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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"For the past week, the U.S. and allies' offensive in Afghanistan’s Helmand Valley has put war back on the front pages of America’s newspapers. Even after eight years of fighting, though, and an additional seven years of combat in Iraq, the U.S. public and its military still struggle to understand the dynamics of war as it is being fought. These political fights in Iraq and Afghanistan do not resemble the large-scale industrial wars of the 20th century. No matter what happens in the Helmand Valley over the next few weeks and months, there will never be an 'Armistice Day' or 'Victory Day' the likes of which signaled the ends of the First and Second World Wars, respectively. The United States and its allies had defeated the Nazi regime mere months after landing in Normandy, yet in Afghanistan the NATO alliance seemingly labors without end." (TheDailyBeast)



"Remember when the Internet was supposed to kill off television? That hasn’t been the case lately, judging by the record television ratings for big-ticket events. The Vancouver Olympics are shaping up to be the most-watched foreign Winter Games since 1994. This year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched program in United States history, beating out the final episode of 'M*A*S*H' in 1983. Awards shows like the Grammys are attracting their biggest audiences in years. Many television executives are crediting the Internet, in part, for the revival. Blogs and social Web sites like Facebook and Twitter enable an online water-cooler conversation, encouraging people to split their time between the computer screen and the big-screen TV. The Nielsen Company, which measures television viewership and Web traffic, noticed this month that one in seven people who were watching the Super Bowl and the Olympics opening ceremony were surfing the Web at the same time. 'The Internet is our friend, not our enemy,' said Leslie Moonves, chief executive of the CBS Corporation, which broadcast both the Super Bowl and the Grammy Awards this year. 'People want to be attached to each other.'" (Brian Stelter/NYTimes)



(image via JH/NYSD)

"Last night at the Café Carlyle, Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill invited me to the opening of John Standing performing Noel Coward. I am a Noel Coward aficionado although with the exception of the late Bobby Short who had his own musical signature, I’ve never really been impressed by those who’ve followed in Coward's tracks singing his songs that always sounded not quite the 'right' Noel without him. Until last night. Better even maybe than Noel Coward, is this Noel. There were many people in the room who already knew that about him, including some who’ve been following Standing for years – including Sarah, Duchess of York who came out of the dark and took the stage right after the lights cameup, urging everyone to come back again and again to hear this very funny man with his 'sly biological urge' sing the highly witty, funny Coward songs." (NYSocialDiary)



"Alan P. Gross of Maryland recently had the rare experience of being thrown in jail for doing his job. Cuban authorities arrested the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contractor at Havana's José Martí International Airport. President Raúl Castro has said that Gross was providing 'sophisticated satellite communications equipment' to groups working for 'the enemy' -- that is, the Americans. Cuban prosecutors have yet to file formal charges, but he could be accused of entering the country on a tourist visa while actually working for a foreign government to foment regime change. Gross remains in a maximum-security prison in Havana, and U.S. diplomats are working assiduously for his release. The case is the latest bone of contention between the United States and Cuba. And it is pushing President Barack Obama's administration to make a decision it neglected in its first year: whether to continue former President George W. Bush's policies toward Cuba, or forge its own ones." (ForeignPolicy)



"Stylist/costume designer Amanda Ross is now the global fashion director of W Hotels Worldwide, consulting for the chain of hotels and creating partnerships between the W and designers. To celebrate, Daniel Benedict toasted Ross with a small, chic cocktail party at the W Lounge in Bryant Park with Euan and Lucy Rellie, Carlos Souza, Richie Rich, Tinsley Mortimer, Miguel Fabregas, Milly de Cabrol, Kelly Cutrone, Fern Mallis and other chicsters raising flutes of champagne .. She leaves this March for the grand opening of the W Barcelona." (Papermag)



"The UK general election is widely predicted for May, and the Conservative party is currently narrowly ahead of the incumbent Labour government in the polls. But who would hold the power in a Tory administration, and who are the most influential advisers?" (FT)



"After luring investor Jim Rogers, actor Jet Li, Filipino maids and Bangladeshi construction workers with one of Asia’s most open immigration policies, Singapore is becoming a little less welcoming to foreigners. Singapore almost doubled the rate it grants citizenship and permanent residence in the past five years to counter a falling birth rate, and let firms bring in thousands to work at hotels, shipyards and restaurants. The move saw foreigners make up one in every three people. The government plans to slow the inflow to avoid being 'overwhelmed,' and unveiled higher levies for overseas laborers, cooks and janitors in its Feb. 22 budget. The effort is part of a shift in economic policies designed to ease discontent in the aftermath of the deepest recession since independence in 1965 and to shore up public support before elections that must be held by February 2012." (Bloomberg)

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