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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"After British Prime Minister David Cameron, who visits Washington this week for consultations at the White House, and U.S. President Barack Obama ultimately leave office, it is unlikely you'll find the two of them vacationing together. While the Tory PM and his American counterpart have developed a comfortable working relationship that is actually somewhat warmer than many had predicted given the political distance between the two, these guys aren't pals. But Cameron shouldn't dwell on it. Obama doesn't have a lot of pals among the members of the world's leadership club. Obama doesn't dream up clever nicknames for his international buddies, as George W. Bush did. The PM will never be 'the Cameronator' or 'Mr. Horses and Hounds' in this White House. Nor should he expect the kind of late-night phone calls from Bubba that were a hallmark of the Bill Clinton era and made the Clinton-Blair relationship such a close partnership. And the kind of soul-mate, connected-at-the-heart-by-a-Laffer-curve, mind-meld of the Reagan-Thatcher years is out of the question. At issue is whether Obama's cool is an impediment -- or an asset. Although he is, to use a term favored by my daughters' kindergarten teachers,''slow to warm,' he is also famously even-keeled in the face of pressure or difficult circumstances. He hasn't much liked the lecturing and condescension of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but he manages his emotions well and, I'm told, it is only after the pedantic, arrogant Israeli prime minister leaves the room that Obama feels free to express his emotions to some of his very small circle of close colleagues. ('No drama' caricatures aside, Obama has certainly shown his inner circle that behind the scenes he is frequently capable of losing his temper and, more frequently, of sharply communicating his displeasure with staffers who frustrate him with lack of preparation or an inclination to try to draw him into their petty agency politics.)" (ForeignPolicy)


"The unflappable Ugandan driving the militia truck wears a torn white pro-life T-shirt emblazoned with a picture of a fetus, a gift from (Sam) Childers. Most members of his militia are born-again Christians whom Childers has baptized himself. Childers switches from Christian rock to Aerosmith’s 'Livin’ on the Edge,' turning up the volume. He’s getting close to his prey. 'Let’s do this,' he says. To remove the L.R.A.’s cover, villagers have set fire to the elephant grass on either side of the road. Behind us, the past disappears in a cloud of dust. Ahead, the headlights peer down a fiery tunnel. Sergeant Deng, in the passenger seat, turns around to me and says, 'God’s assassins.' Sam Childers is known in these parts, and back home in Pennsylvania, simply as the Reverend Sam. He is not your typical evangelical Christian missionary, nor, as a white American, is he your typical African warlord. Childers is a former drug dealer and outlaw biker, with tired eyes framed by grizzly muttonchops and a walrus mustache. He claims divine justification for what he does. In firefights, he says, God sometimes tells him when to shoot. He speaks country-singer American, with plenty of grit, and he recounts, over and over, the same stories from his bar-brawling days. He lifts weights, favors army fatigues, and keeps a .44 Magnum tucked in the small of his back. Harley tattoos stretch down his thick arms, and 'Freedom Fighter' is airbrushed on the back of his truck. He once owned 15 pit bulls. He seems suited more to bending steel in a motorcycle shop than to saving souls in Sudanese villages. In 1992, Childers was born again, having promised his wife he would come to Jesus if God granted them a child. A child was born. Leaving behind a life of drugs and crime, Childers set up a hardscrabble church in rural Pennsylvania. In 1998 he used his meager savings to take his first missionary trip to Sudan. He ended up near the border with Uganda, where a complicated and bloody conflict—one of Africa’s so-called forgotten wars—has been raging since 1987. At the center of the fighting is the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerrilla group led by a Ugandan named Joseph Kony. The L.R.A.’s stated goal is to overthrow the Ugandan government and install a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments. That effort has entailed systematically ignoring at least one of the commandments, Thou Shalt Not Kill." (Vanity Fair)


"I’ll never forget the first piece of advice ever given to me by Patrick McMullan. 'Don’t get photographed while doing high-kicks on a stripper pole,' he admonished while snapping pics of me doing my best impression of a 'sexy lady,' a la Liz Lemon. 'But I’m having fun!' I whined as I made another one-legged hop around the pole at The Box. Besides, I was having my photo taken by New York’s premier nightlife photographer, so I must have finally been doing something right. I’ve even been considering handing over my Bat Mitzvah photos for Mr. McMullan to slap up on his site, since as everyone knows, the number of images of a person on Patrickmcmullan.com precisely reflects their social status, emotional well-being and innate value as a member of the human race. (I had 3.)
It’s even better if you can actually have your moniker appear in the caption, instead of the haunting '?' symbol reserved for the smiling no-names. (Double points if the spelling’s right.) Ben Widdicombe even deemed the man a verb in an article for The New York Times last year: 'To Patrick’ somebody means to look them up on the Web site of Patrick McMullan, the ubiquitous society photographer,' he wrote. 'It’s part social networking, part Social Register.' I had begged Mr. McMullan to tell me his secrets—when does he click the shutter, and when does he give his index finger the moment off?—and he’d agreed to tutor me for a week, which was a little like having the world’s best sensai agree to train you in the art of whatever they did with those swords in Kill Bill. It would not be easy; in fact, it would be some of the hardest physical and mental labor I’d undertaken in awhile, though complaining to friends about having to schlep to yet another gala or $1,500-a-plate dinner earned me little sympathy." (Drew Grant/Observer)


"Yesterday in New York it got a little colder toward late afternoon. I wasn’t back at my apartment until three-thirty but I wanted to get a few pictures of the neighborhood for this post. It didn’t “feel” like the first day of Spring, incidentally, but the day seemed liked Spring, if you catch my drift. Spring is when those pears first start to show their green and there’s a fresh nip in the morning air. Then you know you’re in for nature’s extravaganza up and down the streets and avenues of brick and mortar, glass, wood, limestone and cement, macadam, canyons small and large.  I wanted to get a shot of the first signs of Spring. The Promenade was very busy with children and dozens of carriages with the mothers, the 'nannies,' people with their dogs, runners; some getting some natural Vitamin D. There were a lot of kids on the courts, and in the children’s playground. The swings were full. There is either forsythia or witch hazel on bushes about to bloom. I won’t be certain until it’s happened. There are two dog runs – one of the small and one for the big – just across the way from each other." (NYSocialDiary)


"Israeli President Shimon Peres mixed with Silicon Valley and Hollywood elite on his West Coast trip, including visits to Facebook’s headquarters and DreamWorks Animation. To soak up the scene in LA, Peres attended a private dinner Thursday at Soho House, which was hosted by former WME agent and current FactoryMade Ventures CEO John Fogelman. 'After meeting with Mark Zuckerberg, Peres wanted to do something really LA,' said a source. 'So they took him to dinner at Soho House.' On Saturday, Peres and Fogelman attended a Beverly Hilton brunch for Children United. Peres later headed to a CAA-hosted Q&A and reception with Bill Maher. At a Beverly Hills Bouchon Bistro dinner afterward, 15 Israeli security agents loomed. 'They were not discreet in any way,' said a Bistro rep. 'They roamed the restaurant throughout the dinner, constantly combing.' Peres’ dinner party of 14, meanwhile, ordered a plate of oysters and shrimp for the table. No word if Peres kept kosher." (PageSix)



"Hillary Clinton and 'Iron Lady' Oscar winner Meryl Streep bonded over a private dinner at the actress’ TriBeCa apartment Saturday night. Witnesses said the lobby was swarmed with Secret Service officers as the secretary of state headed up to Streep’s penthouse. Earlier in the evening, the pair had shared the stage at the Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center. Streep — who whipped out her latest Oscar and said, 'This is what you get when you play a world leader' — introduced Clinton, who in turn quipped she was relieved that Streep 'didn’t do a movie called ‘The Devil Wears Pantsuits’' before moving onto more serious matters, urging women to be 'fearless' and 'audacious.'" (PageSix)


"The Obama administration is stepping up pressure on China to loosen export restrictions on rare-earth minerals critical to the production of high-tech goods. President Obama announced Tuesday the U.S. would file a case in the World Trade Organization along with the European Union and Japan requesting talks with China over its export controls. The request for talks is the first formal step in a WTO legal case. 'If China would simply let the market work on its own we'd have no objections, but their policies, currently, are preventing that from happening and that goes against the very rules that China agreed to follow,' Obama said during a press conference in the Rose Garden.The rare-earth minerals are critical to producing high-tech and manufacturing products, and U.S. business groups have long complained of Chinese restrictions on their export. China produces 95 percent of the world's rare-earth minerals and it has reduced exports as demand has risen within its borders — a move U.S. officials deem unfair.The president said in the scheme of the nation's energy industry the restriction on rare-earth minerals is 'too important for us to stand by and do nothing.' 'We have to take control of our energy future and we can't let that energy industry take root in some other country because they were allowed to break the rules,' he said. While China-bashing is common during an election year, a senior administration official insisted Tuesday the timing of the WTO filing had nothing to do with the presidential election. The official said there was a need to bring the case, and noted the involvement of the European Union and Japan to buttress the point." (TheHill)

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