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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"One afternoon, just before he took a job as a state judge in 1990, federal prosecutor Richard G. Stearns was clearing out his desk at the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston when he came across an old piece of evidence: the wallet belonging to Charles Taylor, a young Liberian bureaucrat he had attempted to extradite back to his homeland in 1985. He was a reasonably educated and polished in his own way, Stearns recalled. 'But I did not honestly see him at that time as what he became, which was bloodthirsty.' Taylor was educated at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts before returning home to serve in the government of brutal dictator Samuel Doe. After falling out of favor with Doe, Taylor returned to the United States, where he was arrested in 1984 on embezzlement charges. Famously, however, he escaped from a jail in Plymouth before he could be extradited, emerged a short time later as a warlord in the Liberian bush, and fought his way toward the presidency of his country, building a political career through a succession of humanitarian catastrophes in West Africa. The Taylor case remained a dangling thread for Stearns. Until Thursday.Stearns -- now a federal judge in Massachusetts -- heard, along with rapt audiences in Freetown, Monrovia, and in the gallery at the Special Court for Sierra Leone at The Hague, what may be the final word on the former Liberian president's career: Taylor was found guilty on 11 counts of aiding and abetting Sierra Leonean rebels in crimes including the murder, rape, and conscription of child soldiers during that country's 1990s civil war." (ForeignPolicy)

"He’s the GOP vice presidential pick that Democrats fear most — a brassy choice who would likely deliver his crucial home state, boost the ticket with Hispanics and Catholics and appeal to both conservatives and independents. The problem: Jeb Bush apparently doesn’t want the job. The former Florida governor raised eyebrows in Boston, Chicago and beyond last week when he said in a rare interview that he’d 'consider' being Mitt Romney’s running mate. President Barack Obama’s high command, believing Bush would effectively take Florida off the map, paid very close attention to the comments to Newsmax. But sources close to Bush say he wasn’t signaling anything and that’s why he sought to shut down speculation with an email to Bloomberg’s Mark Silva, a former Florida reporter, writing, 'I am not going to be the veep nominee. Lay that to rest.'" (Politco)


"Mitt Romney held a high-dollar fundraiser Thursday night at the home of John Paulson, the controversial hedge-fund billionaire who made a fortune shorting the housing market and subprime mortgages in 2007. New York grocery billionaire John Catsimatidis told The Daily Beast the fundraiser, at Paulson’s posh townhouse at 9 East 86th Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, was a “big-dollar event” for wealthy donors like himself 'fighting for the soul of America.' The Romney campaign did not return requests for information about the fundraiser—which was not listed on the candidate’s public schedule. Paulson’s publicist, Armel Leslie, also did not return calls seeking comment. A neighbor who witnessed the event from across the street described it to The Daily Beast as a large crowd of 'older white people, mostly men,' who started showing up around 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Around 8 p.m., sirens started blaring as more and more people started to show. There was security at the door as well as a police car on the street. Then things became quiet until the sirens started up at 9:30 p.m. An SUV tried to block 86th Street, but New York drivers characteristically went around it. Then, as the security stood in the street, Romney emerged from the townhouse, 'looking tall and neat.' He took off his suit jacket and climbed into the SUV." (TheDailyBeast)


"Yesterday, Mr. American Psycho Bret Easton Ellis used his highly entertaining Twitter account to comment on culturally relevant events by boasting about what we’re sure was a really fun and not totally disgusting party at the time. How scandalous! We wonder who the 3rd could be. Surely not Ms. Hunter’s ex and BEE’s best friend, Jay McInerney! (Story of His Life, right ladies?!) Either way, Mr. Ellis isn’t talking, but maybe someone could wring the truth from Brat Packer Molly Ringwald."


"The first friend I made at Lawrenceville School was Reuben Batista, eldest son of the Cuban strongman. Being foreigners gave us something in common, the rest of the school being mostly WASPS with a smattering of Catholics. By the time I met Reuben in 1949 his father Fulgencio had been in power either directly or indirectly for nearly two decades. Havana was a paradise if one was rich and liked easy women, rum drinks, flashy nightclubs, and casinos. The disparity in wealth was shocking even back then, yet there was a sweetness of life, one that was lost in January 1959. I visited Cuba a couple of times before Castro and found the people among the nicest in the area. Batista was always referred to as a dictator, which he was, but it was the most benevolent of regimes. In my young and limited experience, I never got the impression that the people were afraid to voice their opinions. I had some good friends such as the Garrido brothers, both Wimbledon players who were poor but comfortable and who had shown me around when I was in Havana. There are certain things that are now set in stone—for example, Batista bad, Castro good. The fact that people voted against Castro by leaving the island in the millions with only the clothes on their backs does not matter. The executions, the torture, the jailing of homosexuals, the totalitarian regime does not matter to the press nor to the academy. Castro was a man of the left; hence he was, is, and will always be good. Fifty-three years later the song is still the same. Castro and his brother are still the darlings of professors and media types. (Taki)


"Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq, has a remarkable ability to make enemies. As Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group puts it, 'Personal relations between everyone and Maliki are terrible.' This gift was vividly displayed in March, when the annual meeting of the Arab League was held in Baghdad. Although the event was meant to signal Iraq's re-emergence as a respectable country after decades of tyranny and bloodshed, leaders of 10 of the 22 states, including virtually the entire Gulf, refusedto attend out of pique at Maliki's perceived hostility to Sunnis both at home and abroad, turning the summit into a vapid ritual. The only friend Iraq has left in the neighborhood is Shiite Iran, which seems intent on reducing its neighbor to a state of subservience. It's true that Iraq is no longer a threat to its neighbors, as it was under Saddam Hussein. In that narrow respect, the U.S. invasion has made the Middle East a safer place, though at an unspeakable cost in Iraqi and American lives. But the hopes that Bush administration officials once entertained-- that a post-Saddam Iraq, perhaps guided by a secular figure like the émigré opposition leader Ahmad Chalabi, would serve as a stabilizing, pro-American force for the region -- now look patently absurd. Maliki never had much interest in being a friend of the United States, and the departure of U.S. troops has allowed him to forget about it altogether." (ForeignPolicy)


"The circumstances of its conception were murky and surrounded by intrigue, which has never been a bar to future greatness. No fuss or fanfare attended its birth, which ditto. Eighteen years on, the infant has grown to much-admired maturity and become one of the great fixed points of this newspaper, a Financial Times institution as important and as enduring as Sam Brittan or Lex. Born on April 23 1994, the list – now more than 800 names long – of those who have had Lunch with the FT is an international who’s who of our times. There have been presidents and playwrights; tycoons and tennis players; royalty and rogues; monks and a convicted murderer (Norman Parker). In age the subjects have ranged from centenarian Frances Partridge, last of the Bloomsbury group, to an 18-year-old former hostage, Noriaki Imai.  But this is not just a series of interviews. What makes it special is the word 'lunch'. Most obviously, this elevates the occasion above the customary celebrity interview, which these days generally takes place in an anonymous hotel room with the subject in the midst of about 57 other similar conversations in two days, and the PR representative looking pointedly at his watch. The hope is that anyone will be more relaxed with food on the table and the minder out of earshot. Yet even if that does not happen, the circumstances transform the occasion and the article ... The credit for this ingenious idea belongs to Max Wilkinson, now living in very active retirement in Essex, who was in 1994 the editor of Weekend FT. However, it was inspired in a roundabout way by the advertising department, which had found a car manufacturer (Vauxhall Motors), anxiously searching for an innovative way of promoting its new executive model, the Omega, and willing to sponsor a series of interviews with well-known people who might be keen to drive an Omega and perhaps give it a discreet mention." (FT)


"The parties are underway in Washington D.C. ahead of the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Last night at the St. Regis, TIME and People threw a cocktail party with drop-ins from a bunch of boldface tvnewsers all enjoying custom flavored custards by Shake Shack.
TIME‘s Managing Editor Rick Stengel (below with Savannah Guthrie) along with and DC bureau chief Michael Duffy, People‘s Managing Editor Larry Hackett, and DC correspondent Sandra Sobieraj Westfall hosted the party." (TvNewser)



"This weekend is the White House Correspondents' Dinner, which means a tornado of beautiful celebrities and media moguls will descend upon Washington to attend the dinner and its dozens of before- and after-parties. Who all is coming? Rumor has it George Clooney and his girlfriend Stacy Kiebler will be coming as guests of TIME Magazine, Sofia Vergara and Elizabeth Banks as guests of ABC, Daniel Day-Lewis as a guest of Huffington Post, Claire Danes as a guest of CBS, Stevie Wonder as a guest of American Urban Radio Networks, and Reese Witherspoon and Viola Davis will be guests of Newsweek--just to name a few." (GuestofaGuest)


"Another week, another episode of Girls with no black people, another Gawker Media piece about why it's fucked up to not include black people in your show about New York, another article from angry neocons attacking Gawker Media. The dust Lena Dunham's new HBO show has managed to kick up thus far is remarkable in light of its relatively average ratings. But it's also noteworthy because far fewer people seemed to care when the crimes of which the show is accused happened before—many times. Though it's taken on different iterations throughout the years, the white-ified TV New York City has served as a backdrop for lots of America's most beloved programs, and there is no sign that that trend is slowing. Hate Girls all you want, but recognize that Dunham is following a precedent that started even before she was born." (Gawker)

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