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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"There has been a lot of talk in the press lately about a 'cold war' being waged by the United States, Israel and other U.S. allies against Iran. Such a struggle is certainly taking place, but in order to place recent developments in perspective, it is important to recognize that the covert intelligence war against Iran (and the Iranian response to this war) is clearly not a new phenomenon. Indeed, STRATFOR has been chronicling this struggle since early 2007. Our coverage has included analyses of events such as the defection to the West of Iranian officials with knowledge of Tehran’s nuclear program; the Iranian seizure of British servicemen in the Shatt al Arab Waterway; the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists; the use of the Stuxnet worm to cripple Iranian uranium enrichment efforts; and Iranian efforts to arm its proxies and use them as a threat to counteract Western pressure. These proxies are most visible in Iraq and Lebanon, but they also exist in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. While the covert intelligence war has been under way for many years, the tempo of events that can readily be identified as part of it has been increasing over the past few months. It is important to note that many of these events are the result of hidden processes begun months or even years previously, so while visible events may indeed be increasing, the efforts responsible for many of them began to increase much earlier." (STRATFOR)

"The Wednesday lunch at Michael’s was weatherproof. Table One was all girls celebrating the appointment of Janine Gibson as the new US Editor of The Guardian. Jolie Hunt of Reuters hosted the table of ten who included Gillian Tett, US editor of the FT, Binky Urban, Maurie Perl. Around the room: Henry Schleiff with HBO’s Richard Plepler; next door, Henry Kravis; next door to him Freddie Gershon; moving right along, Stan Shuman; Jim Abernathy, Harry LeFrak; Gerry Byrne; Fredi Friedman with her daughter Vanessa, the fashion editor of the FT; Linda Buckley of Tiffany with Harry Benson, whose new book was the reason for the big Tiffany party the night before; Catherine Saxton with Donna Soloway; Sherrie Westin; Bonnie Fuller with Jonathan Cheban; Desiree Gruber (Mrs. Kyle Maclachlan); Ed Adler with John Huey; Mark Simone; Mort Hamburg; Simone Levinson; Diane Clehane with Judith Orr, and I was lunching with Christina Haag author of 'Come to the Edge,' a memoir about her five year romance with John Kennedy Jr. when they were in their 20s." (NYSocialDiary)


"This is not a 'best of 2011' music list. I didn’t hear or read or see all the music this year. Did you? Perhaps after consulting with a suitably large staff, a publication could reasonably claim to draw a box around, say, the best music of the year. I tend to count myself rarely satisfied with these attempts, though, even if I'm consulted. How about you? No, don’t even start, as I’ve seen every single one of you beefing on Twitter about a subjective list. You weren’t wrong to do so! Lists are always wrong. It’s a part of their power, this axiomatic guarantee of failure. A list might 'start a discussion' or draw clicks (not the same thing), but it’s always gonna anger. Even should it focus narrowly on a single genre, the better to claim total knowledge, it’ll fail, because yup: a judicious myopia rankles, too. Now: at this point, if you like, you could just jump straight to go listen to this promised music. But it's interesting how frequently we continue to make and read lists. I’ve set all mine, for music at least, already. The aggregate sorting and assessing included decisions about classical albums I was asked to nominate for one publication, choices for a nationwide jazz-critics’ poll that’s due in the morning, some hip-hop entries for another spot. I couldn’t really make the list for one genre without figuring out how I felt about everything. Excuse me: 'everything I heard this year.' See what I did there?" (TheAwl)


"Perhaps you’ve heard that there were parties in Miami last week, rounds upon rounds of antic festivities surrounding the annual Art Basel Miami Beach fair. Perhaps your friend or lover returned home with war stories, aching limbs and a tan. By Friday night a ghoulish element had flitted onto the stage, women limping from soiree to soiree bearing blisters on their feet and stamps on their wrists denoting entry or re-entry to some ear-splitting rave or VIP den, looking for all the world as though they’d been crucified. The hotels along Collins—the Raleigh, the Delano, the Shore Club, the Sagamore, the W, the Shelborne, Soho House—were the seven terraces of Dante’s hell, their entrances heaving with lines of would-be revelers. How could there be so many lost souls and why had they come? It couldn’t be art. Not in these outfits. But that might have been hunger talking. The past four evenings we’d drifted wraithlike from dinner to dinner, too busy reporting to eat, then nearly passed out at the Rubell Collection one morning because we thought there’d be breakfast but there was instead a food performance and we couldn’t wait for women in white lab coats to give us a baby food jar full of yogurt, and an employee had to take us behind the front desk and feed us a doughnut 'from the back' before we lost consciousness. Friday night we headed to the W Hotel, where P Diddy was to be on hand along with young art dealer Andy Valmorbida, to celebrate a book by Raphael Mazzucco called Culo, devoted to photographs of women’s asses." (GalleristNY)
"If it seems as though the past week’s events in Europe are unfolding like a well-choreographed dance ahead of a two-day summit starting today, they are. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi called the tune by hinting on Dec. 1 that he might do more to fight Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis if the euro area agreed to a new fiscal compact. Within days, Italy’s Cabinet, led by Mario Monti, the new technocratic prime minister, proposed painful budget cuts to tame the country’s debt. The next day, the German and French leaders, in a trademark pas de deux, agreed on strict procedures to deal with fiscal sinners that all 17 members of the currency bloc would have to adopt. Yesterday, officials discussed how to beef up a rescue fund that would spring into action in 2012, a year earlier than planned. The ECB took action today by cutting its benchmark interest rate by a quarter point to 1 percent, matching a record low.  By the time the heads of state depart Brussels tomorrow, they hope to have agreement, at least among the currency bloc’s leaders, on measures aimed at convincing baying markets that the debt crisis is finally under control. Their latest plan will probably include a closer fiscal union overseen by a supranational body of technocrats and automatic sanctions for countries that breach the rules -- annual deficits below 3 percent of gross domestic product and total debt below 60 percent of GDP. Draghi, we hope, will cap it all off by making good on his quid pro quo offer with central bank bond purchases or guarantees.  There’s one crucial step they mustn’t overlook: Euro-area countries will need to put treaty changes to parliamentary and popular votes, and that means they’ll have to convince both the rescued and the rescuers that the package is a good deal. To that end, the premiers should go into their meetings with a list of principles for winning over grass-roots support." (BloombergView)

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