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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"On January 12, 2003, I received my first phone call from Joseph Kony, the elusive leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. At the time, I was a member of parliament representing an area that was the epicenter of the war in Northern Uganda. The call lasted about two hours -- which was remarkable given that Kony was in the bush, and using a sat phone, to boot. 'People should seek to understand the political agenda of the LRA,' Kony said over static when I was on the line.  'Why are we in the bush?' he asked? "It is because we are resisting oppression. Many people have been to the bush in Uganda. We are also resisting murders committed by the NRA [the National Resistance Army, which brought Uganda's current president, Yoweri Museveni, to power]. You go to places like Acholi Bur, Paimol, Bur Coro, and Anaka and you will find there the mass graves of our people,' he told me. 'People must recognize that there was a problem. Kony is not the problem. The problem existed before Kony.' The LRA has a complicated history, to say the least. When the group first emerged in 1986, it cloaked itself in the garb of Christianity -- a group that had risen from the ashes of previous rebellions to save the Acholi of Northern Uganda from the onslaught of the National Resistance Army, which had just swept the state a few months earlier. At the time, Uganda was in the throes of state collapse and civil war, with over twenty rebel groups raging throughout the countryside. One by one, the new government managed to pacify each group. The LRA managed to survive, but let its mask slip in the process, the true predatory face of Kony emerging to feast on the people he purported to save. Over the years, I've spoken to Kony many times and eventually met him face to face in August 2006, when I led a community peace delegation to his hideout in the Congo. We pinned our hopes on him reaching a peace agreement with the Uganda government. Eventually, though, he walked away due to mistrust, an ICC indictment that would have sent him to The Hague, and probably pressure from his backers (the Sudanese government, among them). A great opportunity was missed. Kony is now heading a multinational guerilla force comprised of mainly abducted children and adult soldiers who were first taken as children. He roams the bush in Sudan, South Sudan, Congo, the Central African Republic, and Chad without hindrance." (Norbert Mao/ForeignPolicy)


"Mitt Romney’s big win in the Illinois primary is not a game-changer, mainly because the likely outcome of the game -- the race for the Republican presidential nomination -- is the same today as it was Tuesday morning: Romney is the highly probable nominee. Romney can't ignore the remaining contests, and he has to perform as expected or better. Yet what truly matters now is how Romney finishes out a tough season and prepares to push the re-set button at his convention. Will he limp or soar into Tampa? Republicans are tired of watching an unscathed Obama while GOP fratricide grabs the headlines, but that part of the process may be coming to a close. In the short term, Romney, the beneficiary of so many lucky breaks throughout this cycle, gets another little bonus on Saturday: While he is almost assuredly headed for a loss in the next primary on the schedule -- Deep South Louisiana -- the contest is being held on Saturday, when probably few will be paying attention. Another bonus: because of Louisiana’s complicated rules, only 20 delegates will be awarded Saturday anyway; so long as Romney gets over 25% -- not a sure thing -- Santorum will only pick up a few more delegates there than Romney. In other words, Louisiana, even if Romney bombs there, wouldn't allow Santorum to cut very much into Romney's big delegate lead. In a global sense, Romney has dominated this nomination season. In a multi-candidate field, he has taken more than 3.9 million votes in primaries, or just under 40% (39.8%) of all votes cast. Santorum, the next closest candidate, has taken just 26.6% of the primary vote. (Figures are from uselectionatlas.org.) More importantly, based on the Associated Press’ count, Romney has 563 delegates -- 300 more than Santorum and also more than Santorum and the rest of his opponents combined. Beyond Louisiana, there’s not an obvious place in the short term where Santorum can get a meaningful win. He needs to focus his dwindling resources on Wisconsin, but after failing Midwestern tests in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, can he come back in Badgerland on April 3? Recent history, and demographics, tells us no." (SabatosCrystalBall)


"Down at Michael’s it was Wednesday of course, although so much the clatter of the chattering classes as we usually see. It’s Spring vacation for a lot of the schools, and many head out for the last of the skiing or sunning with family. Nevertheless, there were many and much to see. The Spring menu comes out and the flowers sing it. Cherry blossoms. At Table One in the window Linda Fairstein was giving a lunch for her friend, Cosmo’s EIC, Kate White to celebrate the publication of her 8th mystery novel So Pretty It Hurts. At table were Hilary Gumbel, Peggy Vance, Michele Promaulayko, Stephanie March, and Dr. Holly Phillips. In the room: David Adler and pop, novelist and screenwriter Warren Adler; David Sanford and Lewis Stein; Judy and Peter Price; Shirley Lord Rosenthal and Lynn Nesbit; Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski with Esther Newberg; Jason Binn; Richard Descherer; Bob Christie; Vin Cipolla; Aryeh Bourkoff; Jerry Levin; Shelly Palmer; Michael Toccin. Michael’s very own Brenda Starr also got the scoop of the day. Waiting in the lounge for his table was Andrew Madoff. Nobody else recognized him, only our ace Diane Clehane. JH and I were lunching with our former star reporter in Washington, Carol Joynt, who left NYSD for the Washingtonian Magazine and web site. We were joined by Ellen Charles, Carol’s friend and neighbor in Georgetown. " (NYSocialDiary)


"Oh. Oh. WHAT could be more delightful? You've read it, of course. It's... oh, I can't even describe it. It's a delight. A melodramatic, delightful delight. Do you have a guest room? Put this next to the bed. Were you one of the many young people who became a classics major as a direct result of The Secret History? Put this next to your threadbare futon with the soy sauce stains on it. Donna Tartt: kicking ass and ruining lives since 1992. Let's talk about that title. It's awful! And, obviously, I assumed that it was one of those situations in which the author has a totally boss title, and then the publisher says 'no, we're calling it Murder in New England/Sex and Death at Hampden College/The Bacchanalian Diaries,' but on closer inspection, it appears that the working title was actually The God of Illusions, which is... also bad. Is it better? Who knows. The Secret History sold a bazillion copies, so perhaps we should give props to the good people at Knopf. Speaking of titles, every single character in this book has a name straight out of The White People Who Are Rich Without Having Jobs Handbook. Do you think I exaggerate? (I do.) Francis. Charles. Camilla. Henry. Bunny (real name, Edmund!) Julian! Richard is on the fence, but then, so is Richard himself, amirite? Richard, of course, is our narrator. Most of us will identify with Richard. Tartt has you pegged: grew up working or lower-middle class, read a lot, thought you were special, had free-floating melancholia and swooned about, created elaborate fictive inner lives, got into a good college and immediately suspected that everyone else was working from a guidebook you didn't have, and also knew instinctively what to do with those little scarves and how to order oysters. It's Prep, you know? And it's the two different kinds of rich-people-lives that one can fawn after. Francis, with the 'summers in Switzerland, winters in France,' and then Bunny. Tartt nails Bunny: 'Four brothers, no sisters, in a big noisy house in the suburbs, with sailboats and tennis rackets and golden retrievers; summers on Cape Cod, boarding schools near Boston and tailgate parties during football season; an upbringing vitally present in Bunny in every respect, from the way he shook your hand to the way he told a joke.' Read Tad Friend's Cheerful Money." (TheAwl)



"Ten years ago, it wasn’t hard to decide what to do on a Sunday night. Everyone watched HBO. The programming on the premium cable network was like nothing else on the tube. But then, Carrie Bradshaw finally landed Mr. Big, the entire Fisher family died, Tony Soprano stopped believin’ in a New Jersey diner, and Tommy Carcetti became governor of Maryland. By the time Sue Naegle arrived from United Talent Agency to take the network’s top job in 2008 (alongside co-president Richard Plepler and president of programming Michael Lombardo), the programming larder was looking bare. 'We walked into a schedule that was mostly empty,' she told The Observer. And what could be better? 'From a development and programming perspective, that’s the dream.'Recently the network has gone on something of a programming binge, putting forth its most aggressive new slate in memory. Luck, the horseracing drama from director Michael Mann and creator David Milch, debuted in January to respectful reviews and strong ratings; it was then swiftly renewed for a second season—then even more swiftly cancelled last week due to the on-set deaths of three horses (or perhaps, some speculated, due to a precipitous drop in viewers)." (Observer)

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