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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The ongoing unrest, violence and security crackdowns in Syria have been the subject of major international attention since February. Our current assessment is that the government and opposition forces have reached a stalemate in which the government cannot quell the unrest and the opposition cannot bring down the regime without outside intervention. In the Dec. 8 Security Weekly, we discussed the covert intelligence war being waged by the United States, Israel and other U.S. allies against Iran. Their efforts are directed not only against Tehran’s nuclear program but also against Iran’s ability to establish an arc of influence that stretches through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. To that end, the United States and its allies are trying to limit Iran’s influence in Iraq and to constrain Hezbollah in Lebanon. But apparently they are also exploring ways to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al Assad, a longtime ally of Iran whose position is in danger due to the current unrest in the country. In fact, a U.S. State Department official recently characterized the al Assad regime as a 'dead man walking.' We therefore would like to examine more closely the potential external efforts required to topple the Syrian regime. In doing so, we will examine the types of tools that are available to external forces seeking to overthrow governments and where those tools fit within the force continuum, an array of activities ranging from clandestine, deniable activities to all-out invasion. We will also discuss some of the indicators that can be used by outside observers seeking to understand any efforts taken against the Syrian regime." (STRATFOR)



"Wednesday at Michael’s which was looking extra splendid in the holiday spirit with it pine swags, ribbons and poinsettia blossoms. Big crowd; a thorough cross-section of NewYorkNewYork (if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere) from society to Wall Street, to film and television, to press and publishing; diplomats, bankers, philanthropists, PR mavens, writers, editors, politicos and bling-masters. The social/philanthropy/arts ladies – Muffie Potter Aston, CeCe Cord, Becca Thrash at one table. Kim (Mrs. Michael) McCarty at Table One in the bay throwing a holiday lunch for Amy Fine Collins, Pat Shea, Desiree Gruber, Janet Goldsmith, Pamela Hansen. Right next door: Emily Smith, Ms. Page Six. Nearby, Blackstone co-founder Pete Peterson. Next door, Glamour Magazine’s Cindi Leive. Next door to me: Charles Stevenson with his eldest daughter Josie who runs the marketing department of a major hedge fund. Next to them: Paige Peterson (former daughter-in-law of the aforementioned Pete) with her son Peter Cary Peterson. Moving around the room MediaBistro’s own Brenda Starr Diane Clehane with uber-television producer Joan Gelman; Steve Rattner; Harold Ford Jr.; Robert Verdi with Cindy Lewis, Judy Licht, Nancy Hodin; Tony Hoyt; Star Jones and Donny Deutsch and Nancy Snyderman with Marc Victor of the Today Show ..." (NYSocialDiary)


"And now we get to prematurely place behind us another quite troubling incident in our recent history. Secret prisons? Eh, let's forget about those. Torture? Let's just move on. A incredible transformation of huge chunks of the military into a privately contracted mercenary army? La la la la la! Years and years of National Guard reservists being unexpectedly called up for active duty in Iraq? Oh well! Thousands of soldiers having had their service contracts forcibly extended, creating a stop-lossed conscription army, under a policy that somehow no judge would find illegal? Sorry guys and gals! (And sorry families of dead guys and gals.) Operation New Dawn: the war we had after the war? Deadly. A decade of a wildly, wildly, crushingly expensive invasion, that involved more than a million Americans in combat, and the occupation of a country under false pretenses? Let's just agree to not talk about it anymore. The CNN crawl says 'Ceremony Ends Nine Years of Conflict,' which isn't actually what happened either: we actually didn't have a 'conflict.'" (Choire Sicha)



"Jay-Z is Ron Burkle’s new flavor of the month. Sources say the billionaire investor is interested in producing “massive music festivals” similar to Coachella, but internationally, and has been courting the rapper/mogul, who could be one of his biggest acts. We hear Burkle’s also talking to him about tech ventures and the Web business, which Jay-Z has shown interest in since he launched the site 'Life + Times' in April. Burkle hosted a bash for Jay-Z after his 'Watch the Throne' show at the Staples Center in LA Tuesday night. The party was glittered with models and boldfaces including BeyoncĂ©, Drake and Lukas Haas. The Democratic donor and estranged friend of Bill Clinton has been known to invest in his celebrity pals including Diddy, whom he reportedly gave $100 million for his Sean John line. Burkle’s rep said, 'I can’t deny we’re looking into that type of business. It isn’t necessarily producing [festivals] but you’re close. We’re making an investment that hasn’t really closed yet. He hasn’t talked to Jay about it. He’s just friends with these guys.'" (PageSix)



"'One-percenters,' collectors, dealers, artists, rappers, socialites, hangers-on, would-bes, princesses, archduchesses, moguls, editors, reporters, photographers, bloggers, fashionistas, athletes, rock stars, drag queens, museum directors, museum board members, designers, architects, former Warhol superstars, people holding O.B.E.’s, and celebrity look-alikes—it takes all kinds to complete the complex web of art that makes up the insane five-day bacchanalia called Art Basel Miami Beach. Commemorating A.B.M.B.’s 10th year of existence, all of the above (and those who can’t be categorized quite so neatly) were there to celebrate. And celebrate they did. It might well be renamed: 'F.B.A.B.M.B.: Free Beverages Art Basel Miami Beach,' as there was little shortage of art-free institutions that gave parties, such as Dior (which got Anselm Reyle to design a purse), Pringle of Scotland (which engaged Liam Gillick to do a line of accessories), and even Ferrari (who engaged video artist Marco Brambilla to make a 3-D film entitled 'RPM'). Corporate art-grifting was the order of the day in Miami Beach. All those and more made desperate, heavy overtures to graft onto anything and anyone remotely connected to those flocking to Miami for A.B.M.B." (VanityFair)

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