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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Forget Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton or Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. When it comes to national security, Mr. Obama’s inner circle is so tight it largely consists of Mr. (Denis) McDonough, a 40-year-old from Minnesota who is unknown to most Americans but who is so close to the president that his colleagues — including his superiors — often will not make a move on big issues without checking with him first. 'He is the keeper of the president’s flame,' said Cheryl Mills, Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff. Brian Katulis, a foreign policy expert who is a good friend of Mr. McDonough, said, 'When the president needs to pick up the phone and call someone on national security, that someone is Denis.' When Mr. Obama got word of the Rolling Stone article that would lead to his firing of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as the top commander in Afghanistan, Mr. McDonough was one of about a half-dozen people he immediately summoned to the Oval Office." (Helene Cooper/NYTimes)



"British supermodel Naomi Campbell will give evidence at the war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor about a 'blood diamond' he allegedly gave her, her spokeswoman said Friday. 'Naomi Campbell has confirmed she will attend the Charles Taylor trial at The Hague as per the court's request. She is a witness who has been asked to help clarify events in 1997,' her spokeswoman said. The war crimes court ordered Campbell last week to testify on July 29 about a diamond she was allegedly given by Taylor after a celebrity dinner hosted by then South African president Nelson Mandela in September 1997. Taylor has been on trial since 2008 for his alleged role in the civil war in Sierra Leone, accused of arming rebels in return for illegally mined diamonds. 'Miss Campbell has made it clear that she is willing to help the due process of law,' said the spokeswoman from The Outside Organisation PR firm." (AFP)



"At the late night bar at the Sun Valley Resort the moguls get loose during the Allen and Company conference. The attendees – corporate titans in Faconnable shirts, well-muscled wives, all wearing badges with their names on them – mingle in the lobby, then pass into the bar. Door to which is guarded by a couple of very scary looking security guys. Inside the bar, Google’s Eric Schmidt is in a huddle with AOL’s Tim Armstrong. Outside the bar, Haim Saban, with wife Cheryl, is holding court with the president of Endemol, Ynon Kreiz, and Mike Fries, the CEO of Liberty Global International, apparently the largest cable distribution network in Europe. They’re all talking about content versus distribution – when they’re not complaining about Obama. Which is better? Is it better to own the pipes, or to own the intellectual property?" (Sharon Waxman)



"To reach the Portrait Restaurant at the top of London’s National Portrait Gallery, an elegant and very long escalator bears you up through the cool, modern Ondaatje wing to the Tudor rooms. On the blisteringly hot day of my appointment with Baroness Ashton of Upholland, one of the most senior Britons on the world stage as the European Union’s first high representative for foreign affairs and security, the corridors are thronged with tourists taking refuge from the heat and with schoolchildren clutching clipboards. There is just enough space to peer past the sketching 10-year-olds to view images of the most famous and powerful women in British history, some loved, some loathed, and some beheaded." (Lunch with FT)



"DON’T PRAY ON ME: When Christopher Hitchens announced recently that he would be undergoing chemotherapy for esophageal cancer, bloggers began debating whether it would be appropriate to pray for the famous atheist and author of 'God Is Not Great.' 'Hitchens MUST outlive Kissinger,' the British columnist Johann Hari wrote on Twitter, referring to the man Hitchens, in his memoir “Hitch-22” (No. 15 on the hardcover nonfiction list this week), calls a 'liar, murderer, war criminal, pseudo-­academic' and — perhaps most unforgivably — 'bore.' But Hari added: 'I forbid everyone from praying for him. He would HATE that.' While Hitchens himself doesn’t seem to have issued any official directives, prayers have rolled in from Elizabeth Scalia (no relation to the Supreme Court justice) at First Things, Greg Kandra at The Deacon’s Bench and Pat Archbold at The National Catholic Register. (Pray, but 'keep it to yourself,' one commenter advised Archbold. 'He will know the difference when he converts.')" (Book Review)



"Hear a New Prince Song, ‘Laydown’ From the heart of Minnesota, here comes the purple Yoda": a funky track that's much more appealing than last month's "Hot Summer." (Look for this one, off the 20Ten album, in upcoming British newspapers.)" (SOMEKINDOFAWESOME)



"Has this been the finest football World Cup to date? (Note, please, Daily Beast readers, that I am dispensing today with that vile and tormented word, 'soccer.') Let me rephrase my question: Has this been the most uncomplicated World Cup to date, the competition most light on its feet, the one that has passed most quickly and truly down the gullet of eternal joy, the one whose only narrative has been sporting, with nary a whiff of politics or anthropology (except in the case of those infernal vuvuzelas, which the historian Fouad Ajami described to me, punning memorably, as 'the troubled horn of Africa'). This has been, in many ways, an absurd World Cup. An octopus has emerged as the globe’s oracle on matters footbalistic. Paul, a creature most Spaniards would have been inclined to boil, dice up, and serve with potatoes and paprika, has been predicting the results of matches with unerring accuracy. He appears to have predicted that Spain will, tomorrow, defeat the Netherlands." (TheDailyBeast)



"Ryan Carlson left the trading pits here in 2005 to go electronic. But he didn't leave the past behind. Mr. Carlson set off to record for posterity the dying language of hand signals that traders for decades used to buy and sell everything from pork bellies to wheat. His pursuit put Mr. Carlson—30 years old and among the last generation to learn trading via open outcry—smack in the middle of a historic split between the old and new ways of trading. As the markets melted in 2008, he launched tradingpithistory.com, now featuring 244 trading hand signals, and an accompanying blog, tradingpitblog.com. They are rare caches of financial lore often undocumented by the exchanges or academics, making Mr. Carlson the accidental historian of hand signals and all things trading. 'I think I'm the only person in the world who collects this stuff,' says Mr. Carlson, poring through photos of trading pits, trading jackets and old badges and handbooks in his condo here. 'I'm on a mission.'" (WSJ)



"Key themes emerge at Sun Valley. Key themes and topics of debate at this year's Sun Valley mogul gathering have emerged over the first two days of sessions and activities. They include: -- A more negative perception of the U.S. and European economies (which could also affect the advertising market), with more CEOs having soured a bit as of late. Many now predict a slow and prolonged economic recovery, a few even predict fear of a double-dip recession, meaning a return to recession in the near future. See also below: Liberty Media chairman John Malone's comments on the U.S. Economy -- Rising criticism of the Administration's policies, which some now see as too anti-business. While many think President Obama will make (or have to make) the pendulum swing to support companies in creating much-needed jobs, the media camp, which has a reputation as being traditionally Democratic, now point to tax policies, as well as rising health care costs and budget deficits as key concerns. As could be expected, Malone had some sharp words for the president (see below), and News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch waved off a question about the administration's policies with a knowing smile and comment that suggested he knew he may headlines with it. But others are also reported to have expressed discontent during the Allen & Co. meeting." (THR)



(Nicky Haslam and Caroline Sieber via VF)

"A piercing sun bore down on architect Jean Nouvel’s vivid red pop-up pavilion as the cream of London society showed up for yesterday’s Serpentine Summer Party, which for about a decade has been known as the party of the season—if only because it gives everyone an excuse to show off pretty summer frocks. The party got started earlier than usual. 'This is the first year we’ve had to think about sunglasses,' remarked Serpentine Gallery trustee Julia Peyton-Jones, who co-hosted the party with her colleagues Lord Palumbo and Tim Jefferies. Man-about-town Nicky Haslam (subject of a profile in this magazine not so very long ago) brought a bright yellow pair of sunglasses to match his squint-inducing blue suit. Jared Leto sported another blinding accessory—a bleach-blond Mohican—while Grace Jones arrived wearing a crazy black headpiece even late heroine-of-the-hat Isabella Blow would’ve envied." (VanityFair)

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