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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Did last year's triumph in Libya help stymie efforts to forge an international consensus on Syria?
Some of you will have already seen FP colleagues Marc and Colum Lynch's excellent posts bemoaning the U.N. Security Council's inability to pass a resolution addressing the continuing violence on Syria. The proximate cause was a joint Russian and Chinese veto of the proposed resolution, ostensibly on the grounds that it was one-sided. I think Marc is right to say that this lapse weakens the authority and legitimacy of the Security Council (SC). I place less weight on the SC than some commentators do, but even I don't think a weak and discredited SC is a good thing. I also agree that this development increases the danger of a prolonged conflict in Syria, and maybe even an internationalized civil war there. There are a number of reasons why the U.N. effort has failed thus far, but part of the blame lies with the liberal interventionists who abused the Security Council's mandate during last year's intervention in Libya. You'll recall that UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorized military action in Libya to protect civilians. The resolution was directly inspired by the fear that Qaddafi loyalists laying siege to the rebel town of Benghazi were about to conduct some sort of massacre there. In response, Res. 1973 authorized member states 'take all necessary measures…to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.' France, the United States and other foreign powers quickly went beyond this mandate, using airpower and other forms of assistance to help the rebels defeat Muammar Qaddafi's forces and oust him from power. One can argue that this was the right course of action anyway, because getting rid of a thug like Qaddafi was worth it." (ForeignPolicy)


"As the Russian protest movement expands and radicalizes in the lead-up to the March 4 presidential election, the key question is not whether Vladimir Putin -- and Putinism-- will survive. They will not. Apart from its so obviously dysfunctional political system, Russia is facing growing problems of enormous complexity -- economic, social, demographic, ethnic -- that are impossible to solve within the rigid confines of neo-authoritarian 'sovereign democracy' (which, as my Russian friends like to point out, is as to 'democracy' as 'electric chair' is to 'chair'). Inextricably tied to Putinism, corruption, which is likely the worst in Russia's long history, is reaching the level of paralyzing key economic and social institutions. There is also a kind of historical inevitability here. Indeed, the dynamics of Russia's latest breakthrough to post-authoritarian democratization appear to be very similar to the ones that drove Southern Europe (Greece, Portugal, and Spain) in the 1970s and the Asian tigers (South Korea, Taiwan) in the 1980s. And after a period of record economic performance, a hugely expanded global middle class is no longer content to enjoy unprecedented personal freedom and prosperity -- its members want political liberty and a say in governing their countries. This is where Russia finds itself today." (ForeignPolicy)


"Last night at my favorite neighborhood bookstore, Archivia, there was a dual booksigning – Ali Wentworth, the actress/writer/comedienne, and Michael Smith the famous West Coast interior designer who has a big presence in private residences all over the world. Ali’s book is 'Ali in Wonderland; And Other Tall Tales.' They’re personal. In real life she’s married to George Stephanopoulos with whom she has two daughters. I’ve never met her before. I’ve heard about her, seen pictures of her, never saw her perform. She looks like your standard blonde Upper East Side young mother and charity woman. Okay, writer too. I mean she looks very contemporary and of a certain socio-economic set. However, I saw last night just in that brief session taking pictures of her and Michael Smith, that she’s a natural born comedienne. I bet her mother knew it by the time she was three. The bookcover has a blurb by Jerry Seinfeld who I presume is a friend of Ali and her husband: 'Everything that comes out of Ali’s mouth is funny.'" (NYSocialDiary)


"Rick Santorum, eager to show that he will stand up for Catholic values, has been saying things about the recent Health and Human Services regulation that now requires Catholic universities and hospitals to provide access to contraception and the morning-after pill. Santorum has accused the Obama administration of being "hostile to people of faith, particularly Christians and specifically Catholics.' He's even gone so far as to vow that he 'will make it an issue every day of this campaign,' until the Obama administration reinstates conscience protections. Santorum has also spoken up forcefully against same-sex marriage, which the Pope has—yes, again—recently condemned (in some really extreme terms, too). Santorum further complained that '[The current administration] are folks who are trying to use their power to force people to do things that they believe they should do and are right. They don’t care about their religion.' But you know who does care about religion? Rick Santorum! In fact, let's take a look at how most of Rick Santorum's stated political views are truly representative of the Catholic Church and Catholic voters!" (TheAwl)


"At noontime JH and I were shepherded across the 59th Street Bridge to Long Island City to a large warehouse, a food rescue facility that has been recently opened by City Harvest. If you’re a regular reader of the NYSD, you know about City Harvest. If you don’t/aren’t, City Harvest is an organization that collects food that has not been used/consumed/touched and re-distributes it all over New York to its 'agencies' which are mainly food pantries and food kitchens. It is a lifesaver and elevates all who participate including its clients/neighbors who receive their bounty. I first learned about it in the early 90s from my friend Joy Ingham who has been an active supporter for years. It was started in 1982 by a woman who had been a volunteer in soup kitchens. There was a culinary fad at the time where potato skins were very popular, baked without the potato and garnished with various things (like bacon bits, etc.). This woman realized that a lot of potatoes were going to waste, and she knew a place that could use them -- namely the kitchen she was volunteering in. So she asked a restaurant nearby if they would save the potatoes for her. And they did. And so it began ... Joy and Gillian Miniter and Susan Fales-Hill were our hostesses. This warehouse is a first. Before they were moving 83,000 pounds of food a day with the help of a small 3000 square foot rental space. Now they have moved into a 45,400 square foot facility and are moving 100,000 pounds of food a day. The facility also contains a 5,300 square foot cooler so they can accept more dairy and a greater variety of produce. They project that in the coming years, they will be able to rescue and deliver 60 million pounds of food a year." (NYSocialDiary)


"It looks like ABC News anchor Barbara Walters is planning a profile on graffiti artists David Choe. Choe famously took Facebook stock in lieu of cash when he decorated the social networking site’s office back in 2005. That stock is now worth more than $200 million. Walters posted photos on her Facebook page of her and Choe on the streets, with Choe spray-painting the words 'Babs, don’t make me cry' on a wall and, uh, Walters herself (see right). BABS-1, as Choe refers to her on his Facebook page, even tagged some wall herself, as this picture shows. Update: The interview will run Thursday on 'Good Morning America' and 'Nightline.'" (TVNewser)

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