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Friday, June 12, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



(image vi nytimes)

"“House-Senate negotiators reached agreement late Thursday on a $105.9 billion wartime spending bill after last-minute assurances from President Barack Obama that he will use all his powers to prevent the disclosure of controversial photographs depicting the treatment of detainees held by the U.S. military. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel rushed to the Capitol in the evening to personally deliver this message after the talks began to unravel. The president participated via the speaker on Emanuel's cell phone, as senators gathered around in the first floor offices of the Senate Appropriations Committee. And Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) later read aloud a letter from Obama pledging to use every ‘legal and administrative remedy’ available to prevent the disclosure of the pictures. …" (Politico/David Rogers)



"Six months into the Obama administration, it’s clear there are several kinds of people working for the new agenda: the newcomers, the longtime Democrats and several unexpected Republican allies. The veteran Democrats are falling over themselves to make nice to newcomers with lots of Chicago connections. But what’s surprising is the Obama crowd’s penchant for recruiting talent from the second-tier ranks of the loyal opposition to help them maneuver the maze of the nation’s capital. That’s where the low-profile but high-powered North Carolina publishing tycoon Bonnie McElveen-Hunter fits in. She first popped onto the national scene about 10 years ago as George W. Bush’s ambassador to Finland, but these days she has an even more important role: unofficial cultural ambassador for Desirée Rogers, the Obama White House’s social secretary who has rapidly gained national attention as the new administration’s bridge to the worlds of culture, society and fashion. 'We needed someone to introduce us to all the different aspects of Washington,' Joe Reinstein, a Rogers deputy, says of McElveen-Hunter. 'She’s a friend of Desirée’s.'" (WWD)



"Today, Iran will hold a presidential election that has brought voters to the streets nightly over the past week, young urban reformers clad in challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi's emblematic green, women with fingers dipped in green to show their allegiance, and backers of Iran's hard-line President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, dressed conservatively and wrapped in Iranian flags. At stake in this election is many things, including economic policy, civil rights, and the tone of Iranian foreign policy .. So what does Iran's election mean for the U.S.? It all depends on what happens. Here are four outcomes, the last of which speaks to the question on everyone's mind: what if Mousavi wins?" (TheAtlantic)



"Conan O’Brien may have had the buzz heading into the week, having just taken over the helm of NBC’s 'The Tonight Show' from longtime host Jay Leno, but CBS rival David Letterman seems to have stolen it back. The host of 'The Late Show' has become engaged in a sharp, and somewhat surreal, war of words with the Palin family following remarks he made on Monday’s show. The feud has received a huge amount of publicity at a time when O’Brien should be getting the late-night headlines. Though Letterman hasn’t seen a consistent ratings uptick, he has held steady during the initial O’Brien surge. The first three nights of the week, the two shows traded victories, with Letterman pulling ahead Tuesday night and finishing within 0.1 of O’Brien the other two nights. O’Brien began his tenure with a huge lead over Letterman, but he lost viewers each night in his first week on the job." (Medialifemagazine)



"Despite porn industry assurances that an adult film actress' recent positive HIV test is the first since a 2004 outbreak shut down production for a month, Los Angeles County health officials said Thursday that at least 16 additional unpublicized cases of HIV have been confirmed in adult film performers. The newly released data bring the number of HIV cases in porn performers in the last five years to 22, including the case disclosed this week. The report -- and what state and county health officials perceive as stonewalling by the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, which tests porn performers for sexually transmitted diseases -- is bringing renewed scrutiny to the estimated $12-billion-a-year industry's long history of resisting regulation and condom use. 'AIM Healthcare has never been cooperative with us and our investigations,' said Dean Fryer, a spokesman for the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health. So far, the San Fernando Valley-based clinic has declined to tell county or state officials the name of the performer or her employer." (LosAngelesTimes)



"Socialite Coralie Charriol Paul began a React to Film series on Wednesday, June 10, at the SoHo House with the film Food, Inc., directed by Robert Kenner and produced by Mr. Kenner and Eric Schlosser, author of the eye-opening and stomach-churning book Fast Food Nation .. The most shocked reaction from the well-heeled private audience came when the screen flashed the average annual income of chicken farmers: $18,000. Cries of 'Oh, Jesus,' and 'Jesus Christ!' were heard. React to Film will pre-screen films about issues ranging from overfishing the oceans to child slavery and trafficking, offering Q&A sessions with filmmakers and a cocktail hour at each event .. After the movie, actress Samantha Mathis thanked Mr. Schlosser for 'helping to get this movie made,' while publicist Peggy Siegal ('I just got my lips done!') nodded off .. After the screening, ABC’s John Stossel popped by for the cocktail hour, where guests, including Prince Philippos of Greece, sipped cocktails and grassy-looking health drinks." (Observer)



"While human rights groups catalog atrocities and advocacy groups sound the alarm, U.N. officials tell us that the situation in eastern Congo is "tense but under control." The gap between the rosy assessments we frequently hear from MONUC and the grim accounts we hear from Congolese affected by the conflict is outrageous and infuriating. And as the Congolese government launches a new offensive this summer, we think the worst is ahead. Doing research and advocacy to help end the crisis in the Great Lakes region around Congo can feel like screaming into an empty room. The region has been so violent for so long that the United Nations, donor governments, and the press have become numb. But there is a cure to even the worst cases of 'conflict fatigue': an understanding that solutions are within reach if we just have the will to pursue them -- solutions that can prevent thousands of senseless deaths. With greater operational capacity, firmer direction from the U.N. Security Council, and decisive leadership on the ground, MONUC could provide greater protection for civilians. With high-level multilateral diplomacy led by the United States and the European Union, the Congolese and Rwandan governments could go beyond their current uneasy military cooperation and achieve lasting political solutions to the regional conflict." (ForeignPolicy)

"This is not a joke, folks. Remember when Cher initially bristled when her daughter Chastity turned out to be a lesbian? Well, now the eternal superstar can finally relax. It turns out she has another straight son." (Musto)



(image via abcnews)

"David Hockney and Martin Kippenberger paintings with asking prices of $1.8 million each sold in Switzerland as slump-conscious collectors took their time to choose bargains at the world’s largest fair of contemporary and modern art. Art enthusiasts including Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and actor Brad Pitt weren’t rushing to spend on the second day of Art Basel yesterday .. 'The new level has been reached,' said Skarstedt. 'We won’t see prices rise for a while. There just aren’t the speculators around. People aren’t buying art to make money any more. They want to live with it.'" (Bloomberg)



"A star of the 1940s and ‘50s, (Ava) Gardner epitomised Hollywood’s golden years. She was telling nothing but the truth when she said that her story didn’t need any embellishment .. She talked honestly, and sometimes painfully, too, about her hard-drinking, her affairs with millionaires and matadors, the guys she met in bars, and the scandals that her old boss, Hollywood’s boss of bosses, Louis B. Mayer, had hushed up – including the night Howard Hughes dislocated her jaw and she felled him with a marble ashtray. 'I thought I’d killed the poor bastard,' she told me. 'There was blood on the walls, on the furniture, real blood in the bloody Marys. Mr. Mayer sent in his henchmen to clean up the place and get me out there fast. He feared it might become a murder scene. I don’t think he cared too much about me, but he didn’t want any scandal attached to his studio.'" (NYSocialDiary)

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