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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

 
 

"President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to Cairo on Tuesday, the first visit by an Iranian leader to Egypt since the two countries broke off diplomatic relations three decades ago and a barometer of the shifts in regional dynamics underway since the start of the Arab uprisings.  Relations between the two countries have warmed since the toppling of Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, who was deeply hostile to Iran’s leadership and portrayed himself to his allies, including the United States, the Persian Gulf monarchies and Israel, as a bulwark against Iranian influence. Lately, though, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been promoting the idea that the recent Arab revolutions were inspired by the Iranian revolution of 1979. 'Egypt is a very important country in the region and the Islamic Republic of Iran believes it is one of the heavyweights in the Middle East,' Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, told the state Islamic Republic News Agency in Munich on Tuesday. 'We are ready to further strengthen ties.'   While the Egypt’s relations with Iran remains limited, the scene on the tarmac at the Cairo Airport on Tuesday — Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, greeting Mr. Ahmedinejad warmly in a red-carpet ceremony — would have been unimaginable under Mr. Mubarak, and seemed likely to alarm the Obama administration. " (NYTimes)


"Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency embarked on a highly classified program of secret detention and extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects. The program was designed to place detainee interrogations beyond the reach of law. Suspected terrorists were seized and secretly flown across national borders to be interrogated by foreign governments that used torture, or by the CIA itself in clandestine 'black sites' using torture techniques. Globalizing Torture is the most comprehensive account yet assembled of the human rights abuses associated with CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations. It details for the first time what was done to the 136 known victims, and lists the 54 foreign governments that participated in these operations. It shows that responsibility for the abuses lies not only with the United States but with dozens of foreign governments that were complicit. More than 10 years after the 2001 attacks, Globalizing Torture makes it unequivocally clear that the time has come for the United States and its partners to definitively repudiate these illegal practices and secure accountability for the associated human rights abuses." (Globalizing Torture)


"With the announcement on Monday that Richard III had been dug up from the spot where he was buried in 1485, his bones gave up many of their secrets to the world. DNA from his marrow and teeth confirmed his identity; his twisted spine proved that his hunchbacked stance was no myth; a ragged hole in his skull jibed with recorded accounts of of the king’s death. Photographs of the bones were released to the media, including a close-up of the skull, and reporters were allowed to see them but not to shoot photos of their own. The New York Times explained the rules: 'No cameras were permitted, in accordance with an agreement reached with Britain’s Justice Ministry when it issued a permit for the skeleton’s exhumation, and, university officials said, with the dignity due to a king.' A Roman Catholic priest sat with Richard’s remains as the reporters filed past. That sense — of 'dignity,' and perhaps squeamishness — is peculiar. We know that it’s acceptable to exhibit a corpse, royal or otherwise, if it’s ancient: Pay your admission to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and you can see dozens of Egypt’s pharaohs. Same for the Silkeborg Museum, in Denmark, which exhibits Iron Age people who were buried in peat bogs and were thus uncannily preserved, down to the fingerprints. (You have to wonder how much business the museum’s snack bar does.) We also know that it’s not okay to exhibit a recent royal figure: Nobody thinks it would be acceptable to dig up the Queen Mum or Princess Diana and send out pictures of her. Somewhere in between those extremes, a mysterious ethical switcheroo takes place. It turns out that archaeologists and museum directors have thought about this quite a bit, especially in Great Britain. The British Museum has its own eight-page set of guidelines, in which it sets forth a few standing principles. Human remains more than a thousand years old are okay to show." (NYMag)


"Senate Democrats will huddle behind closed doors on Tuesday and Wednesday as they seek to mend divisions within their caucus on gun control, immigration reform and taxes.The retreat at the Westin Annapolis comes at a critical time, with Senate Democrats preparing to do battle on issues that have splintered them in the past. They will meet with President Obama on Wednesday to coordinate strategy. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants to achieve as much unity as possible to boost his negotiating leverage against Republicans. He knows he’ll suffer defections, but infighting must be kept to a minimum to move Obama’s agenda through Congress. 'What the Democrats have to do is find common ground in their own party, No. 1, or recognize there will be some issues where you won’t get the whole caucus,' said Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist. 'Once they find that common ground, they need to see how far they can get with the Republicans.' A Democratic aide familiar with the agenda for the retreat said immigration reform, gun violence and finding a way to pay for the automatic spending sequester would be the main topics of conversation. Sequestration will be addressed as part of a broader discussion about tax and entitlement reform, according to a senior Democratic aide. Senate Democrats feel they are in a better position than they were two years ago, when they held a multiday retreat at the Boar’s Head Inn. Then, Democrats had just suffered what Obama later acknowledged was a 'shellacking' in the 2010 midterm elections and were scrambling to regroup." (TheHill)


"'SO, WE were in Munich and there was this old woman helping with the costumes. Everything she did for me had shoulder pads. But the movie is set in 1933, and shoulder pads didn’t come in till the 1940s. But she was determined to give me shoulders. Finally, I said, ‘Forgive me, weren’t shoulder pads after the war?’ She paused and looked at me and replied, totally deadpan, ‘Vat war?’' That was Liza Minnelli, the other night at the Ziegfeld Theater, reminiscing about making her classic 1972 movie 'Cabaret.' Minnelli’s 'Vat war?' brought down the house. She is a divine, natural born story-teller. (Well, she always says, 'I don’t consider myself a singer so much as a story-teller.') Liza, Michael York, Joel Grey and Marisa Berenson all sat down with TCM’s Robert Osborne for a little Q&A before the film began. (TCM and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment hosted the night, celebrating the 40th anniversary of 'Cabaret’s' premiere at the Ziegfeld itself.) Liza and her co-stars were in fine, merry fettle, as was the audience. Let me say I have attended many premieres at the Ziegfeld. But I have never in my life seen the huge theater as crowded as it was for the screening of this four-decade-old movie. Not only was there literally not a seat to be had, but hundreds had to be turned away outside. This was indeed a special event and Miss Minnelli retains her star power, that’s for sure. (The crowd was so great it was almost scary as they exited after the film ended. It is said the old Roman Coliseum could empty 50,000 spectators in 15 minutes. No such luck at the Ziegfeld! For a few pressed-together seconds I regretted not having watched a gladiatorial combat rather than a Bob Fosse movie.) " (NYSocialDiary)



" André Leon Talley is aiming to bring his larger-than-life persona to the small screen. The voluble Vogue contributing editor has inked a deal with production company Electus to develop a late-night talk show. Electus, a partnership between former NBC Entertainment cochairman Ben Silverman and IAC Corp., has coproduced 'Fashion Star,' 'Mob Wives,' and 'Teen Wolf.' Silverman has also been an executive producer on 'The Office,' 'Ugly Betty' and 'The Biggest Loser.' Talley will serve as executive producer of the potential chat-fest, along with Electus. He said his goal is to create “a show that blends Dick Cavett’s approach to eloquence and sophistication with unparalleled access into my international fashion lifestyle. A forum where unique stories will be told and inspirations shared.' Marc Beckman of DMA United brokered the deal between Talley and Electus. Beckman said the show was still in the early stages of development but would likely be geared towards a cable network. “We think a television platform is an ideal showcase for André’s personality to shine and bring together his amazing network of personal contacts, ranging from designers to musicians to politicians,” he noted." (WWD)



"'Platinum' tables went for $100,000 and 'gold' for $50,000 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s sold-out Art + Film Gala in late October, and even at those prices, tables were packed so tightly into the mammoth tent set up in the museum’s central plaza that waiters had a hard time serving guests their Filet of Beef Wellington—not to mention the Laurent-Perrier champagne. The black-tie affair was co-chaired by Leonardo DiCaprio and Eva Chow, the wife of restaurateur Michael Chow and a member of the museum’s board, and underwritten by Gucci. It honored the artist Ed Ruscha and the late film director Stanley Kubrick, whose epic career was the subject of an exhibition opening to the public the following week. Hollywood royals were there in force, including Jack Nicholson, Jane Fonda, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Diane Keaton, Ryan O’Neal, Tom Hanks, Cameron Diaz, Salma Hayek, Robert Pattinson, and Steven Spielberg, along with a clutch of industry insiders who sit on lacma’s powerhouse board—CAA partner Bryan Lourd, producers Brian Grazer and Steve Tisch, and journalist Willow Bay, accompanied by her husband, Disney chairman Robert Iger. Pomegranate-juice queen and longtime board member Lynda Resnick—who, along with her husband, Stewart, gave the museum $55 million in 2008 to build the Renzo Piano-designed exhibition pavilion named after them—air-kissed Elaine Wynn, the bejeweled ex-wife of casino king Steve Wynn and one of the board’s newest members. Most of California’s greatest artists were there, too, from conceptualist pioneer John Baldessari to video maestro Bill Viola. Alacma board co-chair Terry Semel, the former C.E.O. of Yahoo, led off the speeches, boasting about the museum’s agreement with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to have Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali convert the former May Company department store at the west end of lacma’s campus into the largest film museum in the world. Then came lacma’s director, Michael Govan, in a Gucci tuxedo, to shout out even more good news: 'This has been our best year ever! Attendance is up to 1.3 million! To borrow a phrase from Ed Ruscha, ‘Los Angeles County Museum is on fire!’ 'But that’s not what people really wanted to talk about that night. They wanted to talk about—almost couldn’t stop talking about—moca, the Museum of Contemporary Art, lacma’s troubled rival institution, 10 miles away in downtown Los Angeles. Was its controversial director, Jeffrey Deitch, the New York art dealer, installed only two years ago, staying or going?" (VanityFair)


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