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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"The 2011 elections in Nigeria, scheduled for January 22, pose a threat to the stability of the United States’ most important partner in West Africa. The end of a power-sharing arrangement between the Muslim North and the Christian South, as now seems likely, could lead to postelection sectarian violence, paralysis of the executive branch, and even a coup. The Obama administration has little leverage over the conduct and outcome of the elections -- and if the vote does lead to chaos, Washington may no longer be able to count on Nigerian partnership in addressing African regional and security issues such as the conflicts in Darfur, Southern Sudan, and Somalia. Nigeria’s current political drama dates to November 2009, when its president, Umaru Yar’Adua, was hospitalized for a kidney condition in Saudi Arabia. Yar’Adua refused to comply with the Nigerian constitution and hand over executive authority to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. The result was a power vacuum until February 2010, when the National Assembly extralegally designated Jonathan the 'acting president' by resolution, even though there is no constitutional provision for doing so. In April, Acting President Jonathan attended the nuclear safety summit in Washington, where U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden warmly embraced him, not least because his designation forestalled a possible military coup. In May 2010, the first act of Nigeria’s political tragedy ended when Yar’Adua died and Jonathan became the constitutional president. Now, Washington may be tempted to move its attention away from Nigeria -- but that would be a mistake." (ForeignAffairs)



"'What’s going on with Hillary Clinton?' has become one of Washington’s favorite cocktail-party questions in the last month—not quite up there with 'What was Mark Sanford thinking?' and 'How about that public plan?' but outranking 'Should we have a carbon tax instead of cap-and-trade?'; 'Can we win in Afghanistan?'; 'Is Mitt Romney’s hair real?'; and other hardy perennials. As a double ringer (I am a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and a former HRC staffer), I’m always surprised that others are surprised or unsure of who the secretary is and what she’ll do. The clues are right there in her words, if you know where to look. Secretary Clinton’s speech at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday tells you a number of things you already knew, or should have known .." (TheDailyBeast)



"Two lady friends of mine, Arianna Huffington and Tina Brown, run two very successful web sites, The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast, reputed to be worth millions upon millions, yet I’m not sure anyone will pay, say, one million for either of them. It’s all still up in the air, as they say, and I include the greatest website of them all, Takimag.com, run by my own sweet little daughter Lolly. What we do have is that now everyone feels they can have their say. If they’re not glued to their cell phones talking rubbish, they’re pounding away on their blogs, frenetically trying to have their opinions read by anyone, everyone, as long as their voices are heard, read, posted. Blackberrys, Kindles, iPods, everyone is opining about everything, but I’m content to read my Speccie, my Telegraph, my Chronicles, my books, couple of tabloids, Arnaud de Borchgrave, and John Burns in the New York Times. What else does a man need?" (Taki Theodoracopulos)



"Over the past decade there has been an ongoing debate over the threat posed by electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to modern civilization. This debate has been the most heated perhaps in the United States, where the commission appointed by Congress to assess the threat to the United States warned of the dangers posed by EMP in reports released in 2004 and 2008. The commission also called for a national commitment to address the EMP threat by hardening the national infrastructure. There is little doubt that efforts by the United States to harden infrastructure against EMP — and its ability to manage critical infrastructure manually in the event of an EMP attack — have been eroded in recent decades as the Cold War ended and the threat of nuclear conflict with Russia lessened. This is also true of the U.S. military, which has spent little time contemplating such scenarios in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union. The cost of remedying the situation, especially retrofitting older systems rather than simply regulating that new systems be better hardened, is immense. And as with any issue involving massive amounts of money, the debate over guarding against EMP has become quite politicized in recent years .." (STRATFOR)



(image via NYSD)

"Warm and sunny in New York, with the humidity picking up midday but dispelled early evening by gusts of breezes suggesting autumn. I went down to Michael’s for my first lunch of the Summer’s Over season. The streets and avenues were jammed with traffic, often at a standstill. The sidewalks along Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street were jammed with people in a hurry. Michael’s wasn’t the madhouse it is when everyone’s back from the summer, but yesterday it was well on its way. At table one in the bay: Diana Taylor and Susan Mercandetti. Ms. Mercandetti, who is the executive editor at Random House, is a very popular figure among her peers in the media and political worlds. On meeting it’s easy to see why: she leaves her titles back in the office, maybe even in a bottom desk drawer. Is Ms. Taylor going to write a memoir about her New York life? Is that what they were discussing? It’s been one of the more interesting ones for women of this era. Meanwhile back at the tables: Terry Allen Kramer next door entertaining her friend Jimmy Nederlander Sr.; Rick Friedberg and Francine LeFrak entertaining Councilwoman Christine Quinn; Stanley Shuman with John Josephson; Richard Beckman, Steven Rubenstein, Euan Rellie, Carlos LaMadrid, Donna Soloway and friends; Chris Matthews with Doug Band. This is the second time in less than a week that I’ve seen Mr. Matthews out at a restaurant. Late last week I saw him at Swifty’s." (NYSocialDiary)



"Concerned that (directorJim Jarmusch is) losing interest due to hair questions from the media elite (a guy on an ice cream cart), I ask him what the likes of (Borscht Belt icon Kutsher's Country Club and Hotel) decaying kitsch brings to this unique event and he lights up. 'Kutsher's is fantastic; what a perfect place. It's contained (read: minimal civilian interaction), the venues are great and they're indoors (read: 'no nasty sunlight'), they got these different bars (read: no lines for drinks), everyone's sort of all together...' which is true. Just under 3,000 people attend the intimate indoor showcases, a fraction of what larger summer festivals draw. This smaller attendance and the fact that the majority of these attendees stay in the rooms at Kutsher's, creates a campus like feel to the grounds as they're possessed for the weekend by all manner and ilk of music aficionados. These creatures, all piled on top of each other sleep sometimes six or eight or more to a room, some sleep in the lobby, others sleep out by the manmade lake and still others, others never sleep at all. Even the musicians stay at the hotel to roam the halls and mingle with the masses during the shows. Jarmusch continues, 'Kutsher's is not some state-of-the-art resort. It has it's history, but it's kind of hard for 2,000 rock and rollers to really mess it up very much. I like that it's here... It's perfect.' He then runs through his lineup choices he's curated for Sunday, a day of music that will blend post rock, neo garage, shoegaze psych, post-hardcore, delta blues, [breath] hipster pop, hip hop and an experimental doom explosion. And that's just Sunday." (Papermag)



"Vogue's Fashion's Night Out runway show at Lincoln Center could have been a painfully long affair. After all, the event featured 150 models, 171 looks, a public seating, a mini concert by Pharell Williams, a front row featuring at least three dozen worthy notables, and more CBS cameras than found on most Paramount lots. But Anna Wintour wouldn’t have let the likes of Roger Federer and Si Newhouse sweat for three hours. This was a delightfully efficient affair during which Gisele, Naomi Campbell, Alessandra Ambrosio, Adriana Lima, Sasha Pivovarova, and Lara Stone (among countless other leggy superstars) put on a dizzying, well orchestrated display that lasted exactly 14 minutes and commenced right on time. 'Was this it?' wondered basketball superstar Amar'e Stoudemire right after the show. 'I’m so new to this, so now I think I got a little bit spoiled too early.' He wasn’t the only one. 'I feel like this is like every girl’s dream, sitting in the middle of the fountain and watching pretty outfits go by,' said an excited Caroline Wozniacki, who, like Federer, took a night off from Flushing and the US Open for the night. 'I’ve been trying to check the score of Venus’ match on the Blackberry,' added Serena Williams, while her older sister played at Arthur Ashe." (DailyFrontRow)



"'Does anyone have a cigarette?' model Erin Wasson requested of anyone who was listening, after a surprise performance by Alison Goldfrapp during the fifth-anniversary for Viktor & Rolf's fragrance, Flowerbomb, at a private townhouse on Grove Street last night. (Ms. Goldfrapp was bedecked, gloriously, in one of the tulle confections from Viktor & Rolf's spring/summer 2010 collection; she sang three of her own songs before breaking into a rousing rendition of 'Happy Birthday' dedicated to Flowerbomb.) A helpful bystander offered one—but clarified that it would have to be a Virginia Slim. 'Beggars can't be choosers,' Ms. Wasson replied cheerfully, accepting it without further ado. Ms. Wasson is busy this week: on Friday night alone, she has three appearances to make, at Opening Ceremony, Henri Bendel, and a Vogue event. 'I need to like, metamorphosis into an octopus so that I can completely deal with all of it,' she confided. We also chatted with Ladyfag, who sported a Michael Angel dress and her signature augmented eyebrows, and fashion vet Lynn Yaeger, no stranger to distinctive makeup herself, who told us that when she started covering Fashion Week, she thought she had a duty to attend up to eight shows a day. (Four shows plus a party is a more reasonable upper limit, Ms. Yaeger recommended.)" (Observer)



"The crowd was especially stylish yesterday at the Monkey Bar, where Vanity Fair celebrated the latest additions to its International Best-Dressed List. Diane Kruger, Dylan Lauren, Wendi Murdoch, Hope Atherton, Tory Burch and Stacey Bendet Eisner all looked like they were ready for Fashion Week. The list and the lunch also included Andre Balazs, Waris Ahluwalia, Jonathan and Lizzie Tisch, and Nacho Figueras and Delfina Blaquier. Among lunch guests who didn't qualify this year because they're already in the Best-Dressed Hall of Fame: Graydon Carter, Daphne Guinness, Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, Mica Ertegun and Amy Fine Collins, who oversees the selections." (PageSix)

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