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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Media-Whore D'oeuvres


Iran's Planned Naval Show of Force is Largely Symbolic
An Iranian guard in front of the Kharg replenishment ship in Port Sudan in 2012. The Kharg extends the range of Iranian warships by carrying essential supplies, including fuel.(ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)



Read more: The Iranian Navy: A Symbolic Show of Force in the Atlantic | Stratfor
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"Tehran announced Feb. 8 that it had dispatched a frigate and a supply ship to the North Atlantic Ocean, where they will approach U.S. maritime borders. This is not the first time the Iranians have announced their intent to deploy naval vessels close to the United States. Iran made two such declarations in 2011 but never followed through.However, following the most recent announcement, Iranian Adm. Afshin Rezayee Haddad said the Iranian fleet is actually underway, already approaching the South Atlantic Ocean through waters off the coast of South Africa. The Iranian decision to deploy naval vessels to the North Atlantic is largely symbolic; it does not pose any real military risk. Iran will use the deployment to show the flag in a non-threatening manner, looking to appease its hard-liners who are dubious about the U.S.-Iran nuclear talks. Given the ongoing nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P-5+1 group -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany -- the Iranian navy's operation takes place in a politically sensitive context. Decades of animosity between the United States and Iran has created diehard camps in each country that must be managed carefully because they can seriously disrupt any potential agreement. The political rhetoric surrounding the talks can seem polarized at times, with any breakthrough in negotiations matched by stern warnings and guarantees that neither side is giving up too much.For the United States, this rhetoric translates as continued assurances of the effectiveness of current sanctions. In return, Iran constantly reiterates the parts of its nuclear program that it has refused to give up. Both sides also like to remind each other that military options are always on the table. The possible excursion into the Atlantic by the Iranian navy -- and the public announcement about the deployment -- fits this ongoing dynamic between Tehran and Washington.It is unclear whether the Iranians will actually sail to the North Atlantic, but it is important to note that such a deployment is certainly within their capabilities." (STRATFOR)


"The results of a simple but extremely accurate midterm election forecasting model indicate that the 2014 U.S. House elections are likely to result in minimal change in the party balance of power. The forecasting model uses three predictors — the current party balance of power in the House, the results of the last presidential election and the relative standing of the two parties on the generic ballot question, a national poll that asks voters which party they prefer in their local House race. Estimates for the model are shown below based on all 17 midterm elections since the end of World War II. The party holding the White House almost always loses House seats in midterm elections. However, the size of those losses varies considerably, and one key factor is how many seats the president’s party is defending. These results indicate that Democratic losses are likely to be limited in 2014 due to the fact that Democrats are defending only 201 seats this year. As a result, Republican pickup opportunities are likely to be limited.
Another regular feature of midterm elections is that the bigger the winning margin for the president two years earlier, the more seats his party is likely to lose in the midterm election. That is due to the removal of presidential coattails in the midterm election. In this case, however, the effect is likely to be small because President Obama’s margin of victory in 2012 was only four percentage points. Obama’s coattails were very short, so Democrats mostly won’t miss their presence in 2014. Finally, the results of the generic ballot have a significant influence on House seat swing. The better the performance of Republicans on the generic ballot in early September, the more seats Republicans are likely to gain in November. For every one point of additional margin on the generic ballot, a party can expect to win about 1.7 additional House seats. Thus, a 10-point generic ballot margin would be worth roughly 17 additional House seats. The generic ballot results do not accurately predict seat swing until the summer and early fall of the election year. However, based on the number of seats currently held by each party in the House and the results of the 2012 presidential election, we can calculate the expected seat swing in November depending on where the parties stand on the generic ballot in early September." (CenterforPolitics)

CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES


"At this point, it kind of feels like we know more about President Obama’s television-watching habits than our own. The commander-in-chief has talked many a time about his love of shows like Homeland ('You’re a finer actress than I am president,' he told Claire Danes), Breaking Bad, and The Wire. You might think a guy with a stressful life like his might prefer the likes of New Girl or Orange Is the New Black, but, nope, the man likes his bleak, intense hour-long dramas. And The New York Times is reporting that at the state dinner for President François Hollande of France on Tuesday night, Obama 'made a point of approaching' HBO’s C.E.O. Richard Plepler and accosting him in the manner of an impatient Internet commenter, asking, “Where is my True Detective and Game of Thrones?' Per the Times, Obama then told Plepler that 'the coming weekend would be a good time to have the DVDs,' as he is due to arrive at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, tomorrow for the three-day weekend. If there’s anyone in the world who could gain access to the next season of Game of Thrones before it bows in April, it would surely be Obama, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that he seems to have gotten his wish: 'After his conversation, Mr. Obama waved over one of his aides to make sure that Mr. Plepler knew where to send the DVDs to ensure they would make it through White House security and end up in the president’s hands.' (This reporter’s observational prowess would clearly make Zoe Barnes proud.)" (VanityFair)



"The actress Ellen Barkin strode onstage at Alice Tully Hall on Monday night, champagne in hand, to toast her 'best friend' Bryan Lourd, the powerful but low-key managing partner of the Creative Artists Agency.“Right now,” she said wryly, 'there are about 300 people out there staring daggers at me, thinking: ‘What are you talking about? I’m Bryan Lourd’s best friend.’ 'Only 300? That estimate seemed rather low, given that more than 750 people (including seemingly half the Vanity Fair cover subjects of the last decade) turned out for the Lincoln Center American Songbook gala honoring Mr. Lourd, a trustee of the arts center and one of Hollywood’s pre-eminent string-pullers.Unlike his agency’s vast stable of A-list clients, Mr. Lourd is not a household name. But his distinct brand of Hollywood soft power was clear, to judge by the legions of entertainment luminaries who filled the glassy atrium to pay their respects: Anne Hathaway, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jimmy Fallon, Madonna and David Geffen, among dozens of others.While the size of the crowd, as well as the outpouring of mass affection, called to mind a royal coronation, if not a state dinner, several clients (and, yes, close friends) made clear that Mr. Lourd does not carry himself like an imperious king of Hollywood.'He’s just very humble, a nice boy from Louisiana, which he and I bonded over,” said the New Orleans-born Reese Witherspoon. 'He has all those beautiful Southern manners,' adding that Mr. Lourd is one person in Hollywood who still understands the power of a handwritten thank-you note.Whoopi Goldberg praised Mr. Lourd for rising above the cliché of the slick, abrasive Hollywood agent. 'He tells the truth,' she said. 'That is more important than anything, especially in our business, where lying is an art.'" (NYT)


Heather Georges, Dr Lisa Airan, and Dr Trevor Born

"On Monday, February 3rd, Kamie Lightburn, Heather Georges, and Stephanie Foster hosted a elegant luncheon at Le Cirque to announce the Spring YAGP Gala that they will chair. Guests of honor included NYCB's former principal dancer, Charles Askegard and ABT's principal dancer, James Whiteside. Guests that bared the cold weather in support of YAGP included: Suzie Aijala, Dr. Lisa Airan, Kate Allen, Charles Askegard, Paige Betz, Dr. Tevor Born, Phil Chen, Herman Cornejo, Jenny Frank, Melissa Gibbons, Paige Hardy, Judith Hoffman, Sharon Hoge, Sharon Hurowitz, Tracey Huff, Nathalie Kaplan, Lisa Klein, Nyssa Kourakos, Pam Ludwick, Jonathan Marder, Lisa Morse (Chair, YAGP), Elyse Newhouse, Ramona Norton, Kate Peck, Kathy Prounis, Larissa Saveliev (Founder of YAGP), Dana Sciff, Jean Shafiroff, Margot Tarkian, Evelyn T Amanda Tapiero, Kari Tiedemann, Evelyn Tompkins,  Alexis Waller, and James Whiteside." (NYSD)



"Just a quick note to explain why I dropped Rachel all those years ago. I was recently moved into a new domicile, somewhere in Chelsea on Tenth Avenue, and my naughtiest friend was coming to visit me. 'I have a housewarming gift for you,' she said, and I fell for it. Because we were acquainted already for a decade I knew better than to leave anything tempting out in view. As she made her way over I rushed around tucking silver ashtrays under couch cushions and even went to the extraordinary lengths of placing all my jewels, a small pile of heirlooms, into a pale blue velvet pouch which I tucked into a boot and shoved to the back and dusty recesses of a closet. Rachel arrived in a whirlwind of chatter and chaos and high spirits and sure enough she had brought me something, a gardenia scented candle. It crossed my mind this item had likely been lifted and spirited away from its previous owner, but I love the smell of gardenia, so I lit it and offered I private prayer. When Rachel asked me if I would be so gracious as to make her a cup of tea it was my pleasure to oblige. Soon the kettle was whistling and boiling and I became engrossed in the process of steeping. When I turned around to hand her the brew she was nowhere to be seen. 'Rachel!' I called but heard nothing back. I sped from room to room calling out her name. And then I found her on the floor on her stomach, face deep into the closet. Somehow with her perfectly calibrated criminal olfactory system she had sniffed out the hiding place. 'What the hell!' I exploded and ran and grabbed her by the ankles and dragged her, belly scraping on the bare floorboards, out from the closet. I yanked her out though still her arms were stiffly outstretched and her hands closely gripped around my bag of jewels." (Christina Oxenberg)

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