Welcome to our new online newsletter. We have been planning this change for several years, so we hope this will be an improvement in circulation and content. We will reach out by mail to those who do not have email, and hope to get some of the content to them by hard copy.
With regard to the current situation at the United Nations, it is distressing that so much of its important work—on climate change, refugees, the environment, clean water, clean energy, and poverty—is being undermined by our own government. In fact, the decline in the approved budget of the UN by $285 million has been hailed as a great victory by the U.S. administration. UNA-Westchester and its members need to stand firm against this assault on the concrete achievements of the UN, such as the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
What if we look at the actual things the UN is doing that go underreported, especially when much of our collective efforts are for equality and development? Most of us reading this are in one of the most developed centers in the world.
With that in mind, let’s look at a few things the UN does with each newsletter installment.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), recognizing today’s unprecedented global refugee crisis, established the Adopt-A-Future Initiative with the aim of “preventing a lost generation by giving refugee children the education they need to build a better future.” The Kenyan government established one of its refugee camps at the town of Kakuma in 1991, initially to host 12,000 unaccompanied minors who had fled the war in Sudan and came walking from camps in neighboring Ethiopia. With continued war in South Sudan, the number of refugee arrivals increased beyond control to the current level of 185,000!
I would venture to guess that the great majority of us come from a refugee background. Someone in our family had the courage to leave “Home,” wherever that was, and did it for a variety of reasons.
In the case of my ancestors, what motivated them was the fact that the Ottomans, in the death throes of their empire, began a new policy of conscripting young Christian boys into their army, putting them on the front lines and never letting them out. They could not hope to get an education, choose a profession, raise a family, and do all the normal things that make life happy for young men and women. Thus, they took the possessions that were allowed, paid the Ottomans most of their money for safe passage, and came to the United States of America. The USA attracted them as a beacon of light shining above the darkness that was created by hopelessness and fear.
I need not tell you of the darkness that motivates people to leave their homes. As we read the newspapers or watch the news on T.V., we hear all about forces all over the world that target civilians.
The sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 62), the highest level international forum on gender equality and women’s empowerment, will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 11 to 23 March 2018. Representatives of member states, UN entities, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) accredited by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will gather from all regions of the world to attend the session.
This year’s priority theme is “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.” The review theme is “Participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies, and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women.” Although registration is now closed for CSW 62, opportunities are still available for those who are interested in attending side events. These are held outside the UN premises, although within walking distance.
President Donald J. Trump has a few ideas about how to make America great again. They’re not very good. In fact, they’re counterproductive and, more likely than not, will promote the long-term decline of the nation. Now, it seems, he plans to apply those ideas to the United Nations as well.
The United States remains the strongest country in the world, both militarily and economically. Our post-recession economic recovery, frustrating as it has been, has been stronger and faster than that of Europe (which engaged in GOP-style austerity, suffered a double-dip recession, and is only now getting a firmer, if still uneven, footing) and is among the longest-lasting in U.S. history. Yet Trump has convinced himself and many others that the country is in dramatic need of rescue. While corporate America has abundant cash on hand, and interest rates are still near historic lows for those who don’t, the economy could use a boost of market demand to prompt corporations to mobilize those funds for productive investment.
Yet Trump and the Republican-led Congress devised a tax plan that consists of redirecting money from the general public, thereby undermining demand, to corporations and affluent Americans who already have funds that they are not using. (The plan actually advantages the superwealthy over the merely wealthy and those who live off dividends or inheritances over the wealthy who rely on salaries. Moreover, Speaker Paul Ryan believes that the new deficits created by it should be paid for with cuts to Medicare, even though the retiree population is growing and includes many Trump voters.) Beyond that, the administration is pushing to reduce immigration—both legal and illegal—which will also undermine long-term growth prospects, especially at a time when the working-age population is shrinking and the retiree population is growing. In addition, we have cuts to basic research, the wellspring of innovation, and a general disdain for science or, for that matter, expertise of any sort. All this is topped off with he and his party have a growing penchant for undermining political norms and institutions for the sake of short-term partisan gain.
World-Renowned Chef and TV Host Lidia Bastianich Becomes UNA-USA’s First Celebrity Champion for Refugee Youth Education
Washington, D. C. (January 4, 2018)
The United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) today announced Emmy award-winning public television host, best‐selling cookbook author, restaurateur, and former refugee Lidia Bastianich as its first celebrity champion for refugee youth education.
As her first act in this role, Bastianich is asking Americans to host fundraising dinners to provide education for children in UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) camps. All funds raised will support Adopt-A-Future, a campaign of UNA-USA and USA for UNHCR that works to prevent a lost generation by giving refugee children the education they need to build a better future. A donation of just $25 provides school supplies and clothing for a refugee child to enroll in school.
“As someone who has personally experienced life as a refugee, I’m honored to become a champion for the right of refugee children to get an education, which provides opportunity and hope,” said Bastianich. “I invite Americans to join me in making a concrete difference in the lives of refugee children by hosting fundraising dinners at their homes, schools, and places of worship.”
Bastianich will host her own fundraising dinner for Adopt-A-Future this March at her flagship Manhattan restaurant, Felidia.
Marcia Brewster, President (Email, Phone)
Brenda L. G. Smith, Vice President, Partnerships Chair
David R. Finch, Treasurer
Scott C. Monje, Secretary and Editor, Newsletter
Marcia Wallace, Nominations Committee, Membership Committee
Myrna Anover, Program Co-Chair
Mary Seward Downes, Education Committee Co-Chair
J. Yuhanna Edwards, Advocacy Co-Chair
H.E. Ambassador Bob Jalang’o, Special Projects Chair
Joan Katen, Advocacy Co-Chair
Karen Rockwell El-Badry, Education Committee Co-Chair
Lilli Schindler, Program Co-Chair
Patrick Sciarratta, Communications Chair and Newsletter Layout Editor
Martha Perez, Young Professionals Program Chair