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Friday, February 18, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"On Friday, Feb. 18, Uganda will hold national presidential elections. Incumbent Yoweri Museveni is seeking a fourth term to extend his 25-year rule, and by most accounts he will almost certainly win. Given all the advantages working in his favor -- from state electoral machinery to a deservedly solid reputation for fostering economic growth -- the winner of this contest is almost preordained. But Museveni is still dropping millions of dollars to ensure the result. These days in Uganda, it seems, it's not as cheap to buy an election as it used to be. It's hard to overstate Museveni's advantage in Friday's ballot. He has significantly more campaign funds -- both legitimate and under the table -- than the opposition. He has access to state resources to mobilize his supporters, and the loyalty of the security services. Uganda has seen record economic growth in recent years under his oversight. And Museveni has strong Western backing, winning praise for example for his innovative HIV/AIDS campaign and his commitment to fighting terrorism. (It also helps, of course, that he appointed the electoral commission.) Sounds easy, right? Yet Museveni and his party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), are leaving nothing to chance." (ForeignPolicy)


"It ain't pretty being a war correspondent. No one need remind Americans of the hazards that foreign correspondents face almost daily. But it's a sad little secret shared by many female war reporters that there's an additional nasty welcome awaiting us at many demonstrations and rallies populated predominantly by men. There's a good chance we will be groped, pinched, slapped and/or experience severe molestation in a discreetly sinister way. It's unpleasant . . . it's humiliating . . . and sometimes a painful nuisance -- but it's not something that's likely to change anytime soon. And it's something many of my female colleagues simply endure in order to carry on doing the job they love ... One of my former Pakistani colleagues confided in me that she would never cover a political street rally because the predominantly male crowd would likely whip themselves quickly into a frenzy and confuse their political angst with sexual opportunity. In short, they would grope anything that gets close -- be she foreign or local. It was at that very rally in Islamabad, after being pelted with fruit and small stones, that I experienced that of which my colleague was warning me -- an extraordinarily personal grope that can't be described on these pages. Without question, it enlightened me as to the lengths some Muslim men, in some very strict societies, would go to defy their God for a fleeting thrill. It also left me extremely uncomfortable covering crowded marches and demonstrations in Islamic nations." (Ashleigh Banfield, ABC News/ via NYPost)


"Last night at Doyle New York, the auction galleries at 175 East 87th Street held a private preview of the Lena Horne estate, which goes under the gavel next Wednesday at 2 pm. I had a personal interest in it. Although I never knew or even met Lena, as her friends called her, we had mutual friends, specifically Bobby Short and John Galliher. Both men had known her for decades, and well. They always referred to her with pleasure but in a way that you got the feeling that the lady wasn’t just any lady. And both were men who didn’t mince words. Lena was not just a famous singer, or star." (NYSocialDiary)


"At first, Taliban militants and local civilians in the Waziristan tribal badlands along Pakistan’s Afghan border thought that bad weather was responsible for the long lull in the attacks by armed Predator drones. 'For the first time in months we haven’t heard any buzz-buzz overhead for weeks,' says a physician in the town of Mir Ali, referring to the distinctive noise that turbo-prop UAVs make when circling overhead. “We thought the reason was the low, cloudy skies.' But drone-fired missile strikes against militant targets have now been on hiatus for almost a month—and militants and locals alike are increasingly convinced that the halt is tied to a tense diplomatic standoff between Pakistan and the U.S. over American security agent Raymond Davis. On January 27, Davis—a former Special Forces solider, now described by the U.S. as a member of the Islamabad embassy’s 'administrative and technical staff—was detained by Pakistani police after he blew away two would-be robbers with his Glock semi-automatic pistol in Lahore. The drone attacks happened to cease around the same time as the arrest. Sensing a connection, the militants are rejoicing over Davis’ incarceration: 'The arrest of this guy is a very positive thing for us,' says Mullah Jihad Yar, a Pakistani Taliban commander in the area. 'Our forces used to be hit by attacks every other day. Now we can move more freely.' There have been previous pauses in Predator strikes before—Bill Roggio’s authoritative log at Longwarjournal shows two shutdowns in 2009 (of 33 and 28 days in length) and two in 2010 (of 19 and 15 days in length). In those instances, bad weather was indeed cited as the cause. But this time, the Waziri residents seem to have guessed right. Newsweek has confirmed that it’s no coincidence the ramped-up attacks ended abruptly with Davis’ arrest." (TheDailyBeast)


"Thirty-five or so years ago Mario Vargas Llosa punched Gabriel Garcia Márquez in the face because the latter had 'consoled' his wife Patricia in Barcelona. Funny things happen in Barcelona all the time. I am in love with Rebecca Hall because of Barcelona the film, and I’ve cut out her Speccie picture of two weeks ago and put it next to the deputy editor’s photo on my wall. I don’t think I’ve ever had a fistfight over a woman, although I’ve been unfairly attacked many a time for being kind and solicitous to lonely women, especially in nightclubs. I’ve been in two major brawls when boors manhandled ladies I was with, but I’ve never initiated a confrontation. The ones who make me laugh are the Americans, especially where high-profile people are concerned. Once caught with their pants down, they usually make a public confession and act contrite because in America cheating on a girl means one is also capable of cheating on their taxes, being corrupt in business, and stealing from church collections for the poor. I’ve heard of businessmen confessing to their employees for having cheated on their wives. No wonder business ain’t what it used to be in the land of plenty." (Takimag)


"In what was probably the last big pilot director signing this season, Jaume Collet-Sera yesterday closed a deal to direct ABC's The River hours before the premiere of his new movie, the Liam Neeson starrer Unknown. It was a fitting end to a pilot director hiring season that was dominated by feature helmers. Among those signed for pilots are Jonathan Demme (CBS' untitled Susannah Grant), Shawn Levy (Fox's Comedy Album), Phillip Noyce (ABC's Revenge), Antoine Fuqua (Fox's Exit Strategy), James Madgold (CBS' Rookies) Michael Apted (ABC's Hallelujah), Eclipse director David Slade (NBC's REM), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev (CBS' Redlich/Bellucci), Mark Romanek (Fox's Locke & Key) and Easy A helmer Will Gluck (Fox's Iceland). Two filmmakers, Stephen Gaghan and Michael Patrick King, are directing their own scripts, NBC's S.I.L.A. and A Mann's World, respectively, while Peter Berg is directing NBC's Prime Suspect, which he also produces. Also approached for pilots were McG, Tony Scott and Brett Ratner, but no deals were made, mostly because of feature scheduling conflicts. The trend of going after feature directors for pilots started in the early 2000s with the success of CBS' CSI, which was attributed in part to the show's distinct look and visual effects brought in by feature director Danny Cannon, who made his TV debut with the pilot for the mothership CSI series." (Daedline)


"Fashion Week is all about the next best thing -- by the time it's morning, the party from the night before is usually something of an afterthought. But sometimes there are exceptions, like in the case of Vman's unreal shindig two nights ago at the Mondrian Soho, which celebrated the launch of its 21st issue with cover boy Kanye West himself. Hence why we're still talking about it. Naturally, the line to get into this part was a real doozy. Makes sense, considering the impressive crowd of fancy fashion folk attendees: Cecilia Dean, Alexander Wang, Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Calvin Klein's Italo Zucchelli, and many others. That could also explain why MGMT's Andrew VanWyngarden couldn't get in. Silly bouncers." (Papermag)


"Across town, Paper Magazine and Tumblr celebrated fashion week with a wrap-up fête at the Empire Hotel. 'People think I’m such a square, but if the party starts at 8, I like to be there at 7:59,' explained Mickey Boardman, who was nestled on a sofa within the glassed in roof. Most of the partygoers felt similarly, as there was a line snaking down a block of Broadway by five after eight. The majority of young guests were friends or employees of the glossy sporting both casual dress and demeanor. Between bites of fried mac and cheese balls and mini hamburgers, they stopped by Mickey’s perch for a quick hello. DJ-of-the-moment, Mia Moretti, moved from Fleetwood Mac to Lady Gaga, while guests threw back Svedka vodka cocktails. 'I was expecting Mia because she tweeted that she was coming, but didn’t realize that she was DJ’ing the party,' laughed Boardman. Despite having quite the crush on Mayor Bloomberg, Boardman was certain he wouldn’t show. 'I’ve been wanting him to come to a Paper party for quite some time. I like a nice, short, powerful rich man. I think he’s kind of sexy, I really do.'" (FashionweekDaily


"Singapore will spend S$6.6 billion ($5.2 billion) on benefits including tax cuts and rebates as the government prepares to face elections within the next year. The government will hand cash to all adult citizens as a 'dividend' from record growth, upgrade homes and invest in improving productivity, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in the city state’s budget speech yesterday. Companies will be required to increase contributions into employees’ pension funds and pay more to hire foreign workers, he said. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has pledged to ensure lower- income families aren’t left out of the island’s expansion, as quickening inflation threatens to erode purchasing power in Asia." (BusinessWeek)

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