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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged on Monday that the United States and its allies are actively considering imposing a no-fly zone over Libya as a means to prevent Muammar al-Qaddafi's government from cracking down on rebel forces as the country seemingly spirals into civil war. There have been widespread reports of Libyan Air Force jets bombing and firing on protesters; rebels reportedly shot down a plane while it was firing on an anti-Qaddafi radio station on Feb. 28. Some 200 Arab groups from throughout the Middle East signed a letter over the weekend in support of a U.N. sponsored no-fly zone. How exactly do these zones work? It depends on the circumstances. There are two primary types of no-fly zones imposed by air forces. The first is imposed by one military over another, while the two sides are at war. In practice, this type of no-fly zone amounts to a warning from one side that it will engage the other's aircraft if they are spotted in a given territory. The second type, more applicable to the situation in Libya, is when an outside power possessing overwhelming air superiority restricts flights over a given country in order to discourage an internal conflict or humanitarian crisis." (ForeignPolicy)

"Last night I was invited to sit in on a forum at the Public Theatre where the topic was money. The Public Theatre has these forums from time to time around their productions. The Public’s new production of Timon of Athens with Richard Thomas is the focal point and the subject is money. I confess I did not know about the play, and I was told it was one of his 'problem' plays. Last night Mr. Thomas and Randy Cohen, who writes 'The Ethicist' for The New York Times Magazine (his final one was this past Sunday), held a discussion about the play (which is about money). I didn’t hear the discussion because I was in the Green Room with the other two panelists, Bethany McLean, who writes financial stories for Vanity Fair, and Ben Smith, who writes for POLITICO, the hot Washington website. I learned that I had been invited to join them because of something I wrote about Madoff several weeks ago and the business of who’s to blame and who’s responsible. Somewhere in there I expressed the opinion that we’re all responsible. The subjects discussed were philanthropy, Washington, student loans." (NYSocialDiary)


"Divine Providence made the stars, but Vanity Fair entertains them. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's half-hour-old Oscar for The Social Network was already at the bar at VF's post-Academy Awards party. Sandra Bullock's red drop-dead gown on the telecast? ...The guest list segued from oldies to newies. There was Sumner Redstone, who predates Methuselah and who kept hollering at some lackey. There was Justin Bieber with rock 'n' roll writer Lisa Robinson. His first time at this thing. The kid's not old enough to drink. Lisa is.  His little settee included Selena Gomez. Also Fran Lebowitz, who introduced me to Justin with: 'Meet my husband.' I laughed. Then: 'We're catching up on old times.' She laughed. I then asked Justin, 'You know who Fran is?' He laughed and said, "No.' ... Diane von Furstenberg, healed from a recent ski accident, showed photos of her once bashed-in face to everyone. A) she now looks great, and B) the hand holding the photos featured a killer turquoise bracelet wider than a cummerbund, so too much sympathy she didn't get." (Cindy Adams)


"U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at West Point, said last week that 'Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.' In saying this, Gates was repeating a dictum laid down by Douglas MacArthur after the Korean War, who urged the United States to avoid land wars in Asia. Given that the United States has fought four major land wars in Asia since World War II — Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq — none of which had ideal outcomes, it is useful to ask three questions: First, why is fighting a land war in Asia a bad idea? Second, why does the United States seem compelled to fight these wars? And third, what is the alternative that protects U.S. interests in Asia without large-scale military land wars?" (STRATFOR)



"Madonna, who hosted her own Oscar bash at manager Guy Oseary's mansion late Sunday night, made sure she made a big entrance at the Vanity Fair party -- then immediately left. She arrived on the red carpet, said 'I am here to get photographed,' walked through the party, and then bolted. Sources say the ever-competitive diva wanted to survey the array of A-list stars to lure them to her own event. Guests who did make her bash included David and Victoria Beckham, Seal and Heidi Klum, Darren Aronofsky, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman, and Lawrence Bender." (PageSix)


"In the four decades since Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said came to power in this sleepy sultanate on the Arabian Peninsula, his subjects have lived through the very birth of a modern nation. Before Sultan Qaboos, at age 29, staged a nonviolent coup against his father, Oman was a forgotten land of mountains and deserts with only a couple of schools, no public health system, few paved roads, and an ancient sea trade in frankincense. It wasn't that it was backward. Oman just had never come forward, and it was too isolated to even be aware of it.   Today, Oman is a vibrant society, a place that values education and technology, a country that is fat on oil, a monarchy with a constitution called the 'White Book' that offers a range of protections to its citizens, including equal rights for women and fairly progressive press laws, as long as the sultan is not discussed or disrespected. But with all these extraordinary changes, no one in Oman has ever witnessed anything like the public demonstrations of anger and rioting that have gripped this conservative country the past few days, thrusting it into the lineup of Arab populations clamoring for change." (FP)

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