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Friday, June 17, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"In addition to finding a new managing director and awaiting the prosecution of its most recent one, the IMF now has a serious cybersecurity breach to deal with. The New York Times reported over the weekend that the organization had been hit by "a large and sophisticated cyberattack whose dimensions are still unknown." The fund declined to provide details to the Times about the nature of the breach, but it was apparently serious enough that the World Bank immediately severed its computer links to the IMF. But besides Dominique Strauss-Kahn's emails, what's worth stealing from the IMF?  Not as much as there used to be, but still potentially a lot. The IMF now makes a lot of information public that used to be kept secret, such as the terms of loan arrangements with recipient countries. But as with the State Department cables released by WikiLeaks last year, the juicy material may not be so much what policies the IMF is following toward given countries as how it's talking about them in private. The minutes of IMF executive board meetings are not made public until several years after they take place. Meetings of the board presumably include candid discussions about the financial solvency of countries requesting bailouts. In both meeting minutes and informal remarks over email, officials often discuss countries' internal politics and economic policies in terms they would never use in public documents. It's not exactly unheard of for countries to misrepresent their economic data. If IMF officials were shown to be privately questioning member countries' official figures, it would certainly have the power to move markets." (ForeignPolicy)


"'It was just the drip, drip, drip,' said a top Democratic adviser. 'The decision was made on Wednesday that he had to go and that he until Saturday to do it himself.'  Over the next three painful days, top aides say Pelosi, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz repeatedly implored Weiner to step down. With an ethics committee investigation already under way and the cringe-inducing news that Weiner had repeatedly texted a 17-year-old girl, they told the famously stubborn Weiner that he had to go. By Saturday, Weiner again refused to resign and told Pelosi that he would take a leave of absence from Congress instead. For the Democratic leader, it was the last straw. Wasserman Schultz, the first woman to lead the DNC, had made up her mind the night before that she would publicly call for Weiner to relinquish his seat.  'The behavior he has exhibited is indefensible and Representative Weiner’s continued service in Congress is untenable,' Wasserman Schultz said in a blistering statement that day. Pelosi followed: 'I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a member of Congress.'  With Wasserman Schultz and Pelosi on the record, members of Congress returned to Washington the following Monday knowing that their Democratic leadership, including the president, would not support Weiner if he tried to remain. Anyone who defended him would be acting without the party’s blessing. No member of Congress came to Weiner’s defense on Monday. Instead, several told The Daily Beast that while they would not help him, they did not feel comfortable pushing further for his resignation until Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, returned to the country after an overseas trip with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.By early Wednesday morning, Abedin had returned, but Weiner sent no signals to Washington that he was ready to relent." (TheDailyBeast)


"He said his wife, Huma Abedin, supported him throughout — sources said she had watched his first tearful news conference two weeks ago on TV — but she did not show up for Thursday’s media circus. So on his final day in office, nobody was by his side. The Clintons — Abedin works for Hillary Clintonwere disgusted with him. Three Democratic National Committee chairmen, a former House speaker and a raft of his rank-and-file colleagues told him, in public statements, to submit his resignation. The president of the United States said he would step down under the same circumstances. The whole imbroglio had turned into the kind of long-running spectacle that could only be produced in the media nexus of New York and Washington. More than the salaciousness, more than the deception, more than anything else, Weiner’s undoing was that the story simply wouldn’t go away. Weiner was the typecast star of a 21st-century sex scandal featuring a political insider who sought affirmation but had a one-way sense of the media — he knew how to get attention but not how to deflect it. " (Politico)


"The crowd at last evening's screening of The Art of Getting By was more than getting on and along at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema packed viewing of the new coming-of-age tale. The film’s coterie of pretty young things, including Emma Roberts, Freddie Highmore, Sasha Spielberg, and Elizabeth Reaser, turned out for the screening, hosted by the Cinema Society, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Alice + Olivia. A glam gathering including Blythe Danner, Abigail Breslin, Dani Stahl, Jessica Capshaw, Shanae Grimes, Marina Rust Connor, Amy Fine Collins, Lauren Bush and Stacey Bendet Eisner rounded out the fashionable flock ... Ann Dexter-Jones had parenting tales galore to dispense as she ebulliently air-kissed her way through the masses at the party, solo after a bit of mother-daughter bonding with Charlotte Ronson during the screening beforehand. 'I was mummy dearest: I thought children should go to bed before 7 p.m., and my five kids were only allowed to share half an hour of phone calls each day,' Dexter-Jones recounted, dishing on Charlotte’s rebellious year at age 15 – followed immediately by twin sis Samantha’s turn to pout at the not-so-sweet age of 16.  'I’m sure they hated every rule I ever made, but when Charlotte graduated from high school she turned to me and said, ‘I used to be so angry with you because you were so strict, but I want to thank you for the values you gave me.’" (Fashionweekdaily)


"We really hope that this little interview will stand as a some kind of testament to the power of fashion cycles in the world of design because our discussion with British furniture restorer and antiques dealer, Jonathan Burden might some day be used as proof that the early 2000s was 'the' time to buy English furniture. Mid-century modern—which in this column is not popular—has shoved it aside, but just you wait. He also had truly interesting things to say about faking furniture and the John Hobbs scandal that ultimately ruined one of the best-known dealers in the trade. NYSD: How did you get to be in New York? How did you start out? JB: It started out with a love for antique furniture and I went to a college called West Dean in Sussex. I grew up in Yorkshire and we had old furniture. My father is a vicar so we lived in vicarages and things like that. My father would have the furniture restored by the local restorer and I would go [to watch them]. Just the smells were intoxicating … the varnishes and the shellacs." (NYSocialDiary)


"Elvis Mitchell lands on his feet yet again. One thing about having been a film critic at the New York Times, visiting professor at Harvard, documentary filmmaker, and KCRW host of The Treatment: you get plenty of cred. Thus it’s no surprise that Film Independent and Los Angeles County Museum of Art director Michael Govan are hiring film critic Mitchell (who recently departed Movieline under a cloud of controversy) as the museum’s outsourced film curator. He in effect will replace outgoing film curator Ian Birnie, who has run LACMA’s film department for 14 years. The film program at LACMA was saved from suspension in October 2008 by an outcry from the film community, including director Martin Scorsese, and bailouts from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Time Warner Cable and Ovation TV, which helped to cover budget shortfalls. Mitchell will start on July 11 and move back to Los Angeles. One of Mitchell’s longtime champions is new Academy chief Dawn Hudson, who admired Mitchell’s many Q & As over the years for Film Independent; there’s no debate over Mitchell’s skills as an interviewer. One can see the assets Mitchell brings; he has vast knowledge and love of movies as well as a global rolodex of contacts, many of them top filmmakers and celebrities. No one is better connected." (IndieWIRE)

"As rallying cries go, 'Artista, Erotica, Utopia!' is among the more ludicrous, especially for an underground pop-up strip club, where eager young women perform awkward erotic dance routines for a members-only crowd of well-off young gentlemen. Yet somehow, The Observer was unaccountably galvanized by this hearty call to arms, legs and other body parts. That’s the only way to explain how we came to find ourselves, on a recent Thursday night, emerging from the bathroom of a dimly lit bilevel nightclub in the Flatiron district wearing only leopard-print boy shorts with lace trim, a matching bra and Jimmy Choo heels. We were making our debut at the Saint Venus Theater, a discreet (O.K., sketchy) members-only organization that aims to do for go-go dancing what Fight Club did for getting beaten to a pulp. In other words, try desperately to make it cool. As with pop-up nightclubs, restaurants, clothing boutiques, dental offices, abortion clinics and cheesemongers, it moves stealthily around the city, its location known only to an elite few. Prospective patrons, who must be over 25, are instructed to submit applications via email and to provide a few personal details 'so we know you would fit in well with our events,' as the website advises. Those who make the cut are given an address at which the super-secret roving event is to take place. After paying a $40 entrance fee, customers can eat free chocolate, throw back shots of Patrón and, for $20 apiece, enjoy 'the most erotic and physically transformative lap dance [they] are likely to have ever known.' That sounded like a tall order, given that The Observer had no previous experience with professional disrobing. But S.V.T. is steadfast in its policy of employing 'real girls'—dabblers and wanna-bes, basically, who see the gig more as a lark than a life’s calling. And as it turned out, we didn’t actually look that out of place amid the 40 or so half-naked 20-something females scattered about the bar area, vying for the attention of the strikingly conservative execs packing the place." (Observer)


"For the second edition of her Parisian fundraising effort known as Liaisons au Louvre, the newly inducted Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur Becca Cason Thrash went double or nothing. Her lavish cocktail in the museum's nineteenth-century apartments of Napoleon III, followed by a sit-down dinner in the Cour Marly sculpture hall, drew over 350 guests, almost all of whom stayed on for an auction under the glass pyramid, emceed once again by the hostess herself. The evening's highlight: a special performance by Janet Jackson, who delivered a medley of her greatest hits as well as a tribute to her brother. There were acres of silks and lashings of jewels—even a case of a sizable missing pearl. The eclectic crowd included honored guest HSH Prince Albert of Monaco (who said he came solo because his bride had fittings to tend to), Ariane de Rothschild, Maryvonne Pinault, Delfina Delettrez Fendi, and Julie Macklowe, wearing a Zang Toi gown and the designer himself on her arm ... A Giambattista Valli-clad Bianca Brandolini d'Adda, who also knows something about the good life, shared a few thoughts on the perils of It-girldom: 'Having taste can play against you,' she said, 'because people are busy looking at what you're wearing and what you have, when what you really want is to do something" (i.e., act)." (Style)


"Once in a while received wisdom is upturned by a fleeting headline. It happened the other day when the FT reported that “Vietnam seeks US support in China dispute”. The stylised view of the new global order frames it as a contest between the established west and the rising rest. The more interesting story is the one about the rest versus the rest. The spat between Hanoi and Beijing is the latest in a series of disputes over control of the resource-rich South China Sea. In crude terms, China claims all of it. But the dotted line that marks out this ambition on Chinese maps is hotly contested by just about everyone else. The Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have their own territorial and maritime claims. Japan has a separate argument with China about a cluster of islands in the East China Sea. These clashes, then, are not new. Nor is the animosity between Vietnam and China. The Americans had not been gone five years before the two countries fought a vicious border war during the late 1970s. What’s new is the marked heightening of tension as China has adopted a strikingly assertive neighbourhood policy. Strategically sited on the South China Sea, Cam Ranh Bay served as a pivotal US air and naval base during the war between South and North Vietnam. Now Hanoi says foreign (that means American) ships could again be given access to the naval facility. The signal to Beijing is clear enough. Push too hard and Vietnam will provide physical support to the US fleet in guaranteeing freedom of navigation. Others have also been mending fences and warming their relationships with Washington as China waves its stick." (FT)

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