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Monday, March 05, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Benjamin Netanyahu, in Washington today, is laying more political groundwork for a possible preemptive Israeli airstrike against Iran’s nuclear sites. But as Netanyahu rallies his American supporters and discourages diplomatic engagement with Tehran, some intelligence officials and Iran experts tell The Daily Beast that an Israeli attack may be exactly what Tehran’s most hard-line leaders have been trying to provoke. Marty Martin, a former senior officer in the CIA, ran the unit that hunted Al Qaeda terrorists from 2002 to 2004. Iran’s most militant leaders 'are goading the Israelis,' he tells The Daily Beast, 'because a bombing will help them put their internal problems aside.' Martin, who spent most of his 25-year career at the CIA in the Middle East, argues that some clerics and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders, confronted with a discontented and restless population, are looking for ways to solidify public support. 'The way they see it, if Israel bombs them it relieves the internal pressure,' says Martin. 'Amid this turmoil, its always good to have an outside enemy.' Iran’s internal troubles include a 12 percent unemployment rate, a shattered economy (due in part to international sanctions), resentment over the oppressive regime, and widespread disgust over corruption. Martin, who retired from the agency in 2007, now works as an independent consultant. He was prominent inside the agency not just for his leadership against Al Qaeda but also for his expertise on the Middle East: his Louisiana drawl disguises the fact that he speaks fluent Arabic. 'If you are an Iranian,' he says, 'there is actually a benefit to an Israel strike—an Israel strike which won't be successful completely militarily, but will be successful for saying 'game on'!'" (Aram Roston/TheDailyBeast)


"When President Obama meets with Benjamin Netanyahu today, one of his goals will be to assure the Israel prime minister that the United States will use force to delay Iran’s nuclear program if the current round of sanctions don’t work. All the while, Netanyahu’s objective will be to avoid having to make a direct commitment to the president not to order his jets to bomb Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Three months ago, speaking at the memorial to Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a speech many Israeli observers considered a window into his own thinking on Iran. In it he described how the vote of Ben-Gurion’s cabinet to declare statehood was very close, with only six in favor and four voting against. Netanyahu asked his audience to imagine if one of the yes votes went the other way. 'He understood full well the decision carried a heavy price, but he believed not making that decision had a heavier price,' Netanyahu said of Israel’s founding father. 'We are all here today because Ben-Gurion made the right decision at the right moment.' The speech made headlines in Israel because it came only a few days after comments from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta suggesting an Israeli strike on Iran would be disastrous." (TheDailyBeast)


"(NYT Joe) Nocera here repeats a common trope that the Republican Party has been distracted by social issues. This was true for all of about two weeks, after three-plus years of relentless focus on the economy, the deficit, taxes, and health care. Nocera actually equates Republican radicalism entirely with social conservatism. But ask yourself: What is this radical social conservative agenda? Well, they want employers to be able to offer health insurance that does not cover contraception, sure. But that’s a mere way station to the larger goal of denying any health care coverage at all to tens of millions of Americans. The GOP has committed itself to a host of radical new economic policy goals that Ronald Reagan never dreamed of. Where are the radical new social goals? (Yes, Republicans still want to overturn Roe v. Wade, but many advanced countries ban abortion; the United States is the only country where basic health care must be earned.) Santorum may be more genuine about his social conservatism than most Republicans in Washington, but his actual program is no more radical than Romney’s, nor any more radical than the party social agenda has been for three decades. But economically, the party has abandoned Keynesianism, adopted hard money policy, and sworn to roll back seven decades of government. For Nocera to identify social conservatism as the locus of the party’s extremism shows just how unshakeable his assumptions are." (Jonathan Chait/NYMag)


"Last Thursday lunchtime, in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza, The American Cancer Society New York held their annual Mother of the Year luncheon. Diana Feldman has a lot to do with this particular event. She’s only one member of the benefit committee (along with Muffie Potter Aston, Somers Farkas, Purdence Inzerillo, Cynthia Lufkin, Gianna Palminteri, Maureen Reidy and Rachel Roy). Mother of the Year is mainly a ladies luncheon, although the men attending are often as interested. One of their greatest accomplishments is raising funding for Hope Lodge -- the facility that’s been created to house where cancer patients and their care givers can stay for free. Since it opened five years ago (November 2007), Hope Lodge has served more than 7500 cancer patients receiving outpatient treatment at our city’s hospital. Guests come from 46 stages and 31 countries. The luncheon is also designed to emphasize raising funds and raising consciousness about treatment, care and research. Diana Feldman lost both her parents and her sister to cancer. She knows what’s important. The luncheon drives that point home in a warm and careful way. Hence: MoY. They raised more than $250,000 and there were more than 270 attending ... Paula Zahn emceed ... When the ACS was started 99 years ago (1913), the survival rate of those diagnosed was 1 in 10. By 1950 it was 1 in 5. Today we are 1 in 2. This year’s honorees the beautiful and young Dr. Diane Reidy-Lagunes, Dr. Emily Sonnenblick, both involved in cancer diagnosis and treatment, and Grace Hightower De Niro. Grace is a friendly and gentle woman, and very popular. She is involved in many charitable causes, either participating or supporting the causes and her friends who work for them. She is also the wife of Robert De Niro, who was there to present her with her award which he did with a charming, sort of casual, but real pride, in his wife." (NYSocialDiary)


"Connecticut, there’s an old, dilapidated building with a leaky roof that once housed a radio station. The building is an odd sight because Greenwich Avenue isn’t your average Main Street: lined with exorbitantly expensive stores, it’s the center of this famously moneyed enclave for New York’s financial elite. But the old radio station is being completely renovated, no expense spared, and in April it will open its doors as a modern yoga studio—and not the kind with stinky incense and smelly bodies, but rather with space, light, and a stylish boutique. The studio will bear the name Jois Yoga, in honor of Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois, an eminent yoga teacher whose many students called him Guruji, and whose death on May 18, 2009, occasioned lengthy obituaries in such important newspapers as The New York Times and London’s Guardian. The money behind the new studio comes from Sonia Tudor Jones, whose husband, 57-year-old Paul Tudor Jones II, runs the multi-billion-dollar hedge-fund empire Tudor Investment Corp. Tudor is one of the oldest and most respected hedge funds—its flagship fund, Tudor BVI Global, has averaged annual gains of 21 percent over its 25-year history, according to The Wall Street Journal—and while very little about it is public, Forbes has estimated Paul Tudor Jones’s net worth at $3.2 billion ... Sonia feels that yoga has given her not just her health, but her life. 'I got married so young and didn’t have my own life,' she says. 'Now I’m coming into my own.' But Sonia’s involvement with Guruji’s heirs and their attempt to codify his teachings into something called Jois Yoga has created a current of unease and distress in the close-knit community of Ashtanga teachers, although few are expressing this openly, whether out of loyalty to Guruji’s memory, fear of the future, or hope that it will just go away. 'People are talking about it quietly, but quietly loudly,' as one teacher puts it. Many Ashtanga teachers have not just their livelihoods but their very existence tied up in the practice, and Jois Yoga, which from the outside can seem like one part Lululemon (the hugely successful line of high-end yoga clothing) and one part Yogaworks (the California-based chain of yoga studios), is a challenge to all of that. It feels like a commercial enterprise—or worse." (VanityFair)


"Diane von Furstenberg is set to be a grandmother again. We hear Ali Kay, fiancée of her son Alexander von Furstenberg, is expecting their first child and is about three months along. Ali has been a face of DVF’s brand and Diane told Page Six Magazine in 2010, 'In a lot of ways, I see A.K. in me.' She added, 'My business is a family business. I hope my grandchildren will take over . . . They can start interning soon. It’s in their genes.' Diane already has three grandchildren." (PageSix)


"'Normal' is a contested word in fashion. Are the space-seductress suits and psychedelic sweatshirts that have marched down the runways this week normal? Maybe not. But as Dasha Zhukova, editirix of the recently launched Garage, put it, part of the fashion pro's job is to 'redefine what 'normal' is.' So maybe a small party for friends isn't normally the sort that draws two generations of Pinaults (father François and son François-Henri, with wife Salma Hayek); runway stalwarts like Lily Donaldson, Karlie Kloss, and Arizona Muse; just about every editor in fashion's galaxy; designers like Gareth Pugh and Miuccia Prada; and the legendary Jean-Paul Goude. At Garage's cocktail in Paris last night, reality was redefined. Welcome to Dasha's New Normal." (Style)

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