New Yorker Tid Bits

In the past week, two New Yorker features have caught my eye, and I thought I’d share them here. The first is about Bill Clinton’s epic speech at the Democratic National Convention, and how WJC doesn’t just read the teleprompter, he converses with it. The article is replete with quotes comparing the official speech to what was actually delivered, and it’s awesome (the speech ended up being twice as long as originally intended).

On a bit about Obama’s health-care law, the Teleprompter gives Clinton: “The Republicans call it ‘Obamacare’ and say it’s a government takeover of health care that they’ll repeal.” Clinton spits back:

The Republicans call it, derisively, “Obamacare.” They say it’s a government takeover of health care, a disaster, and that if we’ll just elect them they’ll repeal it.

That “derisively,” which underscores the point and clarifies it for anyone unfamiliar, is a good idea. The insertion of “a disaster” as the rhythmic fulcrum of the second sentence is an even better one. But the caustic irony of that “if we’ll just elect them”—that’s the kind of nuance that you could expect from a master speechwriter who has had days or weeks, not split seconds, to consider the best way of putting things.


The second article is about Facebook and the “Nipplegate.” It’s so incredibly silly, but I love the New Yorker’s treatment of the issue. Here’s a great out-of-context quote:

While female nipple bulging, or F.N.B. for short, is a potentially serious problem, with as yet no known cure, it also has no known victims. That is, unless you count freedom of expression, common sense, and humor.

Second Plenary – generating profits, jobs and equitable growth

Well, this morning’s plenary session was really pretty amazing – on stage, the Queen of Jordan, the President of Liberia, the Chairman of Coca Cola, Bono and Al Gore. All had some really interesting and inspiring stories to tell (save maybe for the chairman of Coke, who merely encouraged MNCs to continue investing and engaging in emerging markets). Al Gore pleaded with the youth to take part in acts of civil disobedience if the authorities weren’t changing course – his entire intervention, as well as that of Bono, was incredible.

Bono reminded us that we managed to find $700 billion last week to rescue Wall Street, but that we were having a hard time scrounging the $25 billion it would take to make a huge difference in the fight against AIDS, malaria and TB. While drawing this kind of comparison is a bit of a cheap shot (the stakes of non-intervention in Wall Street are different – and one could argue higher – than the stakes of saving the lives of children), the whole point of this first plenary (and I’d say of this entire conference) is to motivate and inspire those who have the ability to make things happen. I suppose that’s the reason that first session was entitled ” A Call to Action” and not “Deep Thoughts on Development Strategy”.

I unfortunately missed the working sessions, as I was called into some meetings for the Clinton Giustra Initiative, but now I’m back in the midst of it – another plenary is about to begin, and then, “A Conversation between Bill Gates and Bill Clinton about Giving”. Should be great.

William J Clinton opening remarks

2 of the 4 highlighted commitments in the opening plenary concern Liberia, and President Sirleaf just stepped on stage with the President of the Nike Foundation.

This is about one of my favorite initiatives, The Girl Effect, that I have written about before. They are committing $5 million over 3 years for programs that empower young women and open up economic opportunities for them. Clinton is telling all of us how important it is to insure that girls everywhere have greater access to opportunities….

Another commitment with Liberia is $15 million to help coordinate philanthropic efforts between charitable organizations and the Government – I wonder how The Niapele Project can get plugged into this…. But truly, what a great opportunity: harmonizing and coordinating development activities between NGOs, foundations, international organizations and the government is definitely incredibly necessary.

I hope that these high level commitments, made in a fancy ballroom in NYC, will translate into real positive change for Liberians.

Bloomberg and Lance Armstrong just stepped on stage – the Livestrong Foundation is going to launch an international awareness campaign to make cancer a health priority the world over.

Lance Armstrong is still wearing his yellow wristband, in case you were wondering. Apparently, the number 1 killing disease of young women in sub-saharan Africa is cervical cancer – this is probably the last cause I would have come up with. Interesting.

….more to come….