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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Media-Whore D'oeuvres


"The civil war in Syria, one of the few lasting legacies of the Arab Spring, has been under way for more than two years. There has been substantial outside intervention in the war. The Iranians in particular, and the Russians to a lesser extent, have supported the Alawites under Bashar al Assad. The Saudis and some of the Gulf States have supported the Sunni insurgents in various ways. The Americans, Europeans and Israelis, however, have for the most part avoided involvement.
Last week the possibility of intervention increased. The Americans and Europeans have had no appetite for intervention after their experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. At the same time, they have not wanted to be in a position where intervention was simply ruled out. Therefore, they identified a redline that, if crossed, would force them to reconsider intervention: the use of chemical weapons. There were two reasons for this particular boundary. The first was that the United States and European states have a systemic aversion to the possession and usage of weapons of mass destruction in other countries. They see this ultimately as a threat to them, particularly if such weapons are in the hands of non-state users. But there was a more particular reason in Syria. No one thought that al Assad was reckless enough to use chemical weapons because they felt that his entire strategy depended on avoiding U.S. and European intervention, and that therefore he would never cross the redline. This was comforting to the Americans and Europeans because it allowed them to appear decisive while avoiding the risk of having to do anything. However, in recent weeks, first the United Kingdom and France and then Israel and the United States asserted that the al Assad regime had used chemical weapons. No one could point to an incidence of massive deaths in Syria, and the evidence of usage was vague enough that no one was required to act immediately. In Iraq, it turned out there was not a nuclear program or the clandestine chemical and biological weapons programs that intelligence had indicated. Had there been, the U.S. invasion might have had more international support, but it is doubtful it would have had a better outcome." (STRATFOR)


"When I was nineteen years old I was stunned to find myself back in New York. The only thing I was sure of was I did not want to live and work in this city, my birthplace. I had tried one year of that and it hadn’t appealed. Now I was back from backpacking around the world, on my own, for the previous six months. The idea was I would travel the earth and thereby discover my purpose, my calling. Nothing of the sort happened. I did experience an eye-popping quantity of stimuli but six months later I was back where I had begun, New York City. And then, by some sort of divine intervention I met Carmen D’Alessio, an energetic Peruvian sexpot public relations queen. Carmen is best known for being the spark plug behind the components of Studio 54. When I first met Carmen, pretty much on the spot she offered me a job as her assistant. On a lark, and without any visible alternatives, I took the post. Days were all about phoning her hundreds of contacts and inviting them to her parties, at Studio 54, it was an easy sell. Thus I learned everyone’s name, inadvertently even learning their telephone numbers by heart. Nights were all about escorting Carmen, in stretch limousines, along with her forever rotating entourage of hot young men. They truly adored her, and she ruled with a powerful bass laugh and thunderous commands, she was a worshipped general. We motored around the city, stopping in at every happening club, doormen opening ropes and ushering our posse in with personal greetings to Carmen, like she owned the city, and there we would hand out tickets to Studio 54, to anyone who caught Carmen’s fancy. We would work our way from club to club, seining effectively for the cutest catch. Eventually ending up at the great club Studio 54 itself." (Christina Oxenberg)


"Last night they were celebrating the 30th birthday of the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall. They honored songwriters Frank Loesser and Jule Styne, and if you don’t think you know their work, you’ve heard it so many times you probably even know a lot of the words and the music. Among the performers on the program were Nick Adams, Laura Benanti, Stephanie J. Block, Liz Callaway, Will Chase, Megan Hilty, Marilyn Maye, Rob McClure, Donna Murphy, Kelli O’Hara, Laura Osnes, Leslie Uggams, Max von Essen, Anthony Warlow and Betsy Wolfe. After the concert there was a black tie dinner dance at the Plaza. We’ll have a full report later this week. At the same hour, over at the Dance Times Square Ballroom on West 44th Street, they were celebrating the 114th anniversary of the great Duke Ellington." (NYSocialDiary)



"CNN chief Jeff Zucker was spotted arriving — and immediately leaving — the MSNBC party at the Italian Embassy in DC for the White House Correspondents Dinner. Spies saw Zucker, who is close friends with MSNBC president Phil Griffin, roll up to the event with his wife, Caryn, but the couple didn’t go inside, causing some onlookers to assume they were refused entry. But other sources insisted Zucker was greeted at the entrance by a group of acquaintances who hadn’t been invited to the party. When the guests couldn’t talk their way inside, the source explained, Zucker bolted instead of trying to get them in, missing Rachel Maddow bartending and the Roots performing for the crowd inside. While top journalists Tom Brokaw and Barbara Walters skipped the dinner because of the movie star crowd, Anderson Cooper stayed behind in New York with his boyfriend Benjamin Maisani. The CNN anchor and Maisani, who owns East Village bar Eastern Bloc, were spotted at dinner with friends Saturday night at Rogue & Canon in the West Village. After their meal, the duo was spotted at rooftop bar Jimmy at The James Hotel, where they met up with friends, a few tables away from Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who stopped by to celebrate a friend’s birthday." (PageSix)

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