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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"The mother of China’s prime minister was a schoolteacher in northern China. His father was ordered to tend pigs in one of Mao’s political campaigns. And during childhood, 'my family was extremely poor,' the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, said in a speech last year. But now 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind, she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show. The details of how Ms. Yang, a widow, accumulated such wealth are not known, or even if she was aware of the holdings in her name. But it happened after her son was elevated to China’s ruling elite, first in 1998 as vice prime minister and then five years later as prime minister. Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion." (NYTimes)


"On Tuesday, October 23, precisely two weeks out from Election Day, ABC News and the Washington Post reported the second set of results from their homestretch tracking poll of 1,382 likely voters nationwide. The survey had Mitt Romney ahead of President Obama by 49 to 48 percent, a fashion-model-slender lead that, in fact, was even slimmer than those numbers suggested. (Pushing out two decimal places, the poll found Romney at 48.51 percent and Obama at 48.44.) And the ABC-WaPo tracker was no outlier. To the contrary. At this writing, on October 25, the RealClearPolitics national polling average gave Romney a 47.7 to 47.1 lead, and in all but one of the nine battleground states, the margin separating the two nominees was less than 3 percent. Drilling down on the numbers at this late stage, a few conclusions are unavoidable. First, despite claims to the contrary by the Romney campaign, there is no massive wave of momentum carrying Mittens either nationally or in the battleground states—but the bump he received after the first debate elevated him sufficiently that he stands a plausible chance of winning this thing. Second, buoyed by his strong performances in the second and third debates, Obama’s position has stabilized and he holds a small but significant advantage in terms of the electoral map—but his sub-50 percent support levels in all of the battleground states is a cause for real concern among Democrats. All of which is to say, third and finally, that next Tuesday night is likely gonna be the emotional equivalent of riding the Cyclone at Coney Island: a nerve-­jangling, empty-out-the-liquor-­cabinet-and-stash-box sort of affair. But here’s the thing: It could be even worse than that. At a moment when the bitter polarization that has poisoned our politics for so long has reached a new height (or depth) of vehemence and venom, there is a small but nontrivial possibility that come November 7, we will find ourselves facing an outcome that would trigger a national political meltdown, in which a large portion of each side decries the election result as illegitimate. Indeed, your columnist can imagine four such Armageddon scenarios. I present them in order, from the most to the least likely—and least to most horrific..." (John Heilmann)


"Last night. It was another one of those nights with a dozen do’s on in the charity/arts and culture circuit. I started out at Dennis Basso on 66th Street and Madison Avenue where Dennis was hosting a booksigning for Palm Beach landscape architect Mario Nievera. Big crowd when you put together the lists of those two. Mario. Many of those extraordinary landscapes behind the gates and the hedges down in Palm Beach are Mario’s exceptionally clean and lush creations. I’d gone in there just to get the picture so you could see the book. From Dennis Basso, I walked five blocks south down the avenue and over to the corner of 61st and Fifth, where Sirio Maccioni was presiding over the grand opening of his new restaurant in the Pierre, Sirio Ristorante. I’d seen the interior of this smart new venture the night before and run a picture of the bar area, fortunately because last night all you could see was the sea of humanity whom Sirio had invited. It’s right there on the corner of 61st and the Avenue in the Pierre, and right across the street from the Park. Last night. I’d estimate at least several hundred were partaking of the champagne and cocktails. " (NYSocialDiary)


"'I don’t actually go to newsstands anymore,' said Tina Brown, the editor in chief of Newsweek/The Daily Beast, a few days after she announced last week that Newsweek would become an all-digital publication and terminate its 79-year run in print by the end of 2012. But while Brown insists that she prefers reading on her Kindle when traveling and she sees “everybody reading screens,” there are still places in the world that thrive on stacks upon stacks of printed matter. One such is the corner of Eighth Avenue and 12th Street in Manhattan. 'I am sad,' said Mohammed Ahmed, the manager and part-owner of Casa Magazines, when I asked him how he felt about Newsweek’s imminent departure from his shelves. 'Everything is going digital.' But Ahmed, who is 55 and originally from Hyderabad, India, doesn’t seem to be the brooding type. Moments later, he was handing me the newer magazines (Frankie, OnEarth, Self Service and CR Fashion Book among them) that have now found their place in his store. Casa Magazines stocks around 2,000 titles — from fashion glossies to newspapers to hobby magazines to porn. Some titles, like the Indonesian fashion magazine DA MAN and the men’s lifestyle publication Made in Brazil are only available in New York through Ahmed. 'It’s the magazine Mecca,' said James Reginato, who was browsing in Ahmed’s store Tuesday, and who happens to write for Vanity Fair. Reginato called Ahmed 'the king of the Village.'" (NYTimes)

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