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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Mr. Obama needs nine Republicans to reach the two-thirds majority needed under the Constitution to approve a treaty. Mr. Alexander was the sixth Republican to flatly declare his support. Three others have said they probably will vote for the treaty. The Senate plans to vote later Tuesday on whether to close off debate after a week of floor discussion, which requires 60 votes. If supporters muster enough to approve the treaty, the vote could prove decisive. The Constitutional two-thirds requirement applies to senators present, so with Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, absent after prostate surgery, that means supporters need 66 votes. With momentum building its way, the White House kept up the pressure on Republicans by emphasizing the military support for the treaty. After producing a letter on Monday in support of the agreement from Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who helped negotiate the treaty, the administration on Tuesday morning sent out a statement by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates." (NYTimes)


"Vaguely bohemian and only slightly out of the mainstream, the Standard Hotel in New York's Meatpacking District proved an apt locale for the entertainment press to line up to interview the famously fashion-savvy Sofia Coppola, who came a few blocks uptown from her SoHo digs to promote Somewhere, her latest film and the recipient of the top prize, the Golden Lion, at the 2010 Venice International Film Festival.While Coppola is occasionally described as shy, it seems more accurate to pigeonhole her as a director who combines thoroughgoing, even steely, self-confidence with a reticent, no-frills conversational style. Unlike loquacious cineastes such as Orson Welles or her own illustrious father (Francis Ford), Coppola is nearly as laconic as Johnny Marco, the actor protagonist of Somewhere, underplayed to perfection by Stephen Dorff in an inspired comeback performance. It's not as if she's unfriendly or unwilling to help inquiring hacks. But, although infinitely more polite than old-time Hollywood directors such as John Ford, who were known to chew out admiring interviewers when plied with overly intellectual questions, she appears to believe, like Ford, that almost everything you need to know about her films is up there on the screen." (TheDailyBeast)


"This is always the Europhile answer to each new failure in their quest to build a European super-state: more of the same. But even countries firmly in Germany's sphere, like Austria, concede that their banks must raise more capital to ensure financial worthiness. Yet Great Britain -- which never abandoned its own national currency, the pound sterling -- will strenuously oppose the transfer of any new fiscal powers to EU headquarters in Brussels. That alone could trigger a split within the EU, encouraging other countries to revert to national currencies rather than surrender even more sovereignty to the Brussels bureaucrats. Nor would it be a real solution for the EU to amend its basic treaties to create a permanent stabilization mechanism for sovereign-debt crises. To the contrary, a permanent bailout facility is a self-fulfilling prophecy, virtually guaranteeing that it will be used repeatedly. US government officials argue that we must not permit any EU country to default on its obligations because of the interconnectedness of international financial markets. But if no one is allowed to fail, both businesses and nation-states will be less careful and responsible in their decision making. Default on a major EU sovereign-debt obligation may just be just the thing to wake up the rest of Europe to get its house in order. It wouldn't be a bad lesson for Washington, either." (John Bolton)


"Two days before Christmas Eve, we’re in the mode. Swifty’s last night was packed. There were large groups of friends, small groups of couples, a large table of family – ten or twelve – and the sense of these being the last hours before the holiday. A neighbor of mine told me with much pain and distress that his business had got so bad that he had to file bankruptcy. He was understandably very upset. I made light of it, as if to assure him that it’s a solution many people and many businesses have had to take. I don’t think that made him feel better, but I didn't want to depress him more, and besides, I believe he will find a solution. I invited him to dinner but he was going to have dinner with his family – wife, children, etc. I thought that was a better idea. This is a difficult time of the year, historically, for many of us. It is the time of expectations rising and the time of disappointments materializing, all in the guise of celebration." (NYSocialDiary)


"As he is getting ready to take on daytime with his new syndicated talk show next fall, Anderson Cooper's primetime fortunes are falling. His CNN show Anderson Cooper 360 is wrapping 2010 as its lowest rated year ever in primetime among adults 25-54 and second lowest in total viewers behind only its primetime debut in 2005. Year-to-year, Anderson Cooper (665,000 viewers, 207,000 in 25-54) is down 33% in 25-54 and 32% in total viewers. Cooper's declines are not isolated as they mirror CNN's 34% year-to-year drop in total viewers and 25-54. In primetime, 2010 marks the cable news network's lowest-rated year in both categories in at least 14 years." (Deadline)


"Despite efforts to keep all courthouses graffiti-free, thugs have turned spots at the Brooklyn Criminal Court building into a canvas for lawbreakers' tags and profanity. Apparently, visitors are taking out their frustrations with the justice system on the rest rooms' walls and surfaces,' said Mark Daly, a spokesman for the Citywide Administrative Services Department. 'It is difficult to keep [them] clean.' The courthouse at 120 Schermerhorn St. has the dubious distinction of being the most graffiti-ridden in the system, officials said, with Manhattan Criminal Court a close second. The men's rest rooms in Brooklyn have become eyesores, with graffiti all over the mirrors, windows and walls. Much of the spaces are covered in garish, scribbled curse words, profane drawings and tags for neighborhood crews like Power Players and Rich Boyzz. 'It looks like a dirty bathroom at a park, not a courthouse,' said Julius Trowell, 54, who came to settle an open-container arrest warrant. 'It makes it depressing to come here.' The constant flow of people facing charges 24 hours a day keeps the number of disgruntled offenders fresh, Daly said." (NYDailynews)


 
"After a three-year investigation by a U.N. special tribunal, much more is known about the assassination of (former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri) than the death of ( former Hezbollah's chief of operations Imad) Mughniyeh. Press reports have linked Hezbollah to cell phones used by the Hariri plotters. Yacoubian and other Lebanon analysts say indictments are expected against as many as half a dozen Hezbollah operatives as soon as this month or early next year. Hezbollah has reacted defiantly, suggesting without any evidence that Israel was somehow involved in Hariri's murder. Hassan Nasrallah, the group's leader, threatened last month to 'cut off the hand' of anyone who tries to arrest a militia member. But the Syrians, nervous at first that they would be blamed given well-publicized differences between Hariri and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, now seem to believe that the tribunal will leave the regime alone despite its long, complicated relationship with the Lebanese Shiite group. 'There have been no indications that Syrians are among the list of indicted names,' says Joshua Landis, a Syria expert who directs the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Could that be in part because Mughniyeh was involved and he is now in no position to speak?" (ForeignPolicy)

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