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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"It has been a source of contention between the United States and Pakistan since the 2011 raid in which Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden: How could the world's most wanted fugitive hide in a country that was supposed to be committed to catching him? The relationship between the two nations was sour before the raid—U.S. authorities didn't notify Pakistan about the bin Laden raid for fear of alerting the target—and the humiliation of the armed action damaged the relationship even further. 'We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan,' President Obama said in an interview on 60 Minutes shortly after the raid. The week after the raid, Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari said that Americans "have suggested that Pakistan lacked vitality in its pursuit of terrorism or, worse yet, that we were disingenuous and actually protected the terrorists we claimed to be pursuing. Such baseless speculation may make exciting cable news, but it doesn't reflect fact.'  Two years later, more details about exactly how Pakistan could have missed bin Laden are coming to light. The Pakistani government formed a commission to study how bin Laden could have lived unnoticed in Pakistan. Within that report, newly leaked to Al Jazeera, are details about Abbottabad, the city where bin Laden was found, and the public officials who police it. The report concludes that gross incompetence led to the failure to detect bin Laden. But there is also plenty of fodder indicating that local law enforcement were content to leave the strange building and its unseen occupants alone despite some prominent red flags, while it seems Pakistan's national intelligence agencies ignored the signs the al-Qaida leader was present." (PopularMechanics)


"In the aftermath of Barack Obama’s relatively comfortable reelection victory in 2012 — a win fueled by massive margins among African Americans, Hispanics and other nonwhite voters — an intense debate has begun among Republican leaders and strategists over the future direction of the party. The GOP has now lost the national popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Yet according to national exit polls, Republican candidates won the white vote by double-digit margins in the last four of these elections, including a 20-point margin in 2012. Given these results, some prominent Republican strategists, including Karl Rove, believe that the key to the party’s future viability in presidential elections is finding ways to increase its share of the growing nonwhite vote. Since 1992, according to national exit polls, the nonwhite share of the electorate has increased from 13% to 28%, and this trend is almost certain to continue for many years to come. Based on census data, the voters who will be entering the electorate over the next few decades will include a much larger proportion of nonwhites, and especially Latinos, than the voters who will be leaving the electorate. But not all GOP strategists agree with the approach advocated by Rove and his allies or with the necessity of increasing the party’s share of the nonwhite vote in order to achieve success in future presidential elections. In a recent series of posts at RealClearPolitics.com, analyst Sean Trende has argued that Republicans can effectively compete in future presidential elections without substantially increasing their support among Hispanics and other nonwhite voters by focusing on increasing turnout and support among white voters, who will continue to make up the large majority of the American electorate. Trende’s argument that the GOP can achieve success by, essentially, doubling down on white voters rests largely on an analysis of racial voting patterns in presidential elections over the past several decades. According to Trende, Republicans have significantly increased their performance among white voters over time. If this trend continues, he argues, given a reasonably favorable political and economic environment, Republican candidates should have a good chance of overcoming the Democratic advantage among nonwhite voters in future presidential elections." (CenterforPolitics)


"The pilot then hooked a right and headed up the coast. The purpose of this flight was to check out the beach erosion that’s affecting Malibu, Los Angeles’s most expensive and storied summertime playground. A town of less than 13,000, sandwiched between the sea and the vertiginous cliffsides of the Santa Monica Mountains, it has only one main road, the Pacific Coast Highway, but is stuffed with homes owned by what seems like half of Hollywood’s power brokers and stars—from Courteney Cox’s five-bedroom midcentury on the beach, bought for $17 million, to Cher’s Italian Renaissance mansion, with hand-carved marble details and stamped copper ceilings, which is quietly on the market for $41 million. 'California beaches are more temperamental than on the East Coast, but mercifully, in most places, development is much further inland,' says Costas Synolakis, an environmental engineering professor at the University of Southern California. That’s not the case in Malibu, though, where many of the best houses are literally built on sand dunes. Soon, the Beechcraft was flying over one of Malibu’s premier neighborhoods, the one-and-a-half-mile-long Carbon Beach, also known as 'Billionaire’s Beach.' Oracle C.E.O. Larry Ellison, the country’s third-richest man, has been madly snapping up properties there, including nine homes for which he spent at least $140 million and the building that houses the recently reopened Malibu outpost of Nobu, one of the area’s few flashy oceanfront restaurants, where patrons sit on plush couches next to fireplaces. As the plane passed over the restaurant, one could see that the valet had color-coded the cars—the black ones on one side of the lot, the white on the other, with the tan and silver ones clumped together, and a small pocket reserved for outliers like red vintage Aston Martins and yellow Lamborghinis. Ford spotted some erosion on Carbon Beach. Kids were playing down there, but the beach was not voluminous. 'Not great over here,' he noted. But this was nothing compared with what was to come, in Malibu’s other premier neighborhood: Broad Beach. The plane nudged up the coast, passing Julia Roberts’s $20 million eco-friendly compound and Barbra Streisand’s four-home lot (main house, millhouse, barn, and 'grandma’s house') estimated to be worth as much as $100 million, both of which—lucky for them—are somewhat protected by a large bluff, and eventually made its way around Point Dume, a rocky outcropping that marks the shift from a primarily south-facing beach to one angled west." (VanityFair)



"It's been just over six months since we said goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013, and already we've seen a slew of promising indie talent breakthrough in big ways thanks to the Sundance, SXSW and Tribeca film festivals (among many others), and theatrical releases that caught on with the movie-going public. Over the past two days we've been publishing our picks for this year's biggest indie breakthroughs so far (we still have half a year to go), with our reasons for why they made the cut and info on what they're up to next. Below find the full list, including two new inclusions who made a huge dent at this year's Cannes Film Festival." (IndieWIRE)


"ENDQUOTE: 'There’s eventually going to be a big meltdown. You’re going to end up with fewer theaters. Going to the movies will cost 50 bucks or 100 or 150 bucks, like what Broadway costs, or a football game.' George Lucas made that dire prediction at a panel discussion at the University of Southern California last month. And in fact soon after, Paramount offered a 'mega' ticket to those who wanted to see 'World War Z' in advance. This cost $50. Not only did you get to see the zombie flick, you also received a digital copy of the movie, a poster, a small popcorn. Whether it is the wave of the future, nobody knows for sure, not even Entertainment Weekly magazine, which reported on this. EW says: 'At this point Americans don’t seem sold on the idea of paying more for tickets to in-demand flicks.' But more cynical show-biz types counter: 'You know the schumcks who line up two days in advance for a ‘Harry Potter’ movie or a ‘Twilight’ movie? They’re going to pay the extra money.'" (NYSocialDiary)

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