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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"No one really saw this coming. That is, no one except for the handful of Syrian rebels who executed the startling July 18 bombing in Damascus that claimed the lives of Syria's top intelligence and security officials. But the shockwaves of this assassination have already reverberated across the Middle East, leading political players of all stripes to contemplate the possibility of President Bashar al-Assad's imminent demise. Confirmed dead in the explosion, which Syrian state media blameson a suicide bomber but Free Syrian Army officials insist was caused by a remote-detonated device, are Defense Minister Dawood Rajiha; his 'deputy' Asef Shawkat, Assad's brother-in law and one of the regime's most feared strongmen; and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani, a former Defense Minister. After more than a year of being shelled by the regime's well-equipped military and terrorized by gangs of pro-regime military thugs, the Syrian rebels' attack was the equivalent of blowing up the Death Star: They not only decapitated the Assad regime's top security officials, they sent a message that they could reach anyone-- and any part of the country. Even if the belief that Assad could fall any day is overblown (and with such limited access inside Syria it's impossible to know for sure) -- it is clear that his hold on power is shakier than ever ... This regime is so rotten that even their own supporters sell us weapons,' one rebel commander in a village along the border with Lebanon told me. 'We never needed weapons from outside countries like America or Saudi -- we needed money. Syria has plenty of weapons already and these guys are so corrupt that they profit by selling us the weapons we will later use to kill them.' 'Now we have money,' he concluded, before demurring about the source of the generosity." (ForeignPolicy)



"At dawn July 12, militants raided a prison guard residence in Lahore, Pakistan, leaving nine staff members dead and three more wounded. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the guards had mistreated prisoners who were members of the Pakistani militant group. The raid came just three days after militants ambushed an army camp in the district of Gujrat, killing seven soldiers and one police officer who were searching for a missing helicopter pilot. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan also claimed that attack. Over the last two years, Pakistan has had something of a respite from dramatic attacks such as those that plagued the country from 2007 to 2010. During those years, a series of high-profile and highly disruptive attacks against police, army and intelligence targets challenged the government's ability to control the country. The attacks occurred in Pakistan's most populous province, Punjab, in cities such as Lahore and in the capital, Islamabad.  While suicide bombings and attacks in Pakistan's troubled northwest (along the border with Afghanistan) have continued apace since 2010, major attacks in Pakistan's Punjab-Sindh core have essentially ceased. The sole instance of dramatic violence involving government targets outside of the northwest since 2010 was an attack on a naval station near Karachi following the death of Osama bin Laden.Despite the break from violence in Pakistan's major cities, many of the same conditions present during the wave of attacks from 2007 to 2010 remain. Another escalation in violence is very possible, especially in Pakistan's volatile climate and with elections coming up. " (STRATFOR)


"I went down to Michael’s to meet a Hiram Williams for lunch. Hiram and I have never known each other well or steadily but for many years have had many mutual friends. The world of New York can be like this. So we had a lot of catching up and looking back to do.  I hadn’t been to Michael’s in about a couple of weeks – some kind of record for me. The heat determined that. Although I was looking forward to seeing Hiram, I didn’t expect to see much going on at Michael’s because of the overbearing weather. Wrong. Michael McCarty himself was presiding, having just returned with his wife Kim from their annual summer sojourn in Europe. Michael divides him time between his restaurants here and in Santa Monica. Every ten days or so, he’s back here for a week, or sometimes longer, especially when the art sales and exhibitions are going on ... When I arrived at 12:30, the place was already jumping. In the room: Ann Curry lunching with Bob Barnett, the Washington lawyer who has made such a big difference in assisting some of the great careers in the media and show business. Don’t think everybody who saw that wasn’t wondering where we’re going to see the dynamic Curry again. Next to them Calvin Klein was with Deborah Kenny, founder and CEO of Harlem Village Academies. Next to them: Leonard Lauder looking coolly dapper in his very pale green striped seersucker suit and a sky blue tie putting him right at the top of the Best Dressed List. He was lunching with Cathie Black. Next door was Joe Armstrong with Ed Victor the literary agent, and next to them Linda Wells of Allure with Don Loftus. Across from them, AOL’s Tim Armstrong with Lloyd Braun, visited by Jolie Hunt and Courtney Dolan on their way to their table. Hunt and Dolan are two of the most dynamic and attractive young women in media public relations. Both women have held important posts at several magazines and media companies. Both Dolan and Hunt were heading up the marketing and public relations at the FT (at different times). You may have read about them here. Dolan is currently running those things at W, and Jolie, having just come from a stint at Reuters has just joined AOL (hence the visit with Mr. Armstrong of AOL) as head of their Public Relations. Jolie also just got married." (NYSocialDiary)


"The romance between Mary-Kate Olsen and Olivier Sarkozy is becoming more serious. The half-brother of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is moving downtown and buying a house, where the inseparable lovebirds can shack up. 'They are really, really happy,' a source told Page Six. 'And Olivier is buying a townhouse below 14th Street, to be with Mary-Kate. We are told they’re not officially moving in together — they both think it’s too early for that. But he’s telling friends that Mary-Kate is the best thing that has happened to him in a long time.' Sarkozy finally unloaded his Upper East Side townhouse earlier this year for $8.4 million by slashing the price from $11.95 million after it had languished for a long time without a buyer. In the meantime he was renting a $15,000-per-month Chelsea pad. But it seems Sarko has now found hipper digs further downtown, in which he can entertain his billionaire, 17-years-younger, child-star-turned-fashion-designer gal pal. In the footsteps of Alec Baldwin, he’s following the trend of older men moving downtown to satisfy the tastes of their younger, more energetic girlfriends ... Page Six exclusively revealed that Olsen and financier Sarkozy began dating back in May. The very odd couple since made headlines when Sarkozy stepped out with his arms around Olsen and his young daughter, who are exactly the same height. Sarkozy’s ex-wife Charlotte called the coupling 'grotesque' and 'not right.' A rep for Olsen did not return a request for comment last night." (PageSix)



"Forget about the dog days of summer. The stifling heat couldn’t keep the faithful away from Michael’s today. In fact, many of the power lunchers showed up early to escape the oppressive temps which made for a jam packed dining room. The always unflappable Loreal Sherman kept everything running smoothly as usual, finding just the right table for everyone despite the SRO crowd. At Michael’s, you are where you sit after all ...  (Table  8).New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia (also in seersucker) and Hiram Williams ... (Table 14). Jolie Hunt and W‘s Courtney Dolan. I just had to congratulate Jolie on pulling off the trifecta of the summer: new job, new husband and new apartment all in one fell swoop. Formerly with Thompson Reuters, Jolie is now AOL’s chief marketing and communication officer. Congrats! Interestingly enough, Jolie tells me she got a curious response to the mass email she sent to friends and colleagues yesterday alerting all to her big news. 'I got 10 emails asking to see photos of my apartment,' she marveled. 'I didn’t see that one coming.' Only in New York." (Diane Clehane/FishbowlNY)


"The models were ready for their close-ups last night at the Paley Center for the premiere of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders' HBO documentary About Face: Supermodels Then and Now. Marisa Berenson, Isabella Rossellini, Beverly Johnson, and Jerry Hall are just a few of the former cover girls who star in this humorous, honest portrayal of an industry centered around the concept of beauty, and fleeting beauty at that. The film explores themes like self-esteem, plastic surgery, and what happens after the cameras turn off ... The documentary reminds us that modeling isn't all jet-setting and Champagne. Along the way to superstardom, many of the women Greenfield-Sanders interviewed said they encountered industry evils like drug abuse, sexual harassment, and racism. 'It was frightening to talk about some really terrible things,' said Pat Cleveland. 'You hate to go over that. It's like you want to drop the baggage, but it comes up because maybe other people have the same suitcase.'" (Style)

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