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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Media-Whore D'oeuvres






"During the Cold War, U.S. secretaries of state and Soviet foreign ministers routinely negotiated the outcome of crises and the fate of countries. It has been a long time since such talks have occurred, but last week a feeling of deja vu overcame me. Americans and Russians negotiated over everyone's head to find a way to defuse the crisis in Ukraine and, in the course of that, shape its fate.During the talks, U.S. President Barack Obama made it clear that Washington has no intention of expanding NATO into either Ukraine or Georgia. The Russians have stated that they have no intention of any further military operations in Ukraine. Conversations between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have been extensive and ongoing. For different reasons, neither side wants the crisis to continue, and each has a different read on the situation.The Russians are convinced that the uprising in Kiev was fomented by Western intelligence services supporting nongovernmental organizations and that without this, the demonstrations would have died out and the government would have survived. This is not a new narrative on the Russians' part. They also claimed that the Orange Revolution had the same roots. The West denies this. What is important is that the Russians believe this. That means that they believe that Western intelligence has the ability to destabilize Ukraine and potentially other countries in the Russian sphere of influence, or even Russia itself. This makes the Russians wary of U.S. power. The Russians also are not convinced that they have to do anything. Apart from their theory on Western intelligence, they know that the Ukrainians are fractious and that mounting an uprising is very different than governing. The Russians have raised the price of natural gas by 80 percent for Ukraine, and the International Monetary Fund's bailout of Ukrainian sovereign debt carries with it substantial social and economic pain. As this pain sets in this summer, and the romantic recollection of the uprising fades, the Russians expect a backlash against the West and also will use their own influence, overt and covert, to shape the Ukrainian government. Seizing eastern Ukraine would cut against this strategy. The Russians want the pro-Russian regions voting in Ukrainian elections, sending a strong opposition to Kiev. Slicing off all or part of eastern Ukraine would be irrational.Other options for the Russians are not inviting. There has been talk of action in Moldova from Transdniestria. But while it is possible for Russian forces there to act in Moldova, supplies for the region run through Ukraine. In the event of a conflict, the Russians must assume that the Ukrainians would deny access. The Russians could possibly force their way in, but then a measured action in Moldova would result in an invasion of Ukraine -- and put the Russians back where they started." (STRATFOR)







"I don't typically write about beauty books, but this book in particular is about a different kind of beauty—inner beauty.Not too long ago, famed fashion photographer Alexi Lubomirski, who has photographed countless boldface actors, actresses, celebrities, and models for the high-gloss magazines Allure, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, and numerous others, was contemplating on the meaning of his given royal title, His Serene Highness Prince. A title that he has not publicized until now. A title that stretches back more than half a millennium. A title of which he was informed at the tender age of 11. Fast-forward many years, to when Prince Alexi Lubomirski had his own sons and remembered what his mother once told him. 'If you are to be a prince in today’s world, you have to be a prince in your heart and in your actions.' These words inspired him to write Notes for a Young Prince, a little book filled with wonderful wisdoms and profound reminders of how one should be at heart and that retells young readers to be genuine and kind to others. Notes such as 'Open your eyes to all the BEAUTY, magic, and miracles in this world. The more you open your mind to them, the more they will become apparent' and 'BALANCE is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Know that to succeed in life and to be truly ‘rich’ you must be successful in all areas of work, love, and family at the same time' resonated with me. They are royal-worthy lessons for princes, princesses, and all young people alike.And what would a prince do with a book once it's published? Donate 100 percent of its profits to charity, of course, in this case, Concerns Worldwide, an non-governmental, international, humanitarian organization dedicated to reducing extreme poverty in world’s poorest countries." (VF)






"Very lightly, rarely leaving fingerprints. Among the mail we got in reference to Carol Joynt’s lovely piece on yesterday’s NYSD about Bunny Mellon’s 'Perfect Funeral' at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, Virginia last Friday afternoon, was this memory from one of our readers in Palm Beach:'I remember many springtimes ago I was slowly driving along a very rutted dirt road between Marshall and The Plains ... Mrs. M was half way up the embankment by a stone wall clipping some early spring daffodils ... I stopped to chat and she told me that this particular variety of jonquil was a native hybridizer and she had dug up some from this same spot several years before, but the transplanted ones on her property always bloomed ten days later and she knew the blooms in this particular wild spot would be ready for an arrangement she wanted for a dinner party that night.
She was dressed in Wellies and a Barbour coat and she called her clippers secataurs, which is a word very few folks know ... Mr. Baltimore, her longtime loyal driver was behind the wheel of the muddy BMW wagon, which had a bucket of water in the back.'" (NYSD)



Charlie Rangel's fund-raising email.


"He’s dancing with a star and he wants you to know it. Congressman Charlie Rangel, never afraid to bust a move, blasted out a last minute fund-raising email with an unconventional request late last night: 'Will you dance with me?'Mr. Rangel, 83, told donors right before the March 31 filing deadline for his re-election bid that they still could pump cash into his coffers and 'have a chance to get out on the dance floor with me.' In case the message wasn’t clear, the email included a giant photograph of Mr. Rangel getting down with superstar singer Aretha Franklin. The Daily News reported that Mr. Rangel 'cut a rug' at Ms. Franklin’s 72nd birthday soirĂ©e on Saturday and Mr. Rangel included the same photograph from that story in his email. 'I showed my R-E-S-P-E-C-T at my dearest friend Aretha Franklin’s birthday bash,' Mr. Rangel said in the pitch. This isn’t the first time Mr. Rangel has asked someone to dance. At his campaign kickoff last year, the congressman asked a reporter to dance with him at his podium. (She declined.) Mr. Rangel also recently took to Twitter to jokingly taunt Georgia Congressman John Lewis dancing skills." (Observer)

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