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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"More than two months after the raid by U.S. Navy SEALS on the Abbottabad compound of Osama bin Laden, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan is at its lowest point in the almost six decades of a rocky, on-again-off-again alliance. The United States has suspended some $800 million in military aid, and the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, is traveling to Pakistan this week for what is certain to be a chilly meeting with his counterpart, Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Maybe these developments are not altogether bad, for amid this turmoil the leaders of both countries, if not their vocal populations, are beginning to understand that a new, interests-based regional partnership must be forged before some political point of no return is crossed. Pakistan and the United States need a new paradigm for cooperation, one that will not only guide the bilateral relationship through the endgame in Afghanistan, but also influence Pakistani and U.S. policies in an Indian Ocean region on the verge of a new Great Game for mineral resources and economic domination. The main players in that game are India and China; the prizes are Afghan and Pakistani resources and overland trade routes to the Arabian Sea. The United States' role is important, even critical, but it is as yet undefined by American political leaders. Ultimately, the United States may have to shift part of its security and political focus from its Atlantic relationships to the Indian Ocean region.  The mineral resources of Afghanistan and Pakistan -- copper, gold, rare-earth elements, iron, the list goes on -- will play a major role in driving the hungry Chinese and Indian economies through the 21st century." (ForeignPolicy)


"I went down to Michael’s to lunch with an old friend. The streets along the way were not as quiet as they’d been in the past two days. There are a lot of tourists also. The mob outside of Abercrombie & Fitch on 56th and Fifth is a menace to all the other pedestrians. People also don’t know how to move aside to let people pass by. They’re oblivious except to the doorway which is usually posted with recently adolescent boys who are obviously chosen their looks and their (half-naked) body types. I don’t know what they’re selling inside but the message is teenage sex. Or more specifically, having sex. Michael’s was jammed, one of the busiest days I’ve seen this summer. I wasn’t paying attention but there was a long table in the center of the front room with several women including Jolie Hunt, Beth DeWoody, Francine LeFrak, Somers Farkas, Hilary Gumbel, Felicia Taylor, Kathy Hilton, the table being both the source and object of other people’s conversations." (NYSocialDiary)


"It was the kind of evening when one would have expected to see Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and a dozen pals in the seats he reserves for his personal use, to the near right of the dugout. But this night, McCourt—a 57-year-old with the woebegone look of a Flemish portrait—had made himself scarce, and there was certainly no sign of Jamie, his ex-wife, with whom he has been embroiled in one of the most expensive divorces in California history, at nearly $20 million in attorneys’ fees ...You would almost pity the man if he weren’t such a scoundrel, or a schlemiel, depending on your perspective. Always with a fine suit on, his thin lips moving constantly as they work their way into some new sort of trouble, he’s been owner of the team for seven years, since he blew into town with Jamie, his tense, skinny Chihuahua of a wife who favors a look that could be described as Real Housewives Business Casual—tight navy skirts, highlighted blond hair, and enormous handbags. Los Angeles was initially welcoming of them, as it is of anyone with money, but when it became clear that they were using one of the city’s biggest franchises—part of what put Los Angeles on the map as a world-class destination—to pay their personal expenses, among other shenanigans, the ire in the normally placid city exploded. The McCourt breakup and financial problems with the team are covered by newspapers here as sensationally as the decay of the Wilpon dynasty—the owners of the Mets, who are now selling a minority ownership to a hedge-fund manager—is in New York. The Dodgers and the Mets are each thought to be well over $400 million in debt." (VanityFair)


"The final Harry Potter movie conjured a heck of a red carpet last night, but in a way, the more sensational cinematic experience was downtown, where documentary filmmaker Errol Morris screened his latest, Tabloid, at the IFC Center for a crowd that included Spike Jonze and Kirsten Dunst. Through interviews and animations, the film relates the bizarre tale of Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen who followed the Mormon man she loved to England. Allegedly, she then abducted him, strapped him to a bed, and had her way with the object of her unrestrained affection for three days. McKinney's arrest and court hearing generated some of the juiciest headlines of the seventies and ignited a war between the British tabloids, with the Daily Express portraying her as the embodiment of love unleashed, and the Daily Mirror and The Sun caricaturing her as a seasoned bondage pro. Throughout the screening, choice phrases like 'Manacled Mormon' had Courtney Love guffawing in her seat." (Style)


"As the metastasizing phone-hacking scandal engulfs the senior-most reaches of News Corp., the Murdoch family, and the British government, a winner may yet emerge from the corporate wreckage: Roger Ailes. Ailes's Fox News fiefdom has avoided any connection to the hacking uproar. Depending on how the ultimate chapter unfolds for Rupert Murdoch, Ailes, more than anyone inside News Corp., stands to gain significantly. James Murdoch's entanglement in the hacking crisis means he could very well lose his grip on succession, taking a significant threat to Ailes's dominion over Fox News off the table. Ailes's relationship with the Murdoch children and their designs on succession — not to mention their distaste for his brand of hardnosed conservative politics — has long been a subject of intense speculation. Ailes famously clashed with James's older brother Lachlan over management issues and was responsible in part for Lachlan's decision to walk away from the company. By all accounts, James and Ailes have a distant, if cordial, relationship. At a recent budget meeting with senior News Corp. executives, James praised Ailes for Fox's monster profits, according to a person briefed on the meeting. But James's recent elevation to deputy COO makes avoiding conflict with Ailes much more difficult. The inevitability of a Roger-James clash was something that both men had to be aware of. Now Ailes may not have to worry about James after all." (NYMag)

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