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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 reversed a process that had been under way since the Russian Empire's emergence in the 17th century. It was ultimately to incorporate four general elements: Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Caucasus and Siberia. The St. Petersburg-Moscow axis was its core, and Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine were its center of gravity. The borders were always dynamic, mostly expanding but periodically contracting as the international situation warranted. At its farthest extent, from 1945 to 1989, it reached central Germany, dominating the lands it seized in World War II. The Russian Empire was never at peace. As with many empires, there were always parts of it putting up (sometimes violent) resistance and parts that bordering powers coveted -- as well as parts of other nations that Russia coveted. The Russian Empire subverted the assumption that political and military power requires a strong economy: It was never prosperous, but it was frequently powerful. The Russians defeated Napoleon and Hitler and confronted the far wealthier Americans for more than four decades in the Cold War, in spite of having a less developed or less advanced economy. Its economic weakness certainly did undermine its military power at times, but to understand Russia, it is important to begin by understanding that the relationship between military and economic power is not a simple one." (STRAFOR)


"By 2008 more than 40% of Nigerians were mobile-phone subscribers. But according to U.N. human-development indexes, over 60% of these people were poor—living on less than $2 a day. Drivers of battered old taxis and pavement-stall sellers were suddenly talking and texting, buying and selling. Meanwhile entrepreneurial middle-class Africans, many of whom had studied outside their own countries, took advantage of the economic growth and newly available communications to set up service businesses. It was a good decade in Africa. For Mr. Severino, in 'Africa's Moment,' what matters now is the demographics: the coming African population explosion and the mass movement of people from rural areas to towns. The population boom is partly due to a decline in infant mortality. According to the World Bank, in 1970 there were 136 deaths per thousand live births; by 2009, the number had dropped to 72.6. But the birthrate itself remains very high in many African nations. The U.S. fertility rate is estimated at 2.1, Europe's is 1.59. Sub-Saharan Africa's is estimated at 4.94. One simple fact is clear: Many Africans want to have many children. Africa, Mr. Severino notes, had a fifth of the world's population in 1500 and then suffered four centuries of mortal disruption. It is only now catching up. But this raises a question. Historically, when populations have exploded—such as Europe's in the 19th century—the answer was emigration. But tomorrow's young Africans will have nowhere to go. The African population boom, Mr. Severino believes, will be 'the most incredible demographic adventure that human history has ever known. A time neither for rejoicing nor for fear, but simply for recognizing the facts. . . . Africa's demographic advance over the next fifty years is unstoppable. The worst thing to do would be to ignore it.'" (WSJ)


"I went to Michael’s to lunch with Blair Sabol who writes her No Holds Barred column for NYSD. She is in town working on another column about a singer. JH joined us. Michael’s was busy but especially notable to us regulars because in the bay at Table One George Lucas was lunching at that big round table with just Martin Scorsese. It was a long one too. They were talking seriously. All eyes (no ears – as noisy as the place can get, the sound doesn’t carry when it grows quieter). But people were wondering what. So this was today’s movie. Meanwhile, a few tables away the mogul Harvey Weinstein was lunching with Brian Roberts of Comcast. His seat was set, coincidentally so that he could look right across the room at Lucas and Scorsese. So some of us were wondering if Weinstein knew what they were talking about or if in fact he put them together (you never know), or if he wanted to know. Or if he saw an opportunity. After he finished his lunch, he went over to their table." (NYSocialDiary)


"If you're reading this in the bathroom, stay there--it'll have that much more relevance. In Full Service--the tell-all book by old-time Hollywood hustler/pimp Scott Bowers--the esteemed Mr. Bowels, I mean Bowers, talks about at least two old-time movie stars who thought a number two was a perfect 10. According to a book review by Andrew Holleran in The Gay & Lesbian Review, Bowers reveals that Tyrone Power had a predilection for 'the pee and the poo.' And now we know why he starred in Abandon Ship, not Abandon S**t. But blustery, brilliant Oscar winner Charles Laughton could top that. Bowers wrote that Laughton once put together a sandwich in the kitchen while Bowers and an assigned hustler watched. Writes Holleran: 'Having arranged the lettuce, tomato, and buttered bread, Laughton needs only one more ingredient--provided by the hustler during a quick trip to the bathroom--after which the lettuce and tomatoes reappear with a light brown smear.' No, it wasn't Nutella ... That led the hustler to amusingly whisper to Bowers, 'Why did he even take the trouble to wash the fucking lettuce and tomatoes'?" (Michael Musto)


"Here is a rare picture of notorious New York photographer Terry Richardson and his girlfriend of somewhere around a year, Audrey Gelman, posted to Richardson’s blog. Why are there so few pictures of them? Ms. Gelman has an image to manage. Not hers, of course, but that of her boss: Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, widely considered a contender in the 2013 New York City mayoral election. She’s his press secretary. Stringer might be able to pull the likes of Scarlett Johansson to support his campaign, but Gelman doesn’t do too bad with her own press: We hear the good friend of Lena Dunham has a cameo in the first season of HBO’s Girls." (Observer)


"Hugh Hefner in an editorial for the May issue of Playboy magazine slammed the GOP presidential field as 'repressed conservatives' who are 'pounding on America's bedroom door.' Hefner warned readers of his empire’s flagship magazine that members of the Republican Party are waging a 'war on sex.' The phrase — which serves as the title of the editorial — is a new spin on a raging political battle over contraception and federal funding for Planned Parenthood that Democrats have called the “war on women.” But Hefner makes an argument some Democrats have rejected by returning the fraught debate to the issue of “sexual liberation.” Many Democrats have argued that contraception is an element of women’s healthcare, rebuffing Republicans who bring up sexual behavior. Many of the Republican presidential candidates, including those that have dropped out of the 2012 race, opposed the White House’s mandate earlier this year for employers to include contraception as part of employee insurance coverage without charging a co-pay, and have also proposed defunding Planned Parenthood. Hefner calls out Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul in his article as the worst offenders. 'If these zealots have their way, our hard-won sexual liberation — women’s rights, reproductive rights and rights to privacy — lie in peril,' Hefner wrote. 'We won’t let that happen,' he continued. 'Welcome to the new sexual revolution.' The editorial, of course, is included in a magazine that features pictures of nude women." (TheHill)





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