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Friday, June 01, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Let’s start by laying down the baseline premise: inequality in America has been widening for dec­ades. We’re all aware of the fact. Yes, there are some on the right who deny this reality, but serious analysts across the political spectrum take it for granted. I won’t run through all the evidence here, except to say that the gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent is vast when looked at in terms of annual income, and even vaster when looked at in terms of wealth—that is, in terms of accumulated capital and other assets. Consider the Walton family: the six heirs to the Walmart empire possess a combined wealth of some $90 billion, which is equivalent to the wealth of the entire bottom 30 percent of U.S. society. (Many at the bottom have zero or negative net worth, especially after the housing debacle.) Warren Buffett put the matter correctly when he said, “There’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years and my class has won.' So, no: there’s little debate over the basic fact of widening inequality. The debate is over its meaning. From the right, you sometimes hear the argument made that inequality is basically a good thing: as the rich increasingly benefit, so does everyone else. This argument is false: while the rich have been growing richer, most Americans (and not just those at the bottom) have been unable to maintain their standard of living, let alone to keep pace. A typical full-time male worker receives the same income today he did a third of a century ago. From the left, meanwhile, the widening inequality often elicits an appeal for simple justice: why should so few have so much when so many have so little? It’s not hard to see why, in a market-driven age where justice itself is a commodity to be bought and sold, some would dismiss that argument as the stuff of pious sentiment. Put sentiment aside. There are good reasons why plutocrats should care about inequality anyway—even if they’re thinking only about themselves. The rich do not exist in a vacuum." (VanityFair)



"After the military regime’s 1974 collapse, two of Greece’s greatest con men and crooks, Karamanlis and Papandreou, played musical chairs with the premiership for twenty years. The nephew and son of the two con men also became prime ministers, but Papa Junior was honest—that’s why he only lasted two years. Karamanlis Junior was a fat slob who matched Andreas Papandreou in corruption and in fiddling the books. His successor as head of the center-right New Democracy party, Samaras, is like a rattlesnake, except the snake gives off a warning. Samaras is a born traitor and opportunist, but he’s most likely the next prime minister of Greece. Whatever way you look at it, Greece cannot continue with the austerity measures and should opt out of a system that violates national sovereignty and is a doomsday machine for jobs and growth. David Cameron and George Osborne continue to back the EU Trojan Horse instead of taking the opportunity to get out once and for all. But what Britain does is none of my business. If the Brits allow their leaders to commit national suicide, tant pis, as the Frogs say. Greece is my business, however, and Greece never should have adopted the euro." (Taki)


"Iran's quest to develop nuclear energy dates back to 1957, when the United States began sending low-enriched uranium and nuclear technology to ally Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi for research purposes as part of President Dwight Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace program. But Western powers started having second thoughts about the Iranian nuclear program even before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's embrace of nuclear power in the 1990s only hardened that opposition. Over the past decade, the West has grown increasingly convinced that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons under the guise of civilian atomic work, while Iran's leaders have insisted that they are simply diversifying their energy sources and developing fuel for medical research reactors. The goal of enrichment, as this overview of the nuclear fuel cycle explains, is to increase the proportion of uranium-235 atoms -- 'fissile isotopes' that can split in a chain reaction and produce heat -- within uranium. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s most recent report on Iran's nuclear program found that, since 2010, the country has produced 320 pounds of fuel with uranium-235 concentrations of 20 percent -- a level that could enable Iran to quickly enrich the uranium to the weapons-grade threshold of 90 percent." (ForeignPolicy)


"'When I think of the south, I think of sitting on the porch in a rocking chair and drinking iced tea,' said Jennifer Connelly at the premiere of her latest southern flick, Virginia, hosted by the Cinema Society, Shiseido, and Grey Goose at the Crosby Street Hotel. In this semi-autobiographical drame, Academy Award winning writer and director Dustin Lance Black of Big Love and Milk fame, skips the tradition of lackadaisical porch time and lemon-flavored Lipton in favor of down-home heists, illicit affairs, crooked cops, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and her son in a small Boardwalk town below the Mississippi ... After the screening, a troupe of bold faced guests like Jane Lynch, Russell Simmons, Alexa Chung, Eve, Billy Bob Thornton, and Connelly's husband Paul Bettany, to name a few, gathered in an adjacent party room to tip back Grey Goose Cherry Noir cocktails in a very civilized, Southern-style sort of way. Chung perched pretty, Instagramming with actress Nora Zehetner and nibbled a light bite while Thornton, a self-professed "agoraphobic,' conquered his fears and worked the room like a seasoned pro. But it was Juliette Lewis, who showed up with Katy Perry's ex Travie McCoy, that caused the real ruckus of the evening. As the flame-haired starlet was slipping (almost) unnoticed out the back door, your Daily caught up with her for a quick tête-à-tête. "My whole life, people have thought I was southern. I have my own weird Juliette drawl, but I don't know where it came from,' said Lewis, who wraps her television series The Firm in four days. What will Lewis do with all her newfound downtime? 'Right now, I'm only dreaming about music, base lines, drum beats, and crazy lyrics. I'm writing a song called 'Patti Smith' because, as one of my lyrics says, 'There's no Patti Smith for this generation.' Shortly thereafter, Lewis was spotted entering the Thompson Hotel with the musical maestro..." (Fashionweekdaily)


"On Wednesday night, the Citizens Committee for New York City hosted a Citizens Summer Cocktail at the Central Park Boathouse. For more than 35 years, Citizens Committee for New York City has supported volunteer-led neighborhood groups carrying out community improvement projects in the most underserved neighborhoods across all five boroughs. Citizens Committee for New York City offers grant awards, skills-building workshops, and project-planning assistance to support struggling communities. This year, Citizens Committee will be awarding over $600,000 in grants and supporting more than 350 resident-led efforts in all five boroughs." (NYSocialDiary)


"Style icon Iris Apfel doesn’t shop much anymore — instead, she donates pieces to places like the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts. But she admits buying clothes is hard for older women. “The whole fashion business is wacky because this age group of women between 65 and 80 control so much money, they have all this expendable income. You go shopping and there is nothing to buy. You’re not supposed to buy widow’s weeds when you get older and you don’t want to look like a silly young chippy. It’s difficult,” she told the crowd at Sotheby’s on Wednesday during Hearst Design Group’s 'The Best Of” lecture series benefiting the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club. The No. 1 question the nonagenarian hears is where to find dresses with sleeves." (PageSix)

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