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Monday, June 06, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"State visits between friendly countries seldom produce surprises or unscripted moments, but the recent trip to China by top Pakistani officials managed to do just that. Upon returning to Islamabad, the defense minister, Ahmed Mukhtar, made two eyebrow-raising announcements: first, that Beijing had agreed to take over operation of Gwadar port in Baluchistan, and, second, that he had invited the Chinese to build a naval base there. China's leaders, seemingly caught unaware by these statements, promptly denied them. Nevertheless, Mukhtar's seemingly ad-libbed remarks revived the debate about China's ambitions in southwest Asia. For example, last week, a Wall Street Journal opinion piece provocatively titled 'China Breeds Chaos' claimed that 'China wants to get into the great-power maritime game by operating ports throughout the Indian Ocean.' Is Gwadar an isolated case or an important platform for the projection of Chinese influence in the region? For much of the past decade, a theory called the 'string of pearls' has gained currency, with proponents suggesting that Beijing is seeking to expand its influence by developing a 'string' of commercial ports and listening posts -- 'pearls' -- along the rim of the Indian Ocean. The term seems to have been first coined by defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton in a 2005 report 'Energy Futures in Asia' and elaborated upon by dozens of armchair strategists since. A 2006 study from the U.S. Army War College described this purported strategy as a 'manifestation of China's ambition to attain great power status and secure a self-determined, peaceful, and prosperous future' and hailed the development of Gwadar's port -- then in its early stages -- as a 'win-win prospect for both China and Pakistan.' But is it?" (ForeignPolicy)


"The very rich Mrs. Paul Mellon, known as Bunny to her friends and to her public is in the news again alongside former Senator John Edwards who has been indicted for alleging misusing funds, at least some of which had been imparted to him by Mrs. Mellon. The monies Mrs. Mellon gave to Mr. Edwards were used to quietly support a girlfriend and her child by the still-married Mr. Edwards while he ran his ill-fated race for the Presidency. It may be surprising to us, the reader, that this very rich, very proper seeming, very old woman would be involved with a man of Mr. Edward’s reputation. Although it is perhaps not surprising to those who really know her. For example: at the same time that she was a friend and supporter of Mr. Edwards, she was also a friend and supporter of the late Robert Isabell, the Manhattan floral and party designer. The two men hardly seem like birds of a feather except for their mutual friendship with Mrs. Mellon -- although they do bear some strong similarities. Only one year apart in age (Isabell born in ’52 – when Mrs. Mellon was 42 – and Edwards born in ’53 – both born in early June under the sign of Gemini). Both good looking dark haired boys from working class families who rose to the top of their professions by sheer grit and creativity. This is a powerful image to a vulnerable, lifelong heiress. And, although the men’s sexual proclivities differed (we can assume), they were both 'adventurous' to put it conservatively." (NYSocialDiary)
 

"Three things have come to define NBC since 1988: Jay Leno, Law & Order -- and the Olympics. But next week the No. 4 network is in danger of losing the bi-annual sports fest as its new owner, Comcast, engages in a bidding war with Disney and News Corp that could reshape sports television. Top executives of the three companies will converge on Laussane, Switzerland at the beginning of the week and try to persuade the International Olympic Committee to license them U.S. broadcast rights to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. There also is an option to bid on a four-game package through 2020. It’s estimated that a winning bid for the four games could go as high as $5 billion, a step up from the $2.2 billion that NBC agreed to pay in 2003 for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and next year’s London Summer Olympics. Are the games worth that much?" (Deadline)



"We ran into socialite Melissa Berkelhammer this week, and she was still recovering from an eventful weekend in the Hamptons—one during which, Page Six reported, Ms. Berkelhammer threw a late-night tantrum at the Southampton Inn, complained about the viscosity of her soup, and demanded 'a vintage car.' The source of the complaints was The Real Housewives of New Jersey's sometime co-star Kim Granatell. 'I've seen it a couple times,' said Ms. Berkelhammer of New Jersey. 'It makes New York look like Masterpiece Theatre.' She'd been upset at the Southampton Inn and her crying was overheard by Ms. Granatell—'it's those paper-thin walls!,' she told us—but it hadn't been over any high-priced soup. 'You know, I wanted my mom to get me food from McDonald's. It's pretty clear that I'm not demanding, you know, a vintage car.'" (Observer)


"Which wealthy widow is so obnoxious that she has to take her maid to lunch because she's now totally avoided by the Hamptons social set? She was recently seen dining at an outdoor restaurant in Southampton with her maid -- who was still wearing a work apron . . . Which actress never leaves the house without a wig? The long-locked beauty has been losing hair from emotional stress . . . Which TV star's wife is seriously hampering his ability to work because her drug habit is so bad that he can't leave her alone for even short periods of time to film?" (PageSix)



"Every two years, the art world descends on Venice in a glittery fury of prosecco, passion, and power parties that puts Cannes, the Oscars, and the presidential race to shame. Competing to out-fête, out-show, and outdo each other at the Biennale are the world's leading artists, dealers, billionaires, mere millionaires, and every gallerina with a Prada banana skirt in reach. All of them, it seemed, pitched up at the Bauer last night for a party Dasha Zhukova, Alexander Dellal, and Neville Wakefield hosted to celebrate Commercial Break, a digital pavilion from Garage Projects and POST magazine. 'We wanted to be the first to do a major video art project online,' said Dellal. 'Seeing as how Venice is a city that usually only advertises itself, we thought it was perfect to ask artists to do work on the language of publicity in its changing landscape' ... Considering the work celebrated the culture of promotion, it's probably no surprise that this party quickly escalated into the most sought-after invitation in town. Michael Stipe arrived late and had to be walked through a throng of 200 lining up at the door, as partygoers started offering bribes in excess of €500 to the hurly-burlys at the velvet rope. Inside, Zhukova, Margherita Missoni, and Charlotte Casiraghi cooled off near the DJ booth, fresh from the Hogan Bambú project cocktail party where Anne Pasternak, effortless in white Hermès, had ferried VIPS through her hubby Mike Starn's oasis of calm." (Style)

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