Saturday, January 29, 2005

A Little of the Old In and Out: Davos Buzz Edition

In: Sharon Stone. Granted, Sharon Stone has a tendency to go off on self-indulgent monologues if you give her the mic (which, you really shouldn't do), but she did good things for Tanzania, among this crowd of heads of state, royals and celebs, and, being East-African born, we cannot fault her for those spontaneous poetics, although the dramatic method left much to be desired (Averted Gaze), according to BBC News:

Image Hosted by

(all images via Hello!Magazine)

"... Sharon Stone: --And I'd like to offer you $10,000 to help buy you some bednets today. Would anyone else like to be on a team with me and stand by with money and help as well?

"... BBC Announcer: Within 5 minutes she found 30 pledges, making one large donation.

"Sharon Stone: People are dying in (Tanzania) today and that's not okay with me."

Although she now admits, 24 hours later, that she "made an ass of herself," Stone raised, the BBC notes, $1 million in five minutes, and, at $7 a mosquito net, that would fund 140,000 nets, almost as many nets as children who died of malaria in all Africa last year. Good for her.

Out: "Networking." Sure, this is quite possibly the only blog doing Davos (from New York, no less) that will harsh on the age old Davos tradition of networking ("all I want to do here is network") and schmoozing ("so, what do you do?") at the "temple of capitalist narcissism." We are not, per se, averse to capitalism or networking, both of which make the world go round and pay the rent of grownups keeping us in luxury items (The Corsair sips very fine 12 year old Macallan Sherry cask scotch), but if Sharon Stone has to bitchslap these characters out of their self involved nametag gazing ("who is he? how much money does he have? how can I part him from his business card?") to the tune of that well-reported Swiss Alphorn trio, well ... charmed, I'm sure.

In: Angelina Jolie. The full-lipped beauty (Ed Note: Damn, I wish I was her lover) and long term human rights activist used her "capital" well, warning celebrities, like Stone, that the role of effective humanitarian and agent of social change is not merely "spontaneous," according to Reuters:

Image Hosted by

"'Celebrities have a responsibility to know absolutely what they're talking about, and to be in it for the long run,' said Jolie, 29, who has has spent four years as goodwill ambassador to the U.N.'s refugee agency UNHCR.

"She has used her pulling power to draw public attention to humanitarian crises in Chad, Sudan and Sierra Leone, winning praises from United Nations officials, and says she donates one-third of her income to charity.

"'Just being an actress doesn't help me sleep well at night. When I do something for other people, then I feel my life has value,' she said."

Out: Russia. Russia turned it's back on the West -- alas -- and, increasingly, looks eastward in the form of a China alliance that could precipitate another Cold War in the long term (Incidentally, Chinese media is using the occasion to porpagandize that their massive industrialization isn't affecting the environment. Fuck). Davos, as well, has become frosty to Russo investment and networking, according to the AP:

"Alexander Zhukov, the highest-ranking Russian attending the World Economic Forum, appeared on a panel entitled 'The Russian Riddle' with two critics on Friday. Zhukov defended President Vladimir Putin's economic policies, recent social reforms and political openness.

"'If anybody today believes there is a choice between democracy and authoritarianism, we don't see any choice,' he said. 'There is no question that Russia will remain a democracy and integrate into the world economy.'

"Zhukov stressed that 'Russia will do everything possible, will bend every effort, to ensure that it is integrated in the world economy,' noting that this year it plans to bring its accounting methods up to global standards.

"Putin has come under attack for scrapping elections for the country's 89 governors, calling for an end to direct election of lawmakers in the lower parliament house, the State Duma, and other Kremlin-sponsored political reforms that critics say will strengthen the president's grip on Russia at the expense of democracy.

"His crackdown on the Yukos oil giant, which has virtually collapsed under a $28 billion tax claim, and the sell-off of its main production unit in December to a state-owned oil company sparked criticism that Russia was moving to recapture key chunks of national industry."

Mixed: Bono and Tony Blair. Hmm. Sure, the highest level of meetings between the Israeli's and the Palestinians took place, but ... this is an odd picture. Bono is a bit of the political jinx (remember former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill AKA, The Incredible Vanishing Cabinet Secretary?) --image via Hello!Magazine:

Image Hosted by

In: Noblesse Oblige. Sharon Stone's dramatic gesture may actually be attributed as having tipped the scales at Davos, making the general theme not so much "Fair Trade," which is a big issue, but an the obligation to the poor (although, it must be noted, Australian PM Howard is against complete debt relief; but those Australians are a congenitally the hard-core masculine "pull yourselves up by the bootstraps lot"), or, noblesse oblige, as writes:

"Leaders of rich nations competed to show their commitment to the poor after Bill Gates (above) set the pace by donating $750m to support vaccines in developing countries ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos. As the obligation of business and governments towards the third world emerged as a key theme at the Swiss gathering, Gordon Brown, chancellor, promised almost $1.8bn to the same cause over the next 15 years and urged other wealthy countries to contribute a further $1bn over the next decade."

SUNDANCE BUZZ: Out: Ruthe Stein. According to Blogging Sundance:

"It turns out Anthony Kaufman from the Village Voice (who confirms the story on his blog) left his jacket on the chair before the movie and stepped out?people do this all the time. It?s like digging out a parking space in Boston during a blizzard?it?s your spot till the snow melts, or at least for a couple of days.However, according go the story, Ruthe Stein from the San Francisco Chronicle moved his jacket and took his seat?whoa!!! When he returned shenanigans begin, and the ending, well? you?ll have to visit eFilmCritic and Kaufman?s blog. Can?t we all just get along? Come on guys? get a burger at Burgies and work it out."

Davos. In: Shorting the Dollar. According to Bloomberg:

"Bill Gates, the world's richest person with a net worth of $46.6 billion, is betting against the U.S. dollar.

"'I'm short the dollar,' Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp., told Charlie Rose in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 'The ol' dollar, it's gonna go down.''

"Gates's concern that widening U.S. budget and trade deficits are undermining the dollar was echoed in Davos by policymakers including European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

"The dollar fell 21 percent against a basket of six major currencies from the start of 2002 to the end of last year. The trade deficit swelled to a record $609.3 billion last year and total U.S. government debt rose 8.7 percent to $7.62 trillion in the past 12 months.

"'It is a bit scary,' Gates said. 'We're in uncharted territory when the world's reserve currency has so much outstanding debt.''"

Mixed: Viktor A. Yushchenko. According to The Old Gray Lady:

"Viktor A. Yushchenko, still basking in the glow of the street protests that swept him to power in Ukraine, appeared here on Friday to ask for help in creating 'a prosperous Ukraine in a successful, united Europe.'

"'I'm addressing you as a president,' Mr. Yushchenko told the World Economic Forum's gathering of high-powered business executives, men, world leaders and intellectuals here.

"'Please help Ukraine, and quite shortly, you'll see a European, beautiful nation.'

"For Mr. Yushchenko, this speech was a chance to introduce himself to another useful constituency: European and American investors and business people. They gave him a hero's welcome.

"Still, the diplomatic hurdles are formidable."

And, if he wants to avoid open conflict with Russia, he will turn down this request, according to Reuters:

"Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, wants to leave Britain, where he has been given political asylum, and move to Ukraine, media quote him as saying.

"Berezovsky, one of Russia's once-mighty and hugely wealthy 'oligarchs,' voiced his intention just days after the inauguration of Ukraine's new President Viktor Yushchenko, a Western-leaning liberal whose candidacy Putin publicly opposed."

(The Corsair assumes the Zazen posture, contemplating Archimedian Spirals)

No comments: