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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres







Bill and Linda Fairstein yesterday at Michael's.


"However, as I approached the restaurant (MichaelsNYC) yesterday about 12:30, there were two big black SUVs with the tinted windows parked in front, and what looked like Secret Service men (suits, but each with one of those coiled plastic wires attached to one ear). Inside, it turned out, there was a private event in the Garden Room and one of the guests was President Bill Clinton. Ahh, so. I’ve been seeing more and more of the Clintons lately – the former President, the former Secretary of State and daughter Chelsea. We are reminded that they are New Yorkers too, and both father and daughter have become familiar figures to many New Yorkers as they attend events, dinners, etc., often. Mother, of course, has been on the road for the past few years. (I read yesterday that she’d chalked up a million miles during her terms as Secretary of State. However, Mother is back in town now, with a new book out; and no matter what you read, it does look like she’s got the White House in her thoughts about the future. Just last night, for example, six friends, Martha Stewart, Kathy and Harvey Sloane, Alice Kandell, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Jimmy Xhema hosted a 'discussion' on 'Ready for Hillary' at Ms. Kandell’s Upper East Side penthouse. David Brock was slated to speak. I don’t know if Mrs. Clinton was present although I kind of assumed she would be. I know about the evening because I had been invited by a friend." (NYSD)





"Events in Iraq over the past week were perhaps best crystallized in a series of photos produced by the jihadist group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Sensationally called 'The Destruction of Sykes-Picot,' the pictures confirmed the group's intent to upend nearly a century of history in the Middle East. In a series of pictures set to a purring jihadist chant, the mouth of a bulldozer is shown bursting through an earthen berm forming Iraq's northern border with Syria. Keffiyeh-wrapped rebels, drained by the hot sun, peer around the edges of the barrier to observe the results of their work. The breach they carved was just wide enough for the U.S.-made, Iraqi army-owned and now jihadist-purloined Humvees to pass through in single file. While a charter outlining an antiquated interpretation of Sharia was being disseminated in Mosul, #SykesPicotOver trended on jihadist Twitter feeds.From the point of view of Iraq's jihadist celebrities, the 1916 borders drawn in secret by British and French imperialists represented by Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot to divide up Mesopotamia are not only irrelevant, they are destructible.Today, the most ardent defenders of those colonial borders sit in Baghdad, Damascus, Ankara, Tehran and Riyadh while the Europeans and Americans, already fatigued by a decade of war in this part of the world, are desperately trying to sit this crisis out. The burden is on the regional players to prevent a jihadist mini-emirate from forming, and beneath that common purpose lies ample room for intrigue. With the jihadist threat fanning out from Syria to Iraq, Turkey is struggling to insulate itself from the violence and to follow a strategic agenda in Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkey has forged an alliance with the Iraqi Kurdish leadership in a direct challenge to Baghdad's authority. With the consent of Turkey's energy minister and to the outrage of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, two tankers carrying a few million barrels of Kurdish crude left the Turkish port of Ceyhan in search of a buyer just as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant was ratcheting up its offensive. Upping the ante, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz announced June 16 that a third tanker would be loaded within the week. With al-Maliki now relying on Kurdish peshmerga support to fend off jihadists in the north, Ankara and Arbil have gained some leverage in their ongoing dispute with Baghdad over the distribution of energy revenue. But Turkey's support for Iraqi Kurds also has limits." (STRATFOR)










"During a closed-door gathering of major donors in Southern California on Monday, the political operation spearheaded by the Koch brothers unveiled a significant new weapon in its rapidly expanding arsenal — a super PAC called Freedom Partners Action Fund. The new group aims to spend more than $15 million in the 2014 midterm campaigns — part of a much larger spending effort expected to total $290 million, sources told POLITICO., It’s an evolution for billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. The vast network of political nonprofit groups they helped build has mostly funneled its unprecedented political spending into issue-based campaigns that usually slam Democrats for supporting big government but seldom explicitly ask voters to support GOP candidates. That’s expected to change under Freedom Partners Action Fund, according to Marc Short, president of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, an increasingly powerful force in the Koch network that will operate in association with the new super PAC. 'The Freedom Partners Action Fund will support candidates who share our vision of free markets and a free society and oppose candidates who support intrusive government policies that push the American Dream out of reach for the American people,' Short told POLITICO after a presentation to donors at the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort in Dana Point, California.The gathering is the latest in a series of twice-annual so-called seminars that the Kochs started holding in 2003 to raise cash from wealthy donors after treating them to a series of slickly produced presentations from handpicked politicians, conservative media stars and operatives from Koch-backed groups." (Politico)







"Let’s take it from the top: It is typically a European conundrum. The EU law says one thing, but turns a blind eye when private individuals and enterprises do another. Mind you, in the good old U.S. of A., it isn’t much better. Florida boasts of its miles and miles of beaches, not to mention California, beaches available to all and sundry. Yet there are property owners on Florida and California beaches who claim them as private and have the fuzz remove the great unwashed who stage occasional sit-ins. For example, Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach is a private one for very nouveaux riches vulgarians, and its private beach will not allow anyone to cross it or use it. It also abuts the veddy, veddy private beach of the Bath & Tennis Club, a WASP haven for those with impeccable credentials who have been sunning themselves there for almost a century. As a young man I used to go to the B&T as insiders call it, and I remember nonmembers respecting the sign that read Private, and turning around. Some more independent souls just jumped in and swam around the private beach, then resumed their walk on the sand. In Southampton, Long Island, everything is private and nothing is as far as the beaches are concerned. It is a gray area that depends on the good manners of both the owner of the house on the beach and the tourist. It works most of the time, the tourists keeping close to the water and not coming right up to the private house and picnicking a yard away. But this is America, where class warfare has never caught on and private lands are respected. It can play funny tricks, though. Like, say, a member of the Bath & Tennis Club walking toward the club on the beach would be trespassing when crossing the Estee Lauder House because its surrounding walls and property totally block the way and go into the water. On the other hand, the Lauders are not welcome to the B&T because of their religion. In Europe, of course, I can anchor my boat off any hotel or private house, but am not welcome when I swim ashore. I have tested the system and it works. Unless one is staying at the hotel, all establishments turn back the swimmers that come onshore off yachts, however rich or poor they are. The law of the sea means nothing." (Taki)


"Henry Kravis, the king of rough-and-tumble leveraged buyouts, picked up a phone at his home in Palm Beach, Florida, and called the chief executive officer of one of Spain’s biggest producers of building materials. It was March 2013, and Uralita SA (URA), reeling from Europe’s credit crisis, had hit a wall. The company faced a loan repayment to five Spanish banks that were reluctant to keep rolling over the debt.  Kravis was offering Madrid-based Uralita a 320 million euro ($435 million) lifeline from a $2 billion fund that invests in distressed businesses. The catch: CEO Javier Serratosa had to agree to work solely with Kravis’s private-equity firm, KKR & Co. (KKR), and turn down other offers, including one from Blackstone Group LP (BX), trusting KKR wouldn’t pull out or change its terms. Serratosa and Kravis spoke for an hour, bonding over people they knew in common and their love of shooting red-legged partridge in the Spanish countryside, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its July/August issue. 'He was out of ammo, and he wanted to know, ‘If I pick you, will you be there at the finish line?’' Kravis says, sitting in his 42nd-floor library at KKR’s Manhattan headquarters overlooking a fog-shrouded Central Park. 'I tell our guys, ‘Don’t ever go in and bait and switch.’ It’s the worst thing you can do. If we tell you we’re going to do something, we’re going to do it.' Making a call to rescue Uralita shows how far Kravis has come since his firm’s 1988 bare-knuckle takeover fight for RJR Nabisco Inc. earned him a reputation as a corporate buccaneer." (Bloomberg)

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