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Phil Vasan’s Next Opportunity

Nov 30, 15 Phil Vasan’s Next Opportunity

Posted by in All, Business

Now that Wells Fargo has agreed to the purchase of the US private banking division of Credit Suisse, there is a rare opportunity for investment firms to snatch up a talented executive who will soon be leaving Credit Suisse. As soon as the Credit Suisse transition has been completed, Phil Vasan, the present CEO, will be leaving. Vasan became the CEO back in 2013 in order to bring profitability back to Credit Suisse’s US operations, a task he was successful in completing. For a decade Phil Vasan worked as the head of prime services at Credit Suisse. Beginning in 2003 until he took over the private banking operation in 2013, Vasan raised the market share of the firm from 2 percent to 14 percent. Vasan’s success brought Credit Suisse into a top-two market position and then an invitation by Brady Dougan to repair the operations of the private bank. So what is the next step for Vasan? The expectation is that Vasan will either return to his long time career as an investment banker or instead make the switch to alternative investment management. If he decides he would like to return to banking, then it is clear that he would be best suited for a leadership role there, especially if there was an opportunity to take the bank in the direction of much needed changes. However, the banks most in need of his special skill set, such as Barclays, Deutsche and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, seem to not yet be ready for the type of transformative leadership Vasan would bring to the table. Another option which is more likely to entice Vasan is a senior position in the alternative investment industry. The larger firms and more cautious hedge fund managers which have survived the recent crisis in this industry will most likely recognize the value of someone like Vasan to transition their firms around to money-making machines in a more sustainable business model. In the internal memo Credit Suisse sent out which announced...

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$31 million Raised at Annual FIDF Dinner

This year, the 9th annual Hollywood gala dinner raised a staggering $31 billion for the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.  Attended by a vast array of celebrities, the event was chaired by Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl. The largest donation was received from IFCJ founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  He donated $8.4 million to the cause.  The IFCJ – International Fellowship of Christians and Jews – also recently provided financial aid for victims of the latest wave of terror to hit Israel. The gala has been growing steadily each year.  As Saban pointed out, “for the past nine years I have watched this gala grow into the preeminent charity event it is today, and I am truly humbled by the funds raised, which are a testament to the importance of the FIDF organization and its mission. The overwhelming support from the Los Angeles community continues to amaze me.” The night before, Saban hosted an event that celebrated Eckstein’s recent publication entitled ‘The Bridge Builder.’  A hundred people hailing from the business, entertainment and non-profit sectors attended the event.  The book accounts Eckstein’s work through the IFCJ of fostering and developing positive relationships and understandings between Christian and Jews around the world – a cornerstone of the...

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Diversity a Priority in Manhattan/Brooklyn Schools

Nov 23, 15 Diversity a Priority in Manhattan/Brooklyn Schools

Posted by in All, News

Beginning with the new school year in September, 2016, seven elementary schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan will take measures to make their schools more diverse. The plan was announced by the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, Carmen Fariña. The plan, which could be just the beginning of a wider policy that could dramatically change the look of New York’s classrooms, will reserve as much as 60 percent of classroom seats for children who either are learning English as a second language, have a parent in prison, or are in the child-welfare system. At the moment there is one school in Park Slope, PS 133, which uses diversity quotas to increase enrollment of children from low-income families or are behind in their English abilities. This program was implemented by Mayor Michael Bloomberg two years ago. The program will at first only be used in kindergartens and pre-k students in the seven designated schools. Expect the plan to be expanded if it is seen as a success. “Students learn from the diverse experiences and cultures of their fellow students,” Fariña said. “It’s important that our schools match the diversity of our city.” New York City schools are among the most severely segregated in the country. Educators have recognized the problem and have tried to solve it for many years. Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on the promise that he would address the problem and look for solutions, but this is the first time the de Blasio government has allowed school principals to decide on the quotas. The seven schools which begin implementing their own quotas are: East Village Neighborhood School East Village Earth School Castle Bridge School in Washington Heights Academy of Arts and Letter in Fort Greene, Brooklyn The Brooklyn New School in Carroll Gardens The Children’s School in Park Slope, Brooklyn Brooklyn Arts and Science Elementary School in Prospect Heights,...

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OY-YO Says it All in Brooklyn

Nov 15, 15 OY-YO Says it All in Brooklyn

Posted by in All, Art

A new sculpture now graces the grass in Brooklyn Bridge Park, expressing itself in a quite Brooklynistic manner. Created by artist Deborah Kass, the sculpture is a painted aluminum giant, loudly declaring the emphatic declaratives Oy and Yo, depending on if you are gazing at the sculpture from Brooklyn or Manhattan. This is the first time Ms. Kass, who calls herself a ““total, absolute, 100 percent provincial New Yorker,” has created a piece of these dimensions, 17 feet long and 8 feet high. “The fact that this particular work resonates so beautifully in so many languages to so many communities is why I wanted to make it monumental,” Ms. Kass said. The work was commissioned by the Brooklyn developer Two Trees Management Company, and was installed on the renovated Main Street Lawn in the park last week. It will remain in the park until August next year. Although the sculpture seems like a perfect fit in the culturally diverse New York environment, Ms. Kass points out that any city in America with a diverse population could be home for Yo/Oy. Wherever blacks, Latinos and Jews live together would make a great backdrop for this artwork. However, Brooklyn seems somehow like the best place of any: “This is New York, baby. We’ve got it all. And the sculpture covers it all,” she...

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Brooklyn Remembers Its Only Saint

Nov 09, 15 Brooklyn Remembers Its Only Saint

Posted by in All, Lifestyle

At the turn of the 20th century Raphael Hawaweeny helped to build the US branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church. An immigrant from Syria, he is now known as St. Raphael of Brooklyn and he died 100 years ago. This past Friday evening the icon of this saint was decorated with white and red bouquets and carried through the opulent St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Boerum Hill to mark the occasion of the centenary of his death, the Centennial Jubilee of the Falling Asleep of St. Raphael of Brooklyn. One parishioner, Al Rahey is proud of his association with St. Raphael and his church: “When I’m out of town and I tell people I’m from Brooklyn,” he said, “they tell me ‘Oh, we know St. Raphael,’ and I say ‘Yes, he’s our founder.’ ” Raphael was born in 1860 in Beirut to a couple from Syria who were escaping the massacre of Christians in Damascus. In 1895 he came to New York to take charge of a new Syrian Orthodox congregation forming in Lower Manhattan. By 1902, as the Syrian population grew in Brooklyn the church moved there. By the time Hawaweeny died in 1915, he was a Bishop, and over 4,000 people attended his funeral. In 2000 he was canonized at a monastery in Pennsylvania. The icon of St. Raphael is a framed painting of him wearing a red-robe and a halo. It will be carried by the shrine at the front of the church, where one of his finger-bones is on display in a glass case. Mr. Rahey, who is also the caretaker, said this moment is a joyous occasion for him and his church: “It’s something that we cherish because he founded our church,” he said. “Who knows if he didn’t found it what it would be...

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Phoenix Ancient Art Teams with Helly Nahmad Gallery- Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity

Nov 01, 15 Phoenix Ancient Art Teams with Helly Nahmad Gallery- Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity

Posted by in All, Art

Admirers of modern art and Greek classic art will be pleased to hear that Phoenix Ancient Art and the Helly Nahmad Gallery are joining together to exhibit for the first time the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico with original Greek and Roman antiquities. Under the leadership of brothers Ali and Hicham Aboutam, Phoenix Ancient Art will present classic Greek and Roman antiquities, all sourced from private collections, at the Helly Nahmad Gallery. This prominent New York gallery specializes in major twentieth century artists such as Picasso, Calder, Kandinsky and de Chirico, whose work is the focal point of this upcoming show. The goal of the exhibit is to elucidate the enormous impact classical Greek and Roman art has had on the styles and statements of modern art and artists. Greek-born Italian master Giorgio de Chirico is most famous for his connection with the Surrealists of the early twentieth century, but he made a shift in style during the 1920s. The paintings from that period of change include a series which was frequently misunderstood, depicting deserted valleys with scattered classical ruins; majestic horses in windblown landscapes; figurative representations of Greek gods and philosophers; and gladiators in full armor suits. Juxtaposing these paintings with the genuine Greek ancient art is a brilliant way to see the incredible influence this body of art has had on the artists of modernity. Apropos to this theme, the exhibit, which is opening on November 4th and running until December 23rd, is called Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity, referring to the Greek goddess who was the mother to the Muses, and the embodiment of memory personified. The myth of Mnemosyne tells us that without her there would be no memory, no history, and therefore mankind would be void of the motivation and inspiration to create works of art, or to be creative at all. In addition the exhibit hopes to inspire us to understand and take seriously the unique and crucial role the past has played in the world of today,...

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Mets Make Appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live from Brooklyn

Oct 26, 15 Mets Make Appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live from Brooklyn

Posted by in All, Entertainment

Several members of the National League Baseball champions, the New York Mets, appeared on the late night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” David Wright, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Wilmer Flores, were guests on the popular show’s Friday night segment, which had been previously recorded. The show aired only moments after the Kansas City Royals won the American League pennant, making them the team the Mets will need to beat to win the World Series. During Kimmel’s opening monologue he joked about the high prices of the tickets to the World Series at Citi Field, saying that “The only people who can afford to go to a Mets game are Derek Jeter and A-Rod right now.” Kimmel discussed several topics with the players including the proposed trade of Flores to the Milwaukee Brewers and the anger New Yorkers have towards Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers for fracturing the Mets’ Ruben Tejanda’s leg while he was going for a slide at Dodger Stadium during the National League Championship Series. Kimmel also pulled out a Halloween costume which is supposed to remind people of deGrom’s flowing long hair, but Kimmel pointed out that the costume does double duty also as “The brunette...

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March Over Brooklyn Bridge Showcases Plight of Groups Losing Space in Schools

Oct 19, 15 March Over Brooklyn Bridge Showcases Plight of Groups Losing Space in Schools

Posted by in Sports

As many as 500 students participated in a protest march across the Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday in support of additional and safer places to engage in athletics in the New York City. The march was led by the Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and was joined by coaches, parents and representatives from lots of sports teams across the City. Adams said he would be happy to see the city’s Department of Education allow sports teams and other athletic programs given more time on school grounds during off hours. “We’re talking about one of the most important aspects of a child’s development and we’re not giving it the support it deserves,” said Adams. Adams added that the city’s schools are too often unavailable for athletic groups and teams. In addition, Adams said, when space is available the schools charge a lot for it, as much as hundreds of dollars per hour. He believes that approved groups and teams should have the high fees waved. “Then we’re asking why are our children are so stationary,” said Adams. One example mentioned by Adams is the case of the Soul Tigers Marching Band. A program based in East New York, Brooklyn, the band lost its practice space in a city public school. The group, which has in the past led the iconic Thanksgiving Day Parade, was only given back its space after a long, arduous fight in which the borough president and other elected officials had to step in. “DOE property is an extension of community resources, but a lot of these decisions are being done in a vacuum,” he...

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