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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The problems run deeper than the sad status of women and a legal system that ignores human-rights laws passed under pressure from Washington.Young boys are victims, too. For centuries, Afghan men have taken boys, ages roughly 9 to 15, as lovers. Some research suggests that half the Pashtun men in southern provinces are 'bacha bazi,' the term for an older man with a boy lover. Literally it means 'boy player.' The men like to boast about it. But when Afghan men began making licentious approaches to young American soldiers a few years ago, the military found it so disconcerting that it hired a social scientist, AnnaMaria Cardinalli, to examine why this was happening. Her report, 'Pashtun Sexuality,' startled not even one Afghan. But Western forces were shocked — and repulsed. Cardinalli found “a longstanding cultural tradition in which boys are appreciated for physical beauty and apprenticed to older men for their sexual initiation,' her report said. 'The fallout of this pattern of behavior over generations has a profound impact on Pashtun society and culture.' Her report got a lot attention when it was published in 2010. But The Washington Post reported in April that the U.S. Embassy and human-rights workers say the practice is, nonetheless, 'on the rise' today. There’s no single reason for these manifest human-rights abuses. Islam is often the excuse for abusing women. But Islam strictly forbids homosexuality." (Politico)

"And then there were five. After starting out with more than 20 names a few months ago, we can now count our list of Mitt Romney's vice-presidential possibilities on one hand. Leading the list is the man generating national buzz at the moment: Tim Pawlenty. The former Minnesota governor, who told us jokingly that he was 'one chromosome' away from winning a spot on John McCain’s ticket in 2008, would be a credible choice who would offer some regional (Midwest vs. Northeast) and stylistic (blue collar vs. white collar) contrasts with Romney. Pawlenty’s short-lived presidential campaign flopped last year in part because of a mistimed strategic decision -- deciding to go all-in at last August’s activist-driven Iowa Straw Poll just as Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign hit its peak. Pawlenty’s poor straw poll showing, and a nearly empty war chest, forced his exit. Given that damaged candidates who were electorally weaker than Pawlenty had moments in the sun during the primary season -- including Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum -- it’s possible that Pawlenty might have made some progress had he found the money to stay in the race. Whether or not voters do like or will like Pawlenty, it seems clear that one major constituency group -- the media -- mainly does. The press boosted his candidacy throughout the first half of 2011 despite his middling polling. George Will, the conservative columnist, went so far as to conclude 'with reasonable certainty' that one of three men would occupy the White House in 2013: Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels or Barack Obama. (Of course, he still could be right.) While Pawlenty might have some deep dark secrets, he isn’t a blank slate to the national media, which is a mark in his favor. Granted, a Romney-Pawlenty ticket would be ill-equipped to respond to a foreign crisis during the campaign because of their exclusively state-level political experiences. However, Romney’s other seeming top choices aren’t foreign policy experts either in what is likely to be a economically-driven election. What would Pawlenty add? Probably not a great deal in the Electoral College, though he could have an impact in his home region. Romney would probably dispatch him primarily to the Midwest, where Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin could all be hotly contested, and where Pawlenty’s regular-guy background might go over better than Romney’s corporate credentials." ( CenterforPolitics)


"This is the final, lonely resting place of Mary Kennedy, the 52-year-old mother of four who hanged herself on May 16 in a barn on the grounds of her home in Bedford, N.Y., a suburb of the New York City in tony Westchester County. Mary’s suicide took place against the backdrop of a bitter divorce proceeding with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and came after her estranged husband won temporary custody of their children, ages 11 to 18. The Kennedy’s tragedies—the wartime deaths, assassinations, and plane crashes—are well-documented. So are the family’s self-inflicted wounds—Chappaquiddick, alcoholism, drug use, and divorce. But since the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy, himself no paragon of virtue, on Aug. 25, 2009, the family’s problems seem only to have escalated. In Hyannis Port, longtime summer home of the Kennedy clan, everyone has a story about the infamous political family. In the 86 years since Joseph Kennedy built the family compound on the 6-acre lot on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, locals have become inured to reports of drunkenness, drug use, car accidents, fistfights, and tightfistedness. But the disinterment and reburial of Mary Kennedy’s body on July 12 has created a level of anger new to the populace. Twenty feet way from the Shriver family grave is the burial site of Algirdus Dapkus. His widow, who asks to be identified only as Mrs. Dapkus, visits every day. Mary Kennedy’s original plot had 'a lovely cross made of white roses and a small plaque that said Mary Kennedy,' Mrs. Dapkus said. 'People would come by and pay their respects and leave flowers. Then they moved her in the middle of the night.' Shaking her head, Mrs. Dapkus continued, 'People around here don’t want to think about [the Kennedys] anymore. There used to be an aura, but not anymore. There’ve been so many crimes and immoral things done. When you’re rich and famous, you think you can do anything.'" (Paula Froelich)


"It could be argued that the world’s political leaders—unlike, say, Heidi Montag—have a valid reason for using surgery and injectables to keep their faces frown-line-free. When voters look at a leader, the appearance of vitality can be key. But while some politicians have used surgeons to make minor tweaks of the 'light refresh' sort, others (Muammar Qaddafi, anyone?) have gone all the way to 'fire in a wax museum.' We asked Manhattan plastic surgeon Dr. David Hidalgo to tell us whether knife, needle, or good genetics is really behind the spry, ageless looks of these seven world leaders—those most speculated to have had alterations." (VanityFair)


"Charlotte Cowles: Maybe Liberty Ross is trying to say that Kristen was drunk when she made out with him? Sally Holmes: Maybe Kristen and Rob have a TomKat kind of relationship. Sally Holmes: A.K.A. a contract. Charlotte Cowles: Speaking of, where is Rob at this exact moment, I wonder? Sally Holmes: Chartering an airplane to skywrite CIAO BELLA over L.A.? Maureen O’Connor: This seems more and more real to me, because it's so weird. It seems like they're famous people in a panic, using the bizarre avenues available to them (public statements, etc.) Maureen O’Connor: As opposed to normal people sending sad text messages and shit. Charlotte Cowles: They're acting irrationally, like normal people do in these love-triangle situations, except they're doing so VERY publicly. Charlotte Cowles: Which makes everything WORSE. Or better, depending on who you are." (NyMag)

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