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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Pakistani officials have announced that the Chinese look favorably on taking over the operation of the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar close to the entrance of the Strait of Hormuz, and perhaps building a naval base for the Pakistanis there as well. The Chinese have apparently contradicted these claims, indicating that they have made no such decisions on these matters. The fact that Pakistan should want deeper Chinese involvement with this strategically located port, even as the Chinese are hesitant to do just that, should surprise no one. Gwadar is where dreams clash with reality.  The Chinese have already invested $200 million in building a modern port in Gwadar. Furthermore, a presence of some sort at Gwadar makes estimable sense for Beijing in the abstract. China faces what has been called a 'Malacca dilemma.' It is too dependent on the narrow and congested Strait of Malacca between Indonesia and Malaysia for its oil and natural gas shipments from the Middle East to Chinese ports. Thus, China has been engaged in port-building projects in Pakistan and Burma, which, someday, may be linked by roads and energy pipelines directly to China. Besides offering an alternative route for energy supplies, such new ports will be the 21st-century equivalent of 19th-century British coaling stations for China's budding maritime empire spanning the Indian Ocean. Once China has developed a blue-water navy to protect its sea lines of communications, it will require port access along the global energy interstate that is the Indian Ocean. For Pakistan's part, a robust Chinese presence at Gwadar would serve to check India's own strategic ambitions, as Islamabad leverages Beijing against New Delhi." (Robert Kaplan)

"Desperate Housewives was an instant success and cultural phenomenon after its Sept. 2004 debut, but it will never compete with Disneyland for the title of Happiest Place on Earth. Beginning on June 8, in Los Angeles Superior Court, real life on Wisteria Lane will be on full display as actress Nicollette Sheridan faces off against Desperate Housewives creator and executive producer Marc Cherry and ABC Studios in a wrongful termination lawsuit that seeks to resolve once and for all: Why did Cherry really kill off Edie Britt, the vampy, trashy resident of Wisteria Lane, in an April 2009 episode? Did Cherry get rid of Edie out of revenge after he slapped Sheridan across the head and she complained to his ABC bosses, as Sheridan maintains? Or did he make a creative and cost-cutting decision, as he alleges? Sheridan, who earned $4.2 million during her last season on the show, appeared in 112 episodes and filed her $20-million lawsuit on April 5, 2010. 'Mr. Cherry was the creator of the show that I worked on,' Sheridan said in a declaration on April 19 of this year. 'He was my boss. Bosses are not supposed to hit the people that work for them. Men are not supposed to hit women' A jury will decide these matters. In the meantime, the case file provides a revealing, if not entertaining, look at the inner workings of Desperate Housewives. Here's a look at 11 juicy moments from the lawsuit, as recorded in the court file obtained by The Daily Beast." (TheDailyBeast)

"This past Wednesday, Women for Women International held its third Annual Luncheon and Panel Discussion on the Future of Afghanistan in the ballroom at 583 Park Avenue in New York City, raising more than $585,000 for its work with women survivors of war. Over 350 guests gathered to hear from a panel of experts discuss and debate the future of the war-torn country. Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman moderated war journalist and 'Restrepo' director Sebastian Junger, Women for Women International founder and CEO Zainab Salbi, and Afghan member of Parliament, Sayed Gailani, in town from Kabul. The organization opened its Kabul office in 2002, and set to work in the provinces of Balkh, Kabul, Kapisa, Nangarhar, and Parwan. The organization has since served more than 31,000 Afghan women, providing them with education, rights and vocational skills training." (NYSocialDiary)


"On the night of Jan. 11, Turkish police officers burst into a villa in Istanbul's Asian quarter and arresteda 53-year-old transplant surgeon named Yusuf Sonmez. Interpol had been lookingfor Sonmez since 2008, when a Turkish man collapsed in the airport in Pristina, Kosovo, and reported that his kidney had been stolen. The incident led to an investigation by European Union prosecutors, who uncovered an international organ-stealing and smuggling ring of alarming scope. Sonmez and eight co-conspirators, prosecutors allegedin December, had lured poor people from Central Asia and Europe to Pristina, harvested their organs, and sold them at up to $100,000 a pop to medical tourists from Canada, Germany, Israel, and Poland. The clinic where Sonmez did his work, a separate report by the Council of Europe alleged, was part of an even vaster organ-smuggling network -- one which, incredibly, even involved Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci. The trafficking operation was grisly, but hardly unusual. The World Health Organization estimatesthat approximately 10 percent of the world's organ transplants originate on the black market; as a rule of thumb, that figure seems to hold true across the trade in human body parts. And while occasional law enforcement successes like Sonmez's arrest do happen, for the most part no one is really seriously attempting to shut down a market that is not just lucrative, but, many would argue, inevitable." (ForeignPolicy)

"FWD: I have no segue to this next question, but what the hell: Where did you meet Billy Joel?Katie Lee: I was coming to look at a French culinary school for the weekend with one of my girlfriends, and somebody had told us we should go to the rooftop of the Peninsula because it has a great view. So we did, and I was coming out of the bathroom, like, fiddlin’ with my purse, and I literally almost bumped into him. I didn’t recognize him—I was never a Billy Joel fan—but my girlfriend did and she said, Oh my God, it’s so nice to meet you! Twenty minutes later we’re in the bar having a drink and we all started talking and he said, ‘Let’s go get something to eat.’ So we went to a great Italian restaurant and, um, that was it! FWD: That’s nuts. Katie Lee: Yeah, it was one of those weird chance meetings. FWD: OK, so then you go back to college and … Katie Lee: He calls me a week later. He had taken us to see his Broadway show, Movin’ Out, after our dinner and actually jumped on stage and sang the last two songs. I thought he did that every night. I found out later he was just showin’ off for us. It was so random. FWD: What did your college friends think about your famous boyfriend? Katie Lee: You know what? I didn’t tell a soul! I didn’t want anybody being in my business. When I would leave for a weekend, I would say I was goin’ home to see my family in West Virginia. I just didn’t want anyone to know. After I graduated, I told him I’d come stay with him in the Hamptons, but just for the summer. And I never left." (FashionWeekDaily)


"Could Halle Berry be doing a TV series? TV industry people are buzzing this afternoon about a hot drama spec that has Halle Berry attached to star. Word is the spec, titled Higher Learning, was sent out today to pay cable networks, with HBO and Showtime among those targeted. I hear that the project, from DreamWorks TV, is eying a quick turnaround, and a decision could come as early as tomorrow. The script, which I hear would have the Oscar winner starring as a college professor, was written by 30-year industry veteran Lee Rose. A queen of TV movies in their heyday during the 1990s, Rose segued to episodic directing over the past 10 years." (Deadline)
"Although many intellectual and literary magazines have come under scrutiny lately for a lack of female bylines (yes, again; it's an annual event), two of those publication's blogs have become visible launch pads for female writers: The New Yorker Book Bench and the Paris Review Daily.
Last week, the Paris Review Daily blog lost web editor Thessaly LaForce to a fellowship in fiction writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. 'She kept it a secret from us!' editor Lorin Stein told Off the Record. 'I didn't even know Thessaly did that kind of writing, although knowing her literary sensibilities, it doesn't surprise me.' Ms. LaForce is being replaced by senior editor Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn, fresh from a gig as assistant editor at The New Yorker. She joins senior editor Sadie Stein, who was hired from Jezebel in April. Ms. Foley-Mendelssohn and Ms. LaForce are friends dating back to their overlapping tenures at The New Yorker, where Ms. La Force was a web producer and one of four young female staff members on the Book Bench. 'The year I came to The New Yorker,' Ms. Foley-Mendelssohn recalled, 'they dressed as the Heathers for Halloween, with colorful blazers and massive brooches and croquet mallets and these hilarious pleated '80s skirts they'd found in thrift stores' That this new Internet literati are attractive, young and in most cases female did not escape the attention of Paper magazine, which named Ms. LaForce, Ms. Stein and Paris Review Daily contributors Emma Straub and Maud Newton members of the 'lit it-crowd' and ran a dreamy photo of the group inside a bookstore. (There was a male in the picture too.)" (Observer)

"For partisans of President Barack Obama, the headlines were alarming. 'Jewish Donors Warn Obama on Israel,' said The Wall Street Journal. 'Obama's Jewish Backers on Edge Over His Mideast Peace Plan,' proclaimed the Los Angeles Times. The denunciations were swift and final. President Obama, it seemed, had made a fundamental error in calling for Israel to return to its 1967 borders, with land swaps. Donors, according to the new narrative, would soon be switching their allegiances to the G.O.P. But conversations with nearly a dozen of the top Jewish fund-raisers in New York reveal a much different reality, as rainmakers say they continue to back the president they overwhelmingly supported three years ago. 'This is nonsense,' said David Pollak, a former chairman of the state Democratic Party. 'I think anyone who would not give money to Barack Obama because of remarks he made the other day wasn't giving money to him in 2008.'" (Observer)

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