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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"It’s been more than eight years since 9/11, but the fallout continues to reverberate throughout today’s New York. The Obama administration’s waffling over how to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the attack’s mastermind, and the continuous, embarrassing delay in rebuilding the towers downtown have kept 9/11 more in the headlines than usual. Now, as those political battles roll on, a new story about the run-up to 9/11 has emerged—a previously undisclosed, covert C.I.A. effort to recruit a spy to penetrate Al Qaeda a year and a half before the planes crashed into the towers. The development is intriguing in part because the informant they were after was thought to be secretly gay—a fact that gave intelligence agents leverage in their efforts to turn him against his conservative Islamist circle. But the case may also help answer one of the long-standing mysteries of the 9/11 narrative: why a terrorist known to one part of the U.S. government wasn’t captured by other parts before he boarded a plane and helped carry out the most devastating attacks on the country. Intelligence officials tell The Observer that the character at the center of the intrigue was an enigmatic but jovial man named Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, or 'Shakir el Iraqi.' 'He was tall as a mushroom, fat and gay,' one source familiar with the case told The Observer, 'and the idea was to exploit him as an agent against Al Qaeda.'" (Observer)



"I admire porn ... And I personally only like high-class escorts. I don’t like sleeping with people I really love. I don’t want to sleep with them because sex cannot last, but affection can last forever. I think this is healthy. And for the way the rich live, this is possible. But the other world, I think they need porn. I also think it’s much more difficult to perform in porn than to fake some emotion on the face as an actor." (Karl Lagerfeld/Stylite)



"President Obama was calling from Air Force One while flying back from Cleveland, but second-term Rep. Jason Altmire was in his car and couldn't be reached. No problem. Obama called Altmire in his office later on Monday to make his case on health care, perhaps the biggest vote either has faced during their careers. Obama, his Cabinet and White House staff have been reaching out to Altmire and a few dozen other Democrats with increasing frequency. 'When the president takes the time to personally reach out, it makes an impact,' says Altmire, 42, from western Pennsylvania, who is undecided on the bill. 'He really made an effort to understand where I was coming from.' That same personal touch is being applied to liberals. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a usually loyal Democrat from Obama's hometown of Chicago, got an invite to come to the White House with other Hispanic caucus members. He expects the White House to use all the perks at its disposal. 'I wouldn't be surprised if at the end, people are bowling for health care, or seeing the latest movie for health care with popcorn,' Gutierrez says." (USAToday)



"I remember meeting John and Elizabeth Edwards in 2002. It was in the elevator of the Wyoming, that grand pre-war building in Washington, D.C., and we were all en route to the same fete—for my book Cuba Confidential. Though it was still early in Edwards’ national career, he radiated that electric aplomb of those divinely chosen, naturally gifted politicians. All of us in that elevator were happy and expectant: There was the party, and Edwards, of course, had already been summoned for national stardom. Elizabeth Edwards held her husband’s arm and laughed—they were a good-looking, joyous couple filled with hope. could have warned him then about the eccentric femme fatale that awaited him. I could have told him: 'Beware! A woman has been living in our rental in West Hollywood looking to find herself and patiently awaiting you, down the road. Stop the movie of your life before tragedy and despair engulf you and your family.' Using the same cri de coeur made famous by Delmore Schwartz in his masterpiece short story 'In Dreams Begin Responsibilities,' I could have turned to Edwards, as Schwartz does in his story, and shouted: 'Don’t do it! It’s not too late to change your minds, both of you. Nothing good will come of it, only remorse, hatred, scandal…' But of course, I didn’t. Alas, my inner Cassandra failed me, and them. Actually, Edwards’ future mistress, Rielle Hunter, was among the best tenants my husband and I ever had for our property in West Hollywood, just south of Melrose." (TheDailyBeast)



"As hundreds of new allegations of sexual abuse surface in the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday that he hoped a forthcoming letter dealing with one part of the scandal in Ireland would help 'repentance, healing and renewal.' The pope, the former Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, was addressing his weekly general audience at the Vatican after days of disclosures concerning the German church, where one case happened on his watch before he became pope in 2005. The pope’s comments on the scandal in Ireland came a day after a top Vatican official acknowledged on Tuesday that, with only 10 people handling such cases, his office might not be adequate for the task." (NYTimes)



"As FishbowlDC first reported yesterday, Christiane Amanpour has been offered the job of hosting ABC's Sunday morning public affairs show, "This Week." And while Amanpour and her husband, the diplomat Jamie Rubin, live in New York, a person familiar with the show tells us even if she makes the move ABC News, "This Week" will continue to be broadcast out of Washington, keeping staffers in place and keeping the show at the Newseum. FBDC also reports that Amanpour ... would want to take the show away from the inside-the-beltway bent and give it a foreign affairs focus. Which would counter-program the other three network Sunday morning shows, but is there an appetite for that kind of broadcast show on Sunday morning?" (TVNewser)



"Last night I put on a black tie for the first time in about three weeks, and went down to the Waldorf where The New York City Police Foundation was holding its 32nd Annual Gala. Honorary Chair was Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Honorees were Gail and Carl Icahn. Gala Chairs were Tina Brown and Sir Harold Evans, Martha and Rich Handler, Tommy and Thalia Mottola, Lizanne and Barry Rosenstein. Hosts were Michael Douglas, Charlie Rose, Sharon Stone, and there was a guest performance by Marc Anthony .. I got there well into the cocktail hour and made my way through the crowds in two different reception galleries looking for photo ops. I came upon Georgette Mosbacher and Nancy Silverman. First shot of the evening. And last in those two rooms: I couldn’t find anyone I recognized. However, in the Grand Ballroom, I was talking with Candace Leeds, the public relations executive from the Tisch family’s Loews Corporation when I stood up, turned half way around to look for more photo ops, when the young blonde seated at table twelve feet away smiled at me and said: 'Hello!' So I went over and introduced myself and she said her name and I couldn’t hear her because of the din of the hundreds of guests entering the dining room. So I asked her to repeat her name. 'Sharon Stone,' she said." (NYSocialDiary)



"Interesting note about (Michael) Lewis' new book. There is a backlash on Amazon because the publisher has neglected to release a 'Kindle version' (currently 24 negative reviews from people who have not read the book - all citing lack of a Kindle version, compared to 20 favorable reviews from people who have).It's amazing how the publisher's desire for extra profit has precluded Amazon's most loyal market - Kindle owners. Kindle users are a group of people who are constantly checking Amazon for new releases. The irony of a book discussing Wall Street's greed is that the greed of the publisher is killing its potential to reach the widest audience possible during a week that has consisted of non-stop promotion for Lewis with appearances on a variety of highly visible media outlets." (LefetzLetter)



"Russia, the biggest economy still cutting interest rates, will probably deploy a three-pronged strategy to steer an uneven recovery as the ruble soars, inflation hovers at a 12-year low and bank liquidity swells. The central bank has signaled it may cut the benchmark refinancing rate from 8.5 percent this month and may offset the move by requiring banks to increase reserves, said economists at JPMorgan Chase and Co. and Nomura Holdings Inc. Bank Rossii, which says it may start raising rates in the second half, must also do more to stem ruble volatility, they said. 'Tensions in Russia’s monetary policy derive from pressure on the ruble, which has seen a very serious appreciation and has raised concerns with policy makers worried about the competitiveness of Russian products,' said Ivan Tchakarov, an economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in London. The world’s biggest energy supplier is trying to calibrate policy measures as an 84 percent oil price surge since the end of December 2008 pushes the ruble higher, leaving the economy with excess capital. Bank Rossii has warned much of the money flowing in is speculative as investors chase higher returns. The ruble may strengthen as much as 20 percent in the next three years, Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Klepach said yesterday, urging the bank, which says it wants to shift to an inflation targeting regime next year, to do more to counter currency gains." (Bloomberg)



"A high-profile shuffle in the modeling world has left some of the biggest names in the game unsure about their futures. Last week, news circulated that Paul Rowland, the photographer and founder of the Women Management agency and its offshoot, Supreme, was taking a handful of veteran agents and leaving Supreme to head up the women's division at Ford. An industry insider says of Rowland, who founded Women in 1988 and has worked with Kate Moss, Elle Macpherson, Naomi Campbell and Carmen Kass: 'He had a huge salary there, but wasn't really getting along with management. [Rowland sold the company a few years ago, but stayed on as an executive.] So basically, he just left.' To make way for Rowland and his crew, Ford let go of a number of bookers and agents. 'They basically cleaned house and canned everyone,' says another source. But in a twist, Caroline Poznanski, who ran Ford's women's division until Rowland's arrival, has in turn been tapped by Supreme to take over Rowland's old job. "It's one big game of musical chairs," says our source." (PageSix)



"The East Side Social Club has put midtown on the social map. Euan Rellie, Minnie Mortimer, Debbie Bancroft have all thrown parties there and celeb sightings include Brooke Shields, Rie Rasmussen, Chelsea Handler and -- in keeping with the joint's mafia hangout vibe -- Dominic 'Junior' Chianese. It also helps that an investor is social starmaker/photographer Patrick McMullan and that owner Billy Gilroy's son Devon is the hot-looking, tatted-up chef in the kitchen. 'The menu is urban Italian," Devon tells me. "This attracts a hip foodie set.'"

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