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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"If the arrest of Russian spy Anna Chapman seemed abrupt, it’s because the FBI began to fear she was out to sexually ensnare a member of President Obama’s cabinet. That seems too crazy to be true, even in a case as bizarre as Chapman’s. But the FBI’s counterintelligence chief tells a BBC interviewer that Chapman was getting 'closer and closer to higher and higher ranking leadership.' 'They were getting close enough to a sitting U.S. cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue,' says C. Frank Figliuzzi, the assistant FBI director for counterintelligence, according to the Independent. That alleged — repeat: alleged — sexual 'closeness' prompted Figliuzzi’s agents to shift from monitoring Chapman’s crew of ten spies to arresting them in 2010. Figliuzzi doesn’t say which 'serving' cabinet official was thisclose to shtupping Anna Chapman. It would be irresponsible to speculate. But it’s so, so, so hard not to. (I’m guessing that you can erase ex-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a former CIA kremlinologist, from Anna Chapman’s little black book.) Chapman will not go down in history as the world’s ugliest agent, and the history books are littered with politicians who convinced themselves that the rewards of power include extracurricular, extramarital sex. But Anna Chapman appears to have been a pretty incompetent spy. Her crew used what intelligence reporter Jeff Stein termed 'primitive radio techniques' and hid loosely encrypted messages in plain sight on the Internet." (WIRED)


"Israel is now entering its third strategic environment. The constant threat of state-on-state war defined the first, which lasted from the founding of the Jewish state until its peace treaty with Egypt. A secure periphery defined the second, which lasted until recently and focused on the Palestinian issue, Lebanon and the rise of radical Sunni Islamists. The rise of Iran as a regional power and the need to build international coalitions to contain it define the third. Israel's fundamental strategic problem is that its national security interests outstrip its national resources, whether industrial, geographic, demographic or economic. During the first phase, it was highly dependent on outside powers -- first the Soviet Union, then France and finally the United States -- in whose interest it was to provide material support to Israel. In the second phase, the threat lessened, leaving Israel relatively free to define its major issues, such as containing the Palestinians and attempting to pacify Lebanon. Its dependence on outside powers decreased, meaning it could disregard those powers from time to time. In the third phase, Israel's dependence on outside powers, particularly the United States, began increasing. With this increase, Israel's freedom for maneuver began declining." (STRATFOR)


"It was a beautiful night last night and down at 583 Park, Save Venice hosted its annual Un Ballo in Maschera; A Night on the Lido. When Adelina Wong Ettelson, one of the co-chairs told me about it, she said: 'think Chanel Cruise Collection Show 2009/2010, Death in Venice, Cabana stripes ...' Also, I would add: Cole Porter, Peggy Guggenheim, the Beistegui Ball at the Palazzo Labia. New York Manhattan on the first of April seems eons away from the Adriatic waters of Venetian sons and daughters, but I know this is a good party anyway because the women dress up, the boys look proper and elegant in black tie and the masques can be fantastic, and everybody gets into it. Furthermore, a guy named Nicky Balestrieri turned the Delano and Aldrich early 20th century religious sanctuary in a 'Lido inspired masked wonderland ....' And it worked. Save Venice raises money to repair and restore antiquities from that center of world commerce in the Renaissance. And they celebrate it with trips there and thereabouts, and with a couple of applicable costume events a year here and in Boston and Los Angeles. During the past 40 years, Save Venice has raised more than $20 million to restore more than 400 works of art and architecture in Venice. Save Venice currently has more than 20 projects underway throughout the city of Venice, made possible with support from individuals, foundations, and corporation. Otherwise it’s just a ball. A fun one. Co-chairs for the evening were: Olivia Chantecaille, Adelina Wong Ettelson, Amanda Hearst, Mary Kathryn Navab, Alexandra Lind Rose, Beatrice Rossi-Landi, Luigi Tadini, and Matthew White (who is also chairman of the Board of Directors of Save Venice)." (NYSocialDiary)


"Ron Perelman will this summer become a father for the eighth time, Page Six has confirmed. The billionaire Revlon chairman and his Harvardeducated psychiatrist wife, Dr. Anna Chapman, are expecting their second son via surrogate in early summer. The couple, who wed in a traditional Jewish ceremony at their Upper East Side home in October 2010, already have a 1-year-old son, Oscar, who was born via surrogate in December 2010. Friends confirmed they are expecting a boy, and, 'are both really excited. It will be lovely for Oscar to have a baby brother.' Perelman also has four grown children — Steven, Josh, Hope and Debra — and younger daughters Samantha and Caleigh." (PageSix)


"So George W. Bush, reports Politico, is laying low these days, avoiding the spotlight that shone briefly on his father and his brother Jeb recently as they endorsed Mitt Romney’s candidacy. This whole subject of the post-Bush GOP and its relationship to No. 43 is pretty fascinating. Like a crazy, drunk uncle shooting an epileptic dog because he has fleas, the current GOP shuns him for all the wrong reasons. Since the GOP will presumably spend the next few months trying to pretend the man never existed, Democrats ought to remind people that he did. In fact, the Democratic Party should spend the next 20 years talking about Bush, turning him into the new Jimmy Carter and making the memory of those eight squalid years quadrennially fresh to everyone with living memory of them for as long as is humanly possible. Bush, Politico notes, 'is in a self-imposed political exile.' Perhaps predictably, Ari Fleischer pops up to note that that’s a lowdown dirty shame because Bush “kept us safe” through a perilous time and oversaw a booming economy in between two recessions. These claims aren’t even worth spitting out one’s cornflakes over, let alone rebutting. But merely as a point of information, people should know that the economy didn’t exactly boom from 2002 to 2008, except of course for the 1 percent of the population the policies were designed to aid. Bush’s job-growth record was the worst of any president going back to the Depression. The table you can see here goes back to Truman. Obviously, Roosevelt grew jobs at a fairly significant rate, since unemployment under him went from 24 percent to essentially zero during the height of the war. So you have to go back, I’d suppose, to Herbert Hoover to find someone who did worse than Bush’s .01 percent growth in jobs per year." (Michael Tomasky)


"What recession? As the specter slowly lifts, the rich folk who never knew it happened in the first place have been carrying on like there's no yesterday. And nosebleed and all, I've been perfectly willing to join them, awkwardly clinking my swizzle-sticked Shirley Temple with their double Between the Sheets. And wines! In came an invite to commingle with "the winemakers of Le Cercle Rive Droite de Grands Vins de Bordeaux for a VIP dinner celebrating the select wines of the Right Bank of Bordeaux, paired with chef Philippe Bertineau's exquisite menu." That was in so many foreign languages for me that I felt like I needed injections and a visa just to attend, but it was at the chichi Benoit bistro, and Countess LuAnn de Lesseps and boyfriend Jacques Azoulay were hosting, so I was extremely there, with extra-nice bags on my surgical shoes. The meal was indeed lovely, from the "organic salmon choisy" (from the Choisy Shore, I guess) to the "filet mignon with potato boulangère and young carrots"—so young they would surely have been arrested if the cops had raided the place. 'You can't get drunk from red wine,' insisted LuAnn, which is good news because the stuff was going like paper towels at a Republican debate. 'This was awesome,' said author Jay McInerney, poignantly lifting an empty bottle of Chateau Barde-Haut that everyone had wantonly finished." (Musto)

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