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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres






"As the United States begins its full assault against the Islamic State in Syria, backed by Arab allies, the absence of NATO ally Turkey is drawing attention and comment. Just days before the Sept. 22 beginning of U.S. airstrikes, Turkey managed to broker a deal with the Islamic State to return 49 diplomats held in Iraq for 101 days. Contrary to diplomatic and media speculation, however, Turkey is not supporting the transnational, Syria- and Iraq-based jihadist movement known as the Islamic State. While the details of just how Ankara retrieved its diplomats are sketchy, Ankara likely negotiated their release through its contacts among the Iraqi Sunni community and its ally, Qatar. This influence, especially among Sunni locals in not just Iraq but also Syria, will be critical if Turkey is going to be able to manage the jihadist threat long after the United States declares mission accomplished and moves on. Rumors have long circulated that Turkey has been aiding Islamic State fighters. A New York Times article suggesting Turkey was tolerating an Islamic State recruiting center went viral, as did the subsequent war of words between the government and New York Times management. Another argument heard is that Ankara sees the Syrian Kurds gaining their own autonomous enclave in northeastern Syria as an intolerable security threat for the Turks — making the Islamic State the lesser evil. More recently, Turkey's unwillingness to join the U.S.-led international effort against the Islamic State was also seen as being driven by Turkey's dealings with the jihadist group. Such perceptions have been reinforced now that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has secured the release of 49 diplomats abducted by the group from the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul after the militants seized control of the city. Turkey's dealings with the Islamic State are much more nuanced than has generally been understood. Last year in July, Stratfor shed light on this dynamic, analyzing how the Turks were caught between two very threatening realities — both demanding simultaneous management — on their southern flank: jihadists of various stripes and Syrian Kurdish separatists. Managing the very difficult geopolitical battle space that is Syria required Ankara to develop relations within both the jihadist and Kurdish landscapes south of their border. Turkey also understands that it cannot allow itself to be a launchpad for an international effort against the Islamic State, the outcome of which is extremely uncertain. Turkey is all too aware of how Pakistan even today, nearly two generations after it agreed to serve as the staging ground for the U.S.-led effort to counter Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, continues to deal with the fallout of that war, which has not yet ended." (STRATFOR)


President Barack Obama is pictured. | AP Photo


"Call it the American exceptionalism exception. If there’s one place on President Barack Obama’s annual speaking calendar where rhetoric about the U.S. being the world’s greatest power doesn’t sell, it’s at the United Nations. So when he spoke to heads of state and diplomats Wednesday, there was little talk of America’s duty to solve the world’s problems. For many in the international audience, that kind of language conjures up notions of American imperialism, military adventurism and a foolhardy quest to remake the world in America’s image. Even as the U.S. expanded its most significant military operation since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq a decade ago, Obama watered down his noble-America rhetoric. Instead, he promoted a more benign kind of American optimism likelier to be soothing to the ears of those on the world stage. 'I often tell young people in the United States that despite the headlines, this is the best time in human history to be born, for you are more likely than ever before to be literate, to be healthy, to be free to pursue your dreams,'Obama said, casting for positive trends amid a cascade of global crises. 'For America, the choice is clear: We choose hope over fear.' Obama’s effort to find notes of optimism on the global scene struck a contrast with the grim picture painted by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who decried 'barrel bombs and beheadings' and bemoaned 'a terrible year for the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.' However, the closest Obama came Wednesday to embracing a special obligation borne by the U.S. was a mention of Americans being 'heirs to a proud legacy of freedom.'" (Politico)







"The national numbers indicate that Republicans should be on the verge of big House gains. But a district-by-district analysis suggests a different story. Throughout the election cycle, we’ve been closely monitoring the House generic ballot, which is the national poll that asks whether voters would support a Republican or a Democrat in their local House race. For much of the year, the polls have been roughly tied. Those were generally polls of registered voters — a bigger universe of people than the “likely voters” now being tested. With that polling adjustment now in place, Republicans have taken a clear lead in the House generic ballot, though perhaps not as big of a lead as they held at this point in 2010, when they netted 63 House seats and took control of the House. Table 1 shows the results of five recently released generic ballot surveys from high-quality, nonpartisan pollsters, as well as results from those same pollsters roughly this time four years ago. This is an imperfect comparison: While the pollsters used are the same, the timing of the surveys does not line up perfectly (we used the most recent survey from these pollsters conducted this year and tried to find the poll from four years ago conducted closest to this point in the election year). However, the Republicans held an average lead on the generic ballot of about 5.8 percentage points in these polls, whereas the same surveys now show an average lead of 4.2 points. That’s good for Republicans, but not quite as good as 2010. In comparing the overall average (including other polls not included in Table 1), the RealClearPolitics generic ballot average on Sept. 24, 2010 (four years ago as of this writing) showed a Republican lead of 3.7 points. The current average, as of Wednesday afternoon, shows Republicans with a 4.0-point lead. So depending on how one slices the numbers, one could argue that, based on this metric, Republicans are in slightly better shape in the battle for the House than they were four years ago. Or one could argue that they are not doing as well. For instance, another polling average — HuffPost Pollster — shows Republicans with only a one-point lead on the generic ballot, a couple points less than its average showed at this time in 2010. So pick your poison. The larger point is that the generic ballot, and how it moves from now until Election Day, might not tell us much more than what we already know about the U.S. House picture." (SabatosCrystalBall)


Michael McCarty at his Malibu home when we visited him in 2005. Photo: JH.


"It was Wednesday and Michael’s was bustling. Many of the familiar faces were there including James Chanos, the great hedge fund operator; Diane Clehane of MediaBistro who was hosting Monica Smith, Lisa Wells. I don’t know what they talked about but it was about (their) business. Moving along, the great Alice Mayhew of  Simon & Schuster and Jared Cohen of Google; Armando Ruiz. At table one, Mickey Ateyeh with guests Anne Moore and Adria De Haume; Tom Rogers of TIVO; Dr. Mitch Rosenthal, founder of Phoenix House was lunching at the corner table with Ray Kelly, former New York City Police Commissioner under Michael Bloomberg who is now well-occupied in the private security business; right across the aisle from them Nikki Haskell was lunching with Rikki Klieman, the legal eagle for CBS Morning whose husband Bill Bratton is the current New York City Police Commissioner (demonstrating, if nothing else, what a small world New York is – like, as I’ve written before: a small town. The ladies were joined by Eva Mohr, a major private residential real estate broker with Sotheby’s. At the table across from the ladies, the ex-officio Mayor of Michaels, Joe Armstrong, just back from Austin where he attended the opening of The Making of Gone With the Wind  at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas at Austin, was dining with his friend David Zinczenko, editor/publisher/ ABC anchor, restaurateur.Moving around the room: Jim Cohen of Hudson News, Jonathan Estreich of Estreich & Co.; Wayne Kabak, mega-manager of  writers, television personalities, media personalities and actors; Fern Mallis the CFDA lady, the moving force behind the development of New York Fashion Week; Henry Schleiff, President and General Manager of the Discovery Channel" (NYSD)



By Jordi Matas/UNHCR.


"There are two Champs-Élysées in the world. One is in Paris. It's filled with movie theaters, boutiques, markets, and fantastic restaurants. Two months ago, I found myself walking down the other Champs-Élysées, nicknamed by aid workers, in the middle of the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Zaatari is a ramshackle city of tents and containers, home to about 120,000 Syrian refugees. The streets of this Champs-Élysées are lined with makeshift stores. Where the walkways of its Parisian namesake are bordered by ethereal street lamps, here electricity is jimmy-rigged and borrowed from street lamps. It was incredible to see an improvised pizza-delivery place, a wedding-dress-rental shop, and, my personal favorite, a baklava bakery. The bakery was run by a family of mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, and grandchildren, and overseen by several brothers. They had survived the atrocities across the border. They each had unimaginable stories of heartbreak—their houses had been blown up, they saw men shot right in front of them, mid-sentence, mid-conversation. What’s more, the people who pulled the trigger could equally have been from any side. They not only survived, but also endured to re-create their bakery to feed their fellow refugees. Their pride in their desserts was as tangible as a sculptor’s in his creation. Their generosity was unparalleled. Every time I tried to pay for something, a hand would slap me away. 'What, are you trying to insult us? Eat. Enjoy.' Whenever I hear someone say 'Eat. Enjoy,' it reminds me of the way my grandmother spoke to me." (Harvey Weinstein)

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