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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres














"Even as the crisis in Ukraine continues to defy easy resolution, President Obama and his national security team are looking beyond the immediate conflict to forge a new long-term approach to Russia that applies an updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment. Just as the United States resolved in the aftermath of World War II to counter the Soviet Union and its global ambitions, Mr. Obama is focused on isolating President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood and effectively making it a pariah state. Mr. Obama has concluded that even if there is a resolution to the current standoff over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, he will never have a constructive relationship with Mr. Putin, aides said. As a result, Mr. Obama will spend his final two and a half years in office trying to minimize the disruption Mr. Putin can cause, preserve whatever marginal cooperation can be saved and otherwise ignore the master of the Kremlin in favor of other foreign policy areas where progress remains possible. 'That is the strategy we ought to be pursuing,' said Ivo H. Daalder, formerly Mr. Obama’s ambassador to NATO and now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. 'If you just stand there, be confident and raise the cost gradually and increasingly to Russia, that doesn’t solve your Crimea problem and it probably doesn’t solve your eastern Ukraine problem. But it may solve your Russia problem.' The manifestation of this thinking can be seen in Mr. Obama’s pending choice for the next ambassador to Moscow. While not officially final, the White House is preparing to nominate John F. Tefft, a career diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania. When the search began months ago, administration officials were leery of sending Mr. Tefft because of concern that his experience in former Soviet republics that have flouted Moscow’s influence would irritate Russia. Now, officials said, there is no reluctance to offend the Kremlin. In effect, Mr. Obama is retrofitting for a new age the approach to Moscow that was first set out by the diplomat George F. Kennan in 1947 and that dominated American strategy through the fall of the Soviet Union." (NYTimes)










Top Clinton supporter bashes Obama in new book










"President Obama gets criticized by a lifelong Democrat, Bernard Schwartz, in his new book, 'Just Say Yes.' The Bensonhurst native, who ran Loral Space & Communications for 34 years, was the top donor to the Democratic party during the Clinton Administration. But Schwartz is less thrilled with Obama, who has failed to push through the infrastructure initiative Schwartz claims will boost the economy and add 7 million jobs. 'Since the middle of the Clinton Administration, the reins of governmental power have been held by men like Robert Rubin, Hank Paulson, Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan, Timothy Geithner, and Ben Bernanke,' Schwartz, 88, writes.'Not all of these gentlemen are equally responsible for the 2008 crisis or its potential repetition in the future, but there has been a pervasive conceptual thesis advanced by this group that heavily favors Wall Street over Main Street.' The powers that be favor the big banks, says Schwartz. 'And unfortunately, President Obama’s immediate political advisors were not experienced enough to offset this imbalance of influence.'" (Richard Johnson)





















"On a crisp morning in late March, an elite group of 100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes filed into a cozy auditorium at the White House. Their name tags read like a catalog of the country’s wealthiest and most influential clans: Rockefeller, Pritzker, Marriott. They were there for a discreet, invitation-only summit hosted by the Obama administration to find common ground between the public sector and the so-called next-generation philanthropists, many of whom stand to inherit billions in private wealth. 'Moon shots!' one administration official said, kicking off the day on an inspirational note to embrace the White House as a partner and catalyst for putting their personal idealism into practice.The well-heeled group seemed receptive. 'I think it’s fantastic,' said Patrick Gage, a 19-year-old heir to the multibillion-dollar Carlson hotel and hospitality fortune. 'I’ve never seen anything like this before.' Mr. Gage, physically boyish with naturally swooping Bieber bangs, wore a conservative pinstripe suit and a white oxford shirt. His family’s Carlson company, which owns Radisson hotels, Country Inns and Suites, T.G.I. Friday’s and other brands, is an industry leader in enforcing measures to combat trafficking and involuntary prostitution." (NYTimes)











Dana Giacchetto by Wesley Mann










"'Leo DiCaprio is like my little brother,' says Dana Giacchetto, 51, sipping Viking Blod Mead honey wine during a $400 seven-course meal at midtown Manhattan's Aquavit restaurant and hoping his next meal isn't on Rikers Island. During the 1990s, Giacchetto (pronounced 'jah-KET-toh') was an investment adviser with an incredible list of celebrity clients that included DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Cameron Diaz, Ben Affleck, Michael Ovitz and Michael Stipe (also 'like a brother to me,' he says). It all ended very badly. In 2000, he was nabbed at Newark Airport with a falsified passport and not long after pled guilty to fraud involving the misappropriation of between $5 million and $10 million of clients' funds. He was sentenced to 57 months in prison.Although the money involved might seem small today, in the pre-Madoff era it was a staggering scandal fueled by just the right mix of bold-faced names from Hollywood and Wall Street.Giacchetto was released in 2003 and set about rebuilding his life. There have been setbacks and disappointments, including many strange new deals and a recent federal criminal complaint accusing him of fraudulently billing $10,045 to someone else's credit card -- allegations he denies -- that could put him back in prison.Yet tonight, in his first interview since 2003, he is delighted to have two THR reporters pick up the tab and join him on a three-day romp through New York City as he explains in great detail how supremely misunderstood he has been. The story is, well, like a movie -- specifically, The Wolf of Wall Street, which he believes he inspired, as DiCaprio in the late '90s often stayed at Giacchetto's SoHo loft, which Giacchetto says was awash in sex, drugs and punk rock. As he consumes a prodigious amount of alcohol, he rages, sobs, brags, cackles hysterically, confesses then denies guilt for the events that sent him to prison and otherwise exudes the exuberant charm that persuaded hundreds of intelligent, worldly people to trust him with their money.Celebrities, executives and even former close friends including DiCaprio almost unanimously refused to comment on Giacchetto's stories -- 'I need to be in this story like I need tooth decay,' says one. A few facts are uncontested: Born in Medford, Mass., 15 minutes from Horatio Alger's birthplace, Giacchetto was an Italian-American baker's grandson whose mom told him, 'It is impossible not to love you.' At 19, he got a job at Boston Safe Deposit & Trust and released a punk rock album while earning a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts. At 26, he founded Cassandra Group with about $200,000 from his mom's Treasury bonds. Befriending Marc Glimcher, now president of New York's Pace Gallery, he sold conservative blue-chip stocks to artsy blue bloods. Glimcher introduced him to then-skyrocketing CAA agent Jay Moloney, who hooked him up with Hollywood mogul Ovitz, manager Rick Yorn and pre-Titanic DiCaprio.There were some legitimate deals along the way." (THR)












Secret wife of late Jackie O. designer booted from will proceedings








"A Nassau county judge booted the secret wife of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis fashion designer, Oleg Cassini, from her position as executor of his $60 million estate — finding that the former model dug her own grave with wacky testimony about investigators killing dogs, allusions to Nazis and questioning the citizenship of an attorney. Judge Edward McCarty III gave Marianne Nestor Cassini a final opportunity to defend herself in court next month.But eight years after the famed designer’s death at age 92, his widow has 'engaged in numerous activities which require the court to suspend her' position immediately, the judge wrote in the March 13 ruling.Among Nestor’s misdeeds are claiming that estate paperwork was destroyed in a fire, helping herself to $387,000 that was supposed to go to a stepdaughter, and refusing to identify the whereabouts of $4 million in memorabilia — including letters from Jackie O. and Grace Kelly, according to court papers.
Judge McCarty noted his decision was 'a drastic measure.' Cassini, the son of Russian royalty who also dressed Kelly and Marilyn Monroe, left behind a $42 million fashion and perfume company, a $10 million Gramercy Park mansion and $10 million in antiques, art and furnishings.Nestor, who is 30 years his junior, purportedly married the designer in a secret London ceremony in 1971, but his 1986 autobiography made no mention of her. Nestor called her husband 'boss' or 'chief' in public, according to a Vanity Fair article, but the bedroom in his Oyster Bay summer home had a secret passageway to hers." (PageSix)


Illustration by James Ferguson of Jagdish Bhagwati


"It’s a blisteringly cold day in New York and I arrive at the corner of Lexington and 64th Street in need of thawing out. JoJo is a snug little restaurant inside a two-storey salmon pink house. Inside, there’s a tiny bar at the foot of the stairs leading up to the main dining area. The barman is pouring an enticing-looking glass of red wine. 'I’m meeting Jagdish Bhagwati,' I say, shivering. 'Could you possibly send a glass of whatever that is to our table? “This one is for Mr Bhagwati,' the barman beams. 'Two glasses coming right up.' It’s not only the cold that makes me want something to take the edge off. Bhagwati, brilliant, argumentative and occasionally vituperative, has a reputation for skewering his enemies. One of the most outstanding economists of his generation never to have won the Nobel Prize, his failure to be recognised for his work on international trade has become something of a cause célèbre.One fellow academic told me he used to avoid the great professor on the day the economics prize was announced because Bhagwati was inevitably in a frosty mood as yet another prize-less year went by. The Nobel committee’s oversight is so well known that it has even made it on to The Simpsons, an episode of which features Bhagwati receiving the coveted prize. (Krusty the Clown gets the Nobel peace award.)More recently, Bhagwati, 79, has gained notoriety for a bitter intellectual feud with Amartya Sen. Like Bhagwati, Sen is an Indian-born, Cambridge-educated economist now in the US (where Sen is professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard). Unlike Bhagwati, Sen is a Nobel recipient. In a long-running argument, Bhagwati accused Sen of prioritising redistribution in poor countries such as India. Bhagwati argued that only by generating sufficient growth to begin with would there be enough wealth to spread around. 'Sen puts the cart before the horse; and the cart is a dilapidated jalopy!' he wrote last year in Mint magazine. Sen, he said, paid lip-service to the idea of growth “much like an anti-Semite would claim that Jews are among his best friends!' The argument has since spilled out of the ivory tower and into the blood and dust of the Indian election, the world’s largest democratic exercise, which reaches its climax in May. Sen is seen as lining up behind the incumbent Congress administration, which has pursued policies that broadly favour the poor but has allowed growth to slide. Bhagwati supports the controversial candidacy of a fellow Gujarati, Narendra Modi, who fronts the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and promises to get the economy revving again." (FT)



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