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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Europe and the financial markets watched intently June 17 as Greece held general elections. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti all delayed their flights to the June 18 G-20 summit in Mexico to await the results.
The two leading contenders in the elections were the center-right New Democracy Party (ND), which pledged to uphold Greece's commitments to austerity and honor the country's financial agreements with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), a group of far-left politicians who pledged to reject Greece's existing agreements, end austerity and maintain the country's position in the eurozone. A third major party, the center-left Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), shares the ND's position of maintaining Greece's bailout agreement. PASOK had been Greece's ruling party until it formed a unity government with the ND late in 2011. For a while it seemed these elections would be definitive. Either Greece would reject the country's agreement with its international lenders, potentially being forced out of the eurozone, or it wouldn't. If Greece rejected austerity and forcibly or voluntarily left the eurozone, the country might set a precedent for other troubled states and precipitate a financial crisis -- a eurozone exit and default would likely go hand in hand. Europe would be tested as never before, and it would find out how resilient it is to a wider financial crisis. But in Europe, the least likely outcome is a definitive one." (STRATFOR)


"From the liberal largesse of George Soros to the big-spending ways of Republican financiers like Sheldon Adelson, the 2012 U.S. presidential election is being shaped almost as much by billionaire backers as by the voters and candidates themselves. America's permissive campaign finance laws give these political sugar daddies unique clout (thanks a lot, Citizens United), but it's not a purely American phenomenon. When it comes to behind-the-scenes moneymen, it's a global bull market." (Foreignpolicy)


"One of New York’s top hedge fund managers got an unusual request from Sen. Chuck Schumer recently: Could he organize a private dinner so the senator could meet Wall Street executives from across the political spectrum? 'It was very candid,' Bill Ackman, the head of the multibillion-dollar hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital Management, said of the dinner.  Schumer in recent months has been on a fence-mending campaign with senior Wall Street executives, many of whom have grown furious with the Democratic Party. It’s a fence with a lot of holes: Leading Democrats have been bashing big banks for the better part of four years, and some magnates scoff at the idea of making up. So the senator who wants to be seen as a friend to Wall Street has been engaged in an intense effort to rebuild trust with the industry that financed the 2006 and 2008 Democratic Senate campaigns. Schumer has been holding private dinners, organizing high-end fundraisers for Democratic candidates and quietly pressing for super PAC donations. Some Wall Street executives say flatly they’ll never give campaign cash to Schumer again because of lingering resentment over the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law. But others are coming around, reporting an uptick in bridge-building talks with Schumer in recent months. 'He’s always been active in his outreach, but I would say he’s on much more of a listening — not talking — tour at the moment as he tries to mend fences,' said one banking executive. Schumer’s charm offensive also highlights a political dilemma. He can’t publicly praise Wall Street, or it will upset the liberal base and reveal a divide with President Barack Obama as Schumer rises in the ranks of the Senate Democratic Caucus. But he can’t go too hard on a powerful hometown industry, or it may turn away from him." (Politico)


"Last night the Public Theater celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Delacorte Theater which is known to the world as the home of Shakespeare in the Park ... Shakespeare in the Park was conceived by Public Theater founder, the great Joe Papp. His objective: to make great theater accessible to all. The result today: five decades, five million people, more than 150 free productions of Shakespeare and other classical works and musicals at the Delacorte. A visionary. The benefit event was chaired by Public Theater Board Members Arielle Tepper Madover and Alexandra Shiva. Last night’s performance was introduced by Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of the Public Theater, and Patrick Willingham, Executive Director.  And let’s not forget George Delacorte, once a famous name in American life, who started Dell Publishing, the largest publisher of books, magazines and comics in its heyday. Mr. Delacorte made a fortune with his publishing activities and donated his money to the building of the theater (as well as the Delacorte Musical Clock, the Alice in Wonderland sculpture and many other works of art and funds for scholarship in New York. Tomorrow will be the 118th anniversary of his birth." (NYSocialDiary)


"Commenters are a scary bunch. Take it from the moderators on the front lines of the Internet. Two of them spoke with Adweek’s Charlie Warzel today and they appear to be on a fast-track for a new Web-based strain of PTSD. 'What people don’t understand is that there is a huge psychological factor to the job,' Huffington Post community manager Justin Isaf told Adweek. 'Moderators deal with some horrible stuff and genuinely difficult things every day, and at other sites they are often under-cared for in terms of their own mental health. That is a real shame, because it gets draining.' HuffPo moderators actually get trained on defusing threads about Israel and Palestine. Meanwhile, all of the ever-expanding BuzzFeed stable has just one community moderator, Ryan Broderick. 'The Trayvon Martin period was a rough couple of weeks,' he said." (Observer)


"Mike Tyson says some topics in his 'raw' one-man Broadway show, 'Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,' could bring him to tears onstage. 'I have to be careful. I can’t stay on certain subjects for a long time, because I might cry,' the former champ said while announcing that the show he debuted in Las Vegas is coming to the Longacre Theatre for a limited run of six performances, starting July 31. Tyson’s hoping the Spike Lee-directed show will be part of a run of projects for him and his co-writer, wife Kiki Spicer. 'This is what we decided to do after I gave up using drugs and being a pig and stuff,' Tyson quipped. 'I’ll do other people’s stories, and I’ll do other characters. This is just the beginning.' Tyson said his performance, which addresses his time in prison for rape and rocky relationships, including his time with ex-wife Robin Givens, will be 'raw,' but, 'not raw in a vulgar sense . . . I’m just . . . vulnerable and telling you where I’m from, and how this happened, and how I [lost] all this damn money, and how I have all these children, and how I go to prison.'" (PageSix)


"Washington woke on Saturday to the news of the death of Crown Prince Nayef, who was next in line for the Saudi throne. The collective sigh of relief by senior U.S. officials was almost audible -- even though, within hours, President Barack Obama issued a statement about his 'great regret' on learning the news.The president emphasized the positive. Under Nayef's leadership of the Interior Ministry, the statement said, 'the United States and Saudi Arabia developed a strong and effective partnership in the fight against terrorism.' Obama also noted that Nayef had 'strongly supported the broader partnership between our two countries.' There was no mention of the stark reality: Nayef was renowned for being difficult and unimaginative, only able to view policy options in terms of choices that worsened problems rather than eased them. His support for the kingdom's religious conservatives during his decades in office had arguably only added to jihadi extremism. He labeledShiites in the Eastern Province protesting at their lack of rights as 'acting at the behest of a foreign country,' thereby provoking a confrontation with Iran rather than side-stepping it. One took on Nayef at one's own peril, so few did. He was outraged when Abdullah, upon becoming king in 2005, failed to make him second deputy prime minister, a slot seen as 'crown-prince-in-waiting.' Abdullah had wanted to limit the power of his brother princes in the so-called Sudairi faction, whom, he felt, had spent decades undermining him. Nevertheless, he found himself having to appoint Nayef's full-brother Sultan as his own heir apparent -- as the largest group of full-brothers in the royal family, Abdullah just could not ignore the Sudairis." (Foreignpolicy)

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