just temporary shocks: rising commodity prices, the Arab Spring, the Japanese earthquake, the eurozone problems, the worries about the U.S. fiscal environment. But if you look at all these things, they're not temporary, they're not reversible, and these shocks are going to persist -- and the sources of uncertainty as well.'" (ForeignPolicy)


"Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper has called off his engagement to fashion designer Tara Subkoff, who’s just told friends and Hooper that she’s a few months pregnant with his child, according to sources. The pair were quietly engaged in Paris in May after meeting around the Golden Globes in January last year. 'They had just celebrated their one-year anniversary,' said a source close to the couple. But 'The King’s Speech' director last weekend broke off their relationship and left New York for London, as Subkoff suspected she was pregnant. Sources close to Subkoff say the couple had been trying for a baby for months, and, 'She took several home pregnancy tests,' after he left for London. Now 'Imitation' creator Subkoff is telling friends a doctor has confirmed her pregnancy and she is 'distraught' about the end of their relationship. However, a source close to Hooper confirms he broke off their engagement, but insists he had no idea she was expecting until Subkoff left him a voice mail yesterday. 'He broke up with her on Friday, and the last time they spoke was Saturday. He did not know she was pregnant — there was no discussion of her being pregnant,' the source said. 'Then he got this voice mail [yesterday] from Tara saying she’s pregnant. He doesn’t know what to do.'" (PageSix)


"On Monday, there was an official 'premiere' screening by the Cinema Society of Madonna’s new film W.E., about the Windsors – Wallis and Davidthe Duke and Duchess of Windsor and their now immortal romance. I haven’t seen it and at this rate I may never see it because having read as much as I have about them, and heard as much as I’ve been told by many who knew them intimately (spent a lot of time in their company), they remain an enigma whose mystery has dissolved to myth. From the many incidents recounted to me by those who were part of their social circle, as a couple, they were most interesting in almost every way because of Who they Were, and not because it was some great love affair. The real life eyewitness version of their love affair actually sounds kind of vapid and even a crashing bore. But then that’s not unusual with people who have an inordinate amount of time on their hands, with little to do other than visit their friends or shop." (NYSocialDiary)


"The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, will be getting his own TV news program on RT (formerly Russia Today). RT has ordered 10 episodes of the talk show, which it says will feature Assange interviewing “iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders” from inside the home where he is currently serving house arrest in England. No word yet on who Assange’s guests may be, or when the series will debut." (TVNewser)


"U.S. special forces staged a daring raid in Somalia on Wednesday morning, rescuing two foreign aid workers including an American.The aid workers, American Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Thisted, were being held by Somali pirates reports said. President Obama praised the successful rescue in a statement released by the White House. 'On Monday, I authorized an operation to rescue Jessica Buchanan, an American citizen who was kidnapped and held against her will for three months in Somalia,' Obama said. 'Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our Special Operations Forces, yesterday Jessica Buchanan was rescued and she is on her way home. As Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts.' CBS News reported that the assault was carried out by members of the same SEAL team responsible for killing Osama bin Laden. The SEAL team parachuted into the heavily-guarded compound, secured the hostages and left in helicopters. Many Somali militants were killed in the assault, but there were no reports if any of the American troops were wounded" (TheHill)


"I'm not the biggest fan of Chelsea Handler, but yesterday on Howard Stern she said she had sex with 50 Cent and their relationship ended because she used an epithet that was borderline racist, likening his behavior to that of the street. Whew! You're not supposed to answer these questions, you're supposed to be evasive, it's supposed to be private. But now privacy's for pussies, the hoi polloi give it up online day after day, it's the celebrities who are out of touch, no wonder they're fodder for ridicule. Used to be we looked up to celebs, now we've got contempt for them. I believe the whole paradigm was delineated accurately by Barney Frank in last Sunday's 'New York Times Magazine':  'Lawyers are very, very good at keeping you out of prison, but they will sacrifice your reputation and credibility to do so. So dont be evasive and dont be cute. And unless you think there is a serious chance youre going to jail, dont listen to your lawyer'  Once upon a time, musicians were revered for being honest, and the resulting credibility made for long careers. Today the acts are evasive, worried about offending a potential audience member, and they come and go. Lay it out there. Then not only is it behind you, you garner respect from those who care, for being forthcoming, for being honest. Dishonesty is for politicians." (Bob Lefsetz)



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