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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is headed to Islamabad this week for what U.S. officials are billing as a last-ditch effort to patch up ties with Pakistan and urge the country's ruling generals to crack down on the Haqqani network, an Afghan insurgent group based in Pakistan's tribal areas that Washington is increasingly putting on par with al Qaeda and the Taliban as a threat to the United States.The recent drumbeat of stories about the Haqqanis began when Adm. Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the Haqqanis 'a veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.' Although less frequently mentioned, the Pakistanis are also providing sanctuary to the other main Afghan Taliban group, Taliban leader Mullah Omar's Quetta Shura, based in Baluchistan province to the south. But very little has been written about why the Pakistanis support these groups. What possible motive, after all, could they have for supporting forces that are engaged in a nasty guerrilla war against their ostensible American allies in Afghanistan? The reason is simple: The Pakistanis fear that if these Taliban forces are defeated, the United States will abandon the country, leaving behind what they believe will be a hostile Afghan government allied to their mortal enemy, India. And if Clinton fails to understand this dynamic, the latest bid to salvage what's left of U.S.-Pakistani ties will end in failure." (ForeignPolicy)


"Congressional conservatives are beginning to send a subtle but clear message about the Republican presidential nomination: If it’s Mitt Romney, they’ll get in line. In fact, some are now clambering to get there first. That’s a different tone than four years ago, when Romney’s candidacy was doomed by a record that includes one-time support for abortion rights, backing of partnership agreements for same-sex couples and the government-heavy health care law he passed in Massachusetts. He still faces questions from some Christian conservatives about his Mormon faith and, probably more damaging, about those past policy stances at odds with Republican orthodoxy. But the soft surge for Romney, which is gaining steam on Capitol Hill, comes as Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s flash has jumped into Herman Cain’s pan. The more Romney maintains his course with the environment shifting around him — Perry, Cain and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann all having taken turns as the anti-Romney candidate — the more he seems to be proving to political professionals that he can weather a grueling campaign against Barack Obama." (Politico)


"October through the end of the year are historically busy on the social calendar. NYSD is invited to many events mainly because so many are either commercial or philanthropic and all can use the publicity to get the word out ... It started early in the day: 7:30 am with Registration and Breakfast Buffet at the Rockefeller University Fall Breakfast Forum. The topic: Stem Cells: What These Lifelong Companions Can Teach Us about cancer, Aging, and Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Elaine Fuchs (Ph.D), Rebecca Lancefield Professor and Head of Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development at RU, and host Marc Tessier-Lavigne Ph.D, President of the university. Then, last night: over at the Pierre, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health held its inaugural gala. Public health challenges are emerging as urgent issues with a broad range of economic, social and political impacts. The School is attracting students who want to improve the health of the whole world. Recent Mailman School graduates who attended include Chelsea Clinton and Gail King's daughter Kirby Bumpus. Perri Peltz, the broadcast journalist, was gala co-chair. Perri is both a PhD student and a board member. Her new documentary on women’s health premieres this month on HBO." (NYSocialDiary)


"Last night, the stars gathered at the Lower East Side's lovely Landmark Theatre for the New York showing of Margin Call, a fantastically put-together drama based around one investment bank's bout with the Wall Street economic crisis of 2008. Upon the film's finish, the glamorous crowd migrated from the LES to the West Village's Boom Boom Room atop the Standard Hotel, where a chill and cheery after party was held in the movie's honor. The crowd was indeed set to celebrate -- Stanley Tucci and friends shared drinks in the VIP area, Simon Baker chuckled alongside director JC Chandor, and DJ Casey Coane spun Fleetwood Mac and Amy Winehouse to guests' delight ... On the hotel's roof, the petite Zoe Kravitz swapped stories (and later, a bit of spit) with Penn Badgley ... As we finished our chat with Badgley, we stumbled into the handsome Zachary Quinto, who's frequenting the headlines this week for nonchalantly coming out in an interview. Had Zach checked out Occupy Wall Street, given its perfect timing with the movie? 'I would go, if I felt the message that they clarified did actually resonate with me personally,' Quinto elegantly responded. 'But I'm inspired by their initiation and their purpose.'" (Papermag)

"On Friday afternoon, Chris Hayes was in his new office at 30 Rock, trying to reconcile two sets of data involving U.S. household debt. He wanted to make a chart to use on an upcoming episode of Up With Chris Hayes, his ambitious, month-old MSNBC show, and he had just half an hour before his guest spot on Martin Bashir. On his P.C. screen two fragments of a line graph did not quite meet. If one squinted, though, they fused into squiggle with two spikes, one in 1929, and one in 2007. 'It’s a pretty intensely evocative visual,' Mr. Hayes said, stripping down to a T-shirt and taking a sip of a Diet Snapple. Two months ago, Mr. Hayes was Rachel Maddow’s understudy. Now he’s anchoring his own show. Up With Chris Hayes, a two-hour weekend program, has added a healthy dose of opinion and analysis to lazy Saturday and Sunday mornings, when viewers have a slightly longer attention span than they can muster during prime time. At 32, he is the network’s youngest anchor, and as he hung his button-down shirt on a rack between a heather gray hoodie and a camera-ready blazer, he seemed even younger, like an NBC page getting off work. With black-rimmed glasses, a down-turning mouth and a messy side part, he actually resembles a cross between Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann—as if engineered in a lab in a network subbasement. And he’s every bit as loquacious and encyclopedic as you’d imagine their unholy progeny would be." (Observer)


"Unfortunately for Calvin Klein, there was no Red Bull being served at the Tribeca Grand Hotel last night, where the Cinema Society and DeLeón tequila unveiled Pedro Almódovar's latest, The Skin I Live In, from Sony Pictures Classics. But who needs stimulants when the film is such a shot in the arm? Briefly: Antonio Banderas stars as a twisted doctor who cultivates human skin in his at-home lab. He tests it (among other things) on the flawless Elena Anaya, who may be usurping Cruz as Almodovar's latest muse. (More of her, please, and soon.) It's gorgeous, subversive, perverse, and even a little cheeky—much like the crowd in the screening room. Reed Krakoff nuzzled with wife Delphine as Martha Stewart, Oscar de la Renta, Debbie Harry, Lisa Bonet, and Michael Cunningham (love your latest!) listened patiently as Almodóvar introduced the cast, the crew, his brother, et cetera ... Post-screening, Ingrid Sischy and Sandra Brant embraced their Montauk neighbor, Julian Schabel, before exiting into Tribeca, where the paparazzi awaited a moment with Parker Posey. Guests moseyed over (via taxi and Benz) to The Double Seven, where a coterie of chicsters like Debi Mazar, Patricia Clarkson, and Julian Lennon sidled up to the bar. In case you didn't notice, tequila is the new scotch .." (Fashionweekdaily)

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