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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Despite denials from Beijing, there seems little doubt that China’s computer hackers are engaged in an aggressive and increasingly threatening campaign of cyberespionage directed at a range of government and private systems in the United States, including the power grid and telecommunications networks. The Obama administration had carefully avoided naming a specific culprit. Now it has. In the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on China, the Chinese government and, in particular, the Chinese military are explicitly accused of mounting attacks on United States government computer systems and defense contractors in a systematic effort to steal intellectual property and gain strategic advantage. The report adds urgency to talks expected to begin in July with the Chinese about cyberissues. It does not discuss America’s own considerable investment in disruptive computer capabilities. These, too, must be on the agenda. China’s ambitions have been discussed on a background basis by senior officials and were the subject of an earlier report by the computer security firm Mandiant that was disclosed by The Times in February. The new report to Congress adds depth and detail. Its clear purpose is to increase pressure on China to rein in its hackers, who Mandiant has said, are largely run by Chinese Army officers or are contractors working for military commands. But for anyone broadly interested in the possibility of a global disruption caused by government-directed hackers, the report suffers from one conspicuous omission: It does not address America’s own role in the expanding world of cyberwarfare nor that of other countries with active programs, like Russia, Britain and Israel. The report said that the primary goal of China’s cyberattacks on the United States was to steal industrial technology but that many intrusions were designed to obtain insights into American policy makers’ thinking. The report also warned that information gathered on American defense networks, logistics and military capabilities could be exploited during a crisis. The United States has spent billions of dollars defending its computer networks, as it should. But, increasingly, it is also investing billions more in offensive capabilities, including malware that can disrupt an adversary’s networks like the American-Israel Stuxnet virus did to Iran’s nuclear program in 2010. Cyber is one of the few growth areas in the military budget; Congress and the Obama administration will need to take care that the Pentagon is not exploiting the China threat to boost the budget even more to make up for other reductions." (NYTimes)


"A strange thing happened to Mark Sanford on the way to his comeback victory over Elizabeth Colbert Busch in South Carolina’s special Congressional election: He became a media darling. Once the butt of Appalachian Trail and stalker jokes, a different portrait of Sanford emerged in the final days of the race, as the national reporters who flocked to South Carolina encountered a candidate who not only answered all their questions, but put them on the phone with one of his sons and even personally chauffeured them to his campaign stops. As Slate’s Dave Weigel put it after tagging along with Sanford this past weekend, 'This got lost in the winds of scandal, but Sanford has an incredibly easy charm and — maybe by necessity, now — a welcoming, humble campaign style.' It was that campaign style that ultimately sent Sanford back to Washington. Sure, the race never should have been close. In a Congressional district where Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 18 points, any Republican should have been a shoe-in. But after his nasty split from his ex-wife Jenny reared its ugly head again a few weeks ago in the form of trespassing charges — Sanford heads to court on Thursday — it looked like he was toast. National Republicans pulled their support and Colbert Busch soon took a nine-point lead in the polls." (NYMag)


"If a typical break-up calls for vats of Ben & Jerry’s and repeated viewings of The Notebook, then we suppose a highly publicized divorce from a top Hollywood actor and devout Scientologist calls for a cross-country move and a gorgeous new apartment. That’s pretty much what Katie Holmes got last summer when she took up residence at the Chelsea Mercantile—the spectacular, star-infused, 21-story building at 252 Seventh Avenue. The actress reportedly signed the lease just a few days after announcing her split from husband Tom Cruise in June 2012. As you might expect from Ms. Holmes, who has also transmitted her fashion sense to daughter Suri, these are some stylish digs. The actress has been settling into her New York lifestyle pretty well since then. Last winter, Ms. Holmes took the stage as Lorna in Theresa Rebeck’s Dead Accounts, which ran from late November to early January at the Music Box Theatre. Though the show received mixed reviews, Ms. Holmes’s performance stood out, at least to The New York Times. Ms. Holmes 'appears much more at ease playing a worn-down country mouse to the hyped-up city mouse of [Norbert Leo Butz],' Ben Brantley wrote. 'Ms. Holmes and Mr. Butz summon an appealingly natural family rapport … You may even forget that Ms. Holmes is Katie Holmes for a moment.' It’s no problem that Dead Accounts closed earlier than expected—Ms. Holmes is already at work acting in another project, a Spike Lee production called Mania Days." (Observer)


"Last Thursday night at 583 Park Avenue, Lighthouse International held its annual 'POSH Affair' honoring Lorry Newhouse and Alex Hitz. The evening, which was preceded by a preview of the Annual POSH sale, was emceed by Robert Verdi." (NYSocialDiary)



"Is former 'Love Gov' Eliot Spitzer getting any big ideas from Anthony Weiner’s comeback attempt? At The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute’s New York Ideas dinner at Del Posto on Monday night, Spitzer was overheard telling a guest, 'If I do run for something, it would have to be something that would show I’m willing to work my way back up.' The former Client 9 wasn’t the only pol talking about potential races. Newark Mayor Cory Booker — who’s all but officially declared he’s running for the Senate — told Norah O’Donnell during a Q&A, 'Unofficially, I’m running.' A spy said Booker also explained to a guest, 'I can’t announce now because of the [New Jersey] governor’s race, but as soon as it’s over, I’ll announce.'” (PageSix)

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