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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"NO MATTER how often China has emphasised the idea of a peaceful rise, the pace and nature of its military modernisation inevitably cause alarm. As America and the big European powers reduce their defence spending, China looks likely to maintain the past decade’s increases of about 12% a year. Even though its defence budget is less than a quarter the size of America’s today, China’s generals are ambitious. The country is on course to become the world’s largest military spender in just 20 years or so (see article). Much of its effort is aimed at deterring America from intervening in a future crisis over Taiwan. China is investing heavily in 'asymmetric capabilities' designed to blunt America’s once-overwhelming capacity to project power in the region. This 'anti-access/area denial' approach includes thousands of accurate land-based ballistic and cruise missiles, modern jets with anti-ship missiles, a fleet of submarines (both conventionally and nuclear-powered), long-range radars and surveillance satellites, and cyber and space weapons intended to 'blind' American forces. Most talked about is a new ballistic missile said to be able to put a manoeuvrable warhead onto the deck of an aircraft-carrier 2,700km (1,700 miles) out at sea. China says all this is defensive, but its tactical doctrines emphasise striking first if it must. Accordingly, China aims to be able to launch disabling attacks on American bases in the western Pacific and push America’s carrier groups beyond what it calls the “first island chain”, sealing off the Yellow Sea, South China Sea and East China Sea inside an arc running from the Aleutians in the north to Borneo in the south. Were Taiwan to attempt formal secession from the mainland, China could launch a series of pre-emptive strikes to delay American intervention and raise its cost prohibitively." (TheEconomist)


"The race for president may boil down to which candidate is viewed as the bigger snob. President Obama and Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee, have begun to circle each other over the charge of elitism, which both see as a threat.  The economy has shown signs of strengthening, but with the national unemployment rate at 8.3 percent and gas approaching $4 a gallon, winning over voters might hinge on showing empathy for their financial difficulties, say Democratic and Republican strategists. Obama called out Romney by name on Tuesday and poked fun at his use of the word 'marvelous' to describe the House Republican budget plan, implying Romney’s vocabulary is lofty if not downright posh. 'And he even called it ‘marvelous,’ which is a word you don’t often hear when it comes to describing a budget,' Obama said before pausing with comic effect. 'It’s a word you don’t often hear generally.' Democrats plan to use gaffes Romney has committed on the campaign trail — most of them caught on video — in television and online ads to argue that he cannot relate to average Americans. Democrats’ favorites include Romney’s casual offer to bet then-presidential contender Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) $10,000 during a debate dispute over healthcare; his claim during a healthcare speech that 'I like being able to fire people'; his remark during a CNN interview that he’s 'not concerned about the very poor'; and his revelation that his wife “drives a couple of Cadillacs”." (TheHill)


"To understand why companies wish to drill off the U.S. eastern seaboard, you need only make a beeline 5,000 miles southeast -- straight to Jubilee, an oilfield off the shore of the west African nation of Ghana. Because there are an estimated 1.5 billion barrels of oil in Jubilee, the reckoning goes, there just might be oil off the coast of Virginia. The reason is ancient geology -- Africa and the Americas were once one gigantic continent, and geologists have already foundanalogues to Jubilee across the Atlantic in French Guinea, as I write on EnergyWire. These similarities are interesting not just for their curiosity value, but because they are part of a stark transformation in how experts perceive global energy, and trends in geopolitical power: Less than a year ago, the conventional narrative was scarcity -- Big Oil simply could not find any more super-giant oilfields, and were left trifling with comparative puddles. Hence, the world needed to develop alternative energy, and fast. Now, barely a week goes by without a fresh discovery in Africa, and a new expert report on the new U.S. oil bonanza; we are told we have oil and gas as far as the eye can see, limited only by the skilled labor, pricing points and equipment to produce it (pictured above, pipeline awaiting installation in Cushing, Oklahoma.)." (ForeignPolicy)


"One of the persistent ideas regarding vice presidential selection holds that presidential nominees seek running mates from large, competitive states. Guided by that assumption, the Great Mentioners invariably include many politicians from such states on the lists of prospective vice presidential candidates that they compose every four years. The premise seems to be that a running mate can minimally, at best, affect the national election returns but that a popular favorite son or daughter may help swing an important electoral block. This conventional wisdom regarding vice presidential selection practice encounters one significant problem: It’s wrong. It simply does not reflect the behavior of recent presidential candidates. Presidential nominees presumably know something about electoral politics and are strongly motivated to make politically rewarding choices. Yet in modern times they almost never choose a running mate based on the assumption that he or she can swing a state with a lot of electoral votes. The running mate often comes from a state with few electoral votes and/or a safe state and, when he or she has recently come from a state rich in electoral votes, that fact has played little, if any, role in the selection. It is hard to explain the persistence of the myth that large state size is a frequent criterion for vice presidential selection. It may come from recalling the instances when candidates come from big states without looking at the factors that influenced the particular selection. It may also reflect the tendency to accept certain beliefs as political truths even after subsequent events or patterns have made them obsolete. From 1900 to 1956, state size did seem to matter in vice presidential selection. During that period, vice presidential candidates came from large states (20+ electoral votes) 43% of the time, from medium-sized states (10-19 votes) 40% of the time and from small states only 17% of the time. Although other factors, including securing the presidential nomination itself rather than home-state electoral votes, often influenced the choice from 1900 to 1956, it seems likely that coming from a large competitive state was perceived as an important factor during much of this earlier period. It no longer is. " (SabatosCrystalBall)


"Traffic in midtown was very heavy also; much more than usual. And so was foot traffic along the avenue. Over at Abercrombie & Fitch, that annoying purveyor of libido-elevating costumes on 56th and Fifth, there was a line three and four deep stretched around the corner, waiting to get in and hand over their money. I’ve never been inside but I already know: it’s Show Business. Or Show and Tell Business for teenagers of all ages. Michael’s was at its Wednesday best. Even Michael himself, in from the Coast, was ebullient with the decibels around the room. There’s an excitement to the place – like the line in front Abercrombie’s – when Noo Yawk is chugging along lickety-split. Donald Trump was there. He was with Richard and Harrison LeFrak, and Dolphins owner Steve Ross, and CNBC’s Joe Kernan. You could see The Donald had something to say and his listeners were having some laughs with him. 'Donald Trump is here, Donald Trump is here….' people were repeating sotto voce to each other as if they were finally seeing a real celebrity." (NYSocialDiary)



"The 2012 Peabody Award winners have been announced, and there are lots of winners from the world of TV news. CNN is taking home three Peabodys, one for its coverage of last year’s Arab Spring uprising, another for 'CNN Heroes' and the last for 'Fareed Zakaria GPS.' ABC News and Brian Ross received a Peabody for the investigative report looking into the Peace Corps, while the 'CBS Evening News' and correspondent Clarissa Ward won a Peabody for her coverage of the Syrian uprising. Al Jazeera English won a Peabody for its coverage of the Arab Spring uprisings, and the BBC won two awards, one for a documentary examining Somalia and a second for BBC.com. As usual, plenty of entertainment programs won Peabodys as well, including 'The Colbert Report,' 'Portlandia,' 'Parks & Recreation,' 'Homeland,' 'Game of Thrones' and 'Jeopardy!'" (TVNewser)


"What can coax the fash-noscenti to 36th and Broadway? The Henry Street Settlement's 2012 Gala Dinner Dance & Auction, which moved from its uptown digs at the Plaza Hotel to Gotham Hall for a sold-out spectacular. The evening, which raised funds for Henry Street's myriad programs (including, but not limited to, transitional housing for the homeless, behavioral and primary health care, summer day camps, and shelter services), honored Adriana Cisneros, Vice Chairman and Director of Strategy of the Cisneros Group, and Michael Tiedemann, Chief Investment Officer of Tiedemann Wealth Management. Microsoft took home the corporate leadership award. The Gala dinner co-chairs—Natalia Gottret Echavarria, Kalliope Karella, Angela Mariani, Anna Pinheiro, Pilar Crespi Roberts, Lesley Schulhof, and Barbara Von Bismarck—mingled with the likes of Jill and Harry Kargman, Leonard Lauder, and Hayley Bloomingdale. Dr. Lisa Airan caught up with bestie Gilles Mendel, who dressed Schulhof for the event, while Bibhu Mohapatra caught up over dinner with Topaz Page-Green and Yigal AzrouĆ«l." (FashionweekDaily)

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