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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"In Montreux, Switzerland, 31 foreign ministers (none of them Iranian) will gather Wednesday to inaugurate a conference aimed at putting Syria firmly on the path to political transition. That is the goal, based on the 2012 agreement the upcoming conference is supposed to implement. Two days after ministers have made their speeches, two opposing Syrian delegations are supposed to get down to business in Geneva II. The likelihood of them accomplishing their mission anytime soon is nil. So what is the point? The agreement is refreshingly straightforward. The Syrian parties' task is to create, on the basis of mutual consent, a transitional governing body exercising full executive powers. In other words, the regime led by Bashar al-Assad is to be relieved of its duties. When John Kerry became secretary of state, he acknowledged that the calculation of the Assad regime would have to be changed in order for it to negotiate its own exit. For most of 2013 that calculation did indeed change—in the wrong direction. In the wake of the August 21, 2013 chemical atrocity, the United States traded away the credible threat of punitive military strikes for an agreement that would remove Syria's chemical weapons. Assad, no stranger to cynical opportunism, saw himself as a legitimate party to a long-term contract. Worse, he assumed he had been given a permission slip to do as he wished to vulnerable civilians so long as he did it without chemicals. Worse yet, Iran and Russia doubled down on their military support of the regime. So Assad's delegates come to Geneva borne aloft by Iranian-supplied foreign fighters and Russian weaponry.Is it any wonder, therefore, that regime spokespeople have declared the status of Bashar al-Assad off-limits in Geneva? Or that Assad himself has contemptuously offered the possibility that he will stand for reelection to a seven-year term in June? Kerry recently accused the regime and its supporters of 'revisionism' in connect with the political transition mission of Geneva II. The regime, Tehran, and Moscow might well accuse Kerry of revisionism when it comes to the relationship between military reality on the ground and diplomatic results in a conference room." (TNR)




" It snowed yesterday in New York, from about ten in the morning until ten at night. It was predicted and unlike a lot of the dramatic weather predictions we get here, this one turned out to be very accurate. Our NYSD contributor Blair Sabol who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona (although she’s lived a lot of her life, since childhood in the East – namely Philadelphia and New York) and is not a fan of Northeastern winters. (It was 80 degrees in Scottsdale yesterday.) I sent her this email early yesterday afternoon with this photo I took of East End Avenue looking north with the message below: I left the house today only to get food for my lunch and dinner, and to take the dogs out. When I first went out about 11 am it was really coming down, and traffic on the avenue was moving slowly (and the two schools – Chapin and Brearley – had school buses waiting for the students to be discharged). It was impossible to find a vacant taxi, so I walked the ten city block lengths over to Third Avenue to get my grub and walked back with it. Snowdays still remind me of “No School” days which were always a thrill when I was a kid, so it was a dream come true. So I treated it like a No School, No Nothing day – reading the papers, reading my favorite blogs, plus the new New Yorker, the new New York Review of Books, and otherwise getting up from my desk every few minutes to take more pictures of the snow falling. Not very exciting to report, I know. And the photos I got were not nearly as exciting as seeing it. First of all the camera doesn’t pick up those trillions of snowflakes that excite and delight the kid." (NYSD)


Ezra Klein is pictured at the Esquire 80th Anniversary And Esquire Network Launch Celebration held at High Line Stages, NYC. | AP Photo/Dustin Wayne Harris/PatrickMcMullan.com/Sipa USA


"As many media watchers expected he might, Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein announced on Tuesday that he has left his former employer for an unidentified new venture, after publisher Katharine Weymouth and owner Jeff Bezos reportedly rejected his demands for $10 million in funding and a staff of 34 to run an independent site. For many Post-watchers, Klein’s departure sounds a lot like when the founders of Politico — also former Washington Post staffers — quit to form their own site, a loss that many believe the Post was unwise to allow. In a surprisingly gracious internal memo that briefly took down the Poynter website after it was posted there, the Post said that Klein would be missed, calling him a 'brash wunderkind,' and wishing him the best in his new endeavor. The memo also mentioned that two other staffers — former Post head of platform and blog development Melissa Bell and blogger Dylan Matthews — are also leaving to join Klein in his new venture (according to one recent report, the Post made an offer to Derek Thompson of The Atlantic to take over Klein’s role but he refused)." (GigOm)





"It was 1949. My mother—known in the gossip columns of that era as 'New York's girl caricaturist'—was freelancing theatrical sketches to a number of New York's newspapers and magazines, including the Brooklyn Eagle. That paper, then more than a century old, had just a few years of life left in it. From 1846 to 1848, its editor had been the poet Walt Whitman. In later years, my mother used to enjoy telling a story about the Eagle editor she dealt with who, on learning that I was being sent to Walt Whitman kindergarten, responded in the classically gruff newspaper manner memorialized in movies like His Girl Friday: 'Are they still naming things after that old bastard?' In my childhood, New York City was, you might say, papered with newspapers. The Daily News, the Daily Mirror, the Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal…there were perhaps nine or 10 significant ones on newsstands every day and, though that might bring to mind some golden age of journalism, it's worth remembering that a number of them were already amalgams. The Journal-American, for instance, had once been the Evening Journal and the American, just as the World-Telegram & Sun had been a threesome, the World, the Evening Telegram, and the Sun. In my own household, we got the New York Times (disappointingly comic-strip-less), the New York Post (then a liberal, not a right-wing, rag that ran Pogo and Herblock's political cartoons) and sometimes the Journal-American (Believe It or Not and The Phantom). Then there were always the magazines: in our house, Life, the Saturday Evening Post, Look, the New Yorker—my mother worked for some of them, too—and who knows what else in a roiling mass of print. It was a paper universe all the way to the horizon, though change and competition were in the air. After all, the screen (the TV screen, that is) was entering the American home like gangbusters. Mine arrived in 1953 when the Post assigned my mother to draw the Army-McCarthy hearings, which—something new under the sun—were to be televised live by ABC.Still, at least in my hometown, it seemed distinctly like a golden age of print news, if not of journalism." (MotherJones via TomsDispatch)





"Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tight relationship with his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been noted by many commentators as they observed the Canadian leader taking a large delegation on a state visit this week. Going beyond speeches and diplomatic policies, Mr. Harper showed another sign of this chumminess when he performed the Beatles' 'Hey Jude' at a state dinner in Jerusalem, while Mr. Netanyahu and his wife Sara beamed at their table. The video, released on Mr. Netanyahu’s YouTube channel, does not specify when the video was recorded but it was posted Tuesday. The two men wore similar ties at public events earlier that day. Mr. Harper had performed the same song last month at a Toronto fundraiser, the Jewish National Fund’s 2013 Negev Dinner, right after he announced the trip to Israel.The Canadian prime minister occasionally sings Beatles tunes in public, ever since he appeared on stage with cellist Yo-Yo Ma at a black-tie gala at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in 2009." (GlobaandMail via TheAwl)



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