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Monday, May 21, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The new mall culture in Zambia's capital, which I've watched expand almost exponentially in visits over the last three years, is booming all over Africa, in places like Accra and Dakar, Windhoek and Gaborone, Nairobi and Maputo. Driving it are young people like Joshua and his friends, a generation that is growing up like none that preceded it: a bulging new cohort of young people with disposable income, however modest, a keen and up-to-the-minute sense of youth trends and of consumerism around the world, and, most importantly, the expectation that life that will continue to get better and richer and fuller of choices. Africa, with a population expected to roughly double by mid-century, has become recognized as the world's fastest growing continent. But the less-told story is of Africa's economic rise. In the last decade Africa's overall growth rates have quietly approachedthose of Asia, and according to projections by the IMF, on average Africa will have the world's fastest growing economy of any continent over the next five years.  Seven of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies are African. The continent is famously resource rich, which has surely helped, but some recent studies suggest that the biggest drivers are far less customary for Africa, and far more encouraging for its future: wholesale and retail commerce, transportation, telecommunications, and manufacturing.  A recent report by the African Development Bank projected that, by 2030, much of Africa will attain lower-middle- and middle-class majorities, and that consumer spending will explode from $680 billion in 2008 to $2.2 trillion. According to McKinsey and Co., Africa already has more middle class consumers than India, which has a larger population." (TheAtlantic)


"Four years ago, Barack Obama became the first Democratic presidential nominee in at least two decades to outspend the Republican challenger. The incumbent president shouldn’t expect the same advantage this time. Super-political action committees backing the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney are raising money at a faster clip than Democrats, threatening to erase an Obama financial advantage that allowed him to expand the battleground map in 2008 to include such states as Indiana and North Carolina. The incumbent’s 12-to-1 financial advantage at the end of April over Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, shrunk to less than 2-to-1 when the bank accounts of the national party committees and friendly super-PACs were added. 'Those people who can and are willing to write seven- and eight-figure checks are few and far between on the Democratic side and far too numerous on the Republican side,' said Democratic consultant Peter Fenn, who participates in weekly phone calls with Obama campaign operatives. 'There was some thought that Obama was going to outspend whoever was nominated. That’s long gone.' Republicans are determined to keep pace this year. Obama and the Democratic Party had about $1 billion to spend in 2008; Republican nominee John McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona, and the Republicans had more than $200 million less. This time, both campaigns and their allies are expected to reach $1 billion." (Bloomberg)


"Most of the focus has been on Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who are thought to be the leading contenders on Romney’s short list. But chatter is picking up on Capitol Hill that Bush could be a dark horse. Senior political strategists think (Jeb) Bush could deliver Florida for Romney and help him among Hispanic and Catholic voters. Bush fanned speculation last month when he told Newsmax, a conservative news site, 'I’d consider it, but I doubt I’ll get a call and I don’t know if it’s the right thing for me to do.'  Bush has since tried to bury the notion that he might join the ticket ... Bush could help Romney with two key constituencies, Catholics and Hispanics. Bush converted to Catholicism, speaks Spanish and his wife was born in Mexico. He has urged the Republican Party to do more to engage with Hispanic voters ...But Bush’s approval ratings are high in Florida, the biggest tossup of the battleground states with 29 electoral votes. A recent poll conducted by Suffolk University and WSVN Channel 7 found Bush had a 56-percent favorable and 34-percent unfavorable rating in the Sunshine State." (Alexander Bolton/TheHill)


"The Facebook billionaire, 28, topped off a remarkable week with a surprise wedding Saturday to college sweetheart Priscilla Chan, 27. A hoodie was good enough for his pre-IPO meeting with Wall Street investors, but Zuckerberg — either by his own choice or at the insistence of his fiancee — donned a big-boy suit, white shirt and tie to mark the occasion ... The couple pulled off the stealth nuptials by inviting 100 guests to what they thought was a surprise party for Chan, who graduated from medical school at the University of California at San Francisco last Monday — which also happened to be Zuckerberg’s birthday ... Details quickly leaked out, although none of the guests were willing to be quoted on the record. The ceremony took place in the backyard of the newlyweds’ Palo Alto, Calif., home. The bride wore a white dress with a lace overlay and received a simple ruby wedding ring designed by Zuckerberg. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong sang, according to the Mercury News, and dinner came from the couple’s two favorite restaurants, Palo Alto Sol and Fuki Sushi ... What’s most impressive (aside from Zuck’s suit) was that they managed to keep it under wraps. Celebrity weddings usually leak out from a guest or vendor, which makes a secret A-list ceremony like John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette’s so rare. Chan and Zuckerberg used the classic bait-and-switch tactic employed by Julia Roberts for her Fourth of July marriage to Danny Moder in 2004: Invite all your friends for a party, then spring the wedding on them. All your loved ones in attendance, but no advance gossip." (WashPo)


"Last night down at the Four Seasons Restaurant, the Cancer Research Institute held its 30th Annual “Through the Kitchen Benefit. This is the only event that the restaurant makes an exception and closes to the public and invites the guests into its famous kitchen. Tables this year were named after New York nightclubs of yore and sundry attractions, such as 'Playboy Club,' 'Birdland,' 'Plato’s Retreat,' 'Studio Fifty Four,' 'Copacabana,' Mine was 'Trader Vic’s' – and all tables were elaborately and cleverly decorated by DeJuan Stroud. When it came time to talk turkey, Perri Peltz, daughter of founder Lauren Veronis reminded the guests of the evening’s inception, thirty years ago. The Four Seasons was at that time – and still is – the ne plus ultra restaurant for the high mucky-mucks/corporate/power corridor clientele at lunch and dinner ... So the idea that Lauren Veronis conceived – giving the restaurant’s clientele the opportunity of also getting to try everything right there in the kitchen – was the kicker that still brings out the crowd. Perri also reminded everyone that raising money for cancer research, despite the publicity, is still a major challenge and not easy to succeed at. However, last night they raised more than $600,000. Over the last 30 years, this dinner has raised more than $7 million for cancer research ...Among those attending were the Mayor, Michael Bloomberg with his lady friend Diana Taylor .."(NYSocialDiary)


"The night before the opening bell that made Bono’s Elevation Partners $1.5 billion richer when Facebook went public, the U2 singer was belting out 'Angel of Harlem' at the Apollo. Thursday’s performance was for the Jazz Foundation of America benefit, 'A Great Night in Harlem,' which also featured Macy Gray, David Johansen, Roberta Flack and 'Once' maestro Glen Hansard. The night became a de facto memorial for disco diva Donna Summer, who was given a moment of silence. '[She] was a friend of mine, so it’s not a really good day for me,' Gray told us after the gig. 'I met her in Belgium. We did a show together. She actually made Thanksgiving dinner for us. They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Belgium, and she cooked it for us. Great cook and we always kept in touch. I loved her.' Quincy Jones added of Summer, 'She is disco. She defined it.'" (PageSix)


"Love is in the air here at Cannes, and so is at least one Oscar prospect. Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard is first out of the gate this year with a riveting performance as a double amputee in Jacques Audiard’s tough, achingly beautiful drama Rust and Bone. Crippled by a freak killer whale accident in the south of France (yeah, I just wrote that), Orca trainer Cotillard mends a shattered life by finding mutual redemption in the arms of a stoic single father and amateur kickboxer (played with muscular intensity by human bicep Matthias Schoenaerts). On paper—and in lesser hands—this Riviera romance would seem preposterous. But Mr. Audiard, an alchemist of character studies, conjures up his world with expert flair, and creates a stunning, deeply felt portrait of passion and compassion between a woman aching to connect and a man hiding behind his brute strength. And the broken but gingerly resolute Ms. Cotillard is commanding in a legless role considerably sexier than Gary Sinise’s bitter Vietnam vet from Forrest Gump, aided by breathtakingly seamless digital technology that makes Lieutenant Dan look like the victim of a bad eraser attack." (Observer)


"Candace Bushnell has reason to celebrate: Her latest series, 'The Carrie Diaries,' has been picked up by the CW, and her divorce from ballet dancer Charles Askegard has been finalized. Sources say Bushnell’s friends are now planning to throw the 'Sex and the City' creator a blowout 'divorce party.' They further add that despite a tense split, Bushnell and her ex are moving on amicably. 'It’s sad, but we hope to remain friends,' Bushnell wrote in February in a newsletter to pals." (PageSix)


"NEW YORK Upper East Side: Leaving one of those high-toned Park Avenue clubs where they never want their name mentioned, it’s a balmy May night. I had been in the Unmentionable Club after congratulating Gigi and Harry Bensons’ celebration of the impending wedding of their daughter, Tessa to Tucker Tooley. Tessa is tall and gorgeous, looking like a movie star all in white satin and silver, but she is instead the west coast editor of Self magazine. Tucker is the Oscar-winning filmmaker, prexy of Relativity Media, and they haven’t yet decided when to tie the knot but know they’ll be living in the Pacific Palisades. I always adore being with Gigi and Harry Benson — he one of the world’s most celebrated photographers — she, the petite blonde from Seguin, Texas, who is his firm right-hand. (The Bensons will next be sent all over Europe by Taschen Publishing, promoting Harry’s great enormous photo book on the Beatles.) There’ll be another NYC party given for them early in June. I met one or two other Texans in this crowd, none more impressive than the fabled Suzy J. Finesilver. Sometimes she is “down home” on the San Antonio River, eating at the famed Mi Tierra restaurant. Other times she is in her Park Avenue apartment where her neighbor is none other than the Post’s reigning gossip queen, Cindy Adams." (Liz Smith/NYSocialDiary)



"On May 18, 2012, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh hosted a luncheon, held at Windsor Castle for the sovereign monarchs from around the world.Here is the guest list ... Their Imperial Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan ...Their Majesties King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium ... Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan ... Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco.. His Majesty King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa and Her Royal Highness Sheikha Sabika bint Ibrahim al-Khalifa of Bahrain ... His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia ...His Majesty King Tupou VI of Tonga ... Their Majesties King Letsie III and Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso of Lesotho ... His Majesty King Mswati III of Swaziland ...Members of the British royal family" (RoyalCorrespondent)

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