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Monday, December 12, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The last decade has been marked by the rise of the Shiites in the Middle East. Through the bullet and the ballot box, Shiite parties have risen to power from Baghdad to Beirut -- thereby extending Iran's reach into the heart of the Arab world. Sunni rulers have viewed with much anxiety the new "Shiite crescent" that extends from Iran all the way to Lebanon. But as a popular -- and now military -- uprising in Syria becomes more powerful, the Shiite ascendancy is coming to an end. With every day that passes, President Bashar al-Assad's grip on power seems to weaken: The United Nations assessedon Nov. 1 that Syria had entered a state of civil war and the country's economy is projected to contract by a disastrous 12 percent to 20 percent this year. And now, the regional Sunni powers are hoping to exploit the turmoil to launch a counteroffensive that could reverse their losses. Shiite empowerment in the Middle East began with the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, which had the perfectly predictable effect of strengthening Iran -- not only its ruling theocracy as such, but also its hegemony over "Twelver" Shiites across the Arab world. In Iraq, most importantly, the Shiites have long outnumbered the Sunnis, but were marginalized and persecuted by the Ottoman Empire and then by all subsequent Arab regimes, down to the initially secular Saddam Hussein, who became a Sunni paladin after launching his war against Iran in 1980. Today by contrast, the U.S.-imposed democratic system virtually guarantees a Shiite-dominated government, with a natural affinity for the fellow Shiites of Iran." (Ed Luttwak/ForeignPolicy)



"This week begins the extraordinary auction of the Elizabeth Taylor Collection at Christie’s. NYSD readers may have seen my diary last week about lunching with Ward Landrigan of Verdura and talking about Miss Taylor’s jewels. Ward began his career working for Sotheby’s in the jewelry department in the late 1960s. He personally dealt with the star on the purchase of three major pieces in her collection – including the Krupp Diamond that she acquired in 1968 for a then record price of $305,000, as well as the 68 carat diamond ring that’s she acquired indirectly at auction in 1972. The third important piece that Ward was associated with and which is going up for auction this week at Christie’s was the La Peregrina Pearl which the Burtons purchased in 1969 at auction at Sotheby’s for $37,000. The pearl itself, which is the 15th largest saltwater pearl in the world, and whose name is translated as 'the Pilgrim' or 'the Wanderer,' was discovered by an African slave sometime in the early to mid-16th century off the small island of Santa Margarita, one of the pearl islands in the Gulf of Panama." (NYSocialDiary)



"A major editorial expansion is in the works at BuzzFeed, the viral content aggregator best known for its panda slideshows, and it will be led by an unlikely figure. Ben Smith, Politico senior writer and longtime New York politics reporter, has been named editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, the company announced today. According to the release, Mr. Smith will help the site get into the business of original editorial content, hiring new reporters and launching new content sections. BuzzFeed’s content sections are currently limited to 'lol', 'cute', 'win', 'fail', 'omg', 'geeky', 'trashy', and 'wtf?'. The site recently snagged two writers from Gawker Media, Jezebel’s Whitney Jefferson and Gawker’s Matt Cherette. There are whispers of a redesign early next year. 'Social media is what moves a story,' Mr. Smith said in the announcement." (Observer)


"If two's a trend, then holy cow. Ben Smith is leaving Politico for Buzzfeed and Don Van Natta is leaving the Times for ESPN (after 16 years!). (Bonus: from just the other day, here is a Ben Smith blog post about Don Van Natta.) This means a thing, and it's different from recent hires like 'Tina Brown offering people oodles of money' or 'Bloomberg View offering people oodles of money,' but I can't put my finger on just what. In part, it's that there's no longer what was once so clearly a' pyramid' of desirable media jobs, with the Times right on top like the eye on the pyramid. (Ben could have gone to work for the Times years and years ago, if he'd wanted to; Don found it not necessary to carry on there.) " (Choire Sicha)


"Tod's boutique on Madison Avenue was bustling with a flurry of femmes Tuesday for a petite luncheon feting Julianne Moore's third kiddie tome, Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever. While the flame-haired actress, garbed in head-to-toe Derek Lam, manned the signing table front and center, hosts Cristina Cuomo, Melanie Charlton Fascitelli, Celerie Kemble, Lauren Santo Domingo, and Tod's creative director Derek Lam sipped steaming cinnamon apple cider and mingled with an haute crowd, including Sally Singer, Robbie Myers, Adelina Wong Ettelson, Olivia Chantecaille, Mia Moretti, Carey Lowell, Lucy Sykes, and Jamie Tisch. On the menu? Tiny potato with caviar and crème fraiche, chilled lobster with tomato basil ‘cocktail’ sauce on brioche toast, beef carpaccio on fennel flatbread crisps with truffle oil, strawberry buttercream macarons, cheesecake brownies, and bite-size lemon squares." (Fashionweekaily)

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