15 NOVEMBER 2014


Several questions surround the quick departure of the recently-appointed Protocol Chief. Before he was moved to the 2nd floor, he was a close assistant to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, holding the key to all his appointments. Most staff thought the move was a promotion -- when, technically, it was. Others in the know translate it to mean sending him away from the top floor to possibly place a distance from others, actually another staffer. When matters remained the same, only more awkward, a firm Korean answer was finally imposed. "Cherchez"...who?


The swift move from the 38th to the 2nd floor was not the only situation in need of a special Korean response. Another at a higher level was a legal affair; or -- how to put it -- an affair with Legal. All partners held sensitive positions -- two with the Secretariat -- and a third far away. Absence, apparently, makes the heart beat stronger -- for a nearer one. Anyway, a replacement of the replaceable was arranged and duly announced. Fare thee well, in County Dublin.


There was once a woman from Dublin
Who munched on a forbidden pumpkin
Then the Guardian Ban
Intervened with the man
And the Pumpkin was thrashed in a dust bin.


We're still exploring the intricacies of the "new culture" proposed vocally by "Kim Too-Soon," whether on his own behalf or reflecting whomever master's voice he repeats. We knew the U.N. culture when a Secretary General, senior officials, and unknown soldiers gave the ultimate sacrifice for U.N. objectives. Despite the passage of 7 years at U.N. Headquarters, Mr. Kim has not shown any inclination to make amends or offer any simple sacrifice equal to that taken by so many dedicated colleagues. To the contrary, he has habitually taken advantage of his transient influence close to the U.N. Secretary General. Taking vengeance on retired staff makes him look even more pathetic. And, by the way, lose those brazenly brown shoes.


It is one of the toughest assignments. Fortunately, it rotates monthly. The good, awkward or outstanding will pass their way through the formal chamber, informal consultation room, and the press briefing posture facing the media at the exit, particularly after a non-event meeting with exaggerated expectations. Anyway. October was Argentina's time to preside. By all counts, its Permanent Representative Maria Cristina Perceval -- "Marita" to friends -- accomplished the task with flying colors. Perhaps coming from a family of creative musicians gave her a sense of "political rhythm;" or her academic intellectual background helped her grasp conceptual issues; or her political experience as former Senator from her birthplace of Mendoza. Perhaps it is combined. It was a pleasure to watch her speak, act, and smile.


In October, a number of prominent women business leaders and guests gathered in Laguna Niguel, California, to participate in Fortune's annual Most Powerful Women Summit. Here's some of the best advice they shared:

Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors: "If you are doing something you are passionate, you are just naturally going to succeed. There are so many choices you can make. Do something you are passionate about. Life is too short."

Megyn Kelly, Anchor, The Kelly File, Fox News: "My boss told me, 'People will imitate you. They will try to do what you do. Never worry about them, because there is only one you. They can imitate it, but they can never be the same person, with the same gifts, and so on.'"

Jane Lauder, Global Brand President, Clinique, Estee Lauder: " On good leadership: It's [about] listening and absorbing how my entire family works. It's really about listening and understanding the leader you want to be."

Meg Whitman, Chairman, CEO, and President, Hewlett-Packard: "I have a philosophy about hiring...I'm a big believer in situational leadership. The right person, in the right job, at the right time, with the right attitude."

Melinda Gates, Co-Chair, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: "The only thing I care about on the day I die is that people think I'm a great mom, family member, and friend. You don't get a do-over with your kids. I will always have the foundation, but my kids come first."

Helena Foulkes, Executive Vice President and President, CVS/Pharmacy CVS Caremark: "I love to run. I like to run long distances. And part of it for me is sort of the joy of feeling the pain and the grit and knowing you have to dig deep. And I think a lot of times business decisions are like being a marathoner. In other words, you what the finish line is that you really want to get to, but along the way it's not always pure joy. There are really hard moments, but if you keep your eye on the prize, it's part of what drives you to get there."


Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was a guest speaker at "Anahuac," a Catholic University in Mexico City. His friends reported that he was duly received as a "diplomatic rock star," a favourite term. An award was given on the occasion to Alicia Barcena, a Mexican citizen who had worked with Mr. Annan's cabinet and now heads the U.N. Economic and Social Regional Commission for Latin American (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile. Word is that Ms. Barcena, who initially joined UNEP on a strong recommendation may be setting her sights on the post of U.N. Secretary-General for 2017. A visit by a sympathetic former Secretary-General, particularly when appropriately introduced, could help consolidate Mexico's support for that candidacy. A Mexican President once applied for that post when his country played a central role in U.N. affairs. Would its currently beleaguered officials make a special effort to support Ms. Barcena, or would her cause be left mainly to "F.O.K." (Friends of Koffee)? More on that "in due course."


The Delegates Dining Room is back on the 4th floor of the U.N. campus, refreshed by a special Monte Carlo week sponsored by Prince Albert during the General Debate and followed by a special buffet and receptions. Although certain familiar reception fixtures have changed with time -- no more Norman protocol direction nor "Monsieur Boyers's" expert advice. But many of the helpful staff are still there, doing their best -- as usual.


While the renovated Delegates Lounge looks more like a cross between an Internet Cafe and a college cafeteria, a newly-introduced special Friday evening event draws mainly our younger delegates who sometimes brings along their own disc jockey. Security guards used to dealing over decades with quietly moving senior delegates seem amused at the new development, wondering how long will it last before someone trips over an awkward moment. Meanwhile, it sounds like a tension-relieving outlet.


Just in case, there's the Qatar Lounge on the First floor overlooking the East River with couches, lounge chairs and a soothing fountain. It is a display of Arabesque furniture. No food nor drink. Total quiet except for occasional low voice chat by an occasional diplomat. An ideal spot to doze off!


A parrot in Southern California who was taught by its presumptuous keeper to speak with a high British accent disappeared for four years. Then returned parroting Spanish. Several media outlets from the Daily Breeze to Gawker to The New York Daily News tried to explore what happened in-between, particularly that the returning bird asked for an otherwise unknown person in the area called Larry. A changed interest with a changed accent raised questions in an otherwise quiet block. Some even thought of seeking help with Spanish communities. A Mexican intellectual seemed to show literary interest, in line with a line by the great Mexican poet Octavio Paz, who once addressed a very highly distinguished, highly pretentious diplomat by saying: "Excuse me, Excellency, but I thought you were a parrot."


Who will head the U.N. Department of Public Information (DPI) during the last two years of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's mandate? An announcement of a competition signaled two outside candidates from Eastern Europe -- a Romanian and a Czech. There is also talk of a Greek candidate. Would it be a truly professional choice -- which Mr. Ban really needs at this stage, or a politically expedient designation? Let's hope for the best.


Now there is a job for someone who will readily apologize, whatever the reason or cause or relationship. A new field has emerged: Saying "Sorry" and getting paid for it. It started in Asia, but is soon finding its way on a wider scale. Remember Elton John's song: "Sorry seems to be the hardest word." Now, it's as easy as cashing in.


Egyptian popular singer Shaaban Abdel Rahim, generally known as "Shaabola," circulated a new song against Turkey's President. In "Drink Up, Erdogan," he tells him that his own people will rebel against him and he will be consumed by his own fires. After accusing him of starting the militant group "Islamic State of Syria and Iraq," he continues: "OK, you started Daesh (its Arabic name) and spent your money on it; they hurt Iraq and Syria -- and now they turn to you." He also hints at the "triangle of terrorism: Turkey, Qatar, and the U.S." The song, which was launched on Egyptian TV, hails Egypt's President Sisi. By the way, as with any translation, the popular grasp is in its original Egyptian popular dialect.


It is not exactly Ban, but it's Korean and it's Bann. It is a newly-emerging restaurant in New York described by Zagat as "caring," with an overall "satisfying" experience. It is located in what New Yorkers call "Hell's Kitchen," between Eighth and Ninth Avenues in the Fifties. As usually happens in promotional campaigns, dinner at Bann is being offered at a 54% discount -- nothing compared to what you would get across town on York and 57th Street. By the way, those keen on showing their emerging interest in Korean food had an opportunity during a Korean Food Festival in New York during the weekend days of 17 - 18 October in Times Square.


"The Famous Blue Raincoat" is back to tell us there are serious problems. Nothing that serious that you can't enjoy with some blues. "Suzanna" has gone long ago, although Judy Collins keeps reminding us of it every now and then. Yet Leonard Cohen remains faithful to himself. An inspired poet more than a singer; an outstanding performer who inspires his admirers at a tip of a hat. His new CD, "Serious Problems," may not sound the same as previous ones. It's not "Every Body Knows," "Let it be Your Will," or "Take Me to the End of Love." The dawning of a new era and perhaps older age drive his new themes. "Slow" -- it's not about getting old, but "I've always been slow." "In Motion" and others reflect the authentic spirit of that talented, perceptive, under-stating , overwhelming Canadian New Yorker. Hallelujah!


French popular singer Patrick Bruel's performance at New York's Beacon Theatre was a rhythmic occasion, particularly for his female francophone admirers, who stood patiently in line to attend. "Qui a le droit" (Who has the right) has been his signature song that brought him to fame two decades ago. But to longing women, it was "Je t'aime" -- with the usual pose before and the definite cut immediately after. Sighs abound, occasional singing along in a "chant" that was joined softly by young and old alike. An enchanting evening.


A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, which could be your company. In response to this growing threat, the Cybersecurity Framework, drafted by the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), represents a tipping point in the evolution of cybersecurity. While its application is voluntary, organizations across industries will gain significant benefits by adopting the guidelines. Adopting the Cybersecurity Framework will be discussed at Cyber Security World Conference 2014 on 21 November in New York City, where renowned information security authorities and innovative service providers will bring their latest thinking to hundreds of senior executives focused on protecting enterprises and assets. Main speakers include author Edgar Perez, Kenneth Brancik, former lead Cyberarchitect at JP Morgan Chase, Robert Gardner of New World Technology Partners, and a list of cyber security experts.


On Thursday 13 November at 6:30pm at the Mysterious Bookshop in Tribeca, New York City, Adam LeBor announced the publication of his new thriller, The Washington Stratagem. It's the second in the series featuring Yael Azoulay, an ex-Mossad agent who presumably works as the covert negotiator for the U.N. Secretary-General. The first, The Geneva Option, was described by The New York Times as a "gripping thriller."


Elections to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are habitually agreed through regional arrangements. The five Permanent Members of the Security Council similarly accommodate one another. This year, in early November, judges elected were: James Crawford of Australia, Joan Donoghue of the U.S., Mohamed Bennouna of Morocco, and Kirill Gevorgian of Russia. A contest between judges Susana Ruiz Cerutti of Argentina and Patrick Lipton Robinson of Jamaica was drawn for about a week. The Argentinean got the required majority in the Security Council vote, but the Jamaican received more votes at the General Assembly with the sizeable African group supporting the Caribbean candidate. By 13 November, to avert further confusion, the Argentinean lady elegantly and graciously withdrew.


Jayantha Dhanapala, a former U.N. Under-Secretary-General for disarmament affairs (1998 - 2003) and a relentless advocate for a world free of nuclear weapons, will be the recipient of the 2014 International Achievement Award for Nuclear Disarmament sponsored by Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency. Current president of the Nobel Prize-winning Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (since 2007) and a former Sri Lankan ambassador to the United States, Dhanapala played a crucial role in the 1995 Conference of States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The award -- which is co-sponsored by the Tokyo-based Soka Gakkai International (SGI), a 12-million-strong, lay Buddhist non-governmental organisation (NGO) which is leading a global campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons -- will be presented at an official ceremony at the United Nations Nov 17. The event, to be attended by senior U.N. officials, ambassadors and representatives of the media and civil society, is being hosted by the U.N. Correspondents' Association (UNCA).


I'll tell you the story of Cloony the Clown
Who worked in a circus that came through town.
His shoes were too big and his hat was too small,
But he just wasn't, just wasn't funny at all.
He had a trombone to play loud silly tunes,
He had a green dog and a thousand balloons.
He was floppy and sloppy and skinny and tall,
But he just wasn't, just wasn't funny at all.
And every time he did a trick,
Everyone felt a little sick.
And every time he told a joke,
Folks sighed as if their hearts were broke.
And every time he lost a shoe,
Everyone looked awfully blue.
And every time he stood on his head,
Everyone screamed, "Go back to bed!"
And every time he made a leap,
Everybody fell asleep.
And every time he ate his tie,
Everyone began to cry.
And Cloony could not make any money
Simply because he was not funny.
One day he said, "I'll tell this town
How it feels to be an unfunny clown."
And he told them all why he looked so sad,
And he told them all why he felt so bad.
He told of Pain and Rain and Cold,
He told of Darkness in his soul,
And after he finished his tale of woe,
Did everyone cry? Oh no, no, no,
They laughed until they shook the trees
With "Hah-Hah-Hahs" and "Hee-Hee-Hees."
They laughed with howls and yowls and shrieks,
They laughed all day, they laughed all week,
They laughed until they had a fit,
They laughed until their jackets split.
The laughter spread for miles around
To every city, every town,
Over mountains, 'cross the sea,
From Saint Tropez to Mun San Nee.
And soon the whole world rang with laughter,
Lasting till forever after,
While Cloony stood in the circus tent,
With his head drooped low and his shoulders bent.
And while the world laughed outside.
Cloony the Clown sat down and cried.

(by Shel Silverstein)