Friday, January 27, 2006

A Little of the Old In and Out


(image via businessweek)

In: Bill and Melinda Gates. The eradication of disease in the Third World is, elegantly, becoming a sort of side theme of Davos: the ultimate playground of the wealthy and powerful. There is a fetching symmetry to that. Last year's dramatic-Davos moment came when Sharon Stone raised $1.4 million in 5 minutes for anti-malarial bednets for Tanzania. Now, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has contributed greatly towards the eradication of TB. According to Forbes:

"Bill Gates said Friday his charitable foundation will boost its funding for tuberculosis eradication from its current level of $300 million to $900 million during the next decade. The effort is part of a larger campaign against tuberculosis announced at the World Economic Forum.
"The disease killed 1.6 million people last year. The announcement came as Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, British treasury chief Gordon Brown and Gates called for help to treat 50 million people and prevent 14 million tuberculosis deaths worldwide over the next decade.

"'This is a very tough disease,' the Microsoft Corp. chairman and co-founder said. 'It is going to take all of us - private sector, the pharmaceutical companies, philanthropy and governments in countries that have the disease - to participate as well.' The Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis was formed by the Stop Tuberculosis Partnership, a group of 400 organizations. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation already has given $300 million to help fight the disease. Britain also said Friday it would commit $74 million to fight tuberculosis in India."

This comes on the heels of another Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation offering, namely, microloans to Pakistan and Tanzanians (via a $5.5 million grant to the Aga Khan Foundation). Bravo.


(image via timeinc)

Out: Tyrants. The Corsair abhors Tyrants. They are planetary fungi; our blood boils thinking about their continued existence. We were born, you see, in Amin's Uganda, so our abhorrence might actually be congenital (Fot further reference, See: African Dictator Chic). Although, to be honest, it wasn't until college, studying Sophocles's wise Oedipus Tyrannus that we came to understand the inherent madness in a man making himself -- essentially, Existentially -- the state ("L'etat, c'est moi").

The dreamlike character of Oedipus Tyrannus as he presides and dramatically collapses over the plague ridden Thebes, like Duchamps' Nude Descending a Staircase, when read, in Attic Greek (those clashing consonants!), is the greatest work of poltical philosophy on the subject of tyrants of all time (With the possible exception -- possibly, maybe -- of Xenophon's dark gleaming gem, The Cyropaedia: On The Education of Cyrus). Now, combine the subjects of Tyranny and Journalism, and, you can imagine, we were a bit of a sucker for Parade's Ranking of Tyrants (link via Romenesko):

"If you missed last Sunday's Parade: Omar al-Bashir of Sudan wears the winner's laurel again, followed by Kim Jong Il of North Korea, Than Shwe of Burma, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (up from No. 9 last year) and -- with a bullet -- Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan (up from 15).

"You can imagine the barstool debates this might ignite: 'How can you say Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea [No. 10] is worse than Boungnang Vorachith of Laos [No. 19]? Gimme a break, pal!'

"But that's the sport of it. America loves the linear certainty of lists and rankings, whether it's U.S. News doing colleges or VH1 doing the 50 most awesomely bad songs of all time or despots committing atrocities.

"'These are subjective,' cautions Wallechinsky, who says he considers data provided by governments and human rights entities. He doesn't run numbers through a computer (number of people tortured, elections denied), but nonetheless serves as a one-man Bowl Championship Series-like ranking service for the planet's most heinous. We debriefed him by phone from his home in Santa Monica, Calif.:

"Q. So how do you figure that King Mswati III of Swaziland (No. 12) is only one unit of evil worse than Isayas Afewerki of Eritrea (No. 13)?

"A. Afewerki is a worse person. He's more of a thug. But he has less control of his people than Mswati does.

"Q. Any potential 'hot' dictators we should keep an eye on for next year's rankings?

"A. Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia [No. 18]. He keeps getting worse. If his police keep arresting and shooting people, he's definitely gonna be someone to watch.

"Q. Do dictators ever call to complain about their rankings?

"A. A lot of these governments have PR firms, so I hear from them. I always get letters from Saudi and Chinese apologists.

"So fucking brilliant; so much better than just silently stewing, impotent, about global injustice. More here.


(image via webforum)

In: What Color is Your Badge? All men and women, in the United States, are equal in the eyes of the blind justice; but, all badges, however, in Davos, are far from equal. Justin Fox of Fortune reports:

"The gradations of status at the World Economic Forum are many. There are the legions of worker bees conscripted by the WEF to work the conference: usually supersmart, superambitious young people vastly overqualified for what they spend much of their time doing: running incessant errands, holding the hands of conference participants, and passing microphones around meeting rooms. Someone described them to me as the equivalent of Congressional staffers, and that sounds about right.

"Their badges come in various shades of blue.

"Then there are the working press, who get to attend some WEF events but not the really interesting ones. Their badges are orange. Then there are security people, aides to really important participants (less important ones, such as Congresspeople and run-of-the-mill CEOs, don't get to bring staff), and various other categories with badges in various different shades.

"It's among those who possess the white badges bespeaking full Davoliciousness, though, that the status game gets really interesting.

"... That's who generally tops the status food chain here: Bill Gates, plus whichever really important government officials deign to show up. President Bush is not a Davos kind of guy (unlike his predecessor, who is scheduled to speak Saturday), and Condi Rice decided to videophone in her contribution Thursday, much to the relief of the WEF staffers who would have had to find hotel rooms for her massive entourage if she'd made the trip, so the big political stars have been new German chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. (I'm sure I'm missing a few others.)

"In a nice reflection of how our world now works, though, the biggest stars of all here this year are Angelina Jolie, in her function as a UN goodwill ambassador, and Brad Pitt, who I presume is wearing one of those spouse badges that doesn't say what he does for a living. I haven't come across them yet, but news of sightings Thursday shot through the Davos community and the global media. Bill Gates, whatever. Brangelina, now that's something interesting."

The full article here.


(image via lyceefrancaisdevastanger)

Out: The Obnoxious Fragility of Winona Rider. While we cannot fail to note that, yes, Winona Rider is hott -- the saucer-wide eyes, the waifish physique, the big juggs -- her incessant crying is not. Remotely. Interesting. (The Corsair sips a mulled claret) According to our favorite superhero gossip duo, Rush and Molloy:

"Winona Ryder broke down in tears as she remembered co-star Chris Penn at the Sundance premiere of 'The Darwin Awards.' 'He was an amazing person, and hilarious,' she said. '[He was] not just Sean Penn's little brother.'"

Okay, understandable. But then, from Premiere's recent Keanu Reeves blowjob:

"Francis Ford Coppola: For one point during Dracula, [the cast] were all living in my house in the Napa Valley. They were all running around and living there like a bunch of my kids, you know. And one time, I came down to the kitchen, and there was Keanu, in a T-shirt, having just gotten up. He was eating a donut with a beer. It was so cute because my own son who wasn't around anymore -- I'd seen him do that, you know. So it's an image I always remember.

"Keanu Reeves: It was great to be in that environment: going for a run in the morning, looking at the stars at night, going into Francis's research library, spending time with him. You know, watching Tom Waits sing 'Waltzing Matilda' to Winona at the piano, Winona crying. It was a beautiful life. Les enfants du paradis."

... It always ends with Winona crying. (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment)

1 comment:

vargaso said...

She could cry me a river any day. Oh wait, I forgot to say "in my pants" somehwere in there. Well, just pretend I did.