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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"One of the basic tenets of modern Western warfare, as articulated by theorists such as Carl von Clausewitz, is the desire to destroy the enemy in quick, decisive battles that break the enemy's ability -- and will -- to fight. In contrast, one of the basic doctrines of insurgent warfare, as articulated by theorists such as Mao Zedong and Vo Nguyen Giap, is to decline decisive battle when the odds are not favorable and to live to fight another day. The insurgent wants to prolong the battle and create a drawn-out, grinding war that will gradually wear down the stronger enemy while insurgent forces build up enough strength to fight a conventional war and defeat their opponents. Western military leaders, then, seek to quickly resolve a war, while insurgents seek to prolong it by any means -- even if this means ceding control of territory until they can amass the strength to take it back.  In the modern jihadist context, this strategy was seen clearly in Afghanistan. The Taliban, when faced with overwhelming U.S. airpower in 2001, declined combat and permitted Northern Alliance ground forces to take control of Afghanistan's cities, rather than stand and fight until they were destroyed. The Taliban then launched a classic rural-based insurgency from the mountains using Pakistan as a haven for logistics and training. Iraqi government forces also took this approach when confronted by U.S. forces during the 2003 invasion.Similarly, following the December 2006 Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, Islamist militants from the Supreme Islamic Courts Council -- many of whom would later go on to form al Shabaab -- declined to fight decisive battles and instead took to harassing the Ethiopian army's extended supply lines. This forced the Ethiopians to pull back from key cities they had captured, like Kismayo, and allowed the militants to regain control of large portions of southern Somalia. It is not unusual, then, for insurgent forces to take territory, only to surrender it and reclaim it again later." (STRATFOR)


"Turkey's understanding of how the incident played out has its increased outrage at Assad. The Turkish official told me that the pilots accidently entered Syrian airspace for five minutes, most likely miscalculating their flight path by incorrectly identifying a pair of mountain ridges toward which they were supposed to fly. They were informed of their mistake by Turkish radar station operators and returned to Turkish airspace. The pilots were then asked to correctly repeat their maneuver, which was meant to test Turkey's domestic radar capabilities, the official said. They returned to international airspace, looping around and flying back toward Turkey, parallel to the Syrian coastline, when they were shot down near the Syrian city of Lattakia, according to the official. Turkey intercepted the Syrian radio communications during the incident. There was 'no panic' in the voices of Syrian forces, the Turkish official said. It appeared they had been previously instructed to take such actions and proved themselves aware it was a Turkish aircraft, referring to it as the 'neighbors' plane. There is no denying that Turkey has emerged as a regional hub of anti-Assad activity in the Middle East. In the past year, the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) has established an office in Istanbul, with a section dedicated to military coordination. The nominal leadership of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), along with an estimated 33,000 Syrians who fled the spiraling violence inside their country, are based in 10 Turkish camps in the border region. The U.S. State Department has also established an office in Istanbul to help train activists and provide non-lethal equipment to the opposition. In the past weeks, reports have also claimed that Turkey's National Security Organization (MIT), its intelligence agency, has transported multiple shipments of weapons to rebels along the border. Turkey's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Selcuk Unal deniedthe claims, but one Syrian activist involved in transferring the new weapons from MIT to the rebels along the Syrian-Turkish border confirmed the shipments. 'For myself, it was not my aim,' said the activist, who had previously told me he preferred nonviolent measures to bring down the Assad regime. 'But it's generally what everyone wants. It's sort of a victory.'" (ForeignPolicy)


"The conventional wisdom in the battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives is that Democrats will pick up at least some seats, perhaps netting somewhere in the high single or low double digits, but won't pick up enough seats to seriously threaten John Boehner's speakership. Indeed, if we had to project the House right now, we'd say a net Democratic gain of less than 10 seats. One possible but highly unlikely outcome -- at least at this point -- is that the Democrats overperform and recapture the House majority by netting 25 or more House seats. And equally unlikely but also possible is this: The Republicans winning their biggest House majority since before the Great Depression. Republicans currently hold 242 House seats, which is their biggest majority since 1946, when a postwar backlash against the Democrats and President Harry Truman gave Republicans 246 House seats. That was the first time Republicans had won the majority since 1928, when, in the election that swept Herbert Hoover into the presidency, Republicans won an impressive 267 seats. Two years later, after the stock market crashed, Democrats narrowly won the House majority and kept it through the Great Depression and World War II. In order to exceed their 1946 majority, Republicans would have to net an additional five seats. But given that Republicans cut so deeply into Democratic territory in 2010, that's a very difficult proposition. It would probably take a Mitt Romney romp, and even then, Democrats might still gain seats because of their many opportunities in states that under no circumstances will go to Romney, such as California, Illinois and New York, where Democrats are hopeful they can net a combined 10 seats or more." (SabatosCrystalBall)


"A Lunch gathering where Nora Ephron was to be honored yesterday turned into a tribute to the writer a day after her unexpected death. Ephron was to be one of 12 women feted at Casa Lever for AOL and PBS’  'Makers: Women Who Make America' documentary film series, along with Barbara Walters, Diane von Furstenberg, Gayle King and Katie Couric. But her passing shocked her closest friends. 'We’d known that Nora was ill, we didn’t know that she was dying,' said Walters, who revealed that she and Ephron were members of the Harpies — a close-knit cadre of lunching ladies who’ve met to eat and argue over 12 years at Michael’s, the Four Seasons and ‘21.’ Walters said of the gossipy group, 'We would discuss face-lifts, other people’s. We just met with Nora, and she looked great.' The Harpies’ ranks include Cynthia McFadden, power publicist Peggy Siegal, Condé Nast’s Maurie Perl and Beth Kseniak, former Hillary Clinton press secretary Lisa Caputo and Jennifer Isham.  But, 'Nora was definitely the spiritual and intellectual leader,' Siegal told us, adding the Harpies will continue 'with a heavy heart and an empty seat.'" (PageSix)


"A few weeks ago at Janna Bullock’s Beaux Arts mansion at 14 East 82nd street, site of her politically charged art installation 'Allegories & Experiences,' Janna staged a  'happening,' hosting a question and answer lecture with Jay McInerney. Janna’s installation consists of 24 found images, each of an individual or group from the Russian power elite: politicians, businessmen, lawyers and journalists. Some are tyrants, some are criminals, and some are victims. The 24 images represent 24 frames per second—the standard in motion picture film speed; hence the underlying visual of film in the exhibition’s aesthetic. In the manner of Richard Prince, Jenny Holzer and Ilya Kabakov, each image is accompanied by a provocative title and a story in both English and Russian, written by Janna. Jay McInerney, whose latest book The Juice, Vinous Veritas, was released that week, stated that the exhibition represented the ‘failure of the second Russian Revolution.’" (NYSocialDiary)



"When MTV announced the third iteration of their audacious O Music Awards — which gets underway tomorrow night — they promised they would break the world record for most concerts in 24 hours, traveling across 8 cities in a wired-up bus while giving away an award every hour. When the Flaming Lips were announced as the band that would break the record, we knew we had to be there. In addition to categories like “Must Follow Artist on Twitter,” the OMAs are uniquely a major tent-pole from a TV network where the second screen has become the main screen. We spoke to Lee Rolontz, executive producer for the O Music Awards and Brenna Ehrlich the managing editor for OMusicAwards.com and the social media correspondent for the show. Is it even possible to live stream an entire bus tour from Memphis to New Orleans? According to Rolontz, it is. She described to us in detail the fancy technology that’s being used to pull off this challenge. Also, if all else fails, they’ll cut back to their home base in New Orleans. For a TV network trying to really innovate in digital, they’ve smartly made the main, traditional linear screen, the second screen." (LostRemote)


"Sometimes the most interesting lunchtime encounters at Michael’s happen before the crowd rushes in. Today was one of those days. When I arrived before noon, there were a handful of people already sitting in the lounge. One woman stuck out, because she was dressed in an oh-s0-tasteful head to toe Pepto Bismol-colored sweater ensemble (cashmere from St. John, I’m guessing) on such a warm day. She kept her head down when the rest of us got to chatting. I knew I knew her, but I couldn’t catch her eye. Imagine my surprise when she stood up to go to her table, and I realized it was Cindy McCain. In my defense, a tan, well-dressed blonde woman is hardly an oddity at Michael’s, and her black ‘scrunchie’ threw me. The funny thing is no one seemed to notice when she walked back to her table in the Garden Room, proving that, in New York when your 15 minutes are up, they’re up.
I was joined today by producer Joan Gelman and public relations and marketing executive Robert Zimmerman, who is also a political analyst for CNN and Fox News ... The other topic of conversation that had everyone talking was the shocking news that Nora Ephron had died of leukemia." (Diane Clehane/LunchatMichaels)


"Since joining The New York Times in 2002, David Carr has become America’s most visible and influential writer on the media. His weekly “Media Equation” column is closely followed by people in the industry. Last year, he was featured in Interview magazine (interviewed by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, no less), and he was the star of the 2011 documentary Page One: Inside The New York Times, in which he comes across as a gruff and indefatigable truth-teller. That documentary showed Carr in the act of reporting his stellar article on the disastrous decline of the Tribune Company under Sam Zell. For the piece, Carr interviewed more than 20 current and former employees of the company. He then described how, under the direction of Randy Michaels, a former radio executive and shock jock chosen by Zell to run the company, the Tribune Tower in Chicago came to resemble a frat house, full of sexual innuendo, profane invective, and poisonous workplace banter. Carr showed how Michaels and other executives received tens of millions of dollars in bonuses while laying off hundreds at the Chicago Tribune and other papers. It was a devastating account of the hubristic destruction of one of America’s top media companies. This is the hard-hitting David Carr—a relentless interviewer, incisive analyst, and gifted writer all rolled into one—and the piece on Zell and company showed the powerful effect he can have when he applies those qualities to an important subject.  But there’s another David Carr, one who is breezy, knowing, star-struck, and insidery, and it’s this David Carr who, alas, more often than not shows up in his weekly column." (CJR)

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