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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"As U.S. and Arab bombs rained down on Islamic State targets this week, it was easy to forget the Yazidis, the minority religious group whose plight first spurred President Barack Obama to begin a campaign against their Islamic State persecutors in August. The Yazidis aren't the only little-known religious community in the Middle East under threat. By smashing ancient tombs, burning manuscripts and murdering children, Islamic State is threatening to exterminate some of the world's oldest religions. Among them are the Kaka'is, who treat Jesus as well as the founders of Shiism as holy figures; the Shabak, whose ancestors were once fire worshipers; the Alawites, a small offshoot of Shiism whose members believe in reincarnation; and the Druse, whose beliefs are rooted in ancient Greek philosophy. Together, these five groups probably number three to four million people. They have survived because most Muslims in the Middle East have tolerated their heterodox beliefs. Indeed, each group survived under the original Islamic state led by the Umayyad and early Abbasid caliphs in the eighth and ninth centuries. But the Umayyads' would-be modern-day imitators are imitating only the bloodshed of that era, not those caliphs' fervent search for wisdom and readiness to compromise." (WSJ)



"The Internet has been a disruptive technology for the arts and media, reshaping industries while introducing new ways to organize production and distribution. The Internet’s influence in the cultural industries depends, first, on the extent to which digital substitutes for analog experience are likely to satisfy consumers. Second, on the extent to which producers must maintain competitive profits. And, third, on the ability of incumbent firms to exploit changes inherent in digital production and distribution.
The Internet has not challenged the basic business models of traditional theaters, ballet companies and orchestras, because such organizations provide a service that requires physical presence in an actual audience. Institutions that exhibit visual arts have also been affected only marginally, although virtual museums may develop a more substantial presence. However, the Internet has had a deeper impact on those cultural industries where the core product —a movie, news story or musical track— can be downloaded and enjoyed in private. This happened quickly with photographs and text and, as transmission speed expanded, music and film. And as it occurred, dominant business models fell in a process of 'creative destruction', destructive because of its harsh impact on existing firms, but creative because of the economic vitality it unleashed. If we look at statistics on the creative industries in the U.S. we see that not all industries have suffered marked declines and some that have were doing badly before Internet’s arrival. Therefore, we must question the widely held belief that the Internet has marched through the creative industries laying waste on all side on two counts. The creative system as a whole might flourish, even as historically dominant firms and business models face grave challenges." (TechnologyReview)
David Bowie — He's Not Waiting for Loretta. (And she Sure Wouldn't Be Waiting for Him!)

"THE family of the late big moviestar Loretta Young — plus Loretta's many fans — are up in arms over a new book about the life of rock star David Bowie. Therein, the writer Wendy Leigh tells a tale about how the super Catholic Loretta, always rather sweet and demure, was actually a crazy, obsessive, sex-driven virago in her past middle age, when she developed a crush from afar on David Bowie and: (1) Had plastic surgery on her body to enhance her charms. (2) Started exercising with a vengeance, begged 'her friend' Elizabeth Taylor, to arrange a meet for her with Bowie. (3) Was turned down by Bowie, who rebuffed her saying to the then 64-year-old star: 'I only like black women and
Asian men.'  This has caused the Loretta contingent to demand a retraction from Simon & Schuster and increased the talk that author Leigh, or someone, is a rumor-monger and fantasist who made the whole thing up." (NYSD)


"Over the past week, the U.S.-led coalition carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Iraq and Syria has expanded to include several new members. This has enhanced its overall combat power and spread the burden more equitably. The British parliament voted Sept. 26 to join the group and has already commenced airstrikes over Iraq. Denmark and Belgium also decided to participate in direct combat operations. These new partners join two European peers, France and the Netherlands, as well as Australia. Notably, these six countries have chosen to restrict their combat roles to Iraq. This contrasts with the role of the United States' five Arab partners — Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — which have been carrying out airstrikes with the United States in Syria since operations expanded there Sept. 23. This odd division of labor does not operate in the interest of efficiency but is instead an artifact of the complicated and juxtaposed reality on the ground and in the political arena. The battleground against the Islamic State is ostensibly divided between the sovereign states of Iraq and Syria. In reality, however, it is a single space spread over what has become an imaginary border. The divided coalition reflects the members' divergent political views on how to manage the respective situations of Iraq and Syria. Ultimately, the arrangement artificially separates what should be treated as a single battlefield and a single enemy. This weakens the coalition, confuses desired outcomes and often limits operations to what will appease all members. The coalition's division of the battle space into two parts has already led to differences in target selection. Since earlier limited U.S. operations in Iraq expanded into Syria, the United States and Arab coalition members have focused on critical infrastructure in Syria that supports Islamic State operations in Syria and Iraq. This has included command centers, finance operations, supply depots and, most recently, oil refineries. The coalition's strategy in Syria has been to degrade the Islamic State's military capabilities through destruction or disruption of the critical assets that support it.
The strategy in Iraq, however, has been quite different. There, the focus of air campaigns has been to buttress ground operations. This has translated into close air support for Kurdish peshmerga and national government forces, as well as strikes aimed at destroying Islamic State military supplies, vehicles and heavy weapons used in operations against those forces. This divergence stems in part from the different tactical situations in each country: In Iraq the coalition is operating in direct coordination with local forces, whereas in Syria efforts to facilitate anti-Islamic State ground attacks are in the early stages, with only the first steps having been taken to train Syrian anti-regime rebels in Saudi Arabia. But these disparate tactical realities are only part of the picture. The primary differences between these operations are explained by the imperatives of the partners operating in Iraq and in Syria. The United States' Sunni Arab partners have an interest in participating in the operations against the Islamic State in Syria. Degrading the Islamic State's capabilities there takes pressure off of anti-regime rebels currently fighting Damascus and Islamic State forces simultaneously. The United States' reliance on support from these Sunni Arab countries, however, presents the risk that the core mission in Syria will be stretched in two different directions. The United States aims to cripple the Islamic State without directly targeting Syrian President Bashar al Assad. The Sunni Arab states, though, want to dislodge al Assad's Iran-friendly regime and weaken the position of Lebanese-based Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which is assisting the Syrian government." (STRATFOR)


The Clinton family is pictured in 1991, left, and 2013. | AP Photos


"It was a sunny, warm day, still more like summer than fall, in Little Rock in 1991 when the Arkansas governor, after staying up all night fussing over his speech, went for an early-morning jog and then over to the Old State Capitol for the announcement that would shape American politics for the next generation: He was running for president. Bill Clinton’s declaration — the 23rd anniversary is on Friday — was covered with curiosity by a small corps of political reporters but met with a shrug by the rest of the world. It was a modest beginning for what is now, amid widespread anticipation of another Clinton presidential run, the world’s most celebrated political brand. Hillary Clinton’s public preparations for a 2016 candidacy, however, are putting parts of her shared history with Bill Clinton in a bright light — one that in important ways highlights her vulnerabilities despite her commanding status among Democrats.The Clinton Brand of 2014 is missing three key elements that vaulted Bill Clinton to power in 1992. First was new ideas. Second was an authentic populist connection. Third was the idea of generational change. Hillary Clinton’s claims on the first two elements are faint, compared to his in the early ’90s — a technocrat, her ideas since her failed health care reform effort have typically been smaller-bore and more programmatic than about sweeping change. And her claim on the third is nonexistent, as a woman in her late 60s who by 2016 will have been famous for a quarter century. No longer fresh-faced, Bill and Hillary Clinton long ago stopped being everyday folks barely getting by on a government salary. The fact that time marches on has advantages as well. The Clinton Brand today stands for tested experience, as well as foreign policy expertise, in ways that are vastly more credible than anything Bill Clinton could boast when he ran for president. And her potential to shatter the glass ceiling as the first female president is a compelling measure of change that can impact how she is perceived. Still, this week’s anniversary — and the fevered scrutiny surrounding every step she takes toward another shot at the presidency — shows how, even as the Clintons endure as political forces, the signature ingredients of their appeal have changed notably over time. 'Obviously the brand is different; it’s not going to look as fresh,” said Al From, the creator of the Democratic Leadership Council, from which Bill Clinton drew a number of policy ideas for his 1992 campaign, who nonetheless sees parallels in the economic growth concerns of 1992 and 2016. 'Her challenge is to define herself for the future.' Bill Clinton ran in 1992 as an idea politician. He also had a distinct ideological identity — as a centrist policy innovator willing to distance himself from liberal special interests both symbolically and substantively. After eight years as senator and four as secretary of state, plus two books since leaving the White House, Hillary Clinton is not vividly identified with new ideas or specific new policies, or even an original rhetorical perspective on the challenges of the Democratic Party or the country at large. Her discussions on policy in the last two years have followed the arrow of the Democratic Party’s drift on social issues and education policy — gay marriage, student loans, immigration — but have not yet jelled into a distinct policy profile. And ahead of a likely second national campaign, she remains clearly uneasy about navigating the politics of the left, where many activists like the Clintons personally but don’t like their association with Wall Street-friendly policies and policymakers, or their initial support in 2002 for George W. Bush’s Iraq War." (Politico)





"Athens is full of ghosts for me. One is the greasy-haired man who was wearing a raincoat and carrying a rifle when someone killed him from my house as he ran toward us in the black Christmas of 1944. He lay in the street for days. Was it my father, the policeman guarding us, or the red-beret British paratrooper who later crashed through our kitchen skylight, shot dead? He was barely 18, according to my mother. There was the dying-from-hunger man, lying close by, whom we tried to help, my older brother and I, by putting a yogurt underneath his chin, one he never touched. Fraulein wistfully said we wasted a yogurt. Then there was the priest who stole a small loaf of cheap bread at the height of the hunger and was chased down the street by the baker for it. Funny how childhood images remain undimmed. I had a front row seat when the wartime King George II died in 1947. There were thigh-high boots and even purple Prisoner of Zenda-like uniforms, all adding to the royal mystique. Last week I looked at pictures on a menu of the royal wedding of 50 years ago, that of King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie, both then in their early 20s and by far the best looking royal couple in the world. They gave a reception and dinner dance at the Royal Yacht Club, overlooking Tourkolimano, where 54 years ago the king returned in triumph after winning a gold medal in the Rome Olympics of 1960. There were European royals galore, two reigning queens, and also the uncle of King Abdullah of Jordan, who had to fly over Israel in order to attend. There was a great orchestra that played haunting old Greek tunes that only added to my nostalgic memories of Athens and the sweetness of the life that was in one of Europe’s most romantic cities.
No longer ..." (Taki)





"
On June 10, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Mark Thompson and Andrew Rosenthal, along with New York Times Op-Ed columnists Charles M. Blow, David Brooks, Frank Bruni, Roger Cohen, Gail Collins, Ross Douthat, Maureen Dowd, Nicholas Kristof and Joe Nocera, celebrated the launch of NYT Opinion, the new stand-alone Opinion subscription and mobile app, at NeueHouse in New York City.
Other notable attendees: Mayor Bill de Blasio, Lorne Michaels, professional basketball player Jason Collins, Katie Couric, Savannah Guthrie, Charlie Rose, Gayle King, Norah O’Donnell, Mia Farrow, 'Orange Is the New Black' creator Piper Kerman, and Barbara Walters.
This was not just a huge party for a new app. It was an enormous vote of confidence in the New York Times opinion franchise, which the institution reveres and protects at all costs." (TheAwl)







DPC with Pat Schoenfeld and Ambassador Brenda Johnson.


"Down at Doubles, the private club in the Sherry-Netherland where I went to a dinner for Arlene Dahl and Marc Rosen the night before, Ambassador Brenda Johnson (former ambassador to Jamaica), celebrated her birthday at a luncheon surrounded by friends. She told the guests that her husband, J. Howard Johnson had asked her what she’d like to do on her birthday – thinking she was probably going to say: spend it in Paris. So he was amazed when she said she’d just like to be with friends and family. And so it was: Ambassador Stuart Bernstein from our nation’s capital; Ambassadors Sue and Chuck Cobb from Florida; Dr. Ruth Westheimer; Daisy Soros; Gigi Benson; Diana Feldman; Emilia Saint Amand; Liz Peek; artist Romero Britto (whose portrait of Ambassador Johnson was featured on the party invitation)(and I don’t have a copy to show you); Ambassador Bruce Gelb; Anne Sutherland Fuchs; Ted Bowden; Gail Hilson; Cynthia (Mrs. John)Whitehead; Theresa (Mrs John) Behrendt; Lou Hammond; Liz (Mrs. Frank) Newman; Heidi Neuhaus Macmillan; Susan and Howard Kaskel; Natalie Pray; Bennett and Judie Weinstock; Pat Magliocco; Johnson Family -- Ambassador Johnson’s husband, J. Howard Johnson; Grange and Susan Johnson; Brett and Adrienne Johnson; Grant and Elle Johnson; Heather and John Sargent; Paul and JoAnne Oreffice from Saratoga and Arizona; Ed Allinson. While four blocks south and a half a block east Michael’s was its Wednesday self. You’ve heard this song before (and before) so I’ll just give you the rundown: At the big round Table one in the bay, Bonnie Fuller, E-I-C of Hollywoodlife.com and Penske Media’s Vice Chair Gerry Byrne were hosting the (often) weekly lunchfest with a different group of media and media-related professionals including Leslie Stevens (PR), designer Cynthia Rowley, Jaqui Lividini (PR), Natalie Morales (Today show); Lauren Larkin Carolyn Fanning, Richard Silverstein; Michele Promaulayko fromYahoo, Jim Fallon of WWD; Marnie Yorke; Marta Wohrie.  I think that’s it. I don’t know the professional backgrounds of several but don’t worry, they all do and that’s what is important in New York unless you have your own web site and no one can fire you or hire you." (NYSD)


Anne Hearst McInerney,
HRH Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia and I leaving lunch at Doubles 󾬓

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"There was much magnificence packed into this last week. Starting with opening night at the Metropolitan Opera. There I saw Le Nozze di Figaro along with the Masters of the Universe, David Koch, John Paulson, Carson from Queer Eye, etc. I tend to think I don’t like opera or Mozart (I prefer Chopin and Beethoven and Schubert) until I witness a brilliant performance and then I remember why it is genius. I love music. It was my good luck that dear friend Ambassador Earle Mack invited me as his guest. Later we dined at Cipriani’s where we saw more Masters of the Universe, Mr. and Mrs. Pepe Fanjul, Peggy Siegel, etc. One of The Ambassador’s many accomplishments has been to arrange a suitable retirement for race horses. A noble and worthy and sensitive niche. Furthermore the project is intwined with the sufferings of soldiers returning with PTSD. The horses whisper to the soldiers. Fostering healing. I applaud you Ambassador Earle Mack.  On a grubby note, in that same fine dining establishment, I saw a pervert from my past. Someone I had clean forgot. When he came over to say hello to my dinner companion the sound of his voice hurtled me back to a time long ago. Suddenly I saw us behind a slammed closed office door, after he had pretended to be seeing me out, and pressing me against a wall he attacked me. He didn’t get very far, he was middle-aged and feeble and I easily shoved him off. But I was rattled, that much I remember. I couldn’t tell if he recognized me." (Christina Oxenberg)


"When Diane scored an interview that Katie wanted, Katie asked, loudly: 'I wonder who she blew this time.' Diane, on wardrobe choices for women in broadcasting: 'Always wear clothes in fabrics that men like to touch.' Katie once told an executive she'd been fired — she hadn't been — so could get a promotion to a job she wanted. Diane's such a slick politician that 'she thinks she doesn't leave fingerprints — but she leaves cat paw prints on people's foreheads.' Katie gave a Christmas party for her entourage that could be seen by lesser staffers at the lesser party. Diane once had her then boyfriend Richard Holbrooke call a production assistant and reduce her to tears. And Christiane? Where's that dish? Scarce. Very scarce. She never said she went to Brown — although she was a housemate of John Kennedy Jr., she graduated from the University of Rhode Island — but if that was your misimpression, she wasn't always quick to correct it. In the early days of CNN, she sometimes cleaned the foreign desk with Fantastik. And, much later, she wasn't above saying, 'Do you know I'm the world's best known foreign correspondent?' There's not much dish on Amanpour because she's the real deal, an old-fashioned correspondent who runs toward trouble and doesn't neuter her reporting with the bullshit false equivalency of too many of her colleagues. Her reporting in Bosnia is probably the single biggest reason Bill Clinton and Tony Blair intervened in that humanitarian crisis. And her dispatches from the Middle East could be tough on Israel. [To buy the book from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.] Because most readers will probably skip or skim the chapters about Amanpour, this book is, for practical purposes, about Katie and Diane and their footrace to be the first female anchor of the evening news. That gives the book the feel of instant nostalgia. As Weller writes, 'The venerable six-thirty news broadcast has been a classy feature of American conversation almost since the beginning of television, but it was also a relic of another era: before 24-hour cable and the Internet, which gave the news in real time; before the complicated, constantly in flux schedules of modern life.'" (Jesse Kornbluth/NYSD)

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