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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres




"As former secretaries of state, we have confronted the existential issue of nuclear weapons and negotiated with adversaries in attempts to reduce nuclear perils. We sympathize with the current administration's quest to resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff through diplomacy. We write this article to outline the options as we see them emerging from the interim agreement for a policy based on the principle of 'trust and verify.' For two decades, American presidents from both parties have affirmed that the U.S. is unalterably opposed to an Iranian military nuclear capability. They have usually added a warning to the effect that 'all options are on the table' in pursuit of this policy. A clear trans-Atlantic consensus, a decade of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports and six United Nations Security Council resolutions have buttressed this position. The interim nuclear deal with Iran has been described as the first step toward the elimination of Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon. That hope resides, if at all, in the prospects of the next round of negotiations envisaged to produce a final outcome within six months. Standing by itself, the interim agreement leaves Iran, hopefully only temporarily, in the position of a nuclear threshold power—a country that can achieve a military nuclear capability within months of its choosing to do so. A final agreement leaving this threshold capacity unimpaired would institutionalize the Iranian nuclear threat, with profound consequences for global nonproliferation policy and the stability of the Middle East. For 35 years and continuing today, Iran has been advocating an anti-Western concept of world order, waging proxy wars against America and its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and beyond, and arming and training sectarian extremists throughout the Muslim world. During that time, Iran has defied unambiguous U.N. and IAEA demands and proceeded with a major nuclear effort, incompatible with any exclusively civilian purpose, and in violation of its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty in effect since 1970. If the ruling group in Iran is genuinely prepared to enter into cooperative relations with the United States and the rest of the world, the U.S. should welcome and encourage that shift. But progress should be judged by a change of program, not of tone. The heart of the problem is Iran's construction of a massive nuclear infrastructure and stockpile of enriched uranium far out of proportion to any plausible civilian energy-production rationale. Iran amassed the majority of this capacity—including 19,000 centrifuges, more than seven tons of 3.5%- to 5%-enriched uranium, a smaller stock (about 196 kilograms) of 20%-enriched uranium, and a partly built heavy-water reactor that will be capable of producing plutonium—in direct violation of IAEA and Security Council resolutions. Efforts to resolve this issue through negotiation have a long pedigree." (Henry Kissinger & George Schultz)



"In the fifties, a bunch of rock stations got caught taking money from music producers to give their artists airtime. The'Payola' scam, as it was called, was sufficiently outrageous to become a major national scandal. Last month, Washington Post reporter Erik Wemple reported that Politico's Mike Allen is running a similar scam — accepting lucrative payments from advertisers and lending his editorial voice to hyping, and sometimes parroting, their agenda. Given the relative importance of national politics vis-à-vis rock music, this struck me as a potentially career-ending revelation. Instead, Politico has ignored the report and carried on as if nothing at all were amiss. But Politico couldn't avoid all interviews forever, and in the course of appearing on 'The Brian Lehrer Show' to hype Politico's new Capital New York venture, CEO, former editor, and Allen co-author Jim VandeHei was asked about the payola allegations. His reply is a comical stream of evasive tripe .." (NYMag)



"With Edward Snowden becoming a leading candidate for Time magazine’s Person of the Year, it is important to remember that he is the central character in not one but three distinct stories: 1) the story of what his disclosures tell us about the US government’s surveillance system, 2) the story of what the treatment of him and the reporters publicizing his disclosures says about attitudes toward whistleblowing and First Amendment protections, and 3) the story of the rapidly changing power dynamics in the age of digital media.The first two stories have been fairly well covered. From the first story, we now know that America’s 'collect it all' government is vacuuming up massive amounts of data and surveilling millions of people in real time — all in a way that regularly violates the law. We also know from the first story that top government officials lied to Congress and that those officials have provided no evidence proving their surveillance programs have thwarted terrorist attacks. From the second story, we know that the government’s move to punish Snowden exposes a blatant double standard about leaks and represents another front in an unprecedented war on whistleblowers. We also know from that second story that the Obama administration is waging a similarly unprecedented war on journalism. Far less examined, though, is the third story about what all this exposes about the revolution happening inside the Fourth Estate. This little-discussed story is most easy to see in the differing reactions to the two print reporters with whom Snowden chose to work — Glenn Greenwald and Barton Gellman." (Pando)


"This past week, the Telegraph of London ran an obituary of the 4th Earl of Dudley, known to many as just plain Billy Dudley, who died on November 16, a little less than two months from his 94th birthday, and exactly two years to the day of the death of his wife Maureen, Countess of Dudley. The Dudleys were very popular on this side of the Atlantic. They visited New York fairly frequently, which is how I met them. Billy was one of those British gents who always had a smile with his hello, and a twinkle in his eye that implied laughter was on the way. Maureen, as she was known to friends, was warm and friendly, and like her husband was glad to see friends. I always had the feeling they were glad to see me. The feeling was mutual. I mention this because we were really just acquaintances. I think that it was probably true, however, because they were the kind of people who did like people and were glad to see them. Such personal generosity is not as commonplace as you might think it should be or would be with the Very Social animals who inhabit this world, and particularly the world where the Dudleys held some sway –in New York and London. I hadn’t seen them in a few years. Maureen died of cancer two years ago at 78, and had been ill for at least a year before. Although I knew Billy only from the few times we had dinner together in New York, he was one of those people who always shared the pleasure of his company. In reading the Telegraph obituary, and then re-reading the Telegraph’s obituary of Maureen, which was published at about this time two years ago, I got a much stronger sense of these two friendly people, and insight into them and their relationship. Firstly I knew very little about their past lives because it never came up. The prominence both experienced in their young adulthood was before my time." (NYSocialDiary)



"The Four Seasons Restaurant was particularly packed with power brokers on Tuesday afternoon. Spies at the legendary lunch spot saw former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger chowing down with Blackstone group co-founder Pete Peterson, while IAC chairman Barry Diller was dining nearby with former General Electric chairman and CEO Jack Welch. And at a round table in the middle of the Grill Room, among the male machers, was a 'very, very, tiny-looking' Sarah Jessica Parker, who was having lunch with seven other women. Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom, actress Blythe Danner, posted photos of the restaurant’s signature pink cotton candy dessert on her Instagram feed." (PageSix)



"Yesterday, I went down to meet a friend for lunch at Michael’s. Peggy Siegal was throwing one of her stylish movie-promo lunches in the Garden Room. The restaurant dining room is now fully swagged in pine boughs and red ribbons and there is something cozy and festive about it an LA/NY sorta way. This is happening all over town now. Peggy said to me: 'Guess where I spent Thanksgiving?' I thought, oh well, here it comes ... Peggy gets around (the world). 'Where?' I said.'Martha Stewart’s.' 'In Bedford?' 'Uh-huh.' Martha told me last week at the Tiffany lunch that she was having her Thanks in Bedford and cooking. 'So was it fantastic?' (It would have to be, no? I mean: Martha Stewart?) 'Uh-huh ... amazing ...' Peggy then went on to describe some of the items on the menu. You know it was exquisite. The thing about Martha is she personally likes it like that; it’s not promo; it’s solid Martha. My lunch partner, hearing the conversation, then pulled out a picture (on his cell phone) of the house he owned in Bedford, not far from Martha. It was beautiful, stately, MGM movies mansion.  Wow. Did he still own it? No, he sold it because when he was first going out with the girl who would become his wife (number two) and they were getting serious, she said 'you’re not going to keep the house, are you?'  So he sold it. For a lot more than he paid of course. But he loved it and still misses it. He and the lady did marry, and are now divorced." (NYSocialDiary)

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