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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"A continent away from Kyrgyzstan, Africans like myself cheered this spring as a coalition of opposition groups ousted the country's dictator, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. 'One coconut down, 39 more to harvest!' we shouted. There are at least 40 dictators around the world today, and approximately 1.9 billion people live under the grip of the 23 autocrats on this list alone. There are plenty of coconuts to go around. The cost of all that despotism has been stultifying. Millions of lives have been lost, economies have collapsed, and whole states have failed under brutal repression. And what has made it worse is that the world is in denial. The end of the Cold War was also supposed to be the 'End of History' -- when democracy swept the world and repression went the way of the dinosaurs. Instead, Freedom House reports that only 60 percent of the world's countries are democratic -- far more than the 28 percent in 1950, but still not much more than a majority. And many of those aren't real democracies at all, ruled instead by despots in disguise while the world takes their freedom for granted. As for the rest, they're just left to languish." (ForeignPolicy)



"'Get out of here,' a tall, blond, and very fit Secret Service agent wearing shorts and an azure 'Cape Cod' T-shirt laughingly told an intruder, who had taken the half-mile walk up the gravel toward Astor Court’s iron gate. 'I have nothing to tell you,' the agent added. To the intruder on the gravel path, the scene in the forest evoked Errol Flynn in tights as Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men hid among the maples and oaks. Along the borders of the estate, workmen were busy repairing crumbling stone walls. The locals call it 'The Wedding of the Century.' But it’s so private, so shrouded in secrecy, neither the local sheriff’s office nor the town police have been given any details about how to deploy, said Tom Traudt, the Rhinebeck town supervisor. 'I expect we’ll get a head’s up 10 days or two weeks before the event,' he told The Daily Beast. Secret Service agents aren’t the only ones in lockdown." (TheDailyBeast)



"My last week in London felt like end of school term, bittersweet. I was glad to be flying off to the sun, but sad to leave good friends and very good times behind. Mind you, the last night following the Speccie summer party descended into farce when my Low Life colleague and I were photographed at 5 a.m. having a spirited discussion about the human condition. Jeremy wrote about it last week but he chose to forget certain details. Both he and I had been boozing for at least ten hours, but thankfully had not started until after we were presented to a very gracious and friendly Prime Minister. When a driver pitched up to pick me up for the airport I was in a bad way. Tim Hoare, whose house Jeremy, Charlie Glass, Andrei Navrosov and I had invaded, offered his driver to take Clarke to a hotel. 'Where do you want him to take you, Claridge’s, the Savoy..?' 'Er, actually the YMCA at King’s Cross,' stammered Jeremy, 'they usually give me a bed there.' 'In that case I think you better stay here,' said Tim, a very generous host. Thus Jeremy was found by Hoare’s butler a few hours later walking around semi-naked trying to boil an egg." (Taki)



"White House spokesman Robert Gibbs hit a nerve among Congressional Democrats this week when he suggested that they could lose control of the House this year. But many Members say the dustup is just more proof of the White House taking them for granted in a year that will serve as a referendum on President Barack Obama. Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear to her Caucus on Tuesday night that she did not appreciate Gibbs’ remarks on a Sunday talk show that there are enough House seats in play to allow for a GOP takeover in November. The California Democrat called Gibbs’ comments 'politically inept' and, according to a Democrat in the room, blasted the White House press secretary for weighing in on her turf when she doesn’t even 'know who this guy is. I’ve never met him before. And he’s saying that we’re going to lose the House.' House Democratic leaders have since tried to downplay the scuffle and move on — Pelosi urged her Caucus to move past the 'friendly fire' from the White House — but many rank-and-file Members are still stinging." (CQPolitics)



"Sources at rival studios tell me that Disney's Sorcerer's Apprentice made between about $4 million today from 3,385 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. That makes for a 5-day projection of less than $30M, which is extremely disappointing for the costly Jerry Bruckheimer tentpole starring Nic Cage, and much less than even the low-ball $35M which Hollywood thought it could make. But I'd been following the pic's tracking, which at no point hinted at a blockbuster." (Deadline)

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