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Friday, August 05, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"While imperiling global markets, enraging the American people, and generally doing little of benefit for the country besides giving pundits something to talk about, the U.S. debt ceiling crisis also brought almost every other piece of important congressional business to a halt for weeks, if not months ... Now that a deal has been struck, lawmakers should be able to return to the other pending matters on their agenda -- after they get back from their five-week vacation, that is. And when they do finally return to town, they'll face a long list of foreign policy and national security issues that are priorities for President Barack Obama's administration, but which remain stalled on Capitol Hill. Here are the top eight foreign-policy items currently held up by the do-nothing 112th Congress .." (ForeignPolicy)

"The RSA and defense-contractor hacks are among the latest battles in a decade-long spy war. Hackers from many countries have been exfiltrating—that is, stealing—intellectual property from American corporations and the U.S. government on a massive scale, and Chinese hackers are among the main culprits. Because virtual attacks can be routed through computer servers anywhere in the world, it is almost impossible to attribute any hack with total certainty. Dozens of nations have highly developed industrial cyber-espionage programs, including American allies such as France and Israel. And because the People’s Republic of China is such a massive entity, it is impossible to know how much Chinese hacking is done on explicit orders from the government. In some cases, the evidence suggests that government and military groups are executing the attacks themselves. In others, Chinese authorities are merely turning a blind eye to illegal activities that are good for China’s economy and bad for America’s." (VanityFair)
"A high-powered, intimate, $71,600-a-couple fund-raiser for President Obama hosted by Anna Wintour and Harvey Weinstein will be held at the movie mogul's New York home next week. The expensive affair -- billed on an invitation obtained by Page Six as a  'small dinner and discussion' -- is planned to bring together heavy-hitters from the worlds of fashion, movies and finance at the West Village home of Weinstein and his fashion designer wife, Georgina Chapman, on Thursday. It had been scheduled for July 18 but was postponed because of the debt ceiling debate. A source told Page Six the exclusive event has been sold out and raised over $2 million. Among those confirmed to attend are Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin, Lyor Cohen, Tory Burch, Alicia Keys and Quentin Tarantino. Madonna was also invited, but won't make it Thursday due to 'a personal commitment,' said her rep. Last summer, Wintour threw an Obama fund-raiser at her Greenwich Village home for 50 guests, at $30,400 per head, which drew Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenberg, Andrew Rosen and Andre Balazs. The Vogue editor-in-chief is expected to draw some of the same crowd. 'Anna calls, they come running,' said a source. 'The fashion people have to contribute' -- which they apparently did despite the market being in free fall this week. Donors at Weinstein and Wintour's shindig will be forking over $5,000 to the Obama Victory Fund with the rest going to the Democratic National Committee. Another source said the event would be limited to 'four tables,' giving each high-paying guest some quality time with the president." (PageSix)

"When Alice Greenwald stepped up to the podium at Washington’s National Building Museum last week the image beside her said '46.' It took a moment to come to terms with its relevance. What it meant was that in 46 days the The National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center would open in lower Manhattan. It was a jolt to the mind and the heart, absorbing that in barely more than a month we will observe the tenth anniversary of the catastrophic terrorist attacks that occurred in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. Greenwald, who is the museum’s director, said the New York memorial is 'a symbol of our commitment to remembrance. Everyone will always know there was a before 9/11 and an after 9/11.' ... there will be meaningful exhibits. Real time voice recordings from that day, from people trapped inside the towers and first responders; projections of the hundreds of missing persons posters, a piece of steel that was penetrated and melted by American Airlines Flight #11, the first plane to hit; a fire engine, a 37-foot high column which was the last piece of the building to be removed from the site and, most of all, the names of all the victims, 'incised in bronze,' ranging in ages from two to 85-years-old." (WashingtonSocialDiary)


"I’m certainly not going to lie and say it is not a whole lot better having lots of money. I had a whole lot of fun and loved my life when I was eating mustard and ketchup sandwiches and sleeping on the floor of a 3 bedroom apartment that housed me and 5 buddies. I have a whole lot more fun now. It doesn’t suck to be rich." (MarkCuban)

"Granted they make an odd couple, but I have come to the conclusion that Barack Obama and Angela Merkel are secret soul mates. The US president and the German chancellor both like to think hard about things. No harm in that. Sadly, careful deliberation also serves as a shared excuse for inaction. It seems a stretch, I know, to draw parallels between a Democrat in the White House and a Christian Democrat in Berlin’s chancellery. One is a lawyer, the other a physicist. The matronly Ms Merkel is not the sort to rouse the crowds by proclaiming: 'Yes We Can!' ...  Nor do the two leaders see eye to eye on the big policy issues of the day. Ms Merkel gets the honoured ally treatment in Washington. But she disdains America’s profligacy just as much as she does that of Greece and the other debt-burdened eurozone economies. Her head is with Beijing in its dispute with Washington over exchange rates. Mr Obama’s aides fret that Ms Merkel sometimes prefers the company of China and Russia over that of the US in the UN Security Council. She is too soft on Moscow. German exports trump allegiance to the western alliance. They also fear her failure to deal with the crisis in the eurozone could trigger a global recession – at a time when the president is seeking re-election. Scratch a little deeper, though, and you can see the similarities." (FT)

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