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Thursday, July 03, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres





Iraq: The Prospects of the New 'Caliphate'


"The Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has changed its name, but otherwise the militant group remains the same. Over the past weekend, a spokesman for the group announced that it had established a caliphate stretching from Diyala province, Iraq, to Aleppo, Syria. The caliphate is a political institution that the Islamic State claims will govern the global Muslim community. 'Iraq' and 'Levant' have been dropped from the organization's name to reflect its new status. The trouble with the announcement is that the Islamic State does not have a caliphate and probably never will. No amount of new monikers will change the fact that geography, political ideology and religious, cultural and ethnic differences will prevent the emergence of a singular polity capable of ruling the greater Middle East. Transnational jihadist groups can exploit weakened autocratic states, but they cannot institutionalize their power enough to govern such a large expanse of land. If anything, the Islamic State's drive to unify the Middle East will actually create more conflicts than it will end as competing emirates vie for power in the new political environment.
In recent years, the term 'caliphate' has become somewhat warped; it has become more of a slogan for radical Islamist groups than an actual political objective. Even the Islamic State, which has made impressive territorial gains quickly, has only an emirate, which encompasses a far smaller geographic area than a caliphate. Establishing an emirate is not terribly remarkable. Similar groups have established emirates before: The Taliban ruled more than 90 percent of Afghanistan prior to 9/11, and al Qaeda franchise groups oversaw short-lived emirates in Yemen and Mali. Still, the Islamic State's announcement is the first serious attempt at re-establishing the caliphate since the institution was abolished in 1924 by the Turkish republic, which replaced the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Over the past 90 years, there have been a few attempts to revive the caliphate, but none were particularly successful. Notable examples include Hizb al-Tahrir, which rejects democracy and nationalism, and more recently, al Qaeda." (STRATFOR)












"I went down to Michael’s for lunch not because it was Wednesday, because any day before a long holiday weekend is a loss. I went to lunch with Brooke Hayward, who came in from Connecticut, and Alex Hitz, who is just back from L.A. It was also to celebrate Brooke’s birthday, which is this coming Saturday, the 5th of July. We didn’t tell Brooke that until Steve Millington came out with a scoop of ice cream and berries (and something else…??...) and a single candle. She asked me to help her blow it out. We didn’t sing 'Happy Birthday' though. Brooke wasn’t interested.After that, she took us into the Ladies’ Room to see the photographs that her second husband Dennis Hopper took with a camera she gave him back in the early 1960s when they were living in L.A. On one of the walls was a photo portrait of a young Ed Ruscha, another of Jasper Johns. Everybody was in the bloom of youth. Ruscha was movie star handsome and the girls lined up." (NYSD)











"Voice of America is a news outlet financed by the U.S. government. Now, the journalists who work at VOA are locked in a fight over a policy change that would require them 'to actively support American policy.' Is it possible to make sense of this? One might rationally say: since VOA receives all of its operating budget from the U.S. government, is it any wonder that the U.S. government expects it to support the U.S. government? Is it not ridiculous, in fact, for listeners to assume that VOA would ever not support U.S. government policy in any meaningful way? Isn't VOA best understood as—and we mean this in the most nonjudgmental way possible—a propaganda tool that the U.S. government uses to target foreign nations?  The answer to all of those questions is "yes," but it does not fully capture the nuances of this sort of grey area of government-supported journalism (of sorts). The very fact that VOA journalists are now fighting both the government and their own union for attempting to require them to pledge allegiance to the U.S. government in their work goes to show that there is more to the situation than meets the eye. Most journalists, surely including those at VOA, do not set out to be patsies, or government spokespeople. They want to feel as if they have independence. The problem with the new rule is not that it changes the facts of VOA's existence—it has always, at its core, been a propaganda tool—but that it makes explicit what has always been an implicit agreement. In that sense, it makes VOA journalists feel insulted." (Gawker)


Todd English Visits Macy's Herald Square


"Barely a media—or social media—ripple was generated this past weekend by the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, the annual high-altitude gathering of brand name chefs where Jacques P├ępin, Marcus Samuelsson and Jonathan Waxman appeared on a panel about food memories, and Tyler Florence led a session on building better burgers. Mario Batali, normally an Aspen fixture, spent the weekend posting photos on Instagram from his more thrilling-looking trip to Greece instead.
While there’s been some chatter in foodie circles about Roy Choi’s room-service thermoses of ramen at L.A.’s The Line Hotel, or Bobby Flay’s kale 'paella' at his new Noho restaurant, Gato, no celebrity chef has made headlines like Todd English, who was caught cavorting in a hot tub a few months back. A shirtless Mr. English, 53, was snapped looking glassy-eyed with his hands around three nearly naked young women in a Meatpacking District club called Provocateur. Page Six, The New York Post’s gossip page, took at least three opportunities to publish it: 'Star chef’s recipe for fun? 1 hot tub, 3 topless girls,' was the first headline, followed by an item on a troubled business deal and another reporting that the chef’s publicist had sent out an email asking his associates not to cooperate with a forthcoming article in another publication. 'The only thing he did was act ‘inappropriately.’ He is a single man who had one too many drinks. This is NOT a story,' wrote Lindsey Valdez in an email that became exactly that." (Observer)

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