Statues For Equality by Aussie Artists Gillie + Marc Schattner Unveils First 10 Public Statues in New York

Zimbabwean scholar Tererai Trent has been immortalized in a bronze statue in New York

Zimbabwean scholar Tererai Trent has been immortalized in a bronze statue in New York

Life-size statues of 10 accomplished women across a wide spectrum of global life were unveiled in New York this week. Standing next to larger-than-life humanist-activist stars like Oprah, Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett is Zimbabwean scholar Tererai Trent.

Trent grew up in Zimbabwe where girls were not educated. Determined to learn, Trent taught herself to read and relocated to the US in 1998 through the efforts of an American nonprofit that visited her village. This “dream” come true of getting a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, and a PhD was realized after she wrote down her aspirations, sealing them in a tin can and burying them deep in the ground.

Trent’s life in America was hardly a carefree, upwards climb, but like so many women, she is a survivor. Today Dr Tererai Trent is one of the world’s most internationally recognized voices for quality education and women’s empowerment. Distinguished as Oprah Winfrey’s “All-time favorite guest”, Trent is a prominent activist for equal rights to education. Read more about Dr. Trent’s story.

Where . . . oh where are the women?

The lack of representation of women in public spaces has long been associated with patriarchal attitudes and the general “invisibility” of women globally.

New York is grappling with its own embarrassing dearth of female statues in Manhattan and the five boroughs, with a whopping 3% of public humans honored being female. Consider that one of those memorable female “beings” is Alice in Wonderland in Central Park, and you understand the scope of the problem.

Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park.

Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park.

There’s a note of irony in two Aussie artists seeking to remedy New York’s “no women statues” problem, but in the era of Trump, we’ll take any help we can get. Sculptors Gillie and Marc Schattner launched Statues For Equality to commemorate Women's Equality Day on August 26 under the "Sculpted for Equal Rights" banner.

Note that Sydney and London are also in the ditch with their own scores of 4% and 3% of historical women statues, suggesting that New York can be a global launchpad for their effort, a hunch confirmed by the Statues For Equality website.

The New York project is just the start of Statues For Equality and the initiative is now worldwide, with projects in many different countries, including Australia the UK and the US. Gillie and Marc are keen that the sculptures are representative of all women and know that the public are the best people to ensure this happens! 

“We hope that as the project expands, it will include a broader diversity of race, class, ability, sexual orientation and gender expression,” says Gillie.

Besides Blanchett, Kidman, Trent and Winfrey, other women honored with New York statues include Cheryl Strayed, Gabby Douglas, Jane Goodall, Janet Mock, Pink, and Tracy Dyson. Read their stories.

Is the CNN Democratic Presidential Contenders Climate Town Hall at Hudson Yards or Not?

HUDSON YARDS, SITE OF CNN’S CLIMATE CRISIS TOWN HALL. THE EVENT WILL FEATURE 10 DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT. AP PHOTO/MARK LENNIHAN

HUDSON YARDS, SITE OF CNN’S CLIMATE CRISIS TOWN HALL. THE EVENT WILL FEATURE 10 DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT. AP PHOTO/MARK LENNIHAN

Of all the places in New York that CNN could have chosen to host its Sept. 4 Democratic presidential candidates forum on climate change, activists, political leaders and fashionistas alike are stunned that the network apparently chose 30 Hudson Yards, substantially owned by billionaire and recent $12 million fundraiser for President Donald Trump Stephen Ross.

Pardon us while we pick up our dropped jaws from the floor. News of Ross’ moneybags haul for Trump’s re-election caused boycotts of Ross’ Equinox gym and the decision of several prominent designers to pull out of Hudson Yards venues for the upcoming New York Fashion Week.

Queens Councilmember Costa Constantinides wrote a letter to CNN earlier this month asking the network to move the venue to an outer borough, where Superstorm Sandy revealed the devastating impact of the climate crisis. The letter was signed by more than a dozen Queens and Brooklyn lawmakers, reports The Queens Eagle.

“If 30 Hudson Yards is the venue, it’s a property developed by Stephen Ross: an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, who believes climate change is a hoax, and a leading figure in Big Real Estate, which fought tooth and nail to stop the landmark passage of the Climate Mobilization Act in April,” Constantinides said in a statement to the Eagle. 

“The candidates should see the communities already living with the effects of climate change on a daily basis, which there are plenty of in Queens and Brooklyn,” he continued. “If the town hall is indeed at Hudson Yards, where a three-bedroom condo goes for $9.5 million, it is a slap in the face to every Rockaway resident still waiting to get his or her home back nearly seven years after Sandy.”

Remarkably, as of two days ago, numerous officials at both CNN and Hudson Yards were denying that they knew anything about a town hall on September 4. A Friday Google search gives no location for the event, with CNN publishing the agenda. for the seven-hour series of one-on-one interviews with the candidates.

Employing due diligence, the Eagle did locate individuals at both CNN and Hudson Yards who — off the record — confirmed the Democratic event was good to go. Still, a staff member at the Shed performance space expressed surprise that the climate policy town hall would actually take place in the complex.

“It would be weird because of the Stephen Ross thing,” the person said.

Staff members were informed that the Shed would not be involved in “anything political” after the Ross boycott, the person added.

New York City Considers Again A Ban on Foie Gras, As Farmers Refute Animal Abuse Claims

New York City is set to ban foie gras from restaurants and shops.jpg

New York City’s reputation for fine dining makes it one of the premier destinations for eating foie gras in the country. The renowned but increasingly-controversial delicacy made by force-feeding ducks and geese has been banned in states like California, overturned in a court decision, only to have a federal appeals court reinstate the ban. California bans the force-feeding of animals, a tenet also at the heart of new legislation before the New York City Council.

New York City looks increasingly likely to ban foie gras, and fowl farmers aren’t happy about it. A bill sponsored by Carlina Rivera, a city councilwoman who represents Manhattan neighborhoods, would prohibit the sale of the delicacy, and levy fines of up to $1,000 to businesses that violate the ban.

The bill, which already has the support of half of the Council in the form of co-sponsors is also supported in principle by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“It’s a purely luxury product,” said Ms. Rivera, who conceded to having tasted foie gras before she knew how it was made. (“I wasn’t a fan,” she said.)

Foie gras advocates say claims of torture are exaggerated and politically motivated. Mark Caro, author of ‘The Foie Gras Wars’, an overview of all aspects of the controversy argues that the uproar is overstated. “If you try to get people to give up their cheap chicken, you would have a problem, because it would affect their budgets,” Caro is quoted in the New York Times.

The attempts to ban foie gras are rooted in the wave of populism that has swept the country. Caro believes that attacking the lifestyles of the 1% is part of today’s political activism. There is no agreement among scientists and credentialed professionals associated with the food industry about whether foie gras is the product of torture and inhumane punishment of animals. The Times goes in-depth to educate us on all the nuances involved in this long-fought battle around foie gras.

AOC first took up the topic in 2009.

Debunking Myths about the Impact of Elephants on Large Trees

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Debunking Myths about the Impact of Elephants on Large Trees

By Ross Harvey, Independent Economist; PhD Candidate, University of Cape Town. First published on The Conversation.

Elephants are often accused of being responsible for the unsustainable loss of large trees in protected areas. This is because they strip bark and break branches. They can also have a heavier impact through uprooting trees or snapping stems. They have forage preferences too. Marula, knobthorn and red bushwillow are among their favourites.

This type of behaviour has raised concerns over the effects of elephants on large trees in protected areas such as South Africa’s Kruger National Park. As a result, elephant populations have been managed to preserve trees and the environment in a static state.

Researchers Dr Michelle Henley and Robin Cook recently set out to establish whether elephants are in fact responsible for large tree mortality.

They did this by reviewing the science and evaluating how effective past strategies have been at mitigating large tree loss, given that such loss was typically attributed to high elephant densities. These strategies usually focused on controlling elephant numbers lethally, through either culling or hunting.

Kim Kardashian by Txema Yeste Soars in Mugler Past + Now for Vogue Arabia September 2019

Kim Kardashian West by Txema Yeste for Vogue Arabia Sept 2019 (4).jpg

Kim Kardashian by Txema Yeste Soars in Mugler Past + Now for Vogue Arabia September 2019

The September 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia takes us into the surreal world of Kim Kardashian West, with KKW styled in Thierry Mugler archives past and modern by Casey Cadwallader. Txema Yeste is behind the lens, creating simply smashing imagery in Kardashian’s first cover for the young magazine launched in March 2017.

In an added bonus, the reality TV star, entrepreneur, social activist studying for her law degree and mother of four kids — Psalm, 3 months, Chicago, 19 months, Saint, 3, and North, 6 — is interviewed by her husband Kanye West.

AOC previews the issue.