The first week of March is supposed to be a big week for women around the world. With the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women convening at the U.N. the same week as International Women’s Day. celebrations are under way from the land of Tina Brown and Nick Kristof all the way to the Kalahari.
The theme of this year’s event is the “elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.” That sounds about right, but if the past is prologue, the week will pass as an expensive orgy of earnestness by day, and a Babel of networking by night, chiefly benefiting the airlines ferrying delegations in and out of JFK, and hotels and restaurants in the East 40s. Broadway shows might see a jump in ticket sales.
To roam the ballrooms and conference halls of this gas-fest means scuttling from one event to the next, sliding into chairs before daises of well-meaning NGOs and academics discussing the status of women, without ever talking about the elephant in the room, which is that feminists have been in retreat globally for at least two decades.
Jews in the News
Not all of America’s most eminent public personae are memorialized in public places. But when Pennsylvania Station is finally brought into the contemporary age, Daniel Patrick Moynihan will be, having been so honored in at least two other locations. Pat was still alive but barely out of office when the first of these buildings, the 27-story Moynihan Courthouse at Foley Square (which was named for “Big Tom” Foley, a Tammany Hall pol), was dedicated in his name. (Senior citizens among The Observer’s readers may recall that this is where the Smith Act prosecution of the Communist Party leadership and the trial of Judith Coplon for Soviet espionage took place.)
Moynihan Station will testify to the senator’s fidelity to both the commonplace functionality of public transportation and the grand aspirations of civic architecture. He rescued not only this railroad hub, but also the national capital’s Union Station. Nothing was too slight for this very big man’s attentions, neither the Smithsonian Institution nor this city’s Botanical Gardens nor Cooperstown, where he believably feigned an interest in baseball.
Israel long ago learned that it can expect little sympathy and even less justice at the United Nations. The organization’s high-minded diplomats from around the world have been known to remain silent while terrorist missiles land on Israeli soil, but stir themselves to outrage when Israel decides to defend itself.
Regrettably, nobody should be surprised Read More
“As Matt Lauer once said in the sixth hour of The Today Show, I can’t believe we are still talking about this shit.”
Last night, The Observer attended an event that most of the other guests agreed should not have existed. Filo pockets and mini spring rolls should not have been served to the dignified attendees in their little black dresses. And they, in turn, should not have been drinking glasses upon glasses of wine while engaging in pleasant conversation. Quite frankly, we should not have been standing there at Jazz at Lincoln Center at all. But in spite of innumerable efforts to educate the dissenting public, the issue lingers—so there we were, standing at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Our city was under siege—and all we wanted was a glass of Champagne.
Just before noon last Tuesday, we traipsed into the Pierre Hotel for Fashion 4 Development’s Second Annual First Ladies’ Luncheon. Before nearly everyone threatened or warned of nuclear war, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showcased his artistic inclinations, we joined the wives of the U.N.’s leading men as they paraded into the ballroom of Taj Resorts and Palaces of India’s U.S. flagship on East 61st.
In a world rife with crisis—the Middle East and Africa were among the week’s major talking points—we had but one imminent concern: we had missed the better part of a cocktail reception.
And it seemed we weren’t alone in not being particularly focused on the state of international affairs.
It is hard to know which is the greater affront: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lecturing the world about the rule of law, as he did at the United Nations on Sept. 24, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spewing his anti-Semitic trash on Yom Kippur, as he was scheduled to do before the General Assembly on Sept. 26.
In either case, the U.N. once again demonstrated its institutional contempt for Israel.
Ashley Judd broke from the selling of maternal wrath and vengeance—the primary plot-drivers of her new prime-time spy caper, Missing—to visit the UN last week and discuss her celebrity recovery and humanitarianism memoir, All That Is Bitter and Sweet.
It describes a youth marred by rape and abuse, an adulthood plagued by thoughts of suicide, paralyzing depression and pervasive hopelessness. And the path of healing that led her to work on behalf of such sufferers of the Global South as Congolese rape victims, Cambodian orphans and Bangladeshi sex slaves.
“I believe the patriarchy is not men,” Ms. Judd told her eager audience. “Patriarchy is a system in which both men and women participate.”
Crime and Punishment
An administrative assistant at GVA Williams who was convicted of swindling $3 million from former company executive Andrew Roos over the course of nine years was denied parole earlier this month, The Commercial Observer has learned.
Agnes Dickinson, 59, was ordered to continue her up-to-13-year prison sentence at a Jan. 12 parole board hearing, according to the New York State Department of Corrections. She has been incarcerated at the Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan since 2008, shortly after being convicted of grand larceny, forgery and money laundering.
“After a review of the record and interview, the panel has determined that, if released at this time, there is a reasonable probability that you would not live and remain at liberty without again violating the law, and your release would be incompatible with the welfare of society,” the parole ruling reads.
Sustainable Energy for the Rock Show
Today the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced his plan to enact a new “Sustainable Energy for All Initiative” at the UN Headquarters. The proposal naturally included the two-time Grammy-winning rock band Linkin Park. (Yes, that’s right. Linkin Park)
A cynical eye might dismiss the group’s philanthropy as another jump onto the “celebrities save Haiti” bandwagon. However, the band’s foundation, Music for Relief, has had its hand in a vast array of humanitarian efforts since its formation in 2004. (We suppose we can set aside any notions of the band capitalizing on altruism for notoriety.) After all do you even know what any of these guys look like? The band has sold over 50 million records, but largely remain out of the public eye.
The United Nations has a long tradition of employing the world’s finest architects.
The original Secretariat complex was the work of Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, two of the most revered designers ever to pick up a T-square. DC-1 and DC-2, the 1976 expansion of the campus better known as U.N. Plaza, was designed by Kevin Roche, builder of many New York towers and heir to the throne of Eero Saarinen.
In 2002, when it came time to plan for a new tower to house this globetrotting workforce, the United Nations Development Corporation, the city agency that handles all U.N. property, held a competition. It was open only to Pritzker Prize winners, and Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki was selected in 2004. Not long after, the project ran into political hurdles and was put on hold, but earlier this month Albany, the city and the U.N. reached a deal so the project can move forward. Almost as soon as the ink had dried on the land swap, Mr. Maki and his local partners, FXFowle, unrolled their blueprints and got back to work.