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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The Guardian appears to have come across a major scoop: a cache of 3,000 emails written by Syrian regime insiders, including President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma. The e-mails were reportedly leaked to a Syrian opposition group by'"a mole in the president's inner circle,' and many of them were verified to the Guardian by a number of people whose emails appear in the cache. The emails also include information-- family photographs, Assad's identity card, and a family member's birth certificate -- that would be difficult to fake. The emails paint a picture of a Syrian leadership that is more bumbling and oblivious than villainous: On the day after the Syrian military began shelling the city of Homs, for example, Bashar sent Asma a video of country crooner Blake Shelton's song God Gave Me You. A look at the president's iTunes purchases also shows that he purchased the iPad game Real Racing 2 in February and is a fan of American singer Chris Brown. The Assads also apparently communicate in an informal English rather than Arabic. In one email, Asma, to express her detail that Assad said he would be home at 5 p.m., writes: 'This is the best reform any country can have that u told me where will you be,we are going to adopt it instead of the rubbish laws of parties, elections, media...' The e-mails also provide hints of Iranian involvement in the efforts to suppress the uprising that has threatened Assad's rule for the past year. At one point, a media advisor provides Assad with a long memo ahead of a speech in December, saying that the points covered had been cased on consultations with 'the media and political adviser for the Iranian ambassador.' The same memo urges Assad to employ 'powerful and violent' language to attack foreign influence on Syrian affairs." (ForeignPolicy)


"Rick Santorum’s victories in Alabama and Mississippi prolonged the Republican primary contest yet again, all but destroyed Newt Gingrich’s continuing claim to a credible candidacy, and relegated Mitt Romney to an embarrassing third-place finish in states where he had seemed to be gaining ground. But Santorum’s Deep South exacta did nothing to alter the ironclad reality that whichever Republican ultimately gains the nomination, he will beat Barack Obama in Mississippi and Alabama in the fall—just as any Republican would beat any Democratic presidential candidate that fate might devise in those two states as far into the future as the clearest crystal ball can see. 'You really shouldn’t look for any soon turnaround,' said Hodding Carter III, the veteran Mississippi journalist and Democratic activist, reflecting on an entrenched trend now nearly 50 years old. 'The reason is that there’s just no base on which to build. Increasingly, the political structure at all levels is dominated by Republicans, with one officer-holder who’s black—a Democratic congressman in some district or another.' Jimmy Carter, from neighboring Georgia, was the last Democrat to win Alabama and Mississippi, in 1976, and that had 'more to do with who was still alive among whites' than with any other factors, said Hodding Carter, who edited his family’s newspaper in Greenville, Mississippi, before becoming President Carter’s State Department spokesman. 'In Carter’s instance, you still had at least a carryover of people who remembered why they had been Democrats for economic reasons, who were old-fashioned, mostly hill-country people who were never going to get right on race—in the sense of voting for somebody instead of against somebody—but who were enough traditional Democrats, as the saying went, that ‘My granddaddy would turn over in his grave if I voted Republican.’" (VanityFair)


"The New York Observer is sitting at Hooters,in one of the establishment’s 'finest booths' (our request), daintily sipping a Banana-Rama piƱa colata, and watching Vice‘s notorious co-founder Gavin McInnes imploding ... In order to explain The New York Observer‘s long con on Mr. McInnes, you have to know a little bit about his personal history. The Canadian-born 42-year-old is probably best known for his Do’s and Don’ts column in the early days of Vice magazine, which he started with Suroosh Alvi and Shane Smith in 1994. If you know that, then you probably also know of his inglorious removal from the company after Viacom started funneling money into the site for a video content vertical, VBS.TV, in 2007. This incident takes up only a small section of Mr. McInnes’ memoir. He writes merely that 'we negotiated a split and by the beginning of 2008 I had sold my shares for an obscene amount of money.' He also compares his leaving Vice to a band that breaks up because 'they don’t like each other anymore, or more importantly, they don’t respect what the other members do.' What Mr. McInnes did, essentially, was cause trouble. He got into fights (physical and verbal), took a ton of drugs, hung out with weirdos and freaks (and the occasional genius), and fucked with the media. He was a liability. After his departure, Mr. McInnes founded the website StreetBonersandTVCarnage.com with his friend, Derrick 'Pinky' Beckles. The site was a collection of Do’s and Don’ts type photos (except now they were called Street Boners), video mashups from Pinky, and inflammatory columns by Mr. McInnes and his friends. (Full disclosure: The author is responsible for a short-lived column of terrible sex advice on the site.)Even with the leash Vice kept him on, Mr. McInnes always liked to screw with other media outlets." (Drew Grant/Observer)
"It was Wednesday so it was Michael’s. I was there with Felicia Taylor of CNN. Felicia is one of the nicest, most straightforward women in New York. I know, that sounds a little bit much. But I thought about it after I wrote that. It’s true. We’ve known each other for quite some time but hardly. Occasionally when we meet we have a lot to say about our lives. You may remember her from the weekend Today Shows on NBC. She has that talent (and I think it is a talent), to be “herself” on camera. What you see is what you get. Although she laughs a lot too. That you don’t see. Did you know she is the daughter and only child of actor Rod Taylor? I think she knows him but it’s not much more than that. He was the first of her mother’s three husbands. Her mother just died a few years ago (maybe three). Married, and living in Palm Beach, she and Felicia talked on the phone often, always having a good time. One morning, after Mother-Daughter lovefest where both were having such a good time talking to each other, they confided how much they loved each other. I’m probably getting this story not completely accurate, but it was something like that. It was morningtime and Felicia’s mother had been sitting up in bed, next to her husband, while talking to her daughter in New York. When the conversation was over and they said their good-byes, Mother leaned over and wrote a note on a piece of paper about how much she adored her daughter. Then when she returned to her sitting position against the pillow and the headboard, she suddenly felt like she was choking. She said something about it to her husband who was right next to her. But then she suddenly slumped. She had died. It was that quick. She was 74. That was a very difficult loss, as you might imagine, for the daughter." (NYSocialDiary)


"Conservative groups are scrambling to distance themselves from a Koch money controversy, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop cashing checks from the billionaire brothers who fund many right-leaning operations in Washington.Charles and David Koch set off a firestorm in the think tank world when they filed a lawsuit in late February as part of an ongoing battle to seize control of the Cato Institute. In response, several libertarian-leaning scholars at Cato, came out swinging, publicly saying they would leave the organization if the Kochs are successful — which drew national media attention to the arcane shareholder fight. The scandal has made waves beyond Cato, in the halls of other major think tanks over the potential politicization of the academic world. Think tanks churn out ideologically driven reports and studies but are able to assert influence in Washington because they are viewed, at least generally, as independent of the donors who support them. But despite the raw nerve, several right-leaning groups, including The Heritage Foundation, the Institute for Energy Research and the American Enterprise Institute, said what happened at Cato couldn’t happen at their institutions. And instead of coming out strong for their fellow think tanks, these groups and others are keeping their distance in hopes that they won’t be dragged into the controversy. 'Certainly, those groups that take large amounts of Koch money don’t like getting asked if they’re under Koch control,' said Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University who has worked at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and has ties to Cato." (POlitico)


"From one perspective, Greg Smith’s scalding Op-Ed in today’s Times, in which he accuses his now former colleagues at Goldman Sachs of gleefully “ripping off” clients—known as “muppets” to some at the firm, he says—contains little that is new. For years, virtually everybody on Wall Street and beyond has known that the white-shoe partnership turned global financial behemoth is hopelessly conflicted. That was what the S.E.C.’s 2010 lawsuit against the firm was all about. The government accused Goldman of conspiring with one client (John Paulson’s hedge fund) to rip off others (a variety of banks), while enriching itself in the process. When the S.E.C. settled the case for just $285 million, I though it was an outrage, and when, in November of last year, Judge Jed S. Rakoff, of the U.S. District Court, blocked the settlement, I applauded his move. What is new, of course, is that the accusations against Goldman are now coming from within. In more than twenty-five years of following and writing about the firm, I have watched it go through innumerable scandals—from its part in the Robert Maxwell affair to its role as an adviser to the Greek government—and never in all that time have I seen anybody from the firm break ranks like this .." (NewYorker)

"An Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear enrichment sites would spike gas prices to between $5 and $6 per gallon, according to market analysts. This would be well beyond the record highs hit in 2008, when nationwide average retail prices hit $4.11 per gallon, analysts say. “I think you will see $5- and $6-a-gallon gas,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. Other analysts agreed that airstrikes would cause a spike in global crude oil prices, and a corresponding jump in U.S. gasoline prices that are currently averaging $3.82 per gallon. But some declined to predict how large that spike would be. The pain at the pump has created election-year political jeopardy for President Obama, who on Thursday was set to offer his fourth recent speech on his administration’s energy policies. Congressional Republicans and Obama’s rivals in the GOP presidential primary have sought to pin blame for the rising prices on Obama’s policies.All of the analysts questioned by The Hill said there are a number of variables, such as whether Iran seeks to block or attack tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping lane for Middle Eastern oil supplies." (TheHill)


" Ladies and gentlemen, class is now in session. Your substitute teacher: Adrian Brody. Last night at Landmark's Sunshine Cinema, the Cinema Society and American Express hosted the premiere of Tribeca Films' Detachment, the latest tour de force from director Tony Kaye starring Brody as a temp teacher in a dysfunctional Long Island middle school. Queens-born Brody is no stranger to the trials and tribulations of the New York school system depicted onscreen by fellow castmates Lucy Liu, Betty Kaye, Sami Gayle, Christina Hendricks, Marcia Gay Harden and Isiah Whitlock Jr. 'My father was the history teacher at my intermediate school. I was relatively well-behaved in junior high, but I embodied the Aries persona at times. I was a pyromaniac,' said Brody, who wouldn't expound on his fiery hobbies but did offer up a senior year anecdote. 'I saved a freshman from getting beat up by a senior in high school,' he said. 'I don't remember it, but this guy, now a budding rock star, told me last week that it really affected his life, so I wasn't all bad!' Liu skipped the lunch room squabbles to hit the books and study like nobody's business. 'The SATs were my life; I constantly worried about getting into an Ivy League school. I was wearing second-hand Canal Street jeans with a black coat and Dr. Martens. I was angry at my parents and nothing was right.' Other honest reflections on teenhood abounded. 'You know that chubby teenager who loves art and doesn't care about anything else? That was me in high school' said Kaye, whose director dad handed her the script six years ago when she was a fifteen-year-old freshman. 'I was like her in high school!' said Robert Verdi, pointing to Kaye. 'The whole idea of ‘I’m sad, pay attention to me slash I’m fabulous and look how creative I am’ was my model,' Verdi explained. 'I was a C-student floater—friends with the jocks, the artsy-fartsy kids, the outcasts. Socially, I'm the same now. I have friends who live in Section 8 housing projects, and I’m also friends with the Tischs.'" (Fashionweekdaily)

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