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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"But in deciding to ratchet up the violence to crush a five-month uprising, the 45-year-old Syrian ruler, an eye doctor who inherited the presidency in 2000 on the death of his father, Hafez, overlooked one crucial element: how it would play with his neighbours. A largely Sunni Muslim Arab world watched with horror as an army dominated by officers from the Alawi minority, an offshoot of Shia Islam, intensified its attacks on Sunni protesters. While Arab governments had stayed on the sidelines as one of the most bloody episodes of the regional uprisings unfolded, they suddenly cried out: enough. From Egypt to the Gulf, voices rose in unison to demand an end to Mr Assad’s violence. The harshest words were delivered by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who denounced the 'killing machine' that has by now left an estimated 1,600 dead and thousands in custody. 'The numbers of those killed or injured or detained are simply horrific. The king could not ignore this any more,' says Hussein Shobokshi, a Saudi columnist. Arab states will be treading carefully, however, taking into account the factors that kept them silent for months with an eye on the fragile status quo of a strategically important neighbour. Syria remains in a state of war with Israel, which occupied Syria’s Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war. It has significant influence over Lebanon, a divided country that fears chaos in Syria could spill over to its territory. It also has a tight friendship with Iran, a leading regional power with nuclear ambitions that considers Syria its gateway to the Arab world." (FT)

"Eight Republican presidential contenders will gather on a stage here Thursday night for a two-hour, high-stakes exchange just two days before the first real contest of the nominating process. The debate, sponsored by the Iowa Republican Party and Fox News, will not include all of the potential Republican candidates. Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is expected to enter the race within days but will not be on the stage. Neither will Sarah Palin, who has not indicated she is running but did announce on Tuesday that she would show up at the Iowa State Fair sometime this week. Still, with virtually the entire Republican field assembled in advance of Saturday’s straw poll in Ames, the debate, which will be broadcast from Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State University, has the potential to help shape the presidential contest as it heads into the fall. What are the critical things to look for? Here are five ..."(NYTimes/TheCaucus)



"Ms. Shevell, who is tall with raven hair that swings glossily from side to side, wore a striped gray and white sweater, black jeans and sandals, along with an indulgent smile. Having served on the M.T.A. for 10 years—spanning four governors—the trucking executive was plainly at home in the boardroom. There was little indication that she is living something of a Cinderella-at-the-ball moment these days. The New Jersey-born daughter of a trucking company owner, she is now betrothed one of the world’s top recording artists, Sir Paul McCartney. Except for the 1925 Cartier solitaire diamond engagement ring (said to have set the Beatle back some $650,000) sparkling on her left hand under the stark fluorescent lighting, however, the future Lady McCartney still seemed like a Jersey girl—an exceedingly self-possessed, relaxed, collegial and well-manicured Jersey girl, but still. You don’t meet a prince without a fairy godmother, and Ms. Shevell’s romantic coup—he may not be John Lennon, ladies, but he’s not Ringo, either—is said to have been engineered by no less formidable a yenta than The View’s Barbara Walters, who happens to be her second cousin. 'Barbara was her emotional confidante and played matchmaker,' a friend of the couple told The Observer." (Observer)


"Page Six reported that the other night Mrs. Marden walked up to Mrs. Schifter in the bar of the restaurant – which is one of those tightly packed places with a high decibal of conversations vying for any moment of silence – Mrs. Marden, also named Helen, coincidentally, or ironically; you choose; Mrs. Marden walked up to Mrs. Schifter and said something like 'Are you the (blank) that has been f**king my husband?' She then hauled off and slapped Mrs. S across the face, thwack -- and then -- according to Page Six -- the crowd burst out in applause. For ...? You be the judge. No report on what Mrs. Schifter did or said. I’m sure she would have wanted to flee. Although maybe not. Mrs. Marden later told the Post that she’s been married to Mr. Marden for 43 years and intends to stay married to him. Mrs. Schifter claimed that she was just a platonic friend and muse to the artist. The artist himself later was reported to have said she was 'not' his muse, and that their relationship had 'not' been platonic. The Schifters and the Mardens are prominent members of the social communities of the Hamptons. Everybody knows everybody in a certain socio-economic orbit by no more than two degrees of separation ... Every summer usually has a major marital scandal or maybe two. It gives people something to talk about over cocktails at sunset, or those charity luncheons in Southampton." (NYSocialDiary)


"George Lopez opened his penultimate show last night with jokes about its cancellation, which happened earlier in the day. 'In case you did not see the news on unemployment, it's at an all-time high. And for Latinos, it just got a little higher,' he said. 'Big news: Sony just announced they're doing a sequel to the Smurfs movie, so today I lost some work because I'm brown, but I got some work because I'm blue.'" (Deadline)


"Sen. John Kerry’s appointment to the debt-reduction supercommittee is his big moment to shine as a dealmaker and silence critics who have questioned his modest record of legislative accomplishments. Kerry’s big opportunity, however, is troubling to some liberal leaders and labor union officials who worry that the senior Democrat from Massachusetts might be too eager to strike a grand bargain. The most significant legislative victory of Kerry’s career came last year when he shepherded the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty through the Senate despite the strong opposition of GOP leaders. But a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion or more, which is the task of the 12-member supercommittee established last week, would be an accomplishment on a much higher order of significance ... Kerry reached his height of political fame when he won the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and narrowly lost the presidency to George W. Bush by 119,000 votes in Ohio. Bush officials criticized him during the campaign for having few legislative accomplishments. Seven years ago, Kerry was more known for congressional oversight activities than passing laws. One of his biggest legislative achievements (then) was a law to protect marine mammals from commercial fishing." (TheHill)

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