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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"On most days, Indian newspapers report shocking new atrocities - a 10-month-old raped by a neighbour in Delhi; an 18-month-old raped and abandoned on the streets in Calcutta; a 14-year-old raped and murdered in a police station in Uttar Pradesh; a husband facilitating his own wife's gang rape in Howrah; a 65-year-old grandmother raped in Kharagpur. But in a country where a rape is reported every 21 minutes, even these most horrific of crimes soon get forgotten - except by the victims and their families. They are left to fight their long lonely battles for justice which, more often than not, is denied to them. One of the most painful and lingering cases is that of the Mumbai nurse Aruna Shanbaug. Sodomised by a cleaner in the hospital where she worked, the 25-year-old was strangled with metal chains and left to die by her attacker, Sohanlal Bharta Walmiki, on 27 November 1973. She was saved and survives, but barely so. For the past 39 years she has been lying in a hospital bed in a vegetative state, brain dead, unable to recognise anyone, unable to speak, unable to perform even the most basic of tasks. 'He was not even charged for raping her,' says journalist and author Pinki Virani, who wrote Aruna's Story, a book on the nurse's plight. So Walmiki was given a light seven-year-sentence for robbery and attempted murder. In what can be described as a real travesty of justice, while a brain dead Aruna remains confined to a hospital room, her attacker roams free - out of jail and able to rebuild his life. Ms Virani told the BBC that she tried hard to track him down, but remained unsuccessful. 'I was told that he had changed his name and was working as a ward boy in a Delhi hospital. The hospital where he had sodomised Aruna and left her in this permanent vegetative condition had never kept a photo of him on file. Neither did the court papers,' she said. Aruna is not alone - her story is repeated with a frightening regularity across the length and breadth of the country." (BBC)


"So, step one: Block any compromise to reduce the deficit. Step two: Blame Obama for failing to reduce the deficit. I actually think this plan can work. This may sound like a cynical strategy. And it is. But it’s not a purely cynical strategy. It reflects an important intellectual development on the right. Capretta is advocating not just the classic no-taxes-ever approach that has defined the party for years, but also its newer (or newly fervent) belief in privatizing health-care services. The main driver here is Paul Ryan, whom Capretta advises. (Yuval Levin, another Ryan favorite, makes a similar, though less openly cynical, no-deal argument for the Weekly Standard.) Ryan has accepted the argument, traditionally pushed by Democrats, that the main driver of long-term budget deficits is not the aging population but skyrocketing health-care costs. Ryan has decided that the only possible answer to the problem is to turn Medicare into a system of subsidized private insurance, and that the wonders of competition between insurance firms will dramatically suppress cost inflation ('the way it always works when the consumer is in charge,' he says). As a corollary to this position, Ryan utterly and fervently rejects the reforms put in place by Obama in the Affordable Care Act, which amounted to a comprehensive overhaul of Medicare designed to incentivize doctors, hospitals, and insurers to pay for better outcomes and not just more expensive procedures. Ryan has insisted that these reforms must fail because they involve bureaucracy and only markets can work. This is despite the fact that every other advanced economy on Earth has both a more regulated health-care system and dramatically lower per capita health-care costs. It is also despite the fact that health-care costs have dramatically slowed their growth in recent years, a trend suggesting at least the possibility that the pay-for-value revolution can work and that the budget projections assuming endlessly, skyrocketing health-care-cost inflation (and thus skyrocketing deficits) will prove far too pessimistic. It is impossible to find anybody on the right who will even entertain the possibility. (David Brooks yesterday wrote yet another column assuming that medical inflation will continue forever and that Democrats have no plan to curtail it.) Ryan has elevated confidence in his voucherized method and total disdain for the possibility that Obama’s might work into a total metaphysical certainty within his party." (Jonathan Chait)


"In the 40s, yesterday in New York. Chilly but that was it. Sunny too.  I went down to Michael’s for lunch. Traffic was light on the FDR and the midtown streets leading to Fifth Avenue. We traveled six blocks without having to stop. Sidewalks quieter too in midtown. Bergdorf’s windows were 'A Work in Progress.' The holidays are over and New York is starting up again. My cabbie told me it was still slow, however, as if “a lot of people are still away.' Michael’s. It was the first time I’d set foot in the place since December 12th. (Michael’s also closes for that week between the two holidays.) I was having lunch with Chip Fisher who owns the patents on and markets a medical device called the Fisher-Wallace Stimulator. I will tell you more adequately at another time when I know what I’m talking about. Michael himself was there, just in from Southern California where he’s completed a refurbishing of his restaurant garden in Santa Monica, including a major change in the menu. The menu that I’ve been looking at all these years is about to change dramatically also. There will be one page, instead of two, and many choices. Again, like Nouvelle Cuisine, it’s a major movement in the food business. Michael’s new menu in New York will launch in a couple of weeks. The restaurant business is like a religion. The most fervent are, in the end, the most successful at leading the crowds of the fancy, the famished and the foodies. Michael’s was very busy. At Table One, Diane Clehane was hosting Lisa Vanderpump and her husband Ken Todd of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Not being much of a viewer, I didn’t recognize them, except Mr. Todd who came in after everyone else were seated. He looked very familiar, like an older movie star whose name I couldn’t place. Tucked under one arm was, Giggy, in a leopard print coat, a miniature Pomeranian. Giggy evidently goes everywhere with them. The Vanderpump-Todds look the part, a post-Modern Ozzie and Harriet. Le plus ca change and all that. As an aficionado of Los Angeles and Los Angeles life, it was a pleasure to be reminded of that West Coast sensibility. Diane was having a lunch interview at Michael’s for her mediabistro column on Thursday. Afterwards, I asked her what they were like: 'Utterly charming and very engaging; a world apart from most of the reality stars I’ve met. And they’ve been married for 30 years.' Also in the house was Peggy Siegal, the peripatetic Hollywood liaison in New York. She was hosting a luncheon in the Garden Room in honor of Tom Hooper." (NYSocialDiary)


"Having been there makes a difference. Crawling on your stomach in the pitch dark while you hear the clink, clink of a column of Viet Cong troops winding its way through the jungle only a few feet away. Fighting house to house, doorway to doorway in Saigon during the Tet offensive. Being wounded twice and promoted twice and decorated seven times.Chuck Hagel was there -- in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968, during some of the most intense fighting of the war. Now he is President Barack Obama's nominee to be America's next secretary of defense, and if he is confirmed, Hagel would be the first former enlisted man ever to lead the Defense Department. It's a safe bet that what he experienced in the jungles of Vietnam would make a difference in the way Hagel would approach his job at the Pentagon. 'War is not an abstraction,' Hagel wrote in a piece for the Omaha World-Herald in 2004. 'I know. I've been to war.' When he was in the Senate, Hagel tried to help his colleagues understand war through the lens of the people who would actually be doing the fighting and dying. "We see war up here in very antiseptic terms,' he said. 'We see it in bright policy terms. In human suffering terms? No.' The terms are different, of course, for someone who has been there.
Years before he arrived in Vietnam at age 21, Hagel had already been interested in international relations. His friends teased him when he started subscribing to Time magazine in junior high.
But his experience in Vietnam intensified and shaped the adult Hagel's internationalist worldview. 'Integration of the United States in the world is key,' he said when I interviewed him in 2004. War may sometimes be an ugly necessity, but it is international relationships that maintain stability and security, he said. The war Hagel confronted in Vietnam was ugly, indeed. Funny thing is, he wouldn't have had to go there." (ForeignPolicy)



"Last night in NYC, Anna Wintour and Glenn Close came out to toast Stella McCartney's autumn collection, Anne Hathaway joined her Les Miserables cast at the National Board of Review Awards Gala, Alber Elbaz received the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement award .." (Guerstofaguest)

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