Articles on this Page
- 05/20/11--04:08: _'Sesame Street' Hea...
- 05/20/11--04:12: _Casino and Cable En...
- 05/20/11--05:02: _A Former Basketball...
- 05/20/11--05:58: _Charlie's New Black...
- 05/20/11--06:04: _Middle East Speech:...
- 05/20/11--06:48: _Gallery: The Week's...
- 05/20/11--08:33: _Jumping the Broom: ...
- 05/20/11--08:37: _Fostering Care in t...
- 05/20/11--08:39: _Sylvia Rhone Expect...
- 05/20/11--09:29: _VIDEO: Al Roker Joi...
- 05/20/11--09:42: _What to do This Wee...
- 05/20/11--10:02: _Jayson Williams' Es...
- 05/20/11--10:30: _Racist Psychologist...
- 05/20/11--10:45: _Can Tia Norfleet Be...
- 05/23/11--01:05: _SPOTLIGHT: Ghana's ...
- 05/23/11--01:44: _Tornadoes Hit Midwe...
- 05/23/11--02:07: _Cannes 2011 Review:...
- 05/23/11--06:00: _Wonya Lucas to Join...
- 05/23/11--06:14: _DSK Replacement Sho...
- 05/23/11--06:18: _Snapped: Kelly Rowl...
- 05/20/11--04:08: 'Sesame Street' Heads to Africa
- 05/20/11--04:12: Casino and Cable Entrepreneur Don Barden Dies
- 05/20/11--05:02: A Former Basketball Prodigy, Bereft of All but His Memories
- 05/20/11--05:58: Charlie's New Black Angel: Ass Kicker
- 05/20/11--06:04: Middle East Speech: A Tall Order for the President
- 05/20/11--06:48: Gallery: The Week's Best Celebrity Style
- 05/20/11--08:33: Jumping the Broom: Dead on or Dead off?
- 05/20/11--08:37: Fostering Care in the Lives of Teens
- 05/20/11--08:39: Sylvia Rhone Expected to Exit Universal Music Group
- 05/20/11--09:29: VIDEO: Al Roker Joins The Wiggles For 'Today'
- 05/20/11--09:42: What to do This Weekend: Take in the Sounds of Miles Davis
- 05/20/11--10:30: Racist Psychologist May Lose Job Over 'Least Attractive' Article
- 05/20/11--10:45: Can Tia Norfleet Become The First African-American Woman In NASCAR?
- 05/23/11--01:05: SPOTLIGHT: Ghana's Journalist of the Year Samuel Agyeman
- 05/23/11--01:44: Tornadoes Hit Midwest: Missouri Tornado Kills At Least 89
- 05/23/11--02:07: Cannes 2011 Review: 'Play'
- 05/23/11--06:00: Wonya Lucas to Join TV One as President and CEO
- 05/23/11--06:14: DSK Replacement Should Come From Developing World
- 05/23/11--06:18: Snapped: Kelly Rowland is Pretty in Hot Pink
Filed under: Television
A yam-loving muppet and another who's HIV positive romp about a set filled with an old drum of oil, a raffia basket and a heap of ubiquitous hot red peppers. Welcome to 'Sesame Street,' Nigerian style.
The local adaptation of the legendary children's educational television series hits Nigerian screens at the weekend with the same vocation as its award-winning American model: give pre-schoolers a head start in learning their letters and numbers - and lots of fun while doing so.
An African twist
But Sesame Square, as the show is called, has a definite African twist - and not just Big Bird's Nigerian-accented English.
Focus is also placed on malaria prevention in a country where the disease kills around 300 000 people a year - or nearly a third of one million malaria deaths on the continent.
And it seeks to get the HIV and AIDS message across in an easy-to-understand way for children in Africa, the continent worst hit by the virus.
Read more here.
Filed under: News
From the Root:
Don Barden, the first African American to own a Las Vegas casino and the first to own a major cable TV franchise, has died.
Barden built homes in Detroit and a business in Namibia. Ebony magazine, the TBS cable network, Black Entertainment Television and Black Enterprise magazine have all honored him as a top national business leader. He most recently won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Michigan Chronicle newspaper and an Award of Excellence from the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund in 2006.
He started Barden Cablevision and 1979 and transformed it into one of the nation's biggest black-owned businesses, selling it in 1994 to Comcast. Then, in 2001, he became the first black person to own a Las Vegas casino.Read more here.
Filed under: News
From the New York Times:
When Stephen Turner pulled his silver Mercedes into the Mobil station on a gritty stretch of Hollywood near Vine Street and Santa Monica Boulevard, he did not immediately recognize the gigantic man with Windex who ambled over and offered to wash his windows for a tip.
But the man, Lewis Brown, recognized Mr. Turner and said hello.
Four decades ago, Mr. Brown had galloped down the court, all 6 feet, 11 inches and 260 pounds of him. Even all these years later, Mr. Turner, gazing at the man, suddenly remembered the basketball center from Compton whom he watched lead his high school to three championships in the 1970s, and whom he once played against in a high school tournament. A member of the celebrated squad that lifted the U.N.L.V. Rebels into the college basketball's top rank. A regional legend, destined for stardom. Mr. Turner had idolized him.
Read more here.
This fall ABC will premiere the remake of the popular 1970's series 'Charlie's Angels,' and the buzz is on about Nigerian-American actress Annie IIonzeh, who has been cast as one of the remake's three angels.
The 27 year-old 'General Hospital' alum hails from Texas and now her role as Kate - an ass-kicking former cop - has put her in the same iconic poster-beauty league as the late Farrah Fawcett.
The preview of the campy series return - with its lone 'black angel' - comes in the context of a straight-up media attack on black women. The controversial story recently published in 'Psychology Today,' 'Why Are African American Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?' (later changed to 'Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women, But Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men?'), by Satoshi Kanazawa, with its shady attempts to make research claims based on faux objectivity that black women are less attractive in comparison to white, Asian and Native American women, has now been removed from the publication's website - without explanation or, umm, something like an apology - but still leaves a scarring impression in the blogosphere, and dances on the last nerve of black American women who continue to be a favorite target in the media (remember the whole "black women don't sell magazines" argument?).
I mean, it's not as if any of us are really tripping over what Kanazawa has to say. Dude is a college professor at the London School of Economics. Boo. But the casting of Ilonzeh presents both a fascinating and timely poetic justice in response to a dated and wack claim that black women somehow fail to rank on the 'who's hot' chart.
In the original 1970's 'Charlie's Angels,' the three angels shot to the heights of global pop culture and remained known (and some might argue, marked in a detrimental way) as classic beauties who had the tendency to kick some but all in the name of Charlie. In the newly released trailer for the series - one of eleven new shows in ABC's line-up - Ilonzeh wearing a housekeeper's uniform as her cover, emerges from an elevator and then proceeds to high-kick down a hotel room door and slam two beefy dudes to save a blonde tied up in the next room.
As something like a Halle Berry meets Pam Grier, Ilonzeh demonstrates what we already knew: Black girls are hot, and you all may not wanna test us.
Filed under: News
From the Atlantic: With his long-awaited policy address on the Middle East on Thursday, President Obama is facing a difficult rhetorical assignment.
In the Arab world, his audience will be listening to hear how the president squares his backing of military action against Libya's Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi while taking a far less aggressive posture in response to crackdowns by the regimes in Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen. Israelis and Palestinians wonder whether Obama will weigh in with thoughts on restarting peace talks. And Americans will be focusing on how Obama pivots from a tumultuous period in the Arab world to explaining his long-term vision for U.S. involvement in the region.
Administration officials say Obama's speech will be wide ranging but will also go into details about ongoing efforts at political reform in the region, outline what his administration is doing to support human rights, and offer his views on the United States' broader interests in peace and security in the region.Read more here.
This week celebrities came out to honor Oprah Winfrey, support charitable causes and take in screenings of films at the 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival. Check out how the stars dressed up this week to stand out in the crowds.
Best Celeb Style: Week of May 15, 2011
These days, a lot of people are asking me about the recently released movie 'Jumping the Broom.' It's a hit at the box office and with critics, so it's got people talking about urban movies and so-called "black Hollywood." As an entertainer and filmmaker myself, I'd like to offer my perspective.
I loved 'Jumping the Broom.' In many ways, it reminded me of my own story, from uptown Harlem to downtown Manhattan -- from Harlem to the Hamptons. I love the fact that it shows people of color living on Martha's Vineyard. That's a world that most people don't realize exists. We need more urban movies like this one that show the way people of color are living and demonstrate that we can be successful and still come from all kinds of backgrounds - some affluent, some working class and some in-between.
'Jumping the Broom' exposes a part of our society that almost never gets shown in movies. Let's face it, the truth is that if you just went by most of what you see on the big screen, you'd think all people of color in this country are oppressed, depressed or in living poverty. You'd think we were all hard-core criminals, or about to become hard-core criminals.
Personally, I make movies to uplift people and bring them together, not to shame them. I do not make movies that involve buffoonery and exploitation. If Hollywood doesn't like it, if they don't want us to be authentic, then we can't keep trying to fit in where we're not wanted. That's why I'm working to create an industry within the industry, a network that I call The System Within that promotes this unheard of concept: Let's Hollywood to come to us instead of us going to Hollywood.
Now, I'm an action-movie buff myself, and I know I've got to put some action in my movies so people will see it and be entertained. But at the end of the day, there has to be a message. Some people will get it and some won't, but the goal is try to help liberate people.
My movie'The Stick Up Kids' is about urban renewal. It's about a group of hustlers and thieves who do what they do because it's what they were taught; it's what they know. What they don't know are the words "jurisdiction" and "gentrification." The movie is about gentrification in Harlem, and about how when families are forced to move out of their homes and communities, their heritage - which we all share - is lost.
People need to own their own communities, not just legally, but also culturally and spiritually.
We need to make more movies that instill a sense of pride in our community. You've got to create your own pride and not rely on other people to define your pride for you. Everybody's seen 'The Wizard of Oz,' right? Well, life is like 'The Wizard of Oz.' There's Dorothy surrounded by all those people in a place she doesn't belong, but all she's got to do to go home is click her heels three times. She controls her own destiny. It's like life, we're all like that. All you've got to do is click your heels, baby.
The theme song from the Broadway musical 'Annie' appropriately describes life in the orphanage as "hard-knock." For many of the nearly half million youth in foster care throughout the country, that theme is their life soundtrack. Fortunately, not all are destine to hopelessness and despair. Many youth in the child welfare system grow up to live productive, powerful lives.
How do I know? I survived 18 years as a foster child and at 23 years old, I'm now working to empower others through much needed advocacy and education outreach. I was removed from my parents' custody as a toddler, and placed in the hands of several strangers until I was adopted at age five. What was supposed to be a stable and safe environment turned out to be the opposite. For six years, I was abused, neglected, mistreated and abandoned by my adoptive mother who did not know how to love me.
I was then removed from my adoptive family's home and placed back into the foster care system. By age 17, I had experienced more than 20 placements that included detention centers, group homes, foster homes and shelters.
Like many other teens, I had no family support. But what I did have was determination to rise above the odds against me. I knew there wouldn't be a Daddy Warbucks to rescue me, so I decided that education would be my way out. I earned a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Michigan, where I studied Sociology and African-American studies. I graduated in four years, and entered graduate school soon after.
This is rare achievement among youth in the foster care system. According to census data, fewer than three percent of these young people earn a college degree, compared with 28% of the population. In my case, school was my refuge and it was the only thing that rewarded me.
I had suffered so much as a teen that I felt compelled to reach out and help others in and transitioning out of foster care. In 2009, during the final year of my undergraduate studies, I coordinated and hosted the first known conference for youth in foster care called "Rising Above the Odds Against Me Leadership Conference." The event, held in May during National Foster Care Awareness Month, was a success far beyond what I had envisioned. More than 100 youth, volunteers and sponsors participated.
That same year, the demand for resources for youth in southeast Michigan's foster care system increased significantly. The state's depressed economy and disappearing resources prompted me in 2010 to launch Cherish Our Youth, an organization that services teens facing challenges in foster care and juvenile detention. Our goal is to empower young people through psychological, spiritual and educational support while engaging them in community service.
Many of our participants have gone from truant to college-bound, and some have even made the Dean's List. This year, as the nation celebrates Foster Care Awareness Month, Cherish Our Youth is honoring and rewarding the young people that often go unnoticed.
On May 21, 2011, we will host our third annual conference and expect more than 200 participants. Their achievements will be celebrated and they will attend workshops designed to help them develop holistically.
I thank God for the gift he has given me to live a meaningful, purpose-driven life with a mission of helping youth reach their potential regardless of life circumstances.
If you are inspired to make a difference, consider volunteering your time as a mentor or opening your home to a young person.
Cherish Thomas is a motivational speaker and founder of Cherish Our Youth, an organization that provides resources and educational programs to teens in and transitioning out of foster care. Currently, Thomas is a graduate student in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan.
Filed under: Music
The drumbeat is getting louder that Sylvia Rhone will exit Universal Motown Friday (May 20) or within the next few days, depending on which source you listen to. But does that departure mean the end of her days at the Universal Music Group, as some sources insist - or, as other insiders argue, is she still considering a new role to head up a to-be-created, multi-rights company for UMG that would include a label, publishing, merchandising, management and touring?
Since Barry Weiss came to UMG as chairman/CEO of Island Def Jam and Universal Motown Republic Group, it's been expected that Rhone's role at Universal Motown would be coming to an end. But Weiss and UMG CEO Lucian Grainge have been trying to keep her in the UMG fold.
Consequently, they have been negotiating with Rhone, who is believed to have a year left on her contract, to build a new company that would serve as a multi-purpose firm for UMG. Some insiders maintain that even though Rhone is almost out the door, talks are continuing about her taking on the new UMG role as head of the to-be-created company. But other sources familiar with the situation say that she is passing up that opportunity, and calling it a day
at UMG. Stay tuned.
Read more here.
From the Huffington Post:
Al Roker can now add "Wiggle" to his long and varied resume.
Roker journeyed down to Australia for a "Today" show series, where the anchors of the show participate in a popular TV program from another country. There, Roker met the Wiggles, the world-famous children's singing/dancing/everything else group, and joined them for two days as "The Orange Wiggle."
Seriously, these guys work hard! A ten-hour music video shoot (complete with apparently legendary "Wiggle Fingers" and much shimmying about), followed by a packed stadium concert, with Roker appearing as both a bunch of grapes and as Al Roker, The Orange Wiggle. The sight of Roker is a giant grape costume is worth for the price of admission by itself.
Read more here.
Filed under: Around the Web
For nearly six decades Miles Davis has embodied cool - in his music, art and fashion, as well as in his international, intergalactic presence that looms as strong today as ever. With that said, New York City's premiere Jazz club, The Iridium, is paying homage to Davis with an exclusive tribute dubbed, 'Miles Davis: From Birth of the Cool to Bitches Brew.' The establishment has assembled a lineup of outstanding musicians to cover the icon's extensive catalog throughout the weekend.
Find out more.
Filed under: News
From the New York Daily News:
Tanya Young Williams is calling a foul on South Carolina police.
The estranged wife of disgraced former New Jersey Nets All-Star Jayson Williams charges that law enforcement officials there are dragging their feet over a bizarre May 10 incident. She claims a lawyer - who until recently had power of attorney over Jayson's affairs - took her on a white-knuckle trailer ride after she thwarted his attempt to steal a golf cart from her Hilton Head, S.C., home.
But cops there say they're investigating whether Tanya, a motivational speaker and TV fixture, has turned a classic he-said/she-said civil disturbance into a scene straight out of "Charlie's Angels."
"This is like a soap opera," Tanya says. "I can't believe this is my life."
Read more here.
Filed under: NewsFrom Clutch Magazine: Monday, the Internet erupted after evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa posted an article on Psychology Today that asserted that Black women were the least attractive women on earth.
Rightfully, many were up in arms, bombarding the Psychology Today Twitter timeline with scornful tweets and emailing the editors to express their displeasure with Kanazawa's article.
After undergoing a title change, the article magically disappeared from the Psychology Today website, but that may have been the least of Kanazawa's troubles.
According to Jezebel, Kanazawa's racist article may cost him his teaching position at the London School of Economics (LSE) due to complaints from the student body.
Get the Full Scoop at Clutch Magazine
From The Huffington Post: Tia Norfleet is used to breaking barriers. She's used to being overlooked, and she well knows the low odds and risks involved. None of this matters though.
Norfleet, 24, loves what she does and she'll stop at nothing to make it.
Racing ... is her life.
Growing up the daughter of a minister and a professional racecar driver (Bobby Norfleet), Tia was introduced to the sport at a very young age. In a predominately white, male sport, she is the exception to the rule. Female drivers are rare enough, but an African-American as well? It's never been done
Find out her story and her chances at The Huffington Post
As a young man growing up in Ghana, Samuel Agyeman observed the media from afar. He admired the work of Kwaku Sakyi-Addo (Ghana's Anderson Cooper equivalent), and even wrote Sakyi-Addo a letter saying that when he grows up he wanted to be like him. But when Agyeman finally became of age to make his own career decision, he initially went in a very different direction.
He fell into the predictable field of banking after studying Economics and Statistics at the University of Ghana. "Our focus is to just get to the banks because that's where the money is," Agyeman said.
But after a chance meeting with an editor from Metro TV while interning at Ghana's Institute for Economic Affairs, Agyeman was given the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Sakyi-Addo and Christiane Amanpour, another journalist he had long admired. The editor asked him if he was interested in working with media and after taking one night to think about it, he decided to explore the opportunity.
Five years later, Agyeman is well on his way to becoming himself an accomplished journalist to be admired. As an anchor and reporter for Metro TV, Agyeman has worked on social stories impacting Ghana that have won multiple awards, including The Dag Hammarskjold United Nations Journalism Fellowship Award, which allowed him to work as a United Nation's correspondent. And a report on the homeless population in Ghana's capital of Accra, "Shelter In The City," earned him the award for Best Journalist at the Ghana Journalist Association Awards. As a result, he received a prize package that included an all-expenses paid trip to the International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C. to further his studies.
While on a visit to the Huffington Post Media Group offices in New York City last week (one of many media tours he will be taking with the ICJ), we spoke with Agyeman about his burgeoning and already well-decorated career as a journalist in Ghana, what he's learned from United States journalists and the stories that matter most to him.
Jozen Cummings: When you decided to go from banking to journalism, how did people take the news?
Samuel Agyeman: Everybody says that [journalism] is not going to pay, and that's true. Journalists in Ghana bring in about $200 a month, and when you look at the kind of work we do - probably graduated from the same school, probably studied the same subjects that somebody in the banks studied - and the person in the bank is taking home $1,800 or $1,500 and you're taking $200, that's very bad. So many young people interested in journalism tell me they've been told, "You're just wasting your time."
JC: Since you've been in the U.S., what differences have you noticed about the media profession?
SA: People take it seriously here in the U.S. In Ghana, people might [become journalists] for a while and after finding their feet, they get a job in some financial institution. I have learned that I can actually be in this business and grow in it. I know people can really make a life out of this if they do it well.
JC: Tell me about the "Shelter In The City" story that won you the Journalist of the Year Award.
SA: The challenges of the homeless in Ghana had never been covered the way I did it before. People did it in the past, but just by talking about it - people sleep in the streets -- but nobody had really gone out there at night to tell how these people struggle to get a place to sleep. I spent 10 months with them at night [and saw] the sort of problems they go through. There is this particular place -- which nobody knew about then -- it's like a park, pavement, like a station, and people sleep there at night. Hundreds of women sleep there and they go through a lot of problems. I spent time with them in the rains - you have children sleeping under polythene bags, and crying, suffocating, just crying to breathe, but because it's rainy and the mothers can't take the polythene from their heads, they're just left there struggling. I took it to the United Nations, and the UN Habitat had to step in with lots of measures here and there. Now they have a building with about 34-bedrooms that is housing some of these people, other organizations have also given them things like mosquito nets and mattresses. So that was the impact [of the story].
JC: Are these the kind of stories you continue to do for Metro TV?
SA: I'm interested in stories that affect people, the ordinary people. I don't know what story it might be, it might be economics and politics but once it affects society and people, I'm interested in that.
JC: So now what do people think of your career choice to be a journalist?
SA: [Laughs] Now so many people are appreciative. I mean, even before I got the awards, people saw me on TV, they looked at my reports and almost everywhere I go people say, "I saw that report." Even my friends who are medical doctors tell me, "Your job is something else, it's good." I have told some people that I think about going back to school and they say, "Why? Just do this." They like what I'm doing.
Filed under: Around the Web
From the Huffington Post:
A massive tornado that tore a 6-mile path across southwestern Missouri killed at least 89 people as it slammed into the city of Joplin, ripping into a hospital, crushing cars like soda cans and leaving a forest of splintered tree trunks behind where entire neighborhoods once stood.
Authorities warned that the death toll could climb as search and rescuers continued their work Monday. Their task was likely to be made more miserable as a fresh storm moved into the area. It was not expected to produce new tornadoes, but lightning, high winds and heavy rains were likely to hamper an already delicate door-to-door search.
City manager Mark Rohr announced the number of known dead at a pre-dawn news conference outside the wreckage of a hospital that took a direct hit from Sunday's storm. Rohr said the twister cut a path nearly 6 miles long and more than a half-mile wide through the center of town, adding that tornado sirens gave residents about a 20-minute warning before the tornado touched down on the city's west side.
Read more here.
Filed under: Reviews
From the indieWire:
I watched Swedish director Ruben Ostlund's film, 'Play,' twice. My first viewing was a really surreal moment, not just for the fascinating absurdness of the story but because the film was in Swedish with French subtitles. While I can read and understand written French better than I speak or understand spoken French (I have zero understanding of Swedish, written or spoken), there were several nuances that I missed completely first time around.
However, the film is visually appealing enough - not so much for it's stark beauty but its intrigue - that I sat through it and was able to get the general gist and feeling of quizzical WTFness and still want to see it again with the aid of some English subtitles. Thankfully, that opportunity arose with some extra screenings - this time with English subtitles.
Based on a spate of real cases of bullying and robbery that took place in Gothenburg, Sweden between 2006 and 2008, Play is an intriguing observation of identity, manipulation and collusion. Ordinarily, a film about five black boys robbing three white boys could very easily have made a regular stereotypical story where race plays the central role. In truth, race does play a significant role here, but it's how it's used, and by whom, that's interesting.
Read more here.
Filed under: News
Wonya Lucas has been named President and CEO of TV One, effective Monday, August 8. The cable industry programming veteran succeeds Johnathan Rodgers, who has announced his retirement as of July 31.
Most recently, Lucas was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Discovery Channel and Science Channel, where she was responsible for strategy and operations for the networks as well as oversight of the networks' research and marketing departments. She joined Discovery Communications in 2008 as the Chief Marketing Officer.
Prior to joining Discovery, Lucas served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of The Weather Channel Networks, where she was responsible for corporate strategy and development, strategic marketing for The Weather Channel and weather.com, and operations and programming for The Weather Channel, The Weather Channel HD, Weatherscan, The Weather Channel Radio Network, and newspaper syndication.
"Wonya Lucas is the perfect choice to help us build on the terrific success we have achieved at TV One over the past seven years," said TV One Chairman and Radio One President and CEO Alfred Liggins. "Her successful career as a top-level, mainstream cable programming executive will be invaluable to us as we continue to grow the network and the company. Her expertise in marketing some of the best brands in television will also be a tremendous plus as we continue to define and strengthen TV One's brand in a constantly evolving media marketplace."
"It's an incredible opportunity to lead TV One, which in just a few years has become such a success story," said Lucas. "I am also personally passionate about TV One's mission to provide high quality entertainment and information to the African American audience that authentically reflects our lives, history and culture.
"Through the leadership of Johnathan Rodgers, TV One is well positioned for the future and has tremendous growth potential. I look forward to working with Alfred Liggins, Cathy Hughes, and the TV One staff, as well as /Comcast and NBCU to chart the network on a path to achieve even greater success in the years ahead," Lucas added.
Filed under: News
Nothing against French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who by all indications seems qualified to oversee the International Monetary Fund, but here's a vote for anyone else who is qualified from the developing world.
Let's recap why there is suddenly a vacancy in the highest office of the IMF: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a man reared in rarefied Parisian suburbs, educated at elite French academies and more recently occupant of an office that entitles him to fly around the globe fraternizing with fellow members of the powerful set, allegedly stepped out of the shower in a $3,000-per-night suite at a deluxe New York hotel. There, he encountered an African immigrant employed as a maid, who was presumably arriving to make the bed and remove the trash.
The alleged sexual assault that followed is uncomfortably close to a workable metaphor for how much of the developing world has long viewed its relations with the Washington-based institutions at the center of the global financial order, the IMF and its sister agency the World Bank. Not without some merit, it must be added.
Why was DSK the one stepping out of the shower and headed for an elegant lunch in a Manhattan restaurant? By dint of many reasons, to be sure, but surely in part because of his good fortune of being born in the capital of a wealthy nation and being the son of parents able to reinforce their own good fortune by sending him to the most exclusive schools. And why was this woman from Africa here on this day? Every life is complex, but one can assume that her decision to come to the United States, rent an apartment in the Bronx and ride the subway to Manhattan so she could scrub the toilets of the global elite amounts to her calculation that this was the best economic opportunity available to her.
This is not a broadside against the World Bank and the IMF, whose histories and world views are far more complex than they are often made out to be by its legions of critics. The two institutions are full of dedicated and well-intentioned people who spend their days trying to build a more equitable economic order and spread the fruits of innovation to more parts of the globe (though the same cannot always be said about the leadership). Rather, it is a recognition that the inequalities that divide nations and the classes within nations are so deep and self-reinforcing that it is going to take some real doing to transform the centers of power into forces for greater good.
That, and the recognition that it would be disgusting to fill a vacancy created by an alleged sexual assault of an African immigrant maid by a European master of the universe with another European -- yes, even a woman -- through the same secret, clubby process that has been used to staff the place since its inception.
Over the weekend, the sense took hold that Lagarde's appointment was gathering unstoppable momentum. But that would be a stay-the-course move. Why not reform from the top down?
For far too long, the IMF and the World Bank have been perceived as institutions intent on perpetuating the privileges of wealthy countries while displaying callous disregard for the lives of ordinary people around the globe. Time and again, a fresh financial crisis in Indonesia, Argentina or Greece has prompted the IMF to prescribe its usual regimen of austerity as the condition for an emergency bailout, requiring government budget cuts, the elimination of subsidies for food and fuel and the cessation of other spending.
This medicine has been served up as a needed salve for a global financial system lacking confidence, which is really a euphemism for the needs of the enormous banks who play an outsized role in the national affairs of the countries that pay most of the IMF's bills: Its policies have ensured that lenders based in the United States, Europe and Japan are not forced to absorb losses on loans made recklessly in pursuit of emerging market riches. Better that ordinary people in Indonesia, Argentina or Greece should lose access to luxury items like rice and kerosene than that shareholders of Deutsche Bank or Goldman Sachs should forego dividends.
One may be tempted to reject that portrayal as cartoonish, but every now and again a window opens up on the views of the people running the ship. Recall the memo that Larry Summers signed in 1991, when he was the chief economist of the World Bank, advocating the bank encourage more toxic waste be transferred from wealthy countries to poor countries. Among the reasons? Poor people earn less than rich people, so the lost wages from their deaths are not as great.
"The economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that," the memo asserted. Summers later characterized the memo as a sarcastic retort. Hilarious.
Whatever the tone, the logic of the infamous memo is the same sort that holds as a natural outcome the fact that African immigrants should serve the needs of European and American potenates inside delightful hotels: Every actor pursues their own economic self-interest, and thereby maximizes the greatest aggregate good. So speaks the text book. That is no justification for an attempted rape -- the crime alleged -- but it helps explain how these two individuals found themselves standing opposite one another in the same hotel room.
We simply need the institutions that govern the world's money to be representative of the world's people. Yet the way the DSK episode has been absorbed by the power centers reflects a tendency to accept the sorts of assigned roles the IMF and the World Bank generally view people outside the most powerful countries as: cheap hands to be exploited, miserable wretches to be pitied and perhaps aided or, most of the time, rounding errors on the ledger books of a global economy.
The 'New York Times' keeps referring to the alleged rape attempt as a "tawdry" episode, as if implying that DSK was caught consorting with a woman of lower class and ill-repute, brought down by an unclean act -- an embarrassment, as opposed to a crime of violation and brutality.
In France, to judge from the polls and the press coverage, concern seems to focus on claims that DSK was set up -- an exculpatory frame that turns him into the potential victim -- and worries that he is being ill-treated as we glimpse him placed on the hardwood benches of a New York City courtroom or paraded in front of cameras on his way to being arraigned.
"He's not like everyone else," the French intellectual Bernard-Henry Levi reportedly told a German newspaper, expressing his revulsion over seeing his friend DSK led into court in handcuffs.
The French reaction speaks to the deep-seated sense of entitlement that governs the powerful class: The maid and her story are not even in the picture. Let us contemplate the injustice of being yanked from the front of the plane to the courtroom! Did DSK even get to finish his pre-takeoff cocktail?
Read more at The Huffington Post.