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Thursday, January 09, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres





"Though the 2014 games seemingly offer Moscow a perfect platform for showcasing the strength of its security apparatus, Russia will have to work overtime to protect athletes and spectators. This in turn could leave surrounding regions such as the Northern Caucasus and major cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg exposed to militancy, terrorism and organized crime. Militants from the Caucasus striking elsewhere in Russia during the games to avoid the intense security that will be present in Sochi and to capitalize on news coverage of the highly publicized event pose the greatest threat to the games. Russian security forces possess the experience and numbers necessary to provide for safe Olympic Games. They will have an intense multilayered system in place throughout Sochi. The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, or the FSB, is the primary security agency in Russia -- it is the successor to the Soviet KGB and the country's chief counterterrorism agency -- and has taken the lead in guaranteeing security for the Sochi Olympics since 2010. The FSB will lead close to 100,000 security personnel in securing the games and Sochi overall. Other elements involved in Olympic security operations will be in place." (STRATFOR)


"The electoral playing field. How many vulnerable seats are there in the House for the president’s party? This is mainly a result of prior elections. A presidential victory with coattails (think 1936, 1948, 1964 and 2008) results in a party winning lots of vulnerable seats that can be swept away when the tides change in subsequent midterms. The Democrats lost their weaker members in 2010 and failed to add many seats in 2012; these disappointments protect them from drastic House losses this coming November.Senate is a different story. There is no such thing as a typical Senate election. These high-profile contests are idiosyncratic, driven by distinctive circumstances, sometimes quirky candidates and massive spending. A hidden determinant is the division of the Senate into three classes—one-third is elected every two years, making the combination of competitive Senate seats unpredictable and ever shifting, unlike in the heavily gerrymandered House. One party is usually favored to gain seats from the outset, thanks to the pattern of retirements as well as the structure of the Senate class on the ballot.So: How many Democratic Blue or Republican Red seats are there in an election year? How many incumbents are running, and did any senators holding seats in states favoring the opposite party step aside? How strong has the candidate recruitment been in both parties? Generally speaking, this year’s Senate slate strongly favors the Republicans." (Politico)


Michael's Wednesday lunch.

Yesterday, being Wednesday was the Michael’s lunch and that place washot – although with the crowd coming and going through the front door, there was a frequent gust of frigid air that approached my table a few times. I took this picture of part of the room hoping to catch a sense of the mayhem (an exaggeration but still applicable) going on. I didn’t succeed because there’s no Noise Factor. The place gets as crowded on other days, but there is something about Wednesdays that makes me think of “Animal House”(another exaggeration but ...); i.e., the noise. People talking. People are always getting up from their tables and going over to other tables to talk. And there’s a lot of noise, what the adults used to call, when I was a kid, 'a lot of racket.' Dr. Mehmet Oz who was at Table One with his wife Lisa Oz, and a lot of other people, specifically Diane Clehane and Hearst executives, as the doctor is launching a magazine under the Hearst banner called Dr. Oz The Good Life. Oz was up and about quite a bit. That’s him, the taller man in the dark suit standing in front of the David Hockney print talking to another man. " (NYSocialDiary)

"Roger Ailes has spent much of his life in New York City—but he’s never considered himself a New Yorker. For most of his career, home was a place in the mind—a fantasized version of Warren, Ohio, the town where he spent his boyhood in the forties and fifties. But a few years ago, Ailes decided to create a home of his own, a real one. 'All I ever wanted was a nice place to live, a great family, and to die peacefully in my sleep,' he has said. The town he chose was the hamlet Garrison, 46 miles north of Manhattan in Putnam County, New York. Garrison, a few other hamlets, and the neighboring villages Nelsonville and Cold Spring form the larger town of Philipstown. It seemed, on the surface, to be an ideal place to instill his son, Zachary, with the Eisenhower values that Ailes had known as a boy. Putnam County even had a Republican bent: While voters tended to vote Democratic at the state level, the last Democratic presidential candidate to carry the county had been Lyndon B. Johnson.
And whereas Warren, Ohio, had long since rusted, its steel plants closed, its downtown half-shuttered, Philipstown still seemed to be in its heyday. Cold Spring was a vibrant civic space, dotted with well-maintained Victorian homes, quaint store-fronts, and stately churches. On a hilltop parcel, Roger and his wife Elizabeth built an impressive, 9,000-square-foot mansion constructed of Adirondack river stone. To the west was the spot where Continental Army troops strung a 185-ton iron chain across the Hudson to block British ships advancing upriver. Across the river stood West Point military academy. The grand interior of his house also bore witness to American greatness. Photographs of generals George Patton, Ulysses Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Dwight Eisenhower lined the walls. In the summer of 2008, to cement their ties to their new home, the Aileses bought the local newspaper, the Putnam County News & Recorder. Founded in the mid-nineteenth century as the Cold Spring Recorder, the weekly newspaper was like the community itself: an artifact of a bygone age. The previous owner and publisher, Brian O’Donnell, kept production methods antique. In a one-room office, housed in a former barbershop on Main Street, staffers laid out the paper with scissors and glue. “It covered the 4-H Club and the kids’ activities at the school,” said Elizabeth Anderson, the founder and managing director of the investment firm Beekman Wealth Advisory and a part-time resident of Philipstown. Ailes described Philipstown as a bastion of traditional America, and in a certain sense, he was right. Many of the town’s contractors and restaurant owners were the descendants of nineteenth-century Irish and Italian immigrants who had moved there to work in the local foundries. Other residents had ancestors living in the area since before the nation’s birth. But that was only part of the town. In the second half of the twentieth century, a different kind of settler had arrived: the college-educated urbanite who idealized country life. After 9/11, residents saw a new wave of city dwellers move in. Along with their politics, they brought their own back-to-the-land ethic, with all the predictable signifiers. The number of Priuses and Subarus parked in the lot at Foodtown increased, as did the variety of heirloom produce at the weekend farmers’ market. It all added up to a rich brew of clashing sensibilities, a culture war in miniature, of the kind that had driven Fox’s ratings for years. With the pages of the PCN&R now at their disposal, the Aileses were about to turn the temperature up." (NYMag)





"The self-described paparazzo responsible for the infamous photos of Charles Saatchi with his hand around Nigella Lawson’s throat at a London restaurant on June 9 opened up to Vanity Fair writer Kevin Goldman for our February issue. The photographer, who identifies himself only as 'Jean-Paul,' tells Goldman, 'I saw her lurch violently backwards. I thought Charles was demonstrating something. It lasted about 30 seconds. Then he did it a second time, and it was so violent, with such force, that her head snapped backwards . . . I was taking pictures the whole time.' In all, Jean-Paul snapped nearly 1,000 photographs at the restaurant over about 27 minutes. Someone close to Saatchi tells Goldman that the argument at Scott’s centered on Lawson’s daughter,Mimi (with her late husband, journalist and broadcaster John Diamond), who had secured an internship at The Economist. Lawson wanted her to attend university, while Saatchi said he didn’t understand why Mimi should waste her time as a student when she could continue to impress her superiors at The Economist. Lawson excused herself from the table and went to the ladies’ room, and when she returned to the table Saatchi felt she was 'unable to focus.' According to this source, Saatchi was 'holding [her] neck to try to get her attention. He was saying, ‘Listen to me. I feel very passionate about this. I think it’s great they love her at The Economist.’' Lawson explained her version of what happened in court at the fraud trial of Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, former assistants of Saatchi and Lawson’s, saying that she was looking at a baby outside Scott’s and telling Saatchi that she looked forward to being a grandmother. According to Lawson, Saatchi grabbed her throat, saying that he was the only one she should be concerned with. (Jean-Paul tells Goldman that he hadn’t noticed a baby or a baby carriage during the time Saatchi and Lawson were having lunch that day.)" (Vanity Fair)





"Mr. (Fred) Mwangaguhunga runs the gossip site MediaTakeOut.com, which boasts traffic of 16.5 million page views per month. (We should all be so lucky.) Ms. Green is a mommy blogger (Tripletsintribeca.com) who has gone multimedia: You can find her on various network TV morning shows and in the glossies (Essence, Manhattan Family)." (Observer)



"The old-money crowd in the town of North Salem, in Westchester County, is worried that the area’s horsey, rural character could change if Grand Central Farm is subdivided and developed with dozens of McMansions. But Scott Hakim, who bought the property — an equestrian training and breeding facility — in November for $14.9 million, assured me, 'It’s going to remain a farm. It will be maintained for horses.' Hakim, whose father Kamran emigrated from Iran in the ‘70s and now owns more than 200 buildings, is a horse lover. He bought Old Salem Farm, in the same town, from Paul Newman and spent millions turning it into a state-of-the-art facility for show horses. 'I used to be an equestrian. Now I’m a workaholic,' Hakim said. The federal government sold Grand Central Farm after seizing the 286-acre property from Paul Greenwood, the hedge-fund Ponzi schemer who pleaded guilty to fraud in July 2010 and agreed to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office." (Richard Johnson)

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