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Friday, October 10, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres





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"Former President Clinton’s library released thousands of previously undisclosed papers on Friday, the final in a series of document dumps that have shed new light on the 1990s battles characterizing the Clinton years. The papers released Friday included memos from Clinton staff offering advice on how to handle the Monica Lewinsky and Whitewater scandals. They offer glimpses of how the Clinton team handled the press that could take on a new light with Hillary Clinton’s expected 2016 run for the White House ... Gay rights has come a long way since the Clinton presidency, when the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy was birthed. In the run-up to the enactment of the policy, White House associate counsel Clifford Sloan wrote a memo in July 1993 discussing the issue in a way that many would find jarring today. Sloan proposed adding to a fact sheet, this explanation: 'Credible evidence to rebut the presumption [of homosexuality] includes a credible statement by the individual that, although he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, he or she will not engage in homosexual conduct during the term of his or her military service.' He later added that a reference to hand-holding should be removed because 'It also may raise needless controversies about the circumstances in which handholding, for example, could be seen as far from an acknowledgment of homosexuality (e.g. clasping hands after a high five).' Hillary Clinton is now a supporter of gay marriage, and gays and lesbians are likely to be a big part of her 2016 constituency." (TheHill)








"For almost a year, China has been pitching an idea to its neighbors in Asia: a big, internationally funded bank that would offer quick financing for badly needed transportation, telecommunications and energy projects in underdeveloped countries across the region. With the public backing of President Xi Jinping and a pledge from Beijing to contribute much of the $50 billion in initial capital, the plan could be seen as an answer to critics who have long argued that China should take on greater responsibilities as a world power. But the United States, perhaps the most vocal of such critics, especially on issues such as climate change and arms proliferation, has not embraced the Chinese proposal. Instead, in quiet conversations with China’s potential partners, American officials have lobbied against the development bank with unexpected determination and engaged in a vigorous campaign to persuade important allies to shun the project, according to senior United States officials and representatives of other governments involved. The dispute, the latest manifestation of Chinese-American competition in Asia, could escalate in coming weeks, as Beijing pushes to confirm South Korea and Australia as founding partners of the bank in time for Mr. Xi to formally announce it at a summit meeting of Asian leaders in November. President Obama is scheduled to attend the meeting, and Washington is pressing the two countries to reject the Chinese plan. Beijing has asked dozens of nations to contribute funds to the bank, which it calls the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and hopes it will become a global institution that rivals the World Bank. To give it broader scope, the Chinese have invited and won the support of some wealthy Middle East nations, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia. But if Washington persuades South Korea and Australia to abstain, it would all but ensure membership in the bank would be limited to smaller countries, depriving it of the prestige and respectability the Chinese seek. The United States Treasury Department has criticized the bank as a deliberate effort to undercut the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, international financial institutions established after World War II that are dominated by the United States and Japan, senior South Korean and Australian officials said. Washington also sees the bank as a political tool for China to pull countries in Southeast Asia closer to its orbit, a soft-power play that promises economic benefits while polishing its image among neighbors anxious about its territorial claims." (NYTimes)








Source: El Mundo
Source: El Mundo
     




"In three days of Kurdish protests over Turkey's refusal to help ethnic Kurds in Syria, 31 people have died -- six times as many as in the tumultuous first two weeks of the so-called Gezi Park demonstrations across Turkey last year. Like the crushing of the Gezi Park movement, this Kurdish unrest will be a turning point. Erdogan's approach to the defense of Kobani, an ethnically Kurdish town that is under siege by Islamic State militants just over the border in Syria, may decide whether Turkey resolves or revives the Kurdish unrest that hobbled the country's economic and political development for decades.I have a lot of sympathy for Erdogan's predicament. The advance of Islamic State forces him to choose between two unpalatable options. The first is to join the U.S. campaign, which would carry huge downside risks. Part of his political base is sympathetic to Islamic State, which it considers a Sunni response to Shiite oppression. Worse, the organization now has enough adherents in Turkey to make the country highly vulnerable to terrorist attacks, should the Turkish military get involved. Turkish nationalists would simultaneously attack him for collaborating with the Kurdistan Workers' Party. Indeed, he would be making a big bet on the PKK, which fought a war in which at least 30,000 Turkish citizens were killed before a cease-fire last year. The Kurdish group is getting a new lease of life from the turmoil in Syria, and Turks still fear the PKK wants to carve out a Kurdish state, though it claims to want only autonomy." (Bloomberg)


The incredible vanishing editor: What we can learn from Martin Scorsese's new documentaryEnlargeHugh Eakin and Robert Silvers in "The 50 Year Argument" (Credit: HBO/Brigitte Lacombe)


"Recently, the author Andrew Solomon, while describing the Amazon reader reviews for his monumental book, “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity,” recounted that one reviewer objected to having to pay more that $9.99 for something that consisted of nothing more than electronic bits. 'What about the 11 years of my life it took to write it?' Solomon asked plaintively. 'What about the months my editor spent working on it?' That’s a particularly egregious example of how writing remains a form of invisible — or at least translucent — labor. Solomon’s research for “Far From the Tree” encompassed, among other things, interviews with over 300 families; you can see every hour he spent on the book right there on the page. But no matter how infatuated our culture has become with the digital, we still have a hard time appreciating the value of immaterial creations. Consumers who demand that the price of e-books be slashed to less than half the hardcover list price reveal a belief that the work and expertise of a writer are worth less than a handful of paper and cardboard. And, oh, that poor editor! ('It’s Nan Graham,' Solomon explained in an email. 'And I value her more than gold and silver and precious stones.') If most readers do grudgingly admit that someone must write the books they purchase, they are less willing to concede that the vocation of helping to bring someone else’s writing into the world has much merit. 'You are uninformed in that technology is making many of the functions of editor and publisher obsolete,' one commenter posted to a New York Times story about the publishing industry. 'Writers should need little to no editing when computers check spelling, etc.' Even readers who claim to value non-automated editing have little sense of a editor’s actual responsibilities. The familiar grouse that 'no one edits anymore' is usually followed by lamentations over the typos, grammatical errors and misspellings someone has found in traditionally published works. But correcting that kind of micro-mistake is the job of a copyeditor (or in some cases a proofreader), not the editor. So if the editor is not in charge of fixing 'spelling, etc,' then what does an editor do?" (Salon)









The cast taking their bows. That's Magdalena Kozena facing the camera.



"The night before (Wednesday), I was the guest of Heidi McWilliams for the second night’s performance of the U.S. premiere production of Johann Sebastian Bach’s 'St. Matthew Passion (with libretto by Picander) performed by the Berlin Philharmonic at the Park Avenue Armory, with the Berlin Radio choir, the Boy Choristers of St. Thomas Church here in New York, conducted by Simon Rattle, chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker and directed by Peter Sellars. The cast included Mark Padmore, tenor who sang the part of the Evangelist, Christian Gerhaher, baritone, who sang Jesus; Camilla Tilling, soprano; and Magdalena Kozena, mezzo-soprano; Top Lehtipuu, tenor; and Philadelphia born and raised Eric Owens, bass baritone.  The production was presented by the Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival and Park Avenue Armory, performed in the enormous Wade Thompson Drill Hall with 1800 guests in a theater-in-the-round (with very comfortable seats). The new Park Avenue Armory now in its seventh -- or is it its eighth -- year is New York’s newest and most dynamic cultural institution presenting amazing productions, concerts, art installations and exhibition extraordinaire. The presentation of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion has been the must-see ticket for weeks now in cultural and social circles. The production which included a huge chorale as well as the Berlin Philharmonic onstage was about three hours long with a half hour intermission (probably to give the musicians and performers a break). It is an intense experience and just the music is an astounding achievement to consider in telling the Greatest Story Ever Told. My friend Michael Thomas, the author and critic/commentator, who has the informed and educated eye and ear of both drama and music critic, saw the first night (Tuesday’s) performance and wrote his impressions which he posted on his Facebook page Wednesday morning." (NYSD)

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