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Friday, March 26, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Nearly twenty years ago, President George W.H. Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker made it clear that they were not going to pursue the pro-Israeli policies of the Reagan administration and were expressing strong criticism of the 'Greater Israel' policies of the Likud government in Jerusalem as they attempted to revive the Middle East peace process. Today, another American president and Secretary of State are using a misstep by an Israeli government led by another Likud Prime Minister to pressure Israel to put a freeze the settlements in what Washington and the entire international community regard as occupied territories (including East Jerusalem). Once again, U.S. officials explain that the American failure to bring about a change in Israeli policy is damaging American credibility in the Arab world and making it more difficult to revive the peace process. It seems the writers of the script for the 2010 production are thinking about making a re-make of the 1991 movie. In that case, they should consider that in that plot, the White House occupant refused to back down from a confrontation with the tough, nationalist leader in Jerusalem. He decided to take the diplomatic fight into the open, confident that the American public would support him. And he won. But history does not repeat itself. The political context at home and abroad are dramatically different today, and the Obama administration needs to learn the right lessons from Bush and Baker's experience if it hopes to prevail." (Leon Hadar /ForeignPolicy)



"US president Barack Obama kept on turning the screw on Israeli minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday, March 24, after their harsh conversation in the White House Tuesday: Netanyahu was told bluntly to issue a White House-dictated public pledge before leaving Washington for home to eschew further construction in East Jerusalem, or else face a US presidential notice condemning Israel and holding its government responsible for the failure to restart indirect Israel-Palestinian talks. Reporting this, debkafile's Washington sources add that Netanyahu's public renunciation of Jerusalem construction was required to include also the large Jewish suburbs of the city and remain in force for the duration of negotiations. He must also pledge further concessions to the Palestinians." (DEBKAfile)



"Following the snub on Vanity Fair's recent Young Hollywood cover, 'Precious' star Gabourey Sidibe is getting another fashionable cold shoulder. The Oscar award nominee is said to have zero chance of ever appearing on a future cover of Vogue magazine due to her size, PopEater.com reports. 'She's a joke in the fashion community,' a fashion industry insider scoffed. 'What she wore on the red carpet at the Academy Awards wasn't a dress, it was a tent.' Sidibe, 26, is no stranger to being criticized for her weight. Not only was she noticeably absent from the star-studded Vanity Fair cover that included many of her svelte industry peers, she has also been the butt of shock jock Howard Stern's many vulgar insults regarding her appearance. A second fashion source went on to explain that Vogue is an exclusive forum used by designers to debut the best pieces in their new collection. 'All are of which are one of a kind and sample size,' the insider added. 'It would be impossible to get a regular-sized girl in those clothes, let alone Gabby.' Following the exclusion from Vanity Fair, Sidibe carried on an optimistic attitude that she said has only helped her prosper in an industry that focuses on aesthetics." (NYDailyNews)



"To become a literary star, having talent helps, but so does carving out a place in the tangled, incestuous web of the publishing world. Our interactive field guide illustrates how 10 young authors with potential best-sellers coming out this spring and summer fit into the firmament." (VanityFair)



"While you were sleeping, more women were claiming they’ve slept with Sandra Bullock’s (hopefully soon-to-be ex) husband Jesse James, and although his mistress count hasn’t reached a Tiger-level of absurdity, things don’t look good for the 'Vanilla Gorilla.' First, the overly tattooed Michelle 'Bombshell' McGee spoke about their 11-month affair and the world saw her dressed in full-on Nazi regalia, then blond stripper Melissa Smith told Star magazine typically classy Jesse contacted her via MySpace to kick off their two-year affair. Now photographer Brigitte Daguerre claims she also had sex with Jesse four times and saved all 195 of his texts as proof. Rumors have surfaced that Sandra was interviewing divorce lawyers, but how many women will it take for her to dump the bad boy for good? Because Playgirl knows Jesse won’t be getting any money from his Oscar-winning wife, they’ve offered him half a million dollars to pose nude in a 'circus-themed freak show' setting. In other affair news, a source told Us Weekly that isn’t wasn’t all strippers and waitresses for Tiger Woods—the golfer dated a teenaged LeAnn Rimes before she met (and later cheated on) husband Dean Sheremet." (Takimag)



"Anderson Cooper goes for an unprotected dive with 'The Sharkman' Mike Rutzen this Sunday on '60 Minutes.' Rutzen risks his life to prove that great whites are misunderstood and Cooper goes along for the dive. Just before he went in, the CNN anchor and CBS contributor told his cameraman, 'Just remember, if I get eaten just keep rolling, because the only thing more stupid than being eaten, would be being eaten and not have the videotape.'" (TVNewser)



"Contrary to popular opinion, cable network TLC thinks audiences can learn something from Sarah Palin, and the company is willing to pay her roughly $250,000 per episode, or $2 million in total, to educate them. That’s the ballpark amount the woman formerly known as the governor of Alaska will pocket from the sale of an eight-episode documentary series to the Discovery-owned network, sources familiar with the project told The Daily Beast. Produced in conjunction with reality-TV show kingpin Mark Burnett, Sarah Palin’s Alaska will reveal the 49th state’s 'powerful beauty as it has never been filmed, as told by one of the state’s proudest daughters,' according to a press release announcing the deal. Or, as a rival network head who saw a trailer for the show described it, 'It’s basically a travelogue with Palin and a few cameras running around Alaska in a helicopter.'" (TheDailyBeast)



"Palm Beach won't have Lord Conrad Black to kick around when the Canadian press lord gets out of jail on Oct. 13, 2013, at the earliest. Black's doing 6½ years for fraud and obstruction of justice. But his oceanfront mansion has already been transferred to the Connecticut-based company that held an $11.6 million mortgage and it's already for sale, the Globe & Mail reports. Though the list ing has no price, the property is worth less today than the $37 million Black was asking for it in 2005." (PageSix)



"Most of the 37 governors elected this November will have power over new congressional district boundaries, which will be crafted in state capitals after the census results are released this December. Needless to say, the party that controls the line-drawing process can try to gerrymander its district map at will — raising the stakes for the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and Democratic Governors Association (DGA) as they decide how to target campaign cash in the winnable races. 'The RGA invests in states where we can make a game-changing impact,' said Mike Schrimpf, communications director for the GOP governors’ group. 'And there’s no doubt that many states shaping up to have competitive races this year will undergo redistricting.' 'Redistricting increases the urgency,' said Nathan Daschle, the DGA’s executive director. 'Strategically, it doesn’t change a whole lot,' though 'We talk about it a lot with donors,' he said." (CQPolitics)



"The Washington Post, among others, is reporting rather matter-of-factly that conservative commentator David Frum (who, as a Bush speechwriter, coined “axis of evil”) has been fired by the American Enterprise Institute for criticizing the Republican approach to the health care fight. Neither the think tank nor Frum is saying much, but they did part ways conspicuously close to the publication of this post on Frum’s site. Frum, who has been pitching moderation in the GOP since his book 'Comeback' hit the shelves, wrote that the passage of health care reform is the Republicans’ 'most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.' As Frum sees it, the GOP is letting the Rush Limbaughs of the world lead it around by the trunk, and the result is a Democratic victory that will be with us for years to come." (TruthDig)



"Shanghai ... The Hurun Report that publishes the 'China Rich' list of tycoons—the local version of the Forbes 100 — invited me to a reception honoring the Shanghai hotels that offer the best 'Presidential Suites.' The event coincided with the Asia Luxury Travel Market trade show that caters to China’s emerging wealthy class. It’s expected that 100 million citizens of the People’s Republic will be traveling abroad by the end of the decade." (NYSocialDiary)



"Europe is haunted again by a German question. Somewhere along the way the old neurosis has been up-ended. The issue that so long vexed Europeans has returned in another guise. Berlin’s neighbours used to worry about an over-mighty, expansionist state straddling the heart of the continent. Now they must grapple with an indifferent, introverted Germany. Angela Merkel’s hostility to a eurozone rescue package for Greece slots into a bigger picture. Whether it is economics or foreign affairs, the German chancellor speaks for a nation that has turned inwards – one that has reassessed, and downsized, its obligations to Europe. The crisis in the eurozone has crystallised things. Greek profligacy has metamorphosed into a serious threat to European economic integration. On Wednesday, José Manuel Barroso was moved to voice confidence that Ms Merkel would eventually back a bail-out. After all, the president of the Brussels Commission observed poignantly, she was a 'committed European.'" (FT)



"Witnesses say hundreds of poor Somali families are being forcibly evicted from their homes near the airport. Asha Madey said Friday that she spent the night in the open with her seven children after their two-room house was destroyed by security personnel with bulldozers. Police spokesman Abdulahi Hassan Barise says the plan will continue until threats to Mogadishu's main airport are eliminated. The targeted area was a former air force base and is about 100 yards (meters) from the airport's fence. Human rights groups say the families - who squatted the idle land - have no place to go." (WashPo)

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