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Friday, May 21, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"In recent days, we have seen the future of diplomatic machinations with Iran, and it is messier and more alarming than before. Its challenges are rooted as much in America's peculiarities as Iran's, and now, as well, in the newfound muscle and assertiveness of new major powers. These realities won't evaporate and will increasingly frustrate Americans above all. The Obama team was right to preempt the Brazil/Turkish pact on nuclear exchanges with Iran. It was basically an Iranian scam to circumvent new United Nations sanctions and other limitations on its nuclear programs. But Brazil and Turkey were also right to pursue their separate diplomatic track and solution. They were reflecting the mounting attitude in the world that Washington's anti-nuclear proliferation policy essentially serves American interests and not those of most other nations. And from their point of view, they were simply doing what the United States has been doing all along, namely protecting their own interests first. That is the story lost in current news accounts." (Les Gelb/TheDailyBeast)



"It's over: With the CW's unveiling of its lineup done, all the major broadcast networks have revealed their brand spankin' new shows and their latest strategies for achieving Nielsen dominance. (Or, in the case of NBC, simple Nielsen respectability.) The mood is upbeat, as it is almost every year at the end of upfront week: It's as if the networks all just got a box full of new toys to play with. And as the summer goes on, they'll spend millions convincing us we'll want to check out their goodies, too. But before you get sick of seeing Will Arnett hamming it up in promos for Running Wilde, or Michael Chiklis acting all superhero-y a zillion times, here's a quick recap of what we learned." (NYMag)



"It’s understandable why President Barack Obama wouldn’t want to play golf with Rush Limbaugh, but he needs to start talking to Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John A. Boehner. Elected on a promise to end toxic partisanship, Obama has not had any one-on-one contact with Republican congressional leaders during his presidency and has failed to develop personal relationships with them. As Roll Call’s Emily Pierce reported earlier this month, 'the last time Obama and McConnell spoke privately, one-on-one, was prior to Obama’s January 2009 inauguration.' Obama did call McConnell, the Senate minority leader, briefly to advise him he was nominating Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court — 'something we already knew,' McConnell’s spokesman said. Boehner’s office confirmed that the House minority leader has had no contact with Obama, either, outside of group sessions such as White House leadership meetings. It’s not clear that personal contact would have resulted in any Republican support for his policies — there’s been precious little, of course — but it might have, assuming conversations led to compromise. Arguably, Obama hasn’t needed bipartisanship to get his programs through Congress. Democrats had a 70-seat margin in the House and, until recently, 60 votes in the Senate. But every indication is that Republicans will be stronger in the 112th Congress that takes office in January, so Obama will either be forced to deal with the GOP leadership if he wants to get anything done in the next two years, or be thwarted." (Mort Kondrake/CQPolitics)



"Here are two names you don’t expect to see together: Moammar Gadhafi. Hollywood. But guess what – they’re in bed, making movies. Hollywood’s latest financial backer is the middle son of the Libyan dictator, Saadi Gadhafi, who is backing a movie production fund called Natural Selection to the tune of $100 milllion. Matt Beckerman, the CEO of Natural Selection, secured Gadhafi"s backing barely one year ago, and has lately won the Libyan’s agreement to accelerate his investment from an initial plan of 20 films over five years. 'He loves movies,' explained Beckerman in an interview in his suite on the seventh floor of the Carlton Hotel at the Cannes Film Festival, where he’d come to look for new projects. 'He’s seen Lost 30 times. He has stacks of DVDs of American films.'" (TheWrap)



"Naomi Campbell will surely put on a brave smile tomorrow when her billionaire boyfriend, Vlad Doronin, throws her a lavish 40th birthday party at the Hotel du Cap with every celebrity from the Cannes Film Festival. But the excitable supermodel must be worried. Prosecutors of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, on trial at The Hague for war crimes, have asked the judges to subpoena Campbell to testify about 'blood diamonds' she allegedly received from the warlord in the middle of one night in 1997. The leggy stunner and Mia Farrow were in the guest house of Nelson Mandela in South Africa when Taylor's men threw pebbles at a window and woke her up. Farrow told ABC News last month she learned of the diamond gift the next morning at breakfast: 'Naomi Campbell . . . said during the night some men had knocked on her door and she, half-asleep, had opened the door and it was representatives of President Charles Taylor and that they had given her a huge diamond. And we were like, 'Oh, my gosh!' Campbell's former modeling agent, Carole White, who was also on the trip, saw the ABC News report and came forward to tell prosecutors she saw several men giving Campbell a 'half-dozen' rough stones. White, according to her lawyer Daniel Bright, said Campbell was disappointed the gems were uncut. Prosecutors also want to subpoena White and Farrow to testify. Taylor is on trial for inciting a bloody rebellion in neighboring Sierra Leone. Prosecutors say Taylor was in South Africa to buy weapons for the rebels with the diamonds." (PageSix)



"And speaking of that rapidly disappearing species, this is the first time since the creation of the nation that the Supreme Court does not include a Protestant justice. It is made up of Catholics and Jews, without a WASP in sight. The Protestant downfall was not sudden but it sure was quick. In one generation the WASPs lost everything: Wall Street, the banks, the media, and now the Supreme Court, which back in 1836 admitted its first Catholic and under great protest to boot. The reason for the fall is attributed to globalization, the rise of technology and the primacy of education. I say bull—t. The WASPs lost it because third and fourth generation money does not try as hard, nor does it elbow its way to the top. Trust the great Greek philosopher Taki, the WASP lost it for lack of trying, c’est tout." (Takimag)



"The rapid economic development of Asia since World War II -- starting with Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, then extending to Hong Kong and Singapore, and finally taking hold powerfully in India and mainland China -- has forever altered the global balance of power. These countries recognize the importance of an educated work force to economic growth, and they understand that investing in research makes their economies more innovative and competitive. Beginning in the 1960s, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan sought to provide their populations with greater access to postsecondary education, and they achieved impressive results. Today, China and India have an even more ambitious agenda. Both seek to expand their higher-education systems, and since the late 1990s, China has done so dramatically. They are also aspiring to create a limited number of world-class universities. In China, the nine universities that receive the most supplemental government funding recently self-identified as the C9 -- China's Ivy League. In India, the Ministry of Human Resource Development recently announced its intention to build 14 new comprehensive universities of "world-class" stature. Other Asian powers are eager not to be left behind: Singapore is planning a new public university of technology and design, in addition to a new American-style liberal arts college affiliated with the National University." (ForeignAffairs)



"Barney's includes full-frontal male nudity in its Madison Avenue windows. Creative director Simon Doonan designed the display as an homage to Iman, the supermodel wife of David Bowie who will receive a Fashion Icon Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America on June 7. One window -- a collage of images of Iman, including photos of her breasts -- includes a shot of a fully exposed male model in plain sight of pedestrians and at eye level for young children. Neither Barneys nor Doonan got back to Page Six for comment on Wednesday, but yesterday, the naked man had been moved to a less conspicuous spot farther back in the display. Barneys hosted a luncheon for Iman at her boutique yesterday afternoon, where Bowie, Desiree Rogers, Rachel Roy, Susan Fales-Hill, Kyle MacLachlan, Joe Zee and Bravo honcho Andy Cohen came to toast the hot tamale from Somalia." (NYPost)



"I went down to the Four Seasons restaurant to have lunch with Ambassador John Loeb. Ambassador Loeb is senior to me but we’ve got to know each other a bit since the time he celebrated his 75th at a great party at Blenheim Palace a few years ago. It turns out we share a fairly intense interest in New York history and its financial development. The Loebs – his Loebs anyway – have connections to several families known (principally from a ground-breaking social history by Stephen Birmingham published forty years ago called Our Crowd) as the Our Crowd Jews in New York. What is notable isn’t so much the great wealth which many of these families accumulated around the turn of the 19th century and onwards, but moreso what they did to participate at that time in the development of the city, its culture and its institutions. They set the standard which is still being striven for to this day. John Loeb and I are a little more than a half generation apart. Our backgrounds are dissimilar socio-economically and religion-wise and yet in conversation we came from, grew up in, the same America of folkways and mores now gone; and we have both lived long enough to have witnessed the technological revolution (which was once identified simply as: Progress) that has changed everything for all." (NYSocialDiary)

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