There’s Only One Warren Buffett


The Berkshire Hathaway C.E.O.’s three-day extravaganza — er, shareholders’ conference — drew tens of thousands of fans to Omaha.

Shareholders Deborah Kiel, left, and Laura Flynn collected Warren Buffett swag at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders meeting in Omaha.CreditRick Wilking/Reuters

OMAHA — Officially, it’s known as the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting.

Unofficially, a handful of nicknames describe the three-day extravaganza that happens in the first weekend of May, in which tens of thousands of people descend upon Omaha to revel in all things Warren Buffett.

There’s “Berkyville,” which captures the folksy, small-town tenor of the event. There’s “AGM,” an abbreviation of “Annual General Meeting,” preferred by the finance crowd. And there’s Mr. Buffett’s personal favorite: “Woodstock for capitalists.”

But the most revealing name is the shortest one: the meeting. Just as some New Yorkers refer to the Big Apple as “the city,” as if there were only one, scores of attendees consider this shareholders meeting to be in a class of its own.

In part, that’s because the atmosphere feels closer to a carnival than a buttoned-up investors’ conference. There are tables of merchandise and costumed mascots, Ping-Pong matches and a movie reel of celebrity-filled skits and spoofs. There is an unofficial circuit of V.I.P. parties and piggyback events. At the center of it all is Mr. Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway’s chief executive, one of the world’s most successful investors and the weekend’s enthusiastic master of ceremonies.

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Mr. Buffett’s likenesses filled the arena.CreditNati Harnik/Associated Press

“There’s a cult of personality, and I mean that in a positive way,” said Dan Calkins, the president and chief operating officer of Benjamin Moore.

For Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Initialized Capital and a former chief executive of Reddit, the fun began long before he touched down in Nebraska. “There’s such a range of people, even just from the plane out of Newark to here,” he said. Pointing to his business partner, Garry Tan, he added, “This guy talked to, uh, well, I don’t want to name drop.”

As if on cue, the investor Li Lu walked up to shake Mr. Ohanian’s hand; inches away, John Collison, the chief executive of Stripe, typed away on his laptop. For Mr. Tan, the big names mattered less than the Midwestern sensibilities: “There is a piece of this that really resonates with us, around being plain-spoken and investing in what you understand,” he said.

The epicenter of the festivities is Omaha’s CenturyLink Center exhibition space: One wing is fully devoted to booths of Berkshire Hathaway-owned brands. Friday is known as “shopping day.” It’s a dedicated opportunity for Mr. Buffett’s admirers to buy his brands, snack on his preferred foods (See’s Candies and Dilly Bars) and take selfies next to his various likenesses (or, in Mr. Tan’s case, in an Oscar Mayer hot dog costume). Another wing is home to a Madison Square Garden-like arena, where the actual shareholders meeting is held on Saturday.

Revelers line up overnight to get in — or, in capitalist fashion, hire other people to stand in line for them. This year, many people expressed gratitude for the gentle breezes and sunshine, a welcome reprieve from the torrential rainstorms of past years. A handful of revelers were dressed up in bow ties and silver-glitter heels. Others climbed up poles to snap photos of the crowd.

A Berkshire Hathaway shareholder hugs a Mr. Kool-Aid character in the exhibit hall.CreditRick Wilking/Reuters

By 7 a.m., attendees were streaming into the arena. Many purchased fluffy pretzels and pink beverages adorned with umbrellas from the concessions stands and settled in to be entertained. A parody of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’s “Empire State of Mind” blasted over the loudspeaker, but the lyrics were changed to: “In Berkshire, financial strength is where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do.”

Then the “movie” started rolling.

As in previous years, Berkshire Hathaway had created a video reel of skits with celebrities, who ostensibly agree to participate for free. This year Katy Perry was one of about half a dozen big names on the screen, joking about the Left Shark debacle at the Super Bowl in 2015 and comparing the uncoordinated backup dancer to the Oracle of Omaha himself. The right shark, she said, was the one who showed up on time to rehearsal and got none of the credit — and that was Mr. Buffett’s vice chairman Charlie Munger. The crowd applauded loudly.

The Oracle of Omaha makes his entrance.CreditRick Wilking/Reuters

After the Berkshire Hathaway board was announced and earnings were delivered, the most beloved portion of the show began: Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger held a question-and-answer session, taking on topics like global politics and cryptocurrencies. Mr. Buffett dispensed wise advice and spoke with occasional self-effacing charm. Mr. Munger delivered deadpan one-liners that drew raucous laughs, including his comparison of virtual currencies to “turds.”

“If you’re interested in business, this is the bucket-list event,” said James Weber, the chief executive of Brooks Sports. “It’s just priceless.”

Shareholders at the opening cocktail party.CreditRick Wilking/Reuters

For hard chargers in the financial industry, who are often laser-focused on performance, it’s a reminder that business can be fun. “Every year that I come personally, I walk away energized,” said Mr. Calkins of Benjamin Moore, who said he has attended the meeting 17 times.

Even after the main event was over, there was still plenty of weekend left to enjoy.

There was a picnic at Nebraska Furniture Mart, a 5K run and a chance to challenge Mr. Buffett in a game of Ping-Pong (he promised to “take all comers”). There were additional finance meetings, private dinner parties and an exclusive brunch held by Mr. Buffett at the country club.

“People aren’t coming here because they’re investing money,” said Conner Van Fossen, an Air Force member who attended the event with his father, Jim Van Fossen, for the first time. “It’s about the spectacle.”

Album Review: Cardi B Is a New Rap Celebrity Loyal to Rap’s Old Rules on ‘Invasion of Privacy’


Here alone are three possible Cardis: switchblade Cardi, empowerment-seminar Cardi, pan-Latin-unifier Cardi. And those aren’t even all of them. On “She Bad” and “I Do,” she raps about sex with the assertiveness and raw detail of Lil’ Kim or Too Short. And on “Thru Your Phone,” she’s convincingly broken by an untrustworthy partner: “I might just cut all the tongues out your sneakers/Smash your TV from Best Buy/You gon’ turn me into Left Eye.”

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Cardi B’s debut album is “Invasion of Privacy.”

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“Invasion of Privacy” is also, notably, a hip-hop album that doesn’t sound like any of its temporal peers: It is not a samey post-trap longread designed for zoned-out maximal streaming, nor does it flirt with the sonic and thematic excesses of the SoundCloud generation. In fact, it’s more reminiscent of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when New York rap was beginning to test its pop edges.

And though it’s a debut album, it’s by no means a debut: Cardi B has been famous for years already, first as a libertine social-media slice-of-life comic, and later as an effervescently campy reality-television standout. Both of those sorts of fame are relatively young, though. Succeeding in music has generally been thought to require something more than the natural vim and charm that she’s deployed to this point.

And yet, that is partly a hip-hop myth deployed by gatekeepers. Cardi proves it’s a lie: The skills she has been deploying to hilarious effect in her other careers are exactly the ones that make her music so invigorating. Few artists of any kind are so visibly and infectiously enthused.

As a result, the appetite for her is insatiable, and the career milestones are coming fast and furious: co-hosting “The Tonight Show” alongside Jimmy Fallon, appearing on the covers of various magazines, announcing her pregnancy during a performance on “Saturday Night Live.”

She has also been the most reliable hip-hop guest star of the last 12 months, with appearances on G-Eazy’s “No Limit,” Migos’s “MotorSport,” Ozuna’s “La Modelo” and the remix of Bruno Mars’s “Finesse” — she has yet to release a dud. For someone who only started rapping a few years ago, that stylistic versatility is striking — it shows Cardi to be a quick study. And indeed, in a recent interview with Ebro Darden for Apple’s Beats 1, she spoke openly about wanting to improve as a rapper and working with a more experienced rapper and songwriter, Pardison Fontaine, to improve her technical skills. “I needed a little bit of help from breaking out of my box,” she said. “I need to learn how to flow a little bit easier and cleaner.” (There was some consternation online after an old video of Mr. Fontaine performing part of “Be Careful” recently resurfaced online. Atlantic Records did not make songwriting credits for “Invasion of Privacy” available.)

The hard work shows, especially in terms of her cadences, and her ease in adapting to various production styles. Her quick-jab rhymes aren’t particularly complex, but occasionally she gets off a delicious turn of phrase, like this one, from “Money Bag”: “These bitches salty, they sodium, they jelly, petroleum/Always talking in the background, don’t never come to the podium.”

The work of becoming a great rapper is something that’s rarely spoken about, but Cardi has been open about her education process, an implicit acknowledgment that her path to success has been unusual. It is one way rap stars are made today, and may be for the foreseeable future — not by triumphing over other rhymeslingers in Darwinian fashion, but by arriving to the genre as a fully formed personality, and then learning how to shrink-wrap that personality around beats.

This is a new paradigm, one that puts charm before bona fides. It is what happens when a genre is exposed to sunlight and expands beyond the internal logic that once drove it. But it’s not enough for Cardi to win on those terms — she wants to succeed on the old ones, too.

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Adult Film Star Says She Stayed Silent on Trump Out of Fear


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Stephanie Clifford, the adult film star known as Stormy Daniels, told “60 Minutes” that a man threatened her after she agreed to a tell a magazine about an affair with Donald J. Trump. Ms. Clifford said the man told her: “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.”



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CBS News, via Associated Press

The adult film star Stephanie Clifford told “60 Minutes” that she struck a $130,000 deal for her silence about an alleged affair with Donald J. Trump in the final days of the 2016 campaign because she was worried about her safety and that of her young daughter.

That concern, she told “60 Minutes” in an interview for broadcast on Sunday night, was based on a threat she received in 2011 from a man who approached her in Las Vegas. She said the threat came after she sold her story about Mr. Trump for $15,000 to InTouch magazine, which decided not to run it after Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, threatened to sue the publication.

“I was in a parking lot going to a fitness class with my infant daughter,” she told the “60 Minutes” correspondent and CNN host Anderson Cooper, according to a transcript of the interview. “And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And he leaned round and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl, it would be a shame if something happened to her mom.”

So when her previous lawyer came to her with an offer brokered by Mr. Cohen in the final days of the presidential campaign, she said, she agreed because, “I was concerned for my family and their safety.”

Ms. Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, was the featured subject of what was the most highly anticipated episode of “60 Minutes” in its recent history, turning her story about a consensual relationship with the president into something of a national event, one replete with viewing parties and “Dark and Stormy” cocktail specials at bars. She is one of two women who have recently filed suit seeking to get out of agreements they said they entered during the last stretch of the 2016 campaign to give up the rights to their stories about what they have said were affairs with Mr. Trump. The other woman, a former Playmate named Karen McDougal, sold her rights to the company that owns The National Enquirer, and spoke to Mr. Cooper on CNN on Thursday.

Continue reading the main story

Adult Film Star Says She Stayed Silent on Trump Out of Fear


Photo

Stephanie Clifford, the adult film star known as Stormy Daniels, told “60 Minutes” that a man threatened her after she agreed to a tell a magazine about an affair with Donald J. Trump. Ms. Clifford said the man told her: “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.”



Credit
CBS News, via Associated Press

The adult film star Stephanie Clifford told “60 Minutes” that she struck a $130,000 deal for her silence about an alleged affair with Donald J. Trump in the final days of the 2016 campaign because she was worried about her safety and that of her young daughter.

That concern, she told “60 Minutes” in an interview for broadcast on Sunday night, was based on a threat she received in 2011 from a man who approached her in Las Vegas. She said the threat came after she sold her story about Mr. Trump for $15,000 to InTouch magazine, which decided not to run it after Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, threatened to sue the publication.

“I was in a parking lot going to a fitness class with my infant daughter,” she told the “60 Minutes” correspondent and CNN host Anderson Cooper, according to a transcript of the interview. “And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And he leaned round and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl, it would be a shame if something happened to her mom.”

So when her previous lawyer came to her with an offer brokered by Mr. Cohen in the final days of the presidential campaign, she said, she agreed because, “I was concerned for my family and their safety.”

Ms. Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, was the featured subject of what was the most highly anticipated episode of “60 Minutes” in its recent history, turning her story about a consensual relationship with the president into something of a national event, one replete with viewing parties and “Dark and Stormy” cocktail specials at bars. She is one of two women who have recently filed suit seeking to get out of agreements they said they entered during the last stretch of the 2016 campaign to give up the rights to their stories about what they have said were affairs with Mr. Trump. The other woman, a former Playmate named Karen McDougal, sold her rights to the company that owns The National Enquirer, and spoke to Mr. Cooper on CNN on Thursday.

Continue reading the main story